TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: We are still here

The return to Mass this weekend brought with it a sense of joy, of being back in the Cathedral and once again seeing the light streaming in through the stained glass windows.

Mary’s window was particularly beautiful with the hues of blue as the sun shone on it at that time of the afternoon. It was good to be gathered with the community again, to hear the Word proclaimed and broken open in the ‘flesh’ and to receive the Body of Christ. It is from here that we are sent forth:

Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.

This sending forth tends to lose its powerful instruction when I am sitting at home in my loungeroom ‘watching’ Mass.

I thought I would share with you the Collect prayer from Sunday’s Mass:

Almighty ever-living God,
increase our faith, hope and charity,
and make us love what you command,
so that we may merit what you promise.

We listened to the Gospel story of Bartimaeus (Mark10:46-52), the blind man who called out loudly to Jesus, and who the crowd tried to silence. Does this not sound familiar to those of us who continue to desire a relationship with Jesus and who actively seek to be part of a worshipping community, in a secular society, which tries to drown out those people of faith who wish to have a voice? I can’t help but think of the narrative around parliamentary debates which tries to silence those whose voice is formed from a position of faith, hope and love.

This Gospel story focuses on Bartimaeus calling, then Jesus hearing and calling back to him, before giving Bartimaeus his sight and finally Jesus sending him off with the words, “Go; your faith has saved you.” I think the key words for our focus this week are:

  • Call
  • See
  • Go (be sent)
  • Respond

I invite you to contemplate this, as people of faith, as missionary disciples.

The month of October is Catholic Mission month, and today (Sunday) is World Mission Sunday. The call from Pope Francis is inspired by Acts 4:20, “For we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  Please go to the Catholic Mission website and see the faces and voices (on video) of religious and lay missionaries from over 50 different countries sharing with you this global message, #wearestillhere. https://www.catholicmission.org.au/

On this World Mission Sunday, we are being asked to revitalize our faith, and to rededicate ourselves to Christ's mission. It is also a day to show special solidarity to all true missionaries who have responded to Christ mandate: “Go, make disciples of all nations.”

I am also conscious that next weekend is the beginning of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference also known as COP26, being held in Glasgow, Scotland from 31 October to 12 November.

As global citizens we are being asked to pray for and to take action for our brothers and sisters as well as for our planet, our common home.

I share with you the words written by Br Peter Carroll FMS President of CRA on18 October 2021, commenting on his experience of the recent Plenary Council Assembly:

At the heart of our differences and polarities is one fundamental question: ‘what type of Church do we truly and deeply desire’? Will we be an exclusive one, comprised of those who are doctrinally ‘pure’, content with the traditional style of operating, or will we be an expansive Church, welcoming divergent views and lifestyles, and learning from contemporary society and culture? We know that the first Christians faced the same challenge. Was the Church to be confined to Jewish practice or was it open to Gentiles who didn’t accept those traditions? The Council of Jerusalem chose the latter and consequently the Church spread rapidly.

In the recent launching of the Synodal journey, Pope Francis identified three risks. The first, formalism: the Synod could be an extraordinary event, but only externally. He insists that it must achieve more than simply creating a good image. The second is intellectualism: it could become a “kind of study group, offering learned but abstract approaches … far removed from the reality…and concrete life of communities around the world”. The third risk is complacency, the attitude that says: “’We have always done it this way’…and it is better not to change. That expression – “We have always done it that way” – is poison for the life of the Church”. These are strong warnings. Our Church and Plenary Council need to ensure we don’t fall into these traps. Change must occur. Risks have to be taken. How else can we be faithful to the mission of Jesus Christ today in Australia and the world?

Come, Holy Spirit! You inspire new tongues and place words of life on our lips: keep us from becoming a “museum Church”, beautiful but mute, with much past and little future. Come among us, so that in this synodal experience we will not lose our enthusiasm, dilute the power of prophecy, or descend into useless and unproductive discussions. Come, Spirit of love, open our hearts to hear your voice! Come, Holy Spirit of holiness, renew the holy and faithful People of God! Come, Creator Spirit, renew the face of the earth”!

To the Pope’s prayer, we say: Amen.

May we, in our Diocese, continue to be people of the ‘Way’, the ‘Way’ that calls us to genuine discipleship, that calls us to see, that calls us to respond, and that calls us to “go and make disciples”. This will indeed be our ongoing synodal experience if we have eyes to see, ears to listen and a heart to respond.


Teresa Brierley
Director Pastoral Ministries
26 October 2021

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Teresa Brierley

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