TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: “Blessed are the merciful; for they shall receive mercy”

For many families, this first week of school holidays in NSW heralds a welcome break from the regular routine and provides some time out for some ‘R&R’. Many grandparents will be looking after their grandchildren and, I trust, realising their significance in helping to form these young people. Allen and I will have three of our grandchildren with us for a few days at the end of the week.

I spent Sunday afternoon with our 71 World Youth Day pilgrims as they gathered to put the finishing touches on their pilgrimage plans. While they will experience WYD in Krakow, they will also be spending time in Venice, Padua, Milan, Siena, Assisi, Rome and Vienna. The title of our pilgrimage is, “In the Footsteps of the Saints”. When I spoke with them on Sunday I reminded them that we are all saints on our journey with each other and to remember that when they are challenged by each other and the time away from home.

I reminded them of the pledge that they will honour while on pilgrimage:

I undertake to be a good and supportive companion; a grateful visitor, a thankful pilgrim passing through foreign lands. I will be friendly and kind to all I meet and will be a good ambassador for my country. I cannot control the places, events, people or experiences I encounter but I can control the way I react and interact in these circumstances. I will not criticise or complain if things and people do not meet my expectations. I will endeavour to encounter my pilgrimage journey with appreciation and joy, always mindful of the millions who have gone before me, are with me now and of the multitudes that are still to follow. I will journey with integrity and will keep an open mind to all the lessons it can teach me. I will remember that at all times I bear the eyes and hands of Christ.

NAIDOC WeekI found this pledge to be a timely reminder to us of NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week which historically begins on the first Sunday in July. The theme for this week of celebrations is, Songlines: the living narrative of our nation.  For the oldest continuing culture on our planet, songlines carry significant spiritual and cultural connection which are remembered and expressed through traditional songs, stories, dance and art. Songlines are imperative to the preservation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practices. We are blessed to live in a country that has such an ancient culture and we have much to learn from our indigenous brothers and sisters who connect to their ancestral spirits, who form part of the land and all creation. It is this interconnectedness that gives aboriginal people their sense of identity, oneness and belonging.  Songlines connect past, present and future realities as one.

In Sunday 10 July, those who are interested in connecting with our local aboriginal people can gather with them at the 5pm Mass at the Cathedral followed by the sharing of food and yarning in the diocesan offices. We are attempting to grow this ministry to and with this community.

So, as part of my farewell talk to our WYD pilgrims, I used some of the aboriginal reality that all are connected. In our tradition, we call this the Communion of Saints. We look back to the saints who have gone before us so as to live the best lives possible which in turn forms our future.

Amazingly we are sending out 71 pilgrims. In Sunday’s reading (Luke 10:1-12, 17-20) Jesus sent out 72 disciples, in pairs, ahead of him. Jesus says, “The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.” WYD gives us an opportunity to send out pilgrims, to form them as disciples who will become labourers in God’s vineyard. I invited the pilgrims to take the opportunity to listen to God’s voice and to respond. The call to discipleship (to follow Jesus) invites us into God’s mission, to live and speak this message, which in these scripture passages is about peace, “Peace to this house.” As missionaries we are to bring peace to others, “May the peace of God dwell in your hearts” Disciples(Colossians 3:15). This discipleship is one of relationship, one in which the disciples know God and in turn God works through them to accomplish great things. Let’s hope and pray that those who are sent will return to us with enthusiasm to spread the Good News, and to accomplish great things.

Many of those who give generously of their time on the Diocesan Council for Ministry with Young People (DCMYP) have experienced WYDs and Australian Youth Festivals and feel a call to witness to the Good News. Of course they, like the 72 disciples sent, can offer the message which in some places is welcomed while in others it is rejected. Our pilgrims will have a profound experience, so upon their return, please invite them to share their experiences with you, your parishes and your schools. The theme for WYD is, “Blessed are the merciful; for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7). At WYD, they will be in the presence of Pope Francis along with at least three million other pilgrims. While in Europe, they will visit many holy places and be surrounded by thousands of pilgrims. I pray their hearts will be touched and transformed.

I conclude this week’s message with the Australian WYD prayer and the official WYD prayer and I invite you to pray these over the coming weeks. Our pilgrims leave on Thursday 14 July and return home on Tuesday 9 August. Please hold them in prayer.

Australian WYD Prayer

As Australian pilgrims we travel as one people to celebrate
God’s love and mercy at World Youth Day in Krakow.
We pray for our own personal transformation:

God of mercy, transform me,
that my eyes may be merciful,
that I may marvel at the beauty of my neighbour’s heart.

Transform me, O God,
that my ears may be merciful,
that I may be attentive to those in need.

Transform me, O God,
that my tongue may be merciful,
that all I proclaim is in love and peace.

Transform me, O God,
that my hands may be merciful,
that I use them to serve my neighbour.

Transform me, O God,
that my feet may be merciful,
that my pilgrim journey leads me to compassion.

Transform me, O God,
that my heart may be merciful,
ever open to the joy of your presence.

May Your mercy, O God,
rest upon me and transform me into Yourself,
for You are my all.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord.


St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, pray for us.

World Youth Day Krakow 2016

Official pilgrim prayer

World Youth Day Krakow 2016

God, merciful Father,
in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have revealed your love
and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,
We entrust to you today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman.
We entrust to you in a special way
young people of every language, people and nation:
guide and protect them as they walk the complex paths of the world today
and give them the grace to reap abundant fruits
from their experience of the Krakow World Youth Day.

Heavenly Father,
grant that we may bear witness to your mercy.
Teach us how to convey the faith to those in doubt,
hope to those who are discouraged,
love to those who feel indifferent,
forgiveness to those who have done wrong
and joy to those who are unhappy.
Allow the spark of merciful love
that you have enkindled within us
become a fire that can transform hearts
and renew the face of the earth.

Mary, Mother of Mercy, pray for us.
Saint John Paul II, pray for us.
Saint Faustina, pray for us.

Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

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

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