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Mass for the Gathering of Ecclesial Movements

Mass Celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart
at the Camberwell Civic Centre
on Saturday, 18th May, 2002, at 11.45am

Introduction

My dear Brothers and Sisters,

I welcome such a wonderful diversity of Movements in the Church, gathered under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for this special celebration of renewal and mission. I commend to you these words of prayer from the Holy Father -
"O Lord may my soul be flooded with your light and know you more profoundly. Lord, give me so much love that will unite me with you always. Lord, let me serve you and serve you well on the paths that you wish to open to my existence here below."
It can truly be said that we have come along different paths and are gathered for this marvellous manifestation of the Church open to the power and vibrant love of the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life.

As we call to mind our sins and enter fully into this celebration, let us ask the Lord of all life that he will set our hearts on fire with his love.

Homily

My dear Brothers and Sisters,

"Love one another as I have loved you."
(John 13:34)

In the last eighteen months we remember the call of the Holy Father inviting us to be his new witnesses in the world. "Above all," he said in 1984, "the world needs testimony of the generosity of God's love. Among those who doubt God or believe that he is absent, through your own personal witness and your Movements you demonstrate that it is worthwhile to seek the Lord and love him for himself, that it is worthwhile to consecrate one's life to the kingdom of God and its apparent foolishness. If with the Holy Spirit you seek the holiness that corresponds to your state of life have no fear: he will not abandon you."

As we are gathered together I believe it is important that we should look at the fundamental underpinning of all that we do in the Church which unifies us. First, everything we do for the apostolate has to come from an encounter with Christ. Second, all that we do has to be judged in the light of holiness. We build up holiness in the Church in its members. Third, all of our Christian life and indeed our apostolate is meant to reflect the communion of the Trinity. By this I mean that God the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father so much that their reciprocal love is the birth of a new person, the Holy Spirit.

"The Spirit, which Jesus gives us", (Romans 5:5) makes us all "one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32).

Our journey in the Church must always be characterised by relationships with each other, which reflect the love and total self-giving of the Trinity. This is what we say when we use the word 'communion'.

Many of us will rejoice in the words of Saint Therese of Lisieux, whose relics recently visited our country, "I understood that the Church had a heart and this heart was aflame with love. I understood that love alone stirred the members of the Church to act … I understood that love encompassed all vocations, that love was everything." The Pope says (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 43), that "the greatest challenge facing us in the new millennium is to make the Church the home and the school of love." He even goes on to say that before making practical plans we need to promote a spirituality of communion which begins with God.

The Trinity lives in us and as a consequence (a) we have to see his light shining on the face of our brothers and sisters, (b) we think of our brothers and sisters as "those who are part of me", (c) we are ready to share their joys and sufferings, to offer them deep and genuine friendship, (d) to make room for them, particularly bearing their burdens, (e) to resist constant competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy.

So the Holy Father is inviting us to a new way of looking at others, whether it be family members, other organisations, priest or even bishops.

This weekend is the time of the Holy Spirit. It is a special gift of the Spirit that these gatherings are possible and provide impetus for the Church. Unity and our searching to reflect the total self-giving of the Trinity always respects truth and honesty because it means that it meets in another person a similar desire for truth. Communion does mean a different way of looking at others.

The Holy Father also promotes in N.M.I. 46, "The promotion of forms of Association, whether of the more traditional kind or newer Ecclesial Movements, which continue to give the Church a vitality that is God's gift and a true 'springtime of the spirit'. Obviously, such Movements need to work in full harmony with the Universal and local Church and in obedience to the pastors." But Saint Paul's warning applies to us all. I think it can influence our attitude to each other and make us more inclusive. "Do not quench the spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything and hold fast to what is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).

I do urge you to reflect upon these challenges. How can we reflect the communion of the Trinity? How can we see others who are part of me? How can we be open to the Spirit working in our midst? As Paul VI once said, "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he listens to teachers he does so because they are witnesses." Saint Paul himself says in these eternal words, "You are a letter from Christ written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts."

 

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.
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