01 Oct 2020
Seek the Lord each day
The Southern Cross newspaper – October 2020
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
St Bernard of Clairvaux 1090-1153 once wrote ‘A saint is not someone who never sins, but one who sins less and less frequently and gets up more and more quickly’.
There is great wisdom and encouragement in this quote for each and every believer, and for the experience of being the Church, the Body of Christ as well.
I was thinking of this quote the other day in our Cathedral when we held the, somewhat late, Mystagogia Mass for those newly baptised and received-into-full-communion with the Church.
These days we seem to have an exalted notion of the perfectibility of the human being sometimes and St Bernard’s quote reminds us both that we are actually called to be saints and that we shall sin and that we are called to get up more and more quickly.
Baptism establishes this pattern in our life. We are baptised into the death and resurrection of Christ; falling and rising. The neophytes are a constant reminder to us all of that pattern in our lives; the pattern that we take on at our baptism and renew each Easter, and indeed each day of our lives.
The First Reading that day was from the prophet Isaiah. It began with the instruction, ‘Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near’. Toward the end of the reading we heard, ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord’.
Wonderful words to us who so often seek for the Lord in all the wrong places. The presence of the neophytes amongst us is a great reminder of the necessity to seek the Lord and to call upon the Lord.
The last part of the quote is rather challenging to me, and yet at the same time deeply consoling, and one that ought again bring us comfort in times of heightening anxiety such as these COVID times. It takes a lifetime to learn these lessons that Isaiah provides for us. May we continue to seek and call upon the Lord each day that we might come to better know God’s thoughts and God’s ways.
If things were other, at the time this edition of The Southern Cross goes to press, the Archdiocese of Adelaide would be hosting in Adelaide, representatives of the Catholic Church throughout Australia in the first session of the Plenary Council. This historic event, postponed just 12 months, is a unique opportunity for all of us to continue to ‘listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Church’.
When in a couple of years we look back on 2020, I hope there will be much more to think about than how we responded to COVID-19. I hope we will have much to talk about in how we responded to our preparations for the Plenary Council. COVID has pushed so much aside and yet has taught us to be a little more reflective; I’d love to think that we too could be reflective about the Plenary Council.
Learning any new skills always takes time, no wonder the Plenary Council has not been an easy journey for most of us, yet it is a necessary one. For we have been invited into a deeper space that teaches us, to listen. In a world where it is so often the case that we divide things into ‘us’ and ‘them’, listening, especially to the Spirit and one another, reminds us that there is only ‘Us’. It is also a reminder that this listening to what the Spirit is saying actually inserts us ever more deeply into the kingdom of God and the kingdom of God, as it manifests itself here amongst us.
I hope that this next 12 months gives us the necessary time to refocus on our personal, parish or organisational preparations and, in the words of our First Reading for the 25th Sunday, ‘Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near’ and ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord’.
As if 2020 has not had more than enough events for us to take in, the recent explosion in Beirut has fuelled the horrendous economic, social and political situation in this country.
The Catholic Church in Lebanon is suffering tremendously with church buildings and institutions damaged, some severely, and 16 Catholic schools sustaining damage from the blast.
The Maronite and Melkite eparchies in Australia have established a joint fund called ‘Help for Lebanon’ and are asking their brethren-in-faith to contribute towards assisting the wounded Catholic Church in Lebanon to get back on its feet.
You will be receiving more information about this through your parish or community but in the meantime, please keep praying for Lebanon.
God is good, good indeed.
Archbishop of Adelaide