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Archbishop of Wellington: His Eminence Cardinal John Atcherley Dew DD

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 12 December 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here

Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

When my sisters and I were young and growing up in Waipukurau, we, like most families decorated a Christmas tree. We used to go out with Dad and find a pine branch somewhere and that became our Christmas tree. We also had a beautiful Nativity set prepared in the fireplace every year. A friend of Dad’s painted a scene of Bethlehem on a heavy kind of cardboard. That became the background as it was fitted into the back of the fireplace every year to help set the scene. Many of us will have such memories of preparing Nativity scenes to help us to reflect on the wonder and joy of Christmas.

Pope Francis has just a few days ago written a letter on the meaning and the importance of the Nativity scene. The letter was given from Greccio, the place in Italy where Francis of Assisi in 1224, replicated the manger scene and helped people to prayerfully contemplate the mystery of “God among us.”. Today, in Greccio, one can still see the stone on which the hay was placed, and where the image of the baby was laid. There were no figures of Joseph and Mary, just the baby and two animals.

In his letter Pope Francs says this “The enchanting image of the Christmas crèche, so dear to the Christian people, never ceases to arouse amazement and wonder. The depiction of Jesus’ birth is itself a simple and joyful proclamation of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. The nativity scene is like a living Gospel rising up from the pages of sacred Scripture. As we contemplate the Christmas story, we are invited to set out on a spiritual journey, drawn by the humility of the God who became man in order to encounter every man and woman. We come to realize that so great is his love for us that he became one of us, so that we in turn might become one with him.”

The Pope also encourages families to pick up this tradition once again of preparing a Nativity scene “in our homes, workplaces, schools’ hospitals, prisons and town squares.”

We will see many cribs over the next couple of weeks. Will they be an opportunity for prayer and reflection for us, will we stop in awe and give thanks that “a child is born to us, a son is given to us” (Isaiah 9:5-6)?

Please think of Pope Francis words to us this Christmas: “Dear brothers and sisters, the Christmas crèche is part of the precious yet demanding process of passing on the faith. Beginning in childhood, and at every stage of our lives, it teaches us to contemplate Jesus, to experience God’s love for us, to feel and believe that God is with us and that we are with him, his children, brothers and sisters all, thanks to that Child who is the Son of God and the Son of the Virgin Mary. And to realize that in that knowledge we find true happiness. Like Saint Francis, may we open our hearts to this simple grace, so that from our wonderment a humble prayer may arise: a prayer of thanksgiving to God, who wished to share with us his all, and thus never to leave us alone.”

With every blessing for Christmas

Naku noa

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 28 November 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

For 164 years the Church of Wellington has every year consecrated the Archdiocese to Our Lady under the title of the Immaculate Conception. On 23 January 1855 Wellington experienced a disastrous earthquake, later studies estimated that it was over eight on the Richter scale. Overall the damage was severe and extensive, however there was only one death recorded. Aftershocks were intense for many months and people became very uneasy and many quit the new settlement for good. In a Pastoral Letter in Lent of that year Bishop Viard urged that special prayers be said “to ask God through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, the protectress and patroness of this diocese, for the cessation of the earthquakes that afflict us”. Those prayers were said for the rest of that year and then on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception Bishop Viard formally consecrated the Diocese to Mary under the tile of the Immaculate Conception. Just one year before that Pope Pius IX had proclaimed the Immaculate Conception to be an integral part of formal Catholic teaching.

What does this Feast mean for us today? It reminds us that God chose Mary to be our model of holiness (Preface for the Mass), and to be the perfect Mother of Jesus. When Mary was conceived God was already preparing the world for the birth of his son. Mary’s goodness, Mary’s inner perfection, makes her closer to us than anyone else…because she is “full of grace” – that grace through her unites and heals. Grace does that, but sin divides. God began the work of salvation in Mary, and this makes Mary, in a new and special way “the mother of all the living.”
It is right than that we continue to consecrate our Diocese to her, she who is “the mother of all the living.”

Mary full of grace, pray for us.

With thanks and every blessing

Naku noa

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

The prayer consecrating the Archdiocese to the Immaculate Conception is available here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 14 November 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here

Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

Many years ago, I had developed the daily practice of as soon as I got out of bed standing up and singing (and I can’t sing) the following chant:
“Father/Jesus/ Spirit; I adore you; Lay my life before you; How I love you”.

I did that for a long time, and made appropriate gestures, such as accompanying the first line with hands raised in prayer and praise and bowing with reverence at the last line. Then somehow that practice fell by the wayside. However, I was reminded of it a couple of nights ago as I was driving home from an evening out.

I was listing to the Concert Programme as I normally do in the car. There was beautiful music playing and the commen-tator was saying that this whole programme was dedicated to reflecting on and working for peace in our world. Then he introduced a musician who was playing a Bach composition. I don’t know what the piece was, but it was beautiful. The musician said that he plays that piece of music everyday and then said, “It is my benediction on the day.” His words reminded me of the little practice I engaged in a long time ago. It also reminded me of a phrase I used a lot at about the same time in my life, a saying of Abraham Joshua Heschel “Just to be is a blessing, just to live is holy.”

I spent the rest of the drive home pondering on what I could do every day to make my own “benediction on the day,” and what I could do to ensure that life is a blessing. I know that if I see my life as a blessing, if I try to live every day and every moment of the day as a gift from God, then life will be holy. If life is lived as a blessing and a gift every day it then becomes not just a blessing for me, but for everyone I meet with throughout any particular day.
What is your “benediction on the day?”

Naku noa. Na + Hoane
+ John