Tag Archives: Fr Ron Bennett

The Cathedral Connection 17 March 2019

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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

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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.

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The Cathedral Connection 23 September 2018

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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

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The Cathedral Connection 5 August 2018

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I am the Bread of Life

 “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (John 6:35)

 This year we have been following Mark’s Gospel. Because it is a short Gospel, we now leave it for 5 weeks, reading instead from John’s Gospel Chapter 6 – the feeding of the 5000 and the Eucharistic words that follow it. John does not have an account of the institution of the Eucharist (he presumes it), but the whole of Chapter 6 is Eucharistic.

Last week’s Gospel set the scene, with the feeding of the 5000 with 5 loves and 2 fish. As Andrew says, referring to the 5 loaves and 2 fish that a boy has, ‘…but what is that amongst so many.’ It’s nothing. BUT 5 loaves and 2 fish AND JESUS is everything.

As we come to terms with our Cathedral being closed for quite a time, we may have a lot of negative and soul destroying emotions. We can relate to Philip’s response to the task of feeding the 5000 – ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough for each of them to get a little.” It isn’t going to work. Then we see Andrew, ‘There is a small boy here with 5 loaves and 2 fish.’ They are very little BUT with Jesus they are more than enough.

The last 3 Sundays I have come to morning tea after the 10.30am Mass, in the College Staffroom. Conversations there were very much about hope and possibilities, coming together, supporting each other, getting to know each other in a new way. What I heard over and over was the importance of keeping the community together.

The spirit of the parish was brought home to me last Sunday in seeing a woman collecting money for food that she had made. She had begun her fundraising for the Cathedral already, even before the start flag had fallen! Her ‘5 loaves and 2 fish’, coupled with all the other loaves and fishes that we hope to bring, with Jesus, will be more than enough!

– Fr Ron Bennett, Moderator.

The full newsletter can be viewed here.