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The Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary
2nd September, 2019

The Story of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Church has celebrated Mary’s birth since at least the sixth century. A September birth was chosen because the Eastern Church begins its Church year with September. The September 8 date helped determine the date for the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.

Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s birth. However, the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James fills in the gap. This work has no historical value, but it does reflect the development of Christian piety. According to this account, Anna and Joachim are infertile but pray for a child. They receive the promise of a child who will advance God’s plan of salvation for the world. Such a story, like many biblical counterparts, stresses the special presence of God in Mary’s life from the beginning.

Saint Augustine connects Mary’s birth with Jesus’ saving work. He tells the earth to rejoice and shine forth in the light of her birth. “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley. Through her birth the nature inherited from our first parents is changed.” The opening prayer at Mass speaks of the birth of Mary’s Son as the dawn of our salvation, and asks for an increase of peace.

Reflection

We can see every human birth as a call for new hope in the world. The love of two human beings has joined with God in his creative work. The loving parents have shown hope in a world filled with travail. The new child has the potential to be a channel of God’s love and peace to the world.

This is all true in a magnificent way in Mary. If Jesus is the perfect expression of God’s love, Mary is the foreshadowing of that love. If Jesus has brought the fullness of salvation, Mary is its dawning.

Birthday celebrations bring happiness to the celebrant as well as to family and friends. Next to the birth of Jesus, Mary’s birth offers the greatest possible happiness to the world. Each time we celebrate her birth, we can confidently hope for an increase of peace in our hearts and in the world at large.

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Accessed September 2019

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Migrant and refugee week – It is not just about migrants!
19th August, 2019

This week 19th – 25th August is Migrant and Refugee week. It is not about migrants but also abut ourselves, our fears and our hopes.

The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (https://www.acmro.catholic.org.au/) has published a Migrant and Refugee Kit  for the week. The Kit is intended as a resource to help you to reflect on and celebrate the life and story of all those “who came across the sea”. Migrants have graced this land, already inhabited by indigenous community, with their sacrifices, hard work and love. This resource material takes its inspiration from Pope Francis’ Message for the 105th World day of Migrants and Refugees: “It Is Not Just About Migrants”. What is it about then? It is also about our fears and our hopes. Is also about who we are and who we want to become. It is about what kind of society and church we want to create.

The kit contains a excellent PowerPoint and booklet emphasizing the story of  Jesus as a refugee. It is certainly worth watching and sharing.

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Action and attitude

In the Gospel, Jesus compels us to welcome the stranger (Matthew 25:35). Welcome in this context involves both an attitude and an action. It is our attitude which constantly needs to be assessed in light of the Gospel to ensure that we are carrying out the Lord’s commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves. Once we have the right attitude, our actions should reflect and consolidate this attitude. The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) advocates for attitudes based on compassion, justice, mercy, acceptance and encounter. Actions based on these attitudes seek to comfort the afflicted, provide refuge for the persecuted and be a homeland for the exiled.

 

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The Assumption of Mary
15th August, 2019

REFLECTION on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary

by Diane Bergant CSA

In the Western church this feast celebrates the assumption of Mary into heaven; in the East it commemorates her dormition or her falling asleep. The readings invite us to reflect on the role that she plays in the mystery of our redemption. Whatever we honour in Mary in some way points to her son.

Over the centuries devotion to Mary has been expressed in forms taken from the culture out of which it developed. Sometimes she is pictured as a humble peasant girl. At other times she is depicted as a queen robed in gold of Ophir who rules from heaven. Probably the most familiar pose is that of a mother with her child. Perhaps the most dramatic of these themes is that of the celestial woman from the vision found in the Book of Revelation. It is because of the cosmic significance of Jesus that this tradition has been applied to Mary.

Though the first reading depicts a cosmic woman, the gospel reading characterises Mary as a simple peasant woman intent on offering service to another. However, the words that are placed in her mouth are words of prophetic challenge. She announces the great reversals of God’s good news. The greatness of Mary is a reflection of the greatness of the Son of God whom she bore. He was the first fruits of salvation. He was the victor who won the kingdom. Her part in this victory was to bring him to birth and into maturity.

Dianne Bergant CSA was a Professor of Biblical Studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, where she taught from 1978 to 2014. She holds a BS in Elementary Education from Marian College, Fond du Lac, WI; an MA and PhD in Biblical Languages and Literature from St Louis University. Amongst other things, she served as President of Catholic Biblical Association of America (2000-2001) and has been awarded honorary doctorates from several other universities. She was an active member of the Chicago Catholic/Jewish Scholars Dialogue (1988-2017) and sat on the editorial boards of The Bible Today (1979-2005), Biblical Theology Bulletin (1990-2014), Catholic Biblical Quarterly (1992-2001), New Theology Review (1997-2003), Teaching Theology and Religion (2003-2005), and Chicago Studies (2003-2009). She has taught and lectured in many places in the United States and abroad and has written numerous books, articles and chapters in books.

Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash

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Sainthood comes in moments – St Mary of the Cross Mackillop
8th August, 2019

This month of August, during which we celebrate the 110th anniversary of Saint Mary MacKillop’s death, is a timely reminder that all of us are called to be saints – here and now!  Mary understood this – and her entire life reflected this understanding.

In 1870, as an earnest 28 year-old, Mary shared her insights about living saints with her ‘own dear Mamma’:

Do you try now in real earnest to be a saint?  You may smile at my question, but our dear good God wants you to be one! I used to think it the height of presumption to desire such a thing, but have been taught that such diffidence is not humility…

Mary MacKillop to her mother Flora – 10 September 1870

Little could the youthful Mary have every imagined that she would become Australia’s first canonised saint so many years later!

In this month’s reflection from the Little Brown Book Too, the authors, Sue and Leo Kane, provide us with another reminder that Earth is meant to be full of living saints, and that our ‘Sainthood comes in moments’.

Love one another and bear with one another and let love guide you in all your life.
Mary MacKillop 1909

Sister Ethelberga, Mary’s nurse, said of her: ‘I never knew her to speak an unkind word to anybody. Neither would she permit any Sister to do so in her hearing.’

As we go about our days, we teach, not so much by preaching lessons, as by the way we are in this world. Our way of seeing things and people will come through in our responses. Mary knew this instinctively:

We must teach more by example than by word.

Mary MacKillop 1867

 

A very young Sister Laurence (who later became the third Superior General of the Sisters) once said to Mary: “Mother,  I think you are especially kind to people who give you trouble and worry.”Ah, you little rogue!” was the lovely reply of a compassionate and human Mary.

 

 

Sainthood comes in moments: of gentleness, of humour, of kindness, of times when we choose to do the loving thing.  And for our ‘companions on the journey’, such moments help to keep their hope alive.

If we love one another, God lives in us…1 John 4:12

The above is an extract from The Little Brown Book Too (pages 32-33)

© Sue and Leo Kane 2011. Introduction Mary Ryan rsj.

Used with the kind permission of the publishers, St Paul’s Publications

Available online and from some Mary MacKillop Centres.

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Pope’s Monthly Intention May 2019 “The Church in Africa, a seed of unity”
16th May, 2019

Africa is full of contrasts that are an essential part of its identity.

On the rich African continent, the Church strives to work for unity in diversity, respecting ethnic and linguistic divisions. “The ethnic, linguistic, and tribal divisions in Africa can be overcome promoting unity in diversity. I want to thank the religious sisters, priests, laity, and missionaries for their work to create dialogue and reconciliation among the various sectors of African society. Let us pray this month that the Church in Africa, through the commitment of its members, may be the seed of unity among her peoples and a sign of hope for this continent.”

Each month, The Pope Video disseminates the Holy Father’s prayer intentions regarding the challenges of humanity and the mission of the Church.

The Church in Africa, a seed of unity

That the Church in Africa, through the commitment of its members, may be the seed of unity among her peoples and a sign of hope for the continent.

Prayer

God of kindness,
you created your children to live united to you,
in communion with one another.
During this month, we pray you for Christians in Africa,
that they may open themselves to your presence and to your reconciling action
in the midst of the divisions of this world.
May your grace move hearts to forgiveness and mercy,
with a sincere desire to build peace
and nurture hope in the future,
especially among the poorest and the young.
Our Father…

Proposals for the month

  • Look for good examples of reconciliation between people and groups separated by war or religion and spread them in your own social networks.
  • Seek, in your family, school and work, to be an agent of peace and reconciliation, taking on this task as a way of evangelisation.
  • Promote, in your community, a moment of prayer, praying that the Lord will heal the wounds of war and the division of the African peoples and open paths of reconciliation.
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Celebrate Passover
4th April, 2019

In 2019, the first seder falls on Friday, April 19

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/passover-2019/

Passover 2019 begins at sundown on Friday, April 19, and ends Saturday evening, April 27. The first Passover seder is on the evening of April 19, and the second Passover seder takes place on the evening of April 20.

What is Passover?

Passover is a festival of freedom.

It commemorates the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt, and their transition from slavery to freedom. The main ritual of Passover is the seder, which occurs on the first two night (in Israel just the first night) of the holiday — a festive meal that involves the re-telling of the Exodus through stories and song and the consumption of ritual foods, including matzah and maror (bitter herbs). The seder’s rituals and other readings are outlined in the Haggadah , which means “telling” in Hebrew, it is a written guide to

A detail from the Sarajevo Haggadah, in which maror, the bitter herb, is illustrated with an artichoke. (Wikimedia Commons)the Passover seder, which commemorates the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt. The Haggadah includes various prayers, blessings, rituals, fables, songs and information for how the  should be performed.

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Think fast ! It’s Lent
4th April, 2019

The Mass Explained website has added some fun facts about Lent that I would love to share:

1. Who or what is a Lent?

Derived from the word lencten, which is Anglo-Saxon for springtime, Lent is the 40-day season of preparation prior to Easter which begins on Ash Wednesday.

2. Why is it 40 days?

Next to the number seven, the number forty occurs most frequently in the Bible. It represents a period of testing or judgment. Lent’s duration of 40 days reflects other times of trial, testing and hardship found in the Scriptures:

  • The story of Noah tells of rain falling on the earth for 40 days and 40 nights.
  • Both Moses and Elijah fasted for 40 days before beginning their missions.
  • The Hebrews wandered for 40 years in the desert after leaving Egypt.
  • It took the spies 40 days to search out the promised land and bring back fruit.
  • Goliath taunted the Israelite army in the morning and evening for 40 days.
  • Jonah warned the Ninevites they had 40 days until God would overthrow the city.
  • Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert for 40 days before beginning his ministry.

3. Fasting vs Abstinence

Also of biblical origins are the Lenten customs of fasting and abstinence. Although often used interchangeably, fasting refers to the amount of food consumed, while abstinence describes the type of food denied such as meat on Fridays.

4. My parish prays the Stations of the Cross during Lent. How did this custom originate?

The Stations of the Cross originated during the crusades when it was popular to visit Jerusalem to follow the steps to Calvary. After the Holy Land was captured, pilgrimages became a very dangerous affair. A desire arose to reproduce these holy places in other lands as a

substitute pilgrimage. The Stations help the participant make a spiritual pilgrimage to the major scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death. Prayers are said until the entire route is complete, enabling the faithful to more literally take up their cross and follow Jesus.

5. Why is there no Gloria or Alleluia sung at Mass?

The Church teaches by absence as well as by presence, and Lent is a time of great loss. Eating is diminished and some foods forbidden—a fast of the body. Music is scaled back, bells are silenced and the Gloria and Alleluia are dropped from the liturgy—a fast of hearing.

 

Photo by phil thep on Unsplash

https://www.massexplained.com/think-fast-its-lent/

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In the Service of Peace
27th November, 2018

Peace.

These are five letters that some people use as if it were the most normal thing in the world, while others haven’t experienced peace in years. There are many places in the world where peace doesn’t exist: for thousands of people who suffer its absence, it’s only a dream. Rather than think about those five letters, let’s think about what they mean. Let us pray and work to obtain true peace.

“We all want peace. It is desired above all by those who suffer its absence.

Let us remember that Jesus also lived in times of violence. He taught us that true peace is in the human heart.

We can speak with splendid words, but if there is no peace in our heart, there will be no peace in the world.

Let us practice this peace in small things, letting dialogue guide our personal and social relationships.

With zero violence and 100 percent tenderness, let us build the evangelical peace that excludes no one, but rather includes everyone, especially young people and children.

Let us pray together that the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict.”

Each month, The Pope Video disseminates the Holy Father’s prayer intentions for the challenges of humanity and the mission of the Church.

 

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Universal

That the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict.

Offering prayer

Father, here I am.
I know you are always with me.
I place my heart in the Heart of your Son Jesus,
who gives himself to us in the Eucharist each day.
May your Holy Spirit strengthen me to live the Gospel in everything I do and say.
For my part I give you this day – all my prayers,
works, joys, and sufferings – all I am and possess.
With Mary, mother of the Church, I pray for the
mission of the Church, for all Apostles of Prayer,
and for the intentions of the Pope this month. Amen.

accessed from: www.pray.com.au   Daily Prayer 2017 Jesuit Communications Vic: Australia

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Advent Series 2018
12th September, 2018

This Advent get a daily 2-3 minute video featuring amazing religious sisters (Sisters of Life, CFR Sisters, SOLT Sisters, and more.) Videos are short, engaging, and created to be shared with your friends!

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Pentecost
18th May, 2018

In the novel Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, the elderly pastor, John Ames, in musing over his life, notices how the word ‘just’ can mean something depreciative or something affirmative – depending on how one views the situation. ‘There I was, with just you!’ Here ‘just you’ can mean ‘only you and what good was that to me?’ Not nice. Or ‘just you’ can mean ‘what more could I have wanted, you and you alone fill me with joy!’ In the first stance, the speaker betrays begrudging acceptance, the second, openness to mystery, joy, abundance.

In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus states that the Spirit will teach us ‘everything’. This is an extraordinary statement. I am very conscious of what I don’t know, about the world, about people…and especially about God. And I’m sure you feel the same way too. Does this mean that the Spirit isn’t teaching me or you? This is how I get my mind around this conundrum: sometimes I wonder about how the ants in our garden view us. If one of us tried to teach an ant and the ant was just interested in its own anty world, it isn’t going to learn anything. But if the ant is interested in more, then it will find what little it learns ¬would be just marvellous. The Spirit is trying to teach us. But if we try to conform the Spirit to just what we want, we will be disappointed – the Spirit will not be tamed. But if we are open to what the Spirit wants, we will be just surprised by joy, time and time again.

This Reflection was taken from the Pray as you can website http://www.prayasyoucan.com.au/sunday/show/421/reflection  

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