The Triumph of the Cross

The Triumph of the Cross

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 2008 AT 11A.M.   INTRODUCTION Dear Brothers and Sisters, I extend a very warm welcome to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral to each of you.  Today, particularly, members of the Catenian Association of Catholic men are present celebrating the Centenary of their Foundation.  Members of the Australian Catechumenate Forum are also here celebrating their biannual Conference.  Today we celebrate the feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross.  As Pope Benedict reminded us in...

Ordination to the Priesthood



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Surrounded by brother priests, family and so many friends, I welcome Binh Le, Thang Vu, Dispin John and Anh Nguyen to be ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Melbourne:  Anh is joined by his father Kan, mother Khai, brothers Chau and Bo; Thang by his father Tiem, mother Ngyui and his Aunt’s family with whom he has lived in Australia (relatives are in Vietnam and Canada); Binh by his father Van, mother Tron, sister and four brothers; Dispin’s mother Mary is unwell, but priest friends:  Anthony, Dominic, Heronymus and Ubald are with us.  Welcome.

After long years of study they come to be ordained priest, to receive from Jesus Christ at the hands of the bishop a lifelong mission to sanctify, teach and lead God’s people.

I express deep gratitude to those who have guided them on their journey and I ask each of you to thank God for his gift to the Church of these new priests as we support them with intense prayer and praise.

In our human frailty we know God’s power in our weakness as we call to mind our sins and come with them humbly and joyfully as we begin this Mass.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we welcome with profound joy our brothers, Binh, Thang, Dispin and Anh, who through their seminary years have trodden the path of consecration, undertaken in response to a personal call from the Lord.  Accompanied by their parents, family members from near and far, brother priests and the people of God, they have committed themselves to accepting Christ’s invitation to follow him, to leave all behind, and to devote their lives to the pursuit of holiness and the service of his people.

In the same way that God calls these four young men to enter into the mystery of Christ’s being given for the life of the world, so their life and the life and death of Christ will be intertwined.  As Pope Benedict said in Sydney:  “We know that in the end – as Saint Ignatius of Loyola saw so clearly – the only real ‘standard’ against which all human reality can be measured is the Cross and its message of an unmerited love which triumphs over evil, sin and death, creating new life and unfading joy.” 

By dying to self these young men will be totally open to Christ, supported always by the grace that he alone will give, the intimacy that they will know with him to grow in holiness and share it with others, walking humbly in the path of Jesus Christ.  Priests “draw men and women into the beauty of that love, and the light of the truth which alone brings salvation to the world”.

In a few moments by the imposition of hands I will confer on these young men the dignity of the priesthood.  In silence I and after me the other priests present will impose hands on the heads of the ordinands expressing the invocation to God that he will pour out his Holy Spirit upon them and transform them. 

I do urge our four ordinands to look back on this moment of mystery and transformation as the origin of their new mission.  In that silent moment the freedom of God who works through the Holy Spirit meets the freedom of the candidate coming forward to place himself under mediation which God alone can give.  This mediation arises from the love of Christ, which we are called at all times to impart.  We worship Christ in our hearts as our first and greatest love, which purifies, gives light to and makes holy all other relationships.  With joy and prayer we reflect upon the mystery of priesthood in the Church.

+ Denis J.

Vigil Mass at St Mary's Church, East Malvern



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am very pleased to be with Father Edebohls and to celebrate this Mass with you as we come once again to the Lord’s Day.

The Readings speak of the responsibility which we and the community have to encourage others in the journey of faith and to remind them that the only standard before us is that set by Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who lived, died and rose for us.

As we call to mind our sins, let us remember those who struggle to live the Christian life that supported by our prayers, example, words and deeds they and we may grow in the love and following of Jesus our Saviour.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This morning in the Cathedral I ordained four young men to the priesthood.  It was a wonderful celebration surrounded by the joy of brother priests and families at God’s great providence in enriching the Archdiocese with four more priests.  It was a moment too in which I reminded the young priests that through the imposition of hands, that mysterious interchange between God and man, they are transformed to be other Christs, to be given as victims, to make people holy, teach them and guide them on life’s journey.

Particularly in a modern society the responsibilities of the priesthood are huge.  We live in a culture which is totally secular and seeks to drive faith and religion to the area of private conscience, as Pope Benedict said in Sydney recently.  However, the truth of Christ will never be driven from the centre of Christian and public life.  The Church has the responsibility to teach us and to reach out to others that the way to eternal life may be embraced by all those for whom Jesus Christ died.

Today’s Readings speak of the responsibility that each of us has to live in uprightness of life ourselves, but also to give witness, encouragement and reminders to others.  Modern Christians may hesitate and say that what others do is none of our business.  Yet in the first Reading and in the Gospel, Ezekiel and the disciples are reminded of their common responsibility to call the one wrongdoer back to truth and life.

Today’s Ordinations remind us that it is not only the priests who offer sacrifice, but every one of us are also members of a prophetic people, invited to live and proclaim God’s truth and his love, which is lifegiving.  The last sentence of the first Reading says:  “If you do want a wicked man to renounce his ways and repent and he does not repent, then he shall die for his sin, but you yourself will have saved your life.”  (Ezekiel 33:9)

Similarly, Our Lord is giving instructions to the disciples reminding them that we do have a responsibility to show example, to point out the right way to each other and in so doing to know that God is with us.  We are invited to be instruments of reconciliation with God, as the Alleluia Verse tells us.  Sometimes when we do do these things we may not be thanked, but we can know that we are fulfilling our Christian duty.

An erring member of the Church approached in a personal courteous way is sometimes happy to come back.  God’s Word today gives us a practical message of the responsibility that we have and of the fact that we do not need to be afraid to live and keep pointing out God’s truth.

On this day when we thank God for the gift of priesthood in the Church the Readings remind us in timely fashion that we are all called to listen openly to God’s voice, in freedom to follow his way and to encourage others so

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Readings of the Mass today remind us that we are disciples of Jesus, we must know him as Master and follow him.

We cannot eliminate the cross of salvation from our life, no more than Christ could.  Jesus invites us to use the standard of the cross.

Let us call to mind our sins and embrace the invitation, which Jesus makes, to give of ourselves for the life of the world.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The three Readings today each provide pictures of heroes who were not afraid to go beyond normal expectations.  In the Gospel we have the telling words that ‘if anyone wants to be a follower of mine, Jesus says, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me’.

We must be realistic in what we confront.  Pope Benedict reminded the priests and seminarians in Sydney on 19th July:  “All too often we find ourselves immersed in a world that would set God aside.  In the name of human freedom and autonomy God’s name is passed over in silence, religion is reduced to private devotion and faith is shunned in the public square.  At times this mentality so completely at odds with the core of the Gospel can even cloud our understanding of the Church and her mission. 

We too can be tempted to make the life of faith a matter of mere sentiment, thus blunting its power to inspire a consistent vision of the world and a rigorous dialogue with the many other visions competing for the minds and hearts of our contemporaries.  Yet history, including the history of our own time, shows that the question of God will never be silenced and that indifference to the religious dimension of human existence ultimately diminishes and betrays man himself.  Faith teaches us that in Jesus we come to understand.  We know that in the end, as Saint Ignatius of Loyola saw so clearly, the only real standard against which all human reality can be measured is the Cross and its message of an unmerited love which triumphs over evil, sin and death, creating a new life and unfading joy.  The Cross reveals that we find ourselves only by giving our lives away, receiving God’s love as an unmerited gift and working to draw all men and women into the beauty of that love and the light of the truth which alone brings salvation to the world.”  (Pope Benedict XVI, St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, 19th July 2008)
Both Jeremiah and Jesus looked into their deepest self and found the courage to keep on proclaiming in the face of opposition his own belief.  In this Year of Saint Paul we see his writings too as our inspiration.  Courage shines through his words and lights our way.  Being a disciple means placing Christ in the first place.  “Think of God’s mercy and worship him.”

Paul will again remind us that the mind of Jesus being fixed on the love of his Father, fixed on the mission God gave him to do is a constant call to value what God asks each one of us:  “that we might see how great is the hope to which we are called”.  (Saint Paul to the Ephesians 1:18)

The Opening Prayer of the Mass reminds us that God alone is the giver of gifts.  This is to inspire love and faith and to make us know that we are protected by his constant care.  Discipleship means fixing our life on Jesus.  Pope Benedict says that love and hope are the two great constants in the life to which we are invited.  To see through the darkness the light of hope and truth shining even when times are challenging.  That i

Blessing of the Performing Arts Centre at Mackillop College, Werribee



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Like many of the best artistic works this wonderful Centre for Science and Performing Arts has been slightly longer in gestation than was originally expected.

I am delighted to be with you and to pay tribute to all who have taken part in the construction of this magnificent new facility.  It will be a great enrichment to MacKillop College for many years to come.

With prayerfulness let us bring our thanks to God, the origin of all beauty, goodness and truth.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am deeply pleased to be with you at the opening and blessing of the Performing Arts Centre at MacKillop College.  Over many years the place of music and the arts has been very strong here.
This Centre will lead us to new heights in the wide-ranging, complete Catholic education, which MacKillop College seeks to provide.  Our object is to enable young people to achieve a high level of professional competency coupled with a breadth of awareness of culture, language and the arts.

Just as I am delighted that Melbourne University is providing a Generalist Degree prior to increasing specialisation, I have long felt that the way in which secondary college courses have been constructed over the years has led to too narrow an education and too early specialisation.  The further developments in the area of performing arts, music and other allied activities will be greatly aided by the existence of the Centre and the excellent teaching given there, coupled with world class facilities.

Over the last forty years we have missed a number of opportunities of exposing our young people to the beauty of the liturgy and its traditional music.  We have seen a decline in the study of languages and an increased specialisation imposed from outside, which has worked against the objectives which Jesuit broad-based education has always had. 

However, I do see great hope in what is being done here at MacKillop College and what the community is gradually beginning to realise of how it is necessary to study what it means to be human, to offer young people broader areas of experience and reflection in ways which may not be immediate but which have permanent value and of striving always to resist the temptation to focus on present pragmatic needs to the neglect of the formation of the whole person which for centuries has shaped Christian Europe.

Pope Benedict is constant in his writing about the importance of beauty in our relationship with God.  As I thank all who have been involved in this project I do want to leave you with the invitation from the Lord about which Saint Augustine wrote in his Confessions. 

The Pope as an Augustinian theologian would I believe encourage us to do so.

“Late have I loved you, o beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! 
You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. 
In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. 
You were with me but I was not with you. 
Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. 
You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.  You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. 
You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  I have tasted you.  Now I hunger and thirst for more.  You touched