Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
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92 Monash Street, Sunshine VIC 3020
Fr Peter-Damien McKinley
(03) 9401 6344
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No Public Mass in our Parish Church until further notice - Let us stay united in prayer.

State Government regulations for public health - Stage 3 Lockdown means places of worship are closed for 6 weeks from 11.59pm, 8 July 2020      

Schedule of Daily Masses

1 - Sunday Mass on TV - Channel 10 - 6.00am  OR on Channel 31 - 11.00am from St Patrick's Cathedral 

2 - Daily Mass will be LIVE STREAMED online at 1.00pm (Monday - Friday) at St Patrick's Cathedral and 

8am on Saturday. 11am Sunday - We invite you to join us on the Archdiocese YouTube channel. 

Click here for to view the daliy readings.   

3 - FOR YOUTH -  FRG Ministries - Fr Rob Galea -check out music and talks and Mass livestream on facebook  

We continue to live-stream only in the Burmese-Chin language for our refugee community - because they have few other options compared to the many English and Vietnamese live-stream Masses.

We had a plan for re-opening in July but this is not possible in Stage 3 lockdown

When we re-open for Masses, hopefully after the current restrictions are eased, assistance will be needed to fulfill our desire to keep everyone safe.       

 (you are welcome to mail or email to register your interest for when Masses with people in attendance) 

THE PARISH STAFF [AND PRIESTS] ARE WORKING FROM HOME AND KEEPING OUTINGS AND SOCIAL CONTACT TO A MINIMUM FOR SAFETY.  However do not hesitate to contact if you're seriously ill in hospital (ask a family member to contact if you're not able to - Always at the Admission time let the hospital know that you are CATHOLIC and happy to have a priest visit)

Where possible the priests will come, if they are able to, and permitted by the hospital.  If our priest cannot go we, or the hospital staff, will try to find another priest. With the very important restrictions on visiting, even with a slight cold or sore throat - (as sometimes happens to most of us almost every winter) may prevent us, but in the present environment we must be careful and keep everyone safe  Please continue to contact the office by email 

PLEASE SEE THE REFLECTIONS (by Dr Scott Hahn  - next section below on this page)  

COVID-19 NEWS UPDATE  The Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for many people but if we all work together and follow health advice, we can help stop the spread of coronavirus for the good of our entire community. The key messages continue to be: Practicing good hygiene and keeping our distance from each other (1.5metres or arm’s length apart). This includes family members we don’t live with and friends.

  • Get tested at the first sign of cold, flu or fever symptoms. Testing is free, even if you don’t have a Medicare card.
  • It is important that people get tested even if they are (not) displaying symptoms. If people are unsure encourage them to call their local GP clinic or community health service for advice.
  • Financial support is available to eligible people who need to quarantine and are not able to attend work.                                                                         
  • Please refer to the attachments provided under the heading of Parish News for further information including  QR codes that enables translation of information into many other languages.           

Reflection for this Sunday's Mass Readings


Food in Due Season: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Listen Here
Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, Giovanni Lanfranco, 1620-1623
Readings:

Isaiah 55:1–3
Psalm 145:8–9
15–18
Romans 8:35
37–39
Matthew 14:13–21
 

In Jesus and the Church, Isaiah’s promises in today’s First Reading are fulfilled. All who are thirsty come to the living waters of Baptism (see John 4:14). The hungry delight in rich fare—given bread to eat and wine to drink at the Eucharistic table.

This is the point, too, of today’s Gospel. The story of Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 brims with allusions to the Old Testament. Jesus is portrayed as a David-like shepherd who leads His flock to lie down on green grass as He spreads the table of the Messiah’s banquet before them (see Psalm 23).

Jesus is shown as a new Moses, who likewise feeds vast crowds in a deserted place. Finally, Jesus is shown doing what the prophet Elisha did—satisfying the hunger of the crowd with a few loaves and having some left over (see 2 Kings 4:42–44).

Matthew also wants us to see the feeding of the 5,000 as a sign of the Eucharist. Notice that Jesus performs the same actions in the same sequence as at the Last Supper—He takes bread, says a blessing, breaks it, and gives it (see Matthew 26:26).

Jesus instructed His Apostles to celebrate the Eucharist in memory of Him. And the ministry of the Twelve is subtly stressed in today’s account. Before He performs the miracle, Jesus instructs the Twelve to give the crowd “some food yourselves.” Indeed, the Apostles themselves distribute the bread blessed by Jesus (see Matthew 15:36).

And the leftovers are enough to fill precisely 12 baskets—corresponding to each of the Apostles, the pillars of the Church (see Galatians 2:9Revelation 21:14).

In the Church, as we sing in today’s Psalm, God gives us food in due season, opens His hands and satisfies the desires of every living thing. Now, as Paul reminds us in today’s Second Reading, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Treasures of the Kingdom: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Listen Here
Parable of the Hidden Treasure, Govert Teunisz Flinck, c. 1635
Readings:

1 Kings 3:57–12
Psalm 119:57
7276–77
127–130
Romans 8:28–30
Matthew 13:44–52

 

What is your new life in Christ worth to you?

Do you love His words more than gold and silver, as we sing in today’s Psalm? Would you, like the characters in the Gospel today, sell all that you have in order to possess the kingdom He promises to us? If God were to grant any wish, would you follow Solomon’s example in today’s First Reading—asking not for a long life or riches, but for wisdom to know God’s ways and to desire His will?

The background for today’s Gospel, as it has been for the past several weeks, is the rejection of Jesus’ preaching by Israel. The kingdom of heaven has come into their midst, yet many cannot see that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises, a gift of divine compassion given that they—and we—might live.

We too must ever discover the kingdom anew, to find it as a treasure—a pearl of great price. By comparison with the kingdom, we must count all else as rubbish (see Philippians 3:8). And we must be willing to give up all that we have—all our priorities and plans—in order to gain it.

Jesus’ Gospel discloses what Paul, in today’s Epistle, calls the purpose of God’s plan (see Ephesians 1:4). That purpose is that Jesus would be the firstborn of many brothers.

His words give understanding to the simple, the childlike. As Solomon does today, we must humble ourselves before God, giving ourselves to His service. Let our prayer be for an understanding heart, one that desires only to do His will.

We are called to love God, to delight in His law, and to forsake every false way. And we are to conform ourselves daily ever more closely to the image of His Son.

If we do this, we can approach His altar as a pleasing sacrifice, confident that all things work for the good—that we whom He has justified will also one day be glorified.


Of Wheat and Weeds:Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixteenth Sunday - 19 JULY


Listen Here
Parable of the Weeds, Domenico Fetti, c. 1619
Readings:

Wisdom 12:1316–19
Psalm 86:5–6
9–10
15–16
Romans 8:26–27
Matthew 13:24–43

 

God is always teaching His people, we hear in today’s First Reading.

And what does He want us to know? That He has care for all of us, that though He is a God of justice, even those who defy and disbelieve Him may hope for His mercy if they turn to Him in repentance.

This divine teaching continues in the three parables that Jesus tells in the Gospel today. Each describes the emergence of the kingdom of God from the seeds sown by His works and preaching. The kingdom’s growth is hidden—like the working of yeast in bread; it’s improbable, unexpected—as in the way the tall mustard tree grows from the smallest of seeds.

Again this week’s readings sound a note of questioning: Why does God permit the evil to grow alongside the good? Why does He permit some to reject the Word of His kingdom?

Because, as we sing in today’s Psalm, God is slow to anger and abounding in kindness. He is just, Jesus assures us—evildoers and those who cause others to sin will be thrown into the fiery furnace at the end of the age. But by His patience, God is teaching us—that above all He desires repentance, and the gathering of all nations to worship Him and to glorify His name.

Even though we don’t know how to pray as we ought, the Spirit will intercede for us, Paul promises in today’s Epistle. But first we must turn and call upon Him, we must commit ourselves to letting the good seed of His Word bear fruit in our lives.

So we should not be deceived or lose heart when we see weeds among the wheat, truth and holiness mixed with error, injustice and sin.

For now, He makes His sun rise on the good and the bad (see Matthew 5:45). But the harvest draws near. Let’s work that we might be numbered among the righteous children—who will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father.

 

The Word's Return: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fifteenth Sunday - 12 JULY

Sower, Laurent d’Orléans, c. 1300 Listen Here

Readings:

Isaiah 55:10–11     Psalm 65:10–14
Romans 8:18–23   Matthew 13:1–23
 

Today’s readings, like last week’s, ask us to meditate on Israel’s response to God’s Word—and our own. Why do some hear the word of the kingdom, yet fail to accept it as a call to conversion and faith in Jesus? That question underlies today’s Gospel, especially.

Again we see, as we did last week, that the kingdom’s mysteries are unfolded to those who open their hearts, making of them a rich soil in which the Word can grow and bear fruit.

As we sing in today’s Psalm, in Jesus, God’s Word has visited our land, to water the stony earth of our hearts with the living waters of the Spirit (see John 7:38Revelation 22:1).

The firstfruit of the Word is the Spirit of love and adoption poured into our hearts in Baptism, making us children of God, as Paul reminds us in today’s Second Reading (see Romans 5:58:15–16). In this, we are made a “new creation” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17), the firstfruits of a new heaven and a new earth (see 2 Peter 3:13).

Since the first humans rejected God’s Word, creation has been enslaved to futility (see Genesis 3:17–195:29). But God’s Word does not go forth only to return to Him void, as we hear in today’s First Reading.

His Word awaits our response. We must show ourselves to be children of that Word. We must allow that Word to accomplish God’s will in our lives. As Jesus warns today, we must take care lest the devil steal it away or lest it be choked by worldly concerns.

In the Eucharist, the Word gives Himself to us as bread to eat. He does so that we might be made fertile, yielding fruits of holiness.

And we await the crowning of the year, the great harvest of the Lord’s Day (see Mark 4:292 Peter 3:10Revelation 1:10)—when His Word will have achieved the end for which it was sent.


A Yoke for the Childlike: Scott Hahn reflects on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Christ Blessing the Children, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1537Listen Here

Readings:

Zechariah 9:9–10      Psalm 145:1–2,8–11,13–14
Romans 8:9,11–13    Matthew 11:25–30

Jesus is portrayed in today’s Gospel as a new and greater Moses.

Moses, the meekest man on earth (see Numbers 12:3), was God’s friend (see Exodus 34:12,17). Only he knew God “face to face” (see Deuteronomy 34:10). And Moses gave Israel the yoke of the Law,
through which God first revealed Himself and how we are to live
(see Jeremiah 2:20;5:5).

Jesus too is meek and humble. But He is more than God’s friend. He is the Son who alone knows the Father. He is more also than a law-giver, presenting Himself today as the yoke of a new Law, and as the revealed Wisdom of God.

As Wisdom, Jesus was present before creation as the firstborn of God, the Father and Lord of heaven and earth (see Proverbs 8:22;Wisdom 9:9). 

And He gives knowledge of the holy things of the kingdom of God (see Wisdom 10:10).

In the gracious will of the Father, Jesus reveals these things only to the “childlike”—those who humble themselves before Him as little children (see Sirach 2:17). These alone can recognize and receive Jesus as the just savior and meek king promised to daughter Zion, Israel, in today’s First Reading.

We too are called to childlike faith in the Father’s goodness, as sons and daughters of the new kingdom, the Church.

We are to live by the Spirit we received in Baptism (see Galatians 5:16), putting to death our old ways of thinking and acting, as Paul exhorts in today’s Second Reading. Our “yoke” is to be His new law of love (see John 13:34), by which we enter into the “rest” of His kingdom.

As we sing in today’s Psalm, we joyously await the day when we will praise His name forever in the kingdom that lasts for all ages. This is the sabbath rest promised by Jesus—first anticipated by Moses (see Exodus 20:8–11), but which still awaits the people of God (see Hebrews 4:9).

Yours in Christ,



Scott Hahn, PhD


P.S.Do you want your friends, family, and coworkers to know the treasures of the Catholic faith through the treasure of God’s Word? Then join me in praying for the work of the St. Paul Center and please make your most generous financial contribution today.You can
donate nowby credit card at our secure, convenient website atStPaulCenter.com.

 

To Find Our Lives: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Calling of the Apostles, Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1481-1482 Listen Here

Readings:   2 Kgs 4:8–1114–16   Ps 89:2–316–19  

                   Rom 6:3–48–11        Mt 10:37–42

The Liturgy this week continues to instruct us in the elements of discipleship. We’re told that even the most humble among us have a share in the mission Christ gives to His Church.

We’re not all called to the ministry of the Apostles, or to be prophets like Elisha in today’s First Reading. But each of us is called to a holy life (see 2 Timothy 1:91 Thessalonians 4:3).

At Baptism our lives were joined forever to the cross of Christ, as Paul tells us in today’s Second Reading. Baptized into His death, we’re to renounce sin and live for God in Christ Jesus.

We are to follow Him, each of us taking up our personal cross, as Jesus says in today’s Gospel. That doesn’t mean we will all be asked to suffer a martyr’s death. But each of us is called to self-denial, to the offering of our lives in service of God’s plan.

Jesus must be elevated to first place in our lives—above even our closest bonds of kinship and love. By Baptism, we’ve been made part of a new family—the kingdom of God, the Church. We are to proclaim that kingdom with our lives, bringing our fathers and mothers, and all men and women, to live as “little ones” under the fatherhood of God and the kingship of the Holy One.

We do this by opening our hearts and homes to the service of the Lord, following the Shunnamite woman’s example in today’s First Reading. As Jesus tells us, we’re to receive others—not only prophets but also little children, the poor, and the imprisoned—as we receive Christ Himself (see Matthew 18:525:31–46).  As we sing in today’s Psalm, we are to testify to His favors and kindness in our lives.

We’re to hold fast to the promise—that if we have died with Christ, we shall also live, that if we lose our lives for His sake, we shall find our reward, and walk forever in His countenanceYours in Christ,  Scott Hahn, PhD

Be Not Afraid: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

The Last Supper, Juan de Juanes, c. 1562Listen Here
Readings:

Jeremiah 20:10–13   Psalm 69:8–10141733–35
Romans 5:12–15       Matthew 10:26–33
Our commitment to Christ will be put to the test.

We will hear whispered warnings and denunciations, as Jeremiah does in today’s First Reading.               

Even so-called friends will try to trap us and trip us up.

For His sake we will bear insults and be made outcasts—even in our own homes, we hear in today’s Psalm.

As Jeremiah tells us, we must expect that God will challenge our faith in Him, and probe our minds and hearts, to test the depths of our love.

“Do not be afraid,” Jesus assures us three times in today’s Gospel.

Though He may permit us to suffer for our faith, our Father will never forget or abandon us. As Jesus assures us today, everything unfolds in His Providence, under His watchful gaze—even the falling of the tiniest sparrow to the ground. Each one of us is precious to Him.

Steadfast in this faith, we must resist the tactics of Satan. He is the enemy who seeks the ruin of our soul in Gehenna, or hell.

We are to seek God, as the Psalmist says.  Zeal for the Lord’s house, for the heavenly kingdom of the Father, should consume us, as it consumed Jesus (see John 2:17).  As Jesus bore the insults of those who blasphemed God, so should we (see Romans 15:3).

By the gracious gift of himself, Jesus bore the transgressions of the world, Paul tells us in today’s Second Reading.  In rising from the dead, He has shown us that God rescues the life of the poor, that He does not spurn His own when they are in distress. In His great mercy, He will turn toward us, as well. He will deliver us from the power of the wicked.

That is why we proclaim His name from the housetops, as Jesus tells us.  That is why we sing praise and offer thanksgiving in every Eucharist. We are confident in Jesus’ promise—that we who declare our faith in Him before others will be remembered before our heavenly Father.   

Word of the ‘Living Father’:  

Scott Hahn Reflects on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

The Last Supper, Juan de Juanes, c. 1562Listen Here    Readings:   Deuteronomy 8:2–314–16  

Psalm 147:12–1519–20   1 Corinthians 10:16–17 

John 6:51–58

 The Eucharist is given to us as a challenge and a promise. That’s how Jesus presents it in today’s Gospel.  He doesn’t make it easy for those who hear Him. They are repulsed and offended at His words. Even when they begin to quarrel, He insists on describing the eating and drinking of His flesh and blood in starkly literal terms.

Four times in today’s reading, Jesus uses a Greek word—trogein—that refers to a crude kind of eating, almost a gnawing or chewing (see John 6:54565758). He is testing their faith in His Word, as today’s First Reading describes God testing Israel in the desert.  

The heavenly manna was not given to satisfy the Israelites’ hunger, as Moses explains. It was given to show them that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

In today’s Psalm, too, we see a connection between God’s Word and the bread of life.  

We sing of God filling us with “finest wheat” and proclaiming his Word to the world.

In Jesus,the living Fatherhas given us His Word come down from heaven, made flesh for the life of the world.

Yet as the Israelites grumbled in the desert, many in today’s Gospel cannot accept that Word. Even many of Jesus’ own followers abandon Him after this discourse (see John 6:66). But His words are Spirit and life, the words of eternal life (see John 6:6367).

In the Eucharist we are made one flesh with Christ. We have His life in us and have our life because of Him. This is what Paul means in today’s Second Reading when He calls the Eucharist a “participation” in Christ’s body and blood. We become in this sacrament partakers of the divine nature (see 1 Peter 2:4).

This is the mystery of the faith that Jesus asks us to believe. And He gives us His promise: that by sharing in His flesh and blood that was raised from the dead, we too will be raised up on the last day.

How God Loves: Scott Hahn Reflects on Trinity Sunday

Listen HereThe Holy Trinity, Pierre Mignard, 1663
Readings:  
Exodus 34:4–68–9   Daniel 3:52–56 

2 Corinthians 13:11–13   John 3:16–18 

We often begin Mass with the prayer from today’s Epistle: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” We praise the God who has revealed Himself as a Trinity, a communion of persons.

Communion with the Trinity is the goal of our worship—and the purpose of the salvation history that begins in the Bible and continues in the Eucharist and sacraments of the Church.

We see the beginnings of God’s self-revelation in today’s First Reading, as He passes before Moses and cries out His holy name. Israel had sinned in worshipping the golden calf (see Exodus 32). But God does not condemn them to perish. Instead, He proclaims His mercy and faithfulness to His covenant.

God loved Israel as His firstborn son among the nations (seeExodus 4:22). Through Israel—heirs of His covenant with Abraham—God planned to reveal Himself as the Father of all nations (see
Genesis 22:18).

The memory of God’s covenant testing of Abraham—and Abraham’s faithful obedience—lies behind today’s Gospel.

In commanding Abraham to offer his only beloved son (seeGenesis 22:2,12,16), God was preparing us for the fullest possible revelation of His love for the world.

As Abraham was willing to offer Isaac, God did not spare His own Son but handed Him over for us all (seeRomans 8:32).

In this, He revealed what was only disclosed partially to Moses—that His kindness continues for a thousand generations, that He forgives our sin, and that He takes us back as His very own people (seeDeuteronomy 4:20;9:29).

Jesus humbled himself to die in obedience to God’s will. And for this, the Spirit of God raised Him from the dead (seeRomans 8:11), and gave Him a name above every name (seePhilippians 2:8–10).

This is the name we glorify in today’s Psalm —the name of our Lord, the God who is Love (see 1 John 4;8, 16).

Yours in Christ,

Scott Hahn, PhD

 

A Mighty Wind: Scott Hahn Reflects on Pentecost Sunday

Listen HerePentecost, Juan Bautista Maíno, between 1615-1620


Readings:  Acts 2:1–11   Psalm 104:12429–3134

1 Corinthians 12:3–712–13     John 20:19–23
 

The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history.

The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God’s chosen people, in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai (see Leviticus 23:15–21Deuteronomy 16:9–11).

In today’s First Reading the mysteries prefigured in that feast are fulfilled in the pouring out of the Spirit on Mary and the Apostles (see Acts 1:14).

The Spirit seals the new law and new covenant brought by Jesus, written not on stone tablets but on the hearts of believers, as the prophets promised (see 2 Corinthians 3:2–8Romans 8:2).

The Spirit is revealed as the life-giving breath of the Father, the Wisdom by which He made all things, as we sing in today’s Psalm. In the beginning, the Spirit came as a “mighty wind” sweeping over the face of the earth (see Genesis 1:2)

And in the new creation of Pentecost, the Spirit again comes as “a strong, driving wind” to renew the face of the earth.

As God fashioned the first man out of dust and filled him with His Spirit (see Genesis 2:7), in today’s Gospel we see the New Adam become a life-giving Spirit, breathing new life into the Apostles (see 1 Corinthians 15:4547).

Like a river of living water, for all ages He will pour out His Spirit on His body, the Church, as we hear in today’s Second Reading (see also John 7:37–39).

We receive that Spirit in the sacraments, being made a “new creation” in Baptism (see 2 Corinthians 5:17Galatians 6:15). Drinking of the one Spirit in the Eucharist (see 1 Corinthians 10:4), we are the first fruits of a new humanity—fashioned from out of every nation under heaven, with no distinctions of wealth or language or race, a people born of the Spirit.

Yours in Christ, Scott Hahn, PhD


Reflections from Last Sunday - The Promise of the Ascension
The Savior promises the disciples the descent of the Holy Spirit, which God had announced of old by Joel (cf. Jl 2:28), and power from above, that they might be strong and invincible, and without all fear preach to men everywhere the divine mystery….

Having blessed them…he was carried up unto heaven, that he might share the Father’s throne even with the flesh that was united unto him. And this new pathway the Word made for us when he appeared in human form; and hereafter in due time he will come again in the glory of his Father with the angels, and will take us up to be with him.

Let us glorify, therefore, him who being God the Word became man for our sakes; who suffered willingly in the flesh, and arose from the dead, and abolished corruption; who was taken up, and hereafter shall come with great glory to judge the living and the dead, and to give to every one according to his deeds; by whom and with whom to God the Father be glory and power with the Spirit, unto ages of ages. Amen.

- Saint Cyril of Alexandria
Saint Cyril of Alexandria (+ 444) was an eminent figure of ancient Christian literature and a valiant defender of the faith.

Alive in the Spirit: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Jesus will not leave us alone. He won’t make us children of God in Baptism only to leave us “orphans,” He assures us in today’s Gospel (see Romans 8:14–17).  

He asks the Father to give us His Spirit, to dwell with us and keep us united in the life He shares with the Father.

We see the promised gift of His Spirit being conferred in today’s First Reading.

The scene from Acts apparently depicts a primitive Confirmation rite. Philip, one of the first deacons (see Acts 6:5), proclaims the Gospel in the non-Jewish city of Samaria. The Samaritans accept the Word of God (see Acts 17:111 Thessalonians 2:13) and are baptized.

It remains for the Apostles to send their representatives, Peter and John, to pray and lay hands on the newly baptized—that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  This is the origin of our sacrament of Confirmation (see Acts 19:5–6), by which the grace of Baptism is completed and believers are sealed with the Spirit promised by the Lord.

We remain in this grace so long as we love Christ and keep His commandments. And strengthened in the Spirit whom Jesus said would be our Advocate, we are called to bear witness to our salvation—to the tremendous deeds that God has done for us in the name of His Son.

In today’s Psalm, we celebrate our liberation.  As He changed the sea into dry land to free the captive Israelites, Christ suffered that He might lead us to God, as we hear in today’s Epistle.

This is the reason for our hope—the hope that sustains us in the face of a world that cannot accept His truth, the hope that sustains us when we are maligned and defamed for His name’s sake.

Put to death in the flesh, He was brought to life in the Spirit, Paul tells us today. And as He himself promises: “Because I live, you will live.”

Remembering Our Lady of Fatima in May 2020

https://melbournecatholic.org.au/News/ArtMID/416/ArticleID/24439/Remembering-Our-Lady-of-Fatima

Remembering Our Lady of Fatima   Tuesday 12 May 2020                         Most Rev. Peter J Elliott MA 

The events of Fatima in 1917 revolved around three children: brother and sister Francisco and Jacinta Marto and their older cousin Lucia Santos. They lived in Aljustrel near Fatima, a village that bears the name of Muhammad’s daughter, an echo of an earlier Islamic occupation of Portugal.

In 1917 the First World War was raging. Portugal was neutral, not that the children would have known much about world events, such as the October Revolution which would soon erupt in Russia and launch global Communism. But what happened to them had great bearing on events in our times.

The children said that on 13 May they were tending sheep in the area called the Cova d’Iria near Fatima, when they were visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary in the first of a series of apparitions. Her words to them included revelations, messages and warnings of events to come, yet were accompanied by much hope for a broken world longing for peace.

Across the ages there have been many reported or alleged visions of Our Lady, who appears mainly to poor people, children, the sick and suffering, the little ones of this world. But how can we determine whether an apparition of the Blessed Virgin is genuine?

Authentic or not?

These phenomena are classified under the broad heading ‘private revelations’. They are not part of the public Revelation in Jesus Christ, passed on in the Church through Scripture and Tradition, as the Second Vatican Council teaches (cf Dei Verbum 7–10). So no one is bound to believe in private revelations, which is why they do not feature in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Apparitions are investigated, tested and evaluated by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The basic test used by the Congregation is whether an apparition contradicts or adds to the Revelation in Christ. What happened at Fatima meets that test, because the appearances of Our Lady and her words to the children did not contradict or add to Divine Revelation.

The central message of Fatima is a call to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ through ‘prayer and penance’, a life of faith including reparation for sin and sinners. The wider message is for us to be alert to the signs of the times in world events, as Christ taught. Moreover, Jesus Christ is the central focus of Fatima. Mary comes to point to him, to lead us back to him.

Other tests involve the credibility and integrity of the witnesses, usually known as visionaries or ‘seers’. With conviction maintained until each of them died, the children never denied what happened to them, even under threats and pressure. Unlike devious ‘visionaries’ in some other cases, they did not profit financially from their encounter with Our Lady. More importantly, what they experienced deepened their lives of faith and prayer. Francisco and Jacinta Marto died in 1919 and 1920. Lucia Santos entered a convent and lived the contemplative life of a nun until her death in 2005.

A further test is whether there were any corroborating events, such as other witnesses or paranormal phenomena. On 13 October 1917 thousands of people gathered with the children on the Cova d’Iria and saw the ‘miracle of the sun’, a solar phenomenon, timed to coincide with the final appearance of Mary to the children. A friend of mine knows a Portuguese family whose aged aunt witnessed the dancing sun as a young adult and her faith never wavered. Anti-Catholic journalists who came to mock the people on that day, saw the sun dance and scurried back to Lisbon looking for priests to hear their confessions! This is another reason why Fatima holds an honoured place in the first category of apparitions, those strongly endorsed by the Church.

The liturgy and Marian apparitions

The liturgy is a handy guide to the status of a Marian apparition. If a vision is commemorated in the Universal Calendar of the Church, it has received papal approval and support. Only three Marian events are honoured in this way: Guadalupe (Mexico, 1531), Lourdes (France, 1858) and Fatima (Portugal, 1917). In the 2002 edition of the Roman Missal we find memorials of Our Lady of Lourdes, 11 February, Our Lady of Fatima, 13 May, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, 12 December.

In the case of Guadalupe, the visionary, the humble Aztec St Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, has been canonised and is recognised with a memorial on 9 December in the Universal Calendar. St Bernadette of Lourdes has a memorial on 16 April in the national calendar for France. Pope Francis will canonise Francisco and Jacinta, and the cause of Lucia is under consideration.

Other apparitions

The second category of apparitions includes those mainly of local significance, recognised by bishops as of supernatural origin and worthy of belief. These events may be commemorated in local calendars for a country or diocese or in a calendar for a religious order or congregation. They may be limited to celebration at the shrine which marks the site of the apparition. In all these cases, approval from Rome is required for any liturgical commemoration.

 

A third category of apparitions covers those currently under investigation but so far not approved; for example, Medjugorje (Bosnia) and Garabandal (Spain). No liturgical commemoration may be observed for these apparitions unless they gain approval, which seems highly unlikely in both cases.
A final category of Marian apparitions covers false visions, those that are not worthy of belief. These are either delusional experiences or fraudulent schemes, or even of diabolical origin. These phenomena all have their own little circles of misguided followers and relentless blog sites.

Pope Francis in Fatima

On 13 May 2017, Pope Francis went to Fatima as a pilgrim. He is an intensely Marian Pope. He eagerly walks in the footsteps of St John Paul II, who on 13 May 1982 took the bullet that nearly killed him in Rome the year before to be enclosed in the crown on the statue, an act of gratitude to Mary to whom he prayed as he lay bleeding in the pope-mobile. He was the victim of a command to kill issued in Moscow. Before him, in May 1967, Blessed Paul VI led the golden jubilee pilgrimage to Fatima, presented a golden rose to the Madonna and issued a beautiful letter, The great sign, linking Fatima to the scriptural vision of Our Lady as Queen of the Universe in Revelation 12.

St John XXIII ascribed the inspiration to convene the Second Vatican Council to Our Lady of Fatima. In 1946 in the wake of the Second World War, Pope Pius XII authorised the coronation of the image. It should be noted that there is an authorised liturgical rite for the coronation of an image of the Blessed Virgin. By word and action, the popes of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, so aware of the turbulent course of world events, have clearly responded to the urgent call of Mary for Christian commitment, especially prayer and penance, and above all the great popular meditation and powerful prayer, the Rosary. Prayer for the conversion of Russia in the wake of Communism is part of the urgent messages. To that, in our times, we may add China.

The silence of Fatima

When Francis came to Fatima he found what all pilgrims encounter, a strange silence. On the Cova d’Iria, a vast windswept piazza has been constructed that can hold many thousands, especially for the Eucharistic concelebrations at major pilgrimages. But at other times it is silent. This is what struck me on my one visit to Fatima, a marked contrast to the noise and bustle I experienced at Lourdes and the endless stream of pilgrims I joined at Guadalupe. I interpreted the silence as a sense of judgement on our world and a call to be silent, to reflect, pray and be converted.

In this sacred space a small chapel marks the site of the tree where the Blessed Mother appeared to the shepherd children a century ago. It is here that we find the heart of Fatima, as a place, not the unremarkable classical basilica that rises above the piazza.

The chapel and the Marian image have a simplicity about them, as befits the Madonna and the village children to whom she revealed her Immaculate Heart. She showed herself to them as a sorrowing Mother, echoing Simeon’s prophecy, ‘and a sword will pierce through your own soul’ (Luke 2:35). She spoke at a time when so many mothers were mourning their sons and daughters, victims of war. And that way of sorrow has continued into our times, into a new century and millennium: wars, revolutions, genocide, mass migrations, terrorism ... and is our God involved? Or does divine silence speak loudly?

Salvation history

Fatima speaks to us about time. We can easily appreciate this because we are people of faith whose lives are shaped by sacred time—such an important dimension of the annual and weekly cycles of liturgical worship. In the Judaeo-Christian heritage, all time is sacred because it is God’s time, God working out the great mystery and plan of salvation.

The expression ‘salvation history’ holds the meaning Divine Revelation has given to time. It is always the great story of our salvation, of your salvation and mine. The faith journey of the whole Church is made up of millions of personal journeys, yours and mine.

Salvation history is the ordered reality of time; it is the reign of God always coming through, always breaking through, as Christians pray again and again: ‘Thy kingdom come!’ History shows how God is always bringing shape and destiny out of chaos and disorder. Purpose and meaning in history and in each of our lives are not our inventions. We can find meaning in God’s saving plan and loving Providence as he brings in his reign, his kingdom of justice, truth and peace.

Time and judgment

However, Christians do not believe that the history of the universe or the lives of individuals are endless cycles repeating themselves, as is taught in some Eastern religions. We believe that time is linear, going forward steadily towards its completion, its purposeful end, or telos, which is why theologians use the word teleological when discussing what lies ahead of us: death, judgement, heaven, hell. In all this, justice finally triumphs in divine judgement.

 

These ultimate options mark the serious side of the Fatima revelations, a call to repentance and warnings of what happens if we fail to respond to Christ’s love. Briefly, the children were shown a vision of hell. Some people find that disturbing, but Fatima is disturbing. It is not a nice story about little children and Mary. Then again, Catholic Christianity is not nice. The truth is not always nice. Yet in the challenging message of Fatima there is hope for our world.

Fatima speaks of hope

The promised ‘triumph and reign of Mary’s Immaculate Heart’ paves the way for the coming of the kingdom of heaven, Christ’s reign. She reigns because she is indeed a queen, but she is only a queen because her son is the Messiah, king and Lord of all creation. It is as simple as that.

Mary always points to her son, to Jesus Christ our king. She leads us to him for he is always the answer, the only answer, as Saint John Paul constantly proclaimed, as Pope Benedict and Pope Francis proclaim. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, crucified and risen again, is the word we speak. He is the way we live. He is our personal Lord and Saviour. He is the One to whom we turn, whose face we long to see, our Light, our Way to the Father.

We bear witness to Jesus Christ not only by timely words and deeds. We bear witness by bringing his Mother Mary into our homes as John did after Jesus had entrusted her to him from the cross. Like John, may we testify to Christ’s amazing grace with hearts full of gratitude for his gift of Mary, so clearly revealed on the windswept Cova d’Iria in Fatima one hundred years ago.

Most Rev. Peter J Elliott MA (Melb) MA (Oxon), STD (JPII Rome) is Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Melbourne.

 

 

 

Upcoming Events

100th birthday of St. Pope John Paul ii

ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL : 100 Ways Pope Saint John Paul II Changed the World

Book by Patrick Novecosky Who Knew Polish Saint Makes You Know Him Better Too             MAY 17, 2020   DEBORAH CASTELLANO LUBOV   JOHN PAUL II    - article from ZENIT news service

How can one possibly try to wrap their mind around, somewhat rapidly, the countless ways a beloved pontiff, genius, and now saint, changed the world during his 26-year pontificate that drew with a close on April 2, 2005, on Divine Mercy Sunday?   A new work by Patrick Novecosky, titled ‘100 Ways John Paul II Changed the World,’ and published by Our Sunday Visitor, seeks to do just that, and does so as Monday, May 18, marks the 100 year anniversary of the Polish Pontiff’s birth.

The American Catholic communicator who has traveled to 26 countries, met Pope St. John Paul II five times, often in private venues in Rome, and is a husband and father of five. The award-winning journalist has edited and written for some of America’s top Catholic publications and has been published in five languages. Patrick is Managing Partner at NovaMedia a public relations firm specializing in the Catholic space.

Shattering the Mold

In his book, he examines in one or two pages per chapter, the mystical beloved Pope’s remarkable and difficult upbringing. Remembering his friendships, and unforgettable, as well as less known, moments, it also examines his impact on the world, including being an incredibly important force in the eventual collapse of Communism in Poland and Eastern Europe.

The Pontiff who made 104 trips, and traveled enough that he, in his 775,000 miles, could have circled the planet ‘30 times’ covered two thirds of the world’s countries, and was arguably “most seen person in history.” As the author recalls, Pope Paul VI was the first pope to “break the mold” with his international travels, but John Paul II “shattered it.” The Pontiff visited almost all of Africa, during the course of 14 trips, and in addition to making important church appointments, he canonized various African saints.

He also spoke about the Pope’s affinity for the US, where he made five official visits, with stops even in Alaska. He expressed his appreciation for the ‘warm hospitality’ of the American people.

The author gives a tender look at the Pope’s friendships, including with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, US President Ronald Reagan, Padre Pio, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski (his superior, the Primate of the Poland, when the Cardinal Wojtyla was Archbishop of Krakow), Sister Faustina Kowalska, and Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

In 1984, the Polish Pope and President Reagan had established full diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See.

My Best Friend…

In 1989, ex-President Ronald Reagan, the book notes, received two Polish Americans and Solidarnosc [Solidarity] labor union representatives, whose movement, supported by John Paul II and the former US President, constituted the first independent labor union in the Soviet bloc and contributed “the first crack in the Iron Curtain, and it sent shock waves through the entire Soviet Union” beginning from the Polish Pope’s 1979 visit to his native country.

When they asked Reagan for words of political wisdom for the Solidarnosc members, he told them to listen to their conscience as that is where the Holy Spirit talks to you.

“Reagan then pointed to a picture of John Paul: ‘He is my best friend. Yes, you know I’m Protestant, but he’s still my best friend,’” he said.

Miraculous Cure…

Padre Pio also had a dear friendship with John Paul II, confiding in Wojtyla details he never told others.

“During a visit to Rome in 1962,” the book also recounts, “’Archbishop Wojtyla learned that one of his Polish friends was dying. He wrote to Padre Pio, asking his intercession. The letter was hand-delivered to the friar, who reportedly replied: “I cannot say no to this request.’”

“’Eleven days later, Wojtyla sent Pio a second letter thanking him for his intercession: ‘The lady who was ill with cancer was suddenly healed before entering the operating room.’”

Statues in Poland to Commemorate

The first time Wyszynski and John Paul II met after his election as Successor of Peter– Novecosky also remembers– became “one of the most touching moments” of his pontificate.

“The Polish cardinal approached the new pope to kiss his ring in Saint Peter’s Square on the day of his inauguration, but John Paul quickly rose, embraced his mentor, and kissed his cheek,” he said, observing that now hundreds of statues across Poland commemorate the moment.

The book also reflects upon the special bond and friendship he had with Joseph Ratzinger that began in 1978 during the conclave where John Paul I (Albino Luciani), would be elected, and that would lead to Wojtyla eventually making Ratzinger his closest confident, and staying, even when he would have liked to go home to his native Bavaria.  The author recounts how the two used to meet every Friday night at 6 o’clock when Ratzinger was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, not only as collaborators but as dear friends.

Saint Factory, or Recognizing Holiness

The book recalls that some accused the Vatican under this Pope of being a ‘saint factory.’

“Over the course of his papacy, John Paul canonized 482 saints— more than all popes of the previous 500 years combined — and beatified 1,341 men and women,” the author explains. Some of those saints included, Padre Pio, Maximilian Kolbe, Edith Stein, Faustina Kowalska, and Katherine Drexel.

He recalls that the Pope whose legacy would be impossible to give justice, lost his mother at age nine, from kidney disease and congestive failure, and his father by 21, and his brother as well. Being effectively ‘orphaned’ while still in university, he turned to Mary, and developed a filial relationship with Our Lady of Czestochowa.

Bringing God to Where He Was Denied

He also sheds light on how Wojtyla was an actor, wrote poetry and five plays, and, having discovered his vocation, worked during the day in a stone quarry, while having to study meanwhile for the priesthood in secret. Wojtyla kept his eyes on Christ, during his personal heartbreak, and during Nazi Occupation of Poland and subsequent Communism.

He practiced what he would later preach, when he would tell young people: ‘Do not be afraid.’

Early in his ecclesial career in Poland, when they created at Nowa Huta, outside Krakow, as a ‘Worker’s Paradise’ and forbid that a church be built, Wojtyla as a young bishop, and for 20 years, used to celebrate an open-air Mass there every Christmas, until eventually a church could be built. He did not hesitate to challenge authorities when one was being deprived of Christ.

No Compromising the Faith

While advancing ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and attention to the environment, poor, China and the persecuted, the Polish Pontiff voiced a conservative, uncompromising faith, even to those who disagreed with him. He used to confront politicians whose policies did not protect life without reservations.

Pope John Paul II marked the first world leader to visit largely-Roman Catholic East Timor, ever since Indonesia invaded and annexed it in 1976. When the Polish Pope was in East Timor, and called on Indonesia to respect human rights, his fearless affirmations resulted in various newborns—the author remembers—being named John Paul in the Asian island nation.

In working toward dialogue, John Paul II became the first Pope to enter a mosque during his trip to Syria in 2001.

John Paul II, the book reminds, told the United Nations in 1995 that it must “safeguard the fundamental right to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, as the cornerstones of the structure of human rights and the foundation of every truly free society.”

“No one,” he said, “is permitted to suppress those rights by using coercive power to impose an answer to the mystery of man.”

Mary’s Hand Guided the Bullet

Looking again at the pontificate itself, the author also recalls the assassination attempt on May 13, 1981, and how John Paul II, met, without handcuffs and televised, his aggressor, and forgave him. Moreover, he stresses how the Polish Pope would credit Our Lady of Fatima with saving his life, saying “one hand pulled the trigger, and another guided the bullet.”

Later the bullet that lodged closest to John Paul II’s heart was removed and welded into the crown of Mary’s statue in Fatima.

The book dives into Wojtyla’s efforts to protect religious freedom, promote a ‘culture of life,’ and combat against a ‘culture of the death.’ Reflecting on the ‘Pope of the Rosary,’ Novecosky remembers details about the Pope’s own personal prayer life, and his encouragement for families to pray the rosary together, essentially suggesting that a family that prays together, stays together.

Always sensitive to the terror attacks against the Twin Towers and Pentagon on 9/11, the Polish Pontiff also said to pray the rosary to combat against ‘terrorism.’

Looking at who he said could be considered the ‘most productive’ pontificate in history, the author looks at how under his watch, the Code of Canon Law was effectively revised in less than 11 months, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1992, and various other texts.

Examining the impact of the World Youth Days, and the spiritual fruits they have given youth worldwide, Novecosky remembers how the news led the world to believe the Denver WYD in 1993 would be ‘a bust,’ when rather there was incredible attendance for the 73-year-old Polish Pontiff, and how subsequently numerous apostolates were born in Denver.

Led the Way for Francis in Havana

There are also reflections on the Pope’s disappointment that he never was able to go to Russia, nor meet the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, as hoped, in 1997, to sign a joint declaration with Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow, an act that Pope Francis would be able to achieve for him, in 2016, when meeting Alexey’s successor, Patriarch Kirill, in Cuba, on his way to Mexico.

The Pope also made great strides diplomatically, including establishing diplomatic relations with Israel and Palestinian Authority, urging an end to Catholic-Protestant violence during his 1979 trip to Ireland, and speaking out against conflict, such as violence provoked by apartheid in South Africa, the conflict in Bosnia, and against the First Gulf War, and 2003 United States-driven Iraq War, as he encouraged those involved to not be afraid “to take a chance on peace.”

He combatted against abuses of Liberation Theology, confusion promoted by some orders in the Church, and against child abuse, even if this continues to be the weak spot of his legacy, given that many argue more should have been done.

The Pope’s personal secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz—the author recalls in the book—has reflected that with time, the Church learned much more about what was actually happening and its gravity.

Couldn’t Say No

The author expresses that beyond his own research and personal experiences, he spoke to and drew inspiration from other experts on the Pope, including papal biographer George Weigel.

The author also shares about his moments with the Pope, including the following anecdote recalling how Wojtyla began writing poetry as a university student in 1939, often using pseudonyms, and how he continued writing poems well into his papacy.

“Among this author’s most treasured possessions,” Patrick Novecosky shares, “is a copy of The Place Within: The Poetry of Pope John Paul II, signed by John Paul on July 31, 1998,” noting: “I used to own a signed deluxe edition with a slipcover, a gift from a friend with connections to the papal household.”

“But then came a call from the Vatican in 1999: the pope did not have a deluxe version in his private library and was requesting my copy. I couldn’t say no. In return, they sent me a “lowly” hardcover version — along with the knowledge that my deluxe edition made it into John Paul’s personal library.”

This and many more anecdotes are waiting in this work for future readers….

#ThankYouJohnPaul2

***

Order the Book Here: https://www.osvcatholicbookstore.com/product/100-ways-john-paul-ii-changed-the-world

MAY 17, 2020


Mass live stream from St Patrick's Cathedral - weekdays at 1pm Sundays 11am

 Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral celebrated at 1pm  weekdays  / 11am Sundays

 Join us as we live stream on our Facebook page or through our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/archmelb


Thanksgiving and St Therese

THANKSGIVING & WEEKLY COLLECTIONS      Thankyou for your support over the year which has left us in a fair position to continue modestly during the Covid19 virus pandemic.  

For those who have asked how to give and would like to try something new:  

CDFpay is a new option for anyone in a position to give and would like to assist the parish financially during this difficult time.  

Click on the link below, Choose CDFpay for PARISHES  - page down to FIND MY PARISH  - Sunshine (*there’s several Sunshine Parishes - if all listed, please choose Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception)   https://www.catholicdevelopmentfund.org.au/Organisations/CDFpay

Some parishioners may be in a position to use their regular Thanksgiving envelopes and set aside your usual donation and give at a later time, however the impact of this current health epidemic has impacted many of you and your needs and care for your family are your first priority. We will come through this difficult time. Although we are not physically in the Church building for some time, our homes become our tower-house of prayer.  If, for some of us, our financial ability is less, our THANKSGIVING could also be lived in helping and praying for others.  Let us most of all keep each other in prayer and keep in contact with any we know who may be isolated and lonely.  Masses continue to be offered privately each day by our priests in our parish for your needs and earnestly seeking God's mercy for an end to the Covid19 pestilence that has struck the world.

 


The relics of St Therese of Lisieux and her parents
 – St Louis and Zelie Martin – arrived in Melbourne and will reside at the Carmelite Monastery in Kew.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Il9IA2TznU        

Owing to restrictions brought about in relation to COVID-19, the relics will reside in the Carmelite Monastery, the national shrine for St Therese of Lisieux during Holy Week, but will not be made open to the public.

It's been 18 years since the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux, one of the most popular saints of modern times, last visited Australia. However, what was intended to be a four-month pilgrimage, in light of the situation concerning coronavirus pandemic, and taking under consideration government and church directives, the pilgrimage of the relics has been temporarily suspended.

The Carmelite nuns will be praying with the relics throughout the time the relics remain before returning to France.  There are some Prayer Times and Mass, and a talk online.  

They began with a time of prayer with the relics on Saturday 4 April, that was live streamed directly to the Archdiocese of Melbourne YouTube Channel    You are welcome to view the prayer times and pray with the relics online - as they were live streamed from the monastery.

 

 

 


Spiritual Communion with the Mass - Prayer offered by Pope Francis during Covid-19 epidemic

A MAGNIFICENT PRAYER OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION

[Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930) Spanish diplomat of the Holy See beatified 1953]

"At your feet, O my Jesus,

I bow down and offer you the repentance of my loving heart

which is abyss in his nothingness and Your holy presence.

 

I adore you in the Blessed Sacrament of your love,

eager to receive you in the poor home that my heart offers you.

Waiting for the happiness of sacramental communion,

I want to own you in mind.

 

Come to me, O my Jesus, for life and for death.

May your love fire my whole being, for life and death.

I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. So be it."

 

 Listening to the growing demand for advice on how to join the Eucharist without being able to attend physically, the Holy Father, offers us this prayer of spiritual communion.

This is a prayer that Pope Francis says every morning.

 

 

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