Sunday 14 December 2008

Blog-gap coming up

I shall be in UK over Christmas and most probably will not have much opportunity for posting. I begin my break with a FWC Pilgrimage to Ars, France; Fr Julian, Fr Stephen and myself are taking a group of lads there just before Christmas.

Friday 12 December 2008

Some of the local fauna I have encountered


Koala, mum and tot






One of three families of ducks which live on Campus

Two Frog-mouthed Owls just outside my window.
No snakes or spiders yet!

Thursday 11 December 2008

The Mother of Life

Bearing roses in December as a sign, Our Lady of Guadalupe brings to the world the message of hope - that the night is over and a new springtime of life is here. The mystery of the images in the eyes of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is something which has come to light only in our day. The whole image is itself a mystery, but photography has revealed the reflection of images in her pupils of the kind that you would see only in real, living eyes. In fact, thirteen people in all can be seen in the pupil of her right eye. These include the Bishop who received the original message of Juan Diego and Juan Diego himself. There is also a family group in which one parent is carrying a baby on the shoulders. This is surely a message from Our Lady for today - that God wishes to safeguard the mystery of the family. Let us give thanks for the presence of the Mother of God in human history.

Guiding the NE

Yesterday evening I attended a book-launch at the "Mustard Seed" bookshop in Sydney. Fr Flader, who launched the book "The New Evangelisation - developing evangelical preaching", described it as a manual for our day and age. Bishop Julian Porteous (pictured) spoke about how the idea for this book had arisen through discerning that the New Evangelisation requires a new kind of preaching, one which presents the Gospel and seeks to move and transform the heart. I look forward to reading this book on my flight back to the UK for Christmas.

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Setting out on Mission again

The week before last I took part in a Parish Mission in Annandale, Sydney. This nine day event was lead by the Parish Priest and Bishop Julian Porteous, an auxiliary Bishop in Sydney. I joined them and a whole team of seminarians, Franciscan postulants, members of the Immaculata Community and members of a month-long formation course for young people. We took the Mission to the streets, to house to house visits, to the shops, the schools and a number of secular venues in the parish. "Open the doors to Christ" was our moto and theme. It was a great joy and privilage to work with a Bishop during a Parish Mission, and to make so many new friends from among this huge new wave of young missioners of Sydney. During the Mission I was employed in leading a whole primary school in Adoration, in house visits, meeting parents, celebrating Mass, preaching and hearing hours on Confessions - the New Evangelisation is certainly warming up in the city. Next time they may use me in the kitchen as well! Special thanks to Fr Julian and the students of Catholic Chaplaincy of Birmingham University, UK, for their prayers throughout the week in support of this Mission.

Monday 8 December 2008

The TLM in Sydney

Last Sunday I visited the Church of the Maternal Heart in Lewisham, Sydney, which belongs to the FSSP and took part in their Solemn Sung Mass. The Mass was celebrated beautifully. The congregation was large and mixed and they all stayed on after the Mass in the precinct of the Church for sandwiches, pizza, tea and a chat - this was the first time that I have ever seen an entire Catholic congregation do this. I'm used to people going off as soon as Mass is over, if not before!

Saturday 6 December 2008

Inaugural Graduation

Friday 5th December was a splendid day for Campion College: our first Graduation ceremony, held in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney. The whole College Foundation was present and supported by a host of family, friends and supporters of the College. Our Third Year students shone with pride as a representative of the Prime Minister of Australia, Jason Clare MP, presented the degrees. Below are a selection of photographs of the day. Of course, I wasn't able to take photos during the ceremony itself - which was a pity because the Ceremony was magnificent - the Great Hall being a replica of Westminster Hall in London.
The Bishop of Parramatta, Mgr Kevin Manning, took part in the Ceremony which was presided over by the Chairman of the Campion Institute, Mr Joseph de Bruyn.
Below, I am joined by Mr Heywood the Registrar of Campion College.

"Father in Heaven, we thank you for all the graces which you have given to Campion College, and especially for the joy of this Graduation Day. Hear the prayers of St Edmund Campion for us; lead our young graduands now to share their knowledge and to witness to your truth. Lead the College founded in his name so that it may be recognised by the quality of its learning and the constancy of its faith in Christ and His Church. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord."

Thursday 4 December 2008

Please get in touch ...

Here's a photo of the lower Wharfedale valley near Ilkley which was taken two days ago - I will be there soon and I'm looking forward!

On to other matters:

John Mallon is trying to assemble an email list of Blogs in the English speaking world, especially in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. He is currently working as Contributing Editor for Inside the Vatican magazine, doing media relations for Human Life International, and assisting at the Envoy Institute in a promotional capacity. He has two degrees in theology and frequently has items of interest to Catholic Bloggers worldwide. With 25 years of experience in the Catholic Press, he has found that major secular outlets are often closed to these messages. If you have or know of Blogs that would be interested in receiving press releases and other pertinent materials for your Blogs, he would very much appreciate getting a mailing list of these blogs for this purpose. This is not spam. Anyone not wishing to receive these materials will be removed from the list immediately upon request. Catholic Blogs are absolutely critical for spreading credible information on the Church. This mailing list could serve as a News Agency supplying news and other information to Catholic Blogs.It is absolutely maddening trying to harvest emails off of Blogs, where people won't post their emails. He is only interested in people who want to receive these messages, not bothering anyone.For more on John Mallon please visit his website at: Please let me know if you can help. Mail

Monday 1 December 2008

Open territory 5

One of the most significant aspects of the 2001 Letter "Ecclesia in Oceania" is its treatment of evangelisation at the level of culture - how the Church should approach the indigenous culture of the people. John Paul II in paragraph 16 speaks first about "inculturation" - the idea of how Christian and indigenous culture come together: "The process of inculturation is the gradual way in which the Gospel is incarnated in the various cultures. On the one hand, certain cultural values must be transformed and purified, if they are to find a place in a genuinely Christian culture. On the other hand, in various cultures Christian values readily take root." Authentic inculturation, which is the incarnation of the Gospel within culture, has been the work of the Church since the Gospel was first preached and today lies at the very core of the New Evangelisation - planting the Gospel anew into culture such that "in each culture the Christian faith will be lived in a unique way." However, in the New Evangelisation there is a new awareness of culture, not simply a sensitivity to it but discernment and appreciation of the culture for the sake of evangelisation, for the sake of Christ. "The Gospel is not opposed to any culture, as if engaging a culture the Gospel would seek to strip it of its native riches and force it to adopt forms which are alien to it. It is vital that the Church insert herself fully into culture and from within bring about the process of purification and transformation."
"The process of inculturation engages the Gospel and culture in a dialogue which includes identifying what is and what is not of Christ. Every culture needs to be purified and transformed by the values which are revealed in the Paschal Mystery."
"The Gospel is a genuine liberation from all the disorders caused by sin and is, at the same time, a call to the fullness of truth. Cultures are not only not diminished by this encounter; rather they are prompted to open themselves to the newness of the Gospel's truth and to be stirred by this truth to develop in new ways. Transformed by the Spirit of Christ, these cultures attain the fullness of life to which their deepest values had always looked and for which their people had always hoped. Indeed, without Christ, no human culture can become what it truly is."
This teaching shows the richness of the New Evangelisation, of its understanding and concern for humanity, and also how it differs from last era of Evangelisation. The New Evangelisation is not seeking to implement or impose a new and foreign culture upon indigenous culture; even so the Church is aware that the cultural expression of the last era of evangelisation is still at work in many Christian communities today. But rather, that indigenous culture should - if possible - become a basis for the expression of the Gospel. The New Evangelisation then, while seeking to employ new methods, is nonetheless conscious of presenting the whole Gospel, the whole Faith, the whole Truth. The New Evangelisation is seeking a new encounter with culture, that by respecting culture, the Gospel become implanted within it. I remember John Paul II once saying that if the Gospel doesn't reach culture, the Gospel itself falls silent. This is a strong call to all Catholics not to live according to our own cultural models from the past - which today require discerment themselves so that they too can contribute to evangelisation - we are being called to take the Gospel to today's culture. This is our focus and our priority.

Sunday 30 November 2008

The martyr's festival

Tomorrow is the Feast of St Edmund Campion and companions, who were hung, drawn and quartered at the London Tyburn on 1st December 1581. These, and men and women like them, were at the forefront of both the English Rennaissance and the Evangelisation of England in the second part of the Sixteenth Century. Unlike the European mainland in that era, in which many nobles and bishops sought power and prestige, in England both the Crown and most of the nobility were seeking to completely overthrow the Church and assume a measure of divine prerogative. It is remarkable that those in England who were seeking a genuine rennaissance in human terms, were also at the forefront of evangelisation - faith and culture together- a forerunner of the New Evangelisation. The witness of their faith, so far removed from political intrigue, but so given over to Christ and the power of the Gospel is an enormous gift of grace and inspiration to the Church in England and overseas. They lived for Christ and the Church in the face of the most hideously prejudicial laws and they accepted that state of affairs with a committment to God's plan which is difficult for us to imagine, let alone replicate. We cannot but remember St Edmund Campion and the others, SS Ralph Sherwin and Alexander Briant, on their feast day - what great leaders in the Faith we have, and what a great patron and inspiration for the staff and students here in Campion's College in Sydney. The photo below shows a vestment which comes from Sixteenth century England and is thought to have been worn at Mass by St Edmund Campion. It is kept, along with many others treasures from that era, at Ladywell near Preston.
St Edmund Campion, pray for us, that our minds and hearts too will burn for Christ.

Saturday 29 November 2008

Open territory 4

"The way of Jesus is always the path of mission; and he is now inviting his followers to proclaim the Gospel anew to the peoples of Oceania, so that culture and Gospel proclamation will meet in a mutually enriching way and the Good News will be heard, believed and lived more deeply." (Eccelsia in Oceania, 10) Anyone who is looking to understand the New Evangelisation need look no further than this Letter which wonderfully presents the Mission of the Church today - and that this Mission is proclaimed with great clarity to the whole Church in Oceania! "The communio of the Church is a gift of the Blessed Trinity, whose deep inner life is most marvellously shared with humanity."
The mission to bring faith and culture together in such a way that humanity is drawn into God's Life - this is the Church! The first communion on the planet is the Church - the one which has the essential life-giving properties which human beings need. "Where individualism threatens to erode the fabric of human society, the Church offers herself as a healing sacrament, a fountain of communio responding to the deepest hungers of the heart." In the New Evangelisation we are called not only to rediscover the Church, but through the Church to rediscover humanity - the truth about human beings and about human life in all its dimensions.
What is the Church? It is Communion and Mission. It is the community of salvation, a communion of faith which bonds people into one being - God our Creator. And it is Mission, for "what Jesus offers to his followers must be shared with all the peoples of Oceania, whatever their situation." (13) "The great challenge and opportunity is to offer them the gifts of Jesus Christ in the Church, for these gifts alone will satisfy their yearning. But Christ must be presented in a way well adapted to the younger generation and the rapidly changing culture in which they live.
At times the Catholic Church is seen as presenting a message which is irrelevant, unattractive or unconvincing; but we can never allow such claims to undermine our confidence, for we have found the pearl of great price. Yet there is no room for complacency. The Church is challenged to interpret the Good News for the peoples of Oceania according to their present needs and circumstances. We must present Christ to our world in a way that brings hope to the many who suffer misery, injustice or poverty. The mystery of Christ is a mystery of new life for all who are in need or in pain, for disrupted families or people who face unemployment, who are marginalized, injured in soul or body, sick or addicted to drugs, and for all who have lost their way. This mystery of grace, the mysterium pietatis, is the very heart of the Church and her mission." (14)
This really is a wonderful proclamation to the Church to enter into the New Evangelisation. This is a call which needs to be listened to so that it begins to reverberate in the heart of the hearer, something to be taken up and never put down, a call which should form the kernal of life every day - making the Mystery of Jesus Christ the very basis of everything that is human!

Tuesday 25 November 2008


Co-dependent relationships are crucifying the western world; relationships whose basis is a psychological need for the other person, unlike real marriage whose basis is the gift of self to the other person. Co-dependent relationships are found today both inside and outside marriage as well as with homosexual people. They are relationships which do not give life to the partners or to society, but rather enclose both partners in coccoon and prevent them from growing in themselves and from being a life-giving part of society.
Co-dependency forms the very first stage of all our lives in the relationship which a child, boy or girl, has with its mother. What normally happens is that the father is instrumental in breaking this bond which the child has with its mother at about the age of 2 - 3, enabling the child to discover him/herself as an independent person.

Co-dependency is not new to society but it has only been recognised in recent times; the word itself having sprung from the work of psychologists. Co-dependency is so apparent in our age when marriage, as a life-style, is diminishing in western societies, and when the overriding message of today's media is that a relationship is a necessary accessory to life.
As co-dependent relationships develop rationale is replaced by inane arguments rooted in self doubt and fear. Believing that nothing else can make them happy or that no one else can understand them they way their lover does, they become dependant on the companionship and comfort of each other. Trust is a foreign concept, for every time a phone call goes unanswered or a text message goes unreturned, lying, cheating and arguments become the illogical habits of co-dependant lovers. Friendships are used as crutches, rather than mutual enjoyment of one another's company. Rather than keeping in touch consistently, you will only speak to your other friends when you need them, and not be there for them in return. When your friends begin to sense a pattern in your actions and realize your fair-weathered friendship has no purpose they will leave you to rely even more on your significant other.
Beattie and Korski's comparison of real love with co-dependency is quite thorough:
1. Love - development of self is first priority. Co-dependency - Obsession with relationship.
2. Love - Room to grow, expand; desire for other to grow. Co-dep - Security, comfort in sameness; intensity of need seen as proof of love (may really be fear, insecurity, loneliness)
3. Love - Separate interests; other friends; maintain other meaningful relationships. Co-dep - Total involvement; limited social life; neglect old friends, interests.
4. Love - Encouragement of each other secure in own worth. Co-dep - Preoccupation with other's behavior; fear of other changing.
5. Love - Trust. Co-dep - Jealousy; possessiveness; fear of competition.
6. Love - Compromise, negotiation or taking turns at leading. Problem solving together. Co-dep - Power plays for control; blaming; passive or aggressive manipulation.
7. Love - Relationship deals with all aspects of reality. Co-dep - Relationship is based on delusion and avoidance of the unpleasant.
8. Love - emotional state not dependent on other's mood. Co-dep - Expectation that one partner will fix and rescue the other.
9. Love - Loving detachment (healthy concern about partner, while letting go.) Co-dep - Fusion (being obsessed with each other's problems and feelings.)
10. Love - Sex is free choice growing out of caring & friendship. Co-dep - Pressure about sex due to insecurity, fear & need for immediate gratification.
12. Love - Ability to enjoy being alone. Co-dep - Unable to endure separation; clinging.
13. Love - Cycle of comfort and contentment. Co-dep - Cycle of pain and despair.
Now, whilst we may be able, with the help of psychologists to analyse this phenomenon, it is important that we should be able to get over this phenomenon and make progress in life - for the sake of the person and for the sake of marriage. Psychology doesn't offer much help here, and indeed, some pyschologists see no problem at all with co-dependency. But if we are looking at life with God, then the capacity of the person to be open to God and to grow in virtue and holiness, and for that matter, for young people to be able to have real friendships for friendships sake - ones which are not emotionally burdened, and for the freedom which is necessary for a person to respond to a vocation - for instance, marriage, then yes, we do need to be able to see the way forward in a culture in which co-dependency is so widespread. And helping young people to respond to the call to marry and to be able to enter into the truth about married love is an urgent task today for all parents and agents of Christian formation.
This 5 step process is, I think, a reasonable way of looking at one's own life:
Step1. Examine your behaviour. When you have a problem you feel you cannot face is your first reaction to call your significant other to solve it for you? Do you feel that you need to feel needed and end up being taken advantage of most of the time? These are all signs of codependency. Accepting you have a problem is the first step towards healing the relationship.
Step2. Give yourself time away from this person. Tell them that you need to work on yourself, and you need time to discover who you are without him or her. This might cause a negative reaction but this is only normal. Do not stay in the relationship out of fear of abandonment.
Step3. Seek help with someone you trust and who can help you resolve your issues. This will not take overnight but it will help you become aware of the problems you are facing.
Step4. Try do different activities which you would not have done otherwise when you were in the relationship. Discover who you are and your own self-worth. Try to develop a relationship with yourself before you develop a relationship with anyone else.
Step5. Once you replace " I need you" with " I want to be around you," you are on your way towards healing the relationship. However, some relationships cannot be repaired and it is best for both parties to part ways.

This process is obviously a secular programme to which I would add two important elements:

1. Keep up your conversation with Christ through prayer and the Sacraments; for to grow in grace is your essential vocation.

2. Develop your appreciation of what Christian marriage actually is, through reading and through encountering married people and marriage preparation resources; this will widen your vision about the nature and meaning of relationships and help you to reflect on your own.

Monday 24 November 2008

Open territory 3

Recognising and acknowledging culture is a necessary element of the New Evangelisation. In para 7 of the Letter "The Church in Oceania" John Paul II speaks of the "implantation of the Church" - evangelisation - the bringing together of faith and culture means precisely, implanting the Church in culture. How can we do this? First of all, the Pope says: "the truth of the Gospel ... is foreign to no one, but at times some sought to impose elements which were culturally alien to the people. There is a need now for careful discernment to see what is of the Gospel and what is not, what is essential and what is less so. Such a task, it must be said, is made more difficult because of the process of colonization and modernization, which has blurred the line between the indigenous and the imported."
Disciples of the Lord then in the New Evangelisation, do not step into a new culture, set up their crucifixes and expect that the people will turn to Christ and believe in him. In the same way, one can't sprinkle some holy water over a baby within a culture that was formally Christian and expect to see a flourishing of the Christian life. The work of evangelisation calls for real discernent on behalf of Catholics so their meeting with a non or formally Christian culture is actually an evangelising encounter, in which real light is shone on those aspects of culture which grace can build on, and in which those aspects of culture which are opposed to the Gospel can be overturned by grace. In this we remember the whole thrust of the Second Vatican Council which has endeavoured to direct the Church into an evangelising dialogue with culture. This is not the moment to speak about how some have tried to use the Council to promote their own agenda for the Church, but rather "in presenting Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life, the Church must respond in new and effective ways to these moral and social questions without ever allowing her voice to be silenced or her witness to be marginalized."

Open territory 2

The great Letter "The Church in Oceania" of John Paul II was written as inspiration for the New Evangelisation in this huge part of the world. It has certainly inspired me since I arrived in Australia. In the last post I spoke about the opening reflection, in this post I want to look at paragraphs 4 - 7 of the Letter. These parts of the Letter look at the question of how Christ should be presented in Oceania today. It is a question which first occured to St Paul after he had preached the Gospel at the Areopagus in Athens and had been laughed at, and it is the basic question of the New Evangelisation. The disciples of Christ whose lives have been changed through a relationship with Him and who, in some way, are called to witness to Him know that they must still discern how they are to present the person of Christ to others. In the past Christ was mainly presented through the institution of the Church and also through the communio of believers, but today the Church knows that she is being called to present Christ in a new way. The question: "how should we present Christ today?" is a New Evangelisation question. The Pope goes on to show how the Church can begin to discern how she should present Christ today.
First of all, the key ingredient is the Mystery of Christ himself and how the Church enters into this Mystery herself. The second ingredient lies in knowing and appreciating the people who live in this part of the world. The third ingredient is knowing and appreciating the indigenous culture of the people. I will write a separate post on this third element.
The New Evangelisation then is very conscious of beginning with people as they are, knowing them and being aware to some extent of how their lives are lived. I once asked Fr Benedict Groeschel CFR if he would describe the New Evangelisation, he answered saying, simply, "It is beginning with people where they are at!"

Sunday 23 November 2008

Open territory

I look forward to watching, perhaps this week, the new epic film "Australia". The pundits are all saying that it will be a massive hit - and, I have to say, the trailers for the film are very promising. The film is being hailed as a re-presentation of the essence of this country and continent to both those at home and abroad. Modern Australia is still emerging - it is, in comparison to the Western world, a very new nation. The Church too has been conscious of this and World Youth Day is more than a sign of her Mission here. John Paul II came twice to Australia and placed great emphasis on this country in his 2001 Exhortation to the Church in Oceania. I have read this Letter twice seen coming to Sydney and have been enriched in my understanding of the New Evangelisation, especially in terms of the influnce of the Gospel upon culture, and consequently, it has given me a real insight into this land and its history.
At the beginning of this Letter, John Paul II makes a reflection on the mystery of the life of the disciple - for this is the hinge of evangelisation - the Mission of the Church has to begin somewhere, and that place is within the person. The disciples of Christ "are invited to leave all, to turn to him who is the Lord of life, and follow him. They are to leave not only sinful ways, but also sterile ways of a certain manner of thinking and acting, in order to take the path of an ever deeper faith and follow the Lord with ever greater fidelity." The impact of grace must first happen inside those who follow Him if they are to be in a position to be evangelisers themselves. "When we walk with the Lord, we leave with him all our burdens, and this confers the strength to accomplish the mission he gives us. He who takes from us gives to us; he takes upon himself our weakness and gives us his strength. This is the great mystery of the life of the disciple and apostle. It is certain that Christ works with us and within us as we "put out into deeper waters", as now we must. When times are difficult and unpromising, the Lord himself urges us "to cast our nets once more". We must not disobey."
I see contained in this short reflection a synthesis of the life of the Church and the lived wisdom of evangelisation down through the ages, which is, in fact, a re-presentation of the call to evangelise. To show the difference and the enrichment which knowing Christ has made to me, and that the focus and the priority of the Church is evangelisation. Being a Catholic today does not mean waiting around for something to happen, nor even trying to make something happen ourselves. It consists in actively following Christ and that what flows out of this is evangelisation. My life is the tool He wishes to use. And here lies the first stage of openness to grace - being with Him and experiencing His person. Since He is here, this is an immediate possibility.
Do pray for Australia at this time - that the work of the Holy Spirit here, before, during and since WYD will continue building relationships with Christ.

Sunday 16 November 2008

Free yet mindless

I cast a glance at the Australian news today, actually, the news for New South Wales:

PREMIER Nathan Rees is facing a new crisis of confidence in his own ranks as voter anger spills over from the mini-Budget and sacked MP Tony Stewart.

OLYMPIC swimming champion Leisel Jones and former AFL footballer Marty Pask have cancelled their wedding, abruptly ending their two-year romance.

HOUSEHOLDERS would be charged for each flush under a radical new toilet tax designed to help beat the drought.

NSW Police Minister Tony Kelly allegedly told a lobbyist he wanted to "shoot him with a Taser gun" during a heated meeting over insurance levies in his office.

These are the headlines today, and there's loads more just like them. This kind of culture is so intraverted and so intensely mindless that it's noise occupies much of the real space of human freedom in Oz. It is worrying that so soon after the Gospel was preached here, during WYD, with such clarity and such light, that we still see a culture so impervious to the Gospel being purveyed so loudly. Coming from England, a country that embraced an alternative to the Gospel in the sixteenth century, and is still hanging on to it, I am used to the secular chatter which is engaged in so as to drown out the life-giving message that Jesus brought. But Australia is a new country with totally new opportunities which does not now have to follow its founding culture. Yes, it is true that many in Oz have heard the message of Christ and also that the message of the media is totally irrelevant to real life; ie. the Gospel. Nevertheless, it is also true that the Holy Spirit is endeavouring to make a breakthrough here in Oz at this time, to free Australians from this mindlessness and to enable them to receive the whole gift of the Gospel. During this time after WYD in Sydney we need to maintain a real movement of intercession for openness to grace and to truth.

Saturday 15 November 2008

Searching for a good 2009

When did you last see a diary printed like this one with the week beginning with Sunday - the first day of the week - and ending with Saturday? I'm looking for a diary for next year and all those which I have seen begin with the second day of the week - Monday - with Sunday squeezed into a part of Saturday's space at the end of the week. Don't buy these pagan diaries as Christmas presents - go on a search for diaries which put Sunday as the first day of the week. If you come across a shop which sells such diaries, please add a Comment on this Blog so that we can know where to shop.

Thursday 13 November 2008

Alive and kicking ... and in Sydney

Blessed relief

After the glories of the new architecture of Parramatta Cathedral, what a relief to enter into Adoration in the chapel of the Good Shepherd Seminary in Sydney. This photo doesn't pick it out well, but the monstrance you can see on the altar was given by Pope John Paul II for the work of praying for Priestly vocations. It is a missionary monstrance and is presently here in the seminary in Sydney.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Sung Mass

Last Sunday our College Schola under the direction of Bernard Kirkpatrick sang the 11.00am Mass at Parramatta Cathedral - its first Mass outside the College. The Schola is just visible in the photo above at the end of the "nave". Their singing was suberb and many in the Cathedral were were struck by the beauty and of their singing and the style of the music - Polyphony and Chant are now so seldom heard by Catholic congregations. The Schola was very well supported by staff and students in the congregation and "sanctuary". Afterwards we repaired to the park by the river for a BBQ. This is a date we should certainly repeat.
You will have noticed that I have placed the words nave and sanctuary in inverted commas - well, it is hard to identify either in Parramatta Cathedral. This new edifice was opened five years ago after a fire destroyed the old Cathedral and, although it fits into the Parramatta skyline, it is hard to see how the Church fits into it.
I concelebrated the Sung Mass and had the experience of what it would be like saying Mass in the entrance to a museum or a new railway station. This Cathedral was clearly built to express the secular and I wonder how its regular congregation will fare as the years pass by.

Lest we forget

At 11.00am this morning, on the College Campus, we came together and remembered all those who gave their lives in the great conflicts of the Twentieth Century. There was a real sense of awareness amongst the students and the staff of how great this sacrifice had been. Australians had been involved in all the Fronts of the First World War; 23,000 dying at the Somme. Here on Campus our wreath, a buring candle and the national flag will remain by Our Lady's statue till the end of the day.

Monday 10 November 2008


Rembrandt's painting of the prophetess Anna reading a Bible expresses the profound attentiveness of a woman to God's plan. It is an image of woman which we have, largely, lost sight of in the complexity of this newly pagan age; an image of woman which reveals her dignity - silence, mystery, reverence, sensitivity, motherhood, age, attunement, yet a person who goes out to meet the Living Word. It is an image worthy of some contemplation. (But do look for a better reproduction to the one above!)
I have just read a second book about the unique vocation of woman. I posted earlier on the Eldredge's book "Captivating", but I offer another book for your consideration: "The Priesthood of the Heart" by Jo Croissant, St Pauls, 2007. The author is the wife of the founder of the French Eccelsial Movement "The Community of the Beatitudes". Her book, much of it a personal testimony, is deeply infused with Scripture and its Catholic interpretation. She speaks about the self-revelation of woman through being daughter, spouse and mother; she describes the depth of a woman's soul and the huge contribution which she is able to make to man. This author, like the co-authors of "Captivating" puts her finger upon the many experiences which our contemporary culture struggles with and opens them to their underlying truth. So for instance, she speaks about woman's capacity for trust and how this capacity is, at root, her way to God, and how her relationship with her own father and then her husband should be building bricks of her spirituality and how she is affected by them.
This is a very Catholic book, yet one which does not avoid the difficult experiences which women encounter today. For this reason it may be too intense for those who are seeking a more gentle approach to womanhood. Nonertheless, it is necessary that such books as this are written in our age in order to help direct a real contemplation of woman - something which the men and women of this age need urgently to rediscover.

Friday 7 November 2008

Accepting that we were wrong ...

Austria's Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, the Arch­bishop of Vienna, in a sermon at a Neocatechumenate meeting in Jerusalem on 27 March this year, criticised those bishops who did not stand firm with Paul VI when he issued the Encyclical Humanae Vitae.
After the publication of the encyclical in 1968, numerous bishops' conferences around the world - including those of Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the US and later Australia - is­sued statements assuring the faithful that the issue was a matter of conscience.
But those bishops, said Cardinal Schon­born, were "frightened of the press and of being misunderstood by the faithful". Blame lay not only with the bishops responsible at the time - none of whom is still alive - but with all bishops for the fact that Europe is "about to die out". "I think that it is also our sin as bishops, even if none of us were bish­ops in 1968," he added.
Bishops have not had, or did not have, the courage to "swim against the tide" and say yes to Humanae Vitae, he said. The cardinal particularly crit­icised two of the many 1968 bishops' confer­ence declarations on Humanae Vitae, which all stressed the importance of the individual conscience.
He singled out the Maria Trost Declaration, whose signatories included Cardinal Franz Konig, the late Archbishop of Vienna, pres­ident of the Austrian bishops' conference and a Father of the Second Vatican Council, and the Konigstein Declaration, whose signatories included Cardinal Julius Dopfner, the late Archbishop of Munich, president of the Ger­man bishops' conference and another Council Father.
Cardinal Schonborn accused the signatories of "weakening the People of God's sense for life", so that when "the wave of abortions" and increasing acceptance of homosexuality fol­lowed, the Church lacked the courage to oppose them.
Cardinal Shonborn's discourse in Jerusalem earlier this year reminds me of that of Cardinal Pole, the English cardinal who, at the Council of Trent, stood up in the Council's Aula and declared that the Bishop's of Europe - that is, ourselves - are to blame for the Protestant Reformation. He cited three ways by which the Catholic Bishop's of Europe enabled the Reformation to gather speed: that the Bishop's had not corrected moral errors, that they had not corrected small "mis-representations" of faith and so had allowed them to grow into full blown heresy, and that they had not spoken out against the numerous wars all over Europe which had weakened society. We Bishops, he said, are to blame for the state that the Church is now in, and called the Council Father's to recognise their need to do penance and so to bring down the mercy of God upon the Church at this very needy moment in history.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

The mindless vote for relativism

When St Augustine spoke, at the beginning of the fifth century, of the tidal wave of paganism he was speaking in very real terms of the affrontation which fallen humanity can make to grace. Today, this movement of the rejection of grace is being experienced with renewed vigour. The American vote today reveals a population who desire to be set free from all law - man's and God's - and to act according to whim and sentiment. Relativism - the removal of any objective and genuine criteria of judgement - is proposed as the basis of contemporary America. The tidal wave of mindless indifference to truth is with us still at the start of this age. Nevertheless, it is grace and not human nature which saves; truth, not relativism, is the staple of human life. This generation will no doubt, in one way or another, discover what St Augustine describes:

"This life of ours—if a life so full of such great ills can properly be called a life—bears witness to the fact that, from its very start, the race of mortal men has been a race condemned.Think, first, of the dreadful abyss of ignorance from which all error flows and so engulfs the sons of Adam in a darksome pool that no one can escape without the toll of toils and tears and fears. Then, take our very love for all those things that prove so vain and poisonous and breed so many heartaches, troubles, griefs, and fears; such insane joys in discord, strife, and wars; such fraud and theft and robbery; such perfidy and pride, envy and ambition, homicide and murder, cruelty and savagery, lawlessness and lust; all the shameless passions of the impure—fornication and adultery, incest and unnatural sins, rape and countless other uncleannesses too nasty to be mentioned; the sins against religion—sacrilege and heresy, blasphemy and perjury; the iniquities against our neighbors—calumnies and cheating, lies and false witness, violence to persons and property; the injustices of the courts and the innumerable other miseries and maladies that fill the world, yet escape attention."

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Demographic Winter

This evening at Campion a group of us watched the film "Demographic Winter". This film, made by a group of intellectuals who are involved with the "Family First Foundation", is available through its own website and presents the study and conclusions of numerous social scientists and academics in a way which the layperson is able to understand. The essential message of the film is that the birthrate of most countries in the world is so low that world is heading towards an age in which the aged population will so far outnumber that of youth, that the cultural, social and economic conditions could be described as a demographic winter.
This film represents a huge development in terms of the communication of knowledge. The mindless secular media never communicates the full scope of contemporary knowledge, since it operates at an IQ level of 14. Scientists, academics and intellectuals, on the other hand, have an innate inability to communicate their knowledge in an accesible way. This film actually bridges this gap and conveys an understanding of what is going on in the world that we hear nothing of from either the media or politicians. The film places marriage as the heart and centre of all human society and civilisation. It is a film I would recommend that you try to watch.
Towards the end of the film one of the commentators is asked if he thinks that the human population of the world will die out. He responds saying that the human species will not die out "becuase some people will continue to have babies. Those who will die out are those who, from a lack of faith, do not go forth and multiply."