The Open Tomb of Jesus with Sun through the Entrance / © Gino Santa Maria / 123RF Stock Photo
From an Easter Homily by Saint Melito of Sardis, Bishop
There was much proclaimed by the prophets about the mystery of the Passover: that mystery is Christ, and to him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
For the sake of suffering humanity, he came down from heaven to earth, clothed himself in that humanity in the Virgin’s womb, and was born a man. Having then a body capable of suffering, he took the pain of fallen man upon himself; he triumphed over the diseases of soul and body that were its cause, and by his Spirit, which was incapable of dying, he dealt man’s destroyer, death, a fatal blow.
He was led forth like a lamb; he was slaughtered like a sheep. He ransomed us from our servitude to the world, as he had ransomed Israel from the hand of Egypt; he freed us from our slavery to the devil, as he had freed Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. He sealed our souls with his own Spirit and the members of our body with his own blood.
He is the One who covered death with shame and cast the devil into mourning, as Moses cast Pharaoh into mourning. He is the One who smote sin and robbed iniquity of offspring, as Moses robbed the Egyptians of their offspring. He is the One who brought us out of slavery into freedom, out of darkness into light, out of death into life, out of tyranny into an eternal kingdom; who made us a new priesthood, a people chosen to be his own forever. He is the Passover that is our salvation.
It is he who endured every kind of suffering in all those who foreshadowed him. In Abel, he was slain, in Isaac bound, in Jacob exiled, in Joseph sold, in Moses exposed to die. He was sacrificed in the Passover lamb, persecuted in David, dishonoured in the prophets.
It is he who was made man of the Virgin, he who was hung on the tree; it is he who was buried in the earth, raised from the dead, and taken up to the heights of heaven. He is the mute lamb, the slain lamb, the lamb born of Mary, the fair ewe. He was seized from the flock, dragged off to be slaughtered, sacrificed in the evening, and buried at night. On the tree no bone of his was broken; in the earth, his body knew no decay. He is the One who rose from the dead, and who raised man from the depths of the tomb.
Reading taken from the Office of Readings. If you are interested in praying the Liturgy of the Hours, then please visit www.universalis.com.
‘Un Rosario y una Biblia con la Imagen de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe’/© Kbuntu/Stock Photo Secrets
(Taken from the Jerusalem Bible, Published and Copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968
by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a Division of Random House, Inc)
‘Crucifixion’ (circa 1600-1700)/The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA (PD-Art)
“TWO CRIMINALS WERE CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST. ONE WAS SAVED; DO NOT DESPAIR. ONE WAS NOT; DO NOT PRESUME.” – SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO
“How could I bear a crown of gold when the Lord bears a crown of thorns? And bears it for me!” – Saint Elizabeth of Hungary
“It is not the finest wood that feeds the fire of Divine love, but the wood of the Cross.” – Saint Ignatius of Loyola
“Oh cherished cross! Through thee, my most bitter trials are replete with graces!” – Saint Paul of the Cross
“Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.” – Saint Rose of Lima
‘Memorial to Saint John Paul II’, Warsaw, Poland/Denis Doukhan/Pixabay
Saint John Paul II (1920-2005)
‘Karol Józef Wojtyła’ was born in 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. After his Ordination to the Priesthood and Theological Studies in Rome, he returned to his Homeland and resumed various Pastoral and Academic Duties. He became first an Auxiliary Bishop and, in 1964, Archbishop of Kraków and took part in the Second Vatican Council. On 16 October 1978, he was elected Pope and took the name ‘John Paul II’. His exceptional Apostolic Zeal, particularly for families, young people and the sick, led him to numerous Pastoral Visits throughout the World. Among the many fruits which he has left as a Heritage to the Church include his rich Magisterium and the Promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as the Code of Canon Law for both the Latin Church and the Eastern Churches. In Rome on 2 April 2005, the Eve of the Second Sunday of Easter (or of Divine Mercy Sunday), he died peacefully. Pope Francis Canonised him on 27 April, the Second Sunday of Easter 2014. (Adapted from ‘Universalis’)
‘Saint Francis Statue’/Pixabay
SUB TUUM PRAESÍDIUM
“Sub tuum praesídium confúgimus,
sancta Dei Génetrix;
nostras deprecatiónes ne despícias in necessitátibus,
sed a perículis cunctis líbera nos semper,
Virgo gloriósa et benedícta.”
[We fly to Thy protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.]
PRAYER OF LEO XIII
“Sancte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in próelio;
contra nequítiam et insídias diáboli esto praesídium.
Imperet illi Deus, súpplices deprecámur,
tuque, Prínceps milítiae caeléstis,
Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos,
qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in mundo,
divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Amen.”
[Saint Michael Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.]
‘The Virgin in Prayer’/Sassoferrato, National Gallery, London
“Think of Mary and Invoke Her in All Situations.”
“‘And the Virgin’s name was Mary’. Let us speak a little about this name, which is said to mean “star of the sea,” and which so well befits the Virgin Mother. Rightly is she likened to a star. As a star emits a ray without being dimmed, so the Virgin brought forth her Son without receiving any injury. The ray takes naught from the brightness of the star, nor the Son from His Mother’s virginal integrity. This is the noble star risen out of Jacob, whose ray illumines the whole world, whose splendour shines in the heavens, penetrates the abyss, and, traversing the whole earth, gives warmth rather to souls than to bodies, cherishing virtues, withering vices. Mary is that bright and incomparable star, whom we need to see raised above this vast sea, shining by her merits, and giving us light by her example.
All of you, who see yourselves amid the tides of the world, tossed by storms and tempests rather than walking on the land, do not turn your eyes away from this shining star, unless you want to be overwhelmed by the hurricane. If temptation storms, or you fall upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star: Call upon Mary! If you are tossed by the waves of pride or ambition, detraction or envy, look to the star, call upon Mary. If anger or avarice or the desires of the flesh dash against the ship of your soul, turn your eyes to Mary. If troubled by the enormity of your crimes, ashamed of your guilty conscience, terrified by dread of the judgement, you begin to sink into the gulf of sadness or the abyss of despair, think of Mary.
In dangers, in anguish, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let her name be even on your lips, ever in your heart; and the better to obtain the help of her prayers, imitate the example of her life: Following her, you do not stray; invoking her, you do not despair; thinking of her, you do not wander; upheld by her, you do not fall; shielded by her, you do not fear; guided by her, you do not grow weary; favoured by her, you reach the goal. And thus you experience in yourself how good is that saying: ‘And the Virgin’s name was Mary'”.
To the People of God of the Archdiocese of Brisbane
September 2, 2018
Brothers and sisters: Peace be with you!
As we cross another threshold in the long journey of responding to the crisis of sexual abuse in the Church, I want to speak a word to you, a word of hope and encouragement.
I speak first to the victims and their families who have suffered most through it all. Especially to those in the Archdiocese of Brisbane who have been traumatised by abuse I offer a most heartfelt apology. I think too of the many fine clergy and religious in the Archdiocese who have been so mired and burdened by what has happened. But there is no-one in the Church who hasn’t been wounded in some way by abuse. When one in the community suffers, all suffer. That’s the way it is in the Body of Christ; when one part of the body is in pain, the whole body suffers.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have just published a joint response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. We have accepted, accepted in principle or supported 98 per cent of the Royal Commission’s recommendations. As requested by the Royal Commission, we have referred some to the Holy See, and we are pursuing discussions with the Vatican.
The one recommendation we cannot accept concerns the seal of the Sacrament of Penance, since to accept it would be contrary to our sense of faith and would corrode religious freedom. We don’t believe that abolishing the seal would make children any safer. Nor do we believe that the seal and the safeguarding of children are mutually exclusive; and we’ll do all we can to ensure both the safety of children and the inviolability of the seal. In our view, legislation abolishing priest-penitent privilege is based on a lack of understanding of what actually happens in Confession and moves in a purely hypothetical world. It’s difficult then to see how the law will work in practice. The bishops and religious leaders have the utmost respect for the rule of law; but we believe that this proposed law will prove impracticable. It will not make children safer and it will undermine religious freedom. That’s why it’s bad public policy.
The response of the bishops and religious leaders has been published with the four-volume final report of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, which helped shape our response. There are many words, and they are important; but more is required. Now is a time for action. Some of the action is already being undertaken; we aren’t beginning from scratch. But much of it lies ahead; and the bishops and religious leaders commit to doing whatever is required. To help us nationally in that task we’ve established the lay-led Implementation Advisory Group who have been involved in finalising our response.
In the first place, action will be the responsibility of bishops and religious leaders. But it will also involve the entire Catholic community in one way or another. This sense of shared responsibility for building a culture of safeguarding can be troubling for some. It’s true that clergy and religious were responsible for most of the abuse in the past, and bishops and religious leaders for most of the cover-ups. Therefore they bear a special burden of responsibility. Currently serving bishops and religious leaders may not be personally responsible for abuse or cover-up, but they have a duty to address the crisis; and they will need to call upon all the members and resources of the Catholic community to do that effectively.
The new demands being made of volunteers in parishes and other communities are proving challenging. But we’re asking only what we judge necessary for the building of a new culture of safeguarding in the Church. Cultural change of this kind is always demanding. Some of the new provisions are required by law; others are to ensure that the Archdiocese is a genuinely safe place for all, but especially for the most vulnerable.
To help build a culture of safeguarding the bishops and religious leaders have established Catholic Professional Standards Limited, an independent lay body which will set nationally consistent safeguarding standards and monitor compliance with them across the Church in Australia.
One especially important action will be provision of pastoral care to survivors of abuse and their families. This was the original purpose of the Towards Healing protocol, but it was overtaken by redress payments which tended to obscure its pastoral purpose.
Now that the Church has committed to the National Redress Scheme we hope that the financial element can be dealt with elsewhere and that we can focus more on pastoral care for survivors and their families. That’s what the Church should do best.
Soon the Cathedral will have a shrine to St Mary MacKillop in the front turret which is currently the Unity Chapel. In that space there’s a candle placed on stone brought from Jerusalem. I intend to make that candle and stone a memorial to the suffering of all those abused and a sign of hope that there is light in the darkness. It will stand in the Chapel of St Mary MacKillop and will be a way of entrusting to her care the abused, their families and all who have suffered because of abuse in the Church. Mary knew the pain of victims and the strength of survivors, which is why we will entrust to her all victims and survivors.
The response of the bishops and religious leaders was released on the eve of National Child Protection Week and Fathers’ Day. We look now to the Father of all mercies to forgive us, to heal the wounds of survivors and to lead us all into the light of Easter. May the light of the Risen Christ shine in the deep dark places “until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).
Most Rev Mark Coleridge
Archbishop of Brisbane