End of Year Mass ACU
ON WEDNESDAY, 8 DECEMBER 2010 AT 11AM
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today as the University Year draws to a close we thank God for all his blessings in our work, research and community life this year. We celebrate a great feast day; the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. This means that Our Lady was free from sin from the beginning of her existence so that she might bring us the Saviour.
In a spirit of thankfulness and recognising the high ideals of research, teaching and Catholic life, which are the object of our University, let us ask the Lord that he will help us to respond fully to the gifts he has given us, always remaining one with him and with his Church.
Let us call to mind our sins.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Gospel we have just read sings out to us of the relationship between human beings and the Lord. Mary picked out to give birth to Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit heard the words of the angel: “Rejoice so highly favoured; the Lord is with you.” Later she would hear: “Mary, do not be afraid.” Again: “You are to conceive and bear a Son.” And finally, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.”
In a Christian context teaching and research are always an engagement with the revelation of God; illumined by the Scriptures and the Magisterium of the Church. This leads us to exciting reflection engaging the world and the society of our time.
Because we are a Catholic University and have high ideals we too can realise the Lord is with us to the extent that we live and teach according to lasting truths and values.
In a modern world this can bring uncertainty and challenge. The angel’s words to Mary not to be afraid and then to be open to what God would be able to achieve through her are equally powerful in the life of this University and in its teaching. Indeed, human life and intellect illumined by faith rises to its full potential which would not be possible solely by use of human intellect and human means.
In his reflection with the public authorities in Westminster Hall on Friday, 17th September, Pope Benedict reflected on the relationship between reason and religion.
His application to political action is equally effective in a university context when he says: “The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason prescinding from the context of revelation. According to this understanding the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms as if they could not be known to non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This corrective role of religion, vis a vis reason, is not always welcomed partly because distorted forms of religion such as sectarianism and fundamentalism can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. It is a two way process without the corrective supplied by religion, though reason too can fall prey to distortions as when it is manipulated by ideology or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person.”
This is where we come to the last invitation given to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon”, as a reminder that all our work done with integrity and illumined by faith will come to make Australian Catholic University a richer, more energetic means for the spread of the Gospel and for preparing young, thinking leaders for our professions. Yours is a noble task. I want you to know that in your integrity also the Lord is with you and to thank you for all that you do in the name of truth, justice and service to society.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.