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Forever grateful

Forever grateful

Volume 18, Issue 1The Collins Street tram  drew to a halt, and a well dressed matron stepped aboard. There wasn’t a spare seat in sight, but a teenage youth in College uniform rose to his feet, and invited the new passenger to sit in his place, an offer she quickly accepted.After the vehicle had gathered momentum and silence had descended on the scene, the now seatless young man leant down to the new occupant of the space that he had so recently relinquished. Then, in a voice clearly audible to all in the compartment, he said to her, “Excuse me, madam, but did you say something?”

Heart of peace

ImageVolume 18, Issue 1 

In the first month of the New Year, our newspapers have been covered with images of war. Looking to the year ahead, we must prepare ourselves – almost with resignation – for the fact that these images will not go away.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus stood outside Jerusalem and wept as He said: “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes.” Are the things that make for peace still hidden from our eyes? Only if we refuse to look for them, or to acknowledge them when we see them.

Mass for Religious

Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne
on Sunday, 2nd February at 7.30am

Introduction

(As in the Roman Missal) 

Homily

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared
for all the nations to see.” (Luke 2:30-31)

With Simeon’s words and the praise of Anna ringing in our ears we see Jesus, who provides for our personal life and through our devoted holiness brings us to eternal life.

The link between the candle-light giving of itself, which we carried in the procession before Mass, and the giving of our own personal life shows: - just as Christ gave himself to save the world and be its light, so, we as followers of Christ, witness to him in the life of the Church and seek to acquire a deep personal holiness.  “It will be Christ shining on others through me”, as Cardinal Newman reflected.

The texts of tonight’s Mass make this abundantly clear.  The Lord has promised Jesus as his messenger:  “Who is the king of glory?  The Lord.”  We are set free by the action of Christ, our compassionate High Priest, and by conforming ourselves to him daily, having seen the salvation, going on our mission in peace.

In the fifth chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews we see this brought out even more clearly.  “During his life on earth Jesus offered up prayer and entreaty aloud and in silent tears to the one who had power to save him out of death and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard … he learned to obey through suffering … and being made perfect he became, for all who obey him, the source of eternal salvation.”  (Hebrews 5:7-9)

Christ calls us to a way of obedience, as Mary did.  She followed Jesus through his suffering, allowing her heart to be pierced by sorrow, seeing her Son go to the cross. 

The mystery of religious life is expressed very clearly in imitating Mary’s suffering and daily self-giving.  On this day last year Pope Benedict said:  “Bringing her Son to Jerusalem, the Virgin Mother offered him to God as a true Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.  She held him out to Simeon and Anna as the proclamation of redemption; she presented him to all as a light for a safe journey on the path of truth and love.”

The witness of consecrated religious, like that of Simeon, is very significant.  Simeon was the bearer of an ancient hope and the Spirit of the Lord spoke to his heart.  He recognised Christ as the Saviour, but he saw that the destinies of humanity would be played out around Jesus and that he would have to suffer deeply from those who rejected him.  Similarly, Anna’s suffering and penance shows the yearning for redemption, which is a common part of our heritage.

As religious, priests and bishop, we are united to live as Jesus did knowing God with us.  The presence of religious and our activity and witness shows in a forgetful world that God’s kingdom is present and active.  Perhaps a great challenge for us is always to be seen clearly as religious, to speak with warmth and confidence of the things of God, to pray with people, to draw them to him in personal holiness.

As Pope Benedict said:  “Your way of living and working can vividly express full belonging to the one Lord; placing yourselves without reserve in the hands of Christ and of the Church is a strong and clear proclamation of God’s presence in a language understandable to our contemporaries.  This is the first service that the consecrated life offers to the Church and to the world.  Consecrated persons are l

Mass for the Australia Day Observance

Celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne on Sunday 28 January at 7.30am

Introduction

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we gather to remember Jesus of Nazareth as the Saviour of the whole world, inviting us to love of God and neighbour.

As we celebrate our Australia Day Observance we remember the tremendous gifts that God has given to our country and our responsibility to use them in accordance with his plan, respecting the gift of human life from conception to natural death, the dignity of people and the lifestyle that we as Australians enjoy.  We are thankful for God’s many gifts.

Homily

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The people in the synagogue recognised Jesus because of the gracious words that came from his lips, showing him as the Messiah and Lord.  Jesus at the beginning of his public life was not accepted by the people and yet he came to teach us about a new kingdom, a new hope and a life which would go forward to eternity.

The people were enraged because they did not accept him as the carpenter’s son.  We Christians accept him as the Lord God, made man among us, sent to bring Good News to the poor and freedom to prisoners.  Saint Paul reminds the Corinthians that the basic test is love of God and love of neighbour.

We live in an Australia, which has been immeasurably blessed by so many gifts of safety, of plentiful food, of economic prosperity, of freedom from the challenges and wars that have afflicted our world.  Even in the present challenges of lack of water, the Lord invites us to recognise how much we have received so that we will see that the gift of God’s nearness shown at Christmas is something that we carry into the world of today. 

A prophet is someone who speaks out of the wonders of God.  In the Old Testament prophets prepared the way for Jesus, who was the Great Prophet, who showed us God’s love in a way that we can understand.  In the baby of Bethlehem, grown to be the greatest teacher the world has known, we are reminded that God draws close to us and wants us to use the gifts of our person, our society and our country to promote all that he came to give us.  We live in a country, which is free, which has respect for people of many races and nations, which has unimaginable prosperity and despite a lack of rain, which is gifted beyond our recognition.

Australians show a remarkable tolerance and respect for each other, welcome peoples from many countries and as the recipients of so many gifts we realise that we have to act to be the agents of a new awareness of the fact that all we have is what we have received, that we as people of faith have to reach out to our community and inspire and challenge it about the dignity of life from conception to natural death, of the dignity of the human person and of a proper use of our resources.

Australia Day in 2007 is a challenge to us to look with clear vision at our responsibility, to make a contribution to the community, which has received so much, but which has need of all that we come to offer.  We must not confine Jesus to Nazareth or to the first century of our era.  His message is for all people of all times, to the whole world and to every age.  We, as Christians, must commit ourselves to bringing Jesus and his values of truth, the value of humanity and justice, to the communities in which we live.  That is the biggest challenge that we can be offered and it is the grace given to us by Our Lord, who will never desert us.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

Solemn Mass of Christmas Day

Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne
on Monday, 25th December, 2006 at 11.00am

Introduction

I bring you Good News of great joy.  To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.
(Luke 2:10-11)

I welcome you, dear friends, to Saint Patrick’s as we celebrate the feast of Christmas, hearing the angels proclamation that the Lord born for us, light in our darkness, may enter our homes, our cities, our nation.

Today, we are united with all our brothers and sisters throughout the world and with Pope Benedict XVI in whose name I will give the Papal Blessing at the end of Mass.

In unity of faith and in repentance for our sins, let us ask the Lord to fill our hearts with joy as we begin this Mass.

Homily

Wake up O man!  For your sake God became man.
(Saint Augustine, Sermon 185)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Lord has become one of us.  He has taken our humanity and urges us to be alert to the fact that our God is near.  The God who spoke to us through prophets in ancient times now comes in a much more personal way in his Son.  Born in abject poverty, in the weakness of a newborn baby, the Great God comes to meet us.

Pope Benedict reminded the Church last Christmas and he has constantly taken this theme throughout the year, that “The modern age is often seen as an awakening of reason from its slumbers, humanity’s enlightenment after an age of darkness.  Yet, without the light of Christ, the light of reason is not sufficient to enlighten humanity and the world.”

Jesus is described as the true Light who enlightens everyone coming into the world.  (John 1:9)  Forty years ago the Second Vatican Council said, “It is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of humanity truly becomes clear.”  (Gaudium et Spes, No. 22)

Above all, the birth of Christ, the baby in Bethlehem, leads us beyond mere human weakness to see that God is not to be found in the things that the world holds dear.  Our society is changing and is secular and materialist in a way that cannot bring true satisfaction and joy.

Today’s feast opens out to us the reality of God in our midst and in the words of Saint Augustine, “Our hearts were made for the Lord and they find no peace until they rest in him.”  Rather than the Church’s counter-cultural witness being misunderstood as something backward and negative, we have a positive Good News to give; the life-giving and life-enhancing message of the Gospel.  (Cf.  John 10:10)

As we know and love the Lord he invites us to put our trust in him, to be a family called to foster trust and mutual support, a united humanity to confront the many problems of our time – the menace of terrorism, the humiliating poverty in which millions of humans live, the proliferation of weapons and so many challenges.

In a society, which seeks to promote merely utilitarian objectives, our respect for life from conception to natural death must be paramount.  Otherwise, human beings are devalued and become subject to the whim of individuals without the guiding principles, which underpin our society.  Where respect for life, a valuing of family, an awareness of human dignity, a thirst for justice and a striving for peace exists, that society will flourish because it is in accordance with the plan of God that we would work our journey through this life to eternity.

The child hidden beneath the poverty of swaddling clothes is the Creator of the universe, reduced to the helplessness of an infant.  It is incumb
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