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palm sunday 5Homily for Mass – Palm  Sunday of the Passion of the Lord (Year A)

(Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: 7:30am, 9:00am & 5:00pm)

13 April 2014

[Readings: Mt 21:1-11; Is 50:4-7; Ps 21; Phil 2:6-11; Mt 26:14-27:66]

At the beginning of our Mass today we carried branches and we sang joyful hymns to Christ the King, commemorating that day when he entered Jerusalem. On that day, the crowds rejoiced and celebrated; they recognized Jesus and sang, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Jesus had awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, and he has bent down to heal body and soul. This is Jesus. This is his heart which looks to all of us, to our sicknesses, to our sins. The love of Jesus is great. And thus he enters Jerusalem, with his love, and looks at us. It’s a beautiful scene, full of light – the light of the love of Jesus, the love of his heart – of joy, of celebration. (1)

As we walk with Jesus as he enters into Jerusalem, we are going to continue walking with him in the days ahead. For Christian people, this week ahead is the most important week of the whole year. If ever we should put an extra effort in to be at church for the liturgy and prayer, this is the week we should do it. We walk with Jesus not just to watch, but because these mysteries which we celebrate are the story of our lives too. We are caught up into them by virtue of our baptism. A key moment of this week is when we get to the Easter Masses we will renew our baptismal promises – professing the faith in which we have been caught up … namely, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the mystery which saves us and leads us to heaven.

Between our remembrance of the joyful entry of Jesus to Jerusalem, and our profession of our baptismal faith, we will pass by way of the Cross. This is why Jesus entered Jerusalem: not to receive the honours reserved to earthly kings, to the powerful, to rulers; he enters to be scourged, insulted and abused … to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe. Jesus enters Jerusalem to climb Calvary, carrying the wood of the Cross. Why? Why the Cross?

On the Cross, Jesus takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including the sin of all of us, and he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God. … Jesus on the cross feels the whole weight of evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it and defeats it with his resurrection. (1)

This is the Good News! When we bring our sufferings to Christ, he can defeat them. When we bring our sins to him, he can cleanse them and wash us in his mercy and love. We touch our lips to the Cross because through the Cross Christ conquers. And this immense gift that we receive is what we meant to share with the world.

To take the power of Christ’s sacrifice to all those parts of the world in the darkness of suffering, the darkness of sin. This is what our baptism and confirmation impels us to do.

Let’s enter into this Holy Week with the intention to really make it special. To draw close to Jesus so that he can draw close to us … so that we can experience his saving power in our lives in new ways, and so that he can strengthen us to be the sacrament of his salvation in the midst of our world.

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At 8pm Brisbane time the news was released in Rome that Father Columba Macbeth Green OSSPE is to be the next bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes in New South Wales, Australia.

The Bulletin of the Vatican Press Office has the information here.

Wilcannia-Forbes has been without it’s own bishop since the departure of Bishop Toohey in 2009, with Bishops Brady, Manning and Kennedy serving as Apostolic Administrators in the meantime.

Father Columba will be greatly missed for his work here in the Brisbane Archdiocese.  He was well known to many.  Whilst I was PP in Coomera it was only a short trip over to Marian Valley where you would always be warmly received.  He’ll leave a lasting legacy at Marian Valley, including the new monastery building, and other improvements to the church.  Pilgrims to Marian Valley have been edified over the years by his lively preaching, but also by his common touch.

In my humble opinion, he is an excellent choice for the office of bishop, and I’m sure the people of Wilcannia-Forbes will be pleased with their new shepherd.

God bless the bishop-elect and the people of his diocese!

And just for good measure, a picture of me with the Bishop-elect taken last year at the celebrations at Marian Valley for the Solemnity of Our Lady, Help of  Christians:

Fr Columba Macbeth-Green OSPPE, then Rector of Marian Valley, and myself

Fr Columba Macbeth-Green OSPPE, then Rector of Marian Valley, and myself

2014 04 13 Newsletter, Palm Sunday, Year A


5laHomily for Mass – Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year A)

(Saint John Fisher Church, Tarragindi: Sunday 9:00am & Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 5:00pm)

6 April 2014

(Readings: Ezek 37:12-14; Ps 129; Rom 8:8-11; Jn 11:1-45)

We all have people we are praying for: “Lazarus-es” of one type or another: someone who is sick for whom we’re asking for health; someone who is suffering some affliction, for whom we’re asking release; someone who is in the grip of their own bad choices, for whom we’re praying that they’ll see the light and come to their senses. As we pray, sometimes we wonder if our prayers will do anything. God appears to be slow, sometimes. Is our prayer doing anything?

The sisters, Martha and Mary, sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was ill – and clearly seriously ill, because he died. And yet, Jesus didn’t come for two more days. It’s not always clear to us – at least not yet – why God seems to delay; or that our prayers aren’t answered in the way we ask, when we ask.

Probably the pinnacle of this Gospel text today are the words that provide the shortest verse of the Bible: “Jesus wept.” Much has been written about these two words, because they say so much about Christ – about God becoming one of us – the Word becoming flesh. The Byzantine Liturgy acclaims: “Thou hast wept over Lazarus as a man, and Thou hast raised him as God” (1). Saint Bernard puts it beautifully: God became man in order “to know what it is to be man, from the inside. God became man in order to experience our condition, our life, from the inside: to know our joys and sorrows as we know them” (1). And, so on that day after Lazarus had died, God knew, from the inside, what it means to weep for a friend, to grieve, to sorrow for one who was alive and is dead. And so when we experience these things, we can remember that God is not just watching, sympathizing from afar, God knows, literally. He knows exactly how we feel.

Jesus weeping doesn’t really answer anything. It doesn’t give us an answer to ‘why?’ – ‘why did this happen?’ ‘why did God allow this to happen?’ But it helps us to realize that grief is truly the price we pay for love – a price that God himself has paid.

Other Christian writers have referred to Christ as “our very human Redeemer.” And as such, it means we can come close to Jesus. He knows our life from the inside: its joys, its sufferings, even its temptations. He knows. And so we should never be afraid of coming to him. But at the same time, we realize that this very human Redeemer is God: God who has the power to raise from the dead! And so, when we come to Jesus in illness, we know that he can give us healing. When we come to Jesus in temptation, he can give us power and strength. When we come to Jesus when we are in the death of sin, he can bring us to life again with his mercy and forgiveness!

As we contemplate this ‘very human Redeemer’, its good for us to feel that connection with Jesus – to know that he understands what we might be going through. It’s good for us to feel that connection because in less than two weeks we’ll be celebrating the mystery of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. It’s important that we realize that this isn’t just a remembrance of something that happened two millennia ago – a nice tale retold for its moral lessons. No, we feel that connection to our ‘very human Redeemer’ because the mystery of his death and resurrection – the Paschal mystery – is something that we live every day.

We who are baptized into Christ are baptized into his life, death and resurrection. What is true of Christ in his human body is true of us in his body the Church. The pattern of his death and resurrection is the pattern of our lives – not just an idea, or an historical reality just for Jesus many years ago – but as the very mystery of our own lives too.

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(1) Aidan Nichols OP, Year of the Lord’s Favour: A Homiliary for the Roman Liturgy, volume 2, p. 135-137.



You are invited to our fundraising dinner … raising funds especially to pay for the tuition fees for our seminarians.  We currently have Shawn Murphy in formation at the Toronto Oratory.  Shawn is a member of the Brisbane Oratory in Formation project.  We have a number of other enquirers at this stage also.

Vallicella Dinner invitation

Tomorrow, Saturday 5th April 2014, is the first Saturday of the month, and also time again for the monthly Mass with homeschooling families.  Mass will be offered at 9:00am at Immaculate Conception Church, Halle Street, Everton Park.  Confessions from 8:00am, and again after Mass for as long as needed.

There will be Lenten themed activities for the children and morning tea after Mass.

All are welcome!


(Thought I should upload this before the weekend arrives!)

Homily for Mass – Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year A)

(Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: 7:30am, 9:00am & 5:00pm)

30 March 2014

(Readings: Sam 16:1, 6-7, 10-13; Ps 22; Eph 5:8-14; Jn 9:1-41)

Something we frequently say in common speech is, “I see!” If we’ve been confused about what someone is telling us, and then we have that “aha!” moment, we exclaim, “Oh, I see what you mean!” Sight is a metaphor for understanding properly … of being able to “see” things in perspective; to be able to see things in their proper relation to everything else.

And so, the blindness of the man of the gospel is a metaphor for not “seeing” things in their proper perspective; of not “seeing” how individual things are in relation to others. When the blind man’s sight was restored by Jesus, light would have flooded into him – he was enlightened, illuminated. He could see with his own eyes – no longer relying on others to tell him – individual objects; he could see their size, their shape; he could see how things were in relation to other things.

The blind man’s enlightenment is a symbol of the enlightenment we receive in baptism. In the ritual of Baptism we hand the newly baptized a lighted candle, and we say of infants that they have been enlightened by Christ and are to always walk as a child of the light. In Lent we journey with catechumens who are preparing for the enlightenment of baptism, and we ourselves are preparing to renew our baptism faith at the Easter Masses. And so, during Lent, we are invited to reflect on the enlightenment that we ourselves have received in baptism.

The gift of faith, the light of Christ burning in us, helps us to see all of life in its proper perspective. We are able to see life in a “spectrum reaching from Genesis to the Apocaplypse” (1). The enlightenment that we have received allows us to position human events in a much bigger context … in the perspective of the divine plan of salvation. I often think how hard life is for people who don’t have that perspective, or who lose it. On the flipside, you see how faith can make such a difference in the lives of people when they face tragedy of some kind.

The enlightenment we have received also allows us to appreciate that there is not just this human plane that we are living in, but that there is heaven, hell and purgatory. The ability to “see” this colours our decision making, because we realize that there are eternal consequences from our earthly decisions. Knowingly walking down the path of sin jeopardizes our standing in heaven; and at the same time, knowledge of eternal blessings and rewards helps us to sacrifice here below, because we know that we don’t need to try to get all our reward here.

And so , having been enlightened in baptism, we are called to remain what we have become. St Paul, in the second reading tells the Ephesians (and us): You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord. He urges us to “have nothing to do with the futile works of darkness,” and on the contrary, “to expose” the works of darkness. That’s what we do when we go to confession: we expose our own works of darkness, like revealing to the physician the wound that needs healing. Of course, in confession, we’re coming to the divine physician, the healer par excellence. Saint Paul adds in another text, “Be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

And so, we who have been illuminated, enlighted by Christ in baptism are to shine like lights in the world, to shine with that light of Christ within us. When other people look at us, is that what they see? Do they see the light of Christ shining through our words and actions? Do they see someone who lives with the full knowledge of heaven, hell, purgatory? Do we live as if there is something more than just this? Do other people see in us someone who has a sense of the divine plan – that God is at work, reconciling the world to himself, calling all men and women to salvation?

May our Lenten discipline help us to be what we have become: light in the Lord. In whatever ways we might have become “blind” to God, or to what God is calling us to, may the Lord enlighten us, that we truly will shine as lights in the midst of the world.

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(1) Aidan Nichols OP, Year of the Lord’s Favour: A Homiliary for the Roman Liturgy, volume 2, p. 124-125.

2014 04 06 Newsletter, Lent 5, Year A


2014 03 30 Newsletter, Lent 4, Year A FINAL CORRECTED

Please note: due to a “Dropbox” error, the final draft of page one did not end up in the “print edition.”

The e-file here is the final version that should have been printed.

3laHomily for Mass – Third Sunday of Lent (Year A)

(Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am, 9:00am & 5:00pm)

23 March 2014

(Readings: Ex 17:3-7;  Ps 94;  Rom 5:1-2, 5-8;  Jn 4:5-42)

We learn something of Jesus’ “method” as we reflect on his meeting with the Samaritan woman.  He asks something of her in order to be able to give to her.  He asks for water, but he asks so that he can give to her from the waters that don’t merely quench the thirsty body, but rather will quench the thirsty heart.  Jesus asks so that he can give.  How often it is true that when Christ asks of us in the guise of someone in some need, and we have to give of ourselves to respond to that need, we ourselves are the ones who receive the blessing of grace.  Christ asks of us, so that he can give to us.

The Samaritan woman is a symbol for Israel.  The little dialogue between her and the Lord about her marriages, and how her present husband is not really her husband, hints at how God’s people have forgotten to Whom they belong.  They have gone after false gods of one kind or another.  We ourselves, God’s people today, are not completely different.  Our hearts crave love, and of course God – who is Love – is the one who will give our hearts everything we need.  And yet – as we say – we look for love in all the wrong places, in all the wrong ways.  We strive after the “water” that we think will quench our thirst – and yet, if it’s not the water that God provides, then we will never have our thirst satisfied.  In the extreme, any of our addictions is an attempt to rely on something that will never quench the thirst of our hearts.

In the gospels, Christ says he is thirsty just twice.  Once in today’s Gospel, and once when he’s hanging on the Cross.  “I thirst.”  The thirst of Jesus is not just a physical thirst, but he thirsts for us!  He thirsts for our salvation, for us to come to him, to be satisfied by the water that is He Himself.

When Jesus says, “I thirst,” he is speaking to each of us personally.  He is saying:

I know your heart, your loneliness and your pain, reactions, judgments and humiliation.  I have endured all this before you.  I carried it all on Me for you so that you can also share My strength and victory.  I know especially your need for love and the need to drink from the fountain of love and consolation.  How many times your thirst was in vain, quenching your thirst in a selfish way, filling your thirst of illusory pleasures, that is the greater emptiness of sin?  Do you thirst for love?  “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink” (John 7:37).  I will give to drink to fullness.  Do you thirst to be loved?  I love you more than you can imagine, to the point of dying on the cross for you.  I’m thirsty for your love.  Yes, this is the only way to tell My love: I THIRST FOR YOU.  I thirst to love and be loved.  To show you how precious you are to Me!  I THIRST FOR YOU.  Never doubt of My grace, my desire to forgive, to bless and to live my life in you.  I THIRST FOR YOU.  Open to me, come to me, be thirsty for me, and offer me your life.  And I’ll show how much you are dear to My heart.”  (Those words come from a prayer of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta).

And so, two things we can reflect on today are:  (1) Where do I see Christ thirsty?  As I go about my daily work, my daily tasks, in what guise is Christ there, asking for a drink?  Where is He, drawing me out of myself to encounter Him, and in that encounter to receive from Him?

(2)  And secondly, particularly in this Lenten time of reflection on our lives – of fasting and penance – when perhaps we might be a little more attuned than normal to our attachments – and particularly our disordered attachments: where in our lives are we seeking to quench the ultimate thirst of our hearts for love on things that will never satisfy … illusory pleasures that in fact leave us feeling dispersed and disintegrated?  In what practical ways in our lives do we come to Christ – to drink of the waters that He gives?  Do we come to Him frequently in prayer … to be nourished by His Word … to be fed with His Body and Blood?  Do we seek from Him the waters of Penance and Reconciliation that wash and purify us and bring life and refreshment again to our souls?

With the woman of Samaria, we say to Jesus: Lord, give us that Water that is You … that we may never be thirsty again.  Give us that water that is a spring in us, welling up to eternal life.

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(1)   Monsignor Francesco Follo,

Now laid to rest

As Dad said this morning, “The end of an era.”

We placed Nana’s ashes at the crematorium this morning.  Everything was simple and without fuss, as she had requested.  She would have tut-tutted at one moment, but the thought of her doing that made us all smile.  I offered my Mass this morning for her and for all my grandparents.  Nana was the last to go.

Farewell Nana.  We love you.

Crematorium plaque GrandadCrematorium plaque Nana & Grandad

2014 03 23 Newsletter, Lent 3, Year A


A worthy cause … particularly apt to share on St Joseph’s day

Originally posted on Dominus mihi adjutor:

Most monasteries feel short of money. Mine has been running at an annual deficit for some years but life is far from desperate. That said, there are things we need to be doing or fixing that we cannot now do due to the limitations on our funds. One huge advantage we have is that our property is an asset that can secure us loans when we need them.

So when a monastery is both short of money and living in a house not its own, the danger is compounded. It is hard to practise the Benedictine vow of stability when it is quite possible to be evicted from the place in which one’s stability is rooted.

So please spare a thought for the brethren at the recently-founded monastery of Silverstream, in County Meath in Ireland. Fr Mark maintains the edifying and insightful blog Vultus Christi, and the brethren…

View original 264 more words

2la2014Homily for Mass – Second Sunday of Lent (Year A)

(Saint John Fisher Church, Tarragindi: Saturday 6pm, Sunday 9:00am)

15/16 March 2014

[Readings: Gen 12:1-4;  Ps 32;  2 Tim 1:8-10;  Mt 17:1-9]

Having heard today’s readings its good to recall what we heard last Sunday.  In the first reading last week we heard of the original temptation and the original sin.  Adam and Eve were tempted to disobey what God had told them … they were lied to by the serpent who made them jealous, thinking that God was keeping something from them.  And they rebelled, and did what they were told not to.  In the Gospel last weekend, Jesus – the new Adam – goes into the desert to fast, and there he contends with the devil, and faces all the temptations that beset humanity.

Those readings set the tone of Lent: we enter into our own forty days of fasting which Jesus has made holy by his forty days in the wilderness.  We acknowledge our personal sinfulness, and our sharing in the sin of humanity, present since Adam and Eve.  We try to live the disciplines of Lent to aid in our ongoing conversion to Christ by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

And now today we come to the Gospel of the Transfiguration.  Last Sunday Jesus was in the wilderness contending with the devil, squaring off against temptation and sin … and today Jesus is on the mountain with Moses and Elijah.  If last Sunday Jesus was drawing close to humanity in its weakness and temptation, today his true identity, his divinity, is literally shining through.  These two Sundays in a sense point to Holy Week.  Jesus’ combat with the devil in his temptations looks ahead to his agony in the garden, his betrayal, and then his bitter passion and death.  But today’s readings point to Easter … they point to the time when Christ will always be in glory, not just for this brief moment of transfiguration.

And so, having begun our Lenten disciplines, having been invited yet again to look at our lives, to reflect on how we’re going in our Christian discipleship, to ask ourselves how we’re measuring up against the standards Christ calls us to;  with all that in mind we have a reminder today of the point of all that.  “[T]he last word in the struggle of the Christian life does not, actually, lie with struggle.  The last word does not belong to coping with temptation.  On the contrary, the last word lies with seeing the glory of God” (1)

The point of everything we do is so that we may see the glory of God.  As Saint Paul says to the Romans, whatever sufferings we might face now are as nothing compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  This was part of the function of the Transfiguration when it happened.  Jesus had been preparing his disciples for his passion and death, and in order to help them deal with the scandal of that news, they were given a glimpse of what would be after his passion and death took place.  The suffering is as nothing compared to the glory to come.

And so for us too – as difficult as our present problems might really be, there is a joy far greater that is being prepared for us.  This doesn’t eliminate our suffering, any more than it made Christ’s crucifixion disappear … however, it helps us realize that struggle and suffering are not the final word, and are never the final word.

If we are members of the mystical body of Christ, then just as we share in his sufferings, and his death, we also share in his glorification.  And so, in our own lives, the mystery of the transfiguration has its place.  Last weekend, the Archbishop led us in reflecting on passages from the Holy Father’s exhortation, the Joy of the Gospel.  And perhaps its in our very living of the joy of the Gospel that we can allow the glory of God to shine through us and our lives.

When the disciples saw Jesus transfigured, they were seeing something that would be permanent in the future.  And so our attempts to live the joy of the gospel are in themselves pointing to that future when God’s kingdom will reign.  And so when we allow love to triumph over hatred and vengeance, then we are giving a glimpse of that time when God’s love will finally triumph.  When we work to bring people together and heal differences, we are giving a glimpse of that time when all God’s people will be gathered as one, with all divisions gone.

So, let’s have our eyes open for transfiguration moments … moments when the glory of God is particularly evident to us.  Those moments are gifts of God to us … gifts given to remind us of where we’re heading, to strengthen us in other moments of darkness, struggle.

And particularly through our special efforts of keeping a holy Lent, may it be true that God’s glory might also shine through us and our lives;  that others might be given hope and strength when they see and feel the love of God visibly and tangibly in our lives.

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(1)  Aidan Nichols OP, Year of the Lord’s Favour: A Homiliary for the Roman Liturgy, volume 2, p. 105.

2014 03 16 Newsletter, Lent 2, Year A

Screenshot 2014-03-12 Oratory blessingArchbishop Coleridge visited to bless the home of the members of the Brisbane Oratory in Formation on Ash Wednesday.  We have named our home Casa San Girolamo, after the church where our founder, St Philip Neri, lived with other priests before beginning the first Oratory.  Casa San Girolamo is located within the Annerley Ekibin Parish of Brisbane Archdiocese.

Read the story here.

Oratory news

Oratory logoOn Wednesday we were able to announce the name of another of the members of the Brisbane Oratory in Formation project.  Fr Andrew Wise is a priest of the Diocese of Sale in Victoria, Australia.  He is currently the Dean of Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Sale.

Fr Andrew has been a member of the project since the beginning, but it has only been possible to release his name at this stage.

The Brisbane Oratory in Formation project currently has five members: four priests and our seminarian studying at the Toronto Oratory.

Read more here.

2014 03 09 Newsletter, Lent 1, Year A

Homily for Mass – Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

(Saint John Fisher Church, Tarragindi: Saturday 6pm & Sunday 9:00am)

1/2 March 2014

(Readings: Is 49:14-15;  Ps 61;  1 Cor 4:1-5;  Mt 6:24-34)

Today’s readings are in invitation to trust in the providence of God.  We could say that to trust in divine providence is trust in the right things.  Because it’s clearly possibly that we might put our faith and trust in lesser things, in things other than God.

The prophet Isaiah speaks to God’s people in exile in Babylon.  God’s people weren’t necessarily always languishing in exile.  In fact, it is suggested that they had become quite settled in Babylon: achieving freedom, well-being, work, family and friends (1)  When God sends the prophets to His people to remind them of the Promised Land, and of His desire that they should “return home” to Jerusalem, they wonder why they should.  And in doing so they admit a false belief that they had come to accept: they felt justified in staying in exile because they believed that God had forgotten them, and abandoned them.”

How easily we too can have a similar idea.  We might not literally be “in exile,” but we might have a sense that our life is not really where it should be.  And even though we might feel a desire to do something to change our situation, we might settle for the relative comfort of the inferior.  Perhaps we say to ourselves, “who am I?”  “The Lord wouldn’t care enough about me.”  “I should just stick with what I’ve got.”  If we truly believed and trusted in the fact that God will never forget us, that his maternal love is unfailing, then we might be more confident to step into the unknown future.  We must trust in God’s true promises;  not false assumptions we come to believe.

In the second reading Saint Paul touches on another area where we can trust in the wrong thing: and that’s what other people think about us.  It is said that Saint Paul lacked the eloquence of some of his co-workers.  He didn’t make a show of rhetoric and fancy philosophies.  And for this reason he might have been judged harshly by his hearers, as not quite measuring up.  Even a saint will have critics, and so we have to learn to deal with other people’s opinions, both good and bad, in a way that is constructive.  Just as someone might put too much store in other people’s negative opinions, its just as much a problem to be doing things simply to win people’s favour.  We are on a slippery path if we put our trust in other people’s opinions of us.  Only one opinion matters: God’s.  St Paul says it beautifully: “Not that it makes the slightest difference to me whether you, or indeed any human tribunal, find me worthy or not. … The Lord is my judge.”

In the Gospel, Our Lord deals directly with trusting in what truly matters.  He urges us not to be anxious about things like food, drink, clothing.  He cautions even about being anxious about tomorrow – each day has enough trouble of its own – why worry about tomorrow?  Our happiness does not consist in accumulating wealth, or in having the latest fashions or the newest technology.  So many of these things are fleeting, and in an instant they could be wiped away.  But what endures is love: the love God, and that love as it is mediated between us.  It’s God’s kingdom that will endure forever, not a worldly kingdom.  And so our happiness is proportional to the extent that our values are aligned with the values of God’s Kingdom, rather than a worldly kingdom.

A few years ago, Pope Benedict reflected on how we can get caught up in looking for happiness in all the wrong places.  He said, “But let us also think of those people, especially the young, who have lost their sense of true joy and seek it in vain where it is impossible to find it:  in the exasperated race to self-affirmation and success, in false amusements, in consumerism, in moments of drunkenness, in the artificial paradise of drugs and every form of alienation” (2)  The danger is that we can so easily put our trust in things that really won’t bring us happiness.  Someone once described life to me as a gradual letting go of all the things we hang on to.  And as all those things are gradually either taken away from us, or as we let go of them, our hands are then free to grasp the hands of God that were always held out for us to take hold of.

For it is in God alone that our souls will be at rest;  He alone is our rock, our stronghold, our fortress.  In God alone do we stand firm.

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(1)   Sacerdos:  Accessed 1 March 2014.

(2)   Benedict XVI, Angelus, Third Sunday of Advent, 2006.

2014 03 02 Newsletter, Ordinary Time 8, Year A

2014 02 23 Newsletter, Ordinary Time 7, Year A

7oaHomily for Mass – Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am & 5:00pm

23 February 2014

(Readings: Lev 19:1-2, 17-18;  Ps 102;  1 Cor 3:16-23;  Mt 5:38-48)

The Old Testament law that Jesus refers to in today’s Gospel sounds brutal to our ears: an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.  But in fact that law was actually an attempt to limit retribution.  It was intended to curtail the impulse for unlimited vengeance and unnecessary bloodshed (1).  If someone stole a camel, then all they would lose is a camel in return to make everything even (2).  Just like over the last few Sundays we’ve been seeing Jesus give quite demanding teachings, we see the same today.

It’s not enough just to curtail the desire for revenge by exacting an in-kind retribution (an eye for an eye), but Jesus makes his demand on his disciples even more challenging: no retribution at all!  The standard Jesus sets involves turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, even loving one’s enemies.

Today’s Gospel pokes at a reality that is lurking never very far away in our lives.  How easily our hearts can become full of petty jealousies, hatred and spite.  “A hurting word from a friend immediately sparks off thoughts of revenge and retaliation.  We often brood over insignificant insults, … we harbour grudges.  Jesus rejects such behaviour and insists on repaying evil with good.  He warns against giving in to bitterness and being obsessed with feelings of vindictiveness.”  These attitudes are not in line with his teachings … we are, rather, to have a heart of forgiveness and mercy (3).

When we speak of this, one challenge that arises is this: isn’t this just encouraging a sort of passiveness, encouraging Christians not to do anything to curtail injustices?  Is this not just a form of enabling bad behaviour?  But this is not what Jesus intended at all.  He isn’t saying: just cop whatever you’re given and do nothing.  Jesus’ words, in fact, are full of directions of what we must be doing: we must LOVE our enemies, PRAY for those who persecute us, GIVE greetings to those who are not our friends, and to BE perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.

This is not some form of Christian passivity – this is hard work; active work, things Jesus is telling us to DO every day.  It’s an active form of RESISTANCE … of consciously working not to stoop to the level of other people’s bad behaviour, but to operate by a higher standard.  The ultimate aim is that we will conquer the hearts of our enemies – they will be vanquished because they will have ceased to be enemies (1).

As I reflected on this text it was the story of St Maria Goretti that came to my mind.  Maria was not even twelve years old when she was attacked by an older boy because she would not give in to him.  The injuries she sustained were fatal, but on her death-bed she expressed forgiveness for her attacker.  That young man was sentenced to 30 years in jail.  For the first three years he was unrepentant of his crime.  But this changed after the local bishop went to visit him in prison.  He wrote to the bishop to thank him for his visit, and wrote about a dream he had in which Maria gave him flowers which burned as soon as he held them.

When he got out of prison, he went to visit Maria’s mother, Assunta, who was still alive – and he begged her forgiveness.  She did forgive him – saying that if Maria had forgiven him while she was still alive, she couldn’t do otherwise.  It’s reported that they went to Mass the next morning, and received Holy Communion side by side.  Both of them were also present at Maria Goretti’s canonization in 1950.  He became a Capuchin brother, living in a monastery and dying at the age of 87.

It’s an extraordinary story of forgiveness and repentance.  And its interesting that the forgiveness came first … the repentance took longer.  St Maria Goretti forgave her attacker as she knew Our Lord would want her to do … and it was that love that she showed that eventually unlocked her attacker’s heart.  Jesus wants us to conquer our enemies by love.  It’s love that opens peoples hearts to the grace of God.

This is surely what it means to be perfect as God is perfect.  God loves us first … even though we are sinners;  even though we act as though we despise his laws, we break his commandments, we don’t do what he’s asked us to … and yet he loves us, with a love that never goes away.  And once we catch a glimpse of that love, that changes our hearts … we repent, and we want to follow His ways.

Let’s come to that love this morning … the love that led Jesus to offer himself on the altar of the Cross, dying to set us free.  As we encounter that love and receive that love, may it help us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect … to actively love our enemies and to pray for those who treat us badly.

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(1)   365 Days with the Lord: Liturgical Biblical Diary 2014.

(2)   The Word Among Us, February 2014.

(3)   God’s Word 2014: Daily Reflections.

6oaHomily for Mass – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

(Saint John Fisher Church, Tarragindi: Saturday 6pm;  Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am)

18/19 January 2014

(Readings: Ecclesiasticus 15:15-20;  Ps 118;  1 Cor 2:6-10;  Mt 5:17-27)

One summary of the central themes of today’s readings is to say that they teach us about true Christian freedom.  To speak of freedom is a challenging thing because for many people, the concept of “freedom” means that I can and will do whatever I like: to be free is to be unhindered by anyone else in the pursuit of what I choose to do.  While there are elements of this that are true, it doesn’t sit neatly with a true understanding of Christian freedom.

The first reading says to us that we have a choice: fire and water are set before us: life and death – what we prefer is what we will be given.

In the Gospel, Jesus refers to the Law that God gave to His people through Moses.  In the Law, particularly the ten commandments, we see enshrined not just the vices that are to be avoided (murder, adultery, lying) – but we see enshrined in these laws the good thing to be pursued: respect for life;  fidelity to one’s spouse;  the truth.

Jesus goes on further to say that he came not to abolish that Law, but to fulfil it.  Jesus takes the commandments of the Law, and in a sense “cranks them up:” they are not just certain things that we’re to do or to avoid, as though we could tick them off and feel satisfied: but rather the truth enshrined in the law is to become so part of our being that we perceive the higher demands of the law.  One commentator suggests that its like the difference between building a house and building a home;  between staying married to someone and being faithful to your spouse;  between never having an accident and actually being a good driver (2).

And so, the truth of respect for life that is enshrined in the commandment not to kill, is not only observed by avoiding murdering anyone (probably something that most of us manage to achieve!), but this is extended by Jesus to include “murdering” someone by our angry thoughts; or our harsh words.

Similarly, the command not to commit adultery is extended by Our Lord to include not even looking lustfully at another.  Just like murder, it might be possible to avoid adultery in the strict sense, but Jesus calls us to think of the fact that there is a whole range of behaviours that make our hearts impure.  There are all manner of smaller vices that predispose us to greater ones.

Fulfilling the law, which Jesus says he came to do, is not just managing to “skate” through life, and through a mixture of luck or cleverness managing to avoid the bigger sins.  Fulfilling the law, in Christ, is to live the truths that the law upholds in that expansive way that Christ speaks of.  We’re not just to “uphold the law” which could be likened to keeping our noses clean, but rather we are to live it.  As we consider the Gospel text of today’s Mass we realize that Jesus is calling us to a higher standard than what the world around us would call us to.  Our virtue must go deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees – who were the most learned and the most devout of their time.  A Christian morality is not just avoiding the “big sins” – but calls for attention to virtuous living in the very bits and pieces of our daily living, and particularly in the parts of our lives that no one else even knows about.  To have a virtue that goes beyond mere appearances is to be virtuous even when no one else will ever see or know our virtuous actions, but God alone.

I just want to add a little aside, because there a line in our Gospel tonight which is a little misleading because of a bad translation.  When Jesus is speaking of the prohibition against divorce, our translation leads us to believe that the prohibition applies “except for the case of fornication.”  To our ears that would tend to suggest that divorce is permissible, for example, after adultery.  However, scholars tell us that the word “fornication” is a bad translation, and that the original word that is being translated here referred to a prohibited marriage: for example, a marriage between a brother and sister.  That is to say: a marriage which should never have taken place (which in our current understanding we’d say is an invalid marriage) … divorce in such a circumstance is clearly permitted because the union is illicit to start with.  I just wanted to add that because it is a line that often causes people confusion.

True Christian freedom, therefore, is far from just doing whatever I like.  We will find our true freedom, and the perfection of love, in the paradoxical surrender to the laws of God, first revealed in the Old Covenant, and then amplified in the teachings of Jesus.  Our virtue is not just the avoidance of all the big sins, but Jesus challenges us to look at all the things in between.

Let’s pray that the graces of this Mass will help us to have a virtue that goes beyond appearances, such that we will be virtuous even when it is God alone who will know what we have done or not done.

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2014 02 16 Newsletter, Ordinary Time 6, Year A

5oaHomily for Mass – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am & 5:00pm

9 February 2014

(Readings: Is 58:7-10;  Ps 111;  1 Cor 2:1-5;  Mt 5:13-16)

Amongst all the difficult precepts that Jesus gives his disciples to follow, he adds in amongst them some statements that are more like praise of his disciples: encouragement to them to live up to the ideals he has presented them.  If I said to someone: ‘you’re a gem!’ or ‘you’re an inspiration’ or ‘you’re a great example to others’ – perhaps that is something like what Jesus was meaning when he said to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth; … you are the light of the world.”

But, of course, these statements were far from mere flattery.  To consider them we learn some important things about the nature of being a follower of Christ.  We note that Jesus talks about his disciples being salt.  It might seem funny to say it, but Jesus didn’t tell his disciples that they were the sugar of the earth.  We’re not meant to be “sweeteners” – making everything “nice” – making everyone “feel OK.”  If we say things like, “oh, it doesn’t really matter what you do, we all get to heaven anyway” – that’s not the Gospel that Jesus preached.

No, he told his disciples that they were salt.  Salt is something that stings, and that bites.  If you put salt in a wound, it hurts!  And perhaps this says something about why, at times, when we consider the commandments of God and the teachings of Christ, they bite a bit, we might even feel a bit stung.  This is because we are wounded in our sins and by our sins, and so when the salt of the Gospel first comes to our ears, it stings, it bites.  We recoil, initially.  But as we let the truth of the Gospel sink into our hearts, we realize its sting is only temporary, and we are stung because of our wounded state.

Salt, ultimately, is something that preserves.  And so the salt of the Gospel is something that preserves us unto everlasting life.  It preserves us through all the vicissitudes of earthly life, and keeps us for the life of eternity that we are made for.

Jesus says that his disciples are salt of the earth.  This points out that their call as his disciples is not just something for themselves, or their immediate families, or even just for their nation.  They are salt for the earth – the whole world.  This points to the scope of our vocation as Christians – it isn’t just something private and personal, but a vocation that looks to the world;  a vocation of following Christ for the salvation of the whole world.  Faith is not, then, just my business – but something that puts us into a relationship with the world for its benefit.  To be a disciple of Jesus is to have that outward looking focus … I think this is a theme that Pope Francis has been restating in various ways.

The second image that Jesus uses – the image of being the light of the world – also reveals the nature of being a follower of Christ.  Light illumines.  It shows the way.  It lights up the darkness.  It helps us walk where we want to go without tripping.  Again, this points to the service that Christ’s followers are meant to exercise for the benefit of the world.

At various times through history it can be shown how the Church rendered this service in the world.  Authors will demonstrate how the monasteries saved western civilization.  All the social institutions that we take as being normal parts of society, have their origins in the church: hospitals, schools, universities.

The Church holds out perennial values for the world – values that are, in fact, written in the natural law by God himself.  Beyond these things found in the natural law, we have divine revelation – the things that Jesus has revealed and taught.  We’ve had in recent days the United Nations trying to tell the church that it needs to change its teachings on a number of matters.  But anyone who thinks that the Church can simply change its teachings by majority vote, misunderstands that what we believe and teach has been given to us through the different modes of revelation.  We have received it, and we pass it on – but the church is not just a big committee that can rewrite its beliefs as it so chooses.

This fits with the image Jesus uses of his disciples being the light of the world.  If you consider a light, whether it be the sun or an electric light, a light is never changed by what it illuminates.  A light doesn’t moderate itself to suit that which it shines on.  And if we consider the extreme:  when a light globe becomes just like the dark room it is in (that is, when the globe blows and no longer shines) – it’s useless, and needs to be thrown out, and replaced by a globe that is going to shine like it’s meant to.

Just as salt stings to begin with, light can be blinding if we’re accustomed to the dark.  The light of truth can seem harsh at first … but it is a light that we will become accustomed to the more we stand in it.  The light of truth helps us see our way clearly … and we can therefore walk freely, less fearful of tripping over obstacles concealed in the dark.

Jesus said to his disciples, and so he also says to us, those who are his disciples in the world today: You are the salt of the earth.  You are the light of the world.  We are called to bring the salt and the light of the Gospel to our world today.  This is the service we render to the world … and we do this so that the world might be saved.  Jesus is not flattering us by calling us salt and light;  rather he is steeling us for the challenge of preserving the world for eternal life, and of shining his light to overcome the darkness of sin, evil and death.

Every week, we need – absolutely need – the nourishment of the Eucharist to help us to live up to our Christian vocation.

2014 02 09 Newsletter, Ordinary Time 5, Year A

The following has been in Brisbane’s Courier Mail.  Reposting it here in case you missed it.

EKARI Edward (1980-2014) Seminarian of Holy Spirit Seminary Queensland.  Monsignor Anthony Randazzo and the Seminary Community invite Relatives and Friends of Eddie to celebrate a Memorial Mass at Holy Spirit Chapel (ACU) on Monday, 10 February, 2014 at 12.30 p. m. .Parking via Australian Catholic University, Nudgee Road entrance.AUSTRALIAN HERITAGEFUNERALS – 4634 H9946 Toowoomba – Family owned
Published in The Courier-Mail on 05/02/2014

- See more at:

The following pictures are to illustrate my talk at St Mary’s, South Brisbane, on Wednesday 5 February 2014.  I’m not quite what I’m doing incorrectly, but some are appearing below, and some you will need to click the link to see the picture.  They appear here in the order in which they will be refered to in the talk.

Picture 1 – The meeting

the meeting

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Picture 2 – Old church, exterior with steeple in red brick rebuilt in 1820

old church exterior

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Picture 3 – Interior of the old church, looking towards the front door

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Picture 4 – The “Ecce homo” (Behold the man) side chapel

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Picture 5 – The side-chapel dedicated to St John the Baptist

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Picture 6 – The confessional for women in the St John the Baptist side-chapel

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Picture 7 – The confessional in the sacristy that Fr Vianney used for the men’s confessions

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Picture 8 – the gilt wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, with silver gilt heart hanging in front of her containing the names of all his parishioners

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Picture 9 – The statue and chapel of Saint Philomena in the old church

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Picture 10 – The Statue of Saint Francis of Assisi in the old church

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Picture 11 – The tabernacle

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 Picture 12 – the pulpit of the old church

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Picture 13 – the other pulpit of the old church, for the 11 o’clock talks

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Picture 14 – “The Providence”

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Picture 15 – The presbytery kitchen

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Picture 16 – Fr Vianney’s bedroom

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Picture 17 – The courtyard of the presbytery

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Picture 18 – Fr Vianney’s library

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Photo 19 – View from the old church, looking into the basilica

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Photo 20 – Looking into the basilica from the old church

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Picture 21 – Aerial shot of the old church and new basilica

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Picture 22 – The Altar of the Reliquary holding the Saint’s body, in the basilica

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Acknowledgement: “Ars: Pilgrim’s Guide” published in France.

Tonight I’ll be speaking at Saint Mary’s, South Brisbane, on Saint John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests.

Watch this space, as I hope to upload a few pictures to go with the talk – so bring your phones and iPads to the talk with you – I won’t ask you to turn them off!

A portrait shot of Saint John Vianney:

sjv portrait

Facebook event page:

presentation of the LordHomily for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

2 February 2014

Saint John Fisher Church, Tarragindi: 6:00pm Saturday & 9:00am Sunday

[Readings: Malachi 3:1-4;  Psalm 23;  Hebrews 2:14-18;  Lk 2:22-40]

Today’s feast of the Presentation of the Lord beautifully presents the humanity and divinity of our Lord Jesus.  In the first place, the whole scene plants him firmly in history.  The Holy Family faithfully observe the Old Testament law that “prescribed a ritual purification for the mother” a certain number of days after childbirth – after 33 days for a girl, and after 66 days for a boy.  The older name for today’s feast – and indeed its most biblical and Jewish name – captures this reality: the Purification of our Lady.

But of course we immediately add that this is no ordinary mother coming to the Temple to be purified.  This is the all-pure Virgin, the Mother of God;  she who was the way by which holiness itself – Jesus Christ, the Holy one of God – came into the world (1).

The actions of Simeon and Anna during this event draw out the extraordinary nature of this particular purification.  It had been revealed to Simeon and Anna that they would not see death before they saw the arrival of the true light of the world.  You can hear the sense of completion and fulfillment in Simeon’s words which are prayed by the Church daily at Night Prayer as we prepare for sleep, which daily prefigures our preparation for the sleep of death, “Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised;  because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.”

These words in themselves are a revelation.  As Jesus is presented in the temple as per the Jewish custom, it is he who is presented to the world as it’s true light.  Today is another epiphany – another revelation of who Jesus is – and so it is another moment – the final moment – of the Christmas event.

Simeon’s words describing Christ as the light to enlighten the pagans has meant that this feast has been associated with the lighting and blessing candles, symbols of Christ the light.  This feast has also therefore been known as Candlemas.  Christ is not just a light in the world, but He is the light by which everything makes sense.  It is in His light that we can judge the truth of all things.  He is Light from Light, true God from true God as we profess in the Creed.

And so the candles that we use in church – on the altar, and that we carry in procession – that we use in holy Baptism; and of course the great Easter candle used in Holy Week and at funerals and baptisms – these are a sign of “the splendour of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ.”

We recall today that the “Mother of God, the most pure Virgin, carried the true light in her arms and brought him to those who lay in darkness.  We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet him” (Liturgy of the Hours).

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(1)  Aidan Nichols, OP, Year of the Lord’s Favour, a Homiliary for the Roman Liturgy: Volume I, The Sanctoral Cycle.  Balwyn, Victoria: Freedom, 2012.

2014 02 02 Newsletter, Presentation of the Lord

Here are the details for Brisbane’s Rally for Life this year:

The Rally For Life will be held in Queens Park, cnr Elizabeth & George St, Brisbane City on Saturday 22 February starting with the Roby Curtis band at 1pm followed by the speakers from 2pm.  Speakers this year include Margaret Tighe of Right to Life Australia, Tim Rushbrook, father of a child with Down Syndrome, and Wendy Francis, Australian Christian Lobby.  The Balloon Release will be around 3.45pm.  Information stands for pro-life and pro-family groups there for your perusal on the day.  Bring chair/rug, hat, sunscreen, water, and most importantly, a donation to ensure the continuation of the Rally as a public witness to the sanctity of human life.

The flyer can be downloaded from here: 2014 Rally for Life flyer

The Family Mass sponsored by Catholic homeschooling families in Brisbane resumes this coming Saturday, 1 February 2014.  Mass is at 9am at Immaculate Conception Church, Halle Street, Everton Park.  The Sacrament of Penance is available following the Mass.  Morning tea also follows Mass.

The gathering on Saturday will welcome in the new school year and be a wonderful opportunity to connect with other Catholic families.
The dates for the Masses in 2014 are the First Saturday of each month from February to December, except for October when no Mass will be held.
All are welcome.

Call of Peter and Andrew LVenezianoHomily for Mass – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am & 5:00pm

26 January 2014

[Readings: Is 8:23-9:3;  Ps 26;  1 Cor 1:10-13, 17;  Mt 4:12-23]

In today’s Gospel we see Jesus in the early days of his public ministry, calling the first members of his “team,” making the rounds of Galilee, teaching, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and curing those with sickness and disease.  We see Jesus embodying the fact that he is the light to the peoples of the world … He is the one who will bring light where there is darkness.

After his resurrection and ascension, his chosen band would take up the mantle, and would literally take his light to the ends of the known world.  His chosen ones might have had a few troubles to begin with, but once they became witnesses to his resurrection, there was no stopping them.  In the Gospels throughout the year, we’ll hear of some of the hesitating steps that the apostles would first make – even false steps – but we recall what we see in today’s Gospel: as Jesus calls Peter and Andrew, and then James and John, they follow him without hesitation.  The Lord is able to build on that initial generosity and enthusiasm that allowed them to respond to the call of the Lord so eagerly.

As Jesus went about proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom, he was acting in and with the power of God.  God was truly breaking into the darkness of people’s lives through the words and actions of Christ … in and through Him, the true light of the world was breaking forth.

Now, Jesus’ followers were meant to be acting with the same power.  The same light was meant to shine through the Church as it continued the ministry of Christ following his ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit.  In the second reading today Saint Paul addresses the situation of divisions in the Christian community … factions arising where people are claiming to belong to different parties.  Such divisions dim the light that should be shining in and through the Church, and they hinder the power of God working as effectively as it might.

In many parts of the world this past week was observed as the week of prayer for Christian Unity … and so our second reading today is most apt:  is Christ truly the centre of our spiritual life?  Are we sure we’re following Christ, and not someone or something else?

In the past few days Pope Francis spoke about some of the divisions that can creep into the community.  He spoke very strongly about how Christians must close the doors to jealousies, envy and gossip that divide and destroy our communities.  He commented that a person who is jealous or envious has a bitterness in their heart, and they’ve forgotten how to sing, how to praise and what joy is.  He warns us against being sowers of bitterness.  The Holy Father also says that jealousy and envy lead to rumors and gossip which he says divides the community and destroy it.  He went so far as to say that “rumours are the weapons of the devil.” (1)  He concluded his remarks by praying for “our Christian communities so that this seed of jealousy will not be sown between us, so that envy will not take root in our heart, in the heart of our communities, and so we can move forward with praise to the Lord, praising the Lord with joy.  It is a great grace [he said] the grace of not falling into sadness, being resentful, jealous and envious.”

It’s good to reflect on these warnings that St Paul presents to us, and also the Holy Father, because the Lord has called all of us and made us members of His Church.  Like the first disciples and apostles, we are meant to be the bearers of the Good News of salvation in the midst of our world today.  But we won’t do that very well if we’re turned in on ourselves, or if there is a fundamental disunity that prevents us working together for the mission of Christ.  Yesterday we celebrated the feast of the conversion of Saint Paul … and it was a reminder that we should always pray for our own ongoing conversion to Christ, so that we will truly follow him above all things, and not fall into divisions, rivalries, factions.

On this Australia Day, as we pray for our nation, we are reminded that this is the place where we are called to be bearers of Christ’s light in the world.  So we might ask ourselves: what are the challenging areas of darkness in our national scene that are calling out for the light of Christ to be brought to?  What response and action is the Lord calling us to?  Through the intercession of our national patroness, Mary Help of Christians, may God bless Australia, and may He help all of us to work together to continue the work of Christ in our land: to lead people to repent and come home to the Lord, to proclaim the Good News of the kingdom, and to share the Lord’s healing love with those weighed down by any form of oppression.

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2014 Newsletter, Ordinary Time 3, Year A

Since Monday is a public holiday, the morning Mass will be at 9am at Mary Immaculate, Annerley.  There will be no 7am Mass at Ekibin this Monday, 27 January 2014.

Parish Diary, 2014 January 25-February 2

2oaHomily for Mass – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

(Saint John Fisher Church, Tarragindi: Saturday 6pm & Sunday 9am;  Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am & 5:00pm)

18/19 January 2014

[Readings: Is 49:3, 5-6;  Ps 39;  1 Cor 1:1-3;  Jn 1:29-34]

In the first reading today, the prophet Isaiah speaks of being formed in the womb to be God’s servant.  In another place, the prophet Jeremiah will say a similar thing, putting into the mouth of the Lord the words: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  We hear of the adult John the Baptist in the gospel, but we recall that while he was still in the womb of his mother Elizabeth, he recognized the presence of Jesus, and John leapt in his mother’s womb.

From these things we can be reminded that no-one is too young to witness to Christ (1).  Giving witness to him – evangelizing – is something that unites all generations;  whether we are the youngest or the oldest, we can all alike share this duty and privilege of witnessing to Christ.  In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI approved a decree recognizing the heroic virtues of a little girl, Antoinetta Meo, a six-year-old cancer victim who offered her suffering in union with the sufferings of Christ.  One day she could be youngest canonized non-martyr saint.  If God knows us and calls us while we are still in the womb, then we should never “underestimate the holiness to which God calls [even] young people, including our own children and grandchildren” (1).

The words of the first reading apply also to Christ himself.  He is the Servant and the Son of God, sent by the Father to bring His people back, to restore them to communion with God.  Jesus is the light of the nations, and through him salvation reaches to the ends of the earth.

John the Baptist, in the Gospel, goes further by calling Jesus the “Lamb of God.”  For the Jewish people, the lamb was something sacrificed, and its blood smeared on the doorposts and lintel of their homes.  This would be a sign for the angel of death to pass-over them.  The blood was therefore a sign a life and of protection.  When John the Baptist calls Jesus the Lamb of God, he is telling the people that he – Jesus – is the one whose blood has power to save … this is the one who will free humankind from its slavery to sin … Jesus will save his people from death; just as in former times, the blood of the lamb saved God’s people (2).

So that his salvation may reach to the ends of the earth, from the beginning Christ has chosen apostles and disciples.  In the second reading Saint Paul states that he was “appointed by God to be an apostle.”  It is part of the divine plan that Christ uses us to be bearers of his salvation.  All of the baptized are sharers in Christ’s priestly, prophetic and royal office in their own way.

Like little Antoinetta Meo, we are called to unite ourselves with Jesus.  Like her, we can unite our suffering and sacrifices with his … in this we are ultimately called to unite our will with his.  Our human will is utterly unique …each of us has it, and no one can take it away from us.  With an act of the will we can unite ourselves to Christ.  When Mary said her yes – her fiat – to God, she was uniting her will with the Divine Will, so that God’s action in her was truly her action as well.  She consented – she willed it.

God who knew each of us from our mother’s womb, and who even in the womb has called us to be not just his servants, but his sons and daughters, [God] wants us to unite our wills with his … so that having been baptized into Christ, we may truly take his salvation to the ends of the earth.  God wants us to take on the mind of Christ – to embody Christ – to be Christ’s hands and voice.   Going to the ends of the earth has a literal sense, but Pope Francis has been encouraging us recently to consider a spiritual sense to those words … to take the light of Christ to the “existential peripheries” … to the far reaches of the human spirit:  to the lonely, the desperate, the rejected, the hopeless, and to the materially poor (3).  These existential peripheries are not just in far off places … they are much closer to home than that … highlighting the challenge to all of us to fulfil our baptismal calling whenever we encounter these realities.

May the eucharist we celebrate today bring us closer to Christ.  May we unite our will with the saving will of Christ … that we will take his light into the darkness of the world (wherever we find that) and that we will desire, more than anything, to bring people into communion with God.

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(2)   Daily Prayer 2014, LTP.

(3)   Living Faith: Daily Catholic Devotions, January, February, March 2014.

lppewbooksfront_gallery_thumbnailI am seeking to gather together a set of copies of the pew edition of the Australian “Living Parish Hymn Book.”

Perhaps your parish might have a box of them sitting in a cupboard that you might be prepared to part with?

If this is the case, please phone Fr Adrian Sharp at Annerley Ekibin parish (Brisbane) on 07 3848 1107.

Talks on the Eucharist

perpetual adoration bris 2014 01 17During 2013, Fr David Nugent and Barry Braum (a seminarian), who are both members of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist, gave retreat talks at various places in the Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Most of the audio files of these talks are available on the website of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, Brisbane: here.

This is a wonderful free resource … perfect for spiritual reflection.

2014 Newsletter, Ordinary Time 2, Year A

Saturday 18th January          Saturday Mass of the Virgin Mary

7.15-7.45am  Confessions               Mary Immaculate

8.00am           Mass [OF+]                 Mary Immaculate

                                                    Vigil for 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

5.15-5.45pm  Confessions               St John Fisher

6.00pm           Mass [OF]                    St John Fisher


Sunday 19th January             2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

7.30am           Mass [OF]                    Mary Immaculate

9.00am           Mass [OF]                    St John Fisher

5.00pm           Mass [OF]                    Mary Immaculate

Monday 20th January           Weekday, Ordinary Time 2 / St Fabian / St Sebastian

6.30am           Angelus & Rosary      St Elizabeth

7.00am           Mass [OF]                    St Elizabeth

7.00pm           Mass [OF+]                  Mary Immaculate


Tuesday 21st January           St Agnes

9.00am           Mass [OF]                    St Mary of the Cross (16 Ferndale St, Annerley)

Wednesday 22nd January    Weekday, Ordinary Time 2 / St Vincent

6.00pm           Mass [OF]                    St John Fisher

Thursday 23rd January        Weekday, Ordinary Time 2

7.00am           Mass [OF]                    Mary Immaculate

7.30-8.00am  Confessions               Mary Immaculate

Friday 24th January               St Francis de Sales

6.30am           Angelus & Rosary      St Elizabeth

7.00am           Mass [OF]                    St Elizabeth


Saturday 25th January          The Conversion of St Paul

7.15-7.45am  Confessions               Mary Immaculate

7.30am           Rosary                         Mary Immaculate

8.00am           Mass [OF+]                  Mary Immaculate


                                                   Vigil for 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

5.15-5.45pm  Confessions               St John Fisher

6.00pm           Mass [OF]                    St John Fisher

Sunday 26th January            3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) /  Australia Day

7.30am           Mass [OF]                    Mary Immaculate

9.00am           Mass [OF]                    St John Fisher

10.30am         Baptisms                     Mary Immaculate

5.00pm           Mass [OF]                    Mary Immaculate

[OF = Ordinary Form | EF = Extraordinary Form | + = Ad orientem]

Today a team of young people will begin a walking pilgrimage from Brisbane to Melbourne.  Their aim is to share and spread the pro-life message, especially to increase awareness of the right to life of children in the womb.

Chris DaSilva, one of the team members, spoke at Masses in Annerley Ekibin parish over the weekend.  He said that each member of the team would walk approximately 15 to 20km each day.  The begin each day – when they can – by attending daily Mass, and praying Morning Prayer together, before setting off for the day.  On Saturdays they will usually pray outside an abortion mill in the place where they are staying.  On Sundays, the team visits different parishes to share the message of their journey.

Chris invited us over the weekend to write down prayer requests which they would remember on their journey, which is physically, emotionally, and spiritually arduous.   They’ll have plenty of mortifications and sufferings to offer up for our intentions.

Let’s pray for these young people over the next few weeks: for safety in their travels, and for God to bless and anoint their mission.  May God change many hearts and help us all to embrace the culture of life.

You can follow their progress on their Facebook page:

baptism-of-christ-1483Homily for Mass – Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Year A)

(Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: 7:30am & 5:00pm)

12 January 2014

(Readings: Is 42:1-4, 6-7;  Ps 28;  Acts 10:34-38;  Mt 3:13-17)

Some authors suggest that it’s lucky, in a way, that the story of the baptism of Jesus made it into the tradition.  For, at the time, this episode would have been “disturbing, embarrassing, and even scandalous” (1).  Why did the all-holy, immaculate Lamb of God submit to an act of ritual purification?  Why did he risk giving the appearance that he was as much in need of the baptism of repentance being given by John as anyone else?

Today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a wonderful pivot point between the Season of Christmas, and then our journey into the mysteries of Christ’s life in Ordinary Time.  It is a fitting conclusion to Christmas because the central theme of these past weeks has been the fact that God drew close to humankind;  so close that he took flesh to live among us.  Jesus steps into the waters with sinful mankind, and in so doing he shows us how much God loves us: that He comes to us in our necessity and our weakness.  He doesn’t just watch;  He doesn’t just send others to try to fix things.  He Himself is in the water … and by His presence he makes holy the very waters with which he is washed.

The mystery of the Lord’s baptism is a prefigurement of his crucifixion and death.  His going down into the waters for baptism points to when he will go down into the darkness of death and his descent into hell.  His descent, both times (at his baptism, and in his crucifixion and death), is precisely to undo and transform … he goes down into the waters of baptism to make holy those waters which will free people from sin;  he goes down into realm of death to undo the powers of death, and to make our passage through death not an end, but a path to resurrection.

The fact that we might ask “why?” – why did the sinless one receive John’s baptism or repentence – indicates that Jesus would stop at nothing to come to our assistance.  He would risk being misunderstood in order to come to our aid.  “When [love] comes to the aid of the beloved, it does not wait to see whether it might be misunderstood or compromised. … It makes itself vulnerable and if necessary accepts hurt” (1).  The tenderness with which Jesus comes to us is spoken of beautifully in the words of the prophet Isaiah – words that are applied to Jesus, “He does not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame” (First Reading).  These are very consoling words.  Sometimes we are that crushed reed, or wavering flame … and Jesus’s mercy is gentle … and then, in turn, we will encounter others who are crushed and wavering, and our challenge is to have the tenderness of Christ in dealing with them.

The baptism of Jesus – together with his epiphany – marks the beginning of his appearing to the world.  Similarly, our baptism is the beginning of our life with God, the moment when we are adopted as God’s sons and daughters.  Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his Letter Porta fidei:  “The ‘door of faith’ is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church.  It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace.  To enter through the door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime.  It begins with baptism, through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death and eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”

In baptism, we have been washed in the waters that do away with sin.  That baptismal washing is renewed every time we make a good confession – we are renewed as cleansed as if it was the day of our baptism.  Because of our baptism, we also need no longer fear the passage of death.  We have the promise of Christ that if we share his life through faith and baptism, then we can be sharers in his passage through death to the resurrection.

On this feast of the Baptism of the Lord, let’s be grateful that we have been made sharers in the life of Christ through holy baptism.  Let’s give thanks to God that we have been washed in the waters that Christ made holy at his baptism.  Let’s give thanks to God that the graces of baptism are constantly being renewed in us – they have been made firm in the Sacrament of Confirmation;  they are renewed every time we participate in the eucharist;  and they restored in Confession when we loose them.

The journey to and with Christ is a lifelong journey.  Christ has come to us in all tenderness and mercy so that we can share his life;  so that we can come to share in his divinity by his sharing in our humanity.  Filled with love at Christ’s mercy, let’s pray that we will not despise His love, or ignore it … let’s make a wholehearted response by coming to him, and living our lives according to his will, and in his will.


(1)   Aidan Nichols, OP, Year of the Lord’s Favour: A Homiliary for the Roman Liturgy, Volume 2, The Temporal Cycle: Advent and Christmastide, Lent and Eastertide, Balwyn, Victoria, Freedom Publishing, 2012.

Archbishop Coleridge will install and bless me as Parish Priest of Annerley Ekibin Parish on Tuesday 18 February, during Mass at 7:00pm at Mary Immaculate Church, Cnr Ipswich Road and Ferndale Street.

All are invited and welcome to join with the parish community for this celebration.

This week’s parish newsletter:

2014 Newsletter, Baptism, Year A



Saturday 11 January                        Weekday of Christmas Time

8:00am            Mass [OF+]                  Mary Immaculate


                                                            Vigil for The Baptism of the Lord

5:15-5:45pm    Confessions                 St John Fisher

6:00pm            Mass [OF]                    St John Fisher


Sunday 12 January                            The Baptism of the Lord

7:30am            Mass [OF]                    Mary Immaculate

9:00am            Mass [OF]                    St John Fisher

10:30am          Baptisms                     Mary Immaculate

5:00pm            Mass [OF]                    Mary Immaculate


Monday 13 January                           Weekday, Ordinary Time 1 / St Hilary

6:30am            Angelus & Rosary        St Elizabeth

7:00am            Mass [OF]                    St Elizabeth

7:00pm            Mass [OF+]                  Mary Immaculate


Tuesday 14 January                           Weekday, Ordinary Time 1

9:00am            Mass [OF]                    St Mary of the Cross

7:30pm            Baptism Preparation   St John Fisher Hall


Wednesday 15 January                     Weekday, Ordinary Time 1

6:00pm            Mass [OF]                    St John Fisher


Thursday 16 January                         Weekday, Ordinary Time 1

7:00am            Mass [OF]                    Mary Immaculate

7:30-8:00am    Confessions                 Mary Immaculate


Friday 17 January                              St Anthony

6:30am            Angelus & Rosary        St Elizabeth

7:00am            Mass [OF]                    St Elizabeth


Saturday 18 January                        Saturday Mass of the Virgin Mary

7:15-7:45am    Confessions                 Mary Immaculate

8:00am            Mass [OF+]                  Mary Immaculate


                                                            Vigil for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

5:15-5:45pm    Confessions                 St John Fisher

6:00pm            Mass [OF]                    St John Fisher


Sunday 19 January                            Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

7:30am            Mass [OF]                    Mary Immaculate

9:00am            Mass [OF]                    St John Fisher

5:00pm            Mass [OF]                    Mary Immaculate


[OF=Ordinary Form | EF=Extraordinary Form | +=Ad orientem]

This blog has been rather quiet this past year since my return to Brisbane after having completed my licentiate in canon law in Ottawa.  The posts have mainly been my weekly homilies.  2013 passed swiftly, as I spent my time working in the tribunal, attending to certain tasks in the parish where I was resident, and fulfilling various ministerial/apostolic tasks that came my way.

Around the time of my birthday in October, I received a call indicating that the Archbishop wanted to make me administrator of a parish.  In the resulting conversations that ensued, it was decided that I would become the Parish Priest of Annerley Ekibin Parish on Brisbane’s southside.  It’s a “home-coming” in a way for me, because I was baptised in Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley (as was my brother;  and my Mum was confirmed here too, some years before).  Annerley is where my faith journey began, and Annerley is also now where my priestly journey is taking a new turn.

My appointment to Annerley also led to a slight change to another appointment that had already been made.  Fr Paul Chandler’s appointment to Clayfield as priest-in-residence had already been announced.  The Archbishop changed the parish of his residence to Annerley Ekibin.

This turn of events has meant that two members of the Brisbane Oratory in Formation project have now begun to live in common.  When the history of the Brisbane Oratory is written, there will be a line or two about how, in 2014, some of the priests who were working to form the Brisbane Oratory came to live in common in a house in Ferndale Street, Annerley.  It is exciting to be creating this history right now.

In canon law, an Oratory is a Society of Apostolic Life (SAL).  These societies are not religious institutes, but they are governed by many of the same canonical norms as religious institutes.  It is interesting that the formation of religious institutes and SALs is not laid out in canon law.  It is done differently than you might expect.  The group of individuals who are attempting to form an institute or a SAL have to attempt to live what they are setting out to create.  After this sort of “experiment,” official Church recognition and approval can follow.  But there has to be something for the Church to recognize and approve.

One feature of Oratorian life is that it is quite democratic.  Things that affect everyone in the community are decided by everyone in the community.  Oratories are meant to be marked by a “familial” spirit.  The members are not bound by vows, but rather by the bond of mutual love and support.  Fr Paul and myself have begun “evening oratory,” which is 30 minutes of silent prayer in common before the Blessed Sacrament, which we observe on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  Evening oratory is concluded (for us) with either the Litany of Our Lady, or the Litany of Saint Philip.  Evening oratory is then followed by a more formal dinner, which includes reading (we are currently reading from the Traditions of the Oratory).  We take the evening meal in common on other nights too, but these are less formal as we have evening Masses in the parish on four nights of the week.  Oratories also include time of communal recreation.  For us, since there are only two of us in the house currently, our recreation time includes meal preparation together, or a cuppa here or there when we are both at home.

Father Paul and myself are very conscious of the other members of our community: the two other priests who are not yet here with us, and also our seminarian, Shawn Murphy, who is presently at the Toronto Oratory.  Casa San Girolamo, which is the name we have given to our home, is their home too, and we very much look forward to when they will be here with us also.  We have several enquirers who are very seriously considering joining us, so it won’t be too long before we are growing in numbers.  San Girolamo is the Italian of Saint Jerome, and it is the name of the church where Saint Philip Neri came to live with other priests in the lead-up to the founding of the very first Oratory.  Jerome is also the name that Blessed Pier Giorgio – one of our patrons – took when he became a Dominican tertiary.


Saint Philip Neri

We are humbled and excited by the interest in the Brisbane Oratory in Formation that is expressed by so many people.  We have a growing list of generous benefactors, as well as prayerful supporters.  A Mass is offered by each of the priests of our community every month for our benefactors.  Many too are curious, or even slightly confused, about what it all means.  But we hope that we can share this journey with you as we create something wonderful, not just for the Church in Brisbane, but for our country.  It is something that we hope will be a blessing too for the presbyterate: a particular way that secular priests can live in common, growing in the zeal and passion that Saint Philip had for the formation and evangelization of the faithful.

Saint Philip Neri, pray for us!

The Parish Newsletter for Annerley Ekibin Catholic Parish, for 4/5 January 2014, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, can be found here:

2014 Newsletter, Epiphany, Year A

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 27,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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