Vol 41 No 1
WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL?
THE VOCATIONS PROJECT IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
THE FAMILY IN AUSTRALIAN SOCIETY: Christianity's contribution to understanding the family and its role
Francine and Byron Pirola
MARRIAGE IN THE LIFE OF THE PARISH: He sent them out two by two ... Luke 10:1
FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE
Marie Farrell RSM
ECUMENICAL CONSENSUS ON MARY
Desmond O'Donnell OMI
A LENTEN MEDITATION
THE HUMAN PERSON, the self, is a beautiful creation, the only creature
on earth that God has wanted for its own sake (Vatican II, Gaudium
et Spes, no. 24). Created in the image and likeness of God and for communion
with God, the human person has a fundamental goodness and an inalienable
dignity. Loved in Jesus Christ, the human person is the supreme concern
of God, of Jesus Christ, and therefore of the Church.
The Churchs mission is to people, to us human persons, ensuring
that our dignity and rights are respected and that we are enabled to become
the human beings we have been created and called to be.
The thread that links the articles that follow is the human person. We
are invited to reflect upon the massive effort to provide a suitable Catholic
education so that we do our utmost to enable our young people to be the
persons God created them to be (Quillinan). We remember that we must continue
our efforts to discover those in our midst who have a calling to service
in the church community and to support them in their preparation and in
their future ministry for people (Darragh). We acknowledge the historical
significance of the family, which is described in the Compendium of the
Social Doctrine of the Church (no. 211) as the divine institution
that stands at the foundation of life of the human person
(McCabe). We acknowledge the importance of supporting married people and
their families, enabling them to give their witness and teaching about
how God loves people (Pirolas). The dignity of the human person is attested
by the respect accorded to conscience and its free decisions (Lewis).
And Mary is a model for us of true and authentic personhood (Farrell).
The story of the prodigal sonor, since we are focusing our attention
on the father, the story of the prodigal fathertells
us how much our God longs to welcome us home from a far country
(ODonnell). Our life, if lived in response to the grace of God and
assisted and sustained by a faith community, is a journey to authenticity.
It is a journey of conversion as we turn from what is not the real meways
of thinking, acting, relating that are not honest and truthfulto
discover and allow to emerge the real me with all the dignity and goodness
and beauty that the Creator has given me and has fostered in me.
People are not valued so highly in the society in which we live. Other
concerns take priority: possessions, power, influence, reputation, enjoyment,
luxury, productivity, a healthy economy. In the pursuit of objectives
such as these, often people suffer.
Often, too, the human person is not appreciated for its intrinsic dignity
and worth by human persons themselves. People have a low opinion of themselvesthey
suffer from low self-esteem. They have heeded messages from
media and public opinion and other sources that set unrealistic standards
concerning body image, intelligence, temperament, character and perfection,
and they can be chronically unhappy with themselves.
Some people take a still darker view of the human person. They judge humanity
as a whole to be pathetica poor, sad crowd without prospects.
I seemed to detect something of this latter sentimentor existential
judgmentin the description of the self given by a guest
on Kerry OBriens 7.30 Report on the ABC at the end of February.
The guest was Rupert Everett, the actor who, I am told, would be remembered
by anyone who saw the film My Best Friends Wedding, in which he
is reported to have stolen the show. Not, therefore, a person lacking
in brilliance or fame nor, as he demonstrated in the course of the interview
with Kerry OBrien, is he at all inarticulate. But he gave an appalling
description of the self. Kerry OBrien asked him to explain
a statement he had written, viz.:
lost from my own life and, looking back, that was my endless quest;
not acting, not fame, not love, just losing myself.
I think the self, really, our self is an exhausting, anxious, conflicted,
aggressive, angry, frightened thing. And we drag along all this baggage
from the past everywhere and were always anxious about whats
going to happen next, how are we going to keep going, how are we going
to pay this bill, how are we going to keep our children in school whatever
The Gospel, Christian faith, Church teaching and Catholic theology tell
us that if we have any view of ourselves that resonates with any negative
descriptions of the self such as this, then we are mistaken. We are not
attending to our true selves, but concentrating our attention on some
distorted and inauthentic state of mind and spirit that constitutes an
alienation from our true selves. The real me is beautiful, sublime, Gods
work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the
beginning he had meant us to live it (Eph. 2.10).
Our parish has an outdoor sign that faces down the road, and we put short
sentences on it for the benefit of our neighbours and of motorists stopped
at the pedestrian lights. For much of Lent our sign read: Lent. A Time
To Be Myself. A rather enigmatic message, but hopefully it would at least
have puzzled people as to its meaning. Lent is/was a time to let my real
self be freed by grace from all that hides, defaces and mars its beauty.
In the terms of the story of the prodigal son, it is a time to come
home from a distant country, and to be embraced with joy and delight
Conversion, needless to say, is not just for the time of lentthe
fig tree was given the whole year long to begin to bear fruit, and so
are we called to continue on our journey through all the seasons of the
Barry Brundell MSC, Editor