Tag Archives: Fr Doug Shepherd

The Cathedral Connection – Christmas Newsletter 2019

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Christmas Newsletter 2019

Christmas is truly a feast of the heart. It reveals to us what the heart of God is like. He so loved humanity that He sent His only Son to redeem and save us.

It also reveals what the human heart is capable of. The nativity of Christ causes us to open our hearts and journey back to Bethlehem each year to rediscover our own roots in the gift of Jesus.

In Pope Francis Christmas message of 2018, ‘This truth is the basis of the Christian vision of humanity. Without the fraternity that Jesus Christ has bestowed on us, our efforts for a more just world fall short, and even our best plans and projects risk being soulless and empty.

For this reason, my wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for fraternity. Fraternity among individuals of every nation and culture.’ What makes us human is not so much our ability to think as our ability to love.

To the extent to which we open our hearts to God and to each other, we will experience something of the great joy the angels announced to the shepherds over two thousand years ago.

May great joy be yours this coming Christmas and always.

For what has been thanks for what is to come. Yes.

With every blessing, Fr Ron, Fr Doug, Debbie, Michael & Frank.

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The Cathedral Connection 24 November 2019

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In the encounter between Jesus and the two thieves on Calvary, one of the thieves was so lost in darkness and hatred that he did want the light of Christ to touch him. The other, though recognised the light of Jesus’s goodness and responded to it.

The repentant thief recognised that Jesus was innocent and spoke up for him before his unrepentant companion. The goodness of Jesus made the repentant thief see the wretchedness of his own wasted life, but it also awakened his own innate goodness.

He turned to Jesus, realising that he was the only one who could help him at this last moment of his life.

Salvation is always a gift from God. He gives it freely without any conditions to those who, like the repentant thief open their hearts and minds and know that Jesus is truly their King.

Pope Francis reminds us:

“Today, Jesus is asking every person to let him be their king: A king who sacrificed himself upon the cross, saving his people from death, he said. Christ the King casts light on a life marked by doubt, by fear and by the trials of every day.”

Fr Doug.

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The Cathedral Connection 20 October 2019

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The First Reading tells of the battle the Israelites fought after their deliverance from Egypt. Victory was theirs but not from their own efforts alone but from the power of God mediated through the intercession of Moses.

In the Gospel Jesus tells the parable of the helpless widow and the corrupt judge. Through her persistence the judge finally agrees to listen to her complaint, but just to get rid of her.
The profound message in the story is intended for his disciples who are faced with suffering and persecution. If an amoral Judge can be moved by the persistent pleading of a widow, how much more will God see justice done for his faithful ones who cry out to him continually in prayer.

The question is for them in that moment and for us today will they/we, have the faith, trust and fortitude of persevering in prayer, or throw the towel in and abandon the faith, just because our prayers are never answered immediately or sometimes in the manner in which we want.

With every blessing
Fr Doug

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The Cathedral Connection 22 September 2019

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We are constantly told that it is very difficult to change our habits and the natural way that we react and behave.

Dostoevsky wrote:
‘The second part of half of a person’s life is usually made up of the habits acquired during the first part.’

Now that is quite a challenging thought. A profound story to illustrate this.
‘Once a holy man was instructing his disciples as they walked through a forest. He pointed to a small oak sapling and asked one of his disciples to pull it out. The disciple did so with one hand. Then the Holy Man pointed to another oak sapling, a little bigger than the first and asked the disciple to pull that one out too. The disciple had to use both hands this time. The Holy Man pointed to yet another sapling much bigger and asked the disciple to pull it out. This time he could only pull it out with the help of all the other disciples. Finally, the Holy Man pointed to an even bigger oak tree and asked his disciples to pull it out. Of course, they were unable to do so.

The Holy Man concluded, ‘That’s how it is with passions and habits. In the beginning, before they have sunk deep roots, it is easy to eradicate them. But if we allow them to sink deep roots, it becomes virtually impossible to rid ourselves of them.’

While the story shows the danger of forming bad habits it also shows the importance of forming good habits. Just as dishonesty can become a way of life so can honesty. Honesty can become habitual, spontaneous, second nature in our lives.

Flor McCarthy writes,
The real reward for a good deed is that it makes the next good deed easier. Every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character.’

With every blessing
Fr Doug

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The Cathedral Connection 25 August 2019

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In the Sunday’s Gospel Luke tells us about the entrance into the kingdom of God and how there is no such thing as automatic entry. While Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem, someone asks him about the number who will be saved. Rather than speculate about the number who will deserve salvation, Jesus give practical advise on how you might enter: ‘Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.’

The door is a narrow opening so believers must strive to enter it. It is a warning against presumption. Salvation depends on the favour and grace of God and the honest struggle to follow God completely in his ways.

On a personal note on St Bartholomew’s feast Day I will have been six years a priest.

Fr Stephen Rossetti in ‘The Joy of Priesthood’ wrote;
“My brothers, you are a sign of hope. In a world of darkness, your presence, which is the presence of Jesus, is a light for the world. Despite your frail humanity, or because of it, the light of Christ shines more brightly.”

That powerful statement has resided in my heart from the day I read it in the Seminary. I have also realised I would not be the priest I am if it wasn’t for the people I serve, who have allowed me into their lives so generously and genuinely as their priest.

My Prayerful thanks

Fr Doug

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