Nazareth Catholic Parish

Grovedale, Torquay and Anglesea

You are using an unlicensed and unsupported version of DotNetNuke Enterprise Edition. Please contact sales@dnncorp.com for information on how to obtain a valid license.

Grow with Us

Here you will find all sorts of things that are chosen to help us all grow in the mission of God's people to continue on the way to sainthood!

Do we have an elephant in the room?

Changing the culture of parishes to support 'discipleship' is one of the primary challenges facing the Catholic Church in Australia, an Adelaide gathering was told earlier this month. Presenting the annual oration of the Friends of the Ministry Formation Program, was Daniel Ang, of the Broken Bay Diocese.
 
“The gradual decline of parish life, the issues of ministry succession and a shortage of willing volunteers, the scant uptake of our faith formation opportunities and programs, and even the modesty of financial giving confirms that many Catholics have not yet made Christ the overwhelming centre, meaning and dynamism of their life,” he said.

“These issues may also be relevant to our schools. Whether it is school enrolment or our sacramental practice, we have been traditionally more concerned with issues of validity rather than the fruitfulness of our efforts.

“As Pope Francis has accented in line with tradition, an evangelising parish should above all be focused on fruit.

“This ‘fruit’ for our parishes is the spiritual and personal change of its members. We know that the Church is called by God to work towards the transformation of the world so that it reflects more and more of God’s Kingdom or God’s reign. This Kingdom comes about when people encounter Jesus, surrender, and make the decision to follow – when they become His disciples and then go out to transform the world.”

Mr Ang said as the Church looked to a renewed future, it was important for schools and parishes to communicate their “vision” which would help provide the impetus for change.

“The alternative…is a community standing in the silence of an unquestioned routine. The lifeblood of the community might occasionally receive a boost or uptick through the initiative of individuals or the occasional event, but without a sustained vision to consistently stimulate a higher life, the pulse of the community inevitably slows and returns to maintenance, to the pace of survival rather than growth.

“While no substitute for the local parish, it must be acknowledged that the ecclesial movements in their charism and narratives of holiness have shown us the power of a story to tell, as do the saints, those ‘bright patterns of holiness’ who image or supply a vision for the divine touching human lives.”

To illustrate the priority of “active discipleship”, Mr Ang spoke of the changes to the sacramental preparation of children in his home parish of St Bernadette’s in Castle Hill, Sydney.

“We introduced four weeks of parental preparation for entry into the sacramental program (the parish celebrated the sacraments of reconciliation, confirmation and Eucharist, all in the one nine-month period),” he explained.

“This formation was focused not on children but on parents who were asked to attend four two-hour sessions – on God and us, God and His Church, God and the sacraments, and living God’s way. Each session was offered three times a week to accommodate people’s commitments, and completion of all four sessions was a requirement of entry into the sacramental program and preparation for the year.

“Of course, in raising this expectation, focused as it was on parents, some did not take to this requirement and looked elsewhere for easier admission to the sacraments which the parishes next door were only too happy to provide.

“However, while some people walked away, it always has to be questioned if this is ever a real loss, for people to lament, in effect, ‘well we’re going to go to another church that we won’t go to’.

“It may well be that the neighbouring parishes accommodated more people in their sacramental program but none of these saw an increase in weekly attendance, more people living faith in the midst of the community, and only increased their administrative workload all the while being disconnected from the living discipleship which is their real and primary purpose.”

Mr Ang referred to St Pope John Paul II’s advice that ‘a faith that does not become a culture is not fully accepted, not entirely thought out, not faithfully lived’.

“Our faith-filled mission ought to impact upon every aspect of life within our parishes and our engagement with those beyond who await a Word of hope, the Word we know as Jesus.”

What's Come Over You?

We use the phrase, “What’s come over you?” when someone appears to be affected by something. The phrase captures our belief that it is possible for something outside ourselves to affect us within and transform the way we think, feel, speak, and act. In the Gospels, people often wanted to know what had “come over” Jesus. People who saw Jesus perform miracles and heard him teach with such authority concluded that he had a spirit that was beyond human, a spirit that could come only from God. This is why, when Jesus asked his Apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter responded, “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:29). This was Peter’s way of asserting that Jesus was filled (anointed) with a spirit that comes only from God.

 
The Jewish people believed that it was possible to receive something spiritual, not only from God, but also from another person—something from outside themselves that could transform and renew them from within. They imagined this “something spiritual” as being “poured out” like one pours out a precious oil. Thus, they spoke of receiving the spirit of God as “being anointed” and they spoke of Jesus as “the Christ,” which means “the anointed one.” Before long, followers of the Christ concluded that by learning about him, they could share in his spirit. Likewise, they soon came to recognize that the same Spirit that filled Jesus could be “transferred” from one person to another through the act of anointing with oil and laying on of hands.
 
When talking about concepts such as anointing, we tend to jump immediately to the spiritual/religious understanding of the word, often overlooking its ordinary meaning, which means to pour, smear, or rub oil on someone or something. Long before anointing became a ritual act, it was an action of ordinary life, especially in dry Middle Eastern climates where anointing was needed to moisturize one’s skin. Anointing also had therapeutic and healing qualities. When one anointed another person with oil, the goal was to effect a change in that person, bringing dry skin to life, easing soreness and pain, increasing ease of motion, and restoring health where there was sickness.
 
This natural act of anointing with oil took on ritual meaning, symbolizing a transformation taking place on the spiritual level within a person. The key, however, is that the transformation is not an act of self-achievement but is rather attributed to the inspiration and power of a reality beyond oneself, namely divine power: the Holy Spirit of God. Just as we do not baptize ourselves or give ourselves the Eucharist, we do not anoint ourselves; we are anointed. In essence, the Holy Spirit “rubs off on us.”
 
Think about that phrase for a moment. Through science, we know that each time we brush against something or wash ourselves, we rub off a top layer of skin that is replaced by a new layer. We use the phrase “rubs off on us” to describe an effect that occurs when we brush against or have a close association with another person and we begin to incorporate aspects or habits of that person, whether good or bad. When we are around upbeat, energetic people, we often remark that we wish some of their optimism and energy would rub off on us. When a child starts to pick up bad habits, we sometimes say that someone who is a bad influence is “rubbing off” on him or her.
 
Once anointed with the Holy Spirit, we are “oily,” which means that when we brush up against others, we hope to rub off on them (and not rub them the wrong way!) to spread the qualities of the Holy Spirit throughout the world. St. Paul tells us that when the Holy Spirit “rubs off” on us, we take on the following qualities (Galatians 5:22–23):
  • love (putting one’s own needs aside to tend to the needs of others)
  • joy (having lightness of being and the ability to brighten up a room)
  • peace (living in a state of serenity, even when in turmoil)
  • forbearance (winking at the foibles and shortcomings of others instead of putting people in their place)
  • kindness (responding to even the grumpiest of people with graciousness and civility)
  • goodness (keeping the best interests of others in mind, even when they fail us)
  • faithfulness (staying on message, even under duress)
  • gentleness (remaining even-keeled and reasonable in the face of conflict)
  • self-control (practicing mindfulness)
As we strive to live our Confirmation each and every day, may others wonder “what’s come over us” as the fruits of the Holy Spirit ooze forth through our words and actions, and may we “rub off” on all those we come into contact with!
 
 
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources. This article appears in Catechist's Journey

 

Did you know...

...that we have a new feastday?
 
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments announced in early March this year, that Pope Francis had decided to add the Feast of "Mary, Mother of the Church" to the Church's calendar as an 'obligatory memorial' to be celebrated on the Monday immediately following the Feast of Pentecost.
(An 'Obligatory Memorial' means that the particular feast takes precedence over any other feast day in a national calendar.) 
 
 Mary is essentially a Mother. She was predestined from all eternity, included in the very decree of the Incarnation, to be the Mother of the Son of God made man. In that predestination is included not only her physical or biological maternity in relation to her Son, but also her spiritual maternity in regard to all the redeemed children of God, the disciples of her Son. 

All of God’s children, redeemed by Jesus’ blood, death and Resurrection, constitute the family of God which is the Church. Mary is thus, at the same time, Mother of the Church, of the people of God, of the pastors and the faithful.

This title, Mary, Mother of the Church, was solemnly proclaimed by Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964, at the closing ceremony of the third session of Vatican II.
 
For the Church in Australia, we will celebrate this new feastday on May 21.