Homilies

Mass celebrated at Sumava, Belgrave

Mass celebrated at Sumava, Belgrave

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SUMAVA, BELGRAVE, ON SUNDAY 27 SEPTEMBER 2009 AT 3PMINTRODUCTIONDear Brothers and Sisters,Today as we commemorate the great Saint Vaclav, Patron of the Czech Republic, we come to thank God for fifty years of Sumava.We remember with affection Father Josef Peksa, its Founder, and all who have given of their goodness to support brothers and sisters in the community and to make this a place of celebration, of gathering, of remembering culture, and of encouragement.Today we offer the Mass in perfect praise of God, remembering our patron saint and...

Mass for the Helpers of God's Precious Infants

MASS FOR THE HELPERS OF GOD’S PRECIOUS INFANTS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SATURDAY 26 SEPTEMBER 2009 AT 9AM.

INTRODUCTION

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we celebrate the Mass of Our Lady let us remember that she is our mother and prays with us most effectively.

She who carried Jesus in her womb with love beyond all telling encourages us to be constant in our prayer, knowing its power and its readiness to overcome evil, especially the evil of abortion.

As we call to mind our sins, let us be committed to live for the life for which Jesus Christ lived and died welling up into eternity.

HOMILY

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are united with Mary, the Mother of God, who bore the Lord and brought him to us for all mothers that they may rejoice in the gift of life, bring it to birth, nurture it and be strengthened by the love of the Lord and those who surround them in this time of growth.

Today, above all, we are gathered in prayer in support of God’s precious infants, those who are given the gift of life and may too swiftly be taken to be with God by the heinous crime of abortion.  Similarly, we pray that the consciences of doctors and nurses and their readiness to witness to the reality of life will not be inhibited by peer pressure, human laws, a playing down of the evil of abortion.

First, a word about prayer.  Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints and he himself, all teach us this: that prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn people away from prayer, away from union with God.

We pray as we live, because we live as we pray.  If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, nor can we pray habitually in his name.  The “spiritual battle” of the Christian’s new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer.  When we pray for respect for the gift of life, pray for those who are suffering difficult decisions about a new life conceived, we have to remember that our trust in God proves itself by tribulation.

Some people even stop praying because they think their petition is not heard.  And yet Saint Paul the Father of the Church, Evagrius Ponticus, says:  “Do not be troubled if you do not immediately receive from God what you ask him; for he desires to do something even greater for you while you cling to him in prayer.”  (Evagrius Ponticus, De Oratione, 34:pg 79, 1173)

Saint Augustine even wrote:  “God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer that we may be able to receive what he is prepared to give.”  (Saint Augustine, ep 130, 8, 17.)

Saint Paul again urges us to pray constantly, to pray at all times in the spirit, and even if we have not been commanded to work, to keep watch and to fast constantly, it has been laid down that we are to pray without ceasing.

My dear friends, I say all of this in order to encourage you in the importance of the work you do in praying for God’s precious infants.  We all know the respect and protection owed to human life from the moment of conception.  The prophet, Jeremiah, said:  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you and before you were born I consecrated you.”  (Jeremiah, 1:5)

Or in Psalm 139:  “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.”  (Psalm 139:15)

From the earliest times in the Didache of the first century:  “You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.”  (Didache 2,2.)

The Second Vatican Council again reiterates the constant teaching

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 27 SEPTEMBER 2009 AT 11AM.

INTRODUCTION

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we are challenged whether we belong to an exclusive sect, pushing away others who do not conform to our precise vision of life, or whether with the broad vision of Christ, knowing God’s mercy and forgiveness, we welcome others on the journey to eternal life.

This challenges our faith, our personal outlook and our behaviour as we call to mind our sins and ask the Lord for light and strength.

HOMILY

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Gospel is a lesson in jealousy.  The apostles were disturbed because someone else was healing and casting out evil spirits.  Jesus, however, put aside that limited vision and rejects the idea that Catholicism is a sect.  Rather he chose to be good that which is good and actions which are good and to reject those which are evil.

“No one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me.  Anyone who is not against us is for us.”      This cuts right across the narrow vision of some of our brothers and sisters who have added all sorts of requirements other than those given by Christ in his Church.

Our Lord in the Gospel goes even further.  He emphasises openness to good wherever it may come from, charity in whatever way we may act, and integrity in the work that we do.

Today we reflect on the fifth Commandment.  The command to respect human life and reject homicide, abortion, euthanasia and suicide are clear.  However, in our respect for the dignity of persons we have to also respect the soul, the health, the person, bodily integrity and the dead.

St Mark says:  “Anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone round his neck.”  (Mark 9:42)

Scandal is an attitude or behaviour which leads another to do evil.  When we give scandal we become our neighbour’s tempter, we damage his virtue and integrity, we may even draw him into spiritual death.  Scandal is grave if by deed or omission we are deliberately leading another into a grave offence.  This is true if by our actions we lead others to sin or whether in our society laws or social structures are established leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice or the establishment of social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible.

Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged.  Saint Luke says in chapter seventeen:  “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!”  (Luke 17:1)

The Gospel today, therefore, urges us to focus on Christ and his attitudes, to see good for good, truth for truth, to avoid any action which gives scandal and misleads others and above all to have an absolute determination that the kingdom of heaven is our goal and we must put aside anything which distracts from that goal.  Christian living is a twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week challenge.  Sometimes we may fail and then we depend on God’s mercy.  But the goal and the objective must always be there as we remember the power of God in our lives.

May this power and the truth of his word, the mercy and forgiveness which he brings, fill us with his gifts of love as we seek to serve him humbly, constantly and with generosity.

+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2009 AT 11AM.

INTRODUCTION

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Gospel tells the story of a typical argument between the apostles about who will be the greatest.

Jesus puts before us the paradox of Christianity, one where humility and greatness are combined, where suffering and going to the cross of everyday living is the watchword for Christians.

As we call to mind our sins, let us remember the difficult challenges in our lives and ask the Lord that he will give us humility and readiness to carry our cross for the life of the world.

HOMILY

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard was very harsh in his assessment of those who said they were Christian and yet did not illustrate this with their lives.  He wrote in 1999:  “Christianity is necessarily at odds with the worldly norms and even with human nature.”

In today’s second Reading and Gospel this is affirmed when Jesus insists that while the world is ambitious and his apostles want human greatness, the true greatness comes in the humble acceptance of our limitations and our readiness to suffer and work that the Gospel will be uppermost in our world.  The welcome that the Gospel gives is to those who suffer and are broken because they are like the Lord who has suffered first.  This contrasts strongly with human ambition and fighting and wanting to achieve human prominence.

Pope John Paul wrote his Encyclical Letter on 11th February 1984 on the meaning of human suffering:  “While there is physical pain in the animal world it is only a human being that asks ‘why?’.  When we put this question to God, like Job in the Old Testament the just man who suffered, we see that when Jesus came he not only accepted suffering, but it was conquered by his love.  God gives his only Son so that people should not perish but should have eternal life.  We perish when we lose eternal life.  The evils and sufferings that happen in this world come from our fallen nature and Our Lord’s own sufferings lift us up from that fallen nature to the hope of eternal life and holiness.”  And even though, as the Pope says:  “The victory over sin and death achieved by Christ in his cross and resurrection does not abolish temporal suffering from human life.  Nevertheless it throws a new light upon this and upon every suffering.  It brings the light of salvation.”

We have hope.  Our suffering will not last.  Our suffering makes us like Christ, the suffering servant, who goes not only to death but to resurrection.  Because we share in the suffering of Christ we suffer for the sake of Christ and as Saint Paul says in the Second Letter to the Corinthians:  “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s suffering, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”  (2 Cor 1:5)

Saint Paul even gives these words of encouragement:  “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”  (2 Thessalonians 3:5)  This reminds us that constancy and perseverance in the duties of our daily life, even in accepting and working through suffering does have its purpose because it brings us to salvation.  That is why Saint Paul wrote to the Romans:  “I appeal to you therefore by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”  (Romans 12:1)

To the prospect of the kingdom of God is linked the hope in that glory which has its beginning in the cross of Christ.  Those who share in the sufferings of Christ are also called through their sufferings to share in glory.  As Saint Paul writes to the Romans:  “We are fellow heirs with Christ provided we suffer with him in order to be glorified with him.”  And here comes the point.  “I consider that the sufferings of this p

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 2009 AT 11AM.

INTRODUCTION

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today in the Readings we are challenged by our attitude to Jesus Christ.

Who is Jesus for us?  The Lord of our life?  Or some distant person whom we honour?  Or someone whom we ignore?

If Jesus is Lord of our life, then we remember that we are saved by God’s mercy because of our weakness, that God is compassionate of us in our suffering, and we are reminded of the absolute centrality of encountering the Cross with him.  The Cross is the place of truth for the Christian.

Let us call to mind our sins and ask the Lord for light, happiness and peace.

HOMILY

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Preservation of life and health is something which is our most basic instinct and yet Our Lord says:  “Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel will save it.”  (Mark 8:25)

Both the first Reading and the Gospel speak of servants of God who suffered.  Indeed, even Saint Peter, who was later to be Prince of the Apostles, was rebuked by Our Lord for not wanting the Lord to suffer.  Peter mistook that suffering was part of the Lord’s mission, but later accepted it in a very painful and powerful way in his own life.

Both the Old Testament prophet and Jesus describe in vivid detail the suffering that is part of being a witness to the kingdom and indeed of being a Christian.  Whether it is the suffering of hatred, rejection, of physical pain, of uncertainty, of isolation, we know that suffering is an essential part of Christian life.  Suffering courageously accepted unites us with Christ and is in itself redemptive.

Those of you who are young may feel minor sufferings when there is not the possibility of doing something that you like, yet a single visit to the Children’s Hospital will see the very real suffering that those children experience as an unfortunate and difficult to explain part of the human condition.  When Jesus came however and he allowed himself to be put to death, preceded by excruciating suffering, he underlined for us that from suffering can come resurrection.  From Jesus’ death on the cross came the Church, from the Church given by Jesus comes light and hope to the Sacraments which are life-giving and which expand our hearts to know and love God.

In our human life “we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).  We perceive God as “in a mirror, dimly” and only “in part” (1 Cor 13:12).  Faith is often lived in darkness even though we have the light of God.  Our experience of evil and suffering, injustice and death, mean that we must turn to Abraham who in hope believed against hope (Romans 4:18), to Our Lady who in her pilgrimage of faith walked into “the night of faith” (Lumen Gentium 58) in sharing the darkness of her Son’s suffering and death and then to so many others “therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

We know that suffering is a consequence of Original Sin, but it acquires a new meaning when it becomes a sharing in the saving work of Jesus.  Perhaps the most telling encouragement for us is that Saint Paul, who learned from the Lord:  “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9)

For each of us I believe it is important that we know our destiny and see beyond the struggles.  These are the one step that Newman spoke of; they provide a strong hope for the distant scene because our glory is in the Cross of Christ, which leads to resurrection.

+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHB

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