As I write this week’s message, I am mindful that much of the media coverage is being dedicated to the life and death of Queen Elizabeth II and the proclamation of King Charles III. While we thank God for the amazing leadership of Queen Elizabeth for over 70 years and we pray for the eternal repose of her soul, I am sure we are also wondering about the future for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. In these changing times across the globe, the quality of leadership is paramount at all levels. Clearly, Queen Elizabeth was formed and led by her faith in Jesus Christ.
And while we ponder the big picture elements that surround us, I am also aware that we need to live out each day in the contexts in which we find ourselves. Allen and I have just returned home from two weeks on the Gold Coast as we welcomed our 12th grandchild and helped to settle him and his parents into their care of him. So far things appear to be going well. This also allowed us to catch up with some of our other children and grandchildren, which was amazing. I value the formative conversations we have during these times.
On one Saturday evening, we were looking after five grandchildren from three different families, which allowed us to take them to the Vigil Mass. I was delighted that they participated, and that the Parish Priest made sure he spoke to us and to each of them. It is our hope that these encounters are remembered by them as they begin to explore more fully their own faith lives. They recognise and are respectful that Allen and my faith is a significant part of our lives. Hopefully, faith continues to be caught and not necessarily taught.
I find it interesting that certain dates remain with me from my schooling, and it seems that during the month of September, a number of those religious dates are imprinted in my memory:
- 8 September – The Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- 14 September – The Triumph of the Cross
- 15 September – Our Lady of Sorrows
- 24 September – Our Lady of Mercy
As I recall these feast days, I pay tribute to my time of being educated by the Sisters of Mercy at Holy Cross High School, Glendale; at St Aloysius High School, Hamilton; at St Anne’s High School, Adamstown and at Our Lady of Dolours High School, Chatswood.
I am grateful to have been taught by dedicated women who not only educated me but nurtured the gifts they saw in me. At the time, I was unaware of the holistic nature of their formation of me. I hope this is the still the case in our schools where teachers are privileged to form young minds and hearts.
I am also aware that this week, on the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows, we mark our Diocesan Perpetual Day of Remembrance. Most of us prayed the liturgy of this Mass on the weekend. I found it to be very moving.
Together we hope to shine a light of solidarity, a light of prayer, a light of commitment to change, a light of hope. I hope you have taken the time to access the many resources that are on our diocesan website: https://www.mn.catholic.org.au/church-mission/perpetual-day-of-remembrance/
I share with you the prayer that we are invited to pray for the turning on of the light of Christ, which I hope you will do on 15 September.
Person 1: The light of Christ shines in the darkness
Response: and the darkness shall never overcome it.
Let us pray
God with us, you have made us in your image and filled us with the breath of your divine life. Through the life of Jesus, you show us the way to live in the light of your love.
As darkness falls may these lights remind us of our mission to shine the light of your love on the darkness of our Church and world.
Create a clean heart in us O God.
Where people are disempowered. May we shine the light of your justice.
Where there is privilege and prestige. May we shine the light of your humility.
Where there is dishonesty and denial. May we shine the light of your truth.
Where transparency is lacking, and agendas are hidden. May we shine the light of your integrity
Where there is fear. May we shine the light of your courage.
Where there is judgement. May we shine the light of your compassion.
Where there is disrespect. May we shine the light of your love.
Where people feel silenced. May we shine the light of your word.
Where people feel excluded. May we shine the light of your acceptance.
Where there is sin. May we shine the light of your forgiveness.
Create a clean heart in us O God.
And then for turning off the lights:
Day has dawned.
As we turn off our lights,
we commit to shining the light of Christ
in all we do throughout our day.
Our faith invites us to reach out and to change, to create a clean heart.