01 Jul 2020
The light bearer
The Southern Cross – July 2020
My dear sisters and brothers in Christ, at the beginning of his Profession of faith, known as his Confession, St Patrick writes ‘I am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned, the least of all the faithful, and utterly despised by many’. I have known all but the last one to be true.
Every disciple of Jesus Christ loves to be able to gather in a Sacred Space, especially in a church; it is important for us. Somehow it puts God at the centre of our lives. One of the most surreal and difficult things about coming to Adelaide at this particular time is that when I arrived all the churches were closed. For the first time in 100 years we couldn’t do what we normally do; come together to celebrate the Eucharist, especially on the Lord’s Day. As things look at the moment, it may be some time before we can do things the way we would wish.
One of the things people have told me that they are learning at this time is that while they miss intensely the ability to come together to hear God’s Word, to gather as God’s people and to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord, and thus be transformed by them, they are discovering anew what it means to ‘be’ the Church and not just going ‘to’ church. Ideally we do both. And while it has been more difficult to do the second, one of the graces of this time is that we can rediscover what the first might mean.
People have also told me that while it is a huge adjustment, and one not without cost, they have by and large enjoyed having a little more time to be reflective and intentional, all the while wearing and longing for the day when they might again express being the Church by going to church.
Well Adelaide is a new city for me, I have a newish role, and yet the same faith, hope and love abound and surrounds me. While I have had to change locations many times on my faith journey, each time has its own character and challenges. I really would like to thank you for your welcome, especially in these most unusual times. I do feel welcome. I give thanks that there is much to discover about the Archdiocese and its rich history. I look forward to doing so.
As I write these lines, the shortest day has rolled by. This always gives me a little comfort. For from now on, the light becomes longer and stronger, pushing out the darkness. In the words of one of the hymns for morning prayer attributed to Flavius, Bishop of Châlon-sur-Saone (†591).
Now the shadow of night vanishes,
Darkness abandons the sky
And the figure of Christ, the Light Bearer,
Awakens the sleepy day.
You, O God, are the Day of days
And the very Light of light,
Mighty One over all things,
Mighty Trinity in One.
In the coming years that we shall have together, I pray that the Good God will indeed be the scatterer of light among us, especially into the deep corners; that the Lord Jesus Christ will be the light bearer for us and with us and that the warmth of the Holy Spirit will constantly encourage us. I began my ministry on the feast of Mary Help of Christians, may she who bore the light bearer allow us and assist us to do the same for our world. God is good, good indeed!
Archbishop of Adelaide