Third Sunday of Advent

Third Sunday of Advent

Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hartat St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourneon Sunday, 17th December, 2006 at 11.00amIntroductionDear Brothers and Sisters,With a week to go to Christmas we need to listen to the urgent tones of John the Baptist.God is about to be present among us.  Are we ready?  What must we do?John invites us to be converted, to recognise the need to be touched by God’s Word, taking us out of ourselves.HomilyDear Brothers and Sisters,Today Saint John confronts us.  A great difference exists between him and Jesus.  John told news of terror.  Jesus comes as the Lord, inviting us...

Thanksgiving Mass of the National Civic Council

Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart
at Our Lady's Basilica, Camberwell
on Wednesday, 13th December, 2006 at 7.30pm


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the end of another year we come to the time of Advent when our focus is on the destiny of ourselves and our world.

So many of you have worked hard for a better Australia and for a community more alert to its dignity and responsibilities.

As we call to mind our sins, like those who came to John the Baptist, in asking the Lord to show them what they must do, we may find in his forgiveness and grace an answer that will sustain us in the coming year.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Gospel makes a strong transition from our suffering to the consolation the Lord offers when he challenges us to know that his yoke is easy and his burden light.

Again this year you have sought constantly to put before society those things which will give a better Australia, highlighting the ethical, moral, economic and other challenges which face our society.  As Pope Benedict recently reminded the Irish Bishops we live in a society which has changed radically in the last fifteen years and we as a people need to view these changes with discernment, led by the Gospel and the teaching of the Church.

In important areas of stem cell research our legislators have already crossed the line and it is foreseen that we will need to act decisively and together if legislation is introduced to legalise abortion.  Our awareness of the dignity of the human person, of objective truth, of moral order and justice in our community is a service that we provide to that community to be neglected to their and our peril.

“We must help people to recognise,” as the Pope says, “the inability of the secular materialist culture to bring true satisfaction and joy.  We must remember the joy that comes from following Christ and living according to his Commandments, as we remember that our hearts were made for the Lord and that they find no peace until they rest in him.”  “So often,” the Pope says, “our counter-cultural witness is misunderstood as something backward and negative in today’s society, that is why it is important to emphasise in our own lives and with those we meet the Good News, the life-giving and life-enhancing message of the Gospel.”  Even though it is necessary to speak out strongly against the evils that threaten us we must correct the idea that Catholicism is merely a collection of prohibitions.  A careful formation of the heart is needed in our parishes, schools and institutions.

Indeed, like those who came to John the Baptist, we might well ask, what can we do?  A typical example of course is that our service of the Gospel begins with prayer and relationship with God, the personal challenges that we take, so that then we can act together to shape a better Australia and a better world because our minds and hearts are attuned to the Lord and to each other.

Recently I came across the reaction of Pope John XXIII and what he sought to put into practice reflected in his daily Decalogue.  I believe it challenges you and me as to what we can do in practice.

  1. Only for today, I will seek to live the lifelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
  2. Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance:  I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behaviour; I will not criticise anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.
  3. Only for today, I will be happy in all the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world, but also in this one.
  4. Only for today, w

Catholic Lawyers Mass

Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Augustine's Church, Melbourne
on Tuesday, 12th December, 2006 at 5.45pm


My dear Friends,

I am delighted to be with you as Catholic Lawyers to offer Mass at the end of the year in praise of God and in dedication of your considerable gifts, so generously placed at the service of your fellow human beings.

The Lord invites us to prepare a way for the Lord in our hearts.  Let us do so as we call to mind our sins.


“It is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.”  (Matthew 18:14)

My dear Friends,

Today’s Gospel speaks of the care of God for all of us.  It comes from a section of the Gospel speaking of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the hair on the head that is counted, to show that everything is within God’s providence.

To you who exercise the distinguished profession of law, the balancing of strength and compassion, the articulate presentation of the cause of your clients, and the constant recourse to prayer as an effort to get the balance correct in the practice of your profession is something which acquires a particular poignancy in Advent.

Each of us is aware of our own brokenness and failure, of the way in which we are always in need of reform and in the wilderness of our heart and our conflicting desires, our striving and failure, we are invited to prepare a straight highway for the Lord, to allow him to enter into our life, our decisions and our conquest of self.

It is only in the light of this that we will take on the mind of Christ and because we know his mercy, that we ourselves will become instruments of mercy and equity.  The first Reading from Isaiah stresses of the Lord providing comfort, inviting us to prepare so that we may see his glory, know he is near and see him feeding us.  This whole passage is an invitation to a perception of God which overflows into our deeds.

Last Sunday we saw people coming to John the Baptist saying, what must we do, how can we fulfil our response to the nearness of God and to the hope that he brings.  Surely, if we have received mercy and compassion from God, we will know how to exercise it towards others; yet, with a strength that comes from justice and a hope of rebuilding and refashioning the world after his designs.

The last verse of the Psalm, “With justice he will rule the world.  He will judge the peoples with his truth,” show that the Lord when he is present is filled with justice, truth, compassion and mercy because he comes to save us.

May we realise the important contribution that we make to the building of a new world by remaking our own heart and soul this Christmas after God’s image and in response to his merciful invitation.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.


Second Sunday of Advent

Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, East Melbourne
on Sunday, 10th December, 2006 at 11.00am


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we hear the voice of John the Baptist and prepare our hearts for God’s coming, we know we are one in the love and service of the Lord and of our brothers and sisters.

We pray, as we call to mind our sins, that God will open our hearts in welcome and remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy.


John the Baptist is one who, by his whole life, points to the Lord.

Several of the indigenous peoples of North and South America include among the rites of passage an experience where a young boy or a young girl goes alone to a secluded place for several days of fasting and meditation in the belief that a guardian spirit will grant them a vision to inspire and direct the course of that person’s whole life.  The idea was that once the person returned to the community this would be a guiding light.

Of similar challenge, after a list of the great and powerful of the world in today’s Gospel, a link is made between the Prophet promised by Isaiah and John the Baptist.  A voice crying in the wilderness, making straight paths, filling valleys and lowering mountains; all for one purpose, that we will see our God.

People kept coming to John, inspired by his talks and his own dedication and challenging appearance, to say ‘what do we have to do?’, ‘what must we do?’.  Advent is not an individual quest.  It is a common quest that we make towards God to get the balance and the focus right.  Saint Paul tells us that those who have chosen to journey through life with Christ will grow in love and with correct values and clear consciences live blamelessly until the day they meet Christ in death.

The prayer of the Mass is more challenging.  “Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy.”  Imagine you are at home and a knock comes on the door.  It can be seen as an intrusion or a God-given moment.  The person may be welcomed with an unexpected joy and hope or may be seen as a nuisance.

When we welcome Christ we want our minds and hearts to be one with him; not focused on ourselves or our own way of looking at things, but focused on a God who loves all people equally and invites us to a life of service.  This service is offered in wisdom, as the prayer reminds us, because God has made us all.  It is a sharing with God because his destiny for us is that the world needs to be saved and it is hope-filled because the Lord has done great things for us and this means that we are filled with joy.

The challenge is to prepare the Lord’s way, so that we will see him saving us.  The realisation is that we are nothing without God and he sustains us with his mercy.  This means we can turn back to him and know that our sins are forgiven.  Advent is a wonderful time to go to reconciliation, to know God’s forgiveness.

Pope Saint Gregory put it this way:  “Let us then be earnest in our repentance.  Let us wash away with tears and with fruits worthy of repentance the evil we have committed.  Let not that time be lost that is in mercy given to us.”  (Pope St Gregory the Great, Homily on the Gospel, 15)  Then we will see that God is near, that God saves, that life changes when he provides for us.

That is the wonderful promise of Advent, the hope that is given to us so that we can offer it to others.  What marvels the Lord worked for us.  Indeed, we were glad!

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.


When the paper work is finished!

ImageVolume 17, Issue 23 

Some months ago, I flew interstate. Prior to our journey, I had taken my allotted seat in the stationary aircraft awaiting our departure. Suddenly the soothing music was interrupted, and the following message greeted us in the cabin: “This is your captain speaking. As soon as the paper work is finished, we will take off.”

His words fascinated me, with their emphasis on ‘paper work.’ I noticed, for instance, that he did not say “when the aircraft is ready,” or “when we are cleared by the control tower,” etc, etc. No, there was simply that reference so common these days to the necessary completion of ‘paper work.’


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