Tag Archives: Connection

The Cathedral Connection 23 April 2017

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BRING MERCY TO LIFE

The formula for absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation begins with the words, God, the Father of mercy…. Such a powerful identification of God with mercy, points to the confidence that Jesus asks of everyone in their approach to the Giver of life and the Judge of all.

This, the second Sunday of Easter, is known as Divine Mercy Sunday. The gospel reading tells of the reunion of Jesus with his disciples, following their desertion and denial of him when he most needed a friend. His greeting of peace cuts through their shame and anxiety and unites them with Jesus as never before. Mercy releases their burden of guilt and they experience resurrection.

At the end of last year’s Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis wrote with great sensitivity of the continual flow of mercy from God who loves the world so much… His words help reflection on this special “mercy day”:

The love of God is capable of looking into the heart of each person and seeing the deepest desire hidden there.
Forgiveness is the most visible sign of the Father’s love, which Jesus sought to reveal by his entire life.
Love is the first act by which God makes himself known to us and comes to meet us. (God’s) love always precedes us, accompanies us and remains with us, despite our sin.
How sad it is when hearts are closed and unable to forgive!  Resentment, anger and revenge gain the upper hand, making our lives miserable and blocking a joyful commitment to mercy.
It is the time of mercy because those who are weak and vulnerable, distant and alone, ought to feel the presence of brothers and sisters who can help them in their need.

Fr James

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The Cathedral Connection 16 April 2017

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FROM SIGNS TO REALITY

Signs and symbols!  Where would life be without them?  Road signs, weather signs, danger signs, a flower, a thoughtful gift – these and so much more help us to connect with life and one another.  In the life of faith, we rely heavily on signs and symbols, and Easter is packed full of them.

The images of light and darkness embrace the Easter Vigil, leading to the Mass of Resurrection.  The Easter Candle, lit from the fire of new birth, breaks through the darkness of the night and heralds the dawn of Christ’s triumph.  As the flame is passed through the gathering, many lights signal the spread of the faith, rekindling hope after the sombre season of Lent.

Our scripture readings draw images with words, telling the creation story and placing water alongside fire, not to quench it but to complement its creative and purifying qualities.  This guides the Vigil towards the celebration of Baptism.  Then follows the pouring of oil for Confirmation, signalling healing and strength; oil seals a commitment, and consecrates a person for service.

Easter Day brings colour and light to the fore and celebration is the purpose of our ritual.  The story continues to unfold with an empty tomb and its aftermath.  It is a day to welcome everyone, for the death and resurrection of Jesus is for all people.  Death has been defeated.  Life is the champion.  What greater “good news” could there be?

Signs and symbols help us cope with mystery, and the Easter mystery is as big as it gets.  Just as we can never see the inside of an onion – peel it layer by layer, but it still remains an onion – we can never fully grasp a mystery.  The only way to “see” the mystery (and the onion) is to experience it.  So, plunge into this season.  Hear, see, smell, taste, feel the mystery that is Christ risen and among us, and enjoy a truly blessed Easter.

Fr James

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The Cathedral Connection 9 April 2017

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FROM DEATH TO LIFE

From Palm Sunday to Easter Day the Church travels from Hosanna! to Alleluia! – from adulation to hatred, from acclaim to denial, as death shows its true colours, and then to awe and wonder as life proves victorious.  Hope shines through the darkest of nights.

This week is named “Holy Week” as it holds the kernel of our faith – the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is less a time of celebration than of commemoration, a time to remember and reflect on the wonderful things God has done for us, most notably in and through the gift of Jesus.

The highlights of Holy Week include the Chrism Mass (Tuesday evening) when the Oils used for the Sacraments are consecrated by Cardinal John and entrusted to representatives from each parish; the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Thursday) when Jesus enables the continuation of his presence through the Eucharist; Good Friday, when we commemorate his death, and the Easter Vigil, with the welcome of new Catholics and the Mass of Resurrection.

This year, the ceremony of Holy Thursday will combine the Cathedral and St Mary of the Angels parishes, marking the reopening of St Mary’s following a four-year closure for earthquake strengthening.

Try to be part of this Holy Week.  Use these holy days to thank God for the gift of faith and for the blessings in your life which faith makes visible.  Be thankful, too, for the goodness that surrounds you in people and in creation.  Let the power of this Week permeate your spirit, strengthening you as a bearer of mercy, peace and forgiveness.  There is no better way to celebrate Easter.

Fr James

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The Cathedral Connection 2 April 2017

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OUR FAMILY PRAYER

At the 10.30 Mass today our Catechumens will be presented with The Lord’s Prayer as they near the end of their journey to full initiation in the Catholic Church.  Their growing commitment is a cause for us “seasoned” Catholics to consider our own situation and how much we might take the gift of faith for granted.

The Lord’s Prayer is a reminder that it belongs to all who follow the way of Jesus, uniting Christians even where our traditions and dogmas keep us apart.  It is a humbling prayer, acknowledging our need of God as children need a loving, understanding parent; it is a prayer that challenges our pride and the difficulties we have forgiving hurts and insults; it is a prayer that exposes our fear of the unknown and our hope that we will be protected from evil.

Such a prayer should never be prayed without thought, even while it should be prayed often.  Like the faith we live by, The Lord’s Prayer is a sacred trust, given by Jesus as he revealed the closeness of God to each and every person.  Pray “Our Father…” this week for our Catechumens, for Christian unity, and for each other, that we might be ever thankful for the gift of Jesus and uphold the dignity of one another in word and action.

The raising of Lazarus climaxes the Lenten emphasis on the life-giving power of Jesus, and prepares us for the week we call Holy Week when death, seeking to dominate, is defeated forever.  May we joyfully accompany those who will join us in the Easter waters of new life.

Fr James

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The Cathedral Connection 19 March 2017

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THE SOUND OF SILENCE

You may be noticing some changes in the Sunday liturgy during the season of Lent.  These are mainly to do with sound, or rather the absence of sound.  This is a season that invites reflection and an atmosphere of quiet is helpful for this.

The “Gloria” is neither said nor sung during Lent and some of the choral singing is unaccompanied.  There is no music to introduce the Gospel, and there is silence as the bread and wine is placed on the altar.  At our High Mass (10.30am) music does not accompany the incensing of the altar or the congregation.  We depart to softer, more subdued music, not to dampen our spirits but to encourage us to continue the reflection as we return to our homes and journeys.

Silence has an important place in the liturgy generally.  While we gather and pray as a community, we also need personal time to express sorrow, to petition and to give thanks.  So, there should be spaces in every Mass, such as after the readings and after Communion, to let us think about what we have heard or are experiencing and to make a personal response.

But Lent brings an extra need for silence.  We are journeying with Jesus as he makes his way to Jerusalem and Calvary.  This is a big commitment.  We need to be sure we appreciate the consequences of keeping him company.  We first made this commitment with baptism, and we renew it every Lent.  Use the silent time to firm up the connection.  Listen and respond.

Silence is not a popular commodity today.  It can feel like wasted space.  Yet it is a gift of great value.  Make the most of it.

Fr James

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