Tag Archives: Holy Week

Chrism Mass 2018 – Homily by Cardinal John Dew


Go, you are sent.” We heard those words many times last year in relation to our Synod. It is easy to connect the Synod theme to tonight’s Gospel:

“The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me,

for he has anointed me.

He has sent me to bring good news to the poor,

to proclaim liberty to captives

and to the blind new sight,

to set the downtrodden free,

to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.”

Jesus knew he was sent to the poor, the captives, the blind, the downtrodden……..we are too. Our task is to work how, who, and where they are today and bring them Good News. We are all sent to continue the mission Jesus was anointed for, the mission we are all anointed for in Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders.

We are sent into and live in a messy world, and a messy Church. We live in messy families. Pope Francis wrote in his document on the Family “No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need to constantly grow and mature in the ability to love.” A L 325   Those words seemed to give families permission to be themselves, knowing that they are not perfect and that is okay. It’s into that world, where all need to grow and mature in the ability to love, that we are all sent. We journey together, supporting and helping one another throughout life in all its ups and downs.

Almost 30 years ago, in July 1989 Cardinal Tom Williams wrote a Pastoral Letter to the diocese, it was about the 1988 Synod; He wrote – “The outcome will not be revolutionary. I have to be a realist like yourselves and accept that the most telling image of the Church is an untidy caravan struggling across the desert, not a regiment of infantry marching in perfect step across an immaculate parade ground. We are, after all, the People of God, and people are imperfect and contradictory. To know it we have only to look at ourselves.”

The world is not perfect, our Church is not perfect, families are not perfect. There are poor, captives, blind, downtrodden people everywhere, people who are struggling to live, people living without dignity and hope. ….we are anointed to take good news to them, and be good news for them.

In October 2016 there had been some devastating earthquakes in Central Italy, 159 people were killed in Amatrice. Pope Francis visited Amatrice, he visited a makeshift school, spoke with emergency and fire personnel. He wandered through parts of the city sitting with people, exchanging hugs and kisses, and just spent time with people who needed support. He said: “Since the beginning I felt that I had to come to you, simply to tell you that I am close to you, nothing else, and that I pray for you.”

He was just “being with” those people. It’s something he is good at, it’s something he wants us to do. It’s also often what Jesus did…. He was WITH people. Pope Francis has emphasized this to bishops and priests several times,  “We are promoters of the dialogue of encounter, dialogue is our method.”

Pope Francis tells us that our lives, especially as priests, is to be with people, walking with them, listening to them and accompanying them.  In Evangelii Gaudium (169) he wrote: ‘In our world, ordained ministers and other pastoral workers can make present the fragrance of Christ’s closeness and his personal gaze. The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this “art of accompaniment”. The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life.”

He’s encouraging us to be close to and to accompany the poor, the captives, the blind and the downtrodden. Anyone in ministry today is sent as Jesus was sent …and what did he do, he walked with people, sat and listened. We are asked and are privileged to understand, forgive, accompany and integrate those with messed up and difficult lives into the life of the Church.

Pope Francis is a Jesuit. He would have known some of the things written and said by that great Jesuit Theologian, Karl Rahner. Rahner once asked the question “Why would a modern man want to become or remain a priest today?”  He then answered his own question with stunning simplicity.

He said that for him it is not the great works of the church in the service of justice and peace, the great universities and the great movements and programs. “Rather,” he said, “I still see around me living in many of my brother priests a readiness for unselfish service carried out quietly, a readiness for prayer, for abandonment to the incomprehensibility of God, for the total dedication to the following of Christ crucified.”

The Church of Wellington is blessed to have priests who continually show a readiness for  unselfish service carried out quietly, a readiness for prayer, abandonment to the incomprehensibility of God, for the total dedication to the following of Christ crucified.

As your priests renew their priestly promises this evening, pray for them, pray that they will be sent with renewed enthusiasm and know these words of Pope Francis:

What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes.”

What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes.”





Palm Sunday 2018 – Homily by Cardinal John Dew

Palm Sunday 2018

We are invited today to plunge whole-heartedly into the Gospel and imagine ourselves among the crowds that came to Jerusalem, as it says in John’s Gospel, “to learn that Jesus is coming.”

We are invited to imagine ourselves “the hordes of people who spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields.” We pray about that today and try to connect spiritually with this event as closely as possible.

Who is this Galilean arriving in the Holy City?

Would you be among those who strode ahead to meet him or those who followed?

Would your voice join those who sang out “Hosanna in the highest” or would you have been among the silent onlookers startled by the scenes of excitement when they saw this man coming into Jerusalem on a donkey?

Do you stand back in admiration of the strange new Messiah or are you influenced by those who were prejudiced against him?

Would you have been a pilgrim or a dawdler?

Have you ever thought on Palm Sunday which kind of behaviour you would have shown towards Jesus on this day?

It can be quite easy to think about the change of heart and behaviour in those who were present in that week…it is easy to think about THEM and not even think about the call to conversion – and a change of attitude and behaviour in ourselves – Holy Wek Invites us to think of where we are in all of this. In all humility we too know that our hands would have carried palms and shouted in welcome, AND THAT on Friday would shout out “Crucify him, crucify him!”

This week, we again have the chance to begin to allow Christ’s unconditional love to bloom in our hearts.

We cannot judge the crowds at Jerusalem as if the crowds in Jerusalem were never were never completely clear in the way they felt about Jesus of Nazareth, sometimes for him, sometimes against him. We too have doubts and lack faith at times. Our own belief and our prayers are occasionally weighed down by scepticism and fear.

We change, we are believing and yet unbelieving, we are enthusiastic and then tired and weary; we shut out in welcome and excitement, and then call ‘Crucify him.”  Whatever we are…. changing and fickle ……. HE is always the totally loving and compassionate shepherd, teacher and healer. The “Hosanna” is now ours.  Our hearts may vibrate today in fragile faith, but we pray that this week our fragile faith will still lead us to keep our gaze transfixed on Jesus.

Today and throughout this week we respond to the invitation of Jesus “Look at me,” we will look at him and we will hear him say “Do you see anything that is not Love?”

The Wellington Central Pastoral Area Newsletter 24-25 March 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.


Today, Palm Sunday, begins Holy Week.  This is the most sacred time of the year for Christians, climaxing in the Resurrection of Jesus, the kernel of our faith.

The contradictory behaviour of those who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with “Alleluias” fit for a king, condemning him to death a few days later, is reflected in the liturgies of this week.  We find ourselves caught up in a cycle of joy-sorrow-joy-sorrow-joy, as the drama takes us through Palm Sunday to Holy Thursday to Good Friday and on to the great Easter Vigil and the Day of Resurrection.

The starting point is made special with 40 children celebrating their First Reconciliation this afternoon (2pm at St Thomas More Church, Wilton).  This Sacrament combines the themes of sorrow and joy powerfully and beautifully, easing and lifting burdens with the loving mercy of forgiveness.

There is an open invitation to join the families gathering this afternoon, and our parish timetable lists several opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation during this special week.  We should all consider completing Lent and honouring the gift of Jesus, by formally expressing sorrow for what we have done or failed to do and experience that sorrow turning to joy.

Please try to participate in some, if not all, the Easter ceremonies.  The Chrism Mass (Tuesday), the Last Supper (Thursday), the Friday commemoration of the Lord’s Passion, and the Easter Vigil.  They celebrate the essence of our faith and the purpose of parish life.

Fr James

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Homily – Cardinal John Dew 15 April 2017 Easter Vigil

Easter Vigil, 2017

Yesterday, the Cross was carried into the Cathedral and three times Father James sang “Behold the wood of the cross on which hung the Savior of the world.”  Three times we responded, “Come let us worship.” It seemed that all was darkness, Jesus had died and all was darkness. We could have easily gone into despair at the words of Jesus “It is accomplished……and bowing his head he gave up his Spirit.” Maybe we identified with the despair of Mary His Mother as she saw Jesus nailed, beaten, mocked, ridiculed and dead on a cross…she would certainly have been in darkness.

This Liturgy started in darkness ……….. then we lit a fire and three times heard the words “The Light of Christ’ and we again made three responses “Thanks be to God.”

Someone by the name of Tom Shepard, I don’t know who he is, in writing about Easter said, “When I was a child, the Easter Vigil was a profound event for me. I didn’t know what was going on, but I did know they were doing everything I liked. They were playing with fire. They were playing with water. They were saying things I didn’t understand. He was blowing on the water. He was splashing the water on people. The air was full of smoke. It was dark and it was scary. It was everything that I loved.”

 Tonight is everything that we love…not just playing with fire and water, or smoke billowing all over the Church, all of those and many other things tonight are deeply symbolic and have a profound impact if we are ready to experience them deeply. The last few days have given us many powerful symbols, symbols that speak to our imagination and move our hearts.

This Easter Vigil tells the story of our salvation, the story of coming out of darkness into light. That’s our story – the first words of the Bible  “God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep…..

That was the beginning of creation, now the Rising of Jesus from the grave gives us a new creation…….we are new people who live in the light,

It was DARK for Jesus too, not just an absence of light, but the darkness of despair, his friends had all left him and now it seemed like God had deserted him too.       Remember the Passion Story from last Sunday, Palm Sunday – from St Matthew’s Gospel: “From the 6th hour there was darkness over all the land …….at about the 9th hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘My God, My God, why have you deserted me?”

Naturally life will seem dark for us at times, however we can never stay in the darkness “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.”

As this Easter candle was lit I prayed…….“May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our minds and hearts.”

Then the light began to spread bit by bit. Light slowly spread through the Cathedral, a beautiful soft light of flickering candles, the Light of Christ began to spread over the darkness, and slowly to give us the message that it is no longer dark. We cannot live in darkness or despair. Christ is with us, risen from the dead and will never leave us.

This is the night….. said the great Hymn of Easter Praise

We pray that this candle, hallowed by the honour of your name, may persevere undimmed, to overturn the darkness of this night. May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star

Will this light be found still burning in our hearts? Actually, this light will go out.  But at our Baptism we were given a Baptismal Candle- as will these people tonight be gifted with light hearing the words “Receive the Light of Christ…”

We take the Light of Christ with us wherever we go, especially to our homes and families?

Every year at the Mass of Chrism I am moved by the final prayer which says;  “Become the pleasing fragrance of Christ…” referring of course to the perfumed Chrism we are anointed with at Baptism, Confirmation and for we priest in Holy Orders.

“Become the pleasing fragrance of Christ…” we are that every day and in every situation. Every day we are also Christ’s light to others.  There is a well known quotation of St Catherine of Sienna: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

God means you and I to be the light of the Risen Jesus to the world around us.

Homily – Cardinal John Dew 11 April 2017 Chrism Mass

Homily Chrism Mass 2017

Several years ago one of our Bishops said to Saint Pope John Paul II, “Holy Father I would not want your job for all the money in the world.” The Pope looked up and said “It’s a privilege.”

One of the great privileges, and humbling things for me to do is to lead the renewal of Priestly Promises every year at this Chrism Mass,  it moves my heart every year.

Today a number of priests gathered for a day of prayer in preparation for this Mass and Renewal of Priestly promises.  In a time of sharing several of them spoke of how privileged we are to minister:

Privileged to say take communion to the sick, to live in the service of the Gospel.  Privileged to say “This is my Body”, “I absolve you from your sins.”  I have know that one of the other great privileges we have as priests is to celebrate Baptisms.

Last Saturday I baptised two babies.  As I anointed them with the Oil of Catechumens and with Chrism I wondered about how many times these oils had been used for Baptism since they were blessed and consecrated at the Chrism Mass a year ago.  Chrism was used many times for Baptisms and Confirmations, but not for any  Ordinations last year. This year’s Chrism will be used in 3 weeks’ time when Cirilo Barlis will be Ordained to the Priesthood.

I wonder what will happen to those two babies baptised last Saturday.  Will they grow up knowing that on a day in April in 2017 the Mystery of the Trinity took life in them?  Will they grow up seeing the light of God on faces of their fellow baptised?  Will people see the light of God on and in their faces?  Will they know that because of baptism they share a deep and profound union with every one of us, with everyone who is baptised?

Do we, the baptised, know that others are part of us?  Do we who share the same Spirit of God look to see what is positive in others and welcome and prize them as Gifts from God? Do we make room for others, share their joys and sufferings, attend to their needs and actually think of the fact, that through the goodness of God and the miracle of grace we are in communion with God and with one another. If we do see that we know we are privileged and deeply blessed.

I hope those two children grow up knowing that they belong to the community of the church, that they live in communion with God and one another.  I hope we all know that. For we priests our ordinations actually came out of our Baptism, priesthood is the way we responded to our Baptismal call

This year I have called for a Synod.  A Synod is about journeying together, listening to one another, and helping one another to respond to the call of the Gospel. Our last Synod had the theme “Salt and Light together.”

We are an extraordinary assembly of people who journey together, supporting each other.  People of all ages, of many nationalities, many different ways of praying   – but we are – though Baptism – one people.  Whether we were baptised and anointed in India, Ireland, New Zealand or England, Samoa or the Philippines, Sri Lanka or Canada, Peru or Fiji – wherever – We are Salt and Light together.  Whether it live in Westport or Masterton, Otaki, Kaikoura, Wellington or Upper Hutt – we are “Salt and Light together.”

This year’s Synod theme is “Go, You are Sent”.  We are sent to the world around us, charged to take Jesus with us – we are sent together to be salt and light for the world.

Jesus announced in tonight’s Gospel that the Spirit of the Lord had been given to Him, the Spirit of the Lord had anointed him. The same happened to us  – God’s Spirit anointed us, wherever and whenever we were baptised.  At Baptism and at Confirmation we were anointed; and for some of us we were also anointed and sent at the time of our ordination.

We were anointed and sent to bring good news to the poor,

to proclaim liberty to captives,

to give new sight to the blind,

to set the downtrodden free,

to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

We are sent out.

We will reflect prayerfull and intensely this year on that Synod theme “Go you are sent.”

I want and I invite as many people as possible to participate in this years’ Synod.  350 people will attend the weekend in September, but thousands are able to participate in the prayerful listening process preparing for the Synod.  I hope that thousands of people will pray too.  I want you to do that because we are a people together.

At our baptisms, as for those two babies last Saturday, these words were prayed:  “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of his body.”  We do live as members of his body when we take seriously the fact that we are chosen and anointed to go out.

In 2009 I took a photo of an old man ouside a railway station in Paris. He was a beggar – I assume that he had nothing. I look at that photo often and I have used it many times when I quote some words of Pope Benedict who said: ”Unless this Eucharist passes over into concrete acts of love it is intrinsically fragmented.”  Our Eucharist does not end in our Churches.

We are sent out from every Mass to take Christ with us. Please help the Church of the Archdiocese of Wellington to make a difference in our world. Please pray that every single one of us will hear those words “Go, you are sent,”and that as we go we will do as Pope Francis encouraged us: Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concerns never take away the joy of our hope.”

We are able to go in joy and in hope from every Mass, because called and anointed in Baptism, in Confirmation and for us in Holy Orders…it is a privilege.