• Sanctoral

    Ash Wednesday 2020

    The Church has begun its annual season of Lent:  the time of preparation leading up to the festival of Easter the greatest of all Christian celebrations.  We can never separate this period upon which we are embarking today from the celebration of Easter, just as we can never separate Easter itself from the festival of Pentecost, the coming of the Spirit, which is celebrated seven weeks later.  We have begun the one journey, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Pentecost Sunday:  our annual celebration of what is most important in our Christian life:  the death and resurrection of Jesus.   As Christians we are particularly mindful that we are constantly on a journey ‘from’…

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    Presentation of the Lord

    Being the fortieth day since Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Church today recalls his Presentation in the Temple, the occasion on which his parents made the sacrifice required by Jewish law at the birth of a first son.  Traditionally, it is also the day on which the Church blesses candles, bearers of light and symbols of dedication. Hence the word Candlemas is another word for this feast day. Perhaps it is an opportunity then to reflect on the significance of the humble candle, and the most extraordinary recognition all the darkness in the world cannot extinguish its simple, flickering fragile light. The lighting of candles seems…

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    Australia Day 2020

    A little later in the year, towards the end of May, the 54th World Communications Day will be celebrated. However, just a few days ago on 24 January, the feastday of Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists, Pope Francis released his annual message on communications.[1] For us celebrating Australia Day this weekend, his emphasis this year on the importance and power of story might perhaps help us enter our national celebration. The Pope recounts our natural instinct for stories. “From childhood we hunger for stories just as we hunger for food. Stories influence our lives, whether in the form of fairy tales, novels, films, songs, news, even if we do not…

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    1 January – Mary Mother of God

    Just before I left Melbourne twenty years ago, I enjoyed lunch with some friends including the Australian artist, Michael Leunig. We fell to talking about the culture of Sydney to which I was headed, and, given the time of the year, the conversation turned to Sydney’s forthcoming new year’s celebrations and the obsession that Sydney has for the “bigger and better” fireworks display every year. “What must Sydney be hiding from?” was the comment of Leunig’s that I recall so clearly. The memory of his observation haunted me last night as the insistence on the Harbour party triumphed whilst so many were suffering so close by. Personally, I could not…

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    Christmas

    Our nation comes to Christmas this year with a weariness from the combination of heat, fire and smoke that have marked our December. We long for rain that might extinguish the fires and bring relief to the drought that tightens its grip on our landscape. This Christmas we think especially of those who have been so deeply affected by the drought, whose livelihood is at stake, and we are mindful of those who have lost loved ones and property because of the unprecedented fires across our State of New South Wales, Queensland and most recently in South Australia. For many of these people Christmas brings little cheer. And even if…

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    8 December – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary

    Over these weeks our city has been blanketed in a fog of bushfire smoke. It has been quite exceptional and a number of us have found it difficult to breathe. Given that it has been an experience day after day for some time now we have begun to long for that day, for that sunrise and sunset that is clear, for which the air is fresh and clean. There must be some days we wonder if we will have that assurance again. It can seem that we are destined to live in the grip of this brown haze. However, I am sure that when we do come to that new…

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    Solemnity of All Saints

    Today we remember our destination to be the saints of God. In so doing we celebrate the holiness of life, the holiness of our own lives. As Pope Francis reminds us recently, “To be holy does not require being a bishop, a priest or a religious. We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves. Are you called to the consecrated life? Be holy by…

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