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SUMMER 2005
Vol 39 No 4



Editorial
CELEBRATE US!

Francis Mansour LCM
WELCOME THE STRANGER

Charles Hill
HOLY, OR SAINTLY?

Terry Lyons
MINISTRY APPRAISAL: ONE PRIEST'S EXPERIENCE

Vincent Battaglia
THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY: SOME REFLECTIONS ON THE BIBLICAL DATA

Sophie McGrath RSM
VOICES OF THE WOMEN

Peter Malone MSC
THE ABUSE OF MINORS: A CINEMA RESOURCE

Kevin Mark
NEW RELIGIOUS BOOKS BY AUSTRALASIAN AUTHORS

 



 

Editorial:
Celebrate Us!


AND THERE IS A TIME to celebrate ourselves. We need to celebrate who we are, not because we are great people in ourselves, nor because we have something we can boast about, but we need to celebrate the fact that God in his wisdom has chosen us to be his instruments. We should celebrate like Mary as she prayed her Magnificat, 'The Lord has done great things for me.' Mary's Magnificat is the prayer of the whole church:

My Spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.
He looks on his servant in her nothingness (...)
The Almighty works marvels for me [and through me].
Holy his name!


The third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday just passed as I write this, is called Laetare Sunday—'Rejoice Sunday', a Sunday for celebrating. The liturgy for that Sunday makes it clear that we are celebrating ourselves, celebrating who we are as a Christian community: unworthy, obstructive sometimes, but instruments that God chooses to enable his kingdom to come in our world.

We are to be like John the Baptist, who was not the light, but gave witness to the light. Like John, we are to let people know that there is a light, to point in its direction and let others know that if they look closely enough they may catch a glimpse of the light.

The passage from the prophet Isaiah (61:1-2) describes us when it describes the Servant:

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners...


Perhaps we often get in the way, but our God is not easily put off. He can use us to reflect at least a little of his light. He can enable Christ to be present in us—and where Jesus is present there is freedom and joy. Through us our God can bring companionship to the lonely, a little ease to those who are in pain. Through our words he can bring comfort and relieve fears. Perhaps the way we handle our own fears, sufferings and struggles can be the way in which God assists others to deal with theirs.

During Advent we pray and long for the Lord to come and establish his kingdom of freedom, light and joy in our world. A reflection of that kingdom can be glimpsed in the lives and conduct of his faithful people. We give witness that the Saviour is coming.
The liturgy of Laetare Sunday invited us to celebrate all that, to celebrate who we are as unworthy instruments, but instruments nonetheless, at least sometimes.

The weekend of Laetare Sunday coincided with the weekend for celebrating the Centenary of the Australian Province of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. On the Saturday we participated in a splendidly appropriate Eucharistic celebration—a large throng of worshippers sprinkled with distinguished guests, both ecclesiastical and civil. The liturgy was expressive of a stirring mix of cultures, ancient and modern. Then followed dinner under a big top on the Kensington monastery oval, with keynote address and speeches.

There was no triumphalism, no over-blown rhetoric about past achievements. The day recognised both the need for repentance and reasons for celebration—the dark and the light of our province's one-hundred-year story.

The Mass of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was celebrated, the 8th December being our province's birthday. The theme of that feast is a celebration of the coming of the Son of God and Saviour, with Mary's Magnificat as the sub-theme. Our story is about our all-too-human endeavour to make the heart of God known in the whole world; and we re-echo Mary's prayer of wonder and awe, as we take her 'Let it be done to me' as the model response to God's call.

One hundred years is a long time; many have toiled with great dedication to spread the good news of God's love in many different fields within Australia and abroad. We must have made some difference, and we feel justified in taking some satisfaction from that thought.

It is uphill work: powerful forces work against God's plans. Subjects raised in this issue of Compass refer to on-going struggles with powers of darkness: our nation's treatment of refugees and asylum seekers; poor self-esteem and disrespect for the human body; the long struggle to enable women to make their contribution to the common good; abuse of minors.

The list is endless. And at this moment whole suburbs of Sydney are being terrorised by thugs fired up by racism and alcohol. We are reaping the harvest from the 'Children Overboard' and Tampa affairs, detention behind razor wire, and campaigns of fear that implicitly target certain ethnic groups within Australian society.

The kingdom of peace, justice, love and mutual respect still seems a long way off. There is much to be done; we cannot dally long in celebration mode.

—Barry Brundell MSC, Editor