Tag Archives: Fr Ron Bennett

The Cathedral Connection 19 May 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Leaving a Legacy

 I have just been reading a book, “With the End in Mind,”  by Kathryn Mannix. It’s about the hospice movement and is subtitled ‘Dying, Death and Wisdom in an Age of Denial.’  Only when I finished it did I realize that yesterday was the Mary Potter Street Day Appeal. How appropriate.

It’s a powerful book on many levels.  We know of course that death is never an end, but is an important stage on the journey of life.  The book (and the hospice movement), shows us how to approach death, not with trepidation but with opening, clarity and understanding.

One of the themes of the book was about leaving a legacy.  What would I like to be remembered by? If I had the opportunity, what would my final words of advice be to those I leave behind?  What gift could I leave that others would appreciate?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus, in his darkest hour, talks of legacy, gift, what he is leaving for others to have.  It is like his last will and testament. His final, parting words. Do this and you will live!

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

We are called to be great lovers. But we cannot do this unless we are touched by God’s love. We can only radiate what we have received.

The journey of life is really about becoming the person God wants us to be. We can become more and more selfish or more and more selfless. Each moment, each day we make decisions that move us in one direction or the other.

Fr Ron

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

The Cathedral Connection 21 April 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Easter Sunday

It took time for those who first experienced the presence of the Risen Jesus among them to find the words to describe it – and even the faith to recognise him. They felt fear and incredulity before recognition fully dawned, the light became stronger and the sunrise of recognition broke over them. It is the same for us.

There are many things in life’s mystery of which this can be said. But nothing of which it is as true as the Resurrection. The Risen Lord enters our life without making a noise. He walks beside us without taking up space. He gives us all of his time without asking anything in return. He is at the centre of everything without forcing our attention. He is invisibly visible.

He is a new way of being, a new way of living. He gives our lives hope and meaning, a purpose in life.  He makes the impossible possible. We are never alone and never will be. He is always with us. We just need the faith to see.

He surprises us.
He makes death transparent and life radiant.
Lent has launched us.
Easter is everywhere.
We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song.  
(adapted from words of Laurence Freeman, OSB).

Fr Ron

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

The Cathedral Connection 17 March 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Prayer – Being in the Presence of Love

Today’s Gospel passage – the Transfiguration – would have been a ‘moment to be treasured’ for Peter, James and John. No wonder Peter wanted to prolong the moment – “let us build 3 tents…” He didn’t want the moment to end. Prayer is that meeting place with God. Our Catholic tradition has a richness of ways of encountering God in prayer. What they have in common is that they join in the prayer of Jesus to the Father. All prayer is through, with and in Jesus.

This Lent can be a good time to look at our prayer life. I would like to mention 2 forms of prayer that you may have heard mentioned recently.

Lectio Divina: The Latin phrase “lectio divina” means “divine reading.” It is a way of praying with the Scriptures. As one reads and invites the Word to become a transforming lens that brings the events of daily living into focus, one can come to live more deeply and find the presence of God more readily in the events of each day. The method follows four steps: lectio (reading), meditatio (meditation), contemplatio (contemplation), and oratio (prayer).

Meditation: Whereas most forms of prayer involve words and song, either written, memorized, or spontaneous, meditative prayer concentrates on just ‘being in God’s presence.’ Meditative Prayer began in the earliest centuries of the Church, when men and women went into the Desert to find God. Cassian went to meet them with them. He asked them ‘What is prayer and how do your pray?’ The answer he received was simple and profound. Go to a quiet place and spend time with God. Take a word or a phrase, and gently say it over and over. When distractions come, return to your word. Cassian wrote about what he had been taught.

St Benedict, who began the monastic tradition, knew Cassian’s writing, and used it in his directions for his monks. Through the centuries, the practice of meditation continued through monasteries and convents. Many are rediscovering meditation and Lectio Divina as wonderful forms of prayer, seeing them indeed as a “moments to be treasured.”

Fr Ron

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

The Cathedral Connection 17 February 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Blessings indeed

For the 1st few weeks of this year, the readings have been about ‘beginnings’ as Jesus begins his mission. That works in well for us, as we begin a new year.  After choosing his twelve apostles, Jesus teaches about the nature and demands of discipleship. We have to make a choice.

The 1st reading is from Jeremiah. It’s about choices also. God curses those who rely only on themselves, who think they can make it on their own steam. God blesses those who ‘put their trust in the Lord, with the Lord for their hope.’  We are either self-centred or other-centred. One is enriching, the other kills. Today’s psalm echoes that same theme of dependence on God, rather than oneself.

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians get to the nub of the matter. It’s the resurrection that matters. As Paul said, “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have died…” (1 Cor 15.19). In fact, as Jesus himself promised, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh” (Lk 6.21.)

Luke’s beatitudes reading may seem strange to us, as most often we hear Mathew’s account.  Luke incorporates part of the material Matthew had included in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:1-12). Luke’s version is shorter. Unlike Matthew’s nine blessings and no woes, Luke has four each, set in parallels: poor-rich, hungry-full, weeping-laughing, and rejecting-accepted.

If we fail to pay enough attention to such words of blessing, perhaps it is because we are aware of the associated woes, “Woe to you who are rich, … who are full now.” Those bring God’s care for the poor into sharp relief. Or perhaps, childishly, we simply want to wish away realities like poverty, hunger, death.

Today, in our Cathedral parish, it is time to celebrate blessings, the blessings of Fr James’ 11 years in the parish. We do it through a special Mass at St Paul’s Cathedral, and a parish picnic afterwards in the grounds of Parliament. Thank you, Fr James, for all the blessings you have given this parish of the Sacred Heart.  We wish you many blessings in your retirement.

Fr Ron – Moderator, Cathedral Parish.

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

The Cathedral Connection 23 September 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

A LOSS CAN BE FOR THE GOOD

When the All Blacks lost last Saturday night, reaction came quickly. Some criticised the players and coaches. Others took a more philosophical view. It was a great game; we lost to a great team. Perhaps the loss will be good in the long run. It’s what happens after a loss that matters. That describes some of my feelings following a gathering of 185 diocesan priests in Christchurch last week. It was a great sharing in the joy of the sacrament of priesthood. We totalled 4842 years of priestly service! I was able to renew friendship with priests I have long admired, many now growing old gracefully. Then there were the young shoots, many from the Philippines and India, full of energy and a great blessing for our Church. The keynote speakers echoed our own experience that the Church is facing severe difficulties. These are not so much from outside forces but more directly from within. We have suffered a big loss. Now we must take stock and plan ahead. Perhaps this period of time will be good for us. Pope Francis is indeed a Pope for our times. He sees the difficulties and he is challenging us to live the gospel in a new way.

The danger of clericalism. Here priests are treated in a deferential way; they make arbitrary decisions and ‘run the show’. They control what happens. ‘Servant Leadership’ goes out the window. Priests live in a world apart, not smelling like the sheep.’

We must reach out to the peripheries, and not look in on ourselves. Francis sets an example as he meets the refugees at Lampadozza; he washes the feet of women and men of all religions (and none) in prison. Is this not also what Jesus teaches, to reach out to those neglected and ignored, even hated by others.

To remember Paul’s image of the Body (1 Cor 12/ 18-22.) Through baptism, each of us becomes part of the Body of Christ. Each a different and limited part, but once we are joined to, and work with the whole body, we become Christ in action, and can change the world.
We carry on, like the disciples in today’s gospel, having learnt a hard lesson, but determined to be better for it.

Fr Ron Bennett

The full newsletter can be viewed here.