I have witnessed teachers at the Call to Serve Mass, Catechists at the Annual Catechist Mass and then the ordinations of John Lovell and Anthony Coloma, with all participants proclaiming their commitment to God’s mission in our diocese, through the offices of teaching, sanctifying and governing.
I think the unifying theme was a commitment to support and serve people in pursuing the truth, a truth informed by faith and reason. I have a sense that the second part of our weekend reading from Jerimiah (17:5-8), captures it:
Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose hope is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream:
it fears not the heat when it comes;
its leaves stay green;
in the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit.
All those involved, both directly and indirectly, are committing to placing their trust in the Lord, to bear fruit. They continue to stretch out their roots for nourishment.
I was listening to one of my CD’s by ‘The Priests’, while travelling around in the car over the weekend, as it played the track Benedictus (Blessed). I love the words, the music and their voices. And somehow for me, it captured the week of many blessings, in all those people who committed and re-committed to live their lives trusting in the Lord. Of course the hymn is sung in Latin, with the words being repeated:
Benedictus qui venit
in nomine Domini,
Benedictus qui venit
in nomine Domini.
hosanna in excelsis!
The shortened English translation is:
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,
Blessed is he who comes, who comes,
Hosanna in the highest,
It also reminded me of our Gospel from Luke (6:17, 20-16) which presents the Lucan version of the Beatitudes (Blessings). It presents the world as paradox because it is those who are poor, the hungry, those who weep, and those who are persecuted, who are blessed, who are given the blessings. Those who appear to be outcasts in our world, yet filled with faith, will inherit heaven. The wealth of this world and its pleasures can trap us and prevent us from true happiness. No wonder people are rejecting the call to this Jesus way of life. The lure of pleasure without depth can be very tempting, like the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden.
It was a great delight to witness the joy of both John Lovell and Anthony Coloma during their ordinations. The filled Cathedral overflowed with pride and happiness as we prayed and sang in full voice. There are so many words and actions from the Order of Service for Presbyteral Ordinations that I could share with you, in an attempt to capture something of their commitment and our ongoing blessing to them and in turn their blessing to us. So I have chosen these words which Bishop Bill prayed when he presented each of them with the paten and chalice;
Receive the oblation of the holy people, to be offered to God.
Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate,
and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s Cross.
And the words after their vesting as priests, prayed by Bishop Bill while he anointed their hands with the Oil of Chrism (Christ):
The Lord Jesus Christ,
whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and power,
guard and preserve you
that you may sanctify the Christian people
and offer sacrifice to God.
I was also blest to spend time over the weekend, hence the driving, at each of the Masses in the Cessnock and Kurri Kurri parishes, breaking open for them the Plenary Council Listening and Dialogue process. Gathering with the people of these parishes is such a blessing. They gather with a sense of reverence for the place and of each other. Mass is celebrated prayerfully, it is not rushed and no one leaves until it is finished, and in their leaving they spend time catching up with each other. Their prayer is contemplative and invites them to slow down, to be nurtured by the Word and Eucharist and in turn by each other. It is truly Eucharistic.
I will share with you the words at the top of their bulletin which expresses so much of who they are as a people of God:
We, the people of the Vineyards Catholic Community, aim to be a Christian Community bound together in prayer. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are committed to live by Gospel values. Striving to be a community which reflects Christ’s presence in our lives, we welcome, care for, and support each other in faith. In this way we grow as disciples of Christ, actively reaching out to each other and to other people within the wider community.
These words express the purpose of our lives in parishes, the place where our vocational call and commitment are expressed, lived out and experienced. This is what will draw people to us – the genuine sense of a Christian community and which will also call people to go forth and mission in the world.
May John and Anthony become such a presence to the communities to which they are being sent to serve.