Catholic in Yanchep

Go out into the deep.


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Can Catholics think for themselves?

Lanfranco-Assumption-of-the-Virgin

Assumption of the Virgin, Giovanni Lanfranco, 1625-7, Cupola, Sant’Andrea della Valle, Rome.

Someone who is near and dear to me recently asked me this question:  “Why is it that you always have to bring God or the Church into the conversation?  We don’t want to hear what a bunch of men in Rome think about everything. We want to hear the real you.  Sometimes we think we don’t know who you are.  Why is it that you can’t think for yourself?”

At first this question took me rather aback.  Firstly, it’s not true.  I talk about many topics without referring specifically to my faith.  Agreed, my Facebook page is full of Christian commentary, but all day at work, I generally avoid explicitly bringing up my faith, and tend to let the John 10:10 quote at the bottom of my emails and the Columban calendar art above my desk speak for themselves.  Nevertheless, the question is an important one, and the answer essential to understanding the Christian worldview.

I can see that, looking at my friend’s question from her point of view, it must appear that my faith is some sort of enthusiasm of mine, in the same vein as an addiction to, say, Warhammer fantasy battles.  To her it must seem, if I drop into the conversation some mention of archangels, thuribles, Palestrina, St Servatius the Ice Saint, The Enchiridion or, come to think of it, that spitting gargoyle on Notre Dame Cathedral – like just so much jargon-bombing by a Warhammer-maniac about the Necrons or the Eldar, the Ordo Hereticus, and the parallel dimension of the Warp.  To my friend, I must come across as one of those ghastly bores who cannot stop talking about their favourite hobby and inflicting it on all comers.

Add to this the perception by outsiders that the Church is just another organisation, in much the same way as Games Workshop is the organisation behind the Warhammer brand, and you will understand my friend’s incomprehension.

This is what she doesn’t get.  The church is not an organisation.  Rather, it’s an organism.  There is a unique relationship between the baptised and Christ, that has to be entered into in order to be understood.  Serious Christians are not just following Christ, as one might follow a great leader.  Serious Christians have a living and active relationship with Him as a person, strengthened by his Word and, on a physical level, by receiving his physical Body into our physical body under the form of the Holy Eucharist.  Each one of us becomes a cell in His mystical body; the Holy Spirit is the lifeblood: He empowers us by delivering the spiritual equivalent of gluose and oxygen to each cell.  At the same time, all the cells are implicated in each other – each of us cooperates in the plan of Christ, who is the head of this mystical body.  And the body functions most harmoniously when all the cells are carrying out their appointed tasks in alignment with the direction of the head.

In fact, when I receive Holy Communion, I make a point of meditating quietly on asking Christ to be absorbed physically into my body, to insert himself into my DNA, as it were, so that I can become more like Him and be his presence in the world.  For I want to be able to say like Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal. 2:20).”  Yes, I know I haven’t perfectly actualised that statement yet, but I’m working on it.

The cells of this body do not only include us, who are alive on this planet right here, right now – the Ecclesia Militans, who are engaged in the present struggle against sin and evil, but also those who have passed beyond this life: those who have arrived in heaven – the glorious Church Triumphant – and those who have died but are going through a final cleansing to rid themselves of any remaining attachments to sin – the Suffering Church in Purgatory.  So the body of Christ is not limited by space and time, and all the cells are united in Communio as a family.  There is also a communication system, a spiritual nervous system called prayer that unites all the cells with one another, and using this method we can ask the other cells to intercede for us to the head or, using our prayer superhighway, we can talk directly with the head ourselves.  The loving friendship with God developed in prayer is something so real, so palpable, so experienced, so immersive, that it would be an act of disloyalty to pretend that this intimate interaction does not exist.

So when my friend asks me to stop ‘referencing religion’, essentially they are asking me not to talk about the deepest core of my being and my closest familial relationship.  I think that, far from the person’s claim to want to know the real me, this sort of request doesn’t respect who I am at all, and reveals a mind closed-off to genuine communication.  To them, Christ is perceived as a threat to their personal freedom, someone who is so other to them that they experience Him as an oppression, someone whom they have to ward off by setting boundaries on conversation.  But if one really wants to get to know someone, to show communio with another person in a genuine and Christ-like way, one has to be sincerely interested in them, and we can only do this in conversation by drawing the person out of themselves, and listening to them attentively, while at the same time sharing from one’s own experience in return, so that the conversation doesn’t give the impression of an interrogation.  Christ-like love is generous and not self-protective.

Returning to the original question, I would have to point out that the person who proposed it is embedded in a worldview that centres everything around her ego.  That is why my way of expressing myself sounds so alien to her, since Christianity tends to play down the ego and focus outward, on the mission of the Gospel, with its two-pronged love of God and love of neighbour.  Typical of Christian thought are self-deprecating phrases such as “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it,” (Mt 10:39) or, John the Baptist’s, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” (John 3:30).  My friend’s Nietzscheanism, however, is replete with self-aggrandizing statements: “Ego is the very essence of a noble soul” (Beyond Good and Evil, Ch. 9) or “There cannot be a God because if there were one, I could not believe that I was not He.” (Wenn es Götter gäbe, wie hielte ich’s aus, kein Gott zu sein! Also gibt es keine Götter.)  (Thus spoke Zarathustra, Part II, ch.24)

So I would encourage my friend to be more aware of the effect her worldview is having on her soul.  Is it helping her to grow in unconditional love and respect for the other, or is it narrowing and confining her in a prison of her own making?

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This is an expanded version of the short introductory talk I gave on day three of the WBC conference.


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Breaking news: God loves Yanchep Two Rocks! We’re building a Church.

Yanchep-Catholic-Church

Extract from “Far North on Track”, Lucy Jarvis, North Coast Times, 25 July 2017.

Not that we didn’t have one already.  As Christians know, the Church is the term we use for the people, and not just the building.  Catholics have worshipped in Yanchep-Two Rocks since the seventies – first at the marina, then in the YDHS library, then in the old sheep-shearing shed converted by the Anglican Church into St James’s Church, and when that was removed (I heard a rumour it was taken to the wheatbelt town of Southern Cross, but that may be apocryphal), at the Yanchep Community Centre, where we currently celebrate Mass.

But it’s wonderful news that the Archdiocese has committed to investing in land in the Yanchep-Two Rocks area.  This week, Nick Perrignon, Principal of Acumen Development Solutions, announced that a Catholic Church would be built on the hill overlooking Beachside Parade in Capricorn Estate.

Even more wonderful is the fact that we will have a Church building before a school, because that puts our priorities in the right order.  Everything we have is from God, and to him we should first and foremost give right praise.  If we get that first commandment right – to love the Lord our God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength (Mk 12:30), the rest will follow (or it will if we’re loving God correctly – note to the community: “We’re not all paedophiles”)!  What I mean by ‘the rest’, is loving our neighbour, which includes building schools and reaching out to the sick, the lonely, and those in need.

But having a Church building enables us to do and be so much more.  It means we can have a permanent place to honour God in the Holy Eucharist.  It means we can have a much more visible presence in the Community and (we hope) serve the Community better.  Already we are involved in visiting the frail and aged at Bethanie Beachside (which is run by our friends, the Church of Christ), and we have also had a bread distribution programme going for many years (courtesy of Bakers Delight). But it would be nice to hear from members of the Yanchep Two Rocks Community about other areas of need, especially your prayer requests.

If the life of our Church is like a recapitulation of Scripture, having our own church building will be like the difference between the Israelites wandering around in the desert for years on end and finally building the Temple under Solomon.  Or that’s how it feels, because we’ve been praying for this for so very long.

I will endeavour to keep you posted about the actual timeline of the building.  So far, all discussions have been in commercial confidence and therefore we have to wait until an official announcement from the Archdiocese.  Or as we could say …

On the idea of ‘Church’, here are some snippets from the Catechism …

751 The word “Church” (Latin ecclesia, from the Greek ek-ka-lein, to “call out of”) means a convocation or an assembly. It designates the assemblies of the people, usually for a religious purpose. 139 Ekklesia is used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before God, above all for their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and was established by God as his holy people. By calling itself “Church,” the first community of Christian believers recognized itself as heir to that assembly. In the Church, God is “calling together” his people from all the ends of the earth. the equivalent Greek term Kyriake, from which the English word Church and the German Kirche are derived, means “what belongs to the Lord.”

752 In Christian usage, the word “church” designates the liturgical assembly, but also the local community or the whole universal community of believers. These three meanings are inseparable. “The Church” is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ’s Body.

The Catholic Church. The Catechism Of The Catholic Church (Kindle Locations 3771-3776). . Kindle Edition.

Church 170725

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Prayer Vigil and Mass for Murdered Children

john-paul-ii-hopeThe Catholic Church of Yanchep will be holding a prayer vigil and Mass today, 22 October, with the special intention of praying for the deceased children, Andreas (3) and Lily Headland (5) and for their parents and extended family.  We will commence a vigil at 5.30 today in the carpark of the Yanchep Community Centre, followed by our usual Mass at 6 p.m. in the Community Centre’s Activity Room for anyone who would like to stay on and pray with us.  Let us pray that the Light of Christ will draw us together in solidarity, mutual support and community spirit to fight Satan and his forces of darkness.

At times like this we often ask why God permits such evil.  Why does he allow children to suffer?

The answer is that God has given us free will and he asks us to use it to choose the good. He doesn’t prevent us from experiencing the consequences of our evil actions.  Satan seeks to entrap us in fear, in depression, in darkness and despair.  Satan seeks to attack, divide and destroy families.  The Light of Christ, on the other hand, brings hope, joy and love.  We need to pray that the Light of Christ envelops our community and that we in Yanchep Two Rocks become a community of care for one another, a community that prays together, a community that calls down the power of the Holy Spirit upon us and that banishes sin and evil.

Watch this video from Bishop Robert Barron on why God allows suffering:

 


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Welcome to Bishop Don Sproxton!

Bishop Don Sproxton

Bishop Don Sproxton

Bishop Don Sproxton is visiting the Pastoral Area of Yanchep to Lancelin today (14 November) and tomorrow.  Please bring a plate (preferably with something on it) for supper / tea after Mass.

Welcome to any visitors who would like to join us!

Please note that the Lancelin Mass has been moved to 10.30 on 15th November (only).


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11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B | The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed

parable_of_the_mustard_seedWhat can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.  (Mark 4:30-32)

What is this kingdom of God that Jesus keeps talking about in parables?  Jesus is the seed described in John 12:24.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Jesus becomes that ‘smallest of all the seeds’ in his humiliation and death, but what follows is the Resurrection and the expansion of his Kingdom, the Church.  We see this pattern repeated in so many ways in church history.  Fr Barron illustrates this in his homily for today with the examples of Charles Lwanga, Mother Theresa and St Francis of Assisi.

It’s not only the membership of the church that grows like a mustard tree, but also our understanding of Jesus’ teaching.  This is the image that Blessed John Henry Newman used in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine.  I have heard the Catholic Church described by Protestants as ‘legalistic’.  It seems that part of the objection is that we have too much doctrine.  But if we love the Lord, then exploring his word results in a natural growth in our understanding.  New understandings never contradict previous understandings, but are brought forth from them in the same way that advances in the deductive sciences are made: by starting on the trunk of the tree with known knowns, and pursuing them along the branches and smaller twigs to areas which require further elucidation.  In this way, the tree keeps becoming more all-encompassing.  So, for example, the idea of Mary as the Mother of God (Theotokos) was premised on the prior understanding that Jesus the man was also fully Divine, and that he had two natures in one person: a divine nature and a human nature united in a ‘mystical union’ or hypostatic union.  This doctrine was only formally defined at the First Council of Ephesus (431) and the Council of Chalcedon (451) as a response to Nestorianism which held that Jesus was not the same as the eternal Word of God, he was just a human who had received divinity from the Father.  [For more on Newman’s concept of the Development of Doctrine, go here.]

Because new understandings must be consistent with previous understandings, the Church cannot change its teaching on Marriage, no matter what pressures are brought to bear by the culture.  That is the beauty of the Catholic Church: consistent in its teachings from the Apostolic era until today.  That is why Archbishop Costelloe has felt it necessary to reiterate the Church’s teaching during the current debate on same-sex marriage in Australia.  A pastoral letter will be given out today at all Masses explaining the Church’s position.  You can read it here:  Same-sex Marriage Pastoral Letter FINAL

Please also read the ‘Don’t Mess with Marriage‘ document from the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.  Well done to the Bishops!  You may well find that the media and the same-sex lobbyists want to crucify you too, but stand firm!

Today’s Mass readings (Australia)

Word format:Year B 11th Sunday 2015

Pdf format: Year B 11th Sunday 2015

 

 

 


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30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A | Love of God and love of neighbour

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa

Hello again!  Please click here to download the newsletter for this weekend.

Word format: Year A 30th Sunday

Pdf format: Year A 30th Sunday

Paralysed man walks again

Did you know the Catholic Church had a role in the revolutionary operation which allowed a paralysed man to walk again?  The paralysed man, Darek Fidyka from Poland, had had his spinal cord completely severed in a stabbing injury.  In 2012, Alan Mackay Sim, director of the Adult Stem Cell Research Centre at Griffith University extracted olfactory ensheathing cells, thought to be derived from stem cells, from a [different] patient’s nose and injected them into his spinal cord, establishing the safety of the procedure.

From The Australian:

Brisbane ear, nose and throat specialist Chris Perry, who extracted the stem cells in the trial, said Professor Mackay-Sim’s work with adult stem cells had been a vital element in the international collaboration. He said the Catholic Church, under George Pell, had donated $50,000 to the research to encourage alternatives to embryonic stem cells.  “Unlike embryonic stem cells, which can trigger tumours in some cases, adult stem cells grow in a controlled fashion after they are injected,” Dr Perry said.

As you know, embryonic stem cell research involves the destruction of tiny humans (known as blastocysts at this stage of life, but don’t be fooled – they’re still unique human individuals).  The Catholic Church has long spoken out against this exploitation of the helpless and sought to encourage research in adult stem cells instead.  Numerous advances have been made in the field of adult stem cell technologies, including the regrowing of a woman’s trachea and the growth of a retina for potential transplant.

In fact, the Church regularly offers $100,000 grants for adult stem cell research – Parkinson’s disease (2003), regeneration of skin after severe burns (2005), treatment of stroke victims (2007), regeneration of normal blood function for cancer sufferers (2009) and improving the success of tissue transplantation (2011).

Australian Christian Lobby Conference

Please pray for the Australian Christian Lobby which this week holds its annual conference in Canberra.  It has come under renewed attack over recent weeks.  When I read Lyle’s article, I was somewhat bemused that some individuals think the Church is full of hate!

Prayer:  Almighty God, we pray that through the work of the ACL, the truth about the beauty of genuine marriage – faithful and fruitful – will be upheld in Australia.  We pray that all politicians present will be able to see that

  • there is no biological complementarity in same-sex relationships
  • children have a right to live with their biological mother and father and not be treated as commodities for other people’s self-centred fulfilment

We pray, however, that all statements will be issued with due respect for people of differing views and uphold these statements from the Catechism:

  • The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”121 All human generations proceed from this union. (2335)
  • [Homosexual persons] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. (2358)
  • Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (2359)

 


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Pentecost Sunday, Year A

Here is the Parish Bulletin for Pentecost Sunday.  I’ve included the readings for both the Vigil Mass and the Mass of the Day.

Pentecost Icon

Pentecost Icon

If you’re printing these out, select double sided and flip on short edge from your printer options, or the pages won’t line up.

In Domino

Deirdre