Third Sunday of Lent

Third Sunday of Lent

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2008 AT 11AM.INTRODUCTIONDear Brothers and Sisters,In today’s Mass Jesus leads us from discouragement to persevere in faith.  No matter how we may be challenged by our previous conduct a growth to faith and a new way of living is essential to our Lenten pilgrimage.  Humbly we come to learn from Jesus the ways of faith so we can continue our pilgrimage.HOMILYDear Brothers and Sisters,The prayer of today’s Mass captures the longing that is deep in the soul of each of us.  The famous words...

Mass for the Jubilee of Sisters of St Joseph at Maidstone



My dear Friends,

With great thankfulness to God I am delighted to be with Sister Anne Tuck, with our Sisters Jubilarians, and with all of you as we come humbly into the presence of our God, thanking him for the grace-filled lives of the Jubilarians.

Together with them we marvel at the wonder of God’s providence in calling them to religious life and in the gifts given for their service of God and the Church.

These Sisters have followed to places and situations not foreseen because of their total entrustment to Christ and of all that he has given.

As we call to mind our sins and in Lent remember that each of us is called to be made new in the life of grace, let us remember these Sisters with esteem and joy.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Each of us is honoured to be here and to share for some brief time an understanding of the words of the Lord:  “Come, follow me”, so well illustrated in the lives of the Sisters for whom we thank God today.

The awesome encounter of the Religious vowed to chastity, poverty and obedience is a generous and loving personal entrustment to Christ and a committed life to walk with him for the salvation of the world.  Indeed, the words used at the beginning of the new Rite of Religious Profession, when the person to be professed responds:  “Here I am, Lord, you have called me”, is an awareness that religious life is always a following of the Lord’s plan and designs for our life.

The particular Josephite charism is borne out by two things relating to Blessed Mary McKillop, your Foundress.  The words of Cardinal Moran at her funeral:  “They that instruct many unto justice shall shine as the stars for all eternity” from the Book of Daniel and also the personal recognition given of the human virtues of Mary MacKillop in the official decree of her beatification. 

“Mary MacKillop’s public achievement is an historical fact in Australia, but for those who knew her personally the most striking thing about her was her kindness.  She was a great believer in encouragement urging people to be kind and united.  In everything she said or did she showed respect and love for those around her making no distinction between the rich, the high born and the influential on the one hand, and the lowly, the jailbirds and the outcasts of society on the other.”

Celebration of jubilees is of course a time of remembering, rejoicing and renewing the commitment to Christ and to the Church, which is made.  Both things go hand in hand.  Jesus own words:  “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full are a reminder of the mission given by Jesus to each Sister on the day of her profession and which has been fulfilled with distinction in the lives of these Sisters over so many years in the parishes and communities of our Victorian Dioceses.

That is why I emphasise that a commitment to Christ is an equal commitment to the Church, to the Eucharist as the central part of the Church’s life, and to the people of God.  Indeed, in your Foundresses we see a constant and lively sense of the Church and in ready obedience especially to the Pope.  In her daughterly outspokenness Saint Catherine of Siena called the Pope: “sweet Christ on earth”, while Teresa of Avila said: “I am a daughter of the Church”, there is also a remarkable similarity between the passage I have quoted speaking of the kindness of Blessed Mary MacKillop and these words of Saint Teresa: “In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be love

Mass for the Golden Jubilee of St John's Regional College, Dandenong



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am delighted to be with Mr. Patrick Power, your Principal, your Chaplains, your teachers and all of you for this significant moment of thanksgiving.

In a particular way we look back over fifty years while taking the challenge to live in faith and truth and to be committed to it in shaping the future destiny of our College.

As we call to mind our sins, we thank the Lord with reverence for the past, we commit ourselves, especially in the season of Lent, to live according to God’s plan.


My dear young friends,

Today we celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Saint John’s College, a significant College in the Archdiocese, called to a full Catholic ethos.  We must remember that your College has a specific mission and specific parameters.  I hope that what you remember of your special time at Saint John’s will be one of a total commitment to truth, of a time of friendship and growth and that you will emerge fully aware of the meaning of the word Catholic.  But first a little history.

It was in 1967, the year I was ordained a priest, that the then Archbishop Knox blessed the foundation of the new Saint John’s Regional College in Caroline Street, which had been the responsibility of Saint Mary’s Parish.  However, Saint John’s and Saint Angela’s cooperated so that soon after the opening of the new college in 1970 girls were welcomed into the college with two single sex schools and a senior coeducational college.  Saint Angela’s final year was in 1973 and in 1974 the college began the Caroline Street site.  By 1976 it was a fully integrated coeducational college and the Religious Orders continued to contribute until the early 1990s.  There has been constant building and development of curriculum since.  Specialised learning spaces for arts, sciences, technologies and physical education have been part of a master plan which has been developed.

My dear young friends, yours is a college which offers a broad range of options to prepare you for life.  Each of us must remember that the greatest life we have is our life in Jesus Christ.  Other subjects, most important, need to come from that.  Ours is a Catholic Regional College because Christ is present in the Church.  He is the head, we are members of the body.  What Christ founded on the day of Pentecost subsists in the Catholic Church as we know it.  Our mission is to make us holy, to teach us and guide us.  

As archbishop I am the chief teacher of the Catholic faith in Melbourne.  I am delighted that the teachers at Saint John’s College share with me the mission which I have.  We must remain totally committed to the faith that comes to us from the apostles, to the ongoing teaching of Pope Benedict and to the belief that Catholic teaching and regular Catholic worship are essential for us.

If I would have you take anything away from today, it is a sense that you belong and that you are part of the future of the College whom I thank and encourage with great joy.

Saint Paul wrote so often of his impatience that the other disciples would be formed to have a mind the same as Jesus Christ.  In that I read a slight hesitation at all the ups and downs of any work of education, which Saint Paul shared with your teachers.  Yet it is most important for us to realise that education is at the same time an offering of information and life experience as it is a wonderful journey of discovery.

First – truth - what can we b

Second Rite of Penance at the Passionist Monastery for the priests of the Archdiocese


My dear Brother Priests,

“Humbly and with love we come to be renewed in the depths of our being, so that we may live the call that the Lord has given us, chosen in Christ before the world was made to be holy and faultless before him in love.”  (Ephesians 1:4)

As priests, above all we are invited to walk according to God’s plan and by our own rebirth in Christ to be the instruments of holiness, teaching and renewal in the Church.

Aware of our frailty we spend this time in prayer and forgiveness, that God’s plan for the Church and the world will be fulfilled more fully through our openness to him.

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood,

Together as we prepare to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation we keep our eyes focused on the Lord transfigured in Sunday’s Gospel and now curing the paralytic.  The link between forgiveness of sin and physical wholeness is a reminder to us that spiritual health is the basis of our human existence because we are made for the divine.

We know that Our Lord, the only Son of God, the sinless One, has authority to forgive sin, which he has entrusted to the Church.  This meeting of the paralytic with Jesus reminds us that when we are in Jesus’ place in the confessional the same miraculous, life-giving cure comes to us.  Perhaps at times we may have unconsciously rejected the cross in the maelstrom of modern living.  Jesus in this Gospel brings us back to the realisation that this sacrament is a wonderful encounter with him.  The nub of all that we are seeking to do is in fact an embracing of the cross and its power in our life and in the lives of others.

In the mid-sixties Pope Benedict wrote:  “If the Church were to accommodate herself to the world in any way that would entail a turning away from the cross this would not lead to a renewal of the Church, but only to her death.”

In our meeting with Jesus today we are taking comfort that our faith brings forgiveness of sin and if that were not wonderful enough Jesus bringing the paralytic to full life and activity.  We have the capacity to let our people be able to find us in the Sacrament and experience the peace and joy that flow from forgiveness.

Pope Benedict said last year that, “this sacrament of reconciliation underlines the reality of sin, as well as the even greater reality of God’s love and mercy.”  When we experience the Lord’s tenderness and forgiveness we are more easily able to recognise the seriousness of sin, more decisive in avoiding it in order to remain and grow in the newfound friendship with him.  

As confessors today we have the realisation once again of that overwhelming mercy of God in our personal life and we have the sacred mission arising from our use of the sacrament and our ordination to instruct our people and encourage them to use the sacrament properly by knowing the mercy of God.

From being stretched out on the bed of sin we rise up and go to our true home in the Church and in the mission for which the Lord has foreknown us from all eternity to be priests and victims with him bringing the life that only he can give to us and to our people.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

Second Sunday of Lent



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

So close to the beginning of Lent Jesus leads us on the mountain with Peter, James and John, so that we can see who he is and be strengthened for his cross and for the crosses and sufferings in our lives.  

Through prayer, fasting and works of love we sharpen our focus on Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we repent of our sins and the crucifying effect of our shame brings us to the light that comes from Jesus alone.  

By listening to him we seek to find the way to glory as we call to mind our sins.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Transfiguration is described as a radical change of figure or appearance - something common in our society.  We diet, we exercise, some even go to cosmetic surgeons, people have new hairdos – a different cut, a dye job, there are before and after photos.

The Transfiguration of Jesus for Peter, James and John is something far more radical.  It is the revelation that Jesus is God in the glory of his Father, that it was that same Jesus who came to share our humanity, to ennoble it and lift us up.

The purpose of the Transfiguration was so that the Apostles and each of us would keep in mind the destiny and glory to which Jesus calls us.  Our journey to that glory will involve many crosses, struggles, falls and rising.  That is why in Lent we are invited to refocus our life through greater prayer, to discipline ourselves through fasting and to remove the centre of our lives from self to others.

The Transfiguration gave Peter, James and John courage not to lose heart when Jesus was unjustly condemned and freely embraced the cross as the prelude to resurrection.  One of the great challenges of modern living, where everything is so easy, is that we shun effort, difficulty and struggle.  We believe that we are born and live forever with baptismal innocence despite the crucifying effect of our sin.  We are so self focussed that we prefer to be as we are, denying either the need for change or its possibility.

When he was a much younger priest in the mid-1960s Pope Benedict wrote:  “If the Church were to accommodate herself to the world in any way that would entail a turning away from the cross, this would not lead to a renewal of the Church, but only to her death.”  It is not surprising then that in the prayer of the Mass we ask to hear Jesus, to be enlightened with God’s word in order to find our way.  Our Lenten journey must have vision of who Jesus is.  It must call us like Abraham, to leave our comfort zone and go to a place that God will show us.  Like Saint Paul we bear hardship for the sake of the Good News.

This year Pope Benedict says that, “Lent is an occasion provided by God to appreciate and value the fact that we are Christians, to rediscover the mercy of God, so that we will be more merciful towards our brothers and sisters.  Through our effort we become free of attachment to earthly things because we cannot serve God and money.”

The Holy Father reminds us of the importance of giving of our abundant resources through alms giving so that we will grow in charity and recognise Christ in our poorer brothers and sisters.  In carrying our cross we focus on the glory he has promised rather than on the difficulties of today.  Like him we journey through the cross to new life.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne