At the Cathedral, the readings from Year A were proclaimed, and so the words of our last hymn, Christ be Our Light, by Bernadette Farrell, with which you are very familiar, resonated with me strongly because of the global struggles which confront us:
Longing for light, we wait in darkness
Longing for truth, we turn to you
Make us your own, your holy people
light for the world to see.
Longing for peace, our world is troubled
Longing for hope, many despair
Your word along has pow’r to save us
Make us your living voice.
Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts
Shine through the darkness,
Christ be our light!
Shine in your Church gathered today.
The reflection for this week, based on the words of light and darkness, comes from taking time this Sunday morning to go to the Ukrainian Mass at Adamstown in the Parish of the Protection of the Mother of God, and then spending time afterwards with this community. Fr Paul Berezniuk spoke about praying with both words and with our bodies, by being present, and in solidarity with those who are suffering in Ukraine. In speaking with some of the parishioners, their concern was not only for their homeland, Ukraine, but for the world. They expressed their fear and concern about world peace, and that, while the war is being fought on Ukraine soil, it is everyone’s war for humanity, for truth, justice and peace. They spoke about it being a war against evil.
There can be no doubt that the reason behind Pope Francis’ Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Friday 25 March, the Feast of the Annunciation, is for world harmony and peace. He begins this Act with the following words:
O Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, in this time of trial we turn to you. As our Mother, you love us and know us: no concern of our hearts is hidden from you. Mother of mercy, how often we have experienced your watchful care and your peaceful presence! You never cease to guide us to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Yet we have strayed from that path of peace. We have forgotten the lesson learned from the tragedies of the last century, the sacrifice of the millions who fell in two world wars. We have disregarded the commitments we made as a community of nations. We have betrayed peoples’ dreams of peace and the hopes of the young. We grew sick with greed, we thought only of our own nations and their interests, we grew indifferent and caught up in our selfish needs and concerns. We chose to ignore God, to be satisfied with our illusions, to grow arrogant and aggressive, to suppress innocent lives and to stockpile weapons. We stopped being our neighbour’s keepers and stewards of our common home. We have ravaged the garden of the earth with war and by our sins we have broken the heart of our heavenly Father, who desires us to be brothers and sisters. We grew indifferent to everyone and everything except ourselves. Now with shame we cry out: Forgive us, Lord!
He then goes on to remind us that God never abandons us, and he reminds us of the intercessory prayers to Mary our Mother:
Through your intercession, may God’s mercy be poured out on the earth and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days. Our Lady of the “Fiat”, on whom the Holy Spirit descended, restore among us the harmony that comes from God. May you, our “living fountain of hope”, water the dryness of our hearts. In your womb Jesus took flesh; help us to foster the growth of communion. You once trod the streets of our world; lead us now on the paths of peace. Amen.
I invite you to pray with Pope Francis and the people of the world these beautiful words of Consecration for humanity, Russia and Ukraine.
You can find these words on our website along with the recording of this event from the Vatican.
And speaking of Mary, I was very privileged to attend the Centenary celebrations of Calvary Mater Hospital on Friday. Most Novocastrians know it as ‘The Mater’, the hospital on the hill in Waratah that was established by the Sisters of Mercy one hundred years ago. We began with a Welcome to Country and a Smoking Ceremony followed by prayer, lunch and storytelling. And so, I finish this week’s message with part of the prayer that was prayed:
When we look with a keen eye upon the past 100 years, we have many reasons to give thanks. Today offers us an opportunity to appreciate our true wealth.
For those who accepted our help and appreciated our caring presence
For those who drew us toward a suffering world in need of our care
For those who reached out when we experienced difficulty
For those who led and guided us when we searched for the way
For those who challenged us to be loving in spite of their words and behaviour
For those who offered us insights through their guidance and teaching
For those who disturbed our security and encouraged our risk-taking
For those who helped us trust by their gentle spirit and forgiving heart
For those who inspired our courage by the example of their lives
For those who saved our sanity with their laughter and light-heartedness
For those who strengthened our faith
For those who urged us to keep a strong sense of hope
Divine giver of life, we are humbled by our wealth of mind and heart, body and soul. On this Centenary day we turn to you with a deep sense of heartfelt gratitude. Amen.
I trust this message reminds you of the many types of prayers we pray – prayers of adoration, of mercy and forgiveness, of gratitude, of petition, of courage, of blessing, of meditation, of silence, of action, of being…….
During this fourth week of Lent, may your life be a prayer, and I hope to see you next weekend at the Ecumenical Way of the Cross at Kilaben Bay.