Congratulations to Indigenous elder, artist and educator Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann AM for being named the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year. Apart from her artwork, and work in education, she is perhaps best known for her reflections on dadirri – “inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness”. Dadirri, she says, “is perhaps the greatest gift [Aboriginal Australians] can give to our fellow Australians… dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us. This is the gift that Australia is thirsting for. It is something like what you call ‘contemplation’”. The following reflection on dadirri, which is a speech she gave in 2002 when she was Principal of a Catholic primary school in Daly River in the Northern Territory, also seeks to integrate dadirri with her faith as a Christian:
A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb and downloaded from http://www.prayasyoucan.com.au
Freud said that despite thirty years of research into the feminine soul, he still couldn’t answer the question, what does a woman want? Maybe it is not only about women that the answer is unclear, but also for all of us. In this Sunday’s reading Jesus utters his first words in the Gospel of John: ‘What do you want?’ The verb Jesus uses is richer than our ‘want’ as it also includes the sense of ‘seek’ and ‘desire’. In other words, Jesus was asking those first two disciples, ‘What are the deepest longings of your hearts, the ones that determine the course of your life?’ Andrew and his companion found the question too difficult and deflected it with a question asking where Jesus lives!
Our longings and desires! They can be the energy that powers our lives along, and the force that derails us. We can ride on their strength and they can undermine our dreams. So how do we deal with these forces? If we peel back the layers of our longings and desires, even the ones that we call ‘bad’, even ‘evil’, we will eventually come to something good. Having been made in the image and likeness of God, our deepest desires bear the trace of grace. It is when our good desires become disordered that destruction takes place. For example, I have noticed that some people get caught in bad relationships, not out of desire for sex, but rather out of fear of loneliness…and what is loneliness but the desire for communion. How much suffering would have been averted if those people had known the skills of friendship? When we are being tossed by our desires, it is a good time to stop and ask, ‘Where is the face of God in this desire and how can this desire foster life?’
A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb and downloaded from http://www.prayasyoucan.com.au
Rarely has someone in the spotlight worked so effectively to deflect attention from himself. The opening words of this Gospel describe John as a ‘witness’ and the series of responses that he gives to the questions of the Jews show the depth to which he sees his identity in relation to the person to whom he is to give witness. What is extraordinary is that, at this time, John didn’t know who the Christ would be, how he would act or even what type of Kingdom he would inaugurate. In all his responses he shows that he is capable of living a vocation which was largely undefined. But what he did know he was utterly faithful to. He knew a Messiah was coming who was greater, far greater, than himself and that the proper response to coming Messiah was to prepare – to make straight the way of the Lord.
Many of us have times when the calling of God within our lives can be unclear: times of transition, crisis or illness. The diminishments of age can bring this about. Until God makes things clearer there is nothing we can do…except be faithful to what we know we should do. Sometimes that can seem to amount to little. John the Baptist, in such a time, saw himself simply as a voice, a voice crying in the wilderness, a voice that was passed over once the Christ had come. But John needed nothing more: that was his fulfilment. He was the voice preparing for the Bridegroom, the one prepared to diminish, so that the Christ could increase, the one who could see that ‘it was all about Christ’.
Your own John the Baptists…
Why John the Baptist? All the Gospels give great importance to the person and preaching of John the Baptist. In the iconography (religious paintings) of the early Church he held a prominent position. But did Jesus really need him?
John the Baptist represents the culmination of the Old Testament. In him all the hopes and dreams of the Jewish people across the centuries find expression. But did God really need the Old Testament and Jewish history in order to offer salvation?
No, God didn’t need any of this. God could offer salvation personally and individually to any one of us. But God’s plan of salvation involves not merely the supreme human mediation given through Jesus but all the many other people through whom God choses to bring to us grace and love.
A prayer of thanksgiving often said in my community is for those who have brought our faith to where we are today. As a way of preparation for the coming of the Lord we would do well to recall the people who have formed our faith to what it is today. Perhaps it was grandparents, parents, teachers, the atheist who challenges or the friend who dies tragically – there are many different ways, both positive and negative, that God has used these people as channels of grace into our lives. As we recognise who they are and give thanks we make ourselves even more open to the coming of God in our lives.
Steve Jobs, soon before he died, said that one of the determining practices of his life was to live each day as if it were the last. That practice has had a significant place in Christian spirituality. St Benedict exhorted his followers ‘to keep death daily before one’s eyes.’ This was not to be an exercise in morbidity but rather a liberation from entanglement in all the lesser passions of life and it has the ability to transform the quality of our lives. A story was told of St Francis de Sales. Someone was surprised to find this holy bishop playing cards and asked him: ‘What would you do if you knew that you were to die and face God’s judgement in 15 minutes.” “I’d tell them to hurry up and deal the next round,” he replied. Living with God’s presence before him, he was able to enter fully into each moment.
Life is not meant to be a filling in of time before we shuffle off this mortal coil. If it is that, we will alternate between boredom and distraction. Given the quality and type of much that passes for ‘entertainment’ nowadays, we could well be forgiven for thinking that our society lives in fear of a death it cannot face. That death will surely come – but it need not be dreaded. It can be the companion of our lives teaching us to enter fully into all the partial moments of living so that we can be ready to enter fully into the great moment of God’s embrace.
While our Faith hasn’t changed, the world in which we express our Faith has. Our Parish of twelve months ago has gone. We are moving into unknown territory but we still have Jesus to walk beside us. Fr Kevin is calling for people who are walking with Jesus to come forward and help plan and manage how we face this new world.
PARISH COORDINATING TEAM PCT:
Are you an active member of our Parish community who has reached the age of eighteen (18) years?
Do you have an interest in, and a commitment to the welfare of all parishioners?
Do you have a desire to be of service to the Parish community?
Do you have a keenness to promote the teachings of the Gospel Values and ongoing Mission?
Do you have an ability to work cooperatively and constructively with all other members of the PCT?
And sufficiency of time (around 7 meetings per year, personal preparation and any allocated action items) to devote to PCT duties?
If this is you and you would like to make a commitment as a Parish Leader, please send a note to Fr Kevin telling us: Why you would like to nominate for the PCT and what you can offer in helping our Parish achieve its Vision “Christlike relationships of friendship and faith, valuing one another and sharing our gifts for the good of all.”
Nominations can be by Mail to the Parish Office or email to firstname.lastname@example.org Nominations should be sent by 18 November.
…. Fr Kevin McIntosh
UPDATE OCTOBER 2020
Dear fellow parishioners,
Regrettably, we have been unable to return to parish life with any sort of normality and at the time of writing this, it is difficult to imagine when we will be able to do so. However, the Finance and Development Committee (FDC) has continued to go about its business as best we can and we thought you might be interested in an update of our activities.
From the time of our stage 4 lockdown, the Parish Office has been closed and all staff commenced working from home for their normal activities. As much as possible, our dedicated staff have continued to conduct all the normal operational matters of the parish with minimal disruption. Day-to-day matters have been managed well, although, obviously, some activities have had to be temporarily curtailed. The parish office will be reopened as soon as possible but, of course, in line with government requirements and practical measures in place. I would like to thank our staff for their commitment, dedication and flexibility in difficult circumstances.
While the FDC expected that the finances of the parish would be affected by Covid 19 and the restrictions imposed, we are pleased that the effect has not been as great as we has initially imagined.
Understandably, our weekly collections have reduced but many parishioners have opted to use electronic means of transferring funds to the parish and we are very grateful for this. It remains an available option and if you would like information on how it’s done, please leave a message on the parish office’s line and someone will return to you. Alternatively, if you would like to make an electronic contribution to our accounts directly, the relevant BSB & Account numbers are:
Presbytery A/c-1st Collection BSB: 083 347 Account:674466042
Church A/c-2nd Collection BSB: 083 347 Account: 546358602
Importantly, the parish qualified for the federal government’s JobKeeper program, the first phase of which ended on 30 September. Likewise, we qualify for the second phase, although the financial contribution from the government will reduce and at this stage, it will cease on 31 December. This initiative has been an enormous advantage to the parish as it relieved the financial impact of staff salaries on the parish.
Our income and expenditure continues to be closely monitored and where possible, we have deferred costs to a later date and have scaled back on non-essential items, including some general maintenance matters. As is our routine, the FDC formally reviews our financial position monthly, while expenses are managed on a day-to-day basis.
Fr Kevin continues to live-stream Mass and I know many parishioners use this service.
Parish ministries are connected by Zoom technology, which has enabled many of these groups and the parish generally to continue to function, albeit with some difficulty and restrictions.
Of course, when we are able to attend Mass again remains unclear but the Liturgy Committee will ensure we are able to do so safely and in accordance with requirements when it does happen.
The dangers and restrictions imposed due to Covid 19 have enabled the FDC to implement a risk management strategy, for which we have utilised a risk management ‘tool’ developed by our insurer, CCI. This period has provided an excellent opportunity to ‘road test’ our recently developed risk management strategy and over time, you will see this in operation in the parish more frequently. The aim of the FDC is to ensure that appropriate risk management techniques are implemented in all ministries within the parish. Glenn Morris is leading this work and progress is encouraging.
The FDC has also used the additional time due to restricted activities to commence work on the parish strategic plan and while there remains much to be done, FDC members are pleased with progress. The plan is very much in its construction and draft stages and it will be released to all parishioners for comment and feedback in due course. We are fortunate to have the expertise of Michael McConville for this project.
On behalf of Fr Kevin and the FDC, I hope you continue to stay safe and well. Like all of us, I am keen to have life back to ‘normal’, although I can barely remember what that looked like. Please continue to look after yourself and to pray for each other that we will be able to gather again as a community in the not-too-distant future.
God bless you and warm regards,
Chairman, Finance & Development Committee.
NAPCAN RELEASED THIS POSTER FOR NATIONAL CHILD PROTECTION WEEK
07 July 2020
Dear friends in Christ,
Today’s decision to place metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire areas back into Stage 3 lockdown for the next six weeks from 11.59pm Wednesday 8 July is sobering news. It is truly disheartening, and will bring renewed distress to so many families and individuals.
These words from Psalm 22 have come immediately to my mind (words that were on the lips of Jesus as he was crucified): My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. (Ps 22.1-2)
Yet, I want to encourage you in grace, trusting in the abiding closeness of our loving Lord, who promised to be with us always.
In returning to Stage 3 restrictions in those specific areas, sadly the public celebration of Mass, which we have only just re-commenced, will need to go back to live-streaming; churches will need to be closed again to any private prayer; and the numbers allowed for funerals and weddings will be severely limited.
We expect specific details around the restrictions will be released by the civil authorities over the next 24 hours, and will be communicated to you as soon as possible. I ask for your patience in the meantime.
Now is a time for attentiveness to the care of one another. In the face of our own despondency and fears, our fatigue and anxieties, may we learn to hold firm in faith and hope, and experience sustaining moments of love. As the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews encouraged: Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works. (Heb 24.10)
Friends, while the Psalmist knew struggle and pain, there were also words of confidence that came from the heart: In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame. (Ps 22.4-5)
May our Lord Jesus be with you, and may His Blessed Mother accompany us all.
With every grace and blessing, I remain,
Yours sincerely in Christ Jesus,
Most Rev Peter A Comensoli
Archbishop of Melbourne