The Catholic Weekly https://www.catholicweekly.com.au The Church. All of it. Tue, 23 Apr 2019 10:08:49 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 Bankstown youth lead Passion https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/bankstown-youth-lead-dramatic-stations-of-the-cross/ Tue, 23 Apr 2019 07:48:13 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=22002 Youth at St Felix de Valois, Bankstown, set a sombre scene to their re-enactment of the Passion.

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Jesus (Anthony Eltarraf) meets his mother Mary (Aurora Doueihy) at the Fourth Station. Photo: Mathew De Sousa
Jesus (Anthony Eltarraf) meets his mother Mary (Aurora Doueihy) at the Fourth Station. Photo: Mathew De Sousa

The youth at St Felix de Valois, Bankstown, set a sombre scene for their 2019 re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross with a dramatic depiction of the scourging of Christ.

Hundreds of emotional parishioners watched on Good Friday with sorrow as Jesus, played by youth member Anthony Eltarraf, was dragged from his prison, whipped and made to carry his cross through the crowds while being mocked by his captors.

Prior to the youth making their way down to the first station, St Felix’s resident Deacon Ronnie Maree drew their minds to the significance of their participation in the Good Friday Re-enactment.

“Offer your talents, energy and efforts for God, for Him to use them to help the people of the parish encounter the crucified Jesus,” said Deacon Ronnie.

“The Stations of the Cross is a prayer, and in all prayer we seek to encounter Jesus which in this particular instance is Jesus crucified for us.”

This deeply emotional dramatisation took route around the grounds of the adjacent school, culminating at St Felix’s grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Reflecting on his humbling experience, Anthony Eltarraf said playing Jesus did not only mean playing the role in the re-enactment, but it also calls him to be Jesus in his own life.

The youth of St Felix Bankstown who take part in the Passion play grows in numbers each year. Photo: Mathew De Sousa
The youth of St Felix Bankstown who take part in the Passion play grows in numbers each year. Photo: Mathew De Sousa

“That is the hardest but most beautiful and fulfilling part of it all. It really puts into perspective what Christ did for us, and gives me just a taste of the suffering He went through for us,” said Mr Eltarraf.

“We take the Stations of the Cross re-enactment very seriously as a Youth and for me, it is the greatest opportunity to bring people to the Love of Christ.

“To lead others along the Way of the Cross is to lead them to true Love. It is because of this that we find it so crucial to remind everyone, including ourselves how much God loves us.”

As the final moments of Jesus’ life were played out and parishioners, overwhelmed with emotion, reached out to a lifeless Jesus, it was truly evident that the youth accomplished their mission by drawing people’s hearts to the love of Christ.

From 2009, the Stations of the Cross has been coordinated and carried out by the youth and young adults of St Felix de Valois, Bankstown.

The enthusiasm and faith of the youth has taken the Passion play to new heights, growing in number of cast, crew and passionate volunteers.

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desousa-4-230419 Jesus (Anthoyn Eltarraf) meets his mother Mary (Aurora Doueihy) at the Fourth Station. Photo: Mathew De Sousa desousa-13-230419 The youth of St Felix Bankstown who take part in the Passion play grows in numbers each year. Photo: Mathew De Sousa Jesus (Anthoyn Eltarraf) meets his mother Mary (Aurora Doueihy) at the Fourth Station. Photo: Mathew De Sousa The youth of St Felix Bankstown who take part in the Passion play grows in numbers each year. Photo: Mathew De Sousa
A tale of two cathedrals: Canterbury and Notre Dame https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/a-tale-of-two-cathedrals-canterbury-and-notre-dame/ Tue, 23 Apr 2019 01:30:38 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=21948 Notre Dame Paris and Canterbury Cathedral are the most important cathedrals in France and England and the two current cathedrals are almost identical in age. Fire has also now played a major part in the history of both of these hugely significant buildings and the connections between these two national icons are immense. The 20 years between […]

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Canterbury Cathedral. The original Canterbury Cathedral burned down in 1174, just 11 years after the foundation stone for Note Dame Cathedral in Paris was laid. Photo: 123rf.com

Notre Dame Paris and Canterbury Cathedral are the most important cathedrals in France and England and the two current cathedrals are almost identical in age. Fire has also now played a major part in the history of both of these hugely significant buildings and the connections between these two national icons are immense.

The 20 years between 1163 and 1184 during which these two remarkable cathedrals were built was so momentous architecturally, ecclesiastically and politically that what occurred at this time continues to impact the world even to this day.

An important year: 1163AD

1163 was a key year for both Paris and Canterbury – but for quite different reasons.

In Paris, the medieval chronicler Jean de Saint-Victor records in Memorial Historiarum that the laying of the cornerstone for the current Notre Dame took place between March and April 1163 by the then Bishop of Paris, Bishop Maurice de Sully in the presence of King Louis VII of France and Pope Alexander III.

Notre Dame Cathedral is seen at night in Paris in 2016. A major blaze engulfed the iconic cathedral on 15 April 2019 sending pillars of flame and billowing smoke over the centre of the French capital. Photo: CNS, Charles Platiau, Reuters

Churches had previously stood on the site of Notre Dame dating back to the Fourth Century and before that it is believed a Roman temple to Jupiter was located on the site.  Bishop de Sully decided in 1160 to demolish the Ninth Century Romanesque Cathedral using some of the materials of the old cathedral to rebuild the “new” Notre Dame.

From 1163, steady progress was made on the construction of Notre Dame with the Choir completed in 1170 and the high altar consecrated in 1182 by Bishop de Sully in the presence of the Papal legate in Paris, Cardinal Henri de Château-Marçay. Construction and updates on various other parts of Notre Dame then continued for hundreds of years thereafter.

But while the masterpiece of Notre Dame was emerging in Paris, Europe’s greatest drama of the time was starting in England.

A stained glass window depicts St Thomas a’ Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170.

A dispute that would change history

In 1163 in Canterbury, a significant dispute broke out between King Henry II and Archbishop Thomas Becket over the nature of state influence over the church.  The following year in October 1164, Becket voluntarily put himself in exile in France where he was provided protection by King Louis VII, first in an Abbey in Pontigny and then later in Sens.

Whilst Becket was in France, Bishop de Sully of Paris wrote to Pope Alexander several times advocating on behalf of Becket. Three of these letters still exist today. Considering the extent of de Sully’s interventions on behalf of Becket it seems likely the two bishops met in person, possibly in Paris, where Notre Dame was at that time half complete.

Becket ultimately did not return to England until 1 December 1170. Less than a month later on 29 December 1170 Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights who acted under ambiguous and misunderstood orders from King Henry II to ‘rid me of this meddlesome priest.’ This chapter of history is famously retold in TS Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, produced last year in Sydney by Artes Christi.

After the conflagration: the state of French Catholicism

The dispute between Becket and Henry represents one of the earliest examples of the jurisprudential concept of the separation of church and state. It is important to note, though, that this particular dispute was over the limitations of the state to interfere in the affairs of the church whilst this concept is usually cited in modern contexts to assert the limitations of the church to interfere in the affairs of the state.

The glory of medieval architecture: this photograph shows part of the interior vaulted ceiling of Canterbury Cathedral. Photo: 123rf.com

Following Becket’s martyrdom, a cult of the murdered Archbishop immediately sprang up, including many miracles attributed to the murdered bishop’s intercession. In February 1173 Pope Alexander III canonised St Thomas Becket in Segni, Italy.  By this stage pilgrims were flocking to Canterbury from all over England.

But the drama at Canterbury was far from over.

A crisis and a new saint’s intercession

From 1173 King Henry II faced virtual civil war in England on multiple fronts as a ‘Great Revolt’ almost brought down his kingdom. This revolt consisted of an uprising by his eldest sons and rebellious barons who were supported by King Louis VII of France, King William of Scotland and Phillip, Count of Flanders.

Barely a century since William the Conqueror had triumphed at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, this was potentially the end of England as we know it today. But almost incredibly – and paradoxically – the turning point for Henry and for England seemed to hinge entirely on St Thomas Becket.

On 12 July 1174, in virtual despair Henry made a pilgrimage to the tomb of Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. Walking bare foot through the streets, the King approached the tomb of the saint where he instructed the monks to whip him multiple times in mortification for the role he had played in Becket’s murder.

Almost miraculously, the intercession of St Thomas Becket seemed to immediately change the war in Henry’s favour. The following day on 13 July 1174 it was reported to Henry that King William of Scotland had been captured – and it turned out William had been apprehended at virtually the same moment that Henry was praying at Becket’s tomb in Canterbury Cathedral. Widely regarded as a miracle, Henry’s prospects in the war were immediately transformed.

And then Canterbury Cathedral burnt down.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England, carries a reliquary containing what is believed to be a bone fragment of St Thomas Becket during a Mass at Westminster Cathedral in London on 23 May 2016. The relic of St Thomas, murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, was brought to England from Hungary, where it has been kept since the 13th century. It will be displayed in several churches around London before being returned to Hungary. Hungarian President Janos Ader and his wife, Anita Herczegh, are pictured behind Cardinal Nichols. Photo: CNS, Marcin Mazur

In September 1174, only weeks after the King had prayed in the Cathedral, less than 18 months after Becket’s canonisation and less than four years since he was murdered, Canterbury Cathedral was destroyed.

A vision to rebuild

The very site of the Archbishop’ s martyrdom had gone up in flames, though the Crypt and the body of Becket were providentially preserved. As with buildings of national significance like Notre Dame, conspiracy theories immediately emerged as to the cause of the fire at Canterbury but none were officially verified.

Nonetheless, reflecting deeply on this double tragedy of the murdered Archbishop and the destroyed Cathedral, the monks of Canterbury eventually decided that they needed to rebuild Canterbury Cathedral as an even more fitting pilgrimage site for St Thomas Becket.

They called upon William of Sens, a French architect who had assisted with Sens Cathedral to design the new Canterbury Cathedral. Similarities in the design of Notre Dame and Canterbury can thus be traced not just to the timing of the buildings in the 12th century but also to the origin of the designs both of which emerged originally from France.

A reliquary containing what is believed to be a bone fragment of St Thomas Becket is displayed during a Mass at Westminster Cathedral in London in 2016. Photo: CNS, Marcin Mazur

William of Sens came to Canterbury with a remarkable concept, the likes of which had not been seen in England previously – he would emphasise light rather than darkness in the new Cathedral. But in 1179, William slipped on the scaffolding and fell to the ground where he was rendered permanently disabled.  William of Sens never worked again and died the following year. The Canterbury Cathedral restoration was meanwhile completed by one of his assistants known as William the Englishman.

The choir was completed in 1180 and by 1184, the present Trinity Chapel was constructed as part of the Cathedral, designed to house the shrine of St Thomas Becket.

Pilgrims begin to flock to Canterbury

Notre Dame Paris, meanwhile, was fully operating from 1182 following its consecration whilst Canterbury Cathedral reopened in 1184, meaning the two Cathedrals as they stand now are almost identical in age.

Following the restoration of Canterbury Cathedral, pilgrims then started visiting it in unprecedented numbers from across England and all of Europe.

Both Cathedrals have been the subject of significant literary works and in particular the two most famous fictional works about cathedrals.

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales written between 1387-1400 chronicles the stories of pilgrims on the way to Canterbury to visit Becket’s shrine. Meanwhile Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris, known in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, was specifically written to assist in raising attention for the essential restoration of Notre Dame in the 19th century.

The Notre Dame fire of 2019 is now another similarity between these two historic buildings.

One final point of particular surprise is that whilst Canterbury Cathedral has had Archbishops dating back to St Augustine of Canterbury who established the See of Canterbury in the early Seventh century, there were only Bishops of Paris (and no Archbishops) until the 17th century.  The first Archbishop of Paris was Jean-François de Gondi who was appointed in 1622.

A reliquary container depicts the murder of Thomas a’ Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury.

A TIMELINE OF TWO CATHEDRALS

1163 Laying of the cornerstone for the new Notre Dame Cathedral Paris by Bishop Maurice de Sully (Bishop of Paris) with King Louis VII and Pope Alexander III both present.

1163 In England, a dispute begins between Archbishop Becket & King Henry II.

1164 Archbishop Thomas Becket goes into exile in France, protected by King Louis VII.

1165 Bishop de Sully (Bishop of Paris) writes the first of several letters to Pope Alexander III supporting Archbishop Becket.

1170 (1 December) Archbishop Becket returns to Canterbury after 7 years in exile.

1170 (29 December) Archbishop Becket is murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by 4 English Knights.

1173 Pope Alexander III canonises St Thomas Becket

1174 (July) Henry II prays at Canterbury Cathedral

1174 (September) Canterbury Cathedral is destroyed by fire including most of the Cathedral (but importantly not the Crypt or the body of St Thomas Becket).

1175-76 Construction starts on rebuilding Canterbury Cathedral

1182 Notre Dame Paris consecrated by Bishop de Sully and a Papal legate in Paris.

1184 Canterbury Cathedral is fully restored including a new chapel for St Thomas Becket. Pilgrims begin to flock to Canterbury from across England & Europe.

1387-1400 Chaucer writes The Canterbury Tales, stories of pilgrims making their way to visit the shrine of St Thomas Becket

1831 Victor Hugo writes The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in part to raise awareness of the dire need to restore Notre Dame.

2019 A fire destroys Notre Dame Paris.

2020 The 850th Anniversary of St Thomas Becket’s martyrdom in Canterbury Cathedral.

Anthony McCarthy is the President of Artes Christi Australia

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Canterbury-Cathedral Canterbury Cathedral. The original Canterbury Cathedral burned down in 1174, just 11 years after the foundation stone for Note Dame Cathedral in Paris was laid. Photo: 123rf.com 20190415T1540-25986-CNS-PARIS-NOTRE-DAME-FIRE Notre Dame Cathedral is seen at night in Paris in 2016. A major blaze engulfed the iconic cathedral on 15 April 2019 sending pillars of flame and billowing smoke over the centre of the French capital. Photo: CNS, Charles Platiau, Reuters Becket stained glass A stained glass windown depicts St Thomas a' Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. Canterbury-interior The glory of medieval architecture: this photograph shows part of the interior vaulted ceiling of Canterbury Cathedral. Photo: 123rf.com 20160525T1337-3655-CNS-BECKET-RELIC-CANTERBURY Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England, carries a reliquary containing what is believed to be a bone fragment of St Thomas Becket during a Mass at Westminster Cathedral in London on 23 May 2016. The relic of St Thomas, murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, was brought to England from Hungary, where it has been kept since the 13th century. It will be displayed in several churches around London before being returned to Hungary. Hungarian President Janos Ader and his wife, Anita Herczegh, are pictured behind Cardinal Nichols. Photo: CNS, Marcin Mazur 20160525T1337-3656-CNS-BECKET-RELIC-CANTERBURY A reliquary containing what is believed to be a bone fragment of St Thomas Becket is displayed during a Mass at Westminster Cathedral in London in 2016. Photo: CNS, Marcin Mazur Beckett-reliquary-850 A reliquary container depicts the murder of Thomas a' Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Pope leads prayers for Sri Lanka https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/prayers-for-sri-lanka/ Mon, 22 Apr 2019 23:19:07 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=21984 On Easter Monday, Pope Francis led prayers for the victims of bombings in Sri Lanka.

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St Sebastian Catholic Church
Police officers at the scene at St Sebastian Catholic Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka April 22, 2019, after bomb blasts ripped through churches and luxury hotels the previous day. PHOTO: CNS/Athit Perawongmetha, Reuters

On Easter Monday, Pope Francis led thousands of people in St Peter’s Square in praying for the hundreds of people who died or were injured in bomb blasts the previous day in Sri Lanka.

Pope Francis had already condemned the bombings and offered prayers April 21 after celebrating Easter morning Mass.

Related article: Sri Lankan attacks kill 290, leave 500-plus wounded

The next day, after Sri Lankan officials reported 290 confirmed deaths from the eight blasts at churches and hotels in three cities, the pope told the crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square for the ‘Regina Coeli’ prayer, “I want to again express my spiritual and paternal closeness to the people of Sri Lanka”.

“I pray for the numerous victims and injured,” he said, “and I ask everyone not to hesitate to offer this dear nation all the necessary help. I also hope that everyone will condemn these terrorist acts, inhuman acts, that are never justifiable.”

In his main talk, the pope said that, like the women who first told the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead, all Christians are called to encounter the risen Lord and share the good news of his resurrection with the world.

Police officials look over the scene after a bombing at St Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on 21 April 2019. At least 200 people were killed and hundreds more injured on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka when attackers unleashed an apparently coordinated series of bombings that simultaneously targeted Christian churches and luxury hotels. Photo: CNS, Reuters

The day’s Gospel reading, like other accounts of the resurrection, highlights the role of the women who followed Jesus, he said.

“All the Gospels stress the role of the women — Mary Magdalene and the others — as the first witnesses of the Resurrection,” the pope said. “The men, fearful, were closed in the Upper Room.”

The Gospel reading (Mt 28:8-15) recounts how “the women, full of fear and joy, were rushing to go bring the news to the disciples that the tomb was empty,” the pope said. “At that moment, Jesus presents himself to them. ‘They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.'”

“They touched him,” he said. “It was not a ghost. It was Jesus, alive, in the flesh. It was him. Jesus drives fear from their hearts and encourages them to proclaim to the brothers what happened.”

In Jesus, the pope said, all who have been baptised pass from death to life, “from slavery to sin to the freedom of love”.

Jesus Christ statue
A blood-stained statue of Christ is seen after a bombing at St Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. PHOTO: CNS/Reuters

The Church celebrates Easter for an entire week, he said, because it is a time to allow oneself to be “touched by the consoling message of Easter and wrapped in its glorious light, which dissipates the darkness of fear and sadness.”

The risen Lord walks alongside all those who call upon him and love him, the pope said. He is present, “first of all in prayer, but also in simple joys lived with faith and gratitude” when people are enjoying friendships, welcoming others or contemplating nature.

“Christ’s resurrection was the most shocking event in human history,” the pope said. It attests to “the victory of God’s love over sin and death, and it gives our hope for life a foundation solid as a rock”.

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Prayers for Sri Lanka On Easter Monday, Pope Francis led prayers for the victims of bombings in Sri Lanka. Easter Monday,Pope Francis,Sri Lanka,Terrorism,Sri Lanka 20190422T1023-015850 Police officers work the scene at St Sebastian Catholic Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka April 22, 2019, after bomb blasts ripped through churches and luxury hotels the previous day. PHOTO: CNS/Athit Perawongmetha, Reuters 20190421T1430-0647-CNS-SRI-LANKA-BOMBINGS Police officials look over the scene after a bombing at St Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on 21 April 2019. At least 200 people were killed and hundreds more injured on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka when attackers unleashed an apparently coordinated series of bombings that simultaneously targeted Christian churches and luxury hotels. Photo: CNS, Reuters 20190421T1430-0648-CNS-SRI-LANKA-BOMBINGS A blood-stained statue of Christ is seen after a bombing at St Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. PHOTO: CNS/Reuters
Sri Lankan attacks kill 290, leave 500-plus wounded https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/sri-lankan-attacks-kill-290-leave-500-plus-wounded/ Mon, 22 Apr 2019 00:18:33 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=21937   Sri Lankan authorities imposed a curfew across the country starting at 3 pm on Easter Sunday following multiple attacks on three hotels and three churches in Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa, the AsiaNews.it website reported. Related story: Pope leads prayers for Sri Lanka In the 24 hours following the attacks the death toll rose to 290 […]

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Police officials look over the scene after a bombing at St Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on 21 April 2019. At least 200 people were killed and hundreds more injured on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka when attackers unleashed an apparently coordinated series of bombings that simultaneously targeted Christian churches and luxury hotels. Photo: CNS, Reuters

Sri Lankan authorities imposed a curfew across the country starting at 3 pm on Easter Sunday following multiple attacks on three hotels and three churches in Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa, the AsiaNews.it website reported.

Related story: Pope leads prayers for Sri Lanka

In the 24 hours following the attacks the death toll rose to 290 and more than 500 wounded. At least nine foreigners are among the dead, including two Australians.

AsiaNews.it is the news website of the Vatican’s Pontifical Institute for Missions.

Curfew imposed, all Sri Lankan schools closed

Nuns, clergymen and police officials look over the scene in shock after a bombing at St Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on 21 April 2019. At least 200 people were killed and hundreds more injured on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka when attackers unleashed an apparently coordinated series of bombings that simultaneously targeted Christian churches and luxury hotels. Photo: CNS, Reuters

Sri Lankan police urged the country’s population to stay home and not to visits the blast sites, nor stay outside the hospitals where the victims have been taken.

The Education Ministry has ordered all schools closed for the next two days. The country’s universities will also be closed starting tomorrow until further notice.

Related: Only God can restore the Church, says visiting Sri Lankan evangeliser

In addition to the blasts at the three churches – Zion in Batticaloa, St Anthony’s in Kochchikade, St Sebastian in Negombo – and at the three hotels – Shangri-La, Cinnamon and Kingsbury – there were two other explosions: one at a small hotel near Dehiwela Zoo, in Colombo, and another in a house in Mahawila Gardens, in the Colombo suburb of Dematagoda.

In Australia, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP prayed for the victims and their families.

“On this Easter Sunday, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Sri Lanka,” he said in a statement issued on social media.

“It is a sad reminder that many of our fellow Catholics around the world are unable to worship in safety and our holiest celebration may be one of great danger to them.

“My prayers are also with the Sri-Lankan-Australian community concerned about the welfare of friends and relatives back home.

“Our Lady, Queen of Peace, bless and protect the people of Sri Lanka at this difficult time,” he prayed.

Arrests

No one has claimed responsibility for the first six explosions, the deadliest, but police have arrested seven people in connection with the other two.

Of those detained, two were taken into custody over the Dematagoda incident that left three police officers dead.

As messages of solidarity poured in from around the world, including from Pope Francis, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena condemned the brutal attack on religious and non-religious sites and promised speedy investigations and arrest of the perpetrators of the attacks as well as those behind the conspiracy.

Catholic clergymen and police officials look over the scene in shock after a bombing at St Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri, Lanka, on 21 April 2019. At least 200 people were killed and hundreds more injured on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka when attackers unleashed an apparently coordinated series of bombings that simultaneously targeted Christian churches and luxury hotels. Photo: CNS, Reuters

He called on SrI Lankans not to believe rumours and to support the government.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed sorrow for the victims and stressed that the attacks would affect the nation and its economy. He also urged the Defence Ministry to “protect law and order” in the country.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, described the attacks as “bestial and inhuman” and extended his condolences to the families of the dead and wounded. He also called on health professionals to do everything possible to save innocent victims.

Minister says suicide bombers responsible

Some observers speculated that the attacks could be the work of Sri Lankan Muslims returning from the wars in Syria and Iraq however there has been no confirmation of this.

After the attacks, Sri Lanka’s defence minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, said the culprits had been identified and were religious extremists.

He said suicide bombers were responsible for the majority of the morning’s bombings and that the wave of attacks was the work of a single group.

Most of Sri Lanka’s 22 million people are Buddhist and Sinhalese (75 per cent). Tamils are about 18 per cent and mostly Hindu.

Catholics are about 6.8 per cent of the population, divided among different ethnic groups. There is also a substantial Muslim community (9 per cent) that have clashed in the past with fundamentalist Buddhist groups, who have also occasionally targeted Christians.

Pope Francis is pictured next to Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka, as he meets clerics from Sri Lanka during his general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican in October 2018. Photo: CNS, Paul Haring

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20190421T1430-0647-CNS-SRI-LANKA-BOMBINGS Police officials look over the scene after a bombing at St Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on 21 April 2019. At least 200 people were killed and hundreds more injured on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka when attackers unleashed an apparently coordinated series of bombings that simultaneously targeted Christian churches and luxury hotels. Photo: CNS, Reuters 20190421T1430-0646-CNS-SRI-LANKA-BOMBINGS Nuns, clergymen and police officials look over the scene in shock after a bombing at St Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on 21 April 2019. At least 200 people were killed and hundreds more injured on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka when attackers unleashed an apparently coordinated series of bombings that simultaneously targeted Christian churches and luxury hotels. Photo: CNS, Reuters 20190421T1430-0645-CNS-SRI-LANKA-BOMBINGS Catholic clergymen and police officials look over the scene in shock after a bombing at St Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri, Lanka, on 21 April 2019. At least 200 people were killed and hundreds more injured on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka when attackers unleashed an apparently coordinated series of bombings that simultaneously targeted Christian churches and luxury hotels. Photo: CNS, Reuters 20181010T0919-21231-CNS-POPE-AUDIENCE-LIFE Pope Francis is pictured next to Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka, as he meets clerics from Sri Lanka during his general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican in October 2018. Photo: CNS, Paul Haring
Rebuild the Church, Archbishop urges https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/archbishop-urges-catholics-new-old-to-rebuild-church/ Sun, 21 Apr 2019 05:16:51 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=21917 Archbishop Fisher OP called on Australian Catholics, including those who entered the Church this Easter, to rebuild the Church.

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St Mary’s Cathedral is illuminated by candlelight symbolising Christ’s resurrection and victory over death and sin at the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

In a week where the fire that gutted Notre Dame Cathedral in Parish riveted the world’s attention Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP called on Australian Catholics, including those who entered the Church this Easter, to rebuild the Church.

Archbishop Fisher’s call came during the Easter Vigil Mass at midnight last Saturday and Easter Morning in St Mary’s Cathedral.

Easter is all about transformation from death to life; out of the daily sufferings and realities of human existence, Archbishop Fisher said, God brings new life.

“The blood, sweat and tears of human bodily life; the wood, iron and vinegar of human manufacture: all are brought to the fire and water of Easter for transformation,” he told a packed cathedral.

Related: ‘The battle for our souls has begun’

Related: At Easter, the stones of sin, despair are rolled away, Pope says at Vigil

“As thousands stood by Notre Dame this week staring or crying, praying or chanting, they entrusted the future of the church to Our Lady of Sorrows. The French President declared his nation’s determination to rebuild.

“Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, we hear a similar cry, the call of God to the young Francis of Assisi, to our catechumens, to all the Church of Australia in 2019: “Go and Rebuild my Church”.

Massive numbers flock to Easter ceremonies

Archbishop Anthony Fisher op blesses the Paschal candle at the Easter Vigil in St Mary’s Cathedral on Saturday evening. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Huge numbers attended Mass and Easter-related ceremonies at St Mary’s Cathedral throughout the three days of the Easter triduum.

An estimated 1200 people attended the traditional Stations of the Cross prayers on Friday afternoon which commemorate 14 events of Christ’s passion; even more – around 1600 – attended the Passion service when the Gospel account of Christ’s suffering and crucifixion are read out by clergy.

At least 1200 filled the cathedral for Easter Sunday morning’s solemn Mass where Archbishop Fisher distributed Easter eggs after the liturgy to delighted children in the congregation.

Despite this year being something of an annus horribilis for Catholics around the world, including in Australia, individuals across the country continued to enter the Church at Easter ceremonies.

New Catholics welcomed

Archbishop Fisher welcomed four new Catholics into the Church at the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening, urging them to take their place in rebuilding the Church in a society where negativity and aggression appear to be rapidly on the rise.

They were Ashley Hoyoung Kim, Lucy Catherine; Mahesh Asanka Oliver – now Isaiah Mateo – and Sadrul Amin.

We look to you, our dear catechumens … to be like Easter fires sparking purpose, passion and purification,” Archbishop Fisher told the four.

“But we also need you to be like Easter water, demonstrating creativity, compassion and clemency.”

Concerning trends in national life

He also decried concerning trends in Australian life.

“Our leaders are advised to go on the attack. Our mainstream media behave like sharks in a feeding frenzy. In the twitterverse there are no limits to what people say against each other. Self-restraint and civility are a bygone etiquette,” he said.

While some advances had taken place, other trends were concerning.

“There is continuing damage to the social fabric, and so to individual lives. A rolling series of public inquiries is discrediting our institutions, and confidence in political processes and traditional authority is at an all-time low,” the Archbishop told those attending the Vigil.

“In this milieu, the indignation industry can stir up instant public anger through the social media. “Crucify him, crucify him” is a cry as easily manufactured today as it was in Jesus’ day.”

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP prepares to light the Paschal Candle during the Easter Vigil at St Mary’s Cathedral on Saturday evening. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Have faith in God

However Easter and its symbols of fire and water are all about transformation, he reminded mass attenders, where God’s unshakeable promises to his children recorded in Scripture offer eternal life through baptism.

“As God promised Noah that the Great Flood would never to be repeated, so He offers us an unshakeable covenant of peace,” he said.

“As God led the Jews through the Red Sea to freedom, so He promises salvation to the nations through the waters of rebirth.

“As God pledged to cleanse unfaithful Israel with clean water and give her a new heart, so He vows that we shall be His people and He will be our God.

“And if God did all this through the death and resurrection of His son, He enables us to enter into that decease and renaissance through Baptism.”

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Rebuild the Church, Archbishop urges | The Catholic Weekly In a week where the fire that gutted Notre Dame Cathedral in Parish riveted the world’s attention Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP called on Australian Catholics, including those who entered the Church this Easter, to rebuild the Church. Archbishop Fisher’s call came during the Easter Vigil Mass at midn Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP,Easter Vigil,Good Friday,new Catholics,stations of the cross,rebuild 2019-04-20-18-15-59-NIKON-D700-DSC_7659 St Mary's Cathedral is illuminated by candlelight symbolising Christ's resurrection and victory over death and sin at the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening. Photo: Giovanni Portelli 2019-04-20-19-07-55-NIKON-D3S-DSC_7248 Archbishop Anthony Fisher op blesses the Paschal candle at the Easter Vigil in St Mary's Cathedral on Saturday evening. Photo: Giovanni Portelli 2019-04-20-19-09-00-NIKON-D5-DSC_3630 Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP prepares to light the Paschal Candle during the Easter Vigil at St Mary's Cathedral on Saturday evening. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Anna Krohn: An Australian end https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/anna-krohn-an-australian-end/ Fri, 19 Apr 2019 06:00:03 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=21794 It seemed both fitting and especially poignant for staff and students that the final graduation ceremony of the Melbourne Session of The John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family came on the eve of the memorial for the mighty Polish martyr-Bishop of Cracow, St Stanislaus (1030-1079). Poignant and painful, because over 900 years later, […]

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Historic moment: some of the last graduates of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne gather for its final graduation ceremony. Photo: Peter Casamento
Historic moment: some of the last graduates of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne gather for its final graduation ceremony. Photo: Peter Casamento

It seemed both fitting and especially poignant for staff and students that the final graduation ceremony of the Melbourne Session of The John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family came on the eve of the memorial for the mighty Polish martyr-Bishop of Cracow, St Stanislaus (1030-1079).

Poignant and painful, because over 900 years later, the Australian incarnation of the Institute, founded and inspired by another Polish giant, bishop of Cracow and saint, should face the incomprehension and oversight not only of an increasingly alienated secular culture but also the inertia and lack of response from much of the bureaucratic machinery and hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Australia.

In his frank address to the staff and 19 of the over-33 final graduates, the Institute President from 2004-19, Bishop Peter Elliot, spoke of his awareness of the problems it faced in creating such a new academic entity in this country.

He also identified a political and cultural “undertow that would eventually bring about our closure.”

See related article: Closure of Melbourne John Paul II Institute appears surprising given Pope’s comments

He lamented further that, “The Institute was regarded only as an agency of the local Church and a drain on money, which is apparently wasted if spent on promoting Christian marriage, the family as the domestic church, relevant bioethics and sound religious education of the young.”

The bitter irony of this, in the Church’s current state, was not lost on those present.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli, who officiated at the Graduation and was installed to Melbourne in August 2018 as Archbishop and Institute President (after the process of the closure of the Institute had begun) said afterwards, that he sensed the frustration and pain mingled with the sense of achievement and joy on the faces of the students and staff.

He noted his “gratitude to the Lord” for the gift of the Institute and the great intellectual and cultural “seeds” that all associated with it would bring to the Church and to the world in the future.

There were, after all, many notable achievements, qualities and personalities associated with the Melbourne Institute.

Watched by Bishop Peter Elliott, Archbishop Peter Comensoli confers a qualification upon a graduate in St Patrick’s Cathedral. Photo: Peter Casamento
Watched by Bishop Peter Elliott, Archbishop Peter Comensoli confers a qualification upon a graduate in St Patrick’s Cathedral. Photo: Peter Casamento

It was, for example, the only theological establishment to have as Registrar a former officer of the Royal Marines, Lt Colonel Toby Hunter.

Bishop Elliot paid tribute to the widespread regard all hold for this remarkable man. “His communications with students leave absolutely nothing unclear,” Bishop Elliott said.

“His memory of past students is formidable; his understanding of the intricacies of the Institute is profound, and yet so, too, is his humility in the face of the haughty and the proud. We who have benefited from all this are deeply indebted to him.”

Bishop Elliott spoke of the international profile of the “bright stars” upon whom the Melbourne campus was founded.

See related article: What the pope said to the John Paul Institute in Rome – English Translation

These have included, in the theology of culture, Professor Tracey Rowland, in bioethics the now deceased hero, Professor Nicholas Tonti-Filippini and the first Director of the Institute, Anthony Fisher OP (now Archbishop of Sydney.)

There were other rising stars, those whose originality and insight, worked as a gravitational force for many of those active in lay movements, and the young lay and clerical students, who unlike many of those in more powerful positions in the Church, held the mission and the presence of the Melbourne John Paul II Institute in high esteem.

Many of these sacrificed considerable time, money and effort to attend classes with the local and the notable international faculty.

Many teachers flocked to religious education courses by Dr Gerard O’Shea (now working for the diocese of Wilcannia Forbes), to courses by Dr Conor Sweeney, author of Abiding The Long Defeat: How to Evangelise Like a Hobbit in a Disenchanted Age, and to the writing and wisdom of patristic scholars of the calibre of Dr Anna Silvas and Dr Adam Cooper.

Professor Tracey Rowland, one of the“bright stars” upon whom the JPII Institute Melbourne campus was founded.
Professor Tracey Rowland, one of the“bright stars” upon whom the JPII Institute Melbourne campus was founded.

Dr Colin Patterson, who worked with heroic patience in the place of the Dean in the final few but difficult years paid tribute to Professor Tracey Rowland, Dean for almost all of the life of the Institute, “(who) strove mightily to resist external (and varied) opposition to the Institute, and to preserve its independence and its very existence.”

He also reflected upon the vast cultural and geographical sweep of the students who studied there.

“Our first graduate, in 2003, was Salesio Lui (one-time Prime Minister) from the Pacific Island of Tokelau. Our last student was Fr Lubega, from the back-blocks of Uganda, who fulfilled the requirements for his PhD just last week.”

Indeed, the Institute is Alma Mater for over 250 graduates, many young Australians, but also some outstanding and hard-working students from Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, India, Canada, New Zealand, Kenya, England, France and from Mauritius, some working in English as their second, third or fourth language.

See related article: A Legacy of Magnanimity: Professor Nicholas Tonti-Filippini

Despite the bitter-sweet tone of the final celebrations, it is the future to which the community and students of the Institute look, because it was always a deeper and more personal and concrete reality than a mere institution.

“The Institute,” said Dr Rowland, now the John Paul II Chair of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, “was unique.

“We aimed at world class standards in our academic life, but at the same time we fostered a culture wherein the students sensed they were part of an extended family.”

It is this unique synthesis, achieved over the life of the Melbourne Institute, between deep theological reflection, imaginative creativity, cultural engagement and pastoral sensitivity, which will be borne by all who have passed through its doors and will become a gift to the Church and a light in the mysterious coming of the Kingdom. Amen.

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Krohn-210419 Historic moment: some of the last graduates of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne gather for its final graduation ceremony. Photo: Peter Casamento Krohn-1-210419 Watched by Bishop Peter Elliott, Archbishop Peter Comensoli confers a qualification upon a graduate in St Patrick’s Cathedral. Photo: Peter Casamento Krohn-2-210419 Professor Tracey Rowland, one of the“bright stars” upon whom the JPII Institute Melbourne campus was founded.
Let’s serve each other: Pope washes prisoners feet https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/lets-serve-each-other-pope-washes-prisoners-feet/ Fri, 19 Apr 2019 05:26:48 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=21907 We are all servants, Francis tells prisoners Jesus’ gesture of washing his disciples’ feet, an act once reserved to servants and slaves, is one that all Christians, especially bishops, must imitate, Pope Francis told hundreds of inmates and prison employees on Holy Thursday. “Jesus’ rule and the rule of the Gospel” is to serve others […]

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We are all servants, Francis tells prisoners

Jesus’ gesture of washing his disciples’ feet, an act once reserved to servants and slaves, is one that all Christians, especially bishops, must imitate, Pope Francis told hundreds of inmates and prison employees on Holy Thursday.

“Jesus’ rule and the rule of the Gospel” is to serve others and not “to dominate, do evil or humiliate others,” the pope said on 18 April during his homily at the Velletri Correctional Facility, 60 kilometres south of Rome.

“The church asks the bishop to imitate Jesus’ gesture every year – at least once a year – on Holy Thursday,” he said. “The bishop isn’t the most important (person); the bishop must be the greatest servant. And each one of us must be servants to others.”

Pope Francis celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the prison and washed the feet of a dozen inmates. Nine were Italian and one each was from Brazil, Ivory Coast and Morocco, the Vatican said.

Vatican News reported the prison houses more than 570 prisoners; 60 per cent of those incarcerated are non-Italians.

The Mass was held in the room the prison uses as a theatre; it was draped in white curtains. The altar, lectern and a wooden statue of Mary were adorned with white and yellow flowers.

They love Francis

Pope Francis greets inmates and guards as he arrives to celebrate the Mass of Lord’s Supper on 18 April 2019, at Velletri Correctional Facility, 60 kilometres south of Rome. Photo: CNS, Vatican Media, via Reuters

As Pope Francis made his way into the room at the start of the Mass, the detainees were unable to contain their joy. The solemnity of the opening procession was interrupted by the applause and cheers of the detainees upon seeing the pope.

In his brief homily before the foot-washing ritual, the pope told the prisoners that the act of washing one’s feet was a task reserved solely to slaves who would wash the feet of any guests that arrived at the house.

However, Jesus, “who had all the power, he who was the Lord, makes the gesture of a slave,” he said.

“This is brotherhood; brotherhood is always humble; it is to be at the service (of others),” the pope said

The greatest serves the least

Pope Francis washes the feet of an inmate during a Holy Thursday celebration at Velletri Correctional Facility, 60 kilometres south of Rome. Photo: CNS, Vatican Media, via Reuters

Pope Francis also recalled another Gospel reading in which the disciples argued about who was the greatest among them. Jesus’ response to them – that the greatest should serve the least – “is something interesting that we can connect with today’s gesture,” he said.

“We, too, must be servants. It is true that in life there are problems; we argue among ourselves, but this must be something that passes, a passing phase. In our hearts, there must always be this love to serve the other, to be at the service of others,” the pope said.

After Mass, Maria Donata Iannantuono, director of the correctional facility, thanked Pope Francis for his visit. Several inmates and prison employees also presented him with gifts and letters.

Jail visits a papal tradition

As the pope made his way out of the theatre, prisoners shouted “Viva il papa” (“Long live the pope”) and applauded loudly.

Pope Francis has made it a tradition to celebrate Holy Thursday with people who could not come to the Vatican or the Basilica of St John Lateran for the celebrations.

The 18 April Mass marked the fifth time Pope Francis celebrated the Holy Thursday Mass in a detention facility.

Related: Battle for our souls has begun, Archbishop Fisher tells Easter crowds

Related: Prisoners of conscience – China’s harvest of blood

His first year as pope in 2013, he chose a juvenile detention facility to celebrate Holy Thursday.

The next year, he washed the feet of people with severe physical handicaps at a rehabilitation centre.

That was followed by men and women detainees at Rome’s Rebibbia prison in 2015, refugees in 2016, inmates at a jail in the Italian town of Paliano in 2017, and prisoners at Rome’s “Regina Coeli” jail in 2018.

 

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Let's serve each other: Pope washes prisoners feet | The Catholic Weekly https://youtu.be/cY0CTU0PaJA We are all servants, Francis tells prisoners Jesus' gesture of washing his disciples' feet, an act once reserved to servants and slaves, is one that all Christians, especially bishops, must imitate, Pope Francis told hundreds of inmates and prison employees on Holy Thurs Holy Thursday,Lord's Supper,Mass,Pope Francis,Vatican,washes prisoners' feet,prisoners 20190418T1351-1826-CNS-POPE-THURSDAY-PRISON Pope Francis greets inmates and guards as he arrives to celebrate the Mass of Lord's Supper on 18 April 2019, at Velletri Correctional Facility, 60 kilometres south of Rome. Photo: CNS, Vatican Media, via Reuters 20190418T1351-1824-CNS-POPE-THURSDAY-PRISON Pope Francis washes the feet of an inmate during a Holy Thursday celebration at Velletri Correctional Facility, 60 kilometres south of Rome. Photo: CNS, Vatican Media, via Reuters
Cinema and bar bring back good old days https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/cinema-and-bar-bring-back-good-old-days/ Fri, 19 Apr 2019 01:00:27 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=21782 Every social interaction, with even our closest friends, is marked by the telling of stories, from how awful lunch was and how stingy the boss, to the big stories of love and loss in life. We tell them over drinks and food, on the train (even in quiet carriages) over the phone and even to […]

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Intimate: seven seats wide, the Golden Age offers a unique movie, music and social experience. Photo: Douglas Lance Gibson
Intimate: seven seats wide, the Golden Age offers a unique movie, music and social experience. Photo: Douglas Lance Gibson

Every social interaction, with even our closest friends, is marked by the telling of stories, from how awful lunch was and how stingy the boss, to the big stories of love and loss in life.

We tell them over drinks and food, on the train (even in quiet carriages) over the phone and even to ourselves. They fill novels and movies, TV shows and interviews, the news, history books and cookbooks and advertisements.

It’s even in our religions – there’s a narrative at the heart of them all. I don’t pretend to know why, but it’s enough to note that it is somehow essential to the experience of being human in any age.

Film and Television are arguably the prime media by which we participate in the endless storytelling of humanity. The comparison between the television and the campfire of the past as the centre of the modern ritual of storytelling has been made many times.

Photo: Charles Dennington
Photo: Charles Dennington

This is especially true given the increasing saturation of streaming services. These are cheaper and easier with a far greater variety available than we ever found at the movie theatre. Why, then, do cinemas continue to operate?

Golden Age Cinema and Bar, in Surry Hills is perhaps the clearest answer. It turns the participation in narrative, in story, into an event.

The cinema is built upon what might be described as the old Paramount Pictures base in Sydney from the 1940s to the 70s.

The cinema was the space where film executives would watch the latest offerings, the film proposals and final cuts.

Photo: Charles Dennington
Photo: Charles Dennington

Now refurbished and done up in classic art-deco style, stepping inside is stepping out of the world and into the past, where countless stories have been told before (without the stale popcorn on the floor so familiar in other cinemas).

Its 56 seats hail from Zurich, and are authentic to the 1940s. The deep character of the space itself is complemented by the movie program on offer.

The regular showings include some of the latest blockbusters, peppered with classics, cult films, independent movies, and even the occasional local filmmaker’s shorts.

Beyond merely showing films, the Golden Age has a small cocktail bar attached.

Live music from the Sydney scene plays most Thursday and Friday nights, with Film Trivia once a month. Meanwhile, the bar mixes a mean Martini for the post-movie arguments about what the hero should have done, or a pre-movie wind down.

Photo: Douglas Lance Gibson
Photo: Douglas Lance Gibson

The story of the Golden Age is perhaps best summed up in its own words from its website: ‘Think of Golden Age as the femme fatale, the leading man, and the sassy best friend all in one … the good old days are now.’

We will never stop telling stories or listening to them. For the full experience of story, of those invaluable perspectives on life, the Golden Age answers the call deep within the heart. The call to fall in love with life all over again.

The Golden Age Cinema and Bar is located at Paramount House, 80 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills.

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Westenberg-210419 Intimate: seven seats wide, the Golden Age offers a unique movie, music and social experience. Photo: Douglas Lance Gibson Westenberg-2-210419 Photo: Charles Dennington Westenberg-1-210419 Photo: Charles Dennington Westenberg-3-210419 Photo: Douglas Lance Gibson
‘Battle for our souls has begun’ https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/battle-for-our-souls-has-begun/ Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:42:13 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=21850 Thousands have gathered at St Mary's Cathedral for the opening of the 2019 Easter Triduum.

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Archbishop Fisher OP washes the feet of worshippers at St Mary’s Cathedral on Holy Thursday night. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Thousands of Catholics have gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral and Sydney parishes for the opening of the Easter Triduum with Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP welcomed the congregation to the cathedral with some thoughts about the fire at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral which gripped the world this Holy Week.

“It is all the more poignant that the fire occurred in Holy Week in the cathedral that houses what is believed to be the Crown of Thorns and that firefighters risked their lives to save it,” he said.

Crowds in St Mary's Cathedral for Holy Thursday
A packed St Mary’s Cathedral during the entrance procession for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. PHOTO: G Portelli

“The Church of Sydney knows about such losses, having twice lost our cathedral to fire, as did our daughter diocese of Parramatta.”

The archbishop said the task of rebuilding the Church is one for every age, “but especially so here in Australia at present”.

“As we begin tonight the three-day-long Liturgy commemorating the saving events of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, we entrust that task first and foremost to our Saviour.”

Related article: 8 facts about Notre Dame Cathedral

In his homily, the archbishop said that the Mass on Holy Thursday night marks the beginning of Christ’s final “battle for our souls”.

“For our sakes, the King of Kings makes Himself our slave, our food,” he said.

“But at the end of our ceremony there will be no final blessing, no dismissal, for this Passover continues tomorrow, as Jesus is stripped again and ‘made humbler yet, even to accepting death on a cross’.”

Clergy from across Sydney gathers to renew vows and collect sacramental oils on Holy Thursday morning. PHOTO: G Portelli

The archbishop was joined by Bishop Tony Randazzo, cathedral dean Don Richardson and other clergy and seminarians of the archdiocese.

Earlier in the day clergy, religious, seminarians and representatives of parishes and schools gathered at the cathedral for the annual Chrism Mass where priests solemnly renewed their promises to serve the people of God.

Archbishop Fisher focused on the heart of Our Lord in his homily and reminded them that their mission, like Christ’s, is to convert people’s hearts, and “bind up every broken heart”.

Newly-consecrated Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens (for baptisms) and Oil for Holy Chrism. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“But if priests are to bring human hearts in line with that of God, they must first conform their own hearts to Christ’s—what animates and guides them must be a pastor’s loving heart,” he said.

After the renewal of vows by the clergy Archbishop Fisher blessed the three oils intended for use in every parish through the liturgical year: the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens, for baptisms, and the Oil for Holy Chrism, for those to be ordained.

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Archbishop-Fisher_Washing-Feet-Cathedral_180419_Portelli_850 Archbishop Fisher OP washes the feet of worshippers at St Mary's Cathedral on Holy Thursday night. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli NIKON D5-2019-04-18 19-34-12 DSC_3147.NEF 2019-04-18 12-44-02-NIKON D5-DSC_3041 Hundreds of clergy from across the Sydney archdiocese gather for the annual renewal of vows and to collect sacramental oils for their parishes each Holy Thursday. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli 2019-04-18-12-14-50-NIKON-D5-DSC_2959 NEwly-consecrated Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens (for baptisms) and Oil for Holy Chrism. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli
Karl Schmude: The Easter yearning https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/karl-schmude-the-easter-yearning/ Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:00:37 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=21776 Easter is an uncomfortable feast. Unlike Christmas, it dwells on death rather than life. While it finally celebrates the triumph of life over death, in the Resurrection of Christ, it gives solemn attention to a prelude of pain and appalling desolation. Easter testifies to a feature of human nature that is inescapable – the yearning […]

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The age of modification: our society celebrates the body to the point of adoration or modifies it because it is unsatisfactory.
The age of modification: our society celebrates the body to the point of adoration or modifies it because it is unsatisfactory.

Easter is an uncomfortable feast. Unlike Christmas, it dwells on death rather than life. While it finally celebrates the triumph of life over death, in the Resurrection of Christ, it gives solemn attention to a prelude of pain and appalling desolation.

Easter testifies to a feature of human nature that is inescapable – the yearning for immortality. All of the world’s great religions, including Christianity, have sought to satisfy, in their different ways, this universal yearning.

Even our own secularist age, which proffers the goal of material gratification as a substitute for spiritual fulfilment, has not managed to ignore the appeal of eternity. The leaping advances of medical science have fostered the hope of a continuous earthly existence.

Disease and disability have yielded to pharmaceutical and social control, while developments in surgery, such as organ transplants, have created the vista of an indefinite postponement of death.

And yet, does medical science finally offer the grim prospect of Jonathan Swift’s Struldbrugs, those sad inhabitants of the Kingdom of Laputa, who cannot die and spend their time envying the dead?

It may seem that our age has produced a secular version of the Resurrection, treating the deceased person as if he were still physically alive.

Evelyn Waugh, in his novel The Loved One, savagely satirises the presentation of death in American culture. He captures, in the cosmetician Aimee Thanatogenous, our illusions about death, and the tendency to satisfy spiritual longings with material deceits.

Related article: Unscrambling the real message of Easter

In Waugh’s scarifying words, Aimee “presented herself to the world, dressed and scented in obedience to the advertisements.”

Her name was deliberately chosen – Aimee being French for “loved one”, and Thanatogenous being Greek for “born of death”.

As each body is presented to her, it reflects the changing mood of the mortician – the corpse appearing sad at certain times, grinning on other occasions.

Aimee’s work in the mortuary promotes the illusion of material survival – as a substitute for bodily resurrection and spiritual immortality.

Easter is uncomfortable for another reason: it proposes the enduring value and importance of every human body.

Despite the pleasures of the flesh, the constraints and afflictions imposed by the body are well recognised, especially as youth gives way to age.

Moreover, prevailing attitudes to the body affect our capacity to understand and accept the reality of physical resurrection.

On the one hand, the body is celebrated to the point of adoration; on the other, it is distrusted for its inflexibility, and despised for its untrustworthiness. It is now subject to endless manipulation and modification, both technological and ideological.

Forgotten genius: Georges Bernanos, who died in 1948.  Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain
Forgotten genius: Georges Bernanos, who died in 1948.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/
Public Domain

Especially in the areas of sex and gender, we celebrate the body by denying its essential nature – in fact, the idea that it even has an essential nature.

Practices such as contraception, while they are universally presumed to be the best way of safeguarding sexual activities, have hardly contributed to the security of sexual relationships – whether in marriage or, even more, as has been commonly documented, among couples who live together without any pledge of fidelity.

It is hard to resist the conclusion, looking back over the past half-century, that the overall impact of contraception was entirely unforeseen by its advocates.

The results, however, are now in. The rejection of procreative sex has served to trivialise relationships between men and women. It has led to a plunging birth rate, and to purity being identified with sterility rather than its fundamental – and historically accepted – purpose of fruitfulness.

This is not only the case with physical but also spiritual life – in the fidelity of married love, as well as the integrity of chaste devotion, not only among the unmarried but also in special communities such as monasteries.

A demanding beatitude with which we are all familiar is: Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

It has been an inescapable basis for responding to Christ. He stretches out His love on the Cross and, insofar as we have purified our hearts, He fulfils our most profound yearnings.

The signs of physical self-love and indulgence in our culture are obvious, but how curious that they should be accompanied by a powerful strain of distrust of the flesh?

This may seem an extraordinary suggestion.

Yet our culture is unmistakably torn between indulgence and denial of our bodily natures.
Certainly it echoes certain ancient puritan tendencies, such as manifested historically in Manicheanism and Gnosticism, which insist on a deep and unbridgeable chasm between the world of the spirit (identified with good) and the world of matter (judged to be evil).

Related article: Karl Schmude: Lent’s subversive signs

These attitudes tell against the idea of a resurrected body, based as it is on a belief that the body is good and – for the Christian – supernaturally good. The body is sanctified by Christ’s Incarnation, and glorified by His Resurrection.

A remarkable testament to the Resurrection can be found in the 20th century French Catholic author, Georges Bernanos. His various books, in particular his most famous novel, Diary of a Country Priest (1936), reveal his insights into the suffering and death and resurrection of Jesus. In the words of his biographer, Robert Speaight:

“It is not too much to say that from his earliest years [Bernanos] lived and wrote in the shadow of the Cross, and his hope was one that only the Resurrection could justify. He had seen too many victories thrown away to believe in any other victory but this.”
At his death, a close friend, Pierre Bourdan, gazed upon his mortal remains and saw a prefigurement of his resurrection:

“The cause that Bernanos served was as wide as the universe. Such men will not have lived in vain, since their image is before our eyes to renew our confidence, when we are afraid to see humanity reduced to the law of numbers, of statistics, and of material gain.

“If I ever need a fresh assurance that the destiny and the glory of mankind is not to be contained within these dismal limits, it will be enough to recall the luminous vision of a face where the last act of a serene faith was able to wipe out sixty years of suffering, and bequeath to mankind, in exchange for this long ordeal, a smile of victory and ineffable promise.”

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Schmude-210419 The age of modification: our society celebrates the body to the point of adoration or modifies it because it is unsatisfactory. Schmude-1-210419 Forgotten genius: Georges Bernanos, who died in 1948. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain