Category Archives: Cardinal John’s News

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 14 November 2019

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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

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 31 October 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

From +John…

Kia tau te Rangimarie kia koutou

I am writing this as the New Zealand Bishops come to the end of our ad limina visit to Rome, however I will actually be home by the time you receive it.

Our visit has been very worthwhile as we have met with many Roman discasteries, celebrated Mass at the tombs of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and had a wonderful meeting with Pope Francis. A message I heard many times from the various Congregations we visited was “tell people the Good News of the Gospel, tell people about Jesus Christ, what he has done for us and continues to do for us.”

This message has clearly been picked up from Pope Francis and we have been reminded that our task, the task for everyone who is baptised, is to evangelise and share the joy and hope of the Gospel. At the Masses at the tomb of St Peter and at St Pauls Outside the Walls I was struck both times by the Preface of the Mass which speaks of “Peter, our leader in faith, and Paul its fearless preacher.” As we come to the end of this Extraordinary Month of Mission we remember that like Peter we are all called in different ways to be leaders. We are also all called to be fearless preachers, to preach with our lives. This takes courage.

The other message we received many times was to be people of courage; being courageous for the sake of the Gospel has been a constant theme. As we face the challenges of the world around us and try to take the Gospel to a world where many people struggle and find little to give them hope, I think of the words of Venerable Suzanne Aubert, “Let us never lose courage for the journey.”

Earlier this year Pope Francis reflected on the reality that all people are “made bearers of a promise” and are asked to have the “courage to take a risk” with Jesus and for Jesus.

The Pope reminded us in our visit with him that our task is to lead a Church which does things differently, a Church which is not closed in on itself, which is constantly reaching out to others with the good news of the Gospel. That is the message for all of us, for everyone who shares the gift of Baptism. Are we all ready to be “bearers of a promise” and to have the “courage to take a risk”, with Jesus and for Jesus?

Please continue us to pray for Pope Francis as he leads the Church today.

With every blessing

Naku noa

+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 17 October 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here

From +John…

Kia tau te Rangimarie kia koutou

Greetings, prayers and all good wishes from Rome.

This has been a very hard time to be away from New Zealand as I and many others have struggled to cope with the resignation of Bishop Charles Drennan as Bishop of Palmerston North.

In Rome I have received some beautiful message of support and understanding from many people, and the wonderful assurance of prayerful support as the Church faces this sad and distressing situation. Many of the messages I have received have been about HOPE. For example, a saying of Venerable Suzanne Aubert was sent to me which said “Never lose hope on the journey.” Another message said “Hope sends us dancing around dark corners trusting in a tomorrow we cannot see”. I found these sayings very helpful and I hope that you do too. We could think that we are encircled by gloom, but faith always gives us hope.

I was not in St Peter’s Square for the canonisation of the now Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman and of four other saints. I had taken the chance to journey to the Western Front to visit the grave of my paternal grandfather, who was killed just before the end of the First World War. This journey to France was something I had always wanted to do as my own father never knew his father and had never had the privilege, as I have just had, of visiting some of the Commonwealth War Graves.

I have now read the words of Pope Francis spoken at the Canonization where he applied the words of Newman to the five new saints, not just to Cardinal Newman who wrote the words in a poem entitled “The Pillar and the Cloud.”

Pope Francis said, quoting Newman: “The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world does not. The Christian is cheerful, easy, kind, gentle, courteous, candid, unassuming; has no pretence …with so little that is unusual or striking in his/her bearing, that he/she may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary person”. Referring to Cardinal Newman’s famous hymn “Lead, Kindly Light,” the Pope prayed that all Christians “would be kindly lights amid the encircling gloom”.

Let us ask God to help us be those “kindly lights”.

With every blessing

Naku noa
+ John

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 19 September 2019

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From +John…

On Wednesday 11th September, the Council of Priests had one of its regular meetings. The meeting began as it always does with a time of prayer and reflection. One of the questions we were asked to reflect on during our prayer was “as we are called to lead major change within the local Church of Wellington perhaps, we need to be reminded of some basic truths as priests?” This led into a wonderful time of prayer and sharing and included the words spoken by Pope Benedict XVI in his first homily as Pope: “We were conceived in the heart of God and for this reason ‘each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.’” I think we all do well to reflect on those words spoken by Pope Benedict, because unless we know deeply that we are “willed, loved and chosen” it will be hard to lead in this time of huge change and challenge.

Only a few days before our Council meeting Pope Francis had spoken to the clergy and religious during his visit to Madagascar. I was thinking of his words as we prayed and reflected at our meeting. He said on 5 September: “I was pleased by something one of the catechists said: ‘We are a Church that is part of a heroic people’. A people that has experienced suffering yet keeps hope alive. With this holy pride that you take in your people, a pride that invites a renewal of faith and hope, all of us today want to renew our ‘yes’. How happy is Holy Mother Church to hear you manifest your love for the Lord and for the mission that he has given you!”

It is a lovely thought to think that we are part of a heroic people. What does that mean for you?

We are a people who have experienced suffering, but we keep hope alive! What do we do as individuals and in our communities to keep hope alive?

We are invited to renew our faith and hope, do we really want to renew our “Yes?”

The Pope reminds us how happy “Holy Mother Church to hear us show our love for the Lord and for the mission that he has given us”.

  • What is your mission?
  • How do you live out your mission?
  • How do we work together supporting each other in our mission?

Please remember and pray with the words “each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary”.

Naku noa
John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 5 September 2019

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Kia tau te Rangimarie kia koutou

Last Sunday’s Gospel could be summed up with these words “Everyone who exalts themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted”. Last Sunday morning I was reading a reflection from the Magnificat magazine. The meditation of the day was “How to be humble” written by Dom Eugene Boylan, an Irish Cistercian. He began the reflection by saying “if one asks how am I to be humble, the immediate answer is by the grace of God, and that is indeed the truth. Only the grace of God can give us the insight into our own condition and realization of his exaltation that make for humility. But even though it be a grace, it is a grace with which we must co-operate. The first thing to do is to ask in prayer for the grace of humility and to ask sincerely. The second thing is to accept humiliations when they come our way. But let us never forget that there is an enormous difference between being humble and being humiliated.”

In these days when we continue to be shattered, disappointed and angry about the abuse crisis throughout the world, many people do feel humiliated. That is probably especially so for we priests who are seen as the Church’s public representatives.

There has been a lot written about humility. Pope Francis himself has spoken about it, saying that if this is a time of shame and humiliation, it could also actually be a privileged moment to grow closer to Christ, not just for those who have offended but for all the Church, so that everyone realizes, acknowledges, and lives by the fact that everything we do is by the grace of God.

I think Pope Francis is saying that this is giving us an opportunity to change the way the Church does things, and if this is so, then then let’s embrace it. We are getting the message that humility is the only way God will have a say and the only way the Church will change.
Pope Francis is constantly referring to being poor, as Christ was poor, being crucified, as Christ was. Remember the Pope knows well the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola, which have shaped him. Ignatius himself was no stranger to humiliation and actually saw it as the most opportune moment for meeting the real Christ. One of the lessons we are learning is that up until now the Church’s culture in leadership was command and control, and that is what protected the Church and anyone who challenged it became a victim. Now is the time for humility.

That reflection last Sunday on “how to be humble” and the Gospel of the day was a great lesson for us. Pope Francis seems quite content to be humiliated because he sees it as the only way that the learning will sink in, and that we will discover that God is in control. How are we to be humble? The immediate answer is by the grace of God. Only the grace of God can give us the insight into our own human condition and help us to be grateful and humble for all that God does for us.

Naku noa
John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.