Tag Archives: Lent

The Cathedral Connection 31 March 2019

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The Power of Repentance and Forgiveness

 The parable of the Prodigal Son is probably the best known and best loved of all of Jesus’ stories. The younger son discovers that, in spite of his sins he is deeply loved and forgiven by his father. Gandhi experienced this when he was fifteen. He stole something from his brother. However, he felt so bad about it that he made up his mind to confess it to his father. He wrote out his sin on a piece of paper, asking for forgiveness and punishment, while promising to never steal again.

At the time his father was very sick and in bed. Gandhi handed him the note and sat by his father’s bedside waiting for judgment and punishment. His father sat up in bed and began to read the note. As he read it, tears came into his eyes. Gandhi himself began to cry. Instead of getting angry and punishing him, the father hugged the repentant son, and that was the end of the matter.

The experience of being loved while he was in sin had a profound effect on Gandhi. He said years later, ‘Only the person who has experienced this kind of love can know what it is.’

Those who experience this kind of love, know something about the heart of God and in the power of repentance and forgiveness. God never closes his heart to any of his children. No matter what they do, if they return to Him, the one thing they can be sure of is an unconditional and generous welcome.

With every blessing

Fr Doug

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Cardinal John’s Homily – 3rd Sunday of Lent

3rd Sunday of Lent:

Today’s Gospel seems very harsh…Jesus gives a warning ‘unless you repent, you will all perish’ He was not giving a threat …he was speaking of God’s love and patience.

Part of today’s Gospel is chillingly like what happened in Christchurch…it’s almost the story of a terrorist  attack that we have heard so much about in these last day.  The Roman official, Pontius Pilate, had sent troops into the Temple in Jerusalem to brutally wipe out a small group of Galilean pilgrims who had gone down to Jerusalem, ‘mingling their blood with their sacrifices’, it has some dreadful similiarities to the Mosque attacks.

He used another and spoke of the tragedy where eighteen people had been crushed to death when a tower in the city’s old wall had suddenly collapsed on top of them.

Hearing of these calamities, Jesus asked: “why did these dreadful things occur?” Was it because the people who lost their lives were terrible sinners, worse than other people?

There was a view among Jews, which is not unknown among believers even today, that disasters are a punishment from God for sinful behaviour. That is not so.

When Jesus commented on the sudden massacre in the temple and the accidental crushing to death of people by the collapsing tower, he was making it clear that this was not because of their sins……. that was not the point. He was saying was that the victims of the atrocity in the Temple and the disaster of the tower’s collapse meant they had all died suddenly and without having the opportunity to repent and make their peace with God. I am not saying that about the people in the Mosques.

To help his listeners Jesus told a parable  … The owner of a garden had a fig tree, but year after year he never found any fruit. In frustration and exasperation the owner told the gardener to cut the tree down: it wasn’t bearing fruit, it was taking up good space. But the gardener asked his boss to give the tree one more year …… ‘If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down’. In other words, the gardener said, “give it one more chance.”

It’s the same with God, God never gets tired of giving us another chance. This is about God’s patience with us.

God’s patience with us is God’s decision to show us respect, and allow us ‘space and time’ to develop and grow. There is no limit to God’s patience with each of us. There is no limit to God’s patience, but there is to the space and time we have to keep turning back and focussing on God. There are endless opportunities for us to profit from God’s patience;

When this Gospel was written it was to help and encourage believers who might have sinned seriously to turn back to the Lord and be reconciled with the community in preparation for Easter; that’s the purpose in Jesus’s saying ‘repent or perish’.

So, today we review our Lenten programme, and think about how we have been able to keep up with whatever prayer, penance or good works we decided on for Lent. If we have slipped, for whatever reason, there is nothing to prevent us from starting now, starting again.

The prayer for today is highly appropriate too: ‘Father, you have taught us to overcome our sins by prayer, fasting and works of mercy. When we are discouraged by our weakness, give us confidence in your love.’  Any of us can be disappointed with our weaknesses, we have to learn to be patient with ourselves too.

Maybe at this stage of Lent – halfway through- we might have to admit that this Lent is not all we had hoped for.  On Ash Wednesday, we intended to make some changes in our lives, now we might be disappointed in ourselves.

Jesus “gets” us, understands our hearts and knows that our instinct is to give up when the tree bears no fruit.  Today we learn not to give up  the hope that we can be better.

A good question to ask God is, “What is it you want to give me this Lent?”    Such a question could lead to heart to heart conversation with God …..

What is it you desire to free in my heart so I can love better?
How can I be more loving to my family? 
Where can I be a peacemaker with my children, with others?
How do you want to soften my heart from being harsh with others to being more loving – in the way you have loved me?
How can I be less judgmental and see others as you see them?
What would it cost me to slow down my life so I can listen to you more deeply?

When I fast, it can focus my attention more clearly on Jesus and how he wants to heal my heart.

Lent is what Pope Francis calls, “a journey of preparation, preparation to know God the gift of God’s patience and mercy.

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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Cardinal John’s Newsletter 6 March 2019

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Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

Last Saturday I celebrated Mass for the Sisters of Mercy who were gathered in Wellington for a pre-Chapter meet-ing. After Communion the Sisters sang a hymn based on the well-known piece of Scripture from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-18, which has been turned into songs and hymns, known as “There is a Time for Every Season Under Heaven.” The refrain for this particular hymn went:

“But there’s never a time to stop believing, there’s never a time for hope to die, there’s never a time to stop loving, these three things go on.” I loved it when the Sisters sang these words and found myself reflecting on them, and especially on the words “there’s never a time for hope to die.” Two days before this Mass I had returned from Rome where I had attended three different meetings. The major meeting was with Pope Francis and the Presi-dents of Bishops’ Conferences, and Heads of Religious Orders from all over the world on “The Protection of Mi-nors in the Church.” That meeting was very hard, but I knew that I was held in prayer by so many people here in New Zealand, and I am deeply grateful for that. It could have been very easy to give in to despair, especially at the end of the meeting when the news came out about the sentencing of Cardinal George Pell. These have been, and are, hard times for the Church, but – “there’s never a time for hope to die.”

All around the world the Church has been subject to me-dia attention, it has not been good. However, I believe we must first of all acknowledge that first and foremost we are a community of disciples, of people who follow and learn from Jesus Christ. The community of disciples we all belong to makes up the Body of Christ. These are not just words, it is a fact, we are the Body of Christ, we are a Body made up of saints and sinners. Pope Francis has often spoken of the Church as a “field- hospital.” In do-ing so he reminds us that we cannot escape the messiness of life, and he challenges us to be realistic and not get caught up in some idealised future or romantic past.

In the midst of the difficulties the Church faces, the embarrassment we all suffer, we can do no more than look to the Suffering Servant, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who invites us to put our faith in him, to trust in him. Now that we have begun the Season of Lent, this “season of grace” we turn to Jesus with full confidence. In this time which can seem to be nothing more than darkness, crisis and perhaps even despair, we are powerfully re-minded that Lent is the time to pay closer attention to the Word of God and to become more Christlike. This is not a time to be negative, or to give up on our faith. Lent is a positive time for each of us to grow personally, and for us as the Body of Christ to become stronger, knowing that “there’s never a time to stop believing, there’s never a time for hope to die, there’s never a time to stop lov-ing, these three things go on.”

Naku noa. Na + Hoane

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The Cathedral Connection 3 March 2019

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The Call

 How often do we find ourselves stuck in a state of repetition in our lives? Lost in the noise, haste and desire for things to be there when we want them we find we have lost the time to think, to be creative, and to listen to ourselves and the world around us.

Ash Wednesday and the season it introduces is a call. A call to pause, and to listen, and in that time and space that silence holds find a place where we can truly reflect.

While Ash Wednesday begins our season of Lent it is also the beginning of our own journey with Christ to his death and resurrection. We enter this journey marked outwardly with ash signifying the feeling of what is going on on the inside. We are truly sorry for those things which have kept us apart from God and one another.

So come together this Ash Wednesday, and be united one to another through God’s great love. May it be our resolve and intention to keep this Lent holy, and when we are reminded of the mark of the cross on our foreheads may we remember the first mark of Christ that assured us that we belong to him alone, and to him we will return.

Michael Fletcher
Director of Music

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