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HE CANONISATION of Mary often was in earlier days, an expression of sec-
MacKillop is a powerful and very pub- tarianism—opposition to one Church from
lic assertion of Christian faith and other Churches. The ecumenical movement
Catholic beliefs. It is a big event for Christi- has instilled mutual respect among the
anity in Australia. Predictably, it is provoking Churches in Australia.
a deal of heated criticism. We Catholics seem Anti-Catholicism now finds its source deep
to have a special knack for stirring the cul- within the general Australian culture. What we
tural pot. How good or bad is that, I wonder? Catholics are so publicly banging on about
Possibly a bit of both. contradicts much of what passes for
Mary MacKillop was a person who lived commonsense and wisdom in Australia today.
by very Australian values. She was a woman Hence the canonisation of Mary MacKillop
who supported the poor and underprivileged, and all that the event encapsulates is a provo-
one of the common people, a woman who dis- cation, an in-your-face celebration of beliefs
played great fortitude in face of ill-treatment that do not fit comfortably in contemporary
by authority. She is a person that all Austral- Australia, and which seriously annoy many
ians can appreciate. people. One has only to keep an eye on the
But it is a very Catholic thing to have her columns and comments in The Sydney Morn-
canonised and that does not go down well with ing Herald to see ample evidence of the fact.
many of our fellow-citizens. Catholics have But there is more behind present-day anti-
been accused of exploiting her. Catholicism in Australia, as I realized when I
In declaring her to be a saint, it is objected, did my national duty and lined up to vote on
we Catholics are publicly declaring our ‘pe- election day in the grounds of the local public
culiar’ beliefs in holiness, in life after death, school.
in heaven, in miracles, in the power of prayer. A little ahead of me in the line was a fel-
The very fact that people in our enlightened low in his late 40s who was launched on a long
twenty-first century Australia should hang on statement of his views on the Catholic Church
to such beliefs is an embarrassment to many. and Catholics generally. I don’t know what
‘What century are we in?’ it is asked in dis- started him off because I only noticed what
gust. was going on when he was already in full flight.
If we Catholics would only keep these be- But I got the jist of his story and something of
liefs to ourselves we would be tolerated and his grievances fairly quickly.
left alone. But we insist on flaunting them in He had been baptised a Catholic, made his
public. Such public display raises the hackles first Communion, been Confirmed—the lot!
of many of our fellow Australians and pro- He felt he had had a bad time in the Catholic
vokes a latent anti-Catholic feeling into the boarding school to which his parents sent him.
open. Now he is an atheist, he declared—specifically
Not that opposition troubles us much; we an anti-Catholic atheist, I gathered. He was list-
are fairly hardened to it, having been served ing all the things he did not like about Catho-
up with plenty of it down the generations. lics and the way we operate.
But there is a difference in this present- From my place down the line I proffered
day anti-Catholic feeling. No longer is it, as it him my quizzical half-smile that I use for such

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occasions, to let him know that his voice was mands a lot of patience and acceptance from us
carrying. all especially in recent times, even if the hurts
Then he started on doctrine—the things being carried by these former Catholics cause
‘they’ ask you to believe on faith, unquestion- them to lash out inappropriately.
ing faith. Such as: there is one God…but there All-in-all, the Canonisation and all the at-
are three of them! tention it is receiving is valuable for causing
Since he was now moving into the area of the Catholic voice to be heard in Australia. It
my specialty—theology—I could contain my- is a voice that speaks of different things, tran-
self no longer. ‘Well …not quite!’ I interrupted. scendent realities, human possibilities with
Then I identified myself: ‘I am the local par- the grace of God, the communion of saints
ish priest.’ where we belong. Mary MacKillop’s story
I gave him a moment to register that fact, offers many lessons on life as it should be
then proceeded to a summary explanation, cit- lived. It is a rich time for Catholics in Aus-
ing Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, of the tan- tralia. It makes us stand out as different, like
talizing insights we can have into the mystery us or loathe us. It is far better than being ig-
of mysteries, the life of the Trinity. nored.
Not bad, considering this was all happen- In his recent book Losing My Religion.
ing in the public school yard! Unbelief in Australia, (UNSW Press, 2009)
It was an amicable enough exchange. I Tom Frame claims that Australians are disin-
acknowledged that he seemed to have had a terested in religion, rather than indifferent to
bad boarding school experience. On the other it. He writes:
hand, I told him, I had had a very good time in
Religion is not ignored wilfully or otherwise; it
an equivalent institution (the ‘Apostolic
just doesn’t mean much to a great many peo-
School’, our MSC minor seminary). ple. In my judgment, the culturally compliant
At the conclusion he said I was ‘O.K’—by strain of Christianity promoted in Australia does
which I understood that I was all right even if not compel people to grapple with ideas that
a Catholic priest. will expand their horizons, nor does it oblige
At least some of the contemporary anti- them to embrace lifestyle choices that might
Catholic animus in Australia is attributable to involve discomfort. Much of what purports to
the ‘ex’ factor, the once-were-Catholics and be Christianity in this country is a form of reli-
the baggage they carry. How many, I wonder, gious therapy whose aim is to make people feel
of the more vocal critics are former Catholics better about themselves or help them gain more
enjoyment out of life. (p.15)
now venting their feelings about the Church
they have walked away from? Thanks to the canonisation of Mary
We can acknowledge such feelings with a MacKillop, we Catholics cannot be accused
fair degree of sympathy and understanding, and of being ‘culturally compliant’—at least, not
we must recognize that the Catholic Church can at the moment.
be a disappointingly human community that de- —Barry Brundell MSC, Editor.

An old Sister who knew her well said: ‘From the first time I met Mother
Mary, she greatly impressed me, for her manner was most lovable and
courteous ... No matter how busy she was, she always found time to
comfort all who came to her with difficulties or in distress. Her love of
the poor, especially poor children, was wonderful ...’

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E’VE HEARD IT all before, we hearers, does it challenge us still, two millen-
know the ending, we’ve analysed it nia later, in our very different world? Lawyers
to bits, we could almost recite it don’t tend to ask questions about eternal life
from memory. The Story of the Good Samari- these days, at least not in public. But they are
tan (Lk 10:25-37) is a warm, comfortable, al- still very interested in the question ‘who is my
most sentimental tale. neighbour?’ because it is a central question for
Yet scholars such as yourselves remind us the big damages cases in negligence. How that
that when first it was heard, it was far from pays out in their own lives is another matter...
comfortable: it was packed with shocking lit- Throughout the Gospel, Jesus invites his hear-
tle jibes for its first hearers. In the first place, ers to expand their notions of neighbour and
there is implicit criticism of the clergy—for friend, kith and kin, until we see all Christians,
their unneighbourliness, self-protectiveness, indeed all humanity, from near and far, living
ritual pernicketiness. It’s not unlike the lam- and dead, and still to come, as our people, as
basting, justified and unjustified, that bishops ‘us’ rather than ‘them’. Piece by piece Jesus
and priests are receiving at present and for breaks down the tribalism, the ancient animosi-
some similar reasons. Then there’s the shock- ties, the in-groups and out-groups, enlarging
ing suggestion that lay people might be more our moral imaginations and sensitivities, so we
neighbourly than clergy. can put ourselves in the shoes of others af-
Last of all, there’s the intimation that a tra- fected by what we do or fail to do.
ditional enemy like the Samaritans could be During this conference our attention was
good, indeed good to Jews, indeed better than drawn to the revival of the atheist book-and-
Jews at being good to Jews. It is like telling conference industry. The product strikes me
Benjamin Netanyahu that his most reliable as of very uneven quality, commonly ill-in-
neighbour in difficult times would be the Pal- formed about religion and often rehearsing
estinians! rather tired nineteenth century arguments. The
This is typical, of course, of the reversals sex abuse crisis has been something of a gift
of common expectations that we meet so of- for that industry, but apart from that and some
ten in Jesus’ preaching and action—the most bits of new science, there’s not much that’s
dramatic of all being the Resurrection. new about the ‘new’ atheism.
In tonight’s story the hero not only helps, One claim that several of its prophets make
he helps a great deal, extending his care be- is that religion in general, and Christianity in
yond the immediate emergency, seeing to the particular, has made no real contribution to
victim’s longer-term good as well. Once again, human welfare. Though there are many things
Jesus is proposing something shocking: a far one might criticize in Christian history, this
less measured kind of justice or charity than claim is surely bizarre. Inspired by the Story
even his most open-minded and charitable of the Good Samaritan and the other teach-
hearers would have thought appropriate, let ings and life of Christ its author, Christians
alone required. have, down through the ages, established or-
If this story was intended to shock his first phanages, hospices, hospitals and soup kitch-

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ens. Sainted individuals, religious congrega- Bishop Anthony has

tions, lay associations such as Vinnies and held various positions
mass operations such as Caritas, have estab- in ACU, John Paul II
lished so many projects that contribute to hu- Institute, CIS, and the
University of Notre
man welfare that they and their imitators are
Dame. He co-ordinated
now part of the ordinary fabric of any civil
the World Youth Day in
society. Following the Good Sam’s lead, these Sydney, He is a member
charitable works serve not only to ‘our own’, of the Australian
but anyone in need; indeed they make anyone Bishops’ Commission
in need ‘our own’. As in the story they focus for Doctrine and
not only on pressing present need but ongoing Morals
welfare. And each of these works, as lived, ompense, making no inquiry into how deserv-
contemporary versions of Good Samaritanism, ing the victim, how great their contribution,
challenge us all to exercise more moral im- how many boat-loads of others there might be,
agination, sensitivity and response towards whether they have queued properly and have
those who suffer. They call us to com-passio their identity papers in order… And he comes
or fellow-suffering, indeed to identification not just to address present pain but to provide
with every suffering person, and to immedi- for us at the inn to the future, indeed into the
ate, active and continuing care. life of Resurrection when he will return to set-
It was precisely this gut-churning compas- tle up for us.
sion that was the driving force of Jesus’ mis- During this time with you I’ve been pon-
sion. He cared: not just in the abstract, like dering how biblical and systematic theology
the reader of a novel sympathising with a fic- are to be spiritual works of mercy, not just ac-
tional character; not like a bureaucrat devis- tivities of the speculative intellect, the inces-
ing a strategy from a distance; but as one who sant delivery of classes, assessment tasks and
laughs with those who laugh and mourns with grades, the never-ending production of books
those who mourn, who shares in people’s lives, and articles as faith seeks understanding and
has passion for their passions, suffers in their institutions and individuals seek publications.
suffering, and is thus impelled to respond. Je- How can theology be healing balm, oil for trou-
sus identifies himself with those he meets, in- bled waters, wine for bruised bodies and bat-
vests himself in them, makes their good his tered souls?
own, their salvation his purpose. I turned, as is my Dominican instinct, to
This was not merely a peculiar feature of Uncle Tom’s cabin, the Summa Theologiæ,
Jesus’ psychology, as if he were a bit of an old where the very first question is about the mis-
softie, a bleeding-heart sentimentalist: it is sion of theology and so of the theologian. Is
replete with theological significance. The God theology a genuine academic discipline and
described so often in the Psalms as ‘full of how does it compare with other scholarly dis-
compassion and steadfast love’ is the One Je- ciplines and other human activities? What use
sus knew in prayer, in Liturgy, in his personal is it really? What’s its proper subject matter
life as his Father. It was this loving Father- and method and how does it relate to philoso-
God whose only love-child Jesus was and phy, Scriptural exegesis and practice? It was
whom Jesus made known. The Good Samari- as if the Angelic Doctor was on one of those
tan is God in Christ, coming with healing balm government accreditation panels reviewing our
and boundless generosity to a broken human- theologates and requiring justification for their
ity, and to each example of broken humanity, programmes—though with a much more in-
every case of dire and desperate need. God in teresting questionnaire. His thought is that
his Christ comes seeking no gratitude, no rec- there are things to which the human spirit in-

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eluctably reaches out but cannot attain with- century past killed and maimed so many; the
out help, and so many are left over-stretched, religion-free zones that leave so many young
disappointed, confused. Some things we might and not-so-young people disoriented and ad-
in principle grasp by our own efforts, but it dicted, dissatisfied and wounded. Welcome
will ‘only be by a few, and that after a long or unwelcome, sacred wisdom comes as di-
time, and with the admixture of many errors.’ vine light, to places darkened by violence and
Humanity, though capable of the nobility and lies, to twilight places indifferent or confused.
insight of the Good Samaritan, is as often the Sacra doctrina should be enlightenment,
man beaten and left for dead, not just physi- healing, food, new life, new hope and direc-
cally, but intellectually, psychologically, mor- tion. Theology can be nursing care for
ally, spiritually. wounded cultures and souls. The Good Sa-
Human beings need more than social jus- maritan healed in our story and taught all
tice and social service, corporal works of generations corporal works of mercy; but the
mercy such as feeding, visiting, burying: they telling and retelling of his story by preachers
are more than sarx (fleshiness), as we’ve re- and teachers, and the examination, explica-
flected upon in this conference in the light of tion and extension of our story by exegetes
the Resurrection. We know there are other and theologians, has enriched us far beyond
kinds of hunger, thirst, sickness, imprisonment the mere example of charity-in-action. It has,
and death, other kinds of need for pneuma amongst other things, expanded our notion
(spirit) and soma (bodiliness). In his treatment of what a person needs and what it is to help
of almsdeeds (STh. IIa IIæ 32) St Thomas puts a needy human being.
prayer (and sacrament) first—before teach- Jesus’ call to moral imagination, to com-
ing—and then doctrinal teaching before moral passion, to let our minds be turned upside
counsel, moral counsel before pastoral care, down and our stomachs inside out, in caring
pastoral care before reproving, pardoning, for- for others, is as much a challenge to the mod-
bearing. There is a logical chain here which ern theologian as it is to the ancient Jewish
breaks if there is no theological teaching. Put scribe anxious to justify himself. So is his call
simply: without theology, our morals, charity, to action not only a call to pour oil and wine
reconciliation and peace are all at risk. on obvious wounds, but to go to the core of
Amongst the many evils with which Christ what wounds and why and what might be done
contended and his followers must still con- about it. This is a call to theological thinking
tend, theological ignorance was one, and and research, teaching and writing that heals,
such ignorance can play out in terrible dam- to a scholarly Project Compassion.
age to whole cultures, societies, families, in- To the man born lame and begging at the
dividual lives. We might consider the actions Beautiful Gate, theological Good Samaritans
and inactions of soulless bureaucracies, mar- can say: ‘Silver and gold have I none, nor
kets and military machines; the distorted any magic for your paraplegia, but I’ll give
religiosities that leave some struggling to sur- you what I have: the name of Jesus Christ
vive while others cross to the safer side of who heals and saves and in that name you
the road; the godless ideologies that in the may walk with me.’

* Homily for the Conference of the Australian Catholic Theological Association and
the Australian Catholic Biblical Association, St Mary’s College Chapel, University of
Melbourne, 10 July 2010

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AST DECEMBER Melbourne hosted embrace religion because we need to work to-
the Parliament of the World’s Religions. gether to solve—say—the global warming prob-
Then in March this year, again in Mel- lem, rather than my first trying to convert them
bourne, people of the opposite persuasion as- all into secularism and then we’ll solve the glo-
bal warming problem. That isn’t going to hap-
sembled for the Global Atheists’ Convention in
pen. Before, global warming has its problems.
response to the invitation ‘…to hear world-class
OK, we need to address the problem now.
atheist speakers, and meet Australian and in-
ternationally acclaimed atheists, skeptics, hu- Phillip Adams essentially agrees:
manists, rationalists and academics in one of I think basically it [religion] may be a virus.
Australia’s most vibrant and exciting cities.’1 I’ve always hoped that the CSIRO would find a
Even before these events there was a pro- virus so people could be cured of religion. But
gram on ABC Compass which explored the short of that, it’s a fact of life and I think we’ve
views and attitudes of atheists (29th March, all got to try and get on a bit better with each
2009). Because of these and other similar pub- other—atheists with God-botherers, God-
botherers with us.2
lic addresses and debates, God has been a much
discussed and debated topic in recent times. We who value our Christian faith can gen-
My focus in this reflection is on the athe- erally agree: there is no call for hostility to-
ists and what we are to make of this recent re- wards those who do not share our beliefs. They
awakening of the God debate. are not opponents against whom we need to
First, to avoid attributing to all atheists and defend ourselves. Still, the philosopher-theo-
skeptics the views of a few high profile athe- logian in me cannot help wondering if they
ists, it is to be borne in mind that there is a have thought their position through.
range of points of view amongst them on how The militant atheists give atheism a bad
to be atheists. Many atheists and agnostics are name, as Mike Carlton wrote in his SMH col-
nice enough people who genuinely do not have umn (March 20-21, p.14), referring to Richard
any religious faith or desire to believe. Some Dawkins: ‘Heaven’s above, this po-faced cynic
state that they find unbelief liberating. Their gives atheism a bad name’. The more assertive,
unbelief is a matter of conscience for them. belligerent and insulting they are in their oppo-
They mostly disapprove of the sition to religion and faith, the less attractive
confrontationalist tactics of militant atheists they are as human beings. Perhaps they might
and simply want to get along with those who even arouse interest in what they are attacking.
do not share their unbelief. Militant atheism is not as popular as one
Michael Shermer is one such. He is an might think. Our age is one in which spiritual-
American science writer and is the editor of ity is a ‘good thing’. The secularization of
Skeptic magazine. He founded the Skeptics Australia is found wanting by many, and the
Society in the United States, a group dedicated tide has moved on, from secularism to post-
to exposing and debunking pseudo-science. He modernism. Spirituality has been making a
is in favour of co-operation and collaboration return for some years now—it is culturally
with religious believers. He stated on the Com- acceptable, even admired. The militant athe-
pass program: ists are faced with that cultural shift.
I think it’s more important that I understand and We, too, are facing it, of course; it is a chal-

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lenge for us, because the new spirituality is Fr Barry Brundell MSC
not necessarily a return to Christian faith and lectured for many years
practice. It is more likely to be a do-it-your- on theology in Australia
self religiosity, a syncretism of beliefs and and taught Theology and
practices from many different sources. Science at the Gregorian
But most importantly of all, I believe, the University, Rome, in the
militant atheists arouse opposition to their mes- 1990s. He is now Parish
sage because they are attacking people’s beliefs Priest of Erskineville,
and often these beliefs are deeply personal to NSW, and editor of
believers. Other things they might attack, things
that are less personal and therefore easy tar-
gets, such as the Church institution, its less than ing. The promoters of the Intelligent Design
perfect office bearers, and scandals and other movement are grateful to Dawkins. William
awkward topics. But people are much more at- Dembski, a promoter of Intelligent Design,
tached to their personal beliefs. sent an email to Dawkins: ‘I regularly tell my
Michael Schermer again: colleagues that you and your work are one of
Look if you encounter somebody whose deep- God’s greatest gifts to the intelligent-design
est, most cherished belief is God and you say, movement. So please, keep at it.’
‘It’s all bullshit man, why do you believe this Michael Ruse, an agnostic who takes the
crap for?’ That’s the end of the conversation. position that it is possible to reconcile the
It’s over. You’ve lost them. You have no hope Christian faith with evolutionary theory, sent
of converting them.3 an email to Daniel Dennett to tell him that he
People with strong religious belief have been (Dennett) and Dawkins were ‘absolute disas-
ready to die for their beliefs. For the believer a ters in the fight against intelligent design’:
great deal can be at stake. Religion provides What we need is not knee-jerk atheism but se-
meaning, purpose, reason for being, self-under- rious grappling with the issues—neither of you
standing, personal identity; it answers the ques- are willing to study Christianity seriously and
tions, Who am I? What’s it all about? Where to engage with the ideas—it is just plain silly
do I belong? How should I live? What can I and grotesquely immoral to claim that Christi-
hope for? For anyone with any religious faith a anity is simply a force for evil, as Richard
loss of that faith is too bleak to contemplate. [Dawkins] claims—more than this, we are in a
As a consequence, the sheer unattractive- fight, and we need to make allies in the fight,
not simply alienate everyone of good will.’4
ness of atheism and agnosticism does not help
their cause. Nothing to hope for; no mysterium We might expect that what Dawkins and
tremendum; no Good News of a God who Dennett have done for Intelligent Design,
loves; no sense that facts are friendly, that this which we do not approve of, they are doing
creation is God’s gift and the first of many for religious beliefs that we do approve of, viz.
gifts; no hope that the deepest longings of our making Christian faith more attractive. Cer-
human hearts will be filled. That this that we tainly, believers who hear their beliefs being
now have might be all that there is is unspeak- attacked will be more inclined to seek a better
ably disappointing when one has grown up understanding of what they do believe before
hoping for so much more surrendering their beliefs under fire.
The militancy of some atheists can be coun- In a way, one would like simply to ignore
ter-productive to their cause. It is not as though the militant atheists. To respond to someone
they have not been warned. Some emails sent who, like Richard Dawkins, believes that the-
to Richard Dawkins and his co-militants gave ology is not a field of study and should not be
them clear warning that they were strengthen- regarded as an academic subject at all5, and
ing the cause of those whom they are attack- who dismisses biblical interpretation as

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‘cherry-picking’ (choosing the nice bits in the An audience member asked ‘How so?’
bible and leaving out or explaining away the Dawkins did not answer. We must assume he
nasty bits)6, is to treat him with a seriousness did not hear the question. A pity: I for one
he does not deserve. His scholarship on mat- would have liked to hear his response. In The
ters biblical and theological is non-existent, God Delusion (pp.58-61), he links his claim
yet he confidently holds forth on matters of that God is a scientific question with his re-
theology and biblical interpretation. We are jection of miracles, and says nothing about any
dealing with a person with a closed mind. He incompatibility of the existence of God and
repeats his set speeches wherever he goes re- modern science, so he has not provided an
gardless of the responses made to him. answer to the questioner as far as I know.
One would like to just ignore him, but In the same line of argument is the reduc-
Dawkins is such a good communicator that I tion of religious beliefs to philosophy. I was
am concerned that he is making an impression in correspondence some time ago with an aca-
on the more impressionable. His books, along demic friend concerning our opposing opin-
with those of other atheist authors such as ions on Richard Dawkins. We got down to an
Christopher Hitchens, are selling very well. argument over whether religious belief is a
We scholars need to respond in some ‘metaphysics’ or not.
way—at least to some of the basic dogmas of I was concerned to reject the claim that the
the militant atheists—not so much in the hope first thing that needs to be established or ad-
of being heard by the atheists themselves, but equately supported before one believes in God
more as a service to believers who seek rea- is the existence of God—‘the God hypothesis’.
sons to believe that they (the believers) are What is at issue is the relationship of faith and
not the kinds of people the atheists claim them reason. My friend was trying to reduce faith
to be. The following are some responses that I and belief to philosophy, wherein God is a
believe we need to make. metaphysical hypothesis, a concept, a postu-
late which needs to be adequately established
‘GOD IS A SCIENTIFIC QUESTION’ before belief kicks in. I was countering with
One assertion made over and over in various St Anselm’s description of theology as ‘faith
ways is that God is a scientific subject, state- seeking understanding’. (We believe, and then
ments about God are scientific statements and search for a deeper understanding of the mys-
that believers make many scientific claims. I teries we believe.)
have already responded at length to these as- For the believer, God is not a conclusion
sertions. in a syllogism, or the concluding assertion in
Thus, Dawkins in Q&A: a chain of reasoning, an entity whose exist-
The existence of God is a supremely scientific ence is proven, and then believed in. What is
question. Religion makes scientific claims….I accepted on proof is not accepted on faith.
think that the existence of a supreme being—a Faith is a personal response to a personal en-
supernatural supreme being—is a scientific is- counter initiated by God, a gift of God. God is
sue. Either there is a God or there isn’t. Either believed because encountered inter-personally.
there are gods or there are no gods. That is a And faith is shared—it is not a purely private
[…] supremely important scientific question. If possession, but a community possession. Our
the universe was created by an intelligence, then faith relates us to the community; we celebrate
we are looking at an entirely different kind of our faith together. We communicate with God
scientific theory from if the universe came into
in prayer and community worship.
existence by natural means. If God or gods had
something to do with the creation of life, then Beliefs follow faith, and as we share our
we’re looking at a totally different kind of biol- faith so we share our beliefs.
ogy. Beliefs cannot be established beyond rea-

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sonable doubt. The believer has, and must Cochrane writes:

have, reasons and evidence sufficient to as- Evidence must show that miracles have oc-
sure him/herself that it is reasonable for him/ curred. It must show that Mary MacKillop, in
her to entertain this belief. Religious belief death, has persuaded God to cure…there is no
is both pre-rational and non-rational—I do evidence available to prove this, yet the Catho-
not say ‘irrational’, that is something else al- lic Church insists it has enlisted ‘medical’ ex-
together. A believer who is in any sense a ma- perts as well as theologians to confirm this
ture believer, is convinced that his or her be- miracle…[and] arrived at a conclusion that is
beyond doubt.
lief is rational, though not based on rational
arguments. When [the Church] invokes science and histori-
cal scholarship we are entitled to question it rig-
‘RELIGION MAKES SCIENTIFIC orously. Science needs to be defended against
CLAIMS’ shysters, and in this case the Church’s appro-
priation of the label ‘science’ is ridiculous. …the
Richard Dawkins for one keeps asserting that Church is working overtime to reinstate
religion does make scientific claims: medievalism …[It] should stop campaigning for
It certainly makes scientific claims about mira- the supernatural and put its time, money and
cles […] you cannot reconcile an authentic ap- effort into cancer research.10
proach to science with a belief in miracles or, I
suspect, with a belief in supernatural creation.
The problem as Peter Cochrane sees it is that
At the very least what you should say is that the Catholic Church is appropriating science
this is a scientific question.8 to support its claim concerning miracles. But
we can reassure him on this: all the authorities
This leads us to the debate about miracles
ask of science is for them to give assurance
which raged earlier this year and is likely to
that there is no medical explanation for the
be re-awakened when the actual canonization
cure. That is not at all the same thing as to
of Mary Mackillop takes place. The prospect
claim that the Church’s procedure is scientific,
has stirred unprecedented religious debate in
or that the Church is misappropriating science
Australia, which is to be expected in such a
in any way.
secular society. The debate is to be welcomed,
even if it does allow much ignorance, preju- After the medical conclusion is in, then
dice and confusion to be aired, even by peo- faith comes into play. It would be rather strange
ple who are expected to know what they are for a person who has been praying earnestly
talking about. along with friends and supporters for a long
The Sydney Morning Herald columnist Pe- time for a cure, to say, ‘I am a one-in-a-mil-
ter Cochrane (described as an ‘historian and lion case of remission!’ when the cancer dis-
freelance writer’) quotes the website of the appears. Surely it is more reasonable for a
Sisters of St Joseph and deduces somehow believer to say, ‘It’s an answer to prayer!’ or
that the ‘Church suggests its procedure is sci- ‘It’s a sign!’
entific.’ The website as quoted by Cochrane When a person walks by faith, then he/she
explains: ‘A miracle is usually the cure of an can ‘see’ miracles. Miracles are not invoked
organic illness so that there can be scientific as proofs prior to faith, and do not precede
evidence of the fact’.9 faith or provide a basis for faith.
From that Cochrane jumps to the conclu- As we approach the day of canonization, I
sion that the Church is asking science to con- think we can foresee a re-kindling of this de-
firm, not simply that there has been a cure, bate.
but that Mary Mackillop is responsible for the What perplexes me most in all the debates
cure. But, of course, the Church does no such is the presumption that theologians and Church
thing. authorities are so unintelligent as to promote

Compass_2010-2_text.indd 9 7/09/2010 10:26:04 AM


the kinds of procedures and attitudes that the Dawkins:

critics are attributing to them. They seem to The New Testament—you believe, if you be-
believe that we have no brains at all. lieve in the New Testament, that God, the all
powerful creator of the universe couldn’t think
REJECTION OF MIRACLES of a better way to forgive humanity’s sins than
to have himself put on earth, tortured and ex-
The rejection of miracles is a consequence of
ecuted in atonement for the sins of humanity?
a rejection of the notion of a God who tran-
What kind of a horrible, depraved notion is that?
scends the physical world and has the power (Q&A, as above.)
to intervene in the course of events in the physi-
cal world. For the believer in that kind of God However, what we read in the New Testament
the possible is not restricted to the actual— is something very different. Redemption is the
the boundaries of human experience and ex- effect of God reaching out in love to us, over-
pectation are not the final horizon. Thus the coming the gulf that had opened up between
debate about miracles is a debate about what humanity and its creator through the sinful-
we may hope for and what is believable. And ness and disobedience of human beings down
that debate is a debate between those who be- the ages.
lieve in God and those who do not—between Redemption is the story of our loving God
believers and atheists. reaching out to us, coming amongst us in
In our present context in Australia we might Christ, the Word of God, joining us in solidar-
give the debate about miracles a new title: ity in our human condition, walking with us
‘Mary MacKillop, Christian Faith and the and leading us back to God, who is a com-
Modern Mind’. munion of love, so that we can live in God
I have been surprised—though perhaps and God can live in us.
I should not have been—by the response in Coming into our world, Christ came into a
The Sydney Morning Herald, that of both hostile environment. He was too good for this
columnists and letter writers, to claims of world, and so he faced many enemies who
miracles through the intercession of Mary eventually put him to death. In that way, and
MacKillop. Non-believers and skeptics that way only, did Jesus die for our sins. It was
showed themselves to be so dogmatic and foreseen, inevitable, but still God loved the
vitriolic, and personal in their attacks on the world so much that he sent his only Son to
Catholic Church and Catholics! I am not the certain persecution and death for our sakes.
first to note that non-believers and skeptics All this so fits our experience, personal and
can be just as dogmatic and intolerant as the communal, that the doctrine of redemption by
worst religious bigots. Christ makes eminent sense to a believer, and
it is a source of unending joy and hope, giving
enormous conviction of being loved by God.
It is anything but repulsive.
This is another doctrine that has come under
attack and which calls for special efforts on Conclusion
our part to clarify orthodox teaching. Dawkins’ All in all, I dare to hope that the efforts of the
attack on the Christian doctrine of redemption atheists have done more good than harm. They
is typically ignorant. He, along with help keep the subject of religion alive as a topic
Christopher Hitchens, cannot accept the no- for discussion. Perhaps we should be grateful
tion that ‘Jesus died for my sins’. For Dawkins to the militant atheists and agnostics, as our
it is a repulsive notion. We can assure him that efforts as theologians and scripture scholars
however he understands the doctrine, if it leads and teachers to enable believers to understand
him to find it repulsive, no orthodox Christian their faith more deeply will be especially ap-
could accept it either. preciated thanks to them!


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 10 7/09/2010 10:26:04 AM


1. Global Atheists’ Convention website: http:// Bantam Press, London, p.56-7; John Cornwell (2008), Darwin’s Angel. An Angelic Riposte to
2. ABC Compass program, 29th March 2009. See The God Delusion, Profile Books, London,
also ‘What believers share with atheists’ Cathblog p.31.
Published: June 22, 2010 by David Timbs. 6. The God Delusion, p.57; ABC Q&A, 8th March
3. Compass program, loc. cit. 2010.
4. Email of Sunday 19th February, 2006 and widely 7. Cf. Compass. A Review of Topical Theology, Vol
distributed. See also Alister McGrath, The Dawkins 41, 2007-2, pp.1-7.
Delusion, Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial 8. The God Delusion, pp.58-61.
of the Divine (2007), SPCK, London, p.26. 9. SMH , Jan 14th, 2010, p.13.
5. Richard Dawkins (2006), The God Delusion, 10. Cochrane, loc. cit.

It is easy to say what one ought to believe, what to hope for, and
what to love. But to defend our doctrines against the calumnies of
those who think differently is a more difficult and detailed task. If
one is to have this wisdom, it is […] necessary that a great zeal be
kindled in the heart.[...]
Wherefore, when it is asked what we ought to believe in mat-
ters of religion, the answer is not to be sought in the exploration of
the nature of things [rerum natura], after the manner of those whom
the Greeks called ‘physicists’. Nor should we be dismayed if Chris-
tians are ignorant about the properties and the number of the basic
elements of nature, or about the motion, order, and deviations of the
stars, the map of the heavens, the kinds and nature of animals,
plants, stones, springs, rivers, and mountains; about the divisions of
space and time, about the signs of impending storms, and the myriad
other things which these ‘physicists’ have come to understand, or
think they have. [...]
For the Christian, it is enough to believe that the cause of all
created things, whether in heaven or on earth, whether visible or
invisible, is nothing other than the goodness of the Creator, who is
the one and the true God. Further, the Christian believes that noth-
ing exists save God himself and what comes from him; and he be-
lieves that God is triune, i.e., the Father, and the Son begotten of the
Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the same Father, but one
and the same Spirit of the Father and the Son.
Among us, [...] ‘the righteous man lives by faith.’ […] And
there are truths about things unseen, and unless they are believed,
we cannot attain to the happy life, which is nothing less than life
—Augustine, Handbook of Faith, Hope, Love.


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ARY MacKILLLOP’S prospective of a death at the hands of the Imperial au-
sainthood has brought miracles into thorities and a Resurrection that made his
public discussion. Reports of con- scattered followers the kernel of God’s peo-
temporary local miracles make interesting ple. They represented the new way of living
human stories. But they also provoke the ire that God had opened through Christ’s death
of those who see them as mumbo jumbo and and rising.
further evidence of the irrational character of To the Roman authorities this faith located
religious faith. Christians as a set of outsiders who gave com-
The points and counterpoints in this de- munal allegiance to a God beyond the Empire
bate are predictable. But another angle may and so tore the tent that housed the sacred.
be found in an apparent oddity in the proc- This view led the Roman authorities to per-
esses of saint making. secute Christians, offering them the choice of
Martyrs do not require miracles to qualify recanting their allegiance to Christ or face
for inclusion in the public worship of the torture and death designed to destroy their dig-
Catholic Church. They need only evidence that nity and their humanity. Christians saw the
they died for their Christian faith. But other death of martyrs as a demonstration of the
candidates for sainthood do need miracles, as power of their God who gave martyrs strength
well as evidence that they have lived lives con- to endure being hacked to bits. They saw it as
sistent with deep faith. Miracles are broadly a vindication of the Church in its belief in a
understood as events that are associated with God whose claims and ways of acting lay be-
prayer and are not susceptible of a natural ex- yond the control of the State. The martyrs by
planation. their death symbolised that rent in an appar-
This intriguing difference between martyrs ently sealed world.
and other saints illuminates the place of mira- The miracles associated with faith and
cles in the Catholic tradition. In it the mar- prayer also tear open a world that is seen as
tyr’s death is equivalent to miracles worked self-enclosed and whose possibilities are nar-
through the saint. Both point to a rent in a rowly defined. In daily experience the world
world that is declared to be self-enclosed. is enclosed by the forces of fate, like plague,
The Roman world of the first Christian famine and the contingencies of sickness and
martyrs was politically enclosed. The sacred health. These tend to restrict our hope and
and the political were joined in the worship of sense of what is possible. Our world can also
the Emperor. The Roman imaginative world be limited by imaginative frameworks that
was one in which the public welfare depended limit reality to what we can perceive, and re-
on the tight union between the empire and re- strict our hopes to the ways in which we can
ligion. make the visible world work for us.
Christianity, like Judaism, challenged this Miracles open a gap in the canopy that we
with its faith in a God whose claims and fa- build over our world. They point to a more
vour could not be locked into Imperial insti- mysterious reality and to incalculable possi-
tutions. The central story of Jesus Christ was bilities that arise from the recognition of a God


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 12 7/09/2010 10:26:04 AM


on whom the world depends. The lives of Andrew Hamilton is the

saints, miracles and all, point to that deeper consulting editor for
reality of a God who transcends the world and Eureka Street. He
analysis of it. Miracles associated with faith teaches at the United
Faculty of Theology in
are symbols of God’s presence and power
within the world.
Seen from this perspective both miracles
and the deaths of martyrs are symbols. They
point to something beyond themselves. The
twin qualities of miracles are that they are hu-
man events that are out of the ordinary and
that they occur within the context of faith. For fication demands simply that healings should
Christians who accept that faith they disclose be beyond our present power to analyse or to
a God who is intimately active in the world. replicate. It does not demand that scientific
Miracles do not demand that others believe in reflection will never be able to explain or rep-
their God, although they do invite them to re- licate them.
flect whether their imagination of the world Central to the miracle is the context of faith
may be too circumscribed. within which the extraordinary healing is situ-
If miracles are seen as symbols, the ques- ated. Without that they are no more than an
tions about whether they really exceed the unusual event. But even unusual events lead
powers of nature will appear tired. Their veri- us to ask questions.
Reprinted with permission from Eureka Street, February 04, 2010

2473 Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means
bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and
rose, to whom he [sic] is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the
faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude. ‘Let
me become the food of the beasts, through whom it will be given me to reach
2474 The Church has painstakingly collected the records of those who persevered
to the end in witnessing to their faith. These are the acts of the Martyrs. They form
the archives of truth written in letters of blood:
Neither the pleasures of the world nor the kingdoms of this age will be of any use to
me. It is better for me to die [in order to unite myself] to Christ Jesus than to reign
over the ends of the earth. I seek him who died for us; I desire him who rose for us. My
birth is approaching. .(St Ignatius of Antioch)
I bless you for having judged me worthy from this day and this hour to be counted
among your martyrs.... You have kept your promise, God of faithfulness and truth. For
this reason and for everything, I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you through the
eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son. Through him, who is
with you and the Holy Spirit, may glory be given to you, now and in the ages to come.
Amen. (St Polycarp)
—From The Catechism of the Catholic Church.


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HE RECENT Beatification of Cardinal as others have acknowledged, the persistent
John Henry Newman (1801-1890) by and widspread call for his canonisation over
Pope Benedict XVI in Birmingham, the preceding decades has, to some degree, dis-
England, has brought into view perhaps the advantaged attempts to make objective assess-
most significant figure of nineteenth-century ments of Newman’s significance for our day.
Catholicism. Even in his own time, Newman’s As the editors of a compelling work on
reputation as a Christian intellectual and writer Newman affirm:
was unrivalled. He attracted controversy on Once great thinkers in the history of the
account of his theological creativity and con- Church—Augustine and Thomas Aquinas come
viction, an uncompromising commitment to immediately to mind—receive the status of
the deepest principles of Christian faith, par- ‘holy doctors’ our perception and presentation
ticularly as expressed by the ancient Fathers, of their work, perhaps inevitably, become over-
and what the Tablet lauded as the ‘great fact’ simple and even something of a caricature
of the day—Newman’s high profile departure (Nicholls 1991, 5).
from the Church of England for the Roman The same phenomenon can be observed fol-
Catholic Church in 1845. lowing papal elections: an aura of authority
A deep thinker attuned to the delights and and irrevocability is often cast backward over
fragility of Christian life, Newman penned earlier works regardless of their status as per-
hundreds of works throughout his lifetime in- sonal or speculative reflection. Notwithstand-
cluding theological tomes, pastoral collections, ing the danger of romanticism, which threat-
letters, essays, devotions and meditations, and ens to alienate us from our own saints, the
narrative poetry. Church’s recognition of Newman’s importance
Elevated to the cardinalate by Leo XIII in invites us into consideration of his work, the
1879, Newman became a touchstone of Eng- project of reflecting upon the enduring insights
lish Catholicism and some fifteen thousand of this Victorian clergyman for spirituality in
admirers lined the streets of Birmingham on our times.
the event of his death. The Times well cap- Much has been written of Newman’s life
tured his spirit when it wrote in its obituary, which saw him progress from a non-sacramen-
‘Cardinal Newman is gone to that rest which tal, Bible-based Anglican upbringing, through
for him will not be happiness if it does not an Evangelical conviction, into the High
give work to be done.’ Church tradition of the Oxford Movement, and
Fittingly, Newman’s legacy continues to be then finally to Roman Catholicism. It is a story
a source of vitality and challenge for the con- well documented, including by Newman him-
temporary Church. self in his Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1864) which
It is this profusion of insight and personal became a best seller on publication.
virtue that propel Newman into the prospect Readers new to Newman are encouraged
of sainthood during our life time. Of course, to take up Ian Ker’s standard account, John


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 14 7/09/2010 10:26:04 AM


Henry Newman: A Biography which has re- Daniel Ang is the

cently been republished and provides a basic Coordinator of
introduction to the contexts and content of Pastoral Services for
Newman’s array of theological, literary and the Institute for Mission
spiritual works. The Cambridge Companion (Diocese of Parra-
to John Henry Newman was published in 2009 matta’s Centre for
and is a sound introduction for those interested Adult Faith Form-
in Newman’s theological principles. ation). He was the
founding editor of Terra
While his Essay on the Development of
Spiritus, a journal of
Christian Doctrine (1845), Idea of the Uni-
Christian spirituality.
versity (1852), and Grammar of Assent (1870)
count among the most impressive tomes of this Church, inviting the listener to connect the
material, it is in Newman’s numerous paro- particularity of their lives to the universality
chial sermons, both as an Anglican pastor and of the divine self-disclosure. As such,
Catholic priest, that contemporary readers gain Newman’s preaching outlines a spiritual itin-
best access to the robust spirituality of its au- erary or pathway that is not innovative, intro-
thor, a spirituality which underpins and informs spective or sensational in any way but rather
Newman’s theological writing. attends to the primacy, depth and implication
The first volume of Newman’s Parochial of God’s Word for Christian living.
Sermons was published in 1834 and their Underlying and directing Newman’s spir-
popularity led to seven more volumes, bring- ituality is a philosophic certainty of the exist-
ing together a collection of Newman’s preach- ence of truth and so, too, an awareness of the
ing at St Mary the Virgin at Oxford between possibility of religious error. Writing in a time
the years 1825 and 1843. in which non-conformist traditions were in the
Preached without the florid enthusiasm of ascendency, Newman remarks in a sermon of
his evangelical contemporaries, Newman’s 1830:
sermons elaborate a variety of themes which All this is fulfilled before our eyes; our reli-
draw their appeal from the power of the Gos- gious creeds and professions at this day are
pel itself: religious truth and error, the basic many, but Truth is one: Therefore they cannot
idea of the Church, the indwelling of the Holy all be right, or rather almost all of them must be
Spirit, the Incarnation, and the centrality of wrong’ (Ker 1994, 346).
baptism in Christian life. Confidence in the reality of truth and its unity
The intention of Newman’s sermons was focuses the Christian on its discernment and
to prepare the listener for conversion and to pursuit though Newman acknowledges that
promote the central themes of the Oxford this is an endeavour fraught with potential
Movement which sought to emphasis the danger and misapprehension.
catholicity of the Church of England, apart The discovery and embrace of truth will
from the poverty and liberalism of Protestant- demand first the renunciation of those false
ism and the corruptions of the Roman Church. measures by which we approach the Gospel
In the midst of growing secularism, liberalism and by which we would have ourselves iden-
and non-conformism, Newman sought to re- tified. This includes the lure of ‘private judge-
awaken his listener, both in heart and mind, to ment’, a self-devised standard of truth, which
the elements of an authentically Christian Newman held to be the stumbling block of the
spirit. Dissenters. In his sermon, ‘Truth Hidden When
The sermons are neither rhetorical nor Not Sought After’, Newman laments:
bland in style and ground themselves in the The present confused and perplexed state of
pastoral concerns of those who gather in the things... these men say... provided we think our-


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 15 7/09/2010 10:26:04 AM


selves right, one set of opinions is as good as upon us; and that we must act our part well in
another, that we shall all come right in the end it. We live here to struggle and to endure. The
if we do but mean well, or rather if we do not time of eternal rest will come hereafter’ (Ker
mean ill (Ker 1994, 350-1). 1994, 354).
A careless indifference to the demands and Newman’s sermons raise the matter of reli-
unity of religious truth undercuts the spiritual gious truth as a confrontation and a gift that
life from the outset and leaves one imprisoned comes with responsibility: to seek out the truth
by ignorance on all sides. and give oneself to its promise and demand.
Newman warns also of the dangers of ra- In conceiving of spirituality as the endeav-
tionalism in this search for truth, a peril of the our to gain a true view of things, Newman’s
Enlightenment legacy. While reason and edu- sermons adeptly penetrate to the inner dispo-
cation are to be prized as necessary helps in sitions which impede everyday people from
the seeking and gaining of truth, Newman living in complete availability to God. One of
holds that: the primary reasons identified for this impov-
To rationalise in matters of Revelation is to make erished condition in Christian life is a failure
our reason the standard and measure of the doc- or reluctance to recognise our own fragile and
trines revealed’ (Ker 1988, 121). undisciplined character. In other words,
Newman makes clear that we do not know Newman points to a deficit of self-knowledge
God on account of our own ingenuity or due as a source of our complacency and half-
to any natural talent; we know and approach heartedness: ‘it is our nature, our way not to
God as receivers of divine self-disclosure. obey, and we do not know this’ (Ker 1994,
Hence, as Ker affirms, the great lesson of the 103).
Gospel for Newman is faith. It is on faith, not In order to walk the path of authentic dis-
self-reliance, that intimate knowledge of the cipleship, then, we must first admit our pro-
mysteries of God depends. Preaching on the pensity to mistake good feelings for real reli-
subject of ‘The Apostolical Christian’ in 1843, gious principle and acknowledge the great dis-
Newman supposes that there are many who tance that lies between our feelings and our
are: acting. In fact, in an 1831 sermon, ‘Promising
without Doing’, Newman contends that our
…not open sinners… do not deny Christ, who
honour Him with their lips, [who] are religious only grounds for trust that we will make good
in a certain sense, and yet obtain not the by our actions in Christian life is the fact of
crown… They have no claim upon the prize, our having done so previously,
because they run on their own ground’ (Ker I would have a man disbelieve he can do one
1994, 367). jot or tittle beyond what he has already done;
Neither sheer strength of will nor exertion refrain from borrowing aught on the hope of
of the mind are adequate for the seeking and the future, however good a security for it he
gaining of spiritual truth; rather, truth is sin- seems to be able to show; and never take his
good feelings and wishes in pledge for one sin-
cerely desired and attained in the same meas-
gle untried deed. Nothing but past acts are the
ure as we place ourselves in dependence be- vouchers for the future. Past sacrifices, past la-
fore God, in ‘direct faith, obedience and wor- bours, past victories over yourselves—these, my
ship’ (Ker 1994, 375). This project is the work brethren, are the tokens of the like in store…
of a life time, an incessant battle to overcome ‘Deeds, not words and wishes,’ this must be the
the illusions of self-sufficiency in their vari- watchword of your warfare and the ground of
ous guises, only at the end of which will come your assurance. (Ker 1994, 104-5).
our beatitude: The Christian life, then, includes profes-
Let us remember that in its turn the time of la- sion but is fulfilled only in practice. One who
bour and fear, and danger and anxiety, will come lives in obedience to the Gospel, who com-


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mits themselves to act in faith, whether it is This paradox, of continuity between two
serving the needy or curbing one’s temper, worlds, brings to mind the thought of Henri
…evinces more true faith than could be shown de Lubac, himself a great admirer of Newman,
by the most fluent religious conversation, the who would remark, ‘eternity, which is beyond
most intimate knowledge of Scripture or doc- the future, is not exterior to the present like
trine, or the most remarkable agitation and the future’ (de Lubac 1987, 85). For Newman,
change of religious sentiments’ (Ker 1994, 107). it is precisely in our experience of present life,
Thus, the embodied character of Christian both its great joys and disappointments, that
spirituality comes to the fore. Newman insists we are called to recognise that it is unfinished,
on the necessity of surrender in deed and act, incomplete and therefore ‘not the whole.’ Time
as in the manner of Christ himself who per- calls us to eternity; our experience of the eve-
fectly proclaims and acts upon his promise, ‘I ryday intimates a consummation in the ever-
come to do your will, O God’. lasting.’
It was this ability to preach with both in- The imaginative power of Newman’s
sistence and invitation that ensured Newman’s preaching is further exemplified in the con-
sermons offered not simply edification but cluding passages of this 1836 sermon where
nourishment in the depths of God’s Word and he submits,
God’s plan for humanity. All that we see is destined one day to burst forth
In ‘The Greatness and Littleness of Hu- into a heavenly bloom, and to be transfigured
man Life’, a sermon of 1836, Newman dem- into immortal glory. Heaven at present is out of
onstrates his ability to cast the light of the sight, but in due time, as snow melts and dis-
Scriptures on the vicissitudes of human expe- covers what it lay upon, so will this visible crea-
rience. Drawing on Jacob’s exchange with tion fade away before those greater splendours
which are behind it, and on what at present it
Pharaoh in Genesis 47, one in which the patri-
depends. In that day shadows will retire, and
arch curiously describes his 130 years of life
the substance show itself. (Ker 1994, 235-6).
as ‘few and evil’, Newman grounds the short-
ness of human life in the overriding sense of Here we arrive at the heart of Newman’s
its great possibility. While each day seems to presentation of the spiritual life, as a way of
pass slowly, filled with the various duties and sanctification that involves an arduous move-
sorrows that all undergo, the years seem to pass ment from the merely apparent to the real, from
by ‘as a dream, though we thought it would the contingent to the eternal. It was a trajec-
never go while it was going’ (Ker 1994, 231). tory that appears in Loss and Gain, a novel
This paradox of time, its tedious length and written by Newman in his Catholic years, and
yet ephemeral, fleeting quality, introduces us was to be the principle that adorned Newman’s
to the mystery of our own creation and des- gravestone, Ex umbris et imaginibus in
tiny. We detect in the midst of everyday life veritatem (‘From shadows and appearances
the presence of a soul and a calling to what into truth’). All the coordinates of Christian
surpasses the measure of time. We are bap- life, from the sacred Scriptures, the teachings
tised into a world to come and from this per- of the Church, the liturgy, to our bare experi-
spective our worldly pilgrimage appears in- ence of this passing world are understood by
adequate: Newman to lead to this realisation, our home
in God who alone is real.
Our earthly life then gives promise of what it
In this year of beatification, the parochial
does not accomplish. It promises immortality,
yet it is mortal; it contains life in death and eter- sermons of John Henry Newman recommend
nity in time, and it attracts us by beginnings themselves for spiritual reading as a ‘classic’ in
which faith alone brings to an end’ (Ker 1994, the Christian spiritual tradition. In their treat-
231). ment of religious truth and error, their empha-


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 17 7/09/2010 10:26:05 AM


sis on obedience and self-knowledge, and their leads us ever closer toward its ultimate sub-
reflection on the orientation and destiny of hu- ject:
man life, these writings offer nourishment and Life passes, riches fly away, popularity is fickle,
challenge to all those who enter the path of dis- the senses decay, the world changes, friends die.
cipleship. The sermons provide a timely call to One alone is constant; One alone is true to us;
watchfulness and vigilance in an age in which One alone can be true; One alone can be all
spirituality can dissolve into a matter of sub- things to us; One alone can supply all our needs;
jectivity and affect, or else be stripped of its One alone can train us up to our full perfection;
One alone can give meaning to our complex
specifically Christian character.
and intricate nature; One alone can give us tune
We conclude with Newman’s closing re- and harmony; One alone can form and possess
marks in ‘The Thought of God, the Stay of the us. Are we allowed to put ourselves under his
Soul’, a sermon from 1839 that carries the dis- guidance? This surely is the only question. (Ker
tinct voice of its author but, more significantly, 1994, 320).


De Lubac, H. (1987). Paradoxes of Faith. Ignatius Selected Sermons of John Henry Newman. Paulist
Press, San Francisco. Press, New York.
Ker, I. (1988). John Henry Newman: A Biogra- Nicholls, D. and F. Kerr, eds. (1991). John Henry
phy. Clarendon Press, Oxford. Newman: Reason, Rhetoric and Romanticism.
Ker, I, ed. (1994). Parochial and Plain Sermons: Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL.

…if we wished to imagine a punishment for an unholy, reprobate

soul, we perhaps could not fancy a greater than to summon it to
heaven. Heaven would be hell to an irreligious man […].thrust
into the society of saints and angels. How forlorn would he wan-
der through the courts of heaven! He would find no one like him-
self; he would see in every direction the marks of God’s holiness,
and these would make him shudder. He would feel himself always
in His presence. He could no longer turn his thoughts another
way, as he does now, when conscience reproaches him. He would
know that the Eternal Eye was ever upon him; and that Eye of
holiness, which is joy and life to holy creatures, would seem to him
an Eye of wrath and punishment. God cannot change His nature.
Holy He must ever be. But while He is holy, no unholy soul can be
happy in heaven. Fire does not inflame iron, but it inflames straw.
It would cease to be fire if it did not. And so heaven itself would be
fire to those, who would fain escape across the great gulf from the
torments of hell. The finger of Lazarus would but increase their
thirst. The very ‘heaven that is over their head’ will be ‘brass’ to
—J.H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons. Sermon 1 ‘Holiness
Necessary for Future Blessedness’.


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USTRALIA HAS SEEN saints other found communion with all.
than Blessed Mary of the Cross. There The traditional Christian view, and particu-
would be little argument that Caroline larly in the Christian East, is that the life of
Chisholm and Eileen O’Connor are saints, solitude, while involving an external separa-
which is to say, powerful evangelical signs in tion from society, is at the same time a life
the ‘whirl of secularity’, but Australia has an- lived in deep communion with the whole
other hitherto unknown saint who died far Church and with all. Dwelling ‘on the fron-
away from the land of his birth, hidden and tier’, separated from all, the solitary is at the
unknown because he was a monk in the strict- same time united to all. Living in conditions
est monastic order in the Western Church, the of the utmost simplicity and poverty, he or she
Carthusian hermits. Dom Hugh Weld lived is identified with all in their need and poverty
most of his life in the Charterhouse at before God.1 In fact, ‘’the solitary is called to
Parkminster, England, while his latter years experience with an especial directness the
were spent in a Carthusian monastery in Italy. mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, into
It was here that he died, at Maggiano, near which all Christians are called to enter.’2
Lucca in 1952, a lifetime and a world away In the case of our unknown Australasian
from Government House, Hobart, where he saint, his solitary life should perhaps be seen
was born to Governor Frederick Weld and his as the fruit of a deeply Catholic upbringing
wife, Filumena Weld, on 3 May 1876. and of a committed and public witness to
As a Carthusian hermit he lived entirely Catholic faith by his parents and his ances-
alone, usually leaving his cell only to celebrate tors. It is complementary to the life of Mary
the liturgy with his fellow monks, and to eat in of the Cross. Geoffrey Hull has written that
common with them on Sundays. Otherwise the Mary of the Cross’s passion for justice ‘was
Carthusian monk works, prays, studies and eats inimical to the spirit of her grasping age which
alone. The only time spent relaxing with oth- filled the poor with envy of their social bet-
ers is the weekly walk during which they can ters and fired them with the ambition to clam-
speak of whatever they wish. Theirs is a life ber up the ladder of social success in a man-
hidden in God, yet so many Christians do not ner that implied contempt of themselves.’3 But
understand or appreciate the real nature or the gift of the solitary life can also help our
value of such a life of apparent withdrawal. present age to recover a more balanced rela-
The vocation of the solitary is barely under- tionship to the material and spiritual world, 4
stood even by Christians, not even in the age because the life of the solitary is the same life
when so many modern men and women long of grace opened to all Christians, but lived
for the refreshment of solitude, silence and more intensely. It is closer to us than we imag-
communion in the midst of their stressed lives. ine. The life in Christ, sought in the silence of
When even the outlines of the life of contem- the cloister and in solitude, by pure prayer, by
plative monks and nuns are suggested to them the purification of the passions, the forsaking
they protest that such a life is a waste or that it of the world and its preoccupations,
is selfish. Such a stance reveals that many …this very same life is communicated to all
modern Christians do not seem to understand Christians. Through the Eucharist ‘they live now
that prayer, as communion with God, is a pro- this life in Christ’, are endowed with a royal


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dignity, are assimilated to Christ by the Bread Archpriest Lawrence

of life, are ‘transformed by his Blood into a Cross is an Associate
sanctuary more beautiful than the temple of Professor in the Faculty
Solomon.’5 of Theology of ACU
Such was our saint, as we shall explain. and Chaplain to the
His father was Frederick Weld (or Wylde, Russian Catholics. He
1823-1891) of Chideock, Dorset, the son of is married to Diane and
one of the leading Catholic families of Eng- has two sons.
land. Frederick Weld’s grandfather founded
Stonyhurst. His uncle, Thomas Weld, was Eng-
land’s first post-Reformation Cardinal and his
second cousin, Roger Bede Vaughan, was the of an aborigine. The authorities in London
second Archbishop of Sydney. The circle in overruled him and the Colonial Office reduced
which our unknown saint grew up was very it to one year. Governor Weld’s correspond-
different to that of the MacKillop family so ence shows how distressed he was by this hu-
afflicted with poverty and illness. miliation. As the Australian Dictionary of Bi-
His father, Frederick, was a good and hon- ography put it, ‘It was small consolation when
ourable man, devoted to promoting democratic Secretary of State Kimberley commended him
principles. It is said of him that he was never- privately on his solicitude for the welfare of
theless inclined to be autocratic in his personal the natives.’7 It would seem that the Governor
style and lacking in the common touch. He was always his own man. Protestants in the
spent some eleven years in New Zealand, for Legislative Council suspected dark Catholic
a time as head of government, before return- purposes in every clause of his Education Bill
ing to England in 1854. Some five years later of 1870, and the Roman Catholic clergy re-
he married his distant cousin Filumena Phillips ported him to Rome when at an official dinner
(her Leicestershire family was later known as party he asked the Anglican bishop to say the
Phillips de Lisle) in England on 10 March grace. The Governor stuck to his guns and the
1859.6 Appointed Governor of Western Aus- Education Bill was passed and the Pope made
tralia in 1868, Frederick and Filumena (always him a papal knight when he heard the Gover-
affectionately known as Mena) arrived there nor’s side of things.
in September 1869 along with the six children As the mother of twelve children, all of
of the first ten years of their marriage. There whom grew to adulthood (a sharp contrast to
were another six children yet to come, our the MacKillops where death and sickness were
unknown saint amongst them. It is almost cer- always at hand), Filumena Weld proved her-
tain that on her 1869 voyage to Western Aus- self a woman of energy, intelligence and deep
tralia, Filumena Weld, the mother of a saint Catholic faith.8 The spirit of the mother of this
yet to be, met Blessed Mary of the Cross in saint is evident in the story of her voyage from
Adelaide during a visit to the new Josephite Western Australia to Tasmania in 1875, a blue
foundation. water journey in oceans never safe, not even
Governor Weld’s six year term in Western today. Frederick had sailed to Tasmania in
Australia was a full one developing the colony early 1875 to take up his post as Governor.
both physically and institutionally, but there Filumena was to follow on a suitable ship with
is one matter that can give something of the the children. The vessel chosen was sold be-
measure of the man in these years. Under pres- fore the family was ready, so Filumena char-
sure in 1872, he refused to commute the five tered her own boat to take her to Hobart. The
year sentence of the son of a leading colonist weather was appalling, the passage very rough,
who had been convicted of the manslaughter and the deck cabin flooded constantly. The


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Governor wrote of this journey: ‘The captain Hugh appears in Asking for Trouble by Bruno
turned out to be an ex-convict who drank like Scott James, an author of wide experience both
a fish and knew so little about his work that of the world and of the Church, ranging from
Mena had to give directions to the crew when monastic solitude to Fr Borelli’s street kids in
to reef the sails.’9 What the public record does Naples. Here is Scott James’ description:
not mention is the fact that the future saint re-
He is one of the very few men whom I would,
ceived his baptismal name during this peril- without the slightest hesitation or reserve, call
ous voyage to Tasmania. Mena promised holy. He had all the simplicity and joy which
St Raymond of Pennafort, to whom she had a are the characteristics of a man living in close
strong devotion, that if the family survived the union with God. He also had a delightful boy-
voyage and she was blessed with another child, ish streak in him that made him one of the most
she would honour St Raymond in the naming enchanting companions without any vestige of
of that child. She later kept this promise. The the smugness that is only too evident in many
story gives a glimpse of the spirit of this lady, monks and professional men of God ... during
mother of a saint, who after raising twelve all the twenty years that I knew Dom Hugh he
was always his tranquil and serene self. I never
children, a busy public life and Sir Frederick’s
saw him disturbed, I never knew him other than
death, spent her last years from 1891 to 1903
kind and patient, and I never left his presence
as a nun in the convent of which her daughter, without feeling a better man.
Edith Mary, was Prioress.
Sir Frederick, almost in the spirit of the He was no scholar, but he had the direct vision
Christian knight at the end of his days, made a of one whose eye, in the words of Scripture,
was simple and filled his person with light. His
pilgrimage to the Holy Land after his health
advice in all the trouble that I brought to him
broke down in 1887 and died at Chideock in was always prudent, practical and to the point.
July 1891. He was survived by all twelve chil- When he spoke of prayer and the spiritual life
dren, many of whom had already become he did so with the utmost simplicity, but in a
monks or nuns, and their mother was to fol- way that only a man can who speaks not merely
low them. The culture, time and place are from books but from experience. His friendship
widely separated, but the Welds evoke the was one of the greatest privileges I have ever
memory of the Cappadocian family of saints enjoyed, and I believe that it has not ceased with
who gave the Church Macrina, Basil, Gregory his death.10
of Nyssa and their blessed parents and siblings. Why have so few ever heard of him spo-
Raymond John Lisle Weld was born in Ho- ken of as a saint? The answer to this is to be
bart and completed his education with the sought in the attitude of the Carthusians to the
Benedictines at Fort Augustus Abbey in Scot- whole business of saints. This can be best il-
land. Thereafter he joined the Carthusian her- lustrated by events that occurred at the
mits in what is still the largest Charterhouse in Carthusian monastery at Burgos, in Spain, ear-
the world, St Hugh’s or Parkminster at lier this century. It happened that a brother died
Cowfold in Sussex. His monastic name was and two fellow monks were delegated by the
Hugh and he was ordained priest in 1902. He Prior to dig and prepare the grave. The broth-
died at the Charterhouse at Maggiano in 1952. ers miscalculated and were digging close to
What was he like? There are few first-hand one of the oldest parts of the monastic cem-
descriptions of him, but those that do come etery. Suddenly one of the diggers was star-
down to us are consistent in depicting a man tled to find fresh blood on his shovel. They
who is simple, joyful and filled with light, then dug and uncovered the body of a monk
whose very presence had a healing and con- who seemed like a young man sleeping. They
soling effect upon anyone who met him. A hurried to the Prior to tell of their discovery.
particularly well-written description of Dom Surely this was a saint! The Prior agreed but


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instructed them to fill in the grave. The the Carthusians live entirely apart from the
Carthusians had sufficient saints and no need world. The only occasion on which the locals
to seek more. of Maggiano would ever have seen Dom Hugh,
What then is Dom Hugh’s claim to saint- and then from afar, would have been when the
hood? First, we must make no mistake. Dam monks took their weekly walk through the
Hugh’s simplicity and joy were won at a price. countryside. However, the villagers and coun-
That price is always conformity to the Cross try people seemed to perceive the very mo-
of Christ. An ascetic struggle always lies be- ment of Dom Hugh’s death. Crying ‘Il Santo e
hind the joy and the spiritual beauty. This is a morto’, all the village and country people came
pattern amongst all the saints, and particularly flocking to the monastery. These people of the
the monastics. St Anthony of Egypt spent up- Church living in the villages and countryside
wards of twenty years in solitary struggle with knew that Dom Hugh Weld was a saint. How
the demons of his original disordered nature. they knew is still beyond any explanation, but
It was more than twenty years before he kicked they were so sure that they demanded relics of
down the door of his cell to emerge as the light- Dom Hugh and in one account removed things
filled teacher, friend and guide for other Chris- from his cell.
tians. St Seraphim of Sarov followed the same Why is it that the holiness of Dom Hugh
pattern. I mention him because the joy and sim- did not come to the attention of other Churches
plicity of Dom Hugh, the transforming and when it is clear that his life and the people of
consoling power of the Holy Spirit that was Maggiano both proclaim him to be a saint? It
clearly experienced in his presence, recalls St may be that those who exercise authority in
Seraphim. Clearly the ascetic struggle had the Church take little or no account of the au-
made his soul ‘into a sanctuary more beauti- thority of the people of the Church, particu-
ful that the temple of Solomon’ and his physi- larly in the matter of saints.
cal presence released into the world something This story of Hugh Weld is presented as a
of the power and grace of that one great sacri- parallel to that of Blessed Mary of the Cross
fice of Christ. Nothing illustrates this better who would agree that while ‘it is right to keep
than what happened immediately upon Dom the secret of a king, it is yet right to reveal in
Hugh’s death. These events also remind us of worthy fashion the works of God’ (Tobias 12:
the theme of local Church and its authority in 11). The life of Dom Hugh Weld was clearly
the matter of saints. such a divine work and an important though
To make sense of the events that followed hidden part of our Australian Christian herit-
Dom Hugh’s death, we must remember that age.

1. A Statement on the Solitary Life, (Wales: St of Frederick’s relatives, the Arundells, on the last
Davids, Sept-Oct 1975) Sobomost Series 7: No.2 day of 1858. She was introduced to him as Mena
(1975) 141. and he did not realise that her name was really
2. Ibid. Filumena until he asked her about the meaning
3. Geoffrey Hull, Building the Kingdom: Mary of her name as they were walking together after
MacKillop and Social Justice, Occasional Paper Mass on New Year’s Day, 1859. The reason that
22. this is of interest is that Frederick Weld had
4. A Statement on the Solitary Life. stopped in Rome on his way back to England from
5. B. Bobrinskoy, Nicholas Cabasilas, Sobornost New Zealand and particularly sought out the
Series 5: No.7 (1968) 483-505. shrine of the Roman martyr, Philomena. He made
6. Frederick Weld’s journal tells that he met a pilgrimage to her shrine to ask for her interces-
Filumena or ‘Mena’ de Lisle at Wardour, the home sion in finding such a wife who would ‘walk with


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him to heaven’, to use his own phrase. He met Her husband, Noel Vose, assisted with informa-
such a one on the very first day of his return to tion for this article and has continued his wife’s
England. When she told him the meaning of her work after her untimely death. I am indebted to
name on the second day of their acquaintance he them for their help and most particularly for the
responded with ‘How curious’. She asked him information on the connection between Julian
why that should be so. He replied, ‘Perhaps I shall Tennyson Woods and the Weld family and for the
tell you some day.’ They were married in early almost certain fact that Filumena and Blessed Mary
March after a very swift courtship, given the times of the Cross met each other in 1869 in South Aus-
and their situation. tralia.
7. Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 6: 9. Cited in The Australian Dictionary of Biogra-
1851-1890, (Melbourne University Press, 1976) phy, 379.
378. 10. Bruno Scott James, Asking For Trouble (Lon-
8. Lady Weld’s biographer was Dr Heather Vose. don: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1962) 66f.

On writing about the Saints:

It has always been a valuable work to write about the noble lives
of the saints so that they may be a mirror and example and, as it
were, a seasoning for human life on earth. In this way it is as if
they continued to live after their death, challenging many who
were in a state of living death, and summoning them to true life.
—Bernard of Clairvaux, Life of Saint Malachy.90

In the first instance the lives of the saints manifest the inher-
ent values of the gospel tradition. In every age the saints
demonstrate existentially that in times that are decadent,
ridden with confusion or ennui, or in periods of doubt, it is
not only possible to live out the gospel, but that the gospel
can be enfleshed in an extraordinary manner. In that lived
tradition the saint witnesses to the truth of Christ (and hence,
is a martyr in the most profound and widest sense of the
term) and, at the same time, renders prophetic judgment on
the age. The saint transforms the abstract claims of preach-
ing, teaching, and theology into lived realities.
—Joseph A. Komonchak, et al., The New Dictionary of
Theology, ‘Saints’.


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Not Nympha nor Apphia but a Woman of Our Time

FEEL LIKE Nympha or perhaps Apphia, long to a Cluster Ministry Team that consists
women of the Christ community at of a Parish Priest, Assistant Priest, a Deacon
Colossae and the Lycus Valley. At least I and two Pastoral Associates (one a religious
feel like Nympha as long as she is understood sister and myself a lay woman).
to be a woman as there is some doubt about So what I am led to reflect on is my role in
the translation of the name in Col 4:15.1 All this time of transition, where the church as we
we hear of Nympha in the letter to the knew it no longer exists and the emerging
Colossians is her mention in the greetings to church is not yet developed fully but is groan-
the assembly in her house. And Apphia is also ing into birth. In looking for answers and for
meagerly attested as ‘the sister’ in Philemon models, as a scripture scholar in training, I turn
2, also in the greetings. These are women of to the subject area of my doctoral thesis and
their time in the early communities of believ- thus my preoccupation with the ancient city
ers, followers of Christ, identified ‘in Christ’ of Colossae and the Letter to the Colossians.2
(Col 1:2). Their leadership is notable by the The women named here, Nympha and Apphia,
mention of their names among others who are offer a surprising insight for me in the paucity
notable leaders of the community. of information. Firstly they are named.
I am the Pastoral Associate of one of three Nympha hosts the assembly in her house and
parishes now in a Cluster with one parish Apphia is ‘the sister’ as Timothy is ‘the
priest. The three churches are about four kilo- brother’ (Col 1:1) denoting leadership in the
metres apart from each other, a little less than community.
the distance between the ancient cities of the Recently I gave a reflection at the week-
Lycus Valley in modern day Turkey: Colossae, end eucharists and my reflection was well re-
Laodikeia and Hierapolis. ceived and yet the community is not sure how
The churches of these ancient cities were to name me. They know I am a lay Pastoral
a cluster in the sense of being instructed to Associate, a married woman with grown up
read the letter in each of the churches. Nympha children. Yet in this Cluster I am their first
hosted one of these churches in her house. experience of a lay Pastoral Associate. Their
Indeed I do not host a ‘church’ or assem- experience is of religious sisters. Often I am
bly in my house; however, I am the ministry referred to as ‘sister’ not in the sense of The
presence in the parish. The Parish Priest re- Letter to Philemon and Apphia, but as a mem-
sides in the neighbouring parish and visits once ber of a religious community. This is clearly
a week for weekday mass and occasionally on not who I am. Another parishioner joked about
the weekend. Regular weekend eucharist is me being ‘Father Rosemary’ and that is such
presided by a priest who does not live in the an oxymoron I have difficulty even laughing
Cluster and has no pastoral role there. I be- about it. It appears usual for the Ministry Team


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 24 7/09/2010 10:26:06 AM


to be listed beginning with the Parish Priest Rosemary is a doctoral

and working through the recognizable or- candidate and tutor of
dained titles before coming to the Pastoral Flinders University
Associates who are then distinguished between School of Theology
religious and lay. The tension between ‘team’ (Adelaide College of
and ‘hierarchy’ is in the nomenclature and the Divinity), and is a
reality of the new ways that we share ministry Pastoral Associate in
and leadership are not easily communicated the Cluster of Colonel
Light Gardens,
through this.
Kingswood and
This dilemma of language has brought me
to an understanding of what it really means to
be a part of the non-ordained priesthood of Honours and undertake a doctorate. My min-
believers, what it means to take up the call to istry in the parish and the Cluster brings to-
leadership and ministry of the baptized faith- gether a career of management and training
ful in an authoritative appointed role. I can see with the scriptural and theological study, tu-
that the grappling with the role of Pastoral toring and lecturing in practical grounded life
Associate, which for me is but two days of my in our church. Ministry keeps my teaching real,
week while a full-time doctoral student, is human and relevant. The opportunity to give
about the growing of a new model of church. a reflection draws on all of my learning as an
We do not really have the language or ritual opening to a conversation with others on the
for what is emerging and that is still to come. journey in this time of transition.
I am very aware that my role as a Pastoral There are many models of church and min-
Associate is different to others who hold the istry being tested and refined and offered for
same title. The title embraces such a broad discussion. My sharing of my experience is to
spectrum of work that it evolves for each per- add to the mix of the richness that is being dis-
son in the role according to their gifts and the covered as we try to understand our way for-
needs of the parish or parishes of work. ward with fewer priests. I do not have a magic
It is possible for us to imagine the life that solution but reflecting on the early church helps
Nympha might have had and why she was able me make sense of where we are today. Nympha
to be named as hosting an assembly in her and Apphia cannot be described within the
house. I prefer to think of her as a woman of modern terms of Pastoral Associate nor Pasto-
her time and context able to live out her bap- ral Director or any one of a number of similar
tismal call to ministry in the community of the designations. They were known by their rela-
faithful. She is likely a model for other women tionship to their community as hosting an as-
of her time. Similarly, Apphia offers an image sembly or as ‘the sister’. We have no idea of
of a woman of her time and context where the their particular gifts but they remain as names
community knew what it meant to call her ‘the among the community leaders. There is no
sister’. She also was able to live out her call to doubt that we need a range of leadership in our
ministry in the community of believers. communities now and into the future. Whatever
My overwhelming call is to teach and it is their designation, they will be women and men
that enlightenment that drew me to study scrip- of our time ministering in the context of their
ture and complete a Bachelor of Theology and call through baptism.
1. The disagreement about whether Nympha is the name of a woman centres on the fact that both
male and female options are possible. It is the placing of accents on the name that differentiates it
between male or female and yet these accents would not have been part of the original text, thus
the ambiguity.
2. My doctoral thesis is entitled ‘Clothing the Body of Christ in Colossae: a visual construction
of identity’


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EDINBURGH 1910-2010
A Time for Reflection

N THIS ARTICLE I would like to recall cal movement. Fifty years after the conference,
some of the salient features of the World and twelve years after the foundation of the
Missionary Conference, Edinburgh 1910, WCC, J.H. Oldham, looking back, interpreted
and then ask some questions in this, the cente- the significance of the conference in terms of
nary year of the conference. A centenary seems the history of ecumenism rather than the his-
an ideal time for reflection, review and plan- tory of missions.2 True, it was one (signifi-
ning. This article is not a detailed critique or cant) event in a chain of conferences that did
presentation of Edinburgh 1910, but rather a lead to the 1948 establishment of the World
recalling of some salient points which can Council of Churches, but it was planned as a
serve as a basis for reflection today on mis- missionary conference albeit with ecumenical
sion in the local church. overtones. The word ‘ecumenical’ was in fact
part of the official title in the planning stages,
Background to Edinburgh 1910 but then discarded because of the limited com-
By way of some background information it is position of Christians at the conference,
helpful to recall that, prior to Edinburgh 1910, We can recall that the general situation in
there were previous missionary conferences Europe and North America was distinctive at
which can be traced back as far as 1854, but that time. It was full of hope and pride in what
these were on a smaller scale and regional as humankind (North America and Europe) had
opposed to global. In 1910 the major Protes- achieved particularly since the Industrial
tant denominations and missionary societies, Revolution. There were a number of World
predominantly from North America and North- Fairs where great technological inventions and
ern Europe, sent 1,215 representatives to Ed- achievements were proudly on display. The
inburgh, Scotland. They were mainly from first World Fair (or ‘Expo’), during this the
Europe and North America with a few token Period of Industrialization, was in London in
representations from the global south. No East- 1851 and then, leading up to the 1910 Confer-
ern Orthodox or Roman Catholics1 were in- ence, other cities followed: Paris (1889), Chi-
vited. According to some commentators it was cago (1893), Paris (1900) and St Louis (1906).
both the culmination of nineteenth-century There was much global confidence in technol-
Protestant Christian Missions and the formal ogy and humanity. The future looked very
beginning of the modern Protestant Christian bright. In art there was post-modernism where
ecumenical movement. It was unprecedented new ways of expressing oneself artistically
in scope, preparations and consequences. were tried. Colonialism (Spanish, British,
It is interesting to note that in retrospect German, Dutch, Portuguese, Belgium, and
some commentators have called Edinburgh the French) was still very much alive guided by a
beginning of the modern Protestant ecumeni- nineteenth century anthropology. Unfortu-


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 26 7/09/2010 10:26:06 AM


nately, it has to be admitted that mission was Gideon Goosen is a

intertwined with colonialism, acquisitiveness, Sydney-based
expansion, aggrandizement and feelings of theologian and author
superiority and racism. of Bringing Churches
Together: A Popular
The Colonial Context Introduction to
Ecumenism, (Geneva:
There were a number of assumptions behind the WCC, 2001). His latest
Edinburgh conference which need to be men- book is Spacetime and
tioned. Let me select a few key ones. Mission Theology in Dialogue
was not so much about mission to the world as (Marquette University
mission from Christendom to ‘heathendom’. Use Press, 2008).
of words like ‘conquest’, ‘soldiers for Christ’, was their theology of religions other than
and ‘Vexilla Regis prodeunt!,’ (‘may the troops Christian? From what we know they were well
of the King prevail!’) were common enough. This aware of a variety of opinions regarding the
underscores the combative ambient and language non-Christian religions adopted by Christian
in which missionaries saw mission to non-Chris- men. Overall their attitudes were very enlight-
tians. It was said at the conference that the state- ened for that time although some (as one would
ment that ‘the only faith which will conquer Eu- expect) were not able to see any good in other
rope and America is the faith heroic and vigor- faiths.
ous enough to subdue the peoples of the non- It is encouraging to read that the mission-
Christian world!’ Note the language of ‘subdu- aries insisted that non-Christians must be ap-
ing’. The tone and language used was often remi- proached with real sympathy and respect.
niscent of the crusades. The historical context of Their insights were profound. It was said that
the conference was still very much colonial and their [non-Christians’] confused cloud-world
imperial. After a message from the King read will be found to be ‘shot through and through
out in Edinburgh at the conference, we read that with broken lights of a hidden sun’ (reminis-
with a single accord and impulse the whole Con- cent of rays of truth in the much later docu-
ference, monarchists and republicans alike, sang ment, Nostra Aetate, Vat II). ‘Christianity, the
‘God save the king’. The conference had re- religion of the Light of the World, can ignore
stricted the mission of the church to certain geo- no lights however ‘broken’. Christianity, it was
graphically demarcated portions of humanity. It said, must absorb all the broken lights into its
was further assumed that European Christendom central glow. This may shed light on her own
was the norm for expressing Christianity. truths, forgotten or neglected. By going into
Not only were there colonial overtones but the world the Church may recover all the light
some racial ones as well. Azariah, an Angli- that is in Christ and become, like its founder,
can indigenous Indian participant, spoke out a real Lux Mundi. Naturally not all accepted
and offended some. He remarked on the way the idea of some light in other religions. And
the white missionaries did not befriend the the assumption was still that Christianity would
locals. He commented: ‘Too often you prom- eventually replace all other religions.5
ise us thrones in heaven, but will not offer us If we think of the three categories some-
chairs in your drawing rooms.’3 Azariah’s times used to describe approaches to other
speech had much to say. It was perhaps the faiths, exclusivist, inclusivist and pluralist, the
first shot in the campaign against missionary above aproach is far from the exclusivist ap-
imperialism.4 proach of one end of the spectrum. Their think-
ing was progressive for their time but, we need
Ideas Regarding Non-Christians
to remind ourselves, they were often mission-
As regards the participants, we may ask, what aries rather than theologians. However there


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 27 7/09/2010 10:26:06 AM


was a curious historical turn to the right with to it and place in its empty hands one Faith –
Hendrik Kraemer and the 1938 Tambaram the only thing that can ever truly and funda-
Missionary Conference when a more negative mentally unite it or deeply and truly satisfy it,
approach to non-Christian religions won the bringing its one human race into one Catholic
Church, through the message of the: One Body
day due to the influence of his book, The Chris-
and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one Bap-
tian Message in a Non-Christian World.6 The
tism, one God and Father of all, who is over
nub of the problem was the denial of general all, and through all, and in all.9
revelation and the salvific presence of God in
Such was the vision which called together the
other faiths. The role of other faiths in God’s
plan still seems to be a point of disagreement
among WCC member churches. ….and such is the vision which any narrative
or account of the Conference must seek to con-
Vision on Unity vey to the whole Church of Jesus Christ, since
on the whole Church’s welcome and obedience
Science was held in great awe at the time with to the heavenly vision depends its revelation.
all the inventions and new knowledge that re- Thus, only thus, may be fulfilled that prayer of
search and technology had produced. The mis- all the ages as in heaven, so on earth thy king-
sionaries were likewise influenced by all these dom come.10
great achievement and saw the big picture of The focus on unity was reflected in the prayer-
the universe and planet earth as a single unit life of the participants as well. In the time of
within it. Within this context Gairdner was able worship at the Conference, we read that in their
to see the work of preaching the gospel on a prayers of intercession as in the debates them-
grand scale as follows: selves, the theme of the unity of the Church in
If we now can see it as one unit among others, mission continually surfaced. As one partici-
it is this that enables us to see it also as a unit in pant remarked: The ever-recurring refrain was
itself, a single whole. And it is because the world ‘that they may be one, that the world may be-
has at last come to be realized as a single whole
that the enterprise of carrying the Gospel to all
Basically two models of unity were talked
the world is gradually being invested with a new
realisableness in the minds if men. And it is about at Edinburgh, a minority minimalist ap-
because that enterprise is being thus invested proach and a majority maximalist view.
with a new realisableness that a World Mission- (1) Minimalist. This approach took the
ary Conference met in Edinburgh in the year line that we are united in our common baptism
1910 with a new sense of its own world charac- and hence need do nothing further: there is a
ter, a new vision of the goal, and a new desire Federation of Christian communions and the
to be born again into a knowledge of God com- practice of free intercommunion. An Austral-
mensurate with the superhuman task. 7 ian delegate at the Conference supported this
This grand way of seeing the planet and the approach and denied that ‘any outward organic
work of preaching the gospel also influenced unity was necessary or practicable or even de-
their vision of Christian unity. As with other sirable—it would be material, mechanical, un-
aspects of the missionaries’ attitudes, their at- wieldy, dangerous, inorganic, non-spiritual,
titude towards unity was overall surprisingly external ….!’ (It is still possible to hear this view
progressive for that time, What we are seeing in some quarters in 2010, in Australia!)
is the Protestant arm of Christianity beginning (2) Maximalist. This approach ac-
to move towards the desire for a World Coun- knowledged that Christians are imperfect and
cil of Churches in at least an embryonic way.8 that the unity we have is minimal. It stressed
According to Gairdiner, their vision of unity that a communion must include ‘essential parts
was this: of divine revelation or essential means of
…one world waiting, surely, for who shall carry grace, and that to surrender these, or to do


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 28 7/09/2010 10:26:07 AM


anything from which that surrender could be Edinburgh 1910. The answer can be provided
inferred, would be a culpable neglect of by enumerating a few very significant points:
trust.’12 It was felt that these all have some frag- • by the end of the 20th century most people
ment of vital truth—and all these fragments throughout the world had been reached
must be included in a higher unity. by the gospel;
• the percentage of Christians in the world
Goals is roughly the same as in 1910;
The slogan ‘The Evangelization of the World • most Christians are now from the south-
in This Generation’ was often quoted as the ern hemisphere;
aim of the conference, or to put it another way: • whereas in 1910 it was countries other than
to offer the Saving Gospel to all the world. Europe and North America that needed
Expectations were very high as can be seen in evangelization, now the old Christian
that the chairman, John R. Mott, thought that countries in Europe need it;
this conference was a truly kairos moment with • today the secularization of western cul-
a number of factors coming together to make ture is a threat to Christianity;
a huge leap forward in missionary work, es- • in 1910 it was said that the para-churches,
pecially in East Asia.13 Together with this was Evangelicals and Pentecostals work
the aim to get greater collaboration between without ‘ecumenical discipline’; today
churches in their missionary work and to there have been significant merges of
achieve greater unity among churches. churches and ecumenical sensitivity in
The work of the Conference was in receiv- missionary work;
ing and discussing the reports of eight com- • in 1910 there was no global forum for
missions which had been set up beforehand. Christian churches, no World Council of
The reports had been made available before Churches as yet; now we have the WCC
meeting. Because the titles of the commissions and Global Christian Forum which to-
give a fair indication of the contents of the gether embrace all denominations;
Conference, I will mention them and their date • the original mother church/daughter
of presentation: church ( superiority/inferiority) relation-
1. Carrying the Gospel to all the Non-Christian ship has changed into a partnership of
World (June 15, 1910). equals; there has been a movement from
2. The Church in the Mission Field (June 16, accommodation to inculturation;
1910). • mission has moved from being church-
3. Education in Relation to the Christianization centred to God-centred (missio Dei).
of National Life (Jun 17, 1910).
4. Missionary Message in Relation to the Non- The centenary: A Time for Reflection,
Christian World (June 18, 1910). Planning and Review
5. The Preparation of Missionaries (June 22,
1910). From the above it is clear that the mission
6. The Home Base of Missions (June 23, 1910). world has changed profoundly over the hun-
7. Missions and Governments (June 20, 1910). dred years. Christian churches have to rethink
8. Co-Operation and the Promotion of Unity what mission is and how best to carry it out.
(June 21, 1910). This is part of the reflecting, reviewing and
planning part of any thinking Christian church
Changes Over One Hundred Years
and particularly appropriate in this centenary
Now let me fast forward to 2010, the year of year. Here are some headings and topics which
the centenary of the Conference. Firstly you could form part of that process of review. I
could ask how the missionary situation has am thinking of the local church, that is the lo-
changed over the one hundred years since cal parish, the parish pastoral council, the di-


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 29 7/09/2010 10:26:07 AM


ocesan pastoral council and the diocesan that they discuss at their meetings. Is it the
synod. annual fete, parish parking places and fund
raising or is it how to reach out to those who
What is mission? have abandoned their Christianity, those who
We noted above the move from church- have no convictions, or the impact of
centred mission to God-centred. What does secularization on parishioners?
this mean? It indicates a whole new under-
What model of mission?
standing of mission as David Bosch has ex-
plored within the context of globalization.14 At a basic level is the question of what
Any consideration of mission must include an model of mission lies behind our activities.
ecclesiology of church-with-others, a broad Should mission be based scripturally on the
understanding of salvation which takes cog- relatively modern (Colonial expansionism
nizance of justice, liberation, contextualization period) conversion model of Matthew 28: 19-
and inculturation. It must include the idea that 20, or on the newer reconciliation model16 of
God’s grace is operative throughout the world 2 Cor 5:17-20 or indeed the coercive model
and is not restricted to Christians. It must in- of Luke 14:23 (‘make them come in’) which
clude the role of witness as a form of evange- was certainly alive during the Crusades and in
lization. It also means a transformation from Medieval Europe.
a theology of mission to a missionary theol- Schreiter rightly points out that whatever
ogy. Mission is thus still necessary, but it has model we chose, we should tease out the dis-
changed. In 2004 when Samuel Kobia took tinctive set of practices and conceptions for
up his post as general Secretary of the WCC the conduct of mission according to that
he soon called on the churches to confess and model.17 Should Christians be handing out
repent and invited them to a conversion in copies of St. Luke’s gospel at train stations,
thinking and attitudes in missionary vision.15 distributing DVDs on Jesus and his teachings,
Given the list above of changes from 1910 to or walking with the homeless and wounded?
2010, it is clear that a re-thinking is neces- Do we aim at 5% increase in members of our
sary. Christian church, or 5% more people improv-
How does all this translate to the local ing their relationship with their God? Do we
church? For the local church it might mean see mission as aimed at increasing our church
more effort at trying to discern God’s will for membership or aiding others to become more
the local church. It is less a question of what fully aware of what they already are – chil-
the local minister or local parish council wants dren of God? As we asked above, is our mis-
and more a question of what God wants for sionary work church-centred or God-centred?
this local church, in this place, and at this time. How much time, effort and prayer is put into
That requires a lot of discernment. How many discernment, or does the priest/minister know
are prepared to do this? How often do parish best?
councils pray and discern before taking deci-
sions? This is light years away from the main- Church–Mission connection
tenance model of parish life where business is At Edinburgh the fact that some evangelicals
as usual because ‘that is what we have done and Pentecostals were working in the mission
for the last fifty years’. fields as more or less independent missionar-
Research in Australia has found that many ies raised the question of the connection be-
mainline churches have settled in to a mainte- tween church and mission. Can an individual
nance pattern and all but lost a sense of mis- do missionary work without a church? Begin-
sion. Parish and diocesan pastoral councils ning with the notion of church this is impossi-
could look at their agendas and see what it is ble. Kobia insisted that reflection on mission


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 30 7/09/2010 10:26:07 AM


cannot and must not be de-linked from basic ten down?

questions related to what the church is, how it Another dimension is that of planning to-
is constituted and what its mandate and organi- gether. Firstly within the church do lay people
zational forms are. Unlike Edinburgh 1910, and their ministers plan their approach to mis-
today the WCC includes Eastern and Oriental sion together? The Catholic Church has been
Orthodox Churches as well as having a work- slow to use synods in spite of the ARCIC
ing relationship with the (post-Vatican II) Ro- Document, Authority in the Church (1977)
man Catholic Church.18 In addition to this we which encourages it. When will Catholics, for
have the Global Christian Forum which in- example, see ‘Church’ not as hierarchy only,
cludes all those not members of the WCC. but as hierarchy and laity together? Secondly
An examination of ecclesiology is all im- the planning regarding mission, or some as-
portant here. What Christ realized in his life, pects of it, could be planned with other local
ministry, death and resurrection is carried on Christian churches. This is sometimes done but
in the church as Karl Rahner points out. The more could be done.
church is a continuation of the mystery of
Christ. It is his continuing historical and per- Other Faiths
manent presence in our history. The church is The question of other faiths did come up
Christ’s body. Christ came to preach the Good in 1910 at Edinburgh in the context of preach-
News to all and so this Body the church is ing the gospel to ‘heathendom’. The world was
missionary by nature. Therefore missionary very different then since it had not experienced
work is intimately tied up with church. It comes the devastation of two World Wars and the
down that through baptism a person becomes huge migration of peoples that subsequently
part of the body of Christ, the church. Bap- occurred. Today’s world is characterized by
tism is not a private affair with the individuals multicultural societies and questions relating
committing themselves to Jesus. to other faiths arise spontaneously. This is an-
The church is also human as evidenced by other obvious outreach for all Christian
all the sexual abuse scandals by clergy, but churches. What do we think of other faiths?
there are also other failures by all Christians Are parishioners at least generally aware of
on occasions. However this should not deflect the contents of documents like Nostra Aetate
Christians from what should be the main mis- and Lumen Gentium (Catholic documents) and
sion of the local church. World Council of Churches documents,
Guidelines on Dialogue with People of Liv-
Ecumenical commitment
ing Faiths and Ideologies (1979) and Ecu-
Edinburgh mentioned the lack of ‘ecumeni- menical considerations for dialogue and re-
cal discipline’ among some Pentecostal and lations with people of other religions : Taking
evangelical churches in the mission field. How stock of 30 years of dialogue and revisiting
much ecumenical commitment is their in our the 1979 Guidelines (2004).
parish and diocesan councils and how is it Do we in our parish discussions address how
manifest? The NCCA Multi-dimensional Cov- we might progress our commitment to dialogue
enant among Australian Churches signed in with other faiths? There are many ways of
Adelaide in 1994, was a great step forward dialoguing: life, action, discourse and religious
but has it been implemented at local level? This experience. Which of these are part of the local
covenant not only proposed that members pray mission plan? How are they implemented?
together but included exploring with one an-
other ‘issues and strategies for mission’ and Reflection
the ‘shared use of physical resources’. How All these considerations give us plenty of food
much of this has been done? Where is it writ- for thought, review, discernment and planning


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 31 7/09/2010 10:26:07 AM


today. We can simply note the centenary of much like ‘business as usual’.
Edinburgh 1910 and continue the maintenance There is also the need to be convinced we
business as usual or we could use it as a point can learn from one another. No one has all the
of review and renewal. There is more than answers. This was mentioned back in 1910 and
enough for any parish or diocesan council to today we see a revival of this idea in the term
use in reviewing and planning missionary strat- ‘receptive ecumenism’.19 Azariah, the same
egies for today. For that to occur acknowledg- Indian participant mentioned above at the 1910
ment that the context of mission over the last conference, said that all Christians, American,
one hundred years has changed and vision and Continentals and Japanese, Indian and Chi-
effort are required to meet the challenges. We nese, need to work together: ‘We ought to be
cannot resolve the challenges of today with willing to learn from one another, and to help
the mindset of the past. one another.’20
A useful strategy would be for local As we know, Centenary Conference was
churches to re-visit the 1994 Covenant. In the called from 2nd to 6th June 2010, in and around
light of this document, local Christian churches the historic sites of the 1910 Conference.
need not only pray together, but sit down and The Edinburgh 2010 General Council in-
explore ‘issues and strategies’ and work out vited 250 church and mission leaders to come
how they can have ‘shared use of physical re- to Edinburgh and also welcomed many
sources’. Sixteen years after the signing of this visitors for the Sunday Celebrations. It remains
covenant we still have churches spending mil- to be seen in the following months whether
lions on new church buildings on housing es- this centenary celebration can provide new
tates for the exclusive use of their own denomi- perspectives on mission and renewed action
nation. This is not good enough and looks too for the 21st century.
1. Bishop Geremia Borromelli of Cremona in Italy, (IMC) which in turn joined the WCC in 1961.
regarded by some as a member of liberal move- 9. Gairdner, Edinburgh…6,7.
ment in Italian Catholicism, sent warm greetings 10 Ibid.,7.
to the Conference. The elderly Borromelli had a 11. Stanley, The World… 90.
friend, a young priest, Angelo Roncalli (later Pope 12. Gairdner, Edinburgh…205.
John XXIII). In June 1908 Borromelli suggested 13. Stanley, The World…3.
to Roncalli that the time might be ripe to summon 14. David Bosch, (1991) Transforming Mission:
a ‘great ecumenical council’. Stanley Brian Stanley, Paradigm Shifts in the Theology of Mission
(2009), The World Missionary Conference, Edin- (Maryknoll: Orbis Books), 368-520; and also Neil
burgh 1910, Grand Rapids & Cambridge U.K.: Ormerod and Shane Clifton, (2010), Globalization
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 11,12. and the Mission of the Church, T & T Clark Inter-
2. Ibid.. national: Edinburgh.
3. Stanley, The World…124. 15. Scherer, James, A. (2007). ‘Edinburgh II – a
4. Stanley, The World…124,128. New Springtime for Ecumenical Mission?’
5. Stanley, The World…246. International Bulletin of Missionary Research,
6. Hendrik Kraemer, (1938), The Christian Mes- Vol.31, No.4, (October 2007), 197.
sage in a Non-Christian World, London: the Edin- 16. Brian Stanley, (2009). ‘Mission and Human
burgh House Press. Identity in the Light of Edinburgh 1910.’ Mission
7. Gairdiner, W.H.T. (1910). ‘Edinburgh 1910’: An Studies 26 (2009) 80-97.
Account and Interpretation of the World Mission- 17. Schreiter Robert. (2009). ‘Mission and Iden-
ary Conference. Edinburgh : Oliphant, Anderson tity in the Light of Edinburgh 2010: A Response to
& Ferrier, 5,6. Brian Stanley’. Mission Studies 26 (2009),99.
8. The Continuation Committee which followed 18. Scherer, Edinburgh…197.
after the Edinburgh 1910 Conference, led to the 19. Stanley, The World… 125.
formation of the International Missionary Council 20. Ibid.


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 32 7/09/2010 10:26:07 AM

The Power of Personal Narrative

ITH THE SUBMISSION of a doc- able possible outflows of my thesis research,
toral thesis in ministry studies and it will be helpful if I begin by relating it
freshly behind me, I felt it suitable broadly to the doctoral thesis. Degrees in Min-
light relief, last February, to offer at an MCD istry Studies are atypical, in that reporting on
research seminar the following reflections on personal experience in the thesis is not merely
my experience both of bureaucracy and of su- allowable—it is positively encouraged. My
pervision. This experience is not limited to the own case stretches this permissiveness to the
mere six years that is the ordinary ration of limit, in that the four central chapters are, quite
time for that degree-enrolment (by design, a explicitly, diverse narratives of my personal
part-time commitment). Rather, it stretches journey through life; and most other chapters
back over more than half a century. What I are significantly biographical (or, as academia
reported on may conveniently be divided into prefers me to say, ‘autoethnographic’). Our
these three phases: MCD ethics committee, in giving its permis-
• Act I: late 1950s, towards an MA degree sion for my project to proceed, did express
in musicology concern some readers of this journal may per-
• Act 2: late 1980s, towards a research de- haps share, as to the validity of autobiography
gree in Religious Studies—a project as academic research.
never consummated despite diverse Though I deprecate the widespread obses-
enrolments sion with methodology, I have I trust suffi-
• Act 3: twenty-first century: towards a doc- ciently allayed that concern in the chapter of
torate in Ministry studies my thesis which, as it happens, I most enjoyed
Regrettably, time constraints meant that my writing, the one entitled Methodology. If I have
comment on the most recent phase had to be a continuing ethical concern, one that applies
minimal. My presentation, I said, might best equally in this article, it is the ordinary human
be regarded not as a finished product but as a one to remain respectful of the confidentiality
foretaste of a research paper–in–progress— of others. For the 1980s segment of what I dis-
one of which the abstract has by now been ac- cuss today, persons and places will mostly be
cepted for the MCD’s centenary conference un-named unless by pseudonym; and I ask
in July. Such a paper, I ventured, might be readers kindly to refrain even from privately
entitled On the Ministry of Academic Bureauc- guessing who might be who.
racy and Supervision; and in it I would claim
that, ideally, such supervision is of the whole The Enneagram
person, not just of a project.
The forthcoming paper is one of innumer- One further preliminary explanation. My the-


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 33 7/09/2010 10:26:07 AM


sis seeks to test the validity of the somewhat

Geoff is a mental health
controversial personality theory known as the researcher, and Special
Enneagram. My method is to examine what Lay Minister in his
light it may shed on a whole life history: of Anglican parish of
seventy-three years to date! Commonly, this Castlemaine, VIC..
theory is presented as an analysis of nine
styles of pathology in individuals, and how
they may be transcended. The distinctive
postulate of my thesis is that what we are as
personalities is precisely our relationships;
and my concern is with the fruitfulness or
otherwise for original research of relation- racy at Durham in those days was, as I re-
ships between enrolled student, bureaucracy member it, minimal by today’s standards. I
and supervisor. doubt they had then any worries about po-
tential litigation or the withdrawal of govern-
Bureaucracy ment funding. But their rulebook decreed
something that had been overlooked: namely,
A quick look, first, at bureaucracy in that before formal acceptance of a thesis, the
Enneagram perspective. What we find was put final title had to have been registered with
in a nutshell in a throwaway remark by Russ them for a minimum of twelve months. My
Hudson, the foremost younger Enneagram beloved supervisor, Arthur Hutchings, Pro-
expert, at a 2007 professional training work- fessor of Music, was famous as a law unto
shop I attended in Coolangatta. Universities, himself, accustomed to get his way, and end-
he said, ‘are very Six-ish institutions’. As hand- lessly my advocate. But to my knowledge not
some evidence of the truth of Hudson’s asser- even he bothered to challenge this law of the
tion, I produced a visual aid: a 2004 guide (of Medes and Persians.
Polish provenance) to a university’s MA pro-
gramme in European studies. Running to some Supervision
thirty-seven pages, it was truly exemplary.
What is meant by `Sixi-ish’ is that, below the In the writing of that MA thesis, the supervi-
Universities’ belt of pure truth seeking the fol- sory relationship was virtually the only exter-
lowing issues can loom large: nal influence; and by bureaucratic standards
• Pecking order even this might appear to have been reprehen-
• Authority of bosses at different levels, and sibly minimal. Arthur Hutchings, at Durham,
of rival power-groups and I working in London libraries, were about
• Pressures to conform to group thinking 400 kilometers apart. There was no email, and
• Concern for detailed rulebooks, such that unless they were rich nobody then used the
it can be said ‘you will always be cor- phone over such distances. Once, early in the
rect if you do so-and-so’. piece, I wrote seeking Arthur’s advice as to
• And behind it all, a love-hate relationship whether I need read any general history of the
to deviance period whose music I was studying. He re-
A mild illustration from times long past sponded naming a mercifully short book,
is furnished by the fate of my MA thesis in which I duly read. Once, later, I made the big
musicology. Completed in nine months flat, journey to visit him, with a short sample of
it bears the submission date February 1960. my thesis drafting; but that seemed more like
The date of award on my Master’s degree cer- a friendly social visit than a critical poring over
tificate, however, is 7 July 1961. Bureauc- my original work.


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 34 7/09/2010 10:26:07 AM


Those two contacts with my supervisor, Hutchings had become my mentor, and what
one face-to-face, were as far as I can recall in Enneagram lore is termed my ‘totem’. One
the only ones. Most certainly he never saw of the most memorable is of how once, as he
from me anything remotely resembling a fin- was crossing Prebends bridge over the river
ished thesis-product until it appeared on his Wear, Miss Scott, the prim and proper Prin-
desk for formal assessment. Nor were there cipal of St Aidan’s Society, passed him in the
any research seminars, or peer-researchers opposite direction. ‘Drunk again, Professor
around with whom to share one’s stuff. No one Hutchings?’, she greeted him. ‘So am I, Miss
vetted my English. Still, in re-reading my MA Scott, so am I’, he responded. But suffice for
thesis (perhaps for the first time in forty years) now to give you some hint of the potential
for the purpose of that MCD seminar, I was for close relationship as laid bare in
struck by just how much I had achieved, vir- Enneagram analysis, under the categories
tually single-handed, in how little time. I could Type 5 and Type 8.
pick holes in it, indeed a few things make me Enneagram type 5, the style deeply in-
shudder: like how often I used the ‘royal we’ grained in me, is natively fearful, but deals
instead of ‘I’, or the plague of exclamation with it in a way the dead opposite of the ‘Six-
marks. Still, back in 1959 the bluntest and most ishness’ I described above. We Fives seek se-
rigorous of my former lecturers, who had as- curity by distancing ourselves as much as we
sessed it, told me that, as MA theses went, it can from others, both spatially and emotion-
was one of the best. ally, especially from crowds. We become the
natural outsiders to group thinking. We pride
Originality ourselves on an ‘objectivity’ that can be the
dead opposite of what most people think.
This is to claim no particular virtue for my- Stuck in our head most of the time, we can’t
self as an individual. Rather, it is to instance help but become ‘original’; but this will be
the fruitfulness of right relationship. What we fruitless unless others are prepared to hon-
are as personalities is precisely our relation- our it.
ships. Second only to my relationship with Enneagram Type 8, the style exemplified
my parents, my relationship with Hutchings by Hutchings, is in a way very similar. Eights
was decisively shaping for me from the mo- will do what they choose to do regardless of
ment he had offered me a place as an under- public opinion, just as Fives will think what
graduate; and at that distance of nearly 400 they think and couldn’t care tuppence if no
kilometres he was, by his very being, closer one agrees with them. Both despise hypocrisy
to me than any other of my lecturers could and false pretensions. For such unyielding in-
have been if sitting beside me. He was in me, dividualism, they can respect each other as
and I in him. From my first encounter at age being both, in their way, ‘strong’. But Eights
eighteen he had shown towards me what have made a priority from early days of being
Simone Weil has declared to be ‘the super- on top of things, in control of their life.
natural virtue of justice’. ‘This justifying vir- Whereas Fives, in everything except their in-
tue’, she wrote, ‘consists of behaving exactly tellectual specialties, tend to lack assertive-
as though there were equality when one is the ness; and also to be obsessive in distracting
stronger in an unequal relationship. Exactly, themselves, endlessly putting off the job that
in every respect, including the slightest de- needs to be done. Experience has confirmed
tails of accent and attitude…’ for me what Enneagram theory would predict:
Many anecdotes could, at this distance in that Eights can be the most natural and effec-
time and space, safely be told reflecting how, tual allies of Fives, generous patrons and ad-
in his typical blunt economy of words, vocates.


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 35 7/09/2010 10:26:07 AM


Finding a Supervisor three previous papers at ANZAMRS confer-

ences, two of which were subsequently pub-
Over forty years ago, in his bestseller The Road lished in their journal.
Less Travelled, psychiatrist Scott Peck gave Whatever the limitations of this prema-
this counsel which I cite from memory: ‘Don’t ture brain-child (or rather heart-child) of
just passively accept the services of the first mine, my first Julian paper, six months later
professional would-be therapist you find; if the I was competently assured that I had got it
relationship doesn’t feel right, just pay their right, understood Julian aright. This was in
fee and look for another’. More pointedly, Norwich, UK, where I was attending an in-
Peck added (and here I cite him verbatim from ternational conference on mystical percep-
my ancient file of handy quotes): tion. The assurance came from the two con-
If it is relevant to you, don’t hold back from ference organizers: a French medical profes-
asking what the therapist’s feelings are about sor, and RitaMary, an American Catholic
such issues as women’s liberation or homosexu- Religious. Each held a PhD in Julian.
ality or religion. You are entitled to honest, open RitaMary, who was then editor of a journal
and careful answers. on mysticism, warmly urged me to pursue
I would like to think that any supervisor ap- Julian research under appropriate supervi-
proved by MCD would be unruffled by such sion, and to keep in touch. Back in Australia
questions, and prompt to give honest, open and the first bit, about appropriate supervision,
careful answers. But experience elsewhere in proved easier said than done.
academia, not to mention the Enneagram, has
taught me to see such candour as a gracious Act 2, Scene 1
privilege rather than an automatic entitlement,
human nature being what it is. For a caution- One of Australia’s ‘ancient’ universities. Their
ary tale, I’m coming now to Act 2 of this pa- English department sported a lecturer who
per, set in the 1980s: ‘Towards Mastery in declared willing. He had done Julian research
Religious Studies’. But this will need some under the learned American editor—a Catho-
backgrounding. lic Religious—of the definitive scholarly edi-
tion of Julian in translation. What need to look
Sick of Syllogism further? I enrolled. But ‘John’, it turned out,
though a Catholic academic, professed no
In late 1983 I became, at least for a long sea- competence in Julian’s theology, let alone her
son, a somewhat changed person. In the wake mysticism: his expertise, he protested, was
of a second turning point in a mystical devel- solely textual. With him, a ‘Sixish’ person,
opment fostered by time I spent regularly as security-minded, wary of his boss—and per-
Guest of Cistercian monks, I became sick to haps of me—I felt no resonance.
death of my old addiction to tight logical analy- Nor was I encouraged by what I found
sis. For the first time, a variety of Christian when, in his English department, I attended a
mystical texts became overnight an open book young woman’s postgraduate seminar paper
to me; and within a month or two I was moved on the distinguished Australian Catholic poet
to offer, as it were, new wine—a paper on James McCauley. My own experientially based
Julian of Norwich—to ANZAMRS, an Aus- comments on that paper were, I found, warmly
tralasian learned association for Medieval and received by women present; indeed one of
Renaissance Studies. For such a new under- them most excitedly continued the discussion
taking I had received no academic training with me to the end of my homeward tram jour-
whatsoever; but my offer was taken up, prob- ney. However, a male present at that seminar
ably because in musicology I had presented had blurted out these words: ‘The Professor


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 36 7/09/2010 10:26:08 AM


wouldn’t allow you to write that in your the- ‘The Christian Psychotherapy of Julian of
sis’; and with one accord all the male post- Norwich’, I complied in extraordinarily care-
graduates had said `Amen’. It was not that ful detail, critical of secular pretensions to the
McCauley was infra dig with the Professor; healing of the psyche. My supervisor, without
but in a thesis you were supposed to write from decisively refusing the project, made plain his
the head, not the heart. For me, no further evi- worries that that title would run into strife with
dence was needed, to decide I had no wish to the large and powerful psychology department
paddle my canoe in such a forbidding God- of the university, which apparently might claim
professor’s kingdom. for their own discipline copyright on the word
‘therapy’. And anyway, he himself didn’t feel
Act 2, scene 2. it was the right word. Probably this man was
not himself what is called an Enneagram Six;
Perhaps, I thought, a Department of Religious but Six-ish issues ran deep in him.
Studies would be more concerned with per- Hoping a change of supervisor might re-
sonal meaning. Rather belatedly, such depart- solve problems, I was once impertinent enough
ments had started to sprout in Australian uni- to suggest to him that his Evangelical back-
versities, including two in the state where I ground made it hard for our minds to mesh
lived at the time. At one of these I tried my fruitfully around Julian’s meanings. Though
luck. Promptly its Acting Head advised me that clearly he was uncomfortable with what he
in our State there was only room for one such regarded as being labelled, and sought to de-
department to thrive, and that was his own. flect it, I was formally transferred to a Catho-
But that was OK. ‘I would be happy’, he said, lic colleague. But the latter’s special research
‘to supervise you personally for an MA thesis interests could hardly have been more remote
on Julian, and you could treat the topic how- from Julian studies.
ever you wished’. Perhaps I should have smelt If I benefited from that 1980s enrolment,
a rat, but I sensed no problem until bureau- it was mainly from the stimulation of involve-
cratic issues arose, successively in two forms ment in a postgraduate research seminar which
that cost me much effort to no effect. routinely allotted a whole evening to a single
First, we were urged to apply for research presentation, and to which I myself contrib-
funding. Such an invitation at MCD is very uted two. I had, beyond that, something to
simple with clear boundaries and great good- show for it: two journal publications on Julian,
will; but there, a quarter century ago, bounda- and a solicited review, heartily approved by
ries were unclear. I sought subsidy to spend RitaMary, of a trendy new translation of the
research-time resident in a variety of contem- Revelations. But a completed thesis was not
plative communities. My supervisor couldn’t among the fruits. I formally withdrew, stating
see the point of that, but asked for a formal in part (in the final report required of me) that
written justification. This I provided, with at- appropriate supervision had proved to be una-
tached letter from Sr RitaMary in which she vailable.
strongly affirmed that what I proposed was To my supervisor, who had to read this re-
exactly what was most needed. That got no- port with me before passing it on to higher
where. echelons of the bureaucracy, this assertion was
The second bureaucratic request was that clearly a body blow. Sensing he risked explod-
we write a detailed thesis outline and justifi- ing before my eyes, I offered to re-word it less
cation of topic, with an indicative title. Unlike bluntly. To his credit he declined this offer,
a comparable requirement at MCD for a doc- saying it had to be my report, how I saw the
torate in ministry studies, this too came with situation. But he added that my topic had been
no clear boundaries. Under my chosen title, right on the margin of his own competence to


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 37 7/09/2010 10:26:08 AM


supervise—he had had in his first degree just umbrella of MCD. Gladly would he have taken
one unit in psychology; and he had only taken me on; but he suspected a bureaucratic prob-
me on as a kindness to me, knowing there was lem. And sure enough, it turned out that, while
nowhere else I could have been enrolled. under twenty-first century MCD regulations
he could have done so, at that time he could
Act 2, scene 3 not, because I lacked what was then a prereq-
uisite, namely a first degree in divinity. I had
To these, his last words, I had two parting to my theological credit only a diploma from
ironies to share at the MCD seminar. First, Oxford.
that I gained very prompt enrolment at that How I hate bureaucracy! For an
other place which did Religious Studies, the Enneagram Five, it can be a pain in the gut,
one he had implied could not thrive—and that and risks unmanning us. For folk of my Type
with a supervisor of exceptional standing in it is an enormous relief—a Five-friend half my
the Australian community of learning. Soon age doing a theological PhD at La Trobe tells
this mentor was to retire and bequeath me to me the same—to have a supervisor who will
another, but not before spurring me, by his deal with it for us, painlessly. I am most grate-
own quick judgment of what was fresh and ful to have had that privilege over the last four
new in my work, to embark on Enneagram years with MCD, through a supervisor, moreo-
studies. That was just three pages in a semi- ver, whom it was a delight to be with, as in-
nar-paper where I suggested that Plotinus deed I anticipated from the first moment of
could be interpreted as an Enneagram Five, our meeting. What we are as personalities is
and Julian as a Four. precisely our relationships; and my wife at-
The second irony is now nearer home. tests that in my time of my special community
Before that, I had also met a truly wonderful with my MCD supervisor I have grown in hu-
potential supervisor, a Contemplative who had manity. What he has meant for me as person
published on Julian, and worked under the will be always with me.

Compatibility of the Personality Types

Each personality type thinks differently, has different values and ap-
proaches, and wants different things in a relationship. Some types have
more elements in common with each other (for example, two Positive
Outlook types or two Withdrawn types); however, with the lens of the
Riso-Hudson Enneagram, the strengths and trouble spots can be speci-
fied for each combination of the nine personality types.
What are your relationship
* Values? * Expectations? * Decision and Thinking Patterns?
* Argument Styles? * Ways of Resolving Conflicts? * Fears
and Cover-ups? * Communication Styles? * Defenses?
* Coping Mechanisms?
There are concrete answers to these compatibility questions. How-
ever, you need to know your own type (as well as the other person's)
accurately before you can fully benefit from this incredibly valuable
—From the Enneagram Institute website.


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 38 7/09/2010 10:26:08 AM

Frank Fletcher (ed), Falling in Love with God: Recognising the call of Christian love. St
Pauls 2010. ISBN 9781921472459.
At a meeting today that I was a party to a family, indeed ‘love and kindness, humility and
NSW trade unionist was coming to grips with simplicity’, characteristics of the good shep-
the fact that Christianity had played a part in herd himself.
the life of unionism. It was newish to him, and And so to the essays in particular. There
much of a relief for him. During the ramblings are 12 short pieces in all, each readable in a
of the constructive conversations and ex- manageable single session, though there is no
changes he spoke of the age in which we live need to do so. The first six, in the main by
and that it militates against action in charity Frank Fletcher along with a lay woman Kerrie
and care, with people labeled as ‘bleeding Hide and fellow MSC Anthony Arthur take up
hearts’. In his newfound Christian context he the theme of ‘Discovering the Heart.’ The sec-
then corrected himself and made a pertinent ond set invites us into ‘Loving the World’, with
remark that perhaps this is not such a deroga- Frank accompanied by confreres Barry
tory comment for Christians. This book takes Brundell and Peter Malone, and married cou-
up that theme. ple Brad and Jacinta Sinclair. The whole is
In many ways the chapters are a reappro- introduced by Michael Fallon and closed suc-
priation and depthing of the spiritual impulse cinctly in prayer before the Sacrament by Fa-
behind the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart bian Byers.
into today’s world and contemporary Chris- These are well read and respected authors
tian and Catholic culture. It is a revived spir- and disciples of the ways of the heart, offer-
ituality, and as such a renewed piety, all around ing a sense of warmth, depth and understand-
an ancient biblical theme. Frank Fletcher per- ing as they invite us further into the mysteries
haps names it most appropriately in his chap- of the heart of the triune God. Parish groups,
ter, referring to it as ‘heart spirituality’. It is prayers cells, senior students and university
hard to go past the impact of the phrase. The students will find a contemporary sense of
author, and indeed editor, places it within the holiness and challenge.
context of mystery and poetry, a listening to —Gerard Moore
the murmurs (a particular sounding of the Reprinted from the Mission and Spirituality
heart). There is a kind of looking and seeing Newsletter of May 2010.
that derives its point of departure from the (Order from your local religious book centre
heart. or direct from St Pauls Publications, 35
Another MSC stalwart Barry Brundell Meredith St, Strathfield 2135. To order by
speaks of ‘kindness’ as an immediately recog- phone: 02 93943400. Or to order over the net
nizable feature of the members of the MSC

Neil Darragh (ed.), A Thinker’s guide to Sin: Talking about Wrongdoing Today. Accent Pub-
lications, Auckland, 2010.
The topic of sin has fallen under suspicion ciated with unhealthy guilt. In this fine collec-
both in church and society in recent decades. tion of essays, however, 24 writers demonstrate
For many it seems unduly negative and asso- that discussion about wrongdoing can be con-


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 39 7/09/2010 10:26:08 AM


structive and positive. As the editor, Neil pel. Moreover, insofar as it is associated with
Darragh writes, talking about sin is ‘about the schema of redemption whereby Jesus’
overcoming the obstacles to a more gracious death is seen as a sacrifice of atonement, tra-
future that transforms the limitations of the ditional sin-talk is seen to inculcate an unduly
present.’ negative view of human potential.
This is an eminently readable book, each Elizabeth Julian’s examination of the way
essay being of very manageable length (gen- in which the figure of Mary Magdalene has
erally 6-8 pages) and they can be read in any been portrayed in Western tradition (identify-
order. However Darragh’s introductory essay ing her, for example, with the ‘sinner’ who
which sets the framework for the ensuing dis- anointed Jesus’ feet in Luke 7) illustrates the
cussion is worth careful reading before em- long association of women and sin in church
barking on the contributions from the other tradition. Diana Atkinson shows how this had
writers who come from a diverse range of been detrimental to women’s self-esteem and
church and professional backgrounds. offers a forceful challenge to the church to
Within the constraints of a short review confront the sinfulness of its institutional sex-
such as this it is impossible to detail the rich ism, arguing that there continues to be a gen-
variety of this collection. Suffice to say that eral reluctance by the Catholic hierarchy to
the discussion, far from being negative, is deal with the issue of this injustice within the
stimulating and wide-ranging. church.
Jenny McLaughlin, for example, observes To talk of sin raises the issue of guilt. In-
that today’s teenagers are far more exposed deed, as Darragh observes, this may be said
to other faiths and values than were teenag- to be its intention. An important distinction
ers in previous generations. Drawing on her must be made between enabling and disabling
many years’ experience teaching adolescent guilt, and Trish McBride’s provocative essay
girls in a Catholic school, she illustrates how on forgiveness may be singled out for its ad-
they are unlikely to accept that an action is vice to preachers and pastoral workers. Un-
categorically right or wrong simply because doubtedly Jesus taught us to forgive. Yet, as
of divine or church decree. They need to see McBride demonstrates, there are times when
the relevance of Catholic teachings in their to exhort those who have been sinned against
lives and only then, delve into the nature and to forgive their abuser immediately can actu-
relevance of sin. ally be harmful.
Glynn Cardy, an Anglican priest, lists some Several of the authors explore the root or
of the difficulties posed by traditional notions underlying basis of personal wrongdoing.
of sin. While the church speaks of God’s un- Chris Marshall for example, considers sin as
conditional love and acceptance, its liturgy ultimately a betrayal of trust and provides a
suggests a picture of God as a stern discipli- fine reflection on the story of the Prodigal Son.
narian. The sin-language of the Church can For Stuart Sellar the story of the Rich Young
also appear to function as a form of control Man shows sin to be a hardening of one’s heart,
whereby God is co-opted by a male-elite to a refusal to listen.
keep in place minorities such as women, gays, This book is a timely and apposite addi-
and divorcees among others. Here traditional tion to a series by this publisher on spiritual-
sin-talk has a political dimension that runs ity and theology. It is recommended reading.
counter to the liberating message of the gos- —Damian Wynn-Williams

(This review was first published in Tui Motu InterIslands, July 2010)


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 40 7/09/2010 10:26:08 AM

Ageing and Spirituality Canberra, and a Professor in is an experienced writer for
across Faiths and Cultures; the School of Theology, children and young adults.
Elizabeth MacKinlay (edi- Charles Sturt University. She First Steps in Religious Edu-
tor); Jessica Kingsley Pub- was Chair of the ACT Minis- cation; Brendan Hyde & Ri-
lishers, UK/USA, dist. by terial Advisory Council on chard Rymarz; Connor
Footprint Books; PB $39.95 Ageing in 2008 and the ACT Court; PB$29.95
[9781849050067]; 272pp; Senior Australian of the Year [9781921421044]; 131pp;
230x150mm; 2010 for 2009. Previous books in- 210x150mm; 2008
Collection of essays that clude The Spiritual Dimension Handbook designed to as-
examine ageing in the context of Ageing (2001) and Spiritual sist those preparing to teach
of the many faiths and cultures Growth and Care in the Fourth Catholic religious education in
that make up Western society. Age of Life (2006). early years’ classrooms. Top-
Also provides carers with the The Black Dress: Mary ics include the nature and pur-
knowledge required to deliver MacKillop: A novel; Pamela pose of religious education in
sensitive and appropriate care Freeman; Black Dog Books, Catholic schools; the human,
to people of all faiths. Chap-; PB $19.99 religious and spiritual develop-
ters are written by members of [9781742031637]; 272pp; ment of young children; Godly
the world’s major faith groups 205x140mm; 2010 play as a way of religious edu-
about the beliefs and practices Reissue of a novel, first cation; dealing with difficult is-
of their older people. Christian, published 2005, as The Black sues; personal and liturgical
Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Dress: Mary MacKillop’s early prayer with early years’ stu-
Buddhist perspectives are cov- years. Written for teenage and dents. Activities and questions
ered, as well as those of age- young adult readers and based appear at various points in the
ing veterans and ageing reli- on the early life of Blessed text, and further questions and
gious sisters. Issues of appro- Mary MacKillop (1842-1909), activities are included at the
priate care are also addressed, founder of the Sisters of St end of each chapter. Tables;
and the book includes recom- Joseph. Story is told as the rec- chapter references. Hyde is a
mendations for policy and ollections of MacKillop at the member of the School of Reli-
practice. Is intended for aca- end of her life as she faces gious Education, Australian
demics, policy makers and death. She recounts the trials Catholic University, and was
practitioners in health and so- of growing up in a poor family an experienced primary reli-
cial care, aged care workers, and her developing sense of gious educator and a Curricu-
pastoral carers, chaplains and religious vocation. This edition lum Adviser with the Catholic
religious professionals, in hos- includes a new epilogue that Education Office, Melbourne.
pital, residential and other care includes reference to Rymarz has been appointed to
settings. Contributors are all MacKillop’s 2010 canonisa- the Peter and Doris Kule Chair
based in Australia. Chapter tion. Teacher notes are avail- of Religious Education at St
notes; notes on contributors; able from the publisher’s Joseph’s College, University of
references; subject index; au- website. Book was awarded the Alberta, Canada. Both authors
thor index. Author is both a Young People’s History Prize, contributed to the To Know,
registered nurse and an Angli- 2006 NSW Premier’s History Worship and Love textbook
can priest. She is Director of Awards, and named a Notable series for the Archdiocese of
the Centre for Ageing and Pas- Book in the 2006 Children’s Melbourne.
toral Studies at St Mark’s Na- Book Council of Australia Hell on the Way to Heaven;
tional Theological Centre, Awards. Sydney-based author Chrissie Foster & Paul


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 41 7/09/2010 10:26:08 AM


Kennedy; Random House; Ogilvie, Neil Ormerod, Bishop is an Australian-born Jesuit

PB $34.95 [9781741669527]; Michael Putney, Frank priest and former Professor of
eBook $34.95 Quinlan, David Ranson, Mark Systematic and Fundamental
[9781742741024]; 383pp; Raper SJ and Ray Reid. Fore- Theology at the Gregorian Uni-
235x150mm; 2010 word by Philip Wilson, Arch- versity, Rome. At time of pub-
Autobiographical account bishop of Adelaide; introduc- lication he was Research Pro-
of a mother’s experiences of tion by editor; notes on con- fessor at St Mary’s University
sexual abuse within the Catho- tributors; footnotes; references College, Twickenham, Eng-
lic Church. Two of Chrissie and and further reading. Editor is land. This is his fiftieth book.
Anthony Foster’s daughters Professor of Theology at Aus- Previous books include The
were abused by Fr Kevin tralian Catholic University and Bible for Theology (1993) and
O’Donnell in the Catholic par- Director of the Institute for The Tripersonal God (2004).
ish of Oakleigh, in the Arch- Theology, Philosophy and Re- Mary MacKillop: Made in
diocese of Melbourne. ligious Education. Previous Australia; Daniel Lyne CP;
O’Donnell was jailed at age 78 publications include Creation, St Paul Publications; PB
in 1995. The book presents a Grace, and Redemption $14.95 [9781921472596];
damning account of the par- (2007). 96pp; 185x125mm; 2010
ents’ dealing with the Catholic Jesus: A portrait; Gerald Reissue of an introductory
hierarchy, culminating in their O’Collins SJ; Darton, presentation of the spirituality
failed attempts to meet with Longman and Todd, UK, of Mary MacKillop (1842-
Pope Benedict XVI during his dist. by Rainbow Book Agen- 1909), first published 1994.
World Youth Day visit in 2008. cies; PB $36.95 Focuses in particular on the
Colour photographs. Co-au- [9780232527193]; 262pp; ‘Australianness’ of MacKillop,
thor Kennedy is an ABC tel- 215x135mm; 2008 and explores the key spiritual
evision presenter and senior Drawing on a lifetime of and theological themes that
print journalist. scholarship and devotion, the shaped her life. This ‘canoni-
Identity and Mission in author aims to present a non- sation edition’ includes a new
Catholic Agencies; Neil sensationalist portrait of Jesus, preface by Sheila McCreanor
Ormerod (editor); St Pauls; based on the biblical texts. The RSJ; photographs; and further
PB $24.95 [9781921032813]; preface sets out the precondi- reading lists. Author previously
126pp; 215x140mm; 2008 tions of the study, examining produced a major study, Mary
Collection of presentations the gospels as sources and the MacKillop: Spirituality and
originally given at the Mission process of their development. Charisms (1983).
and Identity Conference held in The opening chapter draws on The Paschal Paradox: A
Melbourne in 2007. They con- Augustine’s notion of the meditation on the contempo-
tribute to the ongoing discus- Beauty of Jesus to provide a rary challenge of priestly life;
sion about issues and problems framework for the following David Ransom; St Paul Pub-
regarding mission and identity chapters. Aspects of Jesus con- lications; PB $17.95
confronting Catholic agencies, sidered include Jesus as healer, [9781921472237]; 109pp;
in areas such as health, educa- story-teller, teacher, the suffer- 215x140mm; 2009
tion and social services. Top- ing servant, the Lord of glory, Series of meditations on the
ics include Catholic identity and abiding presence. Also experience of contemporary
and mission; common chal- presents Jesus as God’s King- priestly ministry, both its delight
lenges for agencies; sustaining dom in person, as both divine and its challenges. The reflec-
mission focus in a transition and human, his use of parables, tions are based in what the au-
period; and succession plan- and the significance of mira- thor terms the paschal paradox:
ning and generational change. cles. Endnotes; select bibliog- that new life requires entering
Contributors include Chantelle raphy; index of names. Author into the experience of death.


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 42 7/09/2010 10:26:08 AM


Topics include: The Risk of of London and three degrees the Trinity? (1998), and The
Letting Go; Finding New Life; from the University of Trinity: Nexus of the mysteries
Rising Anew with the Priestly Queensland. He is an Associ- of Christian faith (2005).
Heart; and The Priest a Spiritual ate Professor in the Research What Catholics Believe: A
Leader. Book has its origin in Centre for Creative and Au- reference for parents,
material presented by the author thentic Leadership, Australian catechists, teachers and staff
at the New Zealand National Catholic University. in Catholic schools; Gerard
Assembly of Diocesan Priests The Trinity: Insights from Hore; St Paul Publications;
in 2008. Footnotes. A former the mystics; Anne Hunt; ATF PB $17.95 [9781921472572];
Cistercian, the author is a priest Theology dist. by John 96pp; 220x150mm; 2010
of the Diocese of Broken Bay Garratt Publishing; PB Concise overview of the
and a senior lecturer at the Syd- $37.95 [9781570756290]; central beliefs, practices and
ney College of Divinity, where 206pp; 230x155mm; 2010 history of the Catholic Church.
he teaches spirituality at the Author of three previous Written for those working in
Catholic Institute of Sydney. books on the Trinity, Hunt seeks Catholic schools who are un-
Previous books are Across the to bridge the gaps between mys- familiar with Catholicism, but
Great Divide: Bridging spiritu- tical experience and doctrinal also suitable for others, such as
ality and religion today (2002) theology by examining the ex- parents and catechists. The 12
and Living in the Holy Spirit: periences of eight mystics from chapters are: The Church; Je-
Elements of Catholic spiritual- the second millennium of Chris- sus Christ; God; Church His-
ity (2008). tianity to discover what they can tory: A very thin outline;
The Price of Freedom: contribute to understanding of Prayer; Revelation: Tradition
Edmund Rice, educational the Trinity. The mystics consid- and Scripture; Sacraments;
leader; Denis McLaughlin; ered are William of St. Thierry Religious Life; Liturgy;
David Lovell Publishing; HB (ca. 1080-1148), Hildegard of Church Year; After Death; and
$45 [9781863551205]; B i n g e n ( 1 0 9 8 - 11 7 9 ) , Right and Wrong. Questions
480pp; 240x155mm; 2007 Bonaventure (ca. 1217-1274), for reflection or discussion are
Revisionist study of Meister Eckhart (ca. 1260- included at end of each chap-
Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice 1328), Julian of Norwich (1342/ ter. Also includes a collection
(1762-1844), founder of the 3-ca. 1416), Teresa of Avila of common traditional prayers;
Presentation Brothers and the (1515-1582), John of the Cross text of the Nicene Creed; glos-
Irish Christian Brothers. Fo- (1542-1591) and, Elizabeth of sary; index. Imprimatur of the
cuses specifically on Rice’s the Trinity (1880-1906). Foot- Bishop of Townsville, Michael
contribution as an educational notes; references and further E. Putney. Author has worked
leader, but also examines his reading lists for each chapter; as a teacher and principal in
earlier life, as a son, victual- index of names. Author is Dean Queensland provincial Catho-
ler, husband and father. Author of the Faculty of Theology and lic primary schools for three
critiques many long-held tra- Philosophy at the Melbourne decades and is now as an Edu-
ditional interpretations. Fore- campus of Australian Catholic cation Consultant with the
word by Cardinal Edward University, and a former Prin- Townsville Catholic Education
Clancy. Map; list of key events cipal of Loreto Mandeville Office. He holds Masters’ de-
in Rice’s life; glossary; foot- Hall, Melbourne. Previous grees in School Management
notes; appendices; bibliogra- books include The Trinity and (University of Central Queens-
phy; index. Author holds a the Paschal Mystery (1997), land) and Theology (Austral-
doctorate from the University What Are They Saying About ian Catholic University).
Kevin Mark manages the Australasian information in the Global Books in Print
database and is former religious publisher for HarperCollins Publishers.


Compass_2010-2_text.indd 43 7/09/2010 10:26:08 AM



October 2010—January 2011

For the Sundays of Ordinary Time 27 Year C to Ordinary Time 4 in Year A

Prepared by Michael Trainor


The following is a brief overview of the Lit- presence through an anointed one, a fu-
urgy of the Word for major celebrations pro- ture king. This king should not be inter-
claimed from the readings for Sundays be- preted as Jesus, but one from the imme-
tween October 2010 and January 2011, from diate royal household of Isaiah’s time.
the Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Christians reflecting on the prophet saw
of Year C to the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary in Jesus a way in which Isaiah’s vision
Time of Year A. Please feel free to use or adapt was expressed in their own day.
these reflections, with the customary acknowl- The selections in the Sundays Ordi-
edgement of source. nary Time (OT) from Second Isaiah are
songs of Gods servant, who will suffer
1. The First readings generally are se- and bring liberation to Gods people.
lected with the Gospel reading for the specific These songs look to a future time of
Sunday in mind. This could appear to make freedom and religious fidelity. Gods
the first reading simply a precursor to the Gos- concern about the social consequences
pel. However it would be important to allow of the nations political alliances shape
the unique insights and celebration of the First the various stages of Isaiah and the pro-
(Old) Testament readings to be honoured in phetic voice that is sounded through-
their own right. The First Testament readings out these stages. This particular focus
between November 2010 to January 2011 fall through Isaiah provides an opportunity
into three main types of literature: prophetic for the local Christian community to re-
(Is, Mal, Zech, Zeph), historical (2 Sam, Mac) flect on the political and national issues
and wisdom (Sirach). which will preoccupy us in our time and
·Readings from Isaiah dominate this period within our country: a new federal gov-
(in Advent 1-4, Nativity, Baptism, OT ernment, ongoing concerns over our
2-3). The selections come from two dif- climate, the use of wealth, and global
ferent authors (called First Isaiah, chap- peace.
ters 1-39, and Second Isaiah, chapters
40-55) writing at different periods of Is- 2. The Second Reading for each Sunday
rael’s history, before the 6th century Ex- is drawn from the letters of the New (or Sec-
ile, and during or after the return from ond) Testament, with the exception of the Feast
captivity. The Isaiah selections for Ad- of the Baptism (Jan 9) when the reading is from
vent and Christmas are from First Isaiah Acts 10. This reading is very important. It sets
written in the 8th century BCE at a time up the future missionary agenda for Paul in
of political crisis. The prophet looks to the Book of Acts. God’s community is called
a hopeful future brought about by Gods to be inclusive of all peoples, rather than ex-


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clusive. This is a central baptismal theme to Paul attempts to address issues of elit-
be celebrated on this particular feast. Apart ism and factionalism amongst the
from Acts 10, the rest of the selections for the Corinthian disciples of Jesus, concerns
second reading are from letters by Paul him- that are still with us.
self (Romans during Advent, and 1 Corinthians
on OT 2 to 3), his disciples (for example, in 2 3. The Gospel readings during October
Thessalonians on OT 32 and 33; Colossians to January are from Luke and Matthew.
on the Feast of Christ the King – which might ·We conclude the Year of Luke with texts
be called the Feast celebrating Jesus Univer- from Lk 20 and 21, taken up with spir-
sal Authority) or the Catholic epistle of James itual or theological watchfulness to what
(Advent 3). This broad selection of various is happening and alertness to Gods pres-
writings from early Christian households of ence in the events that occur. These
Jesus offers us a glimpse of the vitality of their readings prepare for the final Lukan
lives and some of the pastoral issues they reading on the Feast of Christ the King
faced. (Nov 21), where the dying Jesus offers
·2 Thessalonians, written towards the late compassion and forgiveness to a repent-
first century, deals with concerns about ant criminal. Within our Australian con-
the delay of the second coming of Je- text, this gospel reading subverts the
sus and the need for disciples to be alert conventional image of leadership. Luke
to Gods coming—appropriate readings portrays a leadership exemplified by
for the final Sundays of the liturgical compassion and forgiveness. Given the
year. political discourse over asylum seekers
·Ephesians and Colossians, penned perhaps in mid 2010 in the lead up to the fed-
in the 70s, to Jesus disciples living in eral election, compassion is a national
Asia Minor, present an image of Jesus issue.
as Lord of the universe, and of Chris- ·The new liturgical year which begins on
tians called to holiness in their union with Advent 1 (Nov 28) also commences our
Jesus, confident of his presence in their readings from Matthews Gospel. This
struggles. will be the principal gospel throughout
·Romans, Paul’s great epistle written about the rest of the liturgical year in 2011.
57 CE from Corinth, presents the matu- Written in the mid 80s of the first cen-
rity of his theological reflection, espe- tury to Israelite followers of Jesus, it
cially Gods plan for all people and de- presents Jesus as the authoritative pres-
sire for salvation. These ideas can be well ence of God who is able to interpret the
developed in the celebration of Advent Torah for disciples in a time of dire
as our parish and faith communities look change. Advent 1, when Mt is first pro-
to Gods care in the midst of their chal- claimed, continues the theme of watch-
lenges fulness, and subsequent Sundays prepare
·1 Corinthians is an important letter from us for the coming of the teacher-like-
Paul, written around 57 CE from Moses, Jesus. The readings in the first
Ephesus. It is heard in 2011 in the first Sundays of OT from Mt begin to explore
Sundays of Ordinary Time. In the letter the nature of Jesus’ ministry (OT 3).


October 3—Ordinary Time 27: Hab 1:2-3; possible. 2 Tim 1:6-8, 13-14. The leader is
2:2-4. The prophet cries to God for deliver- encouraged to be a person of integrity, reflec-
ance from violence. God offers a vision of the tion and trust. Lk 17:5-10 The disciple is


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called to act authentically from faith. Theme— – 12: 2. A song about Gods wisdom, patience,
Acting in Faith. In a world of violence, the love and forgiveness for humanity. 2 Thes 1:
disciple is encouraged to retain a perspective 11 – 2: 2. The writer prays that his audience
and trust centred on God. Local communities will be faithful to their call, reveal God to oth-
abound with living examples of such contem- ers and remain patient for Gods final coming.
porary disciples. Lk 19: 1-10. Zacchaeus’ conversion reveals
October 10—Ordinary Time 28: 2 Kings the essential attitude of the potential disciple:
5:14-17. A Syrian (and foreign) army-officer open to change, ready for justice, and avail-
obeys Gods prophet from Israel and is healed able to provide hospitality. Theme—Openness.
of leprosy. He seeks to offer the prophet a The second reading readies us for the final
gift in return. 2 Tim 2:8-13. A revered early weeks of the year as we turn our thoughts to
Christian hymn about Jesus that encourages the many ways God comes into our lives.
closeness to him. Lk 17:11-19. Jesus heals Zacchaeus in today’s Gospel expresses this
those who are excluded from community life openness in action which surprises everyone.
because of their disease. Theme—Inclusion Who in our faith or civic communities reveal
& Healing: The first reading and the Gospel a similar spirit?
invite a reflection on the power of healing, Nov 7—Ordinary Time 32: 2 Mac 7:1-2.9-
ultimately about inclusion in community life. 14. Jewish martyrs witness to Gods power to
How does the local Christian community seek raise them up. 2 Thes 2:16-3:5. God is faith-
to include those who are excluded into its ful and loves us especially in adversity. Lk
life? Who are the true healers in our commu- 20:27-38. Jesus teaches about a vision beyond
nity? the present which is a share in Gods life.
October 17—Ordinary Time 29. Ex 17:8- Theme—Gods Life: People constantly reflect
13. Moses prayer for victory is effective. 2 Tim on their present and commit themselves to God
3:14-4:2. The minister is encouraged to be even in adversity. They witness to Gods pres-
faithful to what has been taught, to Scripture, ence in their world and beyond what appears
and to the task of courageous proclamation. to be. Our communities are filled with such
Lk 18:1-8. An unnamed widows persistence ordinary and faithful witnesses.
gains justice and response from an elite judge. Nov 14—Ordinary Time 33: Mal 3:19-20.
Theme—Prayer: The Eucharist is the local The prophet affirms that Gods care (sun of
church’s moment of deep communion with all righteousness) will continue to be revealed to
humanity and creation. How might these be- us in the midst of difficulty. 2 Thes 3:7-12.
come a more explicit focus of our Eucharist People are encouraged to continue to live com-
celebration and intercession today? mitted to the present world rather than focus
October 24—Ordinary Time 30 Sirach purely on the world to come. Lk 21:5-19 Je-
35:15-17,20-22. According to the wisdom sus encourages his disciples not to be led
writer, God shows deference to the poor whose astray, or follow messianic pretenders who
prayer “pierces” the clouds. 2 Tim 4:6-8, 16- promise everything. Theme—Fidelity. In our
18. The writer affirms Gods fidelity in a time local community, many model fidelity to love
of suffering and trial. Lk 18:9-14. Jesus God God and follow Jesus even in the midst of dif-
subverts the cultural preference for favour and ficulties. These people can be named and cel-
privilege. Theme—God listens. God responds ebrated. (A little note about today’s gospel:
to our cries in times of difficulty, loneliness This is apocalyptic writing at its best, not lit-
and distress. God seeks to be with all who eral descriptions but theological insights into
struggle. What makes us sad? What is diffi- Gods presence.)
cult? What do we deeply desire? Nov 21—Christ the King: 2 Sam 5:1-3.
October 31—Ordinary Time 31: Wis 11: 22 David is anointed king over Israel. Col 1:12-


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20. This is a rich hymn celebrating Jesus cos- ing will bring cosmic and earthly renewal, and
mic, universal rule and leadership of the human liberation. The whole universe and all
Church. Lk 23:35-43. Jesus final word be- that enlivens it will be liberated. James 5:7-
fore death is forgiveness to a criminal. Jesus 10. We patiently await Gods coming. We live
compassion continues right to the end of his peaceably with all. Mt 11:2-11. Jesus an-
life. This is the true celebration of this Feast: nounces his mission of liberation and healing.
Jesus as King, or perhaps more relevantly as Theme—Liberation and healing. Our world
Universal Authority, reveals his authority struggles and is in need of Gods healing. God
through his forgiveness. Theme—Compas- desires our wholeness, healing and happiness.
sion: Jesus shows that a true leader (in po- We celebrate Gods desire in our Sunday
litical, civil or church life) is one who mod- Eucharist.
els compassion, especially to those who seem Dec 19—Advent 4: Is 7:10-14. God prom-
undeserved. Such leadership goes against the ises through the prophet that King Ahaz will
convention in which compassion is shown receive a sign of royal perpetuity. The King
only to those who deserve it. Jesus approach resists Gods promise. Rom 1:1-7. This intro-
is non discriminatory. duction to Paul’s great letter summarises the
heart of the Gospel: Jesus role with human-
Liturgical Year A ity. Mt 1:18-25. The annunciation of the birth
of Jesus to Joseph: Jesus is named God-with-
Nov 28—Advent 1: Is 2:1-5. God’s vision for us. Theme—Gods presence. Every Eucharist
Jerusalem: a place of union and justice. Rom is a celebration of Gods presence in this com-
13:11-14. Paul encourages spiritual alertness munity, and through this community to the
in the present. Mt 24:37-44. Jesus encourages world. Many desire to experience this pres-
disciples to keep awake, spiritual alertness and ence. Examples abound, can be named and
sensitivity to what is now needed. Theme— celebrated.
Alertness: This first Sunday of the new litur- Dec 25—Nativity: Is 9:2-7 The prophet hon-
gical year begins with encouragement to live ours a future anointed leader who will be a
sensitive to Gods presence to oneself, the com- source of authority and hope. Titus 2:11-14.
munity and world. Spiritual alertness is nec- Gods grace has appeared in Jesus who offers
essary for recognising Gods advent. What us hope and release. Lk 2:1-16. The birth of
ways are helpful in deepening our sensitivity Jesus in a city setting. Theme—Birth. The
to Gods presence? metaphor of birth is a reminder of hope,
Dec 5—Advent 2: Is 11:1-10. The prophet promise, newness and freshness. Jesus birth
envisions a new era of social communion, cos- brings the promise of these to our world. Can
mic harmony and deep kindness initiated we celebrate how this is happening around
through Gods spirit through the root of Jesse. us, and name where hope and promise are
Rom 15:4-9. Paul encourages community hos- needed?
pitality and unity as his readers await Gods Jan 2, 2011—Epiphany of Jesus: Is 60:1-6.
coming. Mt 3:1-12. John the Baptiser pro- Gods light shines on creation and humanity.
claims Jesus coming encouraging his audience This makes a difference to how our world is
to be open and repentant. Theme—Conversion. perceived. Eph 3:2-3.5-6. The mystery of
The Baptists message announces what is es- Gods universal and hospitable love means that
sential for us as we prepare for the birth of we share in Gods life. Mt 2:1-12. The wise
Jesus: openness to God and our world, and a follow the stars; their eyes are on the heavens,
spirit of conversion. These have universal and their ear to the Scriptures and their desire on
cosmic implications (as in Isaiah). Jesus. Theme—Being Enlightened. At the core
Dec 12—Advent 3: Is 35:1-6a, 10. Gods com- of every being is the inner light of God. We


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affirm our search for God and the way we draw Jesus, possess the Spirit of God. We are
close to God through Jesus. Epiphany is a con- called, like the Servant, to proclaim restora-
tinuous feast (however unrecognised) in the tion and hope to people
heart of every human being. Can we identify Jan 23—Ordinary Time 3: Is 9:1-4. A beau-
its manifestation today in the hearts of those tiful poem of Gods overwhelming vision for
we know? humanity: light, peace and freedom in the midst
.Jan 9—Baptism of Jesus: Is 42:1-4, 6-7 God of oppression. 1 Cor 1:10-13.17-18. Paul ad-
delights in the Servant, who will bring libera- dresses the problem at Corinth of division. The
tion to the disconsolate. Acts 10:34-38. Peter true source of unity is Jesus, the Good News.
acclaims to Cornelius Roman household that Mt 4:12-23. Jesus presence and ministry ech-
Jesus is Gods baptised and anointed one. All oes the Is reading of liberation. Jesus calls his
people, no matter their social or ethnic back- first community of disciples. Theme—Libera-
ground, belong to God. Mt 3:13-17. Jesus is tion and Hope: The hope expressed in the vi-
baptised and declared beloved.. Theme—Be- sion of Isaiah in the first reading touches our
ing Beloved. In a world of turmoil, this cel- deepest desires. Mt’s Jesus expresses this as he
ebration offers an opportunity for the baptised calls his first disciples. How is our local faith
community to remember and celebrate its community an expression of that hope and lib-
belovedness. God delights in us. This is an erty, of Isaiah’s vision?.
important moment to name who God is for us, Jan 30—Ordinary Time 4: Zeph 2:3; 3:12-
and we for God, especially when contrary 13. The humble are invited to seek God. They
voices seem to dominate. are Gods true people. 1 Cor 1:26-31. Socie-
Jan 16—Ordinary Time 2: Is 49:3, 5-6 ties rejected and foolish ones reveal the power
Gods Servant is chosen from before time, of God evident in Jesus, Gods wisdom. Mt 5:1-
with a mission of restoration to a broken and 12. Jesus speaks the essential qualities (Beati-
dispersed people. 1 Cor 1:1-3. This is the be- tudes) at the heart of discipleship. Theme—
ginning of a famous letter, in which the Humility. Humility is not about putting our-
Corinthian Christians are reminded of their selves down or allowing others to walk over
call to sainthood, and their relationship to us. It is the truthful realisation of who are be-
God and Jesus. Jn 1:29-34. John the Baptist fore God: we are people of the earth (humilis
recognises Jesus as the chosen one and pos- Latin, earth) in communion with all people and
sessor of Gods Spirit. Theme—Spirit Pos- creatures. Living by such an attitude opens us
sessed: Our communion with Jesus through up the power and action of God, which makes
baptism and Eucharist reminds us that we, like us blessed.
—Michael Trainor, School of Theology, Flinders University at the Adelaide College of Divinity.

All must listen with reverence to the readings of God’s word, for
they make up an element of greatest importance in the Liturgy.
Although in the readings from the Sacred Scripture God’s word
addresses all people of every era and is understandable to them,
nevertheless, a living commentary on the word, that is, the homily,
as part of the liturgical action, fosters a fuller understanding and
effectiveness of the word.
—General Instruction on the Roman Missal, 29.


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