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About Cardinal John Dew

Archbishop of Wellington: His Eminence Cardinal John Atcherley Dew DD

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 19 April 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

From +John…

Dear Friends
In his first major document “Evangelii Gaudium” Pope Francis told us that if we are to evangelize we must start by “renewing our personal encounter with Jesus Christ.” (EG 3) That was in 2013. Pope Francis has written another document called Gaudete et Exsultate, which is on the call to holiness in the world today. In this latest apostolic exhortation, he is telling us how to renew our personal encounter with Jesus.

As far back as 1975 Pope Paul VI wrote an apostolic exhortation called Evangelii Nuntiandi. In that he told us of the need to “deepen, consolidate and nourish” our faith and allow it to mature (EN 54). There is clearly a need for all of us to keep growing in faith, to deepen our under-standing, to come to a greater appreciation of what we believe.

Every one of us is obliged in some way to keep reading, to do some study, to change our ways of praying in order to grow in our relationship with God. In his exhortation Paul VI suggested that we seek the kingdom, build it up, live it and pro-claim it (EN 8/13). In this new document Pope Francis tells us that growing in personal holiness cannot be separated from building the Kingdom of God. Our Christian life, our choice to live as disciples of Jesus demands that we live and show in words and deeds what we claim to profess. We know that we are not all called to be teachers or preachers, but we need to be able to offer some reasons for the hope that is in us (c/f 1 Peter 3.15)

Last year we had the Archdiocesan Synod with the theme “Go You Are Sent.” It was very clear from the discernment and the sharing, before, during and after the Synod, that if we want to respond generously to the call and to be “sent out,” if we want to be serious about “mission effectiveness” then we need to grow in our understanding and appreciation of our faith. We need to be holy people. Pope Francis’ new letter will help us to do this, as it sets holiness in the context of daily life. He gives us “five great expressions” of love of God and neighbour that he considers particularly important. They are:

Perseverance, patience and meekness
Joy and a sense of humour
Boldness and passion
In community
In constant prayer

Please make an effort to read, study and pray with Gaudete et Exsultate. There is a link to this on the homepage of the Vatican website.

With every blessing.

+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 5 April 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends,

Easter blessings to you all.

In my last newsletter, I wrote about the words of St Paul “The mystery is Christ among you, your hope of glory.” (Col 1: 27) I also went on to talk about how, as the years go by, and we celebrate another Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday we simply delve deeper and deeper into its richness and meaning. In delving deeper and deeper into the mystery we grow in love, understanding and appreciation of the mystery of God in our own lives.

I have heard over the last few days many wonderful comments about beautiful liturgies celebrated around the parishes over Easter. Thank you to all who prepared those liturgies and worked hard to make them a prayerful and reflective experience for all. These days have certainly provided the opportunity to experience the mystery of Christ among us.

It is my hope and prayer that each of you has been graced in some special way this Easter, graced and loved by the actions and love of Christ himself. I can only hope that Easter has touched me in such a way that I want to respond in a more generous and gracious way to the events of daily life, the routine and mundane situations where God is also present. Because this is about God’s goodness I don’t just want this for myself, I want it for everyone in this Church of Wellington to which we all belong.

Easter, is not just the few days of ceremonies and then we go about our daily lives again. As we delve deeper into these mysteries we come to understand that we too die to the things we want and are attracted to, and in letting them go we find a new life. We find life gifted, graced with Jesus who still stands among us and says “Peace be with you.”
May His Peace and abundant blessings be your this Easter.

With every blessing

+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Easter Vigil 2018 – Homily by Cardinal John Dew

Easter Vigil 2018

A week ago on Palm Sunday I suggested that we look at Jesus entering Jerusalem, look at him carrying his cross, look at him dying on the cross and hear him saying “Do you see anything here that is not love?”

“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” -i Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Lord Jesus, you have shown us the way to the Father.

What follows is an overview of the Holy Week liturgy through the lens of those words that we use in the Penitential Rite at Mass.

We are people of the Way, an ancient term for the first Christians which is found in the Acts of the Apostles. Jesus showed us that way throughout his whole life on earth, but this way becomes particularly clear and calls to us most profoundly in the events of Holy Week, not only by Jesus’s words, however striking they are, but by his actions and what he suffered, beyond words. Those events invite us to enter upon this way interiorly, through the words, actions and silences of the liturgy. Through that liturgy we make a commitment of faith to know Jesus more clearly, as individuals, but also as pilgrims together. We are drawn into ancient traditions of contemplating these events.

It is a way of humility in obedience and commitment to the Father

We begin with the Palm Sunday procession, to re-enact the journey of Jesus with his disciples and those who followed him from Bethany to Jerusalem (Mt 21:1-11). We follow him as our king, but one riding on a donkey in humility and in obedience to the Father’s word through the prophet Zechariah (Zec 9:9). As we proceed into the Mass the readings prepare us to focus on this obedience. From the Third Servant Song of Second Isaiah (Is 50:4-7), we hear that the Servant has been given,  ‘a disciple’s tongue…Each morning [the Lord] wakes me to hear, to listen like a disciple.’ The second reading, from the kenosis hymn used by St. Paul in his Letter to the Philippians (Phil 2:6-11), tells us that Jesus,

emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.

This leads us into the dramatic account of the Passion. This year it is according to Matthew, which, as in the infancy narrative and other places in the gospel, focuses on fulfilment and obedience to God’s plan as the evangelist conceives it.

It is the way of the Servant

Just as in the Mass of Palm Sunday, so in the following days of Holy Week we prepare to hear about the events leading to the Passion by listening to the Servant Songs in Second Isaiah (42:1-7; 49:1-6; 50:4-9 – the latter repeating the Palm Sunday reading). On Good Friday we hear the Suffering Servant Song (Is 52:13-53:12) after the prostration of the celebrants in silence and the opening prayer. It serves as a meditation on the Passion according to John.

It is a way of self-giving and sharing

The self-giving of Jesus and the sharing in our humanity, and we with him, is very dramatically yet simply portrayed by the Washing of the Feet on Maundy Thursday. This follows John’s account (Jn 13:1-15), which is a sort of prologue to the Passion. It can be viewed as an insight into the self-emptying of the cross and the giving of the Eucharist. Bare feet make us aware of human vulnerability. Stooping to wash and dry them carefully is a sign of delicate respect for our neighbour, especially in that neighbour’s weakness and poverty. ‘If I, t hen, the Lord and master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet.’ In its place in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, this surely points to the self-giving and sharing of Jesus in the Eucharist.

It is a way of deep silence

The liturgy of Good Friday is embraced by deep silence, at the beginning and at the end. The cross is beyond words. We begin with the silence of the congregation; on Good Friday, the congregation is usually large, so the silence is particularly moving. The opening silence in which the celebrants prostrate is underlined by the bareness of the altar and the open, empty tabernacle. After the readings and the enacting of the Passion according to John, in which we all take our parts, the best response is silence, perhaps preceded by just a few brief words to present one aspect of the story we have just heard for some minutes of quiet reflection, to let it sink in. After the ancient prayers, which encompass the needs of the Church and the world, there is adoration of a large cross, gradually unveiled.  Our response is to file up and show our commitment to the Saviour with a wordless kiss, a very personal act which speaks for itself. The service is completed with a very simple reception of Holy Communion without a Mass, like the way we receive when we are sick or bedridden or approaching death. In all this, silence is our most fitting response to a death by crucifixion. The nature of that intense pain and increasing difficulty of breathing allowed very few words to be uttered.

It is a way of renewed promise of the Covenant

The long and complex liturgy of Holy Saturday begins with a very basic symbol of promised light, the Paschal Candle, lit from a blessed fire and illuminating the darkness of the church. Our own individual candles are lit from the great candle and light is passed from person to person, a simple action of solidarity. The promise of new life in Christ is rooted in the Covenant, and the readings, responses and prayers are staging posts on the journey of God’s relations with his people. The promise is realised in Baptism and the renewal of our baptismal promises, through which we are engaged in the risen life of the One whose journey we have been following throughout this solemn week. We receive the Easter sacrament with alleluias.

We have been shown the way to the Father. We are invited to continue to walk in that way.

Holy Saturday, too is a day on which we ‘stay’: a quiet day, a day at the tomb. Jesus is dead; the one who loved us unto death is gone. Ignatius invites retreatants to spend this day with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to be with her at this time; to use all of our senses to experience what this day was like for her, before we move, as the sun sets, into the time of great rejoicing.

Rejoice

In the evening of Holy Saturday, when all goes dark, we gather together to celebrate the Easter Vigil. This liturgy re-tells the story of our salvation, from creation to resurrection.

We begin outside or in the porch of the church, with the Liturgy of Light. A fire is lit and, from that, so too the Easter candle. Bit by bit, light spreads throughout the Church and in a beautifully symbolic way, we see the victory of the Light of Christ over the darkness of the church and, symbolically, our world. The vestments are once again white (or gold), holy water is back in the stoups and the bells will ring again. We hear in the Exultet, the song of praise after the Liturgy of Light, that ‘this is the night’, and so it is: the night above all others when we celebrate our redemption, our freedom from sin and death and our joy at being children of the resurrection. In the Liturgy of the Word we are reminded of our covenantal relationship with God that has been sealed with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. If there are new members of the Church to be baptised, this also happens at this Mass, and they are welcomed into the body of the Church as it is revitalised through the new life of Easter. The Easter Vigil is a liturgy of great joy, a joy that cannot only be ours. We must share it and so at the end of the Mass we are sent out on mission, to ‘glorify God by our lives’. Do we do this? Can you, having heard and lived the story of your salvation and mine, be transformed by it this Easter?

‘Becoming conscious changes you’, writes Louis Savary,[iv] and so it should be with the Easter Triduum. Our understanding of and being with Jesus in his suffering, and then sharing the joy of his resurrection, should change us, it should change me. I can choose not to engage with what I see, hear, experience in the liturgies of the Easter Triduum, but that in itself is a response – and that changes me, too.

So what will your response be this Easter? What do you desire it to be? Talk to God, as a friend talks to a friend, about the days you are about to spend together.

On Good Friday, there was no Eucharist – simply a communion service, with the Body of Christ from the Holy Thursday Eucharist.  On Holy Saturday, there is no liturgy at all.  The liturgy this evening is the vigil – the preparation for and entry into the celebration of Our Lord’s Resurrection.  It is an Easter Sunday liturgy.

On Holy Saturday we enter into the mystery.  Today we contemplate Jesus, there in the tomb, dead.  In that tomb, he is dead, exactly the way each of us will be dead.  We don’t easily contemplate dying, but we rarely contemplate being dead.  I have had the blessed experience of being with a number of people who have died, of arriving at a hospital shortly after someone has died, of attending an autopsy, and of praying with health sciences students over donated bodies in gross anatomy class.  These were powerful experiences because they all brought me face-to-face with the mystery of death itself.  With death, life ends.  Breathing stops, and in an instant, the life of this person has ended.  And, in a matter of hours, the body becomes quite cold and life-less — dramatic evidence, to our senses, that this person no longer exists.  All that is left is this decaying shell that once held his or her life.

Death is our ultimate fear.  Everything else we fear, every struggle we have, is some taste of, some chilling approach to, the experience of losing our life.  This fear is responsible for so much of our lust and greed, so much of our denial and arrogance, so much of our silly clinging to power, so much of our hectic and anxiety-driven activity.  It is the one, inevitable reality we all will face.  There is not enough time, money, joy, fulfillment, success.  Our physical beauty and strength, our mental competency and agility, all that we have and use to define ourselves, slip away from us with time.  Our lives are limited.  Our existence, in every way we can comprehand it, comes to an end.  We will all die.  In a matter of time, all that will be left of any of us is a decomposing body.

Today is a day to soberly put aside the blinders we have about the mystery of death and our fear of it.  Death is very real and its approach holds great power in our lives.  The “good news” we are about to celebrate has no real power in our lives unless we have faced the reality of death.  To contemplate Jesus’ body, there in that tomb, is to look our death in the face, and it is preparation for hearing the Gospel with incredible joy.  That we are saved from the ultimate power of sin and of death itself comes to us as a great relief, as a tremendous liberation.  If Jesus lives, you and I will live!  The mystery of death, which we contemplate today, will be overcome – we will live forever!

Today’s reflection will lead us to the vigil of Easter.  This night, communities from all over the world will gather in darkness, a darkness that represents all that we have been reflecting upon today.

The God who created us, who led a chosen people out of slavery, raised Jesus from death.  We can rejoice that death has no final victory over us.  Then we celebrate the Easter Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.  Tonight we celebrate our faith — that we have been baptized into the death of Jesus, so that we might have everlasting life with him.

As we behold the body of Jesus in the tomb today, and as we contemplate the mystery of our death, we prepare our hearts to receive the Good News of life.  We know that tomb will be empty and remain empty forever as a sign that our lives will not really end, but only be transformed.  One day, we will all rest in the embrace of Jesus, who knows our death, and who prepares a place for us in everlasting life.  Our reflection on this holy Saturday, and our anticipation of celebrating the gift of life tonight and tomorrow, can bring immense peace and joy, powerful freedom and vitality to our lives.  For if we truly believe that death holds no true power over us, we can walk each day with courage and freedom, in the grace being offered us – to give our lives away in love.

Brothers and sisters: 
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus 
were baptized into his death? 
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, 
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, 
we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him 
through a death like his, 
we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.

Rom 6:3-11

 

Chrism Mass 2018 – Homily by Cardinal John Dew

CHRISM MASS 2018.

Go, you are sent.” We heard those words many times last year in relation to our Synod. It is easy to connect the Synod theme to tonight’s Gospel:

“The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me,

for he has anointed me.

He has sent me to bring good news to the poor,

to proclaim liberty to captives

and to the blind new sight,

to set the downtrodden free,

to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.”

Jesus knew he was sent to the poor, the captives, the blind, the downtrodden……..we are too. Our task is to work how, who, and where they are today and bring them Good News. We are all sent to continue the mission Jesus was anointed for, the mission we are all anointed for in Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders.

We are sent into and live in a messy world, and a messy Church. We live in messy families. Pope Francis wrote in his document on the Family “No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need to constantly grow and mature in the ability to love.” A L 325   Those words seemed to give families permission to be themselves, knowing that they are not perfect and that is okay. It’s into that world, where all need to grow and mature in the ability to love, that we are all sent. We journey together, supporting and helping one another throughout life in all its ups and downs.

Almost 30 years ago, in July 1989 Cardinal Tom Williams wrote a Pastoral Letter to the diocese, it was about the 1988 Synod; He wrote – “The outcome will not be revolutionary. I have to be a realist like yourselves and accept that the most telling image of the Church is an untidy caravan struggling across the desert, not a regiment of infantry marching in perfect step across an immaculate parade ground. We are, after all, the People of God, and people are imperfect and contradictory. To know it we have only to look at ourselves.”

The world is not perfect, our Church is not perfect, families are not perfect. There are poor, captives, blind, downtrodden people everywhere, people who are struggling to live, people living without dignity and hope. ….we are anointed to take good news to them, and be good news for them.

In October 2016 there had been some devastating earthquakes in Central Italy, 159 people were killed in Amatrice. Pope Francis visited Amatrice, he visited a makeshift school, spoke with emergency and fire personnel. He wandered through parts of the city sitting with people, exchanging hugs and kisses, and just spent time with people who needed support. He said: “Since the beginning I felt that I had to come to you, simply to tell you that I am close to you, nothing else, and that I pray for you.”

He was just “being with” those people. It’s something he is good at, it’s something he wants us to do. It’s also often what Jesus did…. He was WITH people. Pope Francis has emphasized this to bishops and priests several times,  “We are promoters of the dialogue of encounter, dialogue is our method.”

Pope Francis tells us that our lives, especially as priests, is to be with people, walking with them, listening to them and accompanying them.  In Evangelii Gaudium (169) he wrote: ‘In our world, ordained ministers and other pastoral workers can make present the fragrance of Christ’s closeness and his personal gaze. The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this “art of accompaniment”. The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life.”

He’s encouraging us to be close to and to accompany the poor, the captives, the blind and the downtrodden. Anyone in ministry today is sent as Jesus was sent …and what did he do, he walked with people, sat and listened. We are asked and are privileged to understand, forgive, accompany and integrate those with messed up and difficult lives into the life of the Church.

Pope Francis is a Jesuit. He would have known some of the things written and said by that great Jesuit Theologian, Karl Rahner. Rahner once asked the question “Why would a modern man want to become or remain a priest today?”  He then answered his own question with stunning simplicity.

He said that for him it is not the great works of the church in the service of justice and peace, the great universities and the great movements and programs. “Rather,” he said, “I still see around me living in many of my brother priests a readiness for unselfish service carried out quietly, a readiness for prayer, for abandonment to the incomprehensibility of God, for the total dedication to the following of Christ crucified.”

The Church of Wellington is blessed to have priests who continually show a readiness for  unselfish service carried out quietly, a readiness for prayer, abandonment to the incomprehensibility of God, for the total dedication to the following of Christ crucified.

As your priests renew their priestly promises this evening, pray for them, pray that they will be sent with renewed enthusiasm and know these words of Pope Francis:

What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes.”

What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes.”

 

 

 

 

Palm Sunday 2018 – Homily by Cardinal John Dew

Palm Sunday 2018

We are invited today to plunge whole-heartedly into the Gospel and imagine ourselves among the crowds that came to Jerusalem, as it says in John’s Gospel, “to learn that Jesus is coming.”

We are invited to imagine ourselves “the hordes of people who spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields.” We pray about that today and try to connect spiritually with this event as closely as possible.

Who is this Galilean arriving in the Holy City?

Would you be among those who strode ahead to meet him or those who followed?

Would your voice join those who sang out “Hosanna in the highest” or would you have been among the silent onlookers startled by the scenes of excitement when they saw this man coming into Jerusalem on a donkey?

Do you stand back in admiration of the strange new Messiah or are you influenced by those who were prejudiced against him?

Would you have been a pilgrim or a dawdler?

Have you ever thought on Palm Sunday which kind of behaviour you would have shown towards Jesus on this day?

It can be quite easy to think about the change of heart and behaviour in those who were present in that week…it is easy to think about THEM and not even think about the call to conversion – and a change of attitude and behaviour in ourselves – Holy Wek Invites us to think of where we are in all of this. In all humility we too know that our hands would have carried palms and shouted in welcome, AND THAT on Friday would shout out “Crucify him, crucify him!”

This week, we again have the chance to begin to allow Christ’s unconditional love to bloom in our hearts.

We cannot judge the crowds at Jerusalem as if the crowds in Jerusalem were never were never completely clear in the way they felt about Jesus of Nazareth, sometimes for him, sometimes against him. We too have doubts and lack faith at times. Our own belief and our prayers are occasionally weighed down by scepticism and fear.

We change, we are believing and yet unbelieving, we are enthusiastic and then tired and weary; we shut out in welcome and excitement, and then call ‘Crucify him.”  Whatever we are…. changing and fickle ……. HE is always the totally loving and compassionate shepherd, teacher and healer. The “Hosanna” is now ours.  Our hearts may vibrate today in fragile faith, but we pray that this week our fragile faith will still lead us to keep our gaze transfixed on Jesus.

Today and throughout this week we respond to the invitation of Jesus “Look at me,” we will look at him and we will hear him say “Do you see anything that is not Love?”