Thoughts August 2006

Thoughts for the Month

The Jesus I know is no cold, hard Iron-Christ; nor does Jesus deserve to be reduced to smug, glib and uncompassionate irrelevancies when the real meaning of His love is what people need so desperately.

“Who is Worthy?” Ted Kennedy

We acknowledge the original owners and custodians of this land on which we stand and we pay our respects for the care they have taken and their continuing care.

Today is a special day for St.Vincents Parish as we welcome the Message Stick to Redfern.

Fr Frank Brennan who was invited by Aboriginal people, is a long time advocate for Justice for Aboriginal & Torres Strait People. He will be the main celebrant.
This relay is in preparation for the “Dreaming from the Heart” celebration in Alice Springs in October.

At a time when the Australian Government seems to have pushed into the background Reconciliation and Justice for Indigenous people, it is fitting that we focus on this ancient Culture which exists and has existed in our country for over 40,000 years.

We welcome everyone to our Parish today especially all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

Sunday 9th July, 2006 Prophets in our midst.

In Ireland there’s an old saying that when one tries to get above oneself people will say, ‘Aud love they’ve never lived further than a mile from the cow shed’. A theme in today’s reading could be based on the proverb “Familiarity breeds contempt”. Chesterton stated that the greatest of all illusions is the illusion of familiarity. “Is not this the Jesus we know…” And that was the problem….they didn’t know Him. Jesus’ family saw only the lowly status from which He sprang—a carpenter.

They had missed the Prophet in Jesus.

A prophet — one who looks at things as they have never been looked at before; who sees more that meets the eye and is prepared to voice the truth. In our own day , Fr Ted and Mum Shirl could be called prophets—they stepped outside their comfort zone; the security of their station in life; out into a world of flack – “Who do they think they are?” And this came from their own family —that is the religious family and group. Yes, they were prophets.

Perhaps we too fail to recognise the tender God we claim to know. Paul says, “God’s power is at its best in weakness” and it is here that so often we can not see the God within, within each human being with whom we come in contact – in the poor, the weak, the marginalised. Rolkeiser believes that familiarity blinds the heart and mind; we are no longer open to surprises; it causes the death of wonder, awe and respect.

Creation is a prime example. God has been at work in creation for billions of years. We have been so preoccupied, says O’Murchu, in trying to master the universe that we have been unable to listen, to behold, to contemplate and to comprehend that which we believed we were so familiar with.

Our Aboriginal brothers and sisters, who have no difficulty in recognizing and understanding the larger reality to which they belong, can teach us so much about getting in touch with the source of life and that is the sacredness of their relationship with God.

Once a teacher took a class on an excursion to a rainforest explaining all the various wonders; the hidden beauties found there. At the end she asked them to write about some things they’d seen. One little boy wrote two words, “No kangaroos”. But the teacher said, “What about all the other creatures that you saw?” “But” said the little boy, “I was looking for kangaroos!”
So let us attempt to see further than we have ever seen before — to find God in all.

Mary Mc Gowan

Sunday 23rd July Praying for Peace

These past weeks we have been struggling with the enormous suffering in our world, particularly in the Middle East. We feel helpless in face of it. Our first reading is from Jeremiah when he berates the leaders for not taking care of the people and for leaving them scattered and frightened; it is still happening today! Leaders at all levels perform, often out of self-interest, rather than base their activities and priorities on the needs of their people. We have people in positions of power rather than genuine leaders. Jeremiah offers hope to the people, promising a future leader who would be wise and do what is just and upright in the country.

The words from Ephesians are poignant at this time with the theme of bringing people together; and they certainly came together in yesterday’s gathering in the city. Literally thousands of people from many backgrounds were calling for the same thing—peace and justice. They were anguished by the senseless killings and destruction taking place in Lebanon. This was a crowd on whom Jesus would have had enormous compassion. Security was evident –police in big numbers with both horses and dogs; helicopters flew overheard, but no sign of violence. One can only believe that the Spirit of God was acting in this gathering.

In the gospel too we find the people scattered and leader less, and Jesus comes into their lives bringing the food of God’s Word for nourishment, and later bread. Perhaps we can find several invitations to us in our liturgy of the Word.

1. The invitation to play our part in society and church, to wash the feet of others and allow others to wash our feet.

2. The invitation to work towards breaking down barriers; Am I willing to cross to the other side as Jesus did? Am I willing to get out of the boat to meet the crowds? Ephesians says that we all have the same access to God regardless of who we are or where we are from –there is now a new creation.

3. The invitation to come away to some lonely place and rest for a while; not rest from activity and busyness but rest that allows one to reflect with others on one’s involvement, a kind of accountability and appraisal; by going apart a new perspective can be gained and new learnings can happen; also the rest that allows one to touch into that deep place within where God is. Come to me all who are burdened and I will give you rest – learn from me.

Esmey Herscovitch

Rally in Support of the “Block”

Thursday 10th August at 6pm

This will commence between the Redfern Towers and RSL Club for speeches.
Then as an expression of solidarity will process down to the Block.

Anglican Bishop Macintyre will return from Vic to be present. Remember the last one we were reminded of spirits of the Ancestors present on the land, supporting us.

Pastoral Activities of St Vincent’s Community

As the community of St Vincents Parish Redfern we continue to carry on the heritage which was left to us over many years. Since the arrival of the Neocatechumenate Movement in our parish with the appointment of priests who follow this Way this has been hard as the focus of the Way seems to be evangelization to the Neocatechumenate Movement.

Following the Spirit of Vatican II, the parishioners have been carrying out pastoral activities in Redfern. Currently, we are involved in the following:

  • The Gathering Place, Caroline St. A welcoming haven set up by the Sacred Heart Sisters
  • Sharing The Journey; a monthly programme of talks and discussion
  • Sharing the Meal provides a meal twice a week on Tuesday and Friday. This provides not just a meal but a place for people to meet, talk and be welcomed
  • Networking with and visiting communities and individuals.
  • Maintaining support of Aboriginal interests/affairs
  • Reflection Group each Thursday at the Gathering Place
  • Gospel Discussion Group each week in Church
  • Christian Meditation Group each week in Church
  • Thoughts for the Month Parish newsletter
  • Pastoral Care– meeting emergency needs, visiting goals, hospitals, boarding houses and providing transport to the above places
  • Involvement with activities at The Settlement and The Block
  • Supporting Cana Community
  • Participation in Groups such as Redfern Pemulwuy Project, Redfern Residents for Reconciliation Group
  • Informing and participating in events of such groups such as Pax Christi, CCJP, Sydney Peace & Justice Coalition, Reforming Catholics, ANTaR and many more
  • Social Justice Issues—informing ourselves and raising awareness—East Timor, Disarmament Issues eg Plough Share Actions, West Papua, Darfur, Climate Change, Sustainability and many others
  • Visiting and working with Refugees
  • Community website
  • Community Liturgies – Advent, Lent etc, and Interfaith Dialogue—a particular concern is dignified funerals
  • Supporting and raising awareness re – Aboriginal artists, dancers in organizing and attending artistic and cultural exhibitions
  • REDWatch – Redfern Eveleigh Darlington Waterloo Watch A community group which is carefully monitoring the situation. The parish is very involved in this group as it will effect all residents but especially the Aboriginal people.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Principles of Nonviolence

  • Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is active nonviolent resistance to evil. It is assertive spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
  • Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation. The purpose of nonviolence is the creation of the Beloved Community.
  • Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people. Nonviolence holds that evil doers are also victims. The nonviolent resister seeks to defeat evil, not people.
  • Nonviolence holds that voluntary suffering can educate and transform. Nonviolence accepts suffering without retaliation. Nonviolence accepts violence if necessary, but will never inflict it. Nonviolence willingly accepts the consequences of it’s acts. Unearned voluntary suffering is redemptive and has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities. Voluntary suffering can have the power to convert the enemy when reason fails.
  • Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate. Nonviolence resists violence of the spirit as well as the body. Nonviolent love gives willingly, even knowing that it might face hostility. Nonviolent love is active, not passive. Nonviolent love is unending in its ability to forgive in order to restore community. Nonviolent love does not sink to the level of the hater. Love for the enemy is how we demonstrate love for ourselves. Love restores community and resists injustice. Nonviolence recognizes the fact that all life is interelated.
  • Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice. The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win. Nonviolence believes that God is a God of justice and love.
(This summary was adapted by Fellowship of Reconciliation
from King’s book Stride Toward Freedom 1958)
We are called to practice Eucharist as a practice of awareness. When Jesus broke and shared the bread with his disciples, he said, “Eat this. This is my flesh.” He knew that if his disciples would eat one piece of bread full of awareness, knowing what they do, they would have real life. In their daily lives, they may have eaten their bread in forgetfulness, so the bread was not bread at all; it was a ghost. In our daily lives, we may see the people around us, but if we lack mindfulness, they are just phantoms, not real people, and we ourselves are also ghosts. Being aware of what we do and who we are we become real persons. When we are real persons, we see real people around us; life is present in all its richness.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk and peace activist
The table fellowship of Christians implies obligations. It is our daily bread that we eat, not my own. We share our bread. Thus we are firmly bound to one another not only in the spirit but in our whole physical being. The one bread that is given to our fellowship links us together in a firm covenant. No one dares go hungry as long as another has bread, and anyone who breaks this fellowship of the physical life also breaks the fellowship of the Spirit.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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