Friday, October 31, 2008

All Saints and All Souls

Mass times for All Saints and All Souls Day:
All Saints, Saturday 1st: Sung Mass at 8.30am
All Souls, Monday 3rd: Low Mass at 7am and 12noon;
Sung Mass at 6.30pm

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Feast of Christ the King 26.10.08 Sermon

Feast of Christ the King 26.10.08

This feast was instituted in 1925 in a time of great trouble, to remind the world that they have one ultimate authority, Jesus Christ, Lord and King.

If He were given proper recognition there would be no more wars or revolutions, but peace and concord all round.

People often express a longing for unity among the whole human race. What better way than to begin with one Lord for all? In all the racial and cultural diversity there is one Lord and God who oversees it all, from whom and to whom all things come and return.

So today is a day for large vision, for rising above petty differences as all the peoples of the earth are invited to look upwards to the King they have in common.

Sadly many people do not accept Him as King, reducing Him to little or no importance in their scale of values.

He is not valued as He should be. This is partly the same problem as when He came to the earth 2000 years ago. Because He was humble people thought He could be dismissed.

Because He was crucified, they thought He was of no account.

They did not understand then, and still do not, that His humility and self-sacrifice is what demonstrates His greatness.

Anyone can be arrogant and overbearing and many earthly rulers have been, but there are not so many who will give their lives for their people, let alone allow themselves to be taken for a criminal or a slave.

‘When I am lifted up I will draw all men to Myself’, says Our Lord in John’s Gospel. The Cross becomes a kind of throne on which He mounts, to show His royal dignity and to unite all people with Himself.

It does not look dignified at first but we come to understand what He has done; and then we are drawn to Him. Drawn to imitate His love, something we appreciate even if we cannot do it. But He will enable us to love like He did. This is why He feeds us with His body and blood. He is transfusing His life into us.

If we all imitated His humility and self-giving then this is how we have unity among the peoples of the world. We learn to live in harmony, not by ignoring religion as some would suggest, but by actually being religious, imitating the perfect Man who has renewed our human nature.
We learn to behave like Him. And we learn to love Him. This is the next stage. He wants not just our obedience but our love.

How do we express that love? For one thing by acting out His commands. But He wants more than that. He wants us to adore Him, to commune with Him.

So we come to worship Him, to express His worth, which is infinite.

We do not normally worship kings because they are not ‘worth’ it (worth-ship)! But this King is worth it.

The acts of adoration we make go some way to expressing His worth, never quite getting there, but some way.

We may not ‘feel’ adoration. Liturgically, our bodies are adoring Him with such gestures as kneeling, genuflecting, bowing; we have to bring our minds and hearts along as well.

If He is the King of the whole world it is about time the world knew it. At least we know it, and can intensify our response to Him.

If we can obey Him, imitate His example, then that is a great start. If we can love Him, adore Him, be one with Him, better still. We would all do this if we only knew Him better.

Let us come to know Him for ourselves, and do everything we can to make Him known to the world.

Behold your king, said Pilate sarcastically. We say it without sarcasm. Even while - and especially when - covered in blood, He is our King. Come, let us worship.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

FSSP comes to Adelaide

Below is an announcement of the appointment of Fr Michael McCaffrey FSSP to Adelaide:
October 12, 2008

To the lay faithful of the Latin Mass Community in the Archdiocese of Adelaide.

I am pleased to announce to you that negotiations with the Fraternity of St Peter have now resulted in Father Michael McCaffrey being appointed your Chaplain as of November 4th this year.

I am delighted that the Fraternity of St Peter has made this commitment to Adelaide and I am most grateful to Father John Berg, Superior General of the Fraternity of St Peter for appointing Father McCaffrey to Adelaide.

I wish to thank very sincerely Father David Thoroughgood who has been your chaplain for some years and who has carried out his role with a great sense of loving service to you all.

Father Thoroughgood leaves the position of Chaplain and will now be appointed to a hospital chaplaincy role with the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Father Thoroughgood will continue to say the Latin Mass in other locations in the Archdiocese according to the terms of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

I am sure that the Latin Mass Community will join with me in thanking Father Thoroughgood for his service, and in welcoming Father McCaffrey as he takes up his new and important role. Father McCaffrey will reside at the Archbishop’s House West Terrace Adelaide.

With my continuing support for the Latin Mass community.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Wilson DD JCL
Archbishop of Adelaide

23rd Sunday after Pentecost 19.10.08 Sermon

23rd Sunday after Pentecost 19.10.08 Trust in God

The global financial crisis is claiming casualties in terms of despair and suicide. People are killing themselves and sometimes their families to avoid facing the shame of financial ruin.

This is terribly sad, of course, and something that should never happen. No matter what crises we face we should take refuge in God and He will deliver. If Job had committed suicide, what then? (His wife did actually advise him to... curse God, and die).

We do face a lot of crises in the course of one lifetime, and we are often tempted to lose hope, but God keeps reminding us that He is with us and that we should trust Him to help.

The two miracles in today’s Gospel show faith at work, particularly strongly in the case of the woman who reasoned that if she could just touch the hem of Our Lord’s garment she would be healed (and she was).

Almighty God seems to be saying to us, that if we only believed Him, believed in Him, and placed all our requests before Him with confidence then He would grant them immediately.

Why are not all prayers answered? It could be we did not pray with faith. It could be it is not God’s will to grant that particular request. It could be that it is His will, but that the thing we ask for needs more prayer over a longer period of time (eg world peace, the salvation of all souls).

Whatever the blockage, we should never conclude that God either does not exist, or does not care about us.
We must never doubt either His existence or His closeness to us. He has not gone away, He has not fallen asleep; He has not stopped loving us.

So we come back with more prayer, and we feel our way towards Him: Lord, I am not sure what is happening here, but I trust in You above all else. You are the one certainty in the midst of everything else. So I place my needs before You, knowing You will not abandon me.

How to believe, trust, and hope in the midst of adversity? We have to go by faith and not by feelings.

The woman had been sick for many years. Nothing had healed her so far. She could have easily given up hope of ever being healed. She had no answers but she went to the One who did have the answer, or who was the answer.

She did the crucial thing which we all must do – she went outside of herself.

When we doubt, fear or despair we are staying locked up inside ourselves, just churning up the same old ground and getting nowhere. We feel our own inadequacy and deduce from that that there is no solution. We are simply defeated.

But take a look outside of self and see the Saviour of the whole world standing before us, and we get a very different story.
I may be inadequate but He is not. I may not have the answers but He has.
I don’t have to know how He will help; I just know that He will. So I go to touch the hem of His garment. I reach out to Him and He will heal me.

Sometimes the solution will take longer and be more complex than for the woman. Some of our problems have many levels (eg an unhappy marriage, rebellious children, state of the Church). No matter, He is bigger than all problems, and able to solve them all.

I am sure the only reason the world is in such a desolate state is that so few people take Our Lord at His word (Come to Me etc) and instead languish in despair and doubt, often even killing themselves.

It is like starving to death outside a restaurant. The solution is there, but do we take it?

Well we do, that is those of us here now. We will touch His garment, open our hearts to receive Him, and let His power flow into us... Who touched Me? We all did!

22nd Sunday after Pentecost 12.10.08 Sermon

22nd Sunday after Pentecost 12.10.08 Give to God what is God’s.

Give to God what is God’s – how much belongs to God? Everything. Though not all of it is useful to Him, such as money. He has no need of our cars, houses, clothes etc, but He would like us to use them according to His will.

For one thing we should not make false gods of them, but see ourselves as merely stewards looking after God’s property. He wants us to use our possessions for the good of all. Thus the rich should help the poor; feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and so on.

If God does not want our property as such, what does He want from us? Our hearts. He wants our love, our allegiance, our homage.

He wants us to love Him to the point that we would readily do His will on any point, large or small, without argument or complaint.

This is the ‘tax’ He asks from us. It cannot be measured in money; it comes from the heart. It is a spiritual offering.

In this sense we can never pay Him enough; if there is any more we can give Him then He wants that too.

It might sound demanding, but remember we are made for this. We are created to know, love and serve God. It is our destiny, the thing we are most geared for. Like a racehorse to race or a bird to fly, we are designed to love God.

And God never commands something without also giving the means to carry out the command.

So if He says, I want everything from you, He will also make it possible for us to give that.

One major way He assists us to give everything to Him is through the Sacrifice of the Mass.

In the Mass we are praying in overdrive because it is not just our own thoughts and sentiments that we offer to Heaven, but Christ Himself. We offer God to God, the perfect
Sacrifice, pleasing to Him and an offering that does fully satisfy the definition of ‘everything’.

God the Son takes our offering and joins it with His own, so that we are truly giving to God what is God’s.

We are very fortunate to have the Mass, fortunate to be able to offer it freely in a place where we are not persecuted. When we think of the English martyrs and others who risked torture and death to offer the Mass, then we realize we have it easy.

We who are attached to the Traditional Latin Mass rejoice at its gradual and steady re-introduction into the life of the Church. We have discovered the beauty of this rite, and we hope others will continue to discover it.

It is a treasure that God has given to us, beautiful and useful at the same time. It is our way of giving to God what is His.

All we have to do is get on board. Like getting on an aeroplane. It does the flying; all we have to do is climb on – then we say we are flying.

So with the Mass. It does the work, we might say; all we have to do is climb on, attach ourselves and let our offering be taken up to Heaven.

The most beautiful thing this side of heaven, said Fr Faber of the Traditional Mass.

Now we will have another priest in Adelaide to offer this Mass every day. We rejoice in that,

Long may the Mass flourish, until it merges into the heavenly liturgy which knows no end.

May it be multiplied indeed, in its frequency, and its fruitfulness to the world.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

21st Sunday after Pentecost 5.10.08 Sermon 2

21st Sunday after Pentecost 5.10.08 Battle/Abortion

The epistle tells us that we are engaged in spiritual warfare. What is the nature of this warfare. It is not like other wars where we arm ourselves with weapons and go out and start shooting or bombing the other side.

The warfare of the Christian is essentially in the realm of ideas. It is a battle for truth. Seeing it, understanding it, living by it. Why should this be difficult? Because the evil forces, led by Satan, are very good at obscuring the truth and casting every kind of doubt and fear in our path; causing us to lose our certainty and grasp for false solutions.

The war is fought at the individual level as each of us tries to live by the truth at every level of our own lives, overcoming the snares and temptations of the evil one, and choosing what is right and good. It is easy enough when we are on our game, but very easy to fall if we are not vigilant.

The war is fought also at the communal level, involving our whole society and culture. The way we live, the way people think.

What a strange mixture that turns out to be. It is just like a war where you win some and lose some. People sometimes get it right – eg coming to the help of a family in need.
And sometimes get it wrong with widespread acceptance of evils such as abortion and euthanasia. So it is ok to kill a baby in the womb. But in other circumstances we go to great lengths to save the life of a child. We have to recognize these contradictions and iron out the wrong bits.

So the spiritual war means that we have to fight for own soul, and also to fight for the whole culture, to ‘redeem the age’ as we found St Paul telling us last week.

We have to change the way people think, including ourselves; it is a battle of ideas, harder to win than a sword fight.

If it were just a matter of proving a truth intellectually, but no, it is a moral battle as well as intellectual. Our fallen human nature just does not want to grasp the truth in some cases. We have become enslaved to sin and do not necessarily want to be set free from its grasp.

One particular battleground is abortion. We are asked to pray especially now for the situation in Victoria, where liberal abortions laws are being proposed.

We can fight this battle on two fronts, which might at first seem to be contradictory, but we come to see that they are complementary.

One is to assert the absolute wrongness of abortion, as a matter of principle.

At the same time and not in any way diminishing from the first point: we are worried about the wellbeing of the child, mother and all others.
We are concerned for the mother not just the child.
what we say to the mother is, Have the baby and you will be much happier, as well as other goods being achieved.
And the same to people who work there etc, You will be better off if you worked somewhere else.

The second point is mercy. We say abortion is wrong, and You can be forgiven for it.

We do not take the false step that many would recommend that we blend these two together, just fudging over the truth and letting everyone think they are doing a good job just to spare their feelings.

No, we seek God’s way and this is where the battle must be fought. We make ourselves very unpopular, but it is for the good of all eventually. We do not hate those who hate us. We extend to them the mercy of God (as in today’s Gospel, parable of unforgiving debtor).

A battle for the truth, for clarity. Clarity and Charity, we might say. Know what is right, and do it, but if you don’t do it, ask for mercy and get it right the next time.

21st Sunday after Pentecost 5.10.08 Sermon 1

21st Sunday after Pentecost 5.10.08 Forgiving others.

It seems so easy when we hear that parable. It is so obvious how foolish that servant was for not releasing the other servant from the debt. We feel the indignation of the other servants and the king. He deserved to be punished for his hard-heartedness.

Yet we are not just observers of the scene. We are in that parable. We are that unforgiving servant, whenever we refuse to forgive someone who has offended us.

Forgiving those who offend us is one of the hardest things for a Christian. Why is it so hard?

Something to do with wounded pride. How dare anyone do that to me?

Something to do with ingratitude. We forget how lucky we are; we take it for granted.
Imagine you are on death row and one minute from death a reprieve comes. How relieved we would be, how happy. We would be on top of the world.
Well, that is how we should feel all the time insofar as we are forgiven by God and reprieved from going to hell, which is where we really deserve to go.
We should be walking around on our knees in gratitude.

But we forget so easily. We can walk out of the confessional and forget how lucky we are, and then proceed to throttle one another with unforgiveness.
We expect God to forgive us. Yet we deserve to go to hell. It is only by God’s mercy that we have any likelihood of going anywhere else. So we need to stay grateful.

If gratitude does not work, let’s come from another level.

Some offences are very hard to forgive. For example, if the offence is still current and repeated, and likely to keep going.

It is all a matter of how we put the question.

We might say, I could never forgive that!
Or we might say, X has offended me. I pray for him to become a good person, to be the person God created him to be. Put the second way it does not seem so hard.

The point is that if he did change I would like him!

Think of the saints. Do you think St Stephen would be mad with St Paul for condoning his death? Or St Maria Goretti with the man who stabbed her? Or Christ Himself with those who crucified Him?

No, the offence is swallowed up in an ocean of love. The offence is seen to be very small in the context of eternity, of God’s infinite love.

They really ‘do not know what they do’. To a point they know, but if they really understood the love of God they would not offend.

We are just praying bad people become good. (By the way ‘bad people’ includes us insofar as we also sin, we also offend others).
Is it so hard to want bad people to be good? It is a lot better than if they stay bad.

We like to see anything deformed made good. We could discover great beauty or goodness in others. It is an exciting possibility.

Sometimes the resentment can be so deep that the repentance of the other is resented. How can he repent on his deathbed and get to heaven like that after all he has done? But again, we all deserve hell. So we cannot resent someone else escaping it. We can escape too. Think of that ocean of God’s love. It won’t seem so hard once we get to heaven.

It is better if we do this willingly. If all else fails then the fear of being condemned ourselves should jolt us into forgiving.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

20th Sunday after Pentecost 28.9.08 Sermon

20th Sunday after Pentecost 28.9.08 Redeeming the age

This may be a wicked age but your lives should redeem it...(Epistle, Eph 5). We frequently find ourselves in the minority if we are to be serious disciples of Our Lord.

It may be you are the only person in your family or workplace or club etc that is fully practising and believing the faith.

Then, when we confront the tides of public opinion we find that we are likely to be cast as one extreme, while everyone else is more ‘balanced’.

We must hold firm, realizing that it has ever been so. Even in ages when nominally Catholicism was the dominant religion there were still a much smaller number who would take the faith seriously.

If we do take it seriously we will begin this process of ‘redeeming the age’.

The spread of the faith has always been a matter of one person convincing another of the truth of the Gospel. This can be done partly by words, partly by action.

The words we speak invite all to have hope. There is wickedness about, but it does not have to be so. We can do things differently and do them better.

The actions we do – well, it helps if we can work miracles, but most of us cannot. So the next best thing, (or really the best thing) is to live good lives. To walk in the light of Christ and thus show the world how this religion is meant to work.

If enough people did this others would follow. It seems so far that it is very rare to have the majority of any population really switched-on to the faith.

No matter, we work with what we have. We may be few in number; we work all the harder.
Our history abounds with stories of the apparently weak taking on the apparently strong and winning.

From David and Goliath through to Mother Teresa, the one who puts his trust in God will have the strength and will win the battles.

We are weak now if we consider the numbers. We are just ones and twos here and there, battling against a flood of secularism, and within our Church an easygoing understanding of salvation which presumes it is easy to get to heaven.

As a result there are very few who see the need for repentance, fasting, atonement, the urgency of conversion. Those who do see it must be all the more energetic in telling and acting the message.
With God’s grace to assist us a few can conquer the many and bring the world (for the first time) to the kind of conditions prophesied in Isaiah (the readings we use around Advent and Christmas).

In any event, succeed or fail, we must still do what is right. If I am the last Catholic left alive I must still do the same things as I am doing now.

Always pray, believe, trust, work and thus exert an influence on the surrounding population and culture.

Learn the Church teachings, learn to defend them, learn the way other people think and why they are wrong (eg pro abortion, pro legalized prostitution).

Pray for the courage to be different from those around us. We don’t have to be one of the crowd, and cannot afford to be in these times.

Different not because you have green hair or wear outrageous clothes, but because you follow Christ, in letter and spirit. You are one of the few who do not ignore or insult Him, who do not try to tone down His teachings.

Some of our number have even died for Him. A powerful witness, and one that does not end with the person’s death.

We pray that we grow in numbers; in any event that we grow in faith and commitment. We believe these things to such a point that we cannot not make known the wonders we have seen.

19th Sunday after Pentecost 21.9.08 Sermon

19th Sunday after Pentecost. 21.9.08 Be angry and do not sin

‘Be angry and do not sin’ St Paul tells us. This tells us that anger is not always a sin. Let us explore further.

Anger is a frequent issue for Catholics. When is it alright to be angry, and how is it acceptable to express anger?

For divine inspiration we have the story of Our Lord’s cleansing of the Temple, and this reminds us that He was not always quiet and gentle.

On this occasion He was displaying a just anger; His anger was a righteous indignation at the lack of reverence being shown towards God.

He was not just ‘losing His temper’ over a trivial issue. There was justification for His position. It is right to be angry at evil; in fact it is a duty.

Anger, as such, is not a sin. It becomes a sin when it is unruly – either because there is insufficient ground for it, or its expression is excessive.

We speak of the anger of God; this is always a just anger.

God is angry with evil and with evildoers. This is not the same as being ‘mad with’ someone, wanting to pulverise them. God does not lose His temper.

His anger is perfectly balanced; it is something like a creditor calculating how much he is owed. It is the correction of an imbalance.

Here is a disorder; a correction is required.

God cannot abide disorder. He is perfect Himself and His creation is perfect. Disorder comes about through some kind of sin; God moves immediately to repair the damage and make all things well.

He deals differently with different people according to the situation.

So, He was obviously angry with the pharisees at various times when they tried to trap Him and obstructed His saving work.

God can be angry and merciful at the same time. People sometimes reason that because God does not immediately and obviously punish a certain sinful action then He must not mind what is happening.

But God’s anger can take different expressions. He notes the disorder, the imperfection and immediately goes to work to fix it.

How He does that will vary, but we know that He will be doing it.

There will sometimes be obvious punishment; sometimes a chance for a change of heart; sometimes punishment will be just letting nature take its course.

One factor in this is the disposition of the offender. A proud or defiant person is more likely to receive a direct punishment, because that may be the only way that God can get through to the person.

A humble person is more likely to receive a gentle response because he is already well on the way to correction (as with woman caught in adultery, or Prodigal Son)

We can learn from God’s anger how to deal with our own.

We sometimes get angry with the wrong things. We might be more angry because someone cuts us off in traffic than with abortion; more angry with some personal slight than with blasphemy.

What do we get worked up about? It should be the things that really matter, things that God Himself disapproves of.

And how should we express anger? Again, take the cue from God: gentle with the contrite; stronger with the obstinate; all the while never losing our own self-control.

We are seeking to restore order, the perfection of God’s order – not just our own opinion or whim, but an objective reality.

And, Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Our anger must not linger and fester, but be confined to the point, always seeking what is best for the other person.
A just anger only, and always tempered by mercy.

May the pure and just anger of God cleanse us from sin and keep us in His favour.