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Monday, June 17, 2024
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Hayden Ramsay: We will hear Christ’s voice yet

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Words in German on a blackboard read: we are there for you. Photo: CH. HORZ, 123RF
Words in German on a blackboard read: we are there for you. Photo: CH. HORZ, 123RF

My German classroom at school had a sign on the wall reading Der Sommer ist vorbei: the summer is over.

It also had above Mrs Wright’s desk another sign Es gibt viel zu tun: there is much to do. Rather spirit-crushing on cold Scottish mornings.

Summer is wonderful in Australia. There’s a slight frisson towards the end of Melbourne Cup Day: the public Christmas decorations go up tomorrow.

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Advent has been abandoned as the time of prep and penance but even for those not Christian there is that sense of the year’s work winding down and the summer pleasures beginning.

In the northern hemisphere Christmas is a couple of days off and then straight back to work.

“But their very different voices were clear … and they were right to join their voices with the magisterium.”

In Sydney Christmas launches summer-proper. Even those still travelling in to the office feel the light and warmth, quieter commutes and better tempers.

This summer was different.

Catholics at New Year’s Eve parties paused for a moment as news arrived from Rome of Pope Benedict’s death. We watched his funeral.

A lucky few travelled to Rome, and arrived home again to the news of Cardinal Pell’s death. Everyone who had seen him in recent months was stunned.

Everyone felt the poignancy of a routine operation gone wrong, one he could have postponed. Some Australians behaved appallingly.

Cardinal Pell and Australian Bishops meeting Pope Benedict XVI during an Ad Limina visit to Rome. Photo: Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.

Some who should have shown a lead failed miserably and probably suffered in conscience that week.

What a summer. ‘The summer is gone and we are not saved’, wrote Jeremiah in his eighth chapter. No one wants to drag out old stories, build more division. Yet the summer’s business is incomplete.

The season is not ending as it should with tranquil, warm days, reluctance as normal life resumes, the slow wind-down to Sydney’s gentle autumn.

For Catholics at least, there are questions. The Pope and the Cardinal are laid to rest, and we have said our goodbyes.

But their very different voices were clear at the end—and they were right to join their voices with the magisterium.

“The Church thrives when it is oppressed either from within or without, and the tapestry that clothes the Church compels people… towards true belief.”

The great tapestry of Scripture, doctrine, philosophical insight, theological confirmation, moral principle is threatened.

Threads are undone by serious misunderstanding at home and in Rome.

Posthumous voices warned us about concepts turned into buzz words eg synodality, signs of the times, impatient Church-politicians not taking the time to restate and reconsider the tapestry of faith—our best shot at the truth, attempts to separate compassion or love from that truth—a horrible anti-Christian move, and fear by believers that if they speak out against the powerful Church movers they will be ridiculed or worse.

So I think there’s anxiety as this summer ends. Indeed, we are not yet saved. But it is a new year and I suspect we will not have to rely on posthumous voices. We have two great hopes.

The Church thrives when it is oppressed either from within or without, and the tapestry that clothes the Church compels people of all places and times towards true belief and loving action. Our oddly chilly summer will pass and we will hear Christ’s words through his Church and in new voices.

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