TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: The Great South Land of the Holy Spirit

On this very hot summer’s day which is known as Australia Day, I remain inside at my desk and begin the year with this first message to you. I do not wish to enter into the dialogue/debate around Australia Day but will share with you the reading from Isaiah (32:15-18), for this day. Each year when this is read I am touched by its beauty, relevance and meaning for us as a people of God in this place.

Once more there will be poured on us the spirit from above; then shall the wilderness be fertile land and fertile land become forest. In the wilderness justice will come to live and integrity in the fertile land; integrity will bring peace, justice give lasting security. My people will life in a peaceful home, in safe houses, in quiet dwellings.

On this day of prayer for Australia, we are asked to set our hearts on God’s Kingdom. The Great South Land of the Holy Spirit is richly blessed by God. This reading reminds us to look to God, to have a profound respect for each other, to live in peace and with justice, to live with integrity because it is integrity which brings peace, justice and security.

This would be my wish for us for 2019, to live with integrity. I am reminded of the documents of the Church – Integrity in Ministry and Integrity in the Service of the Church which provide principles and guidelines for us as church workers. Within these documents, we are reminded to be authentic and to look to imitate Jesus’ actions and teachings.

This brings me to our Sunday readings for the week:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. (Luke 4:18-19)

We have indeed been anointed and we are charged with living and spreading the Good News so that others will see and desire to follow. I came across the following words and I share them with you as an invitation to live an authentic Christian life.

When the song of the Angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks...
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost.
To heal the broken.
To feed the hungry.
To release the prisoner.
To rebuild the nations.
To bring peace among people.
To make music in the heart.

I remind you that we have one month left to respond to the question of the Plenary Council– What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time? Australia Day is a good day to contemplate a response to this deep question.

I feel immensely blessed to live in a peaceful land with so much beauty. Holidays usually provide me with the space to appreciate this more. In January, I spent some time at Seven Mile Beach, just outside of Hobart. The place where we stayed is found within a coastal bush setting with lots of wildlife, silence and splendour. We shared this with one of our children, her husband and their children. I just love the freedom to explore and share the many elements of nature with those who I am forming, and who in turn are forming me. The words that come to my mind are some of those spoken by Darryl Kerrigan from the 1997 movie The Castle.

  • It's not just a house, it’s a home!
  • We’re going to Bonnie Doon!
  • How’s the serenity?

I believe the Catholic Church must step up and assist with providing guidance and leadership to this great place we call home. Our responses should assist those who gather at the sessions of the Plenary Council in 2020/2021 to develop a pathway forward, not only for Catholics but for the nation. You might like to note that the question is not about the Church, it is formulated around Australia, an ancient spiritual land of people, culture, flora and fauna.

We are being invited to listen beyond our own certitudes and be open to the Spirit. This is our opportunity to listen to God’s voice from within and beyond our narrow circles. I wonder what our collective imaginations will create!

For this coming year, I have invited a number of people to contribute to Tuesdays with Teresa. These different writers will feature once a month, writing with a particular focus. I hope you enjoy their columns.

Please continue to open up our weekly Dio Update which our Communications Team members work hard to produce, as well as our own mnnews.today and the monthly edition of Aurora. I remain surprised when people of the diocese are still unaware of the many events which are held and to which they are invited.

Finally, I ask that you remember Monsignor Allan Hart who passed away on Tuesday 22 January. I recall his explanation of why it is important to pray for those who have died. He would speak of the need to pray for them, as this assists in continuing to bring them deeper and deeper into the mystery.

Eternal rest grant unto him oh Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace; may he rest in peace. Amen

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Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

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