Friday, 6 November 2015

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Mersey Leven Catholic Parish

Parish Priest:  Fr Mike Delaney
Mob: 0417 279 437;
Assistant Priest:  Fr Alexander Obiorah
Mob: 0447 478 297;
Postal Address: PO Box 362, Devonport 7310
Parish Office:
90 Stewart Street, Devonport 7310
(Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10am - 3pm)
Office Phone: 6424 2783 Fax: 6423 5160
Secretary: Annie Davies / Anne Fisher
Pastoral Council Chair:  Mary Davies
Mersey Leven Catholic Parish Weekly Newsletter:
Parish Mass Times:
Weekly Homily Podcast:    
Parish Magazine:

Our Parish Sacramental Life
Baptism: Parents are asked to contact the Parish Office to make arrangements for attending a Baptismal Preparation Session and booking a Baptism date.
Reconciliation, Confirmation and Eucharist: Are received following a Family–centred, Parish-based, School-supported Preparation Program.
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults: prepares adults for reception into the Catholic community.
Marriage: arrangements are made by contacting one of our priests - couples attend a Pre-marriage Program
Anointing of the Sick: please contact one of our priests
Reconciliation:  Ulverstone - Fridays (10am - 10:30am)
                        Devonport - Saturday (5:15pm– 5.45pm)
                        Penguin    - Saturday (5:15pm - 5:45pm)
Care and Concern: If you are aware of anyone who is in need of assistance and has given permission to be contacted by Care and Concern, please phone the Parish Office.

Weekday Masses 10th – 13th November, 2015
No weekday Masses due to Priests on Retreat
Next Weekend 14th & 15th November, 2015
Saturday Vigil:  6:00pm  Penguin
Sunday Mass:   8:30am   Port Sorell                                                                                                       9:00am Ulverstone
                      10:30am Devonport
                      11:00am Sheffield   
                        5:00pm Latrobe  

Eucharistic Adoration:
Devonport:  Every Friday 10am - 12noon, concluding with Stations of the Cross and Angelus
Devonport:  Benediction with Adoration - first Friday of each month.

Prayer Groups:
Charismatic Renewal – Devonport Emmaus House Thursdays commencing 7.30pm
Christian Meditation - Devonport, Emmaus House Wednesdays 7pm.

30 minutes of silent prayer could change the rest of your week!  There is opportunity for this each Wednesday evening at 7pm at 88 Stewart Street, Devonport.  Why not come along and meditate with a small group of people and see what happens? For further information see or talk with Sr Carmel

Ministry Rosters 14th & 15th November, 2015

Readers Vigil: M Kelly, B Paul, R Baker 10:30am:  A Hughes, 
T Barrientos, P Piccolo
Ministers of Communion - Vigil: T Muir, M Davies, M Gerrand, 
T Bird, S Innes
10:30am: R Beaton, B & N Mulcahy, L Hollister
Cleaners 13th November:  B Bailey, A Harrison, M Greenhill 
20th November:   K.S.C.
Piety Shop 14th November:  R Baker 15th November:  K Hull   Flowers: A O’Connor

Reader: S Willoughby Ministers of Communion: M Byrne, D Griffin, K Foster, R Locket
Cleaners: M McKenzie, M Singh, N Pearce   Flowers: M Byrne Hospitality: T Good Team

Greeters: G Hills-Eade, B Eade   Commentator:  Y Downes    Readers: J Barker
Procession: M & D Hiscutt   Ministers of Communion: S Ewing, J Garnsey
Liturgy: Sulphur Creek J   Setting Up: S Ewing Care of Church: M Bowles, M Owen

Reader: H Lim   Ministers of Communion:  P Marlow, M Mackey   Procession: Parishioners   Music: Jenny


Readings This Week: 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: 1 Kings 17:10-16 
Second Reading: Hebrews 9:24-28 
Gospel: Mark 12:38-44


I take time to become still and read the gospel slowly. I might like to divide this prayer into two sections. 
First I read carefully what Jesus has to say about people who need to be noticed and admired. (The religious people of the day were meant to look after widows and orphans because they had nobody else to fight their cause.) 
What tone of voice do I hear from Jesus? 
What desire do I sense in him? 
I wonder what Jesus would criticise today. Are there any slight modifications I need to make in my own behaviour?

For the second part I might like to imagine the scene. 
What expression do I see on faces? 
Where do I put myself? 
How this being enacted today is and what part am I playing? 

Maybe I take time to speak to Jesus about what touched him. I might want to speak to him about desperate women, men and children today sacrificing their savings and trusting in the goodness of others, or….. I slowly end my prayer with an Our Father.

Readings Next Week: 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Daniel 12:1-3 
Second Reading: Hebrews 10:11-14, 18 
Gospel: Mark 13: 24-32


Your prayers are asked for the sick:
Terry Reid, Betty Broadbent, Archer Singleton, Geraldine Roden, Joy Carter, Debbie Morris, Harry Cartwright, Guy D’Hondt & …

Let us pray for those who have died recently:
Anne Shelverton, Pat Harris, Greg McNamara, Robert Grantham, 
Ena Robinson, Esma Mibus, Shirley Stafford, Vicki Glashower, Audrey Taylor, Peter Hays, John Stanford and Dr John Walker.

Let us pray for those whose anniversary occurs about this time: 4th – 10th November
Win Casey, Kevin Tolson, Annie Hood, Dean Turnbull, Jessie Hope, Bill Stuart and Shirley Winkler.
May they rest in Peace


Behind all my reading, and speaking about what I’ve been reading and listening to, is a profound concern for our Parish. Someone commented earlier in the year wondering if I was unhappy being here because all I seemed to be talking about was that we needed to change. As I mentioned then, and I repeat today, we are all getting older and it doesn’t appear that there are too many young families wanting to be part of our Parish Community.

How we effect any changes so that we are seen as a community that is welcoming, inviting and family friendly as well as being strongly Catholic in our teaching and preaching demands that we open our minds to bigger ideas, and to do that we need to read and talk about what we have and what we might need to do to move forward. Later tonight (Thursday as I’m writing this) I will be watching a live stream from the Church of the Nativity as they host a seminar on how to build a new a better parish.

Although they start from a different model (they have only one centre) I’m certain that there are ideas which can be translated for our needs. One aspect that all my reading has highlighted is the absolute need for faith formation and the best means that this is being achieved in both Catholic and Protestant Churches throughout the world is through some form of small group interaction. Another highlight is their commitment to making people feel welcome and wanted when they arrive and during their time with the community.

Great changes start with small steps. The Mass for Children and Families this weekend is one step. The open houses over the past two years are another. Events at MacKillop Hill, the Charismatic Masses at Penguin, Parish Feast Day celebrations, the Single Mass Sunday’s – these are all important small steps – but they need all of us to see that they are part of a bigger picture and assist us by making an effort to see them as invitation and not as inconvenience.

So please take care on the roads and in your homes.

MacKillop Hill Spirituality Centre:

Phone: 6428:3095      Email:

Presented by Belinda & Richard Chapman
Thursday 12th November 7.30pm – 9pm. Cost by donation.

Exploring the 2015 Social Justice Statement and discerning its challenges for each of us in regards refugees and asylum seekers.

Friday 13th November  4.oopm – 8.oopm
Enjoy an evening out at St Patrick’s school fair.  There’s something for everyone: stalls, rides, face painting, activities, white elephant, plants, produce, cakes etc.  Come for dinner with lots to choose from: BBQ, Digna’s food van, Anvers’ hot chocolates plus lots more.  Free entry.

CWL ULVERSTONE: Meeting Friday 13th November, Community Room Ulverstone at 2pm.

CWL Christmas luncheon will be held at the Lighthouse Hotel Ulverstone on Friday 11th December, 12noon for 12:30pm. Cost $25. All parishioners are very welcome to join us! RSVP 30th November to Marie Byrne on 6425:5774

Catholic Charismatic Renewal, are sponsoring a HEALING MASS at St Mary’s Church Penguin Thursday 19th November at 7.30pm. All denominations are welcome to come and celebrate the liturgy in a vibrant and dynamic way using charismatic praise and worship, with the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and healing. After Mass, teams will be available for individual prayer. Please bring a friend and a plate for supper and fellowship in the adjacent hall. If you wish to know more or require local transport, please contact Celestine Whiteley  6424:2043, Michael Gaffney 0447 018 068,  Zoe Smith 6426:3073, Tom Knaap 6425:2442.

I wish to thank Fr Mike, Fr Alex & parishioners for their prayers and visits during my stay in hospital, which was a great support for Neville and myself.  I am currently at home and look forward to seeing my friends. Thank you one and all.  Kath Smith

OUR LADY OF MERCY DELORAINE REUNION:  Thursday 19th November all former scholars are invited to join together for lunch,12 noon at Sullivan’s Restaurant, 17 West Parade, Deloraine.  Please phone Sullivan’s to book 0363623264

Thursday Nights OLOL Hall D’port. Eyes down 7.30pm.
Callers 12th November Tony Ryan & Bruce Peters


On November 18 the Church celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the publication of the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, entitled Dei Verbum. This was a significant milestone in the Church’s understanding of how God reveals himself to humankind throughout salvation history. It opened the way for Catholics to better understand Scripture and Tradition, and encourages them to be immersed in the Bible. To mark this anniversary, the Archdiocese’s Verbum Domini Biblical & Catechetical Institute will offer a seminar on Dei Verbum and the Word of God. Speakers will be Archbishop Julian Porteous and Dr Christine Wood at St Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart, on 18th November, 7-9 pm. All welcome!

To mark the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II’s Dei Verbum, the St John Centre for Biblical Studies will offer an 8-hour intensive course on “The Gospel through the Eyes of St Mark” on Saturday and Sunday 21-22 November, 10am-2.30pm, in the Murphy Room, Diocesan Centre, 35 Tower Road, New Town. Cost: $60/person. Bring your lunch and Bible. Registration: Dr. Christine Wood, 6208-6236 or, or information A great opportunity to immerse yourself in Scripture from the Catholic perspective outlined in Dei Verbum! All welcome.

CYM have launched our facebook page so that you can follow along and support the Tasmanian Pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2016. Please ‘like’ our page to show your support and share in this journey with our young Tasmanians from the beginning. We need the support of all our parishioners and friends. Visit:
If you are 16-35 and interested in joining the WYD16 Pilgrimage please contact Rachelle Smith: or 0400 045 368


STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS FUNDRAISER:   Come and see the highly anticipated release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens on Opening Night: Thursday 17th December at 6.00pm. Catholic Youth Ministry are holding a special viewing of this film at Village Cinemas as a World Youth Day fundraiser. Get all your friends and family together for one brilliant evening! Come dressed for the occasion and be in the running for the best-dressed competition, as well as other give-aways before the film begins. Tickets are $30 pp and include: movie ticket, small popcorn and a 600ml drink (as well as chances for give-aways!). This event is being held at Village Cinemas Eastlands and Village Cinemas Launceston. We appreciate early bookings! Book your ticket online now at: or by contacting Rachelle Smith on 0400 045 368


FILIPINO MASS: - On Saturday 21 November 2015 the Bridgewater/Brighton Parish will holding another Filipino Mass at St Paul’s Church commencing at 3.00 pm. All the community (not just the Filipino Community) is warming invited, and Fr Leo would also like to thank the almost the 200 people who attended the previous Mass in October of this year.


A MESSAGE FROM RACHEL’S VINEYARD - “He heals the broken hearted…” – Psalm 147:3
If your heart is broken after abortion, wholeness and healing are available. Attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat for healing after abortion. Contact Anne Sherston on the confidential phone line 03 62298739 or 0478599241


Healing Our Violence

A collation of emails from Fr Richard Rohr. You can subscribe to this email series here

Catching Violence at the Beginning 

Another significant theme in my wisdom lineage is the teaching of nonviolence. This week I'll explore the contemplative foundation of nonviolence, and next week I'll briefly introduce several of the peace-makers who have had the greatest impact on me.

The root of violence is the illusion of separation--from God, from Being itself, from being one with everyone and everything. When you don't know how to consciously live out of your union with Love, you resort to violence, fighting people who are not like you. Contemplative practice teaches you to not make so much of the differences, but to return to who you are beyond your nationality, skin color, gender, or other labels. It brings you back to your True Self, who you are in God.

When you can become little enough, naked enough, and honest enough, then you will ironically find that you are more than enough. This is the wisdom of the Gospel, and it is surely the Franciscan emphasis. At this place of poverty and freedom you have nothing to prove and nothing to protect. Here you can connect with everything and everyone. Everything belongs. This cuts violence at its very roots before there is even a basis for fear, anger, protection, vengeance, or self-promotion--the things that often cause violence.

One of the reasons I founded the Center for Action and Contemplation twenty-eight years ago was to give activists some grounding in spirituality so they could continue working for social change, but from a stance much different than anger, ideology, or willpower pressing against opposing willpower. Many activists I knew loved Gandhi's and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s teachings on nonviolence. But it became clear to me that theirs was often an intellectual appreciation rather than a participation in the much deeper mystery. I saw people on the left playing the victim and creating victims--exactly what Jesus did not do. It was much more subtle than the same game on the right, but it still proceeded from an unkind and self-righteous heart.

To create peaceful change, we first have to get the "Who" right. Who are you? Most of us, particularly pragmatic Americans, lead with strategic questions--what, how, when. These are secondary questions. Before we act or react, we need to wait--wait for communion, wait until we're reconnected to the Ground of Being, wait until we're conscious, wait until a "yes" appears.

Don't operate out of the unconscious, don't begin with a "no," which is the constricted and self-promoting you. When you begin by connecting with your inner experience of communion, your actions can be pure, clear, and firm. This kind of action, rooted in one's True Self, comes from a deeper knowing of what is real, good, true, and beautiful, beyond labels and dualistic judgments of right or wrong. From this place, your energy is positive and has the most potential to create change for the good. This permanent stance is precisely what we mean by "being in prayer" and why we must pray always to maintain it.

I'm not telling you not to act. The Gospel wants to offer you a way to make your action sustainable and lasting over the long haul. People on the right tend to be perpetually angry and overly defended, and people on the left tend to be perpetually cynical and outraged. The Gospel is trying to call forth a refined instrument that can really make a difference because it is a new level of consciousness altogether. The activists who are themselves "a new creation" (Galatians 6:15b) are the lightning rods of God's transformative energy into the world. Picture Pope Francis in his series of talks given to Congress, the UN, the clergy, and the crowds in his September visit to the U.S. He literally worked miracles!

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Healing Our Violence Through the Journey of Centering Prayer (Franciscan Media: 2002), discs 1 and 2, CD.

Letting Go of the Pain-Body  

I do not think that violence and negativity are natural to us. I believe you are made for love, that your natural abiding place is love, and that you in fact are love. Your absolute foundation is communion with God and others. This is the "deepest me" to which you must return before you act. From this foundation, you know you must act and you will act, but now from a place of positive, loving energy. You must start from a deep place of "yes."

The first step to moving beyond our temptation to negativity, which is really a death wish, is to recognize it is there. Julian of Norwich called this inner constriction "contrariness"; Freud called it the ego; Paul called it the "flesh" or the old Adam; Merton called it the false self. They were all describing this petty thing that tries to define itself not by what it is for, but by what it is against. Before conversion, we are all like this--we don't know who we are or what we are for. This small self cannot radically connect with Being because it's always defining itself in terms of comparing, competing, analyzing, critiquing, judging, labeling, and positioning, which are all basically "mind games." They are "no" instead of "yes."

The next time you are offended, consider it a "teachable moment" and ask yourself what part of you is actually upset. It's normally your false self. If you can move back to the big picture of who you are in God, your True Self, you'll find what upset you usually doesn't amount to a hill of beans! But you can waste a whole day (or longer) feeding that hurt until it eventually seems to have a life of its own and, in fact, "possesses" you. At that point, it becomes what Eckhart Tolle rightly calls your "pain-body." We all have one. The pain body is probably what Christians meant by "original sin." The only problem is your degree of identification with it.

Tolle defines this "accumulated pain" as "a negative energy field that occupies your body and mind." In your mind, it makes you judgmental and negative. In your body, it makes you fearful and angry. You can observe this energy in yourself as a knee-jerk, self-protective reaction to everything around you. I emphasize the word reaction here because there's no clear, conscious decision to think or act in this way. Tolle says, "If you look on [the pain body] as an invisible entity in its own right, you are getting quite close to the truth." Tolle never uses the word "demon," but perhaps his term "emotional pain-body" is a good description of what Scripture often means by a demon. Tolle says, "The pain-body wants to survive, just like every other entity in existence, and it can only survive if it gets you to unconsciously identify with it," [1] which is what most people do. Then you are indeed "possessed"! In healing work and in meditation, you learn to stop identifying with the pain and instead calmly relate to it in a compassionate way. Some call this "taming your dragon." Ironically, your demon now becomes a friend and educator.

For example, in centering prayer, you observe the hurt as it arises in your stream of consciousness, but you don't jump on this boat and give it energy. Instead, you name it ("resentment toward my spouse"), then you let go of it, leave it on the boat, and let it float down the river. You say, "That's not me. I don't need that today. I have no need to feed this resentment. I know who I am without it." This is the beginning of emotional sobriety. [2] Many are converted to Christ, but without this emotional conversion their behavioral reactions remain much like everyone else's. Thus the importance of contemplative prayer.

If you've been eating that resentment toward your spouse as a regular meal, the boat's going to come back around in the next minute because it's accustomed to you filling your plate with such fast, cheap food. When you still don't give it any energy, it'll probably try a third time, too. Devils are persistent! "You've always identified with me before," it says. But then you must know, "Who was I before I resented my spouse? And even before that?" This is the primary way you learn to live in your True Self, where you are led by a foundational "yes," not by the petty push backs of "no."

[1] Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (New World Library: 1999), 29-30.
[2] For more on this, see Richard Rohr, "Emotional Sobriety" (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2011), CD, DVD, and MP3 download.
Adapted from Healing Our Violence Through the Journey of Centering Prayer (Franciscan Media: 2002), disc 3, CD.

Dom Helder Camara   

When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.  --Dom Helder Camara

One of my nonviolent heroes, Dom Helder Camara (1909-1999), a truly saintly man, visited the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque just as the U.S. began bombing Iraq in 1991. Avis Crowe, an employee at that time, reflects on our encounter with him:

Dom Helder was described as being heartsick, and in fact had to see a doctor for physical distress resulting from the outbreak of war. The questions and concerns expressed by individuals [present that night] were fairly predictable and seemed to carry a plea for solutions that would alleviate our worry, anger and despair over seemingly insolvable global problems. For each of these, Camara essentially had one response, stated and restated: We need to use the intelligence God has given each of us to see one another as brothers and sisters. We must take the time to understand other people and not let the barriers of race and language prevent us from seeing each other as members of the same family. God embraces all human beings. The heart of faith is the call to love one another. 

Toward the end of the evening, the Archbishop said, "If you will live your religion, you will become different." He gave a gleeful little laugh, as though that idea thoroughly delighted him. He went on to challenge each of us. Remarking that we were on a countdown to the beginning of the third millennium, he suggested we use these next nine years to live as we say we believe, acknowledging God everywhere, living from that place within each of us where God dwells. It was a call to be courageous and faithful. To be who we are meant to be. [1]

Dom Helder Camara was a Brazilian archbishop from 1964-1985. Under his guidance, the Catholic Church in Brazil criticized the country's military dictatorships and worked for social change. Camara spoke and wrote against using violence to repress rebellions that resulted from injustice and poverty in other countries as well. In 1971, he published Spiral of Violence, which shows how basic structural injustice leads to escalating rebellion, which then leads to new repression. If you don't nip this spiral in the bud, recognizing violence at its lowest structural level, it is much harder to stop it at the later stages. [2]

As evidence of his commitment to justice and to the poor, near the end of the Second Vatican Council, Camara led a group of forty bishops who celebrated Mass in the Catacombs of Domitilla outside of Rome. (The catacombs are where the early church would meet in secrecy before Christianity became the religion of the Empire under Constantine.) The bishops all signed the Pact of the Catacombs, which challenged their brother bishops to live in humble poverty, to serve the poor, and to be open to all, no matter their beliefs. Camara is the one who suggested bishops stop wearing fancy and expensive rings, and the practice largely changed at that time.

Dom Helder is a saintly example of not wasting time fighting something directly, or you will become just like it. The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. Just go ahead and live positively; go to the side and do it differently. Don't waste time with oppositional energy. In the short run, you will have to hold unresolvable tensions, symbolized by the crossbeams on which Jesus was crucified. In the long run, you will usher in something entirely new and healing. [3] This is "third force" wisdom. Even though Jesus exemplified this third force, his followers have been very slow learners.

[1] Avis Crowe, Radical Grace, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 1991), 6.
[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Spiral of Violence (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2005), CD, MP3 download.
[3] Adapted from Richard Rohr with John Feister, Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety (Franciscan Media: 2001), 15.

The World, the Flesh, and the Devil: The Spiral of Violence    

I have used Dom Helder Camara's inspired teaching on the "spiral of violence" for many years, overlaying that phrase with traditional Catholic moral teaching, which states that the sources of evil are the world, the flesh, and the devil--in that order. This model simply illustrates the three sources of evil and thus violence: the world (at the bottom of the spiral), the flesh (in the middle), and the devil (at the top). If evil and institutionalized violence go unrecognized at the first level, the second and third are inevitable.

By "world," I am not referring to Creation, but to "the System." It's the way groups, cultures, institutions, and nations organize themselves to be in control. This may be the most hidden, the most disguised, and the most denied level of evil. We cannot see it because we are inside of it and because we cannot see beyond our own self-interest and self-protection. For example, I have been a Catholic all my life and I have yet to hear a sermon on the tenth commandment: "Do not covet your neighbor's goods." We live in an entire world of manufactured desire or covetousness. It is a virtue to seek to increase your goods. So it's almost impossible for an American to see capitalism or consumerism as a problem or a moral issue, because that is the way our world is shaped. It is in our hard wiring. It's difficult to critique the ground you are standing on.

Thankfully, Pope John Paul II introduced to Catholic theology terms like "structural evil," "institutionalized sin," and "corporate evil." We actually were not free to think this way until the 1960s, which produced hippies, worldwide upheavals, and the Second Vatican Council. Still, only rare prophets like Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton dare to critique systems, groups, and institutions themselves. No surprise that Pope Francis quoted both of these American prophets in his address to the U.S. Congress in September.

Organized religion has put most of its concern at the middle level of the spiral--the flesh. The flesh is not primarily what we think of as sexual sin. Rather, it is individual sin, personal mistakes that you and I make. No one is denying that this is a level of evil and sin, and often the most apparent one. But when we only point our finger at the second level of the spiral, blaming individuals and punishing people, we are largely wasting our time. It doesn't work because we haven't first recognized that culturally we actually admire this vice. Pick any of the capital sins: greed, ambition, excess, vanity, pride, deception, lust. All are on broad public display, and these "sinners" are in fact the cool people. But then individuals are supposed to confess these as private sins, not that they do anymore.

Up to now, there has been little recognition of the deep connection between culture and corporations--which are accepted because they give us our security and identity and wealth--and the personal evil things that individuals do. We are wasting time trying to make people feel guilty about being greedy when, in fact, legitimated greed is the name of the game. We can't reward and promote it at one level and then shame it at the next level. We can't romanticize war, but then rail against the violence in our streets. It will not work. If guns are good in Iraq then guns are good in Idaho.

Cardinal Bernardin (1928-1996), who was like a father figure to me when I lived in Cincinnati, dared to call for a consistent ethic of life or "a seamless garment" morality. He said the Church must be honest and start defending life in all its stages "from womb to tomb." We must stand against abortion, the destruction of the earth, the evil of war, the death penalty, euthanasia, and all policies that impoverish people. All of these are anti-life. Pope Francis just repeated this lesson almost word for word. We can't call ourselves authentically pro-life unless we stand against all of these levels of death. Very few people are consistent here.

At the top of the spiral of violence sits "the devil." The word "devil," like "demon," is a personification of a power that is hard to name or describe because it's so disguised and even idealized as good and necessary. If "the world" is hidden structural violence, then "the devil" is sanctified and legitimated violence--violence that is deemed necessary to control the angry flesh and the world run amuck. The diabolical is by definition "too big to fail" and above criticism, which is precisely what gives anything its demonic power. It is a third level of "necessary good" to control all the disorder and violence at the first and second levels. It is sacralized and above criticism. This might take the form of "the military industrial complex," as President Eisenhower called it after he left office, the legal system, the penal system, unjust tax codes and voting rights, the highly self-rewarding medical and banking systems, corporations over people, the idolatry of fame, celebrities, and athletes, and even organized religion itself.

Note the first demon in Mark's Gospel is found in the synagogue (1:23). The only way the devil can get away with being the devil is that he must "disguise himself as an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:15). Devils always look like "necessary evil" or the lesser of two evils, and thus they are "too big to fail" and too important to expose. We need and admire them all too much. So, as we say, they "get away with murder."

If we do not recognize the roots of violence at the disguised structural level, we are largely wasting our time simply focusing on merely individual sin ("the flesh"), and we have almost no chance of recognizing our real devils, who are always disguised as angels of light (Lucifer means "Light Bearer"). The spiral of violence is complete, and much of history has been trapped inside of it, thinking that evil could be eliminated merely by shaming and punishing individuals, who were often just doing what they learned from the system and from the devil.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Spiral of Violence (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2005), CD, MP3 download.

The Warrior Archetype

The warrior is a timeless, primal archetype at the core of both individuals and groups. Men especially are attracted to warrior energy. All the hunters, defenders, athletes, guards, knights, and samurais are, in fact, telling us there's something valuable about focus, determination, and courage for the common good. In the developed world, warrior energy is, thank God, often sublimated into activities of business and sports. But even here, a clear goal toward a larger good, beyond self, and for purposes greater than prestige and power is usually absent. The true warrior has largely morphed into the celebrity, which hardly makes it warrior energy any more.

The perennial weakness of warrior energy, according to Robert Moore, is that it lacks breadth and depth. Focus and determination are good, but that's not everything. The secret of a good warrior is that one must be in tutelage to a good and wise leader. The warrior without a good "king" or "queen" has no wisdom, no temperance, no balance, no final goals beyond tracking, fighting, and killing the enemy.

The warrior archetype is not going away any time soon, nor should it. Our job is to educate and redefine the warrior in the way that Moses, David, Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Dorothy Day lived out their passion. Warrior energy is not in its essence wrong. It takes warrior energy to see through and stand against mass illusions of our time, and be willing to pay the price of disobedience. It takes warrior energy to see through the soft rhetoric of "support our troops" which cleverly diverts from the objective evil of war. It takes warrior energy to walk to a different drum, disbelieve the patriotic trivia, and re-believe in the tradition of nonviolence, civil resistance, and martyrdom--the way of the cross.

The warrior in all of us is desperately searching for something heroic, transcendent, or self-sacrificing. Mark Kurlansky suggests how nonviolence might help us recover true warrior energy: "Pacifism is passive; but nonviolence is active. Pacifism is harmless and therefore easier to accept than nonviolence, which is dangerous. When Jesus said that a victim should turn the other cheek, he was preaching pacifism. But when he said that an enemy should be won over through the power of love, he was preaching nonviolence." [1]

Nonviolence requires courageous love. Thomas Merton writes that "non-violence implies a kind of bravery far different from violence. In the use of force, one simplifies the situation by assuming that the evil to be overcome is clear-cut, definite, and irreversible. Hence there remains but one thing: to eliminate it. Any dialogue with the sinner, any question of the irreversibility of his act, only means faltering and failure. Failure to eliminate evil is itself a defeat. Anything that even remotely risks such defeat is in itself capitulation to evil. The irreversibility of evil then reaches out to contaminate even the tolerant thought of the hesitant crusader who, momentarily, doubts the total evil of the enemy he is about to eliminate." [2] Nonviolence, on the other hand, comes from an awareness that I am the enemy and the enemy is me. I cannot destroy the other without destroying myself. I must embrace my enemy just as I welcome my own shadow.

My father Francis of Assisi said, "I am the Herald of the Great King." Francis never stopped being a warrior-knight. He just found a greater king. His image of self and victory changed. His goals grew broader, his heart deeper. He was still ready to spill blood for the cause, but now it led him to a personal visit to the Sultan in Egypt in the very midst of the bloody Christian Crusades. He was prepared to offer his male milk, his blood, not for the violent death of an enemy but for the nonviolent victory of love.

Warrior energy needs to be wholly dedicated and given somewhere or to something. It must be focused and released for the warrior to know that she or he is alive and has character. Our work is to find worthy causes and goals to receive worthy warrior energy.

[1] Mark Kurlansky, Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Modern Library: 2008), 6.
[2] Gandhi, edited by Thomas Merton, On Nonviolence (New Directions: 2007), 21.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Radical Grace, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 1991), 12.

A Nonviolent Reformation

Jesus lived a nonviolent life, taught it, and died it, yet the tradition that proceeded from his teaching didn't even understand the concept enough to have a word for it. Mark Kurlansky writes that "The concept has been praised by every major religion. Throughout history there have been practitioners of nonviolence. Yet, while every major language has a word for violence, there is no word to express the idea of nonviolence except that it is not another idea, it is not violence. In Sanskrit, the word for violence is himsa, harm, and the negation of himsa, just as nonviolence is the negation of violence, is ahimsa--not doing harm." [1] The word nonviolence didn't even exist in the English or German languages until the early 1900s, I am told.

Gandhi coined a new term, satyagraha, because "passive resistance" didn't truly express what he was doing. Satyagraha combines the Sanskrit word sat--that which is, being, or truth--with graha--holding firm to or remaining steadfast in. It is often translated as "truth force" or "soul force." Jonathan Schell describes satyagraha as "direct action without violence in support of the actor's beliefs--the 'truth' in the person. The philosophy of satyagraha prescribes nonviolent action in which the actors refuse to cooperate with laws that they regard as unjust or otherwise offensive to their consciences, accompanied by a willingness to suffer the consequences." [2]

Now consciousness and awareness have evolved so that we can talk about such things. Restorative justice has only become a common phrase in the last thirty years. Previously when people heard the word justice, it almost always implied merely retributive justice. Yet the prophets and Jesus clearly practiced restorative justice. Jesus never punished anybody!

The toothpaste is out of the tube. There are now enough people who know the big picture of Jesus' thrilling and alluring vision of God that this Great Turning cannot be stopped. There are enough people going on solid inner journeys that it is not merely ideological or theoretical any more. For the first time, on a broad basis, future reformations can come from the inside out and from the bottom up, in a positive, nonviolent way. Only now is human consciousness evolved enough to think and act this way. Before it was quite rare, even among many otherwise saints.

The big questions are more and more being answered at a peaceful and dialogical level, with no need to directly oppose, punish, or reject other people. I sense the urgency of the Holy Spirit, with seven billion humans now on the planet at the same time. Our future is either nonviolent or there is no future.

It seems to me that true progress, or the Gospel hope that we have, is not naively optimistic, nor is it a straight line without regressions. It is signed with the cross, as we Christians would say. Knowing this ahead of time will keep you on the path forward without despair or cynicism--which otherwise will almost surely take over.

[1] Mark Kurlansky, Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Modern Library: 2008), 5.
[2] Jonathan Schell, The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People (Henry Holt: 2003), 119.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer (Paulist Press: 2014), 101-103.



An article by Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI. The original can be found here

At any given time, most of the world believes that death isn’t final, that some form of immortality exists. Most people believe that those who have died still exist in some state, in some modality, in some place, in some heaven or hell, however that might be conceived. In some conceptions, immortality is seen as a state wherein a person is still conscious and relational; while in other concepts, existence after death is understood as real but impersonal, like a drop of water that has flowed back into the oceans.

As Christians, this is our belief: We believe that the dead are still alive, still themselves and, very importantly, still in a living, conscious, and loving relationship with us and with each other. That’s our common concept of heaven and, however simplistic its popular expression at times, it is wonderfully correct. That’s exactly what Christian faith and Christian dogma, not to mention deep intuitive experience, invite us to. After death we live on, conscious, self-conscious, in communication with others who have died before us, in communion with those we left behind on earth, and in communion with the divine itself. That’s the Christian doctrine of the Communion of Saints.

But how is this to be understood?  Not least, how do we connect to our loved ones after they have died? Two interpenetrating biblical images can help serve as an entry-point for our understanding of this. Both come from the Gospels.

The Gospels say that at the instant of Jesus’ death, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. (Matthew 27, 50-52) The Gospels then go on to tell us that on the morning of the Resurrection several women came to Jesus’ grave to anoint his dead body with embalming spices, but rather than finding his dead body, they meet instead an empty grave and two angels who challenge them with words to this effect: Why are you looking for a live person in a cemetery? He isn’t here. He’s alive and you can find him in Galilee. (Luke 24, 5) What’s contained in these images?

As Christians, we believe that we are given eternal life through Jesus’ death.  Among other images, the Gospels express that in this metaphor: Jesus death, they tell us, “opened the tombs” and emptied graveyards. For this reason, Christians have never had a huge cult around cemeteries. As Christians, we don’t do much in the way of spiritual practices around our cemeteries. Why? Because we believe all those graves are empty. Our loved ones aren’t there and aren’t to be found there. They’re with Jesus, in “Galilee”.

What’s “Galilee”, in terms of a biblical image?  In the Gospels, Galilee is more than a place on a map; it’s also a place inside the Spirit, God’s Spirit and our own. In the Gospels, Galilee is the place where, for the most part, the good things happen. It’s the place where the disciples first meet Jesus, where they fall in love with him, where they commit themselves to him, and where miracles happen. Galilee is the place where Jesus invites us to walk on water. Galilee is the place where the disciples’ souls enlarge and thrive.

And that is also a place for each of our deceased loved ones. In each of their lives, there was a Galilee, a place where their persons and souls were most alive, where their lives radiated the energy and exuberance of the divine. When we look at the life of a loved one who has died we need to ask: Where was she most alive? What qualities did she, most-uniquely, embody and bring into a room? Where did she lift my spirit and make me want to be a better person?

Name those things, and you will have named your loved one’s Galilee – and you will also have named the Galilee of the Gospels, namely, that place in the heart where Jesus invites you to meet him. And that is too where you will meet your loved ones in the communion of saints. Don’t look for a live person in a cemetery. She’s not there. She’s in Galilee. Meet her there.

Elizabeth Johnson, leaning on Karl Rahner, adds this thought: “Hoping against hope, we affirm that they [our loved ones who have died] have fallen not into nothingness but into the embrace of the living God. And that is where we can find them again; when we open our hearts to the silent calmness of God’s own life in which we dwell, not by selfishly calling them back to where we are, but by descending into the depth of our own hearts where God also abides.”

And the “Galilee” of our loved ones can also be found inside our own “Galilee”.  There’s a deep place inside the heart, inside faith, hope, and charity, were everyone, living or deceased, is met.



Taken from the Blog by Fr Michael White, Church of the Nativity, Baltimore USA. The original blog can be found here

Growth is a sign of life. Of course, weeds also grow, so it’s important that your church cultivates healthy growth. Whether your congregation is large or small, affluent or financially challenged, old or new, we all want our churches to be places where the Gospel can grow. As one writer puts it, the vision is not to generate “megachurches,” but “mighty churches.” Healthy churches, mighty churches are about discipleship and evangelization, or what we like to call going deeper and wider. Here are five questions to ask if your church isn’t experiencing healthy growth.

Are you accessible and friendly?
First impressions don’t just count, they’re crucial. People should feel welcomed the moment they enter your doors (not to mention the key point that your doors should be open and accessible). Each week, keep in mind there may be someone attending church for the first time ever, or the first time in a long time. What steps are you taking to make them feel at home? Visitors who receive a warm greeting disengage their defenses and become more inclined to come back.

Are you organized and strategic?
Every church wants to grow and lead people to Christ, but few have a clear and effective strategy to do so. Prepare your congregations to share their faith and follow up with those they’ve invited. For those who work in churchworld, keep in mind most people do not understand, nor care about, the process and documentation needed for ministry or sacramental preparation- they just want to serve. Have trained staff or volunteers who will simplify and guide the process quickly, or else instead of integrating newcomers into your community, you’ll end up reinforcing the negative stereotypes that keep people from coming to the church in the first place.

Are you relevant and engaging?
Most unchurched people’s view of church is that it’s boring and bad. When, on those rare occasions, they show up at church we go ahead and prove them right all over again. An engaging church experience is both relevant and engaging. Sounds simple, but a relevant message is practical and powerful. If you’re confident in your content, but concerned something isn’t clicking, consider that a relevant message also requires a relevant context in order to be received. Music is incredibly important here too. You’ve got to invest in your music if you want to grow.

Do people like you and trust you?
On the surface, a church may seem friendly, but you find the ministries mired in politics and dysfunction and leaders lack integrity. Politics undermine trust, and love cannot exist without trust. Instead of being captured by grace, newcomers are just caught in the crossfire. Sometimes church leaders, from the pastor to the office receptionist, can come off as grumpy and grim rule keepers.

Are you praying, fasting, and giving?
Saint Teresa of Avila described prayer as water for the soul. Surely she would extend this metaphor to church. Your church cannot grow without individual and group prayer. Mobilize prayer events, teams, and small groups to pray for growth. Match your prayer with regular fasting and sacrificial giving. If you want to grow your church leaders need to tithe.

For another take on this topic see:

Global Godliness?

An article by Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP published on 4th November on the website 

We live in a society in which competition is omnipresent. Competition fuels progress and keeps us on our toes. Political parties, supermarkets, car manufacturers and football teams compete with each other. And there are various Christian denominations competing for congregations. Of course, in these ecumenical days people deny that we would wish to lure worshippers from another Church. Surely Catholics are not out to win over followers of the Anglican brand, like Tesco competing with Aldi! Ian Stackhouse, a Baptist theologian, admits that there is a pressure to get bums on seats and be successful in that sense. Clergy keep a beady eye on church attendance figures and glance at each other’s car parks on a Sunday to see which is the fullest.

It has often been argued that the reason why Evangelical Christianity flourishes in America is precisely because there is a vigorous, competitive market in religion and that the Catholic Church became corrupt in the late Middle Ages because we held a virtual monopoly, and monopolies become sluggish and slack. There seems to be something to this argument. The Catholic Church was challenged by the Churches of the Reformation to reform itself, once again to give primacy to the Word of God and renew its formation of priests and laity. It could be argued that the vast renewal of the Catholic Church at the Second Vatican Council was in part because we were not the only Church on the block, and we had to be renewed or fade. And so, some will claim, it was providential that the unity of Western Christendom was broken at the Reformation. This contributed to the vitality of Christianity.

But at the heart of the Catholic tradition is a profound longing for a Church that is one and universal. That is the very meaning of the word ‘Catholic.’ However fruitful, as well as destructive, might have been the rivalries of post-Reformation Christianity, the unity of the Church across time and the globe is at the heart of our faith. We declare in the Nicene Creed our belief in ‘one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.’ The gathering of all Christians into unity is not a vague aspiration for something which might be rather ‘nice’. It is the hungering for what is at the core of our faith. A splintered Christianity is disfigured. Why is this?

Globalisation was in the DNA of Christianity from the beginning. Even when Christians were a tiny minority scattered in a few small cells across the vast Roman Empire, already we thought of ourselves in global terms. The final words of Jesus in St Matthew’s Gospel are: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.’ (28:19)

Most religions remain deeply rooted in the culture and language of their original believers. Judaism remains the faith of a particular people and is wedded to its language and traditions. Islam is rooted in the Arabic text of the Qur’an. Hinduism is profoundly identified with the cultures of India. But from the very beginning Christianity was seeking to transcend any particular culture or language. The New Testament is not written in the language of Jesus, which was Aramaic, but in the universal language of its time, a rather coarse sort of Greek that was the lingua franca of the Roman Empire. Perhaps just 25 years after Christ’s resurrection, St Paul wrote: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:27f). It was global before it was even known that we live on a globe.

Why is this so? St Paul wrote to the Ephesians: ‘For [God] has made known to us in all wisdom and insight, the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things on heaven and things on earth’ (1:9–10). If God wills to gather all things into one in Christ, then of course the Church must treasure unity, reaching across all ethnic and national divisions. This is not about wiping out all the competitors and regaining the monopoly. It is not claiming superiority for Roman Catholicism over other denominations. It is saying that our unity across space and time is a sign of what God wills for humanity.

Yves Congar OP, the greatest ecumenist of the twentieth century, discovered his theological vocation when he was a young Dominican friar and was overwhelmed by studying John 17, where Jesus prays that the disciples may be one as he and the Father are one. Congar called it ‘the apostolic prayer of Jesus for Christian unity’ and he gave his entire life to heal the divisions between the Churches. Our celebrations of the feasts of the saints show that we are a community that transcends even that most radical of barriers, death.

In the opening paragraph of Lumen Gentium, proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council, it is written that ‘the Church is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race.’ Notice that the Church is a sign of unity. This does not mean that everyone has to become Catholic. What matters is that the Church makes visible what it means to be human: to be human is to belong to the whole of humanity, indeed the whole of creation. The Church must be one because humanity is called by God to be one.

So the Church challenges any identity which uniquely privileges our national or ethnic origins. I am a Christian before I am British or Irish or Polish. This is why tyrants have always feared and opposed the Church, from the early Roman emperors who persecuted our ancestors, through Henry VIII, Napoleon to Mao Tse Tung. Even in today’s China, the universal community of Catholicism is seen as uniquely threatening to the rule of the Communist Party. Patriotism may be fine, the love of one’s own country, but nationalism is incompatible with Christianity if it makes demands that are absolute.

Globalisation is an ambiguous phenomenon, a blessing and a curse. It is knitting humanity into unity across the globe. We are aware as never before that we have brothers and sisters all over the planet. When I opened my emails this morning in Toronto, having just flown across the Atlantic from England, I found an email from a Japanese writer asking about the translation of one of my books, a message from a Ukrainian writing in Italian, and an invitation to go and speak in Colombia! Globalisation has lifted millions of people out of poverty, especially in China and India.

But the global market has also produced vast inequalities of wealth and wounded the unity of the human family. The poor are confronted every day with the images of a paradise from which they are excluded. ‘Advertisements for ice cold Coca Cola, redolent of youth, vitality, happiness and the wealth of the United States, look down on societies where only the rich can afford clean water.’[i]  Corruption is globalised, too. ‘We are living through an unprecedentedly corrupt period in world history. It has, admittedly, always happened but not on the same scale.’[ii] Think of FIFA. Globalisation is often experienced as the imposition on everyone of Western and especially American culture, and as the humiliation and subversion of ancient cultures and civilisations. It fuels the violent aggression of ISIS as well as empowering it through social media.

What about Christian globalisation? This has often been experienced as oppressive and imperialistic. Missionaries of God’s word were often also apostles of Western culture. But we have come to see with ever greater clarity that true Christian globalisation should be about cherishing the common good to which every culture contributes. We cannot ultimately flourish apart from each other. Catholic Social Teaching is about much more than good and just politics and economics. It is an expression of humanity’s shared destiny in Christ.

Louis-Joseph Lebret, a French Dominican economist who profoundly influenced Pope Paul VI, wrote that ‘the spiritual common good’ is:

the potential of intelligence, scientific understanding, wisdom and social skills; of intellectual, moral, artistic and pedagogical traditions; the potential of humanity’s material masterpieces and its institutions as well. It is culture, humanism – all of it leading to an eternal destiny. God is in fact the absolute and transcendent common good for all human beings, just as God is their origin and their fulfilment. Christ is the common good of humanity.[iii]
And yet many Christians who are not Roman Catholics, and some who are, may have a fear that a global Church easily becomes oppressive of difference. In recent centuries the Church has been held together in unity by a structure of centralised power which has often been intolerant of dissent.

First of all, it is easy to underestimate the vast diversity within the Church, even when it has most sought to exercise control. Catholicism is nowhere near as monochrome as many suspect. People forget that the Roman Catholic Church includes 23 autonomous churches, each with their own rites and canon law, from the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt to the Syro-Malabar Church in India. These are all just as much part of the Catholic Church as the members of the Latin Rite.

There is also the extraordinary diversity of theological and spiritual traditions: Benedictine, Franciscan, Dominican, Carmelite, Ignatian. The Church holds within itself Catholics from every nation of the earth who think, pray and gather in their own ways. In our Father’s house there are many dwellings.

Catholicism is irreducibly plural and inalienably one. Indeed from its beginning, the extraordinary gift of God’s grace has been the Church’s ability to hold together diversity and unity. We have four gospels in a single New Testament, and they do not by any means say the same thing. A friend of mine was trying to explain to a group of prisoners why the gospels contradict each other. One of them said: ‘Of course they disagree. If they didn’t everyone would suspect that it was a put up job.’ Jesus Christ in his very person embraces the biggest difference imaginable, one person who is divine and human; the doctrine of the Trinity is all about difference in unity.

Secondly, it must be admitted that the Catholic Church, especially since the Reformation, has often been fearful of diversity. Original thinkers, such as the Dominicans and Jesuits who prepared the way for the Second Vatican Council, often were silenced unjustly. The Church was nervous of the new. But the Holy Spirit, at work in all of the baptised, has ensured that renewal does take place, and Pope Francis above all is eagerly working for a Church in which the vitality of the Spirit is not repressed. The global unity of the Church is so central to its identity that it must always be treasured, whatever the cost.

Fr Timothy Radcliffe is a member of the English Province of the Order of Preachers and Director of the Las Casas Institute at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford.

[i] Ian Linden, A New Map of the World (London, 2003) p.95.
[ii] Zoe Cormack, ‘Everyone’s at it’ in Times Literary Supplement, 27 September 2013, reviewing Laurence Cockcroft, Global Corruption: Money, power and ethics in the modern world  (Pennsylvania, 2013).
[iii] Paul Houée, Un éveilleur d’humanité  (Paris, 1997) p.21.  


No comments:

Post a Comment