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SPRING 2006
Vol 40 No 3





Editorial:
THE CHALLENGE OF COMMUNICATION

Barry Brundell MSC
DRAW THEM WITH THE BONDS OF LOVE: THE PRACTICE OF HEART SPIRITUALITY

Gerard Kelly
A PAPACY COMMUNICATED: POPE JOHN PAUL II

Thomas Groome
BRINGING LIFE TO FAITH AND FAITH TO LIFE: FOR A SHARED CHRISTIAN PRAXIS APPROACH AND AGAINST A DETRACTOR

Anthony Gooley
WHAT’S IN A NAME? PART I: ‘MINISTRY’ AND ‘COMMON PRIESTHOOD’

Daniel Ang
SUSTAINABLE YOUTH MINISTRY: EXPLORING THE ROLE OF THE SPIRIT

John O’Carroll and Chris Fleming
GOD AND PHENOMENOLOGY: RE-READING JEAN-LUC MARION

 



 

Draw them with the bonds of love:
The Practice of Heart Spirituality

BARRY BRUNDELL MSC

JUST TWO preliminary remarks before I launch into what I have to present.

First, all of us are in some way tuned into the Heart Spirituality Movement. We respond to the revelation of God’s love in the human heart of Jesus. The Heart Spirituality Movement can be traced to the early days of Christianity, even to the churches of the New Testament times.

I am writing from my particular foothold in the Heart Spirituality Movement: I am a professed member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, a congregation of priests and brothers who have sought for the last 150 years to spread the word about this love. That is who I am and where I am coming from. But I am confident that you will not read me as writing only for my fellow professed MSC but for all who are part of the movement; you will be able to relate beyond the particular references to my life experience to our common experience.

Second, this is the seventh annual Bishop EJ Cuskelly MSC Memorial Lecture. Bishop Cuskelly – ‘Cus’ to us who were privileged to know him that well—was guide and teacher to us in our training, Superior General of the MSC Congregation, then auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. He left his mark in all spheres of his endeavours: on us students, on the whole MSC Society, and on the Brisbane Archdiocese, especially in its pastoral organization. He edited and wrote very popular texts on Heart Spirituality, e.g. Man With A Mission, on Jules Chevalier, Founder of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, and a collection of articles entitled With A Human Heart.1

I feel deeply honoured to have this chance to do something in his memory.


We held a combined meeting in our parish church of the Sydney MSC Parishes Pastoral Councils, and one of the visitors from another parish said: ‘Your church is forbidding on the outside, but beautiful inside!’ It struck me that that might often be said for the Catholic Church as a whole. From the outside it can look like an unattractive institution, but when we have penetrated beyond the façade we discover great beauty. My reflections are directed towards assisting our task of enabling people on the outside to discover that beauty at the heart of our Church.

‘Catholic’, ‘Catholic Church’, even ‘Church’ pure and simple—for many these are barrier-raising terms. We could list all kinds of reasons why people respond to them as they do. Some reasons do us credit—we do challenge the wider society on a number of issues in the name of the Gospel. Other reasons do us less credit for they alert us to regrettable blocks to our communication of the Good News. Jesus was immediately attractive to the crowds who came pressing about him to hear his words and receive his healing touch. There were some, though, who reacted badly even to Jesus (e.g. Mk 6:1-6)—a reminder that we should not be too disheartened if we cannot get the message through to absolutely everyone.

I want to talk about the MSC way of trying to get the message out to those who are not ‘of the fold’.

I have been part of the MSC Australian province contemporaneously with all but thirty-seven priests, brothers and bishops who lived and died before I came along at the early age of thirteen to begin my training at Douglas Park. I have known many MSC priests and brothers and many people who have associated themselves with us over a long time. In my earliest days I came to the conclusion, which I still agree with, that the quality that most readily springs to mind when describing a Missionary of the Sacred Heart is kindness. My subsequent encounters with MSC of other nationalities have only further supported my conclusion.

What this says is that the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart have been striving to live out our rule of life as set out in our Constitutions.

Our MSC Constitutions describe and prescribe the MSC way:

The spirit of our Society
is one of love and kindness,
humility and simplicity. (no. 13)
Following the example of Jesus,
we will strive to lead others to God
with kindness and gentleness,
to unite them to him by love
and to free them from fear. (no. 12)

These are the words used in our current Constitutions, revised according to the directives of the Second Vatican Council. (PC 2) and approved in 1984. Our earlier, 1891, Constitutions told us to ‘draw them [people] with the bonds of love’, which I read as conveying the same meaning. The reference is to the loving God of Hosea 11.3-4, who said through the prophet:

I myself taught Ephraim to walk,
I myself took them by the arm,
but they did not know that I was the one caring for them,
that I was leading them with human ties,
with leading strings of love,
that, with them, I was like someone lifting an infant to his cheek
and that I bent down to feed him.


The ‘leading strings of love’ refer to the way fathers and mothers used to teach their infants to take their first steps. The mother and father held on to the ends of two strings; the toddler was tied by each of the strings in such a way that the parents were able to keep it upright on its feet; and the parents would in turn pull in and let out the strings so that the toddler would take steps, and so begin to walk with a lot of help from its parents.2

We MSC obviously cannot claim to have a monopoly on kindness; it is not as if we claim kindness as our own thing/virtue and everyone else has to find something different. But ‘above-all-be kind’ is the maxim for communicating with each other and with everyone else that is typically MSC. As a maxim, it is an ideal for behaving that is presented to us. That sometimes we live up to the ideal is a reason for giving glory to God. That at other times we do not live up to the ideal means that we need to repent and resolve to do better. But kindness is our aim. That is the MSC way when we walk it and when we do not—kindness above all.

No doubt we can all think of counter-instances, of individuals who were not especially kind. Hopefully these instances are rare in our personal experiences. One of the stories I heard was of an MSC priest teacher in one of our Colleges who had given a certain boy cause to think the teacher was not kind. This boy saw the priest stroking the college cat, and was heard to remark loudly to one of his mates: ‘Well, at least he’s kind to animals!’

Kindness is a virtue that flows directly from our MSC core spirituality and mission: to make the heart of God known and loved everywhere. The heart of God is the divine love, compassion, kindness that is incarnated in Jesus. But before I seek to develop that line of thought there are a number of questions and objections that I would like to respond to early in my reflections rather than later, for instance:

Is this kindness-above-all policy not too soft for our hard times? Is it ever going to work? Or is it doomed to failure because it is inadequate for meeting the challenges we are facing? Have we not ample evidence already that it is a failure—for instance, from the collapse of Church discipline over the past forty years? Just look at the results of taking the soft line in the Church: religious observance is now much more casual and often near to non-existent. Do we not need to tighten up again, insist on firm and clear discipline, restore some religious obligations—weekly Mass and frequent attendance at sacraments, especially the sacrament of Penance—introduce some new, and re-introduce some traditional, practices and make them obligatory?

And what about people’s grasp of the faith? Do we not need to present clear teachings, and insist on them as to-be-believed if one is to remain in the Catholic community? Is there not too much free-thinking going on, too much questioning even of basic truths of the faith?

What is being suggested is that we need to take a more authoritarian approach—indeed, that we are forced to do so by the alleged failure of a less authoritarian approach.

The quick response I would make to such questions is: even though I see the evidence and feel the pain, even though I am dealing with the difficulties at first hand, and even though there might be some momentary personal relief in pounding the table about the things I believe are going wrong, nevertheless, in our day such methods simply will not work. This is not a time for telling people off or commanding people to do things. It is not a time for teaching in dogmatic fashion. People will not take any notice.

Our world has moved on in recent decades. No longer are people passively faithful. For better or for worse we are all affected by the politico-social world we live in, which is democratic and emphasises personal judgment, personal conscience and individual autonomy, and which encourages in us an expectation of being involved in decision-making.

That people respond to authority differently in our times is accepted in Church documents and by Church leaders. We find it in the opening words of the Declaration on Religious Liberty of Vatican II (Dignitatis Humanae):

Contemporary men and women are becoming increasingly conscious of the dignity of the human person; more and more people are demanding that they should exercise fully their own judgment and a responsible freedom in their actions and should not be subject to the pressure of coercion but be inspired by a sense of duty.

In his first message for the World Day of Peace (2006) (par. 9) Benedict XVI repeated the words of John Paul II in his peace message of 2002 who warned against ‘attempts to impose, rather than to propose for others freely to accept, one’s own convictions about the truth’:

To try to impose on others by violent means what we consider to be the truth is an offence against the dignity of the human being, and ultimately an offence against God in whose image he [she] is made.

Some years ago the bishops of Quebec summed up well what is needed:

It is not sufficient to insist that the Church is not a democracy, even if that statement is correct. Integration into the Church in a democratic society leads to a new relation to authority and a different manner of proclaiming the gospel. What is required is a certain degree of participation and a careful listening to all the voices that want to be heard. othing can be imposed simply by authority’. (Annoncer l’évangile dans la culture actuelle au Quebec, Fides: Montreal, 1999.)

My more considered reply to the question whether the gentle approach should be abandoned in the face of its seeming general failure and whether we should return to more authoritarian methods is somewhat lengthier. I begin by posing a counter-question: should we even try such stronger methods? Are heavy-handed responses to the spirit of our times the right and Christian way to deal with people, especially when we are trying to help them find God and live as followers of Jesus? I answer my own question with a short ‘No!’ Further, I claim that the gentle approach is the only way to serve God’s people, not just for our times but for always: it is the only way allowed for a follower of Christ.

To support my contention I argue from the example of Jesus’ practice, from the pastoral approach opted for by the Church in the Second Vatican Council, and from some fundamental principles of contemporary moral theology. My conclusion will be that our MSC approach—kindness always and above all else—is perfectly aligned with best Christian practice. It characterises the pastoral approach that is presented to us as the correct one.

The Way of Jesus

So, let us reflect a little on Jesus’ pastoral approach, on his way of dealing with people and enabling them to hear his Good News.

Jesus was the Good Shepherd who went out to seek and bring back a recalcitrant sheep. St Asterius of Amasea (ca. 400 AD) gave a beautiful little homily on this gospel parable in which he exhorted his hearers to be shepherds after the style of Our Lord, to learn from him to be considerate and kind. When one of the sheep wandered off, St Asterius tells us, the shepherd:

Followed it through countless valleys and ravines, climbed many difficult mountains, searched with great trouble in lonely places, until he found it. When he had found the lost sheep, far from beating it or driving it to return to the flock, he laid it on his shoulders and gently carried it back and returned it to its fellows…
The whole story has a sacred meaning and it warns us not to think of any man as lost or beyond hope. We must not easily despair of those who are in danger or be slow to help them. If they stray from the path of virtue, we should lead them back and rejoice in their return and make it easy for them to rejoin the community of those who lead
good and holy lives. (Asterius of Amasea, Hom. 13; Prayer of the Church, vol. 1, p. 109-110.)

The Good Shepherd story describes the incarnation and redemption. Just as the Good Shepherd followed the lost sheep through countless valleys and ravines, climbed many steep mountains, searched with great trouble in lonely places, till he found the lost sheep—so, in Incarnation language, the Son of God bridged the great chasm that had opened up through human sinfulness down the ages. Jesus left his glory behind, the glory that he had with his Father. He ‘emptied himself’—we call this the kenosis or ‘emptying of himself’—to assume the form of a servant, taking on our human condition. We had become a lost human race and in Jesus the Saviour God reached out to us and joined himself to us.

Through the Incarnation Jesus entered into solidarity with the whole human race. He came to where the lost sheep was, and shared the lot of the sheep. The Letter to the Hebrews meditates on that truth, emphasising that this was the way he had to take in order to redeem us:

Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. (Heb. 2:17-18)

Jesus has been through what we experience, he has been here and knows what we are going through. He has experienced human pain, weakness, darkness:

He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness. (5:2)

Jesus Feels for us. He sympathises with us. He feels compassion for us.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (4:15-16)

Echoing the words of St Asterius, he did not easily despair of those who are in danger, nor was he slow to help them. When we strayed from the path of virtue he came to lead us back, rejoicing in our return, our rescue, and made it easy for us to rejoin the community of those who lead good and holy lives.

Jesus’ way is the way of all followers of Christ. We are to be shepherds, as St Asterius told us, after the style of Our Lord, and learn from him to be considerate and kind.

The Way of Vatican II

I now wish to focus our attention on the approach deliberately adopted by the Fathers in the Second Vatican Council. When one reads the documents of Vatican II along with some of the speeches of the Fathers during the sessions of the Council and in the meetings of the various preparatory Commissions, one finds abundant material for encouragement and assurance that the ‘gently-gently’ approach was the one officially adopted by the Council.

The Council Fathers rejected calls for heavy-handed methods of dealing with modern ills and with all that Catholics saw as going wrong in the world. They rejected calls to denounce and anathematize as other Councils had done For instance, they rejected calls to condemn atheism and Communism, though many Italian Fathers, influenced by the political situation in Italy of the time, were agitating for such a condemnation. In the final draft of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World we do not find a condemnation of communism, simply a firm statement of why the Church opposed systematic atheism (LG pars. 19-21).

Cardinal Seper, who was later to become the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made an impassioned speech in the Preparatory Commission for the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World which well represented the collective mind of the Council Fathers. ‘We are pastors’, he said to the assembly. We must today speak to people whose lives are largely if not entirely lived outside the Church: there must be no condemnations.

As the title of the document Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World suggests, the Council aimed to be a pastoral Council, not a dogmatic Council that talks down to the world from on high. As one bishop, speaking for many, said, there had been in the past too much potestas (exercise of power by Church authorities) at the expense of service and responsibility.

A new spirit was moving in the Council, a spirit of dialogue, of reaching out for dialogue, of readiness to enter into dialogue. Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity (successor in this role to Cardinal Cassidy) reflected on this recently when speaking about the Council Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio) forty years after its promulgation. He said:

Because of the differences that remain, the Council warned against superficiality and imprudent zeal.

He then quoted the Decree itself:

Ecumenical activity cannot be other than fully and sincerely Catholic, that is, loyal to the truth we have received from the Apostles and the Fathers, and in harmony with the faith which the Catholic Church has always professed. (UR 24; EV 1/571)

Thus, we must state our beliefs clearly and faithfully. We owe that to our partners in the dialogue. He continued:

But the Church also puts us on our guard against polemics. It is significant that the word ‘dialogue’ is repeated like a refrain at the conclusion of all the sections of this part of the decree (UR 19; 21; 22; 23). That expresses once more the new spirit in which the Council intended to overcome the [ecumenical] differences. (Walter Kasper, ‘Le Décret sur l’oecuménisme–Une nouvelle lecture quarante ans après’. Rocca di Papa, 11-13 November 2004.)

Another important theme during the Council and afterwards was the need to discern the signs of the times. Originally put onto the Council’s agenda by Pope John XXIII, the phrase ‘signs of the times’ is a reference to Jesus’complaint to the Pharisees and Sadducees in Mth 16.3 ‘You know how to read the face of the sky, but you cannot read the signs of the times’.

The signs that the Council Fathers were seeking to discern were especially the aspirations of peoples, their spiritual uneasiness, their hopes and anxieties in this modern, industrialised, urbanized world of today. (LG 4-10) Then, having discerned what people were aspiring for—their deepest longings—the Church was called to be of service to the world, to go out and join the world in its struggles. The Church, the Council Fathers affirmed, is a Servant Church, modeled on Christ the Servant. The Church is to serve the world.

So, Vatican II put the Church on the course of joining the human race. The task of the followers of Christ, the Fathers stated, was to join in solidarity with the whole human race in its struggles to overcome the shortcomings of human existence and reach a higher form of life. This was expressed in the famous opening words of the Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World:

The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the men of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well. Nothing that is genuinely human fails to find an echo in their hearts.

In this statement the Fathers affirm that Christian believers are in solidarity with all human beings, especially those who are afflicted.

The phrase ‘followers of Christ’ is a key phrase. By now we should be hearing the Good Shepherd theme echoing loudly. The followers of Christ are followers of Christ the Good Shepherd. The Vatican Council stated that, as followers of Christ—with Christ as our model—we are in complete solidarity with our brothers and sisters and feel for them and with them in all that happens to them.

We might also add: our human hearts are to be like the human heart of Jesus. Like Jesus—as followers of Christ—we are to feel for, sympathise with, and feel compassion for our afflicted brothers and sisters.

It is worth pausing a moment to reflect on the meaning of compassion.

The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean ‘to suffer with’. Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.’8

Moved with compassion, the followers of Christ will want to do something for their suffering brothers and sisters. Jesus was moved with compassion and a desire to aid suffering humanity, which desire led him to action—he brought the Kingdom of God into our history; he gave up his life for suffering humanity. So, also, we are to be moved with compassion and a desire to aid suffering humanity, which desire must lead us to action.

To those who wanted the Church to teach the world its doctrine, the Council’s reply was: in dialogue we express our truth, maintain that we have truth, for the Church knows in Christ what is the truth about humankind. We do not sermonize or moralise, or preach; but we do seek to lead our contemporaries to discover the Creator and in so doing discover the truth about themselves. The Church gives its witness, speaks from its faith, and seeks to speak to all peoples in a language they can hear.

The person and spirit of John XXIII was in the background throughout this major shift by the Council away from previous Church practice to a new way of speaking and relating to people. (Congar 2002, I, 383). Pope Paul VI was to follow adopting the same pastoral approach, as is especially evidenced in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelisation in the Modern World (Evangelii Nuntiandi).

Thus, in the Second Vatican Council, the Church declared that Jesus’ way, the way of the followers of Christ, was its way also.

Our MSC way, I suggest, is fully in harmony with Jesus the Good Shepherd and with the Teaching Church.

Now I make a further claim: there is no other way permitted to us. To support my claim I appeal to some fundamental principles of contemporary moral theology.

Contemporary Moral Theology
In the parable of the Good Shepherd the wandering sheep is not compelled to return—it returns because it wants to, and the shepherd would have returned without it if the sheep had refused to come.

God has given us the gift of freedom. Considering the havoc that has ensued through misuse of that gift, God took an almighty risk in giving it. But God will not take back his gift, even when we abuse it to enslave ourselves and harm others.

God only loves; God does not compel. He wants a response to his love. The shepherd loves the sheep and if it responds to the shepherd’s love, the sheep will come back with him. Humanising the sheep for a moment—or, rather, bearing in mind that the sheep in the parable refers to human beings—the response of the wandering sheep, letting itself be brought back home, needs to be a response from the heart. No lesser response will do.

Moral theologians have been reacting for some years now against schools of ethics and moral theology in which ‘heart’ is not mentioned. They criticize moral theologies which were not based on Scripture, and which did not reflect the rich scriptural presentation of the heart as the place of communication between God and the human person, where the call of God is heard, and whence (from the heart) the person’s response is awaited.

Since the seventeenth century morality was usually presented as knowing what was right and doing it, the application of moral principles to concrete situations. The emphasis was on using our intelligence to know moral principles and apply them. Even the cognitive-development approach of Kohlberg has been criticized for over-emphasising the place of intelligence and reason in moral life. Lawrence Hinman wrote, for instance:

I certainly do not want to argue that the standard view of morality is completely wrong. Clearly it captures something important about the moral life, namely, that it is in part constituted by rules, impartiality, and specific choices. Yet at the same time, it is equally clear that it leaves out an important aspect of the moral life, namely the development of character, moral sensitivity, and vision.’9

The term ‘morality of the heart’ is now in use among moral theologians (cf. Shelton 1990). And this term reflects Scripture. The heart is the place of true faithfulness to the will of God. Nothing less will do than conversion of the heart. It is to the hearts of people that we must speak, and they are to respond from their hearts.

To speak to the hearts of people, though, the moralists point out, we need to empathise with people. Empathy precedes compassion. Empathy is ‘an affective response that is more appropriate to someone else’s situation than to one’s own’ (Hoffman 1981, cf. Shelton 1990, 42.). Empathy engenders compassion, a feeling of sympathetic distress, from which develops concern and a desire to aid others. The spring of our (moral) response to other people and their situations, especially of ‘those who are poor or afflicted in any way’ is empathy. Concern for the poor and needy, action for justice and for the promotion of human dignity, and morality of the heart belong together.

We speak of a morality of care with empathy as its basis, acknowledging the vital role empathy has in forming caring responses—this is heart spirituality in action.
It is to the hearts of people that we must speak, and they are to respond from their hearts. Will they respond from the heart? It will be for them to do so or not. We can only reach out from our hearts. But Jesus is our model in all this. What we have been describing—empathy, compassion and action for people—was his way.

Conclusion
Thus Jesus, the Good Shepherd—our model as we strive to be shepherds ourselves (and we are all called to be shepherds, whether we are ordained or not)—the Church, servant of humankind, which seeks to be part of the struggles and aspirations of the whole human race—and as well, the moral theologians who are to help us discern right from wrong—all tell us that our pastoral practice in seeking to ‘draw them with the bonds of love’ is correct practice, best practice—indeed the only practice permitted.

Other ways have been tried, as we can all remember; ways of impatience; ways of compulsion; ways of … panic. They are ways of reaction: ultra-conservative reactions, relying on dogmatism, suppression, and fundamentalism of one kind or another. It is difficult to convince people that these ways are wrong when they are already persuaded that more disciplinarian ways are needed if we are to set the Church and world in order ‘again’.

But we must remind ourselves that we are all on a journey. We can only grow in ourselves if we are allowed to be free, thinking and responsible subjects. We are called to accept responsibility for our own lives. We cannot hand over this responsibility to anyone.

On the other hand, it is easier now to promote the message and pursue the way of kindness. Over many centuries the Church has been closely aligned with one form of political government or other. At one time—the time of Christendom—Church and government were closely allied, so that Church authorities had to be involved in keeping order, waging wars, punishing and imprisoning people. Since the late nineteenth century, however, that link with secular powers has been removed, and the Church is free to operate more in accordance with its true self. We are now in a ‘post-Christendom context’.

The ’ndrangheta, the criminal organization of Calabria in southern Italy, which corresponds to the Mafia and the Comorra in other parts of Italy, has raised the barrier in recent times, with murders, including that of the Vice-President of the Calabrian Regional Council. I want to read to you the statement of Bishop Raffaele Nogaro, bishop of Caserta, a diocese in the area dominated by the ’ndrangheta:

I am more and more convinced that denunciations corrode and depress and do not edify. Absolutely we must be indignant in face of evil, and we must defeat it wherever possible. It is important that we Christian believers commit ourselves and replace evil with good. I believe that in every society there is a stream of the resurrection. It is proper to accompany it with all understanding and with pardon. By pardoning we build new lives. Our Church must not be primarily one of condemnation of criminality, but always acceptance of the person who, as well as being apparently bad, is suffering. And human suffering is always greater than sin. Only the Church which responds with mercy is the true Church. (Bishop Raffaele Nogaro, bishop of Caserta, Il Regno 20/2005, 654.)

Postscript: There Are Limits
Only when all hope is lost does the time come to take other approaches. There are limits.

There was a sequel to the above. The ’ndrangheta committed a further series of acts of ferocity. The last straw was their concerted attacks on farming communes established by the bishop of Locri-Gerace, employing hundreds of young people, some of them ex-prisoners. Employment meant they were sheltered from the mafia organization. In March this year someone poured weed-killer in the storage tank containing the fertilizer, causing the entire harvest to be lost as well as 10,000 raspberry plants. The damage was estimated at 200,000 Euros. The bishop of Locri-Gerace, Bishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini, excommunicated the perpetrators on the 2nd April.

On the 8th April there was another strike by the ’ndrangheta on another farming commune inspired by the bishop. Clearly their aim was to destroy the whole co-operative movement that was connected with the bishop, to make a statement in response to the public outrage expressed in Calabria and throughout the whole of Italy, and to regain their hold on the youth.

Sometimes, as Jesus discovered, strong actions have to be taken. But that is so only when all else has failed.

I give the final word to our MSC Constitutions:

We learn from [Jesus the Good Shepherd] who is gentle and humble of heart. (No. 7)
We share the sentiments of the Heart of Christ. (No. 11)


Fr. Barry Brundell MSC has lectured in theology in Sydney and Rome. He is Parish Priest of Erskineville, Sydney, and Visiting Fellow in the School of History and Philosophy of Science, UNSW. He is the editor of Compass.

NOTES
1. Publications by Bishop Cuskelly are: (1963) A Heart to Know Thee: A Practical Summa of the Spiritual Life, The Newman Press, Westminster, Maryland; (1965) God’s Gracious Design, The Newman Press, Westminster, Maryland; (1965) The Kindness of God: A Mew Look at Catholic Doctrine, The Mercier Press, Cork; (1975) Jules Chevalier: Man with a Mission 1824-1907, Casa Generalizia MSC, Roma; (1978) A New Heart and a New Spirit: Reflections on MSC Spirituality, Casa Generalizia MSC, Roma; (1999) Walking the Way of Jesus: An Essay on Christian Spirituality, St Pauls Publications, Strathfield.
2. The text and interpretation of this passage in Hosea is much discussed. The interpretation I have accepted fits the majority of modern translations.
3. For example, calls by Bishop de Mello in Vatican II, Acta Synodalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani Secundi. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano (AS), vol II, part II, p. 114; and by Cardinal Micara, AS II, II,123-4.
4. Bishop Franic in Congar, Y., 2002, Mon Journal du Concile, 2 vols, Editions du Cerf, Paris, vol. 1, p. 422; AS II, I, 442-4.
5. Congar, op. cit. II, 110; [6th June, 1964].
6. Bishop Pont y Gol, AS II, II, 479-481.
7. AS II, I, 425-7; Cardinal Léger, AS II, II, 223-5; Congar, op. cit. I, 438.
8. McNeill, D., Morrison, DA, and Nouwen, HJ, 1983, Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life, Garden City, NY: Image Books, p. 4.
9. Hinman, L., 1985, ‘Emotion, Morality, and Understanding’, in Moral Dilemmas, Harding, C. (ed.), Chicago: Precedent Publishing Co., p.64.?