Migrant and Refugee Week Australia.
Sunday 20 August
Child migrants, the vulnerable and the voiceless.
Pope Francis speaks to us: I feel compelled to draw attention to the reality of child migrants, especially the ones who are alone. In doing so I ask everyone to take care of the young, who in a threefold way are defenceless: they are children, they are foreigners, and they have no means to protect themselves. I ask everyone to help those, who for various reasons, are forced to live far from their homeland and are separated from their families.
We need to be aware that the phenomenon of migration is not unrelated to salvation history, but rather a part of that history. One of God’s commandments is connected to it: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress them, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Ex 22:21);”Love the sojourner therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” (Deut 10:19). This Phenomenon constitutes a sign of the times, a sign which speaks of the providential work of God in history and in the human community, with a view to universal communion. While appreciating the issues, and the suffering and tragedy of migration, as too the difficulties connected with the demands of offering a dignified welcome to these persons, the Church encourages us to recognize God’s plan. She invites us to do this precisely amidst this phenomenon, with the certainty that no one is a stranger in the Christian community, which embraces, “every nation, tribe, people and tongue” (Rev 7:9)
Each person is precious; persons are more important than things, and the worth of an institution is measured by the way it treats the life and dignity of human beings, particularly when they are vulnerable, as in the case of child migrants. Furthermore, we need to work towards protection, integration and long-term solutions. Pope Francis. Message for World Day of Migrants & Refugees.
For further excellent reading. www.acmro.catholic.org.u
Feast of the Assumption of Mary.
Sunday 13 August
The Assumption is a holy day of obligation in Australia. Every Sunday of the year is a holy day of obligation as well as Christmas and the Assumption.
The Roman Catholic Church believes that the Blessed Virgin Mary was “assumed” body and soul into heavenly glory when she died.
Although the Church in Jerusalem celebrated the death of Mary from the 5th century, the doctrine of her assumption was not formulated in the west until the late 6th century. In Rome there was only one feast in honour of Mary (on January 1) until the Byzantine feast of the Assumption on August 15th was introduced into the universal calendar at the end of the 8th century. In the Eastern Church, the feast is called the Dormition (literally ‘falling asleep’) of Mary and is included among the twelve principal feasts of the year.
The earliest form of the celebration focussed on Mary’s death as a share in Christ’s paschal mystery. Later developments used scriptural imagery to make Mary’s entrance into heaven more explicit.
On 1st November in the Marian year 1950 Pope Pius XII defined the doctrine of the Assumption and provided a new Mass for the feast which portrayed Mary as an image of the Church. Vatican II enriched the celebration with an extensive selection of readings and prayers and a new preface.
The readings for the solemnity emphasise what God did in Mary. The first reading, from the book of the Apocalypse, depicts “the woman” in the process of giving birth to a son and being threatened by a dragon. God rescues them, evil is foiled, God’s reign is established and Mary rejoices. In the second reading from Corinthians, Paul reminds us that what was granted to Mary will be shared by all who follow Christ.
The Gospel emphasises that Mary’s greatness comes from her participation in God’s plan. Mary responds to Elizabeth’s greeting with a splendid hymn of praise, the Magnificat, which Christians have sung at Evening Prayer from earliest times.
The preface of the Assumption gives us words of hope:
“Today the virgin Mother of God was assumed into heaven
as the beginning and the image of your Church’s coming to perfection,
and a sign of hope and comfort for your pilgrim people.”
Liturgy Lines. Liturgy Brisbane. E. Harrington
Sunday 6 August
It is worth remembering that the act of blessing another is not some ponderous gesture reserved to priests and officials. In the Jewish tradition parents have always blessed their children. Indeed, for the Jews, every greeting was a form of blessing. When we bless someone, we affirm them and put them in touch with their innate Goodness. More importantly, we let them know that they are beloved of God, the source of all our gifts. To bless another is to source life for them – to remind them that life is a journey from God to God. To be blessed is to be oneself a blessing, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said. Blessing another reminds them that they are a blessing, a gift to us. Sometimes we are blessed in ways we cannot imagine. Joan Chittister with her characteristic simplicity, has written: ‘Instead of getting what we want, we get what we need. ‘ Blessing, nonetheless, is always a sign that grace is everywhere, that life is sacred and good and full of the touch of God.
Gleeson, C. (2011). The Front Page: Everyday Ignatian Spirituality. ATF Press: Adelaide (p.11).
God Speaks to Us in Scripture.
Sunday 30 July
“God will speak to those who prayerfully read the Bible as His Word. He will not speak in an audible voice; He will not even form words in our minds. His speaking will use no other words than the words that we read – but those words will take meaning and become alive as if God were present, speaking them directly to us. We will have a strong sense that the words of scripture are indeed addressed to us and are talking about us. We will have a sense that they have a meaning and application in our own lives and specific situations. The Bible will not be merely God’s word, but God’s word to me. Our hearts will burn within us as we read – not burn violent emotion but with the gentle touch of the Holy Spirit, a peaceful presence within us, an assurance that the Father indeed love us and calls us by name.”