TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: For all things, give faith

I pen this message still filled with the overwhelming joy of having been present at the ordination of Bishop Brian Mascord, along with thousands of others, but most significantly with hundreds from our own Diocese. It was a most spectacular, enriching, powerful, spirit-filled, wonderful, joyous, beautiful occasion. It was indeed our church at its best.

I was privileged to accompany two busloads of pilgrims to Wollongong - and here are the words from one of those people:

Many thanks for the great job you did organising Father Brian's Ordination trip. Everything was almost perfect. The person with whom I shared thought it was unique and at times emotional.
We had a good trip down and back. Everybody was friendly and mixed well.
The service was unreal, not boring, as there was so much to take in.
Father Brian's family’s participation made it personal.
The choir and orchestra, just everything was professionally done.

What else can I say, except many thanks for your great efforts.
God Bless dear lady.

These words reflect the sentiments of those who travelled to Wollongong.

I invite you to view this ordination on the Diocese of Wollongong’s website. It was a big ‘event’ and yet was able to capture well the personal and intimate. It shows our church to be more than an institution but one that is built on relationships. Brian was able to honour his parents and family and, in turn, the Diocese of Wollongong were able to honour Bishop Peter Ingham.

I could not get the feelings of this ordination out of my mind as I listened to the Gospel account of the Transfiguration on the weekend. In Wollongong, we were all taken to the mountain top. In the space of the Entertainment Centre, we had a real encounter with Jesus Christ and therefore with our God. We were transformed and we were transfigured. Once you encounter the living and true God, once you meet Jesus with a new set of eyes, the whole world looks different. I think almost all who were present left with the afterglow of meeting the living God.

On Sunday, at the Cathedral, we sang the hymn of the “Song of the Transfiguration” by David Haas. I repeat for you the first line and the last two lines of each verse:

Transform us as you, transfigured,

Lift us from where we have fallen,
Full of questions, filled with fright.

Live in this world as your Body,
Chosen daughters, chosen sons.

Lead us down those daily pathways,
Where our love is not confined.

And so Brian Mascord has been transformed and transfigured, as were many of us on that night.

Brian’s ordination was on the feast of The Chair of St Peter the Apostle. At the ordination, Archbishop Anthony Fisher preached most powerfully. He spoke of the Chair of St Peter and the window, featured on the booklet of the ordination, and the inscription that lies above this chair:

O pastor of the church, you feed Christ’s lambs and sheep.

This phrase became the backdrop for Archbishop Fisher’s words to Brian and to all of us gathered. The Bishop’s office, as successor of Peter, is to:

  • teach
  • sanctify
  • govern

Archbishop Fisher spoke of the 7.6 billion people who inhabit our globe as enfleshed spirits who seek truth, beauty and goodness. Of these 7.6 billion people, one-third are Christians with 1.3 billion of those Catholic. Of these 1.3 billion, 466,000 are deacons and of those 416,000 are priests. Of those priests, 5,400 are bishops – and now Brian is one of them.

At this point, I recalled the words of Bishop Michael Malone who, during his period as our Bishop, spoke of his role not only as being Bishop of our Diocese but also as being a Bishop of the Church of Australia and the Universal Church. This is now Brian’s role. Archbishop Fisher went on to remind us that, first and foremost, Brian is a man, a seeker of truth. Secondly he is a Christian, who has incorporated Christ by faith and sacrament, and as such, leads a good and virtuous life. Lastly, he is a cleric, who continues to respond to God’s call in expressing his faith in service. Brian’s motto, For all things give Thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:13) serves to remind us of our endless Eucharistic thanksgiving.

He then broke open the symbols of the office of Bishop:

The Hat (Mitre) – serves to remind us of the Holy Spirit’s descent upon the apostle’s heads. It also reminds us of the two books of scripture the Old and New Testaments as well as the two tablets of Christian morality. This hat symbolizes the hat of the teacher of sacred doctrine.

The Ring – serves to remind Brian and indeed every Bishop, of their marital commitment to God’s people, especially, in Brian’s case, the Wollongong Diocese.

The Crook – reminds us of the call of Bishops to watch over, unite and lead their flock.

Archbishop Fisher reminded us that this is not our church but it is God’s church, which by God’s grace will be renewed and re-built. It is Christ that builds the church and this church is being re-built day-by-day.

Brian, as Bishop is to have a teacher’s head, a spouse’s heart and a shepherd’s soul. Archbishop Fisher invited Brian to be teacher, spouse and shepherd but above all be the servant and voice and image of Christ. “Be so conformed to him.”

His last words to Brian and to us were, “O Pastor of the church, feed Christ’s lambs and sheep.”

I finish this message with the prayer on Bishop Brian’s ordination card:

Lord,

You have called Brian to lead and guide this Church of Wollongong.

Through the power of your Holy Spirit, give him the wisdom to discover you,
the diligence to seek after you, the patience to wait for you,
eyes to behold you, a heart to meditate upon you,
and a life to proclaim you.

Keep him faithful in his service of you and your Church.

May he perform his ministry with gentleness and care.

Through his prayer, teaching and living,
may he help your people to know you Son Jesus and make him know in our world.

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen. 

Keep on journeying through Lent with a renewed heart!

Follow mnnews.today on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is the Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.