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Ash Wednesday – The Meaning behind the Dust
26th February, 2017

Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent, a 40 day period of repentance when Catholics take time to remind themselves that life indeed is limited: that we will die.

The Ash Wednesday day ritual is simple.  Catholics place ashes on their foreheads as a visible reminder to others that they acknowledge that their bodies will turn to ash one day, that life is indeed precarious, but that they are also a resurrection people.

Catholics believe that more lies beyond this end, and so the ashes are marked by the sign of faith — the cross — at once a symbol of God’s destruction and His greatest triumph.

We listen to the words that the priest or minister says to us as he places the ashes on our forehead: “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.” Or, “Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the Gospel.

Some questions to reflect on during the 40 days of Lent are:

  • What is it that holds us back from really living our best life?
  • What do we have to die to — or, at the very least, fast from — in order to liberate ourselves from our bad habits?
  • What do we have to give of ourselves to others, to causes, to God, so that we may stretch ourselves into new ways of being?
  • How does prayer center us into growth

This is the stuff of Lent and Ash Wednesday kicks off the Lenten season for Catholics and other Christians.

taken from: http://bustedhalo.com/questionbox/what-is-ash-wednesday

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The Sign of the Cross
13th February, 2017

At the beginning of every year, our office holds a day for required in-servicing in Workplace Health and Safety, Student Protection and ICT Code of Practice. This is a day the whole of our CEO office get together and we always commence the day with prayer.

This year our prayer centered on The Sign of the Cross:

In the name of the Father

and of the Son

and of the Holy Spirit 

Amen

I thought I would share some insights from Catholic Exchange website: http://catholicexchange.com  

The sign of the Cross is a simple gesture yet a profound expression of faith or both Catholic and Orthodox Christians. As Catholics it is something we do when we enter a church and every time we pray.

But what exactly are we doing?

We open ourselves to grace. As a sacramental, the Sign of the Cross prepares us for receiving God’s blessing.

We commit our whole selves to Christ. In moving our hands from our foreheads to our hearts and then both shoulders, we are asking God’s blessing for our mind, our passions and desires, our very bodies.

We affirm the Trinity. In invoking the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we are affirming our belief in the triune God.

We confess our faith. In affirming our belief in the Incarnation, the crucifixion and the Trinity, we are making a sort of mini- confession of faith in words and gestures.

We reaffirm our baptism. In using the same words with which we were baptised, the Sign of the Cross is a ‘summing up and re-acceptance of our baptism’.

We witness to others. As a gesture often made in public, the Sign of the Cross is a simple way to witness our faith to others.

Fr Mike Schmitz shares with us 3 things to know about the Sign of the Cross.

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Happy New Year – Advent
24th November, 2016

A NEW YEAR in the Church’s calendar begins Sunday. Happy new year to all!

This period is appropriately called “Advent”.  It comes from the Latin word adventus which simply means ‘coming’.  But whose coming are we talking about?  Obviously we are beginning to prepare to remember God coming to be a human being among us, with us and like us.  And yet, although the Scripture for today does speak of the coming of God, it makes no mention of the coming of Christ as Christmas.

Actually, at this time we can speak of three comings of God.  The first, is when Jesus, the Son of God came to be born in the stable at Bethlehem.  But Sunday’s Mass also speaks of the final coming of Jesus at the end of the world.  And there is still a third kind of coming we need to be aware of, namely, when God enters our lives every day.  Every single experience can be an opportunity to make contact with God.  And we are reminded of that ongoing contact with God especially in the celebration of the sacraments, including this Eucharist.

Reflection taken from Sacred Space:Living Space

Jesus Speaks by J. Janda 

You can do
nothing
without me

why do you
keep trying
to do things

alone?

A child is not
supposed to
lift
heavy things
alone

all I ask is
that
you talk to me

tell me why
you are sad

tell me why
you are afraid

tell me why
you are tired

come to me—I
will refresh
you…

http://www.liturgy.slu.edu/
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Reflecting on the Year of Mercy
8th November, 2016

The Year of Mercy that Pope Francis proclaimed last year concludes  November 20, 2016.

Mercy is the most fundamental and defining attribute of God, revealed through God’s actions throughout the Old Testament and most notably, in the person of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

Micah 7: 18-20

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression

of the remnant of your possession?

He does not retain his his anger forever, because he delights in showing clemency.

During the Extraordinary Year of Mercy  we heard the word mercy linked with  Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. And for good reason—mercy is something that we need to put into action. We experience God’s mercy ourselves and then we are called to extend that mercy to others.

Questions to ponder….

  • How many Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy can we name as a group?
  •  Which of these works of mercy have you practiced most recently?
  • For whom are you called to perform works of mercy on a daily basis?

Pope Francis  has urged us to spread God’s mercy to all corners of the world and also to future generations, specifically by protecting God’s creation. In his encyclical, Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home), Pope Francis makes it clear to us that protecting our environment for generations to come is an act of mercy, since God’s gift of creation was an act of mercy toward us.

Questions to ponder…

  • What  concrete ways have you shown mercy and compassion for God’s creation?
  • What part of God’s creation are you most thankful for and do you feel most compelled to preserve and protect for future generations?

Pope Francis reminds us that the Beatitudes are the “protocol” by which the Christian life is to be lived:

The Lord will recognize us if … we recognized him in the poor, in the hungry, in the indigent and the outcast, in those who suffer and are alone … This is one of the fundamental criteria for evaluating our Christian life, which Jesus calls us to measure up to every day. I read the Beatitudes and I think of how my Christian life should be, and then I examine my conscience with this Chapter 25 of Matthew. It will do us good! They are simple but concrete things.

What is a blessing?

A blessing is a circle of light drawn around to protect a person, heal and strengthen.

Life is a constant flow of emergence.

The beauty of blessing is its belief that it can affect what unfolds… A blessing awakens future wholeness… We could say that a blessing ‘fore brightens’ the way…—JOHN O’DONOHUE,

How can you continue to “Be a Blessing….”

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Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention for the month of July
12th July, 2016
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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ prayer intention for July is for Respect for Indigenous Peoples: That indigenous peoples, whose identity and very existence are threatened, will be shown due respect.

Indigenous peoples have been a theme in many of Pope Francis’ speeches and travels abroad since his election, including his 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si.”

After speaking out on issues indigenous peoples face in the environmental document, he advocated on their behalf exactly one year ago during his July 5-13, 2015, trip to Latin America, which included stops in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.

“I say this to you with regret: many grave sins were committed against the native peoples in the name of God,” he said, asking, like St. John Paul II, that “the Church ‘kneel before God and implore forgiveness for the past and present sins of her sons and daughters.’”

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The Compassionate Samaritan. How compassionate are you?
7th July, 2016

This Sunday the Gospel is one that is very familiar to us. It retells the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Luke 10:25-37

The following background on the parable is provided by Loyola press (http://www.loyolapress.com/sunday-connection.htm) and helps us to understand some of the meaning of the world behind this familiar text.DSC_1422

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho descends 3,300 feet in just 17 miles. Its narrow passes and rocky terrain made it an easy place for bandits to wait for travelers. The traveler in this parable is identified only as “a certain man.” Luke uses this phrase in many of his parables so that the audience, Jew or Gentile, could identify with the man. After the attack, the man is left for dead, naked and bleeding on the side of the road. A priest comes along, but rather than helping, as one might expect, he moves to the other side of the road. Another religious person comes along, a Levite who assists in the Temple. His reaction is the same as the priest’s. Both of them choose to not even find out if the man is alive. A third person comes along. The listeners would probably expect him to be an Israelite. This would make the parable a criticism of the religious leadership. Instead he is a Samaritan, an Israelite’s most hated neighbor. Samaritans were descendants of Jews from the northern part of the country, who had intermarried with Gentiles and did not worship in Jerusalem. The Samaritan not only goes over to the injured man but cleans his wounds, puts him on his own animal, takes him to an inn to recover, and promises to pay all his expenses. The hated enemy is the compassionate neighbor in this parable.

Jesus has demolished all boundary expectations. It is not social definitions such as class, religion, gender, or ethnicity that determines who is our neighbor. A neighbor is a person who acts with compassion toward another.

The point becomes not who deserves to be loved as I love myself, but that I become a person who treats everyone with compassion.

It is easy to love those who love you but

  • I wonder who was a neighbour to the robber….
  • I wonder who was a neighbour to the priest….
  • I wonder who was a neighbour to the Levite….
  • I wonder who was a neighbour to the Samaritan…

 

Jesus challenges us in the parables to not just love those who are easy to love but to love everyone – even those who hurt us, who reject us, who murder, who commit acts of violence, who steal, who are racists, etc etc etc…

 

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday
4th July, 2016

The Jubilee Year of Mercy is an opportunity to experience and, importantly, encounter God’s Grace on many levels. By encountering God’s Mercy on an individual level we avail ourselves of the warmth and nourishment of God’s love. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council believes that these blessings can be amplified and shared when we open our hearts to the concept of Mercy amongst our friends, loved ones, communities and most importantly, those of which we have previously found conflict. The act of ‘black and white’ people praying together for mercy, forgiveness and justice is a powerful symbol of all that the Year of Mercy represents. By placing an emphasis on opening our hearts to God and seeking his everlasting forgiveness and strength to forgive, we allow ourselves to become unburdened by the weight that many of us have carried on our shoulders and in our hearts for generations.

NATSICC Resources http://www.natsicc.org.au/assets/2016_final_web.pdf accessed 4/07/16

2016 marks the 30th Anniversary of Saint Pope John Paul II’s address to Aboriginal people in Alice Springs. His words have resonated across this country and they continue to do so. It would be appropriate on this Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday to refer to his ground breaking address. The full transcript is available at www.natsicc.org.au

God of the Holy Dreaming Prayer

God of holy Dreaming

Great Creator Spirit

From the dawn of creation you have given your children

The good things of Mother Earth

You spoke and the gum tree grew

In the vast deserts and dense forests, in the cities,

At the water’s edge, creation sings your praise.

Your presence endures as the rock at the heart of our land.

When Jesus hung on the tree

You heard the cries of all Your people

And became one with Your wounded ones

The convicts, the hunted and the dispossessed.

The sunrise of Your Son

Coloured the earth anew

And bathed it in glorious hope.

In Jesus we have been reconciled to You,

To each other and to Your whole creation.

Lead us on Great Spirit

As we gather at this special place

Located on land where ancestors of long ago

Gathered for work, play and praise.

Enable us to walk together in trust from the hurt of the past

Into the full day which has dawned in Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 

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Educating Hearts
20th June, 2016

I recently read a book called ‘Educating Hearts‘ by A Maher and B. Hanley which made me stop and think again about the vocation of teaching and the place of the Catholic school in the universal church. What do I think is the purpose of Catholic schools today? In the complexity of our society and the various understandings of what it means to be Catholic, how do we as an organisation endeavour to educate the heart!

“Education of the heart entails understanding human nature, rather than insisting upon mechanical compliance to structures.”( Maher and Hanley, 2013, p149DSC_0994)

Maher and Hanley purpose that there are seven characteristics of a good school:

  1. Service – Being given opportunities to serve others.
  2. Community – Being a school that fosters community collaboration
  3. Teachers – Having teachers who are respected and respectful
  4. Spirituality– Recognising the transcendent. Putting God at the centre.
  5. Diversity– Being taught in an environment that values acceptance.
  6. Care of the Individual– Being valued as a unique loving individual
  7. Process– Being in a context that values process as well as content.

They continue to say “Implementing the seven characteristics within schools affirms the outstanding virtues of courage, humility, mate-ship, self-sacrifice, compassion, joy, resilience, understanding, gentleness and strength…devising initiatives that allow young people to experience through care of their neighbour, the incredible depth of their own humanity.

Thomas Groome writes that “it is a sacred privilege and an awesome responsibility to be an educator. And it may be the closest we have to a universal human vocation” . (Thomas Groome 1998, p.34.)

I wondeDSC_1519r what you feel are important characteristics of a good Catholic school.

I wonder where God is in the story of education.

I wonder where God is in your story as an educator.

 

Groome, T 1998. Educating For Life.  Crossroads Publishing, New York.

Maher, A & Hanley, B 2013, Educating Hearts. St Paul’s Publications, Strathfield, NSW.

 

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The Trinity – A true mystery
21st May, 2016

A True Mystery

Dr Laurie Woods writes:

The feast to especially honour the Blessed Trinity was established by Pope John XXII (1316-1334) for the Sunday after Pentecost. Describing God as a Trinity is an expression of a uniquely Christian experience of God. TTitle: Holy Trinity
[Click for larger image view]he followers of Jesus understood that God was communicated to humanity in the person of Jesus Christ. In the gospel of John Jesus is portrayed as the one communicating what we need to know about God. In effect, Jesus was the human form of God among us. The actions, the words and the very personality of Jesus reflected the reality of God, to the extent that there is a oneness between Christ and God.


Despite the colorful metaphors and imaginative analogies, the Trinity is unknowable on a purely logical level. We should not think that we can ever completely understand the Trinity.

There is an old legend about St. Augustine of Hippo. While walking on the beach contemplating the Trinity, St. Augustine saw a young boy frantically digging a deep hole in the sand. The boy ran out into the waves, scooped up a bucket of water, and ran back to pour it into the hole. He did this a few more times until St. Augustine approached him and asked, “What are you doing?”

“See that ocean out there?” The boy asked. “I’m going to pour that ocean into this hole.”

“That’s impossible,” said Augustine. “You cannot fit the entire ocean into that tiny hole.”

The boy said, “And neither can you, Augustine, fit the Trinity into your mind.”

The legend says the boy then disappeared, as he was an angel in disguise.

taken from: http://www.massexplained.com/its-a-mystery-to-me/


When people are loving, brave, truthful, charitable, God is present.    Harold Kushner (prominent American Rabbi and author)

Once you see the face of God, you see the same face on everyone you meet.
Deng Ming-Dao (Chinese American author, philosopher, martial artist)

You increase your joy by increasing the pure joy of others.
Torkom Saraydarian (20th Century Armenian musician and religious author)

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Happy Shavu’ot
13th May, 2016

This weekend we celebrate one of the three most important festivals on the Jewish calendar, Shavu’ot (The Festival of Weeks or Pentecost)—the other two being Pesach (Passover), and Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles).

At the time of Jesus, pilgrims would travel to the temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifice on these three festivals. In fact, as we will hear in the first reading this Sunday, that’s why all of Jesus’ followers were gathered together in the upper room, to celebrate the Jewish festival of Shavu’ot:

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” —Acts 2:1–5

To some it may come as a surprise to learn that Pentecost is not of Christian origin. The roots of Shavu’ot—both agricultural and historical—lie in ancient Israel.

Agriculturally, it celebrates the wheat harvest—the most important grain for the ancient Jewish people. Some historians suggest that wheat, in all its forms, provided nearly 80% of the daily caloric intake for the Israelites. It’s no wonder that a holiday to commemorate it’s gathering would be celebrated.

moses

Historically, it marks the giving of the Torah to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai. After the exodus from Egypt, the Jewish people wandered the desert before arriving at the foot of Mt. Sinai 7 weeks later. The Hebrew word Shavu’ot means “weeks.” In Jewish tradition 7 is the perfect number (the number of creation) and 7 times 7, even more so. It is a week of weeks or 7×7 which is 49 days. The Ten Commandments were given by God on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, which was 50 days from the crossing of the Red Sea.

Greek Jews gave the festival the name Pentecost or fiftieth day. The same Greek prefix pente, meaning 5, is in the words:

  • Pentagon: A five-sided polygon
  • Pentagram: A five-pointed star
  • Pentameter: A line of verse consisting of five metrical feet
  • Pentathlon: A contest with five different events

Shavu’ot commemorates the time when God gave the Israelites the 10 Commandments, the way by which they were to live their lives. It is on that day that the Hebrews became a nation.

For the first Christians, Pentecost was the day they received the Holy Spirit, which dwells in the hearts of all believers, commanding the way they are to live their lives. Pentecost celebrates the unity of the first Christians and the birth of the Church.

taken from: http://www.massexplained.com/happy-shavuot/                 acccessed 13/05/16

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