Tag Archives: CardinalJohn

The Cathedral Connection 18 August 2019

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Jesus – Bringer of Peace or Division

 At first sight, today’s Gospel is confusing. This doesn’t seem to be the Jesus we all know! Preachers and people alike find it hard to reconcile these passages with other passages of scripture.

One explanation is that the language of Jesus’ time was not as ‘robust’ as modern languages and nuances get missed. So, in those days, in order to say, ‘I like Mary more than Jane” I would have to say, “I love Mary, I hate Jane.’ Hearers and readers would understand, but we would say it differently as our languages are more developed.

There has also been unnecessary division amongst the followers of Christ, and even Christians relationships with those of other faiths. This goes against the words of Jesus in John 17/21 – ‘Father, may they all be one, as I am in you and you are in me!’ Yes, some of our divisions have been both unnecessary and unjust, and often a scandal.

But I think Jesus’ message here is really about passion. From the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we follow Jesus’ journey from his Galilean home towards his death in Jerusalem (Luke 9:51-19:27).  There is an urgency about Jesus’ message.  In numerous passages about discipleship and judgment day, Jesus warns against stocking worldly wealth, as we read a fortnight ago about the rich fool building barns for a retirement that he did not have. The decision to follow Jesus or not will separate people.

So, the real point of the gospel is the decision to follow Jesus completely now – Yes or No.  Some points for reflection —  Is there an urgency and passion in my life? If so, what is it for? What are the costs to follow it: peace, money, time, relationships, etc.? What would be the cost if I do NOT follow that passion now?

Fr Ron Bennett, Moderator.

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Cardinal John’s Newsletter 8 August 2019

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Kia tau te rangimarie kia koutou

Two days ago we celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration. For me it is one of the most powerful and wonderful incidents in the life of Jesus recorded in the Gospel. While at prayer Jesus heard the words “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” Hearing those words his identity was confirmed as the Son of God and he was able to come down from the mountain and “resolutely take the road to Jerusalem” or “set his face to Jerusalem.” He chose to set out for Jerusalem even though on the mountain he had heard Moses and Elijah “speaking of his passing which he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.”

On the 1st July I read about the saint of the day, Saint Junipero Serra, a Franciscan friar who traveled from Spain to the Pacific Coast of America to take the Gospel to the Native Americans. Saint Junipero’s motto was “Siempre Adelante,” which means “always go forward.” For me that motto has the same meaning as Jesus “resolutely taking the road to Jerusalem.”

Just a few days ago Pope Francis sent a message in a short video clip to the Indonesian Missionary Congress with a very simple but deeply profound message. He said: “We are not people who go backwards. No! We are people who go forward, always. Baptised and sent: the Christian goes forward and this is what ‘sent’ means. It is the Holy Spirit that impels me to go forward.”

“Go, you are sent”, are familiar words to us as they were the words which conveyed the message of the Archdiocesan Synod two years ago.

As we look for new ways to engage, as we realise more and more that we all “are a mission” and that we have work to do which calls for all of us to be fully involved, I can think of no better words than that motto of Saint Junipero Serra “Siempre Adlante.” His words were inspired, I believe, by the example of Jesus who set his face towards Jerusalem.
As the Holy Father says, “So, take courage, go forward, always forward. You are baptised and sent.”

Naku noa
+ John

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Cardinal John’s Newsletter 9 July 2019

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Kia tau te Rangimarie kia koutou

This is a difficult time in our history to be asking people to think about vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The sexual abuse scandals have rocked the Church throughout the world and continue to do so. It is hard to talk to young men about the possibility of priesthood when they hear so much about how so many have been abused and betrayed by those they should have been able to trust.

However, the call to priesthood must be talked about. It is still a rewarding and very satisfying life. It is a life of service and brings with it the incredible privilege of walking alongside others in all aspects of their lives. It gives those of us who are priests the chance to try to be the presence of Christ to others ….. and that is a privilege and a blessing that I cannot put into words. Even in the midst of a Church in disarray and disappointment the call to priesthood is obviously still there.

Vocations Awareness Week will be observed from 4th – 11th August throughout New Zealand. Will that week be any different for us from any other week of the year? Will our parishes, schools and colleges do something special to encourage teenagers and young adults to think about the possibility of priesthood and religious life? Will parents mention it as a possibility to their sons and daughters. Do the priests who read this newsletter regularly ask young men if they have thought about priesthood as a possibility?

A few months ago we formed an Archdiocesan Vocations Committee who are now working with Father David Dowling. This group of generous people, consisting of three women and two priests, is looking at ways to raise the profile of priestly vocations in the Archdiocese. In particular they will explore the promotion of vocations among young people, and assist in accompanying those who are considering priesthood.

Please pray in support of the work of the Archdiocesan Vocations Committee, and please reflect on how you could invite suitable young men to consider priesthood.

With thanks and every blessing.
Naku noa
+ John

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Cardinal John’s Newsletter 27 June 2019

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Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

This evening at St Joseph’s Mt Victoria a Mass will be celebrated to give thanks for 50 years of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, (the Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development). In December 1965, Pope Paul VI promulgated the document, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World known as Gaudium et Spes. The very first sentence of that document said, “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men (and women) and this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the followers of Christ.” The Bishops of the time established the Committee for Catholic Overseas Aid, and Caritas grew out of that.

Today we give thanks for the amazing work Caritas has done over the past 50 years. It is also the chance to reflect on the challenge which belongs to all of us to reach out to the poor and underprivileged. It could be easy to think that Caritas is doing all the work and the rest of us don’t need to do anything. Pope Francis reminded those gathered in Rome for the Caritas Internationalis Meeting a few weeks ago; “For one who wants to follow the path of charity, humility and listening, it means turning an ear to the small ones.” Francis said. “In the world, those who have more speak more, but among us it cannot be that way because God loves to reveal himself through those who are small and last.” He is inviting all of us to listen to and care for “the small ones,” those who struggle in life.

It is important to remember that Catholic responses to poverty and injustice didn’t start 50 years ago with the work of Caritas, AND it does not end with Caritas, it is part of OUR mission. The Church’s mission of caring for the poor and working for justice is part of who we are, and is founded on:

  • The teaching and example of Jesus, who sought out the company of his society’s outcasts, who fed the hungry and healed the sick, and who identifies totally with the poor in saying, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.”
  • The Old Testament’s law and tradition which challenge us to make allocations from the harvest for the poor, (how do we apply that in 2019?) to care for widows and or-phans, to welcome the stranger, to ensure that workers are treated justly, the sustainable use of the earth.
  • There are the challenges of the Prophets who denounced injustice and called people back to being in right relation-ship with God and with each other.
  • We look too at the traditions and example of the early church, in their attempt to start a radical community in which no one was excluded, in which those who shared the Eucharist also shared their bread and their homes. (Acts 2: 42-47)
  • Saints and holy people throughout the history of the church, such as St Francis of Assisi who continues to provide a vivid example of listening to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
  • There are also the formal teachings of the Church, especial-ly those documents identified as Catholic Social Teaching, that rich treasure trove of teaching in which our moral teaching is applied to political and social questions.

Please continue to pray for the work of Caritas and reflect on how each of us can make it our mission too.

Every blessing
Naku noa
+ John

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Cardinal John’s Newsletter 13 June 2019

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Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

Later this year, in the month of October, Pope Francis has asked the world to embark on “An Extraordinary Missionary Month”. He has done this because it will be one hundred years since Pope Benedict XV wrote the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud about being missionaries. Pope Francis has highlighted again in his first major document Evangelii Gaudium that we are ALL called to be “Missionary Disciples.” The very first sentence of the document of almost 6 years ago says, “The Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” (EG 1).

Pope Francis went on to say in the next paragraph; “Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too.” (EG 2)

If we are called to be Missionary Disciples every day, and every hour of the day, and if we are to embark on a new chapter of evangelisation which is marked by joy, and if we are to help others find ever-lasting joy in Christ, then regular prayerful reflection will help us.

One of the ways to keep us joyful and to ensure that our interior life does not become caught up with our own interests and concerns, and we no longer hear God’s voice because we are so focussed on ourselves, is to reflect prayerfully every day. Many people choose to use a nightly reflection known as The Examen.

It is a simple, powerful and effective time of prayer and reflection.

  • Review the day with gratitude
  • Take note of the joys and delights of the day
  • Focus on the gifts of God’s grace
  • Also acknowledge the failures and self-disappointments
  • Look forward to tomorrow and ask for light and guidance for the day ahead.

If we are to be Missionary Disciples we clearly need to en-counter the Joy of the Gospels for yourselves before reaching out to others. This kind of prayer – the Examen – will help us to encounter Jesus, to be in relationship with him, to walk with him and talk with him.
When Pope Benedict XV wrote Maximum Illud one hundred years ago he wrote of “the proclamation and the love of Jesus, spread by holiness of one’s life and good works.” Our holiness of life and our good works become more effective when we pray and reflect every day about how we are living out our Baptism and Confirmation. The Examen is a wonderful help. I wish you joyful reflections.

Every blessing

Naku noa
+ John

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