Address at the opening of the Mission and Identiy in Church Based...

Address at the opening of the Mission and Identiy in Church Based...

ADDRESS GIVEN BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT THE OPENING OF THE COLLOQUIUM ON MISSION AND IDENTITY IN CHURCH BASED ORGANISATIONS:  CATHOLICITY IN PRACTICE AT AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY, MELBOURNE, ON WEDNESDAY 26 MARCH 2008 AT 7PM.Dear Brothers and Sisters,I am delighted that Australian Catholic University has sponsored this Second Colloquium on Mission and Identity, and I thank Professor Gabrielle McMullen for all that she has done in this regard with representatives of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Catholic Health, Social Services and the National Education Commission,...

Easter Sunday



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

"I have risen and I am with you, alleluia!"  These words, which begin today’s Mass, are a constant reminder of the purpose of Jesus’ rising from the dead.

Jesus passed through death and into life to offer that same life to all who believe him and faithfully follow him, renouncing sin and evil.

In a modern society it means that our lives are not focused on ourselves, but are open to be of service to others.  Our personal striving is to follow Christ’s way of life with wonder and to point always to God as the author and end of life of this world and all it contains.

At the end of Mass in the name of Pope Benedict I will give the Papal Blessing, reminding us that the same Lord, two thousand years later, is guiding his Church and inviting us to take Christ as our model, to be committed to the truths he and his Church have taught, and to live them.  Let us call to mind our sins.


"That Christ is truly risen from the dead, we know."(The Easter Sequence)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Most people see Easter as the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Some would also think that it celebrates our own future rising from the dead in heaven.  Others would think that it is the resurrection of all people, from Adam until the end of time.

Easter, however, reminds us and celebrates a far deeper mystery.  In Jesus, God became a human being so that by his teaching, his personal love and his death and resurrection he might not only make atonement to the Father for the sins of all of us, before and after his passion, but so that the course of history perverted by Adam and Eve and by sin might be turned in the direction that he had planned and that human beings might be able to achieve the destiny which we are given.

The Saviour has risen.  He invites us to share his risen life.  Our destiny for all eternity is in heaven.  We are made for that and it has to be the whole pattern of our life.

The great Father of the Church, Origen, said:  “If we have risen with Christ who is holiness itself and are walking with him in newness of life along the path of holiness, then Christ has risen for our justification.  But if we have not yet renounced our former sinful ways and are still living in wickedness, then I say without hesitation that as far as we are concerned Christ has not risen for our justification, nor was it for our sins that he was given over to death.  If I believe he gave his life for me, how can I love the sins for which he died?  And if I believe he rose for my justification, how can I still find pleasure in anything sinful?  Christ will only justify those who in the light of his resurrection embrace the new life he offers them, casting off the old life of sin and injustice that causes his death.” 

Easter will only exercise its power if it finds in us a courageous response to the invitation to change our way of life and to be totally committed to witnessing to the truth of what God intended, to his resurrection and working to the transformation of our society.  The personal love and peace that we accept from Christ is for our transformation and so that we can become agents of life and of truth, each in our sphere of influence.  Not without struggling, not without our challenges, but with strong confidence that if Christ is for us no one can overcome us.  We are set free.

We live in a society, which is increasingly threatened by assaults on life and on personhood.  The over-emphasis on self, personal addictions, whether to alcohol, dru

Easter Vigil


“Exalt all creation around God’s throne!  Jesus Christ our King is risen!  Sound the trumpet call of salvation!”
(From the Exultet)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the Service of Light and the Scriptures Readings from Old and New Testament we have traced the story of God’s limitless love, from the forgiveness of Adam and Eve, the call to Abraham, his constant care for the Jewish people and his invitation to faithfulness.

For centuries, as we know, the world waited for the coming of the Redeemer.  Tonight we remember that in Jesus Christ we have the showing forth of God’s limitless love to each of us, wedding heaven to earth because Jesus is risen and offering us baptism and forgiveness.  So we are called from despair to hope, from death to life, from an old world to a world renewed.

For centuries people had waited for Christ.  In our lives when we, like Adam, sin we wait for Christ to come and bring his forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We are reminded that the power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes all guilt away, restores lost innocence, and brings mourners joy.  Christ is risen; the means of our living his risen life are given to us.

Tonight, particularly, Christ invites us to put aside doubt, darkness and confusion, so that we will be living more vibrantly and fully as sons and daughters in the Church, renewed in mind and body, ready for wholehearted service.  

The challenge for us of course is two-fold:

First, to remain in the life of grace through faithfulness to prayer, to moral life, which is the following of Christ in a persevering way in our daily life according to his Commandments and his great Commandment, “Love one another, as I have loved you”.  

Second, it is to the invitation that each of us is to be a witness to the resurrection.  That is our wholehearted service in the world of today.  Not to be forgetful of God except for a few minutes on Sundays, but to pray regularly, to live justly and to show the tender love of God by our witness to truth.  

May Jesus Christ, who is risen, together with all the saints of heaven whom we will invoke in the Litany, call us to a renewed appreciation of our baptism as we bless the baptismal water, so that with firm faith we can renew our baptismal promises, being determined under his inspiration to live as Jesus our Saviour has invited us.  

May the power of Christ risen and his light fill your minds and hearts this night.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne

Commemoration of the Lord's Passion (Good Friday)


“My song is love unknown, my Saviour’s love to me.
Love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be.
Oh, who am I that for my sake
my Lord should take frail flesh and die?”

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

These words of Dean Samuel Crossman highlight the import and force of Good Friday.  We have just heard the story of the death of our Saviour.  We know that at his crucifixion and death the earth quaked, the veil of the temple was rent in two, tombs were opened.

By the momentous love of God, humanity would be saved and capable of entering heaven.  By the gift of baptism, original sin would be taken away and the life of grace would begin and continue in souls of those who responded to it.  So often in pondering the cross we can see its effect in our lives.  

What is most powerful, however, is the way in which the limitless love of the Father from all time sought us out by sending his Son.  He was not content to have his Son share our human nature and be a great teacher.  It was the limitless and constant love of God that had sought humanity out and which now seeks out our weakness and inconstancy to invite us to faith, perseverance and to the struggle of responding each day to the limitless ongoing love of God.  

We know the weight of human wickedness, our pride which rises up against the holiness of God and the order of his universe.  We call this Friday ‘Good’ because “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son”.  (John 3:16)  That is unthinkable love, utterly unmerited, beyond all expectation.  It is a love which invites our free response, our repenting of our sins and our taking up of the life of grace, not merely for our own personal salvation, but to be witnesses and apostles of that love and in our family, our work and our living in a community to witness to him.  We might ponder how we can ever be worthy of such limitless love.

We can even ponder methods of overcoming our particular sins and weaknesses.  In the end there is only one answer.  It is to gaze constantly in prayer on the face of Christ, to look upon the crucified, to take strength from all that he did and to be drawn in magnetic love to give of ourselves, to pick ourselves up often time and time again, to live as he invited, so that ‘love one another as I have loved you’ will mean a commitment to goodness, to truth in our deeds and in our relationships, to faith and perseverance in our prayer, nourished by regular sharing in the Mass.

We must eat and drink the charity of God, so that God’s own charity shown today and in his resurrection, which hears, believes, hopes and endures may be the substance of our life and the renewal of our minds.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne

Mass of the Lord's Supper



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Tonight with overwhelming love we come to thank the Lord at this Last Supper for the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood, and his invitation to imitate his love, which we will re-enact symbolically in the washing of the feet.

Jesus gave us these gifts on the night before he died so that as we are united in this Eucharist, our minds and hearts will be nourished by his great gifts to which we are all introduced through baptism and some of us through ordination, to be victims with him so as to carry to others the life that he gives.

With wonder let us call to mind our sins, as we walk with him on the road of salvation and hope.