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IN THIS ISSUE: NOVEMBER 2013
The latter is what our essentially Calvinist media driven culture does so effectively when it 'persuades' us to seek revenge. 'Crime and Punishment' is their paradigm and the dominant idol they worship is an avenger.
Never mind that this drives ordinary people to despair. Why? Because to really 'join' the human race (creaturehood is the lovely Ignatian term) - means to accept oneself as a graced sinner.
And even the most virtuous amongst us 'graced sinners', needs more mercy, not more punishment.
But what does our culture (and even some in our church) characteristically offer as a response to human evil, frailty, psychopathology and sin?
The 'mantra' that is repeatedly endlessly is – Punishment! Punish sinners. Punish the boat people. Punish the criminals. Punish the mentally ill. Punish the losers. Punish the different. Get even!
Yes, I know revenge does feel the appropriate response to evil especially when vulnerable and innocent persons suffer unjustly.
The only problem is that getting even does not actually work! It never really heals the pain. The ‘spiral of violence’ goes on and on – taking us down ever more destructive paths.
How different is the merciful God of Jesus of Nazareth! I love how Pope Francis talks so powerfully of the mercy of God. He recently recalled an encounter more than 20 years ago with an elderly woman in Buenos Aires, who told him: “If the Lord did not forgive all, the world would not exist.” Pope Francis said he had wanted to ask her if she had studied at Rome’s prestigious Pontifical Gregorian University, because her words reflected the “wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit: interior wisdom regarding the mercy of God.”
Indeed, the biblical scholar Phyllis Trible has taught us that the Hebrew word for mercy is the word for womb, with different vowel points. So mercy, she's suggests, is womb-like mother love.
When we can accept that God is more like a merciful mother we are set free....to be merciful!
We humans often struggle mightily our whole lives to really accept and live this out. But this is precisely the Good News.
As Anne Lamott once observed: The main difference between us and God is that God never thinks he's us!
That's right. God is not vindictive, mean or small. God is greater (and bigger) than our hearts. (cf I John 3:20). Alleluia!
- Br Mark O’Connor fms
RESOURCE: STORIES OF HOPE
Who is my neighbour?
Stories of Hope is a beautifully produced book of images and personal accounts from residents of the Olympic Village Exodus Community in Heidelberg West. Many of these residents have suffered significant trauma in their lives, and through storytelling have felt valued and appreciated. Whether it is close by in Olympic Village Heidelberg West or in situations of great injustice all around the world — Pope Francis has called us all to live the Good News by reaching out in compassion to those who have been marginalised.
RESOURCE: THE SUMMIT LITURGICAL JOURNAL
The Summit is practical and informative Lectionary-based liturgy and catechumenate resource for parish teams. Published quarterly, it contains thought-provoking articles on the history, theology and pastoral celebration of the Sacraments; helpful images of the Word and liturgical notes for homilists; creative ideas for the Liturgy of the Word with Children; music suggestions for Sundays and Feasts; inspiring images of worship environments and; topical book reviews.
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INTERNATIONAL SPEAKERS FOCUS
Dr Aoife McGrath (Maynooth, Ireland)
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Australian Catholic University is offering an opportunity to explore important questions, such as: Is Faith relevant today? What is Theology? Does God exist? Why did Jesus die and rise from the dead? Who is the Holy Spirit? Is the Church necessary for Christian faith? Learn the basics of Catholic theology with ACU experts, including Dr Joel Hodge, Dr Christiaan Jacobs-Vandegeer, Prof Anthony Kelly CSsR, and Prof Anne Hunt. The course runs over four Wednesday evenings (6.30pm - 8pm) in February and March.
LAY ECCLESIAL MINISTRY UPDATE
To ensure all parties have a voice in the implementation of the Secretariat for Lay Ecclesial Ministry, the AOFE is approaching various stakeholders to form part of ongoing working parties and focus groups in 2014. Stakeholders include: the Association of Pastoral Associates; pastoral associates, pastoral workers and chaplains working in parish, school, hospital, aged-care, prison and community-based ministries; and Archdiocesan staff in relevant agencies and institutions. Groups will be formed according to the timeline indicated in the Implementation Strategy.
Supporting RCIA Parish Teams
The AOFE has made it a point to visit as many parishes as possible in 2013, specifically meeting priests and parish teams involved in the RCIA. Joy Adriaanse (Parish Liaison - RCIA) has had the pleasure of visiting these parishes, listening to their stories of joy, struggles and upliftment. Her focus was on meeting the 17 new RCIA Coordinators, offering assistance and sharing resources, including Making the Most of the Mass, a handy guide to learning more about the Mass, with an explanation of liturgical colours, liturgical years and an informative glossary. Is there some way that Joy can assist your parish RCIA team in 2014? Let us know!
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