Fourth Sunday in OrdinaryTime

Fourth Sunday in OrdinaryTime

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 1 FEBRUARY 2009 AT 11AM.INTRODUCTIONOn this fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time the Church challenges us to listen to God speaking.  Jesus’ teaching made a deep impression because he spoke as the only Son of God.  He challenges us not merely to listen passively to God’s message, but to live it and announce it, shaped by the Word of God that we read and ponder each Sunday, which is at the centre of our whole way of life and of all that we do.Let us call to mind our sins, that we may grow in faith and our...

Mass for Religious


(As in the Roman Missal)


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is with great joy that I celebrate Mass with you, honouring the Annual Day of Consecrated Life, and in thanksgiving for the magnificent contribution of Religious to the Church and to the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

Religious life, lived according to the charism of each Institute, is nourished by the daily participation in the Eucharist and the Divine Office, which challenges us to take in our minds and hearts the words of the Psalms and to be nourished by the radical commitment to God’s service that the Scriptures demonstrate.

Last October the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops stressed that the Word of God is absolutely central in the life and mission of all of us in the Church.  The Holy Father has invited us to place the Word of God at the centre of all things.  In his address last year to Religious, he said:  “In fact the consecrated life is rooted in the Gospel.  Down the centuries the Gospel as it were it’s supreme rule has continued to inspire it and consecrated life is called to refer constantly to the Gospel to remain alive and fertile bearing fruit for the salvation of souls.”

The holy Abbot, Saint Anthony, was moved by listening to Christ’s words:  “If you would be perfect, go sell what you possess and give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven and come follow me.”  (Matthew 19:21)

Saint Anthony listened to these words as if they were addressed to him personally by the Lord.  Similarly, Saint Francis of Assisi found that God showed him that he should live according to the form of the holy Gospel.  Thomas of Celano wrote:  “Francis who heard that Christ’s disciples were supposed to possess neither gold nor silver, nor money, nor purse; would have neither bread nor staff, would have neither shoes or two tunics, rejoicing in the Holy Spirit said:  ‘This is what I want.  This is what I ask.  This is what I want to do from the bottom of my heart.’  

Indeed, dear friends, it is the Holy Spirit who sparked the Word of God with new light for the Founders and Foundresses of your Institutes.  Every charism and every rule springs from it and seeks to be an expression of it.  It is the Holy Spirit who attracts some people to live the Gospel in a radical way and translated into a style of more generous following.  So it is that a religious family is born and it becomes a more living showing forth of the Gospel.”

Indeed, the Holy Father says that in the course of the centuries the proposal of following Christ without compromise, as it is presented to us in the Gospel, has therefore become the ultimate and supreme rule for religious life and in his rule Saint Benedict refers to Scripture as the most exact rule of human life.  Saint Dominic invited the members of his Order to be men of the Gospel.  Similarly, Saint Clare saw the vocation of her followers as “to observe the holy Gospel of Our Lord, Jesus Christ”.  Again Saint Vincent Pallotti:  “Since the life of Jesus Christ is the fundamental rule of our small congregation we must aim at what is most perfect always and in everything.”  Pope Benedict himself in his two Encyclical Letters has set out before us the example set by saints and blesseds belonging to Institutes of consecrated life.  The recent Synod of Bishops stressed the importance of Lectio Divina, pondering the Scriptures and bringing much fruit.

As Religious, thankful for the limitless love and mercy of God given to us in the call that he has invited us to follow, we need to ask whether the Word of God is at the centre of our life, our meetings, our reflection, to ask, as the Synod of Bishops suggested, that we encourage lay people united with

Mass at St Columba's College, Essendon



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am delighted to be here at Saint Columba’s with your Principal, Mrs. Honeyman, and each of you, as we begin the school year.

The fact that we come to Mass means that the living presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the power of his Word and the stimulus which our faith provides is our inspiration as we begin this new school year, welcoming new members of staff, cementing the common endeavour to form young women as faith-filled members of the Catholic Church, gifted entrants into our society, formed after the great saints, who witness in human life to the presence and power of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

To prepare our hearts for this celebration, let us call to mind our sins.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The words of Jesus in the Gospel:  “It is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost”, is an indication of the mission which every teacher in a Catholic school has.  In this Year of Saint Paul we must seek to replicate the impatience which he had until Christ be formed in his brothers and sisters.

Regardless of our starting point, as teachers you are entrusted by me as Archbishop because I am the chief teacher of the flock in the Archdiocese, with the responsibility in your respective disciplines to provide Christian leadership and an example of faith, an adherence of mind and will to the teaching of the Church expressed in the Catholic Catechism, and a generous use of your remarkable gifts in the disciplines in which you teach.

Education is a remarkable partnership between the gifted leadership which you provide and your ability to stimulate inquiring minds in the great adventure of education and discovery.  Your pupils will remember good teachers who were interested in their pupils and dedicated to their wellbeing, enthusiastic about learning and stimulating in their presentation.

I do urge you to continue to realise how important is the role that you perform and how we, as Catholics, have a privilege to offer to our society, a vision of the dignity of each human person, of the value of family and of the truths taught and lived by Jesus Christ and entrusted to his Church.

I am deeply conscious of the concern which you show to all of our young people.  It is true that parents are the first and best teachers of their children in the way of faith.  Your leadership as Principal and teachers is a valuable amplification of that parental role.  Many of you are parents yourselves and you know what constant leadership, encouragement and the occasional challenge are necessary in a family.

Similarly, in our schools, you can sometimes stand increasingly across the divide between parental expectations, the mission of the Church and what you know is good educational leadership.  Often it will be your leadership which will help parents to realise the parameters of faith and the great gift which is offered and to encourage them and their families in taking hold of that gift.  We know that our faith comes from Jesus Christ.  It was entrusted by him to the Apostles and is given to the Church to safeguard and proclaim so that the saving message and activity of the Lord and his intention that all should be saved will come to the reality of our families.

Encouragement and challenge to see the Church’s vision will often be a considerable part of the work that you do.  Sometimes when parents are concentrating on the preparedness of young people for life and the high standards which modern education demands they can be forgetful of the holistic responsibility which we in Catholic education have to integrate with an understanding and living of faith a visio

Epiphany of the Lord



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I rejoice once again in being with Father Janusz and each of you as today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany.

Epiphany means ‘showing’.  For us the coming of the wise men from the East to the crib gives an atmosphere of wonder and realisation that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all peoples of all times.

In our modern, secular society it is incumbent on each of us to realise that if we make Jesus the Lord of our life through prayer, just life and witness to him, then we will achieve our final destiny in the glory which he has prepared for us.  Remembering our sins, let us remember his light in our darkness.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we recognise that Jesus is the light of our world.  He comes to all people of all nations as our God.  In Bethlehem this great light appeared in the crib only to a handful of people; Mary, Joseph, the shepherds.  The little flame kindled in the night by a fragile newborn infant in the silence of the world and yet his birth was accompanied by praise from heaven.

The wise men travelled great distances from the East.  We can speculate about what was their initial motivation.  However, their whole search was nurtured by faith.  Those wise men from the East saw Jesus with the eyes of faith and fell down and worshipped him.  Here as we celebrate Mass let us remember that the same Jesus is present in the tabernacle whenever we come into the church.  This must be a place of silence, adoration and wonder.  Yet Jesus came into his own and not all did accept him.

In our modern cities it is very difficult to go outside in perfect darkness.  Lights from houses and streets provide a kind of eerie glow.  Yet out in the country when there is darkness we see the power of light.  Light too can bring warmth and truth and wonder.  

Today we are invited, in the words of the Readings:  “Arise, shine out Jerusalem, for your light has come.  The glory of the Lord is rising on you.”  (Isaiah 60:1)  Saint Paul reminds us and the Ephesians that God’s light of truth coming to us is a revelation of a mystery now shown, that Jesus is God, that God has come to redeem us and invite us to live by the truth of his coming and his presence.  God is worthy of our adoration.  

We must realise that we are only creatures and when we see in the words of the Gospel:  “The child with his mother, Mary, we fall to our knees and do him homage, we bring him our gifts.  For the Magi it was gold, frankincense and myrrh.  For us, it is the gold of our love, the incense the constancy of our worship and prayer every day of our life and our faithfulness to Sunday Mass, the myrrh of our suffering, which is a challenge and a reminder to us that in the struggles of everyday we must live to see these in the reality of God’s plan for us and his sustaining hope and love.  God has indeed called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.  Because we are followers of Christ we are challenged to be a light to our sisters and brothers, so that we will find the Lord when our pilgrimage is ended.

Dear friends, many of us are on holidays at this time.  I do urge you to spare some time for prayer and for reflection, to allow Jesus to draw you to deeper love, to allow him to invite you not to be so preoccupied with yourself that you are forgetful of other people, and because we live his truth to be ready and generous in the ways in which we can reach out to others.

Pope Benedict said in his Encyclical Letter, ‘Spe Salvi’:  “There is a need for a greater hope, which will make it possible to prefer the common good of all to the luxury of the few and the poverty of the many.”  “This great hope can only be God.

Christmas Day Mass



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

A child is born for us – Jesus the Mighty God, Prince of Peace and Lord of all.  He comes to provide light in our darkness, hope and transformation for our world, a new focus for family and society.

Today I remember all of you, your hopes and desires, needs and sufferings, as I offer this Mass.  At the end of Mass in the name of the Holy Father, the universal Shepherd of the Church, I will give the Papal Blessing that the peace and transforming power of Christmas may go into your hearts and into your lives.

Humbly, let us remember our darkness and his light, our weakness and his transforming power, as we call to mind our sins.


“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of One who brings Good News, who heralds peace, brings happiness, proclaims salvation.”
(Isaiah 52:7)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the full glory of Christmas Day we realise that the baby born in the stable is Christ, the Light of the world.  Last evening we reflected upon the simplicity of the Lord’s birth.  Today it is our challenge to see that the Saviour of mankind has been born.  As we celebrate Christmas to realise that God’s coming and our commemoration after two thousand years is just as powerful to enrich and transform human life as was his first coming in changing the course of our world.

This year our secular society has permitted legislation obliterating or perverting human life.  The effect of such activity is a direct challenge to the family as the basic unit of society, to its role, with a mother and a father, to nurture and prepare future citizens of the earthly city and of the kingdom of heaven, and to provide witness to the authentic value of every human being.

When we reflect the words of Saint John:  “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5), we remember that the coming of God, born in a stable at Bethlehem in the fullness of divinity and truth, immediately engages our world and its people with the Creator, with the truth about humanity and its destiny, which we are committed to perceive and live at Christmas.

In his Message last Christmas Pope Benedict said: “Christmas is the mystery of love, which for two thousand years has spoken to men and women of every era and every place.  The great light of Christ shines forth, bearing peace.  However, if we are to receive it, faith and humility are needed.  The humility of Mary who believed in God’s word and bending low over the manger was first to adore the Lord, the humility of Joseph, the poor anonymous shepherds, the little ones, poor in spirit and yet courageous to be builders of Christ’s kingdom of justice, love and peace.”

Christ comes to us to provide a truth which is authentic, nor merely arbitrary, changeable, which could be refashioned at the whim of human ingenuity.  His coming shows the truth of every human being, the importance of family living and the respect which is due to each human being.  The humility which comes from the crib into our life is the humility to accept the fact that our human nature depends totally upon God for every moment of our existence, our relationships are those designed and regulated by God in the family and in society, and the purpose of our society is to provide for the wellbeing of each individual in accordance with God’s plan so that each can reach their full human fulfilment and by living a just and faith-filled life come at death to our true and eternal home. 


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