Church Mouse Journal

More morsels from St Vincent's Redfern

Sunday, 26 February 2006


8th Sunday of the year: commentary

Before commencing this commentary I ask us to leave this space and journey into the hearts of the ancient spirits of this land. Although they remain invisible they are seated with us, keeping watch over our ritual. We thank all indigenous peoples for their soulful treatment of this earth and we apologize for the merciless way in which our governments have destroyed their highly practical and deeply spiritual way of life….. (pause) (pause) (pause)

Initially I did not know what to make of this week’s readings. After a first glance I sat down and scratched my head and wondered what it is I would say. But after deep reflection, the truth and power of these words, rushed, like a virgin waterfall, into my veins.

The first reading from Hosea sings of the necessity of our devotion to the lord. And I quote: “ I will betroth you to myself for ever, betroth you with integrity and justice, with tenderness and love.”

Integrity, justice, tenderness, and love.

These characteristics seem to be severely lacking in a city such as this. As we peep outside the window we are confronted with a cruel and soulless world: there are pathetic buildings, greedy corporations and apathetic governments whom only care for the select few who are able to healthily increase our gdp. As we look to the streets we see cars and roads, followed by cars and more roads. The city sky is not filled with possibility, it is layered with different types of pollution, cloaking us in sorrow and pain.

But the truth of Hosea’s words permeate this destruction.

His words cradle the core of our universal soul.

Despite the erosion of our cherished ideals we all have it within ourselves to live with integrity, to live with justice, to live with tenderness, to live with love. And if we embody such a beautiful manner then we will be one with the lord: we will exist as one with the land.

The second reading reveals that we are letters written with the spirit of the living god.

This metaphor is beautiful and real because it succinctly explains that we are all united by an invisible yet indivisible strength.

But, we might ask – what exactly is the living god???

For me, the living god exists everywhere and in everyone: it rests in the pristine waters of jervis bay, it rests in the rugged beauty of the great dividing range, it is present in the daily birth and death of the sun, it is at peace in the radiant glow of the tranquil moon.

More than all else however, I feel the living god is present in this hall, this sacred space, the church – our home. For beneath the façade of happiness that Sydney projects to the world, it is here in this parish of Redfern where our hearts are beating as part of the common soul: as part of the collective imagination.

And I stress our hearts do NOT beat in vain! They beat to a similar rhythm – a rhythm of integrity, a rhythm of justice, a rhythm of tenderness, a rhythm of love.

Mark’s gospel ties in neatly with the readings thus far. It is in this gospel that Jesus says, “the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then, on that day, they will fast.”

It is necessary for us to understand that the bridegroom Jesus speaks of is in actual fact, himself. And so today, on this first day of lent, we prepare to fast with Jesus, in preparation for his death. To the extent that we all exist as one, it is imperative that we understand – jesus’ suffering is our suffering. But I insist it does not end there.

For if we are to call ourselves real Christians, real brothers and sisters of the lord, then we must expand our minds well past the narrow limits that this society imposes upon us each and every day.

So, once it is confirmed that we share the pain of Jesus Christ, we then move in graceful concentric circles and realize that the pain of the world’s poor is our pain as well. Included here are the men who lie helpless in Matt Talbot lane; included here are the homeless men and women who make shelter under the state library night after night; included here are the aborigines on the block, the aborigines in the longrass of Darwin, the aborigines in remote communities scattered all over this country of which we are so so proud, the aborigines that we throw into our jails again and again and again.

Marks gospel calls on us to suffer with Jesus and by default we are asked to feel the pain of the world’s oppressed. It is important that we empathise with those who suffer because it is from that foundation change can and will occur.

Hope is eternal. Possibility exists in each breath.

In unassuming laneways homeless shelters are alive; on a Tuesday and Friday morning there is a place, not too far from here, where the poor get to feast better than kings; world wide, musicians bare their soul to the rhythm of freedom; whilst here, in a humble chapel, that is steeped in a proud history of social justice – we sit and we stand – giving birth to the unchangeable belief that we will work together to effect lasting social change.

Jonathan Hill

Monday, 20 February 2006


Ted Kennedy on Compass

The ABC's Compass program will screen its special on Ted's legacy, including lots of footage of the funeral, on Good Friday at 7:30pm.
Thanks to Sarah G. for the reminder.

Wednesday, 8 February 2006


Benedict XVI Brings the Neocatechumenals Back to the Right Way

The confidential document in which the pope cracks down on abuses in how the Neocatechumenal Way celebrates the Mass

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, December 27, 2005 – In his powerful pre-Christmas address to the curia, Benedict XVI dedicated a passage to the synod of bishops on the Eucharist, which was held in the Vatican last October.

The pope expressed his appreciation of the fact that “there is a reawakening in the Church of the joy of adoring the risen Lord present in the Eucharist flesh and blood, body and soul, divinity and humanity.”

He recalled that this revival of Eucharistic adoration was also displayed during World Youth Day last August in Cologne.

And he contrasted with this a tendency that arose after the council, a tendency he sees as negative:

“In the period of liturgical reform, the Mass and adoration were often seen as conflicting with one another: according to a widespread objection at the time, the Eucharistic bread was given to be eaten, not contemplated.”

This tendency has left its mark on how the liturgy is celebrated in many places. And it still finds significant proponents.

For example, in the synod of last October, the archbishop of Agana on the island of Guam, Anthony Sablam Apuron, president of the Pacific bishops’ conference, asked that the practice of receiving communion while seated be extended, because “if the Eucharist is a banquet, then this is the most appropriate posture.”

He was seconded by Zbigniew Kiernikowski, bishop of Siedlce in Poland, who said that in order to emphasize fact that the Mass is a banquet, “the bread should look like food,” and “the chalice should be extended to be drunk from.”

Both of these bishops gave as an example to be followed the way in which the Mass is celebrated among the Neocatechumenals.

* * *

And in fact, among the new movements that have arisen in the Catholic Church, the Neocatechumenal Way is the one that goes the farthest in introducing innovations to the celebration of the Mass.

In the Neocatechumenal Way, communion is taken while seated around a large square table, with a large loaf of bread that is divided among the participants and wine that is passes from hand to hand and is taken in large swallows.

But communion is not the only area in which there is a departure from the traditional liturgy. There are significant innovations in other parts of the Mass.

For example, the readings from the liturgy of the Word are commented upon by the catechists of the group, who make lengthy “admonitions” followed by “resonances” from many of those present. The priest’s homily is hardly distinguished, or not distinguished at all, from the rest of the comments.

The times and places for the Mass are also unusual.

The Neocatechumenals do not celebrate their Masses on Sunday, but on Saturday evening, in small groups and separate from the parish communities to which they belong.

Each Neocatechumenal group corresponds to a different stage of the Way, so each group of 20-30 persons has its own Mass. If there are ten groups of Neocatechumenals in a parish, there will be ten different Masses on Saturday evening, in ten separate locations.

The statutes approved by the Holy See in 2002 require that the Masses of the Neocatechumenals be “open to other members of the faithful” (article 13.3), but in fact nothing has changed. The greetings, presentations, and applause during the entrance ceremony form a natural barrier to outsiders.

* * *

Benedict XVI has written the last word on all of this.

In mid-December, the founders and directors of the Neocatechumenal Way – Spaniards Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernandez, and the Italian priest Mario Pezzi – received a two-page letter from cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, with a list of “decisions of the Holy Father” which they must obey.

The letter is reproduced down below. Of the six points detailing the pope’s directives, only one permits the Neocatechumenals to continue what they are doing. This regards placing the exchange of peace before the offertory, a traditional practice in the Christian liturgy which is still in use today, for example, in the Ambrosian Rite celebrated in the archdiocese of Milan.

All the other points require the Neocatechumenal Way to eliminate a large portion of its liturgical innovations.

Until recently, the founders and directors of the Way had shielded these practices by claiming they had received verbal authorization from John Paul II. But with Benedict XVI, playtime is over.

And it’s coming to an end for the liturgical abuses practiced throughout the Church. In this regard, pope Joseph Ratzinger’s document in conclusion of the synod of the Eucharist will be of great interest.

Cardinal Arinze’s letter was delivered to Argüello, Hernandez, and Pezzi under confidentiality. But on December 22, the Vatican affairs journalist Andrea Tornielli broke the news of it in the newspaper “il Giornale.”

Here it is, in its entirety:

"I am to inform you of the Holy Father’s decisions..."

Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum

Prot. 2520/03/L

From Vatican City, December 1, 2005

To the esteemed Mr. Kiko Argüello, Ms. Carmen Hernandez, and Rev. Father Mario Pezzi,

Following the conversations with this Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist in the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way, in keeping with the guidelines issued in the meeting with you on November 11 of this year, I am to inform you of the Holy Father’s decisions.

In the celebration of the Holy Mass, the Neocatechumenal Way shall accept and follow the liturgical books approved by the Church, without omitting or adding anything. Furthermore, in regard to some elements the guidelines and clarifications are emphasized as follows:

1. Sunday is the “Dies Domini” as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II wished to illustrate in the Apostolic Letter on the Lord’s Day. Therefore the Neocatechumenal Way must enter into dialogue with the diocesan bishop in order to make it clear that the community of the Neocatechumenal Way is incorporated into the parish even in the context of the liturgical celebrations. At least one Sunday per month, the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way must participate in the Holy Mass of the parish community.

2. As for any admonitions issued before the readings, these must be brief. Adherence must also be shown to what is set out in the “Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani” (nn. 105 and 128) and to the Praenotanda of the “Ordo Lectionum Missae” (nn. 15, 19, 38, 42).

3. The homily, because of its nature and importance, is reserved to the priest or deacon (cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 767 § 1). As for the occasional contribution of testimonies on the part of the lay faithful, the proper places and methods for these are indicated in the Interdicasterial Instruction “Ecclesiae de Mysterio,” which was approved “in specific form” by Pope John Paul II and published on August 15, 1997. In this document, sections 2 and 3 of article 3 read as follows:

§2 - “It is permitted to have a brief instruction that helps explain better the liturgy that is being celebrated, and even, in exceptional circumstances, a few testimonies, as long as these conform to the liturgical norms, are offered on the occasion of Eucharistic liturgies celebrated on particular days (for seminarians, the sick, etc.), and are thought truly helpful as an illustration of the regular homily delivered by the celebrating priest. These instructions and testimonies must not assume characteristics that might cause them to be confused with the homily.”

§3 - “The possibility of ‘dialogue’ during the homily (cf. Directorium de Missis cum Pueris, no. 48) can be used occasionally and with prudence by the celebrating minister as a means of exposition, which does not transfer to others the duty of preaching.”

Careful attention must also be paid to the Instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” no. 74.

4. On the exchange of peace, permission is granted to the Neocatechumenal Way to continue using the indult already granted, pending further instructions.

5. On the manner of receiving Holy Communion, a period of transition (not exceeding two years) is granted to the Neocatechumenal Way to pass from the widespread manner of receiving Holy Communion in its communities (seated, with a cloth-covered table placed at the center of the church instead of the dedicated altar in the sanctuary) to the normal way in which the entire Church receives Holy Communion. This means that the Neocatechumenal Way must begin to adopt the manner of distributing the Body and Blood of Christ that is provided in the liturgical books.

6. The Neocatechumenal Way must also make use of the other Eucharistic Prayers contained in the missal, and not only Eucharistic Prayer II.

In short, the Neocatechumenal Way, in its celebration of the Holy Mass, should follow the approved liturgical books, keeping in mind what is laid out above under the numbers 1,2,3,4,5, and 6.

Acknowledging the favors that the Lord has bestowed upon the Church through the many activities of the Neocatechumenal Way, I take this occasion to extend to you my best regards.

+ Francis Card. Arinze


Mr. ARGÜELLO Kiko, Ms. HERNANDEZ Carmen, Rev. Fr. PEZZI Mario
Via dei Gonzaga, 205


The complete text of Benedict XVI’s December 22, 2005 address to the Roman curia, in an English version edited by “Asia News”:
“Dear cardinals, venerable brothers in the episcopate...”


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