Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The Tasmanian Electoral Commission has just completed the distribution of preferences for the recent State election (they had to wait ten days after polling day for all postal votes to come in, then began the final counting yesterday morning), and the expected result has materialized: each of the five electorates has returned two Labor, two Liberal and a Green, giving a total of 10 Labor, 10 Liberal and 5 Green Members of the House of Assembly.  The glories of our Hare-Clark system of voting!

An interesting aside: the Electoral Commission has posted online the first preferences figures for each polling place, and Trevallyn (where I cast my vote) turns out to be one of the very Greenest suburbs of Launceston: 39% voted for the Greens first, compared to 41% for the Liberals and only 19% for Labor.  The Statewide result was quite different, basically reversing the percentages gained by Labor and Green!

Premier Bartlett, having decisively lost the election, went to see the Governor to-day, and doubtless will again next Wednesday (after the official declaration of the poll); though Labor leader, Bartlett has repeated that the party gaining the most votes ought assume government; as the Liberals outpolled Labor, and their leader, Will Hodgman, has said from the conclusion of the poll onward that he and his Liberals ought take office in Labor's stead, I expect that His Excellency will first receive Bartlett's resignation, then send for Hodgman to offer him Her Majesty's commission to form a government with himself as Premier.

How unwelcome a prospect for the Prime Minister of Australia, to have another Liberal Premier showing up within a few weeks' time, just when Rudd is trying to get all the States to agree to his proposed federal takeover of public hospitals...  I can't quite see Hodgman agreeing to forgo tax revenue and hand over further power to Canberra.  Good!  A do like a poke in the eye for proponents of ever-larger bureaucracies.

Minority Government again... given the incompetence and deplorable goings-on under Labor over its recent rule, the electorate has signalled that it doesn't want Labor – but isn't quite sure what it wants.  The three parties in the House will just have to muddle along, taking each vote as it comes, with the Liberals always under close criticism and scrutiny, having to justify each and every policy they propose, compromising if need be to get legislation passed.  I must say, I think that's a good thing.  The quality of governance has declined of late, and a salutary check on the executive arm will be the inability to command the legislature.

Apparently Premier-elect Hodgman wants the Governor to summon the new Parliament within the month (not waiting for the upcoming Legislative Council elections), so as to test his support on the floor of the House.  It reminds me of 1989, when Premier Gray tried to hold onto power despite losing his Parliamentary majority, but lost the inevitable no-confidence motion.  (That was when a businessman attempted to bribe one of the MHA's to cross the floor, but instead himself went to jail for his wicked crime against democracy.)

A closely related issue: with 25 members, to be split three ways for the foreseeable future, the House is just too small – talk about the Senate of Lilliput!  It was inappropriate enough back in 1989 when Field ran a minority Government with just 13 MHA's (the Greens on the crossbenches supported it, sort of); now we will have the silly spectacle of a minority Government with only 10 members – 9 Ministers, and only one on the backbench.  At the least we need to go back to the old House of 35 members (7 per electorate), and I would wish for 45 (9 per electorate), though that's most unlikely outside my febrile imagination.

[UPDATE: Quite unexpectedly, the Greens signalled on the 8th of April that they would lean toward supporting a minority Labor government, to the understandable ire of Hodgman, who'd only the day before been beaming smiles, thinking he'd be called to Government House to be sworn in as Premier...  instead, the Governor decided that the best constitutional principles required him to keep Labor on, as Labor has the prospect of forming a stable government, whereas the Liberals (refusing to negotiate with the Greens, and unable to rely on Labor) have less chance of doing so.  Hence, Bartlett was retained, had his commission as Premier renewed on the 13th of April, and is presently negotiating with the Greens...]

As we now prepare to mark Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we ought spare a prayer for our elected representatives...  Here is the prayer the Speaker reads at the start of each day's session:

“Almighty God, we humbly beseech Thee to vouchsafe Thy blessing upon this Parliament.  Direct and prosper our deliberations to the advancement of Thy glory and the true welfare of the people of Tasmania. 
“Our Father, which art in Heaven; Hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen.”

Monday, March 29, 2010

Coo-ees Redivivi

Like Lazarus, Coo-ees from the Cloister has risen again, just ahead of Our Blessed Lord.  About time, too!

And to think it was said of Lazarus, and by his own sister, too – O Lord, surely after so long in the tomb, "he stinketh"!

Welcome back to the land of the living.

I hope they will try to avoid mocking Fr Withoos any more...

I, Barabbas

Yester-day at Mass (Ordinary Form, about the best that can be expected in a provincial city) we heard read the Passion according to St Luke.  There was no homily afterward; after all, what more can be said?  The Gospel speaks for itself; if one has no response to the Passion, one must have a heart of stone.

What struck me?  That I am Barabbas – indeed, every man is.  I, Barabbas, a rioter and murderer, justly imprisoned, rightly condemned, am released, while Christ, innocent and undefiled, suffers in my place.  Talk about vicarious atonement!

Now of necessity he [Pilate] was to release unto them one upon the feast day.  But the whole multitude together cried out, saying: Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: who, for a certain sedition made in the city, and for a murder, was cast into prison.  And Pilate again spoke to them, desiring to release Jesus.  But they cried again, saying: Crucify him, crucify him.  And he said to them the third time: Why, what evil hath this man done? I find no cause of death in him. I will chastise him therefore, and let him go.  But they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified; and their voices prevailed.  And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.  And he released unto them him who for murder and sedition, had been cast into prison, whom they had desired; but Jesus he delivered up to their will.  (St Luke xxiii, 17-25)

For being a poor fallen man, am I not a riot of unrestrained, disordered passions?  And have I not all too often given way and caused a melée or affray?  Have I not brought sin and trouble into Jerusalem, that is, the Church?  Have I not been a cause of sedition, by my turning away from God?  Have I not revolted against the good order of society natural and supernatural?  Have I not opposed due order?  Am I worthy of living in Jerusalem, that is, in grace, in heavenly peace?  No!  I am stained with the contagion of sin and sinful passions.  Am I not, still more gravely, my brother's murderer, having given way to hate, when I should have instead been ever my brother's keeper?  Do I not bear the mark of Cain?  For such reasons, justly am I removed from the City of God, and kept imprisoned, having made liberty an excuse for lawlessness.  A shameless criminal am I.

St John tells us that Barabbas was a robber (xviii, 40), and so am I, for sin is robbery, depriving God of the glory due Him, wickedly insulting the Divine Majesty, and paying to creatures what is not their right.  Barabbas, then, is unquestionably a malefactor, a doer of evil; while Christ, Who "went about doing good", is our greatest Benefactor – not least by the wondrous deed He wrought of expiating our sins by taking them upon Himself, and bearing their weight upon the Cross of pain.

By the inscrutable Providence of God the Father, the wicked machinations of evil men lead to His Son dying in my stead.  A most unexpected turn for the better, a eu-catastrophe, results!  Deicide, rather than provoking the damnation of all men, instead most strangely reconciles and saves all who will acknowledge themselves sons of God and free.  I, who am Barabbas, Bar-Abbas, a "son of the Father" gone astray, still bear (wounded) God's image and likeness; and as His Onlybegotten Son, my brother whom I slew by sin, has died for me, I am set free and redeemed.

It was a significant custom that Pilate followed in releasing one upon the feast: for was not Passover the celebration of unexpected and as it were unmerited liberation from bondage?

Why is the Passion read on Palm Sunday anyway?  Because Good Friday not being a Holy Day of Obligation (I recall the obligation to attend Divine service on Good Friday was abolished in 1612 or thereabouts), on Palm Sunday the Passion is read, so that for those who next come to Mass on Easter Sunday, they will first hear this sobering truth – that God the Son came and died for us in our place – before next week hearing gladly the good tidings of the next event in the saving deeds of God Incarnate – the Resurrection.

Having died the death for our sins, Christ rises again for our justification.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


On Saturday we went off on one of my famous long-distance "half-day" drives in the country: out to the North-East, through Lilydale and Scottsdale, then further on where I've not been for many years, through Branxholm and Derby, winding through the Weldborough Pass to Pyengana – where we at last lunched, at the Holy Cow Café no less!  The lush dairying farmscape out the windows, beneath high hills wreathed in low cloud, helped explain the reason why this café was located at a well-known cheese factory.

Rather than drive back the same way (we'd come about 140 km on a very winding road that is pleased to call itself a highway), we pressed on to St Helens, down to Scamander, and then up through St Mary's Pass to St Mary's.  The Pass itself is only 6 km long, which is better than the windy slow sections of the Weldborough Pass.

Then we sped through the Fingal Valley toward the Midlands Highway (some idiot has rebranded it the "Heritage Highway", but that's nuts), which I followed only for a short while before taking the turnoff to Nile and Evandale – a road less-travelled, part of which is unsealed.

Our Saturday outing only took us about 7 hours.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back to Benediction

Some practice of the Christus factus est for Holy Thursday, then straight into Compline followed by Benediction: it was good to get to St Francis, Riverside, for this (having missed going in February and earlier in March for various reasons).  On Holy Thursday – just over a fortnight away – we will sing Compline at the altar of repose at 9 pm.  

I had had a long and stressful day, and thanks be I felt better after worship, having felt quite wretched earlier.  It was good, too, to help bring some blessings by our music, helping Father celebrate Benediction: one of the older men who came along remarked to me that it was the first time he'd been to Benediction since high school.  C'est la vie in benighted Tasmania.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Passiontide & Holy Week in W.A.

Fr Rowe has just emailed me the latest copy of the bulletin of his Latin Mass apostolate:

 March - April 2010 Holy Week Notices

Month of  St Joseph
Latin Mass Apostolate
Mass can be followed in Latin/English/Italian Missals available for use at the door. 
Hymn books and purple Kyriales for sung Masses are available for use also.

                              Schedule for St Anne's Church, 11 Hehir St, Belmont

SUNDAY      March  21   7.30am & 9.30am               PASSION SUNDAY


Wednesday                                24   10.15am            Preceded by Holy Hour & Benediction. 9.00am – 10.00am           

                                                                                Pasiontide Feria

Thursday                                25     6.30pm             Preceded by Holy Hour & Benediction. 5.15pm – 6.15pm           

                                                                                ANNUNCIATION OF OUR LADY

Friday                                            26     5.30pm            STATIONS OF THE CROSS then Mass – Passiontide Feria 

Saturday                                 27     9.00am             Passiontide Feria

SUNDAY     March   28   7.30am & 9.30am                     PALM SUNDAY


Wednesday                                31   10.15am            Preceded by Holy Hour & Benediction. 9.00am – 10.00am           

                                                                                Wednesday in Holy Week

Please note the Easter Triduum is to take place at St Anne's Church, 11 Hehir St, Belmont.

Thursday          April      1    7.00pm     Maundy Thursday followed by Adoration

Good Friday                        2          1.30pm      STATIONS OF THE CROSS 


DEATH OF OUR LORD (Day of Fast & Abstinence)

                                                         7.00pm     TENEBRAE 

 Holy Saturday              3     10.00pm      HOLY SATURDAY VIGIL – CEREMONIES AND

                                                                        MASS OF EASTER. (fulfills Sunday obligation)

SUNDAY      April    4     7.30am & 9.30am                  EASTER 

Monday                                     5      9.00am             Easter Monday (Public holiday)


CONFESSIONS: Heard before Mass on Sunday, weekday Masses and after if necessary.  Please make the effort to go to confession during the week so that those only able to make Sunday Mass can go then.
On Sundays please be there at least 10 minutes before Mass to go to confession otherwise may miss out.
Please note that confessions at Belmont are heard in the oratory next to the church, enter via the outside door to the presbytery which is on the left side of the church.

Schedule for St John Pro-Cathedral, Victoria Avenue, Perth


SUNDAY   March 21  11.30am          PASSION SUNDAY

Monday                                  22    5.30pm             Passiontide Feria

Tuesday                                    23    7.45am             Passiontide Feria

Thursday                              25               12.10pm            Annunciation of Our Lady

SUNDAY   March 28  11.30am          PALM SUNDAY

Monday                                  29    7.45am             Monday in Holy Week

Tuesday                                    30    7.45am             Tuesday in Holy Week

SUNDAY   April     4   11.30am         EASTER SUNDAY


Schedule for Good Shepherd Church, 44 Streich Ave, Kelmscott.


SUNDAY     March    21   2.00pm               PASSION SUNDAY

SUNDAY      March   28   2.00pm                    PALM SUNDAY

SUNDAY       April     4   12.00noon                EASTER 

SUNDAY       April    11    2.00pm                   LOW SUNDAY 

SUNDAY       April     18   4.00pm                   GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY

SUNDAY       April     25   2.00pm                   Third after EASTER 

And thereafter at 2.00pm.  Please note the different times in April.

Schedule for St Thomas Church, Locke St, Carey Park, Bunbury

MASS IN BUNBURY: St Thomas Church, Locke Street, Carey Park.

Sunday at 6.00pm:            21 March 10   Sun 4th April 10    25 April 10            Sun 30th May 10     20 June 10

Monday:                 22 Mar (8.00am)    5th Ap(9.00am)    26 Ap(9.00am)  31st May (8.00am)  21 Ju (8.00am)         

Lent: Our Lord showed His obedience to His Father and His love for us by making the supreme sacrifice of Himself on Calvary.  In Lent we remember this and give Him our love by making daily acts of penance, fasting, prayer and the reading of the Passion.  During Lent we must reaffirm our love for God by seeking His forgiveness for our sins and offenses by making daily acts of penance.

Holy Week:  Please note that the Sacred Triduum is at St Anne's Church, 11 Hehir St, Belmont. 

Six Precepts of the Church: 1. Attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. 2. Confess sins at least once a year. 3. Receive Holy Communion at least once during Easter season. 4. Observe the days of fast and abstinence. 5. Help provide for the needs of the Church. 6. Marry in a Catholic church.

Summer Attire: During the warmer months it is all too easy to let down our guard of wearing modest clothing.  Please be diligent in assuring that your clothing is fit for being in the presence of Almighty
God, and is not an occasion of sin to someone around you.

Seating at Sunday Masses: If possible, please always occupy the front pews close to the windows first, then the back pews. Be aware if you arrive late there are usually seats up the front so feel free to move up there.  Each pew can comfortably fit six people so please move up to be courteous to others so they can find a space to sit.

Bus and Map to St Anne's Church: Please take note of additional information of map to St Anne's Church and bus timetable information available.

Parking on Sundays in Mercedes College: Gates are locked after 11.30am Sunday Mass so make sure your car is out promptly. Please remember Mercedes College in your prayers and park courteously.
Please note that smoking is not permitted in Mercedes, and ensure that your children are under adult supervision on school grounds at all times.

New email addresses: If you wish to receive a copy of the bulletin and notices by email, please email the following address:   Each month the notices will be emailed to you automatically.  If you wish to contact Fr about any other matter use the following email address:    Please use this email for all matters.

PO Box 337 NORTH PERTH  W.A.  6906

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Pope Writes to Ireland

His Holiness Benedict XVI has just issued a Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, a letter whose contents are of interest worldwide, given the ongoing emergence of scandals deriving from vile incidents of sexual abuse of children by priests:

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Church in Ireland, it is with great concern that I write to you as Pastor of the universal Church. Like yourselves, I have been deeply disturbed by the information which has come to light regarding the abuse of children and vulnerable young people by members of the Church in Ireland, particularly by priests and religious. I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them.

Note that last phrase: the Pope and all Catholics are dismayed by these acts, "and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them".

He well details the causes (n.4):

In recent decades, however, the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values. All too often, the sacramental and devotional practices that sustain faith and enable it to grow, such as frequent confession, daily prayer and annual retreats, were neglected. Significant too was the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel. The programme of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it. In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations. It is in this overall context that we must try to understand the disturbing problem of child sexual abuse, which has contributed in no small measure to the weakening of faith and the loss of respect for the Church and her teachings.
Only by examining carefully the many elements that gave rise to the present crisis can a clear-sighted diagnosis of its causes be undertaken and effective remedies be found. Certainly, among the contributing factors we can include: inadequate procedures for determining the suitability of candidates for the priesthood and the religious life; insufficient human, moral, intellectual and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates; a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures; and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person. Urgent action is needed to address these factors, which have had such tragic consequences in the lives of victims and their families, and have obscured the light of the Gospel to a degree that not even centuries of persecution succeeded in doing.

The Pope does not shrink from directly addressing those priests and religious who have abused children, laying before them the terrible truth (n.7):

You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres. Those of you who are priests violated the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Orders in which Christ makes himself present in us and in our actions. Together with the immense harm done to victims, great damage has been done to the Church and to the public perception of the priesthood and religious life.
I urge you to examine your conscience, take responsibility for the sins you have committed, and humbly express your sorrow. Sincere repentance opens the door to God’s forgiveness and the grace of true amendment. By offering prayers and penances for those you have wronged, you should seek to atone personally for your actions. Christ’s redeeming sacrifice has the power to forgive even the gravest of sins, and to bring forth good from even the most terrible evil. At the same time, God’s justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing. Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God’s mercy.

He addresses stern words to the Irish hierarchy (n.11):

It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse. Serious mistakes were made in responding to allegations. I recognize how difficult it was to grasp the extent and complexity of the problem, to obtain reliable information and to make the right decisions in the light of conflicting expert advice. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that grave errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness. I appreciate the efforts you have made to remedy past mistakes and to guarantee that they do not happen again. Besides fully implementing the norms of canon law in addressing cases of child abuse, continue to cooperate with the civil authorities in their area of competence. Clearly, religious superiors should do likewise. They too have taken part in recent discussions here in Rome with a view to establishing a clear and consistent approach to these matters. It is imperative that the child safety norms of the Church in Ireland be continually revised and updated and that they be applied fully and impartially in conformity with canon law.
Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people towards the Church to which we have consecrated our lives. This must arise, first and foremost, from your own self-examination, inner purification and spiritual renewal. The Irish people rightly expect you to be men of God, to be holy, to live simply, to pursue personal conversion daily. For them, in the words of Saint Augustine, you are a bishop; yet with them you are called to be a follower of Christ (cf. Sermon 340, 1). I therefore exhort you to renew your sense of accountability before God, to grow in solidarity with your people and to deepen your pastoral concern for all the members of your flock. In particular, I ask you to be attentive to the spiritual and moral lives of each one of your priests. Set them an example by your own lives, be close to them, listen to their concerns, offer them encouragement at this difficult time and stir up the flame of their love for Christ and their commitment to the service of their brothers and sisters.
The lay faithful, too, should be encouraged to play their proper part in the life of the Church. See that they are formed in such a way that they can offer an articulate and convincing account of the Gospel in the midst of modern society (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) and cooperate more fully in the Church’s life and mission. This in turn will help you once again become credible leaders and witnesses to the redeeming truth of Christ.

Benedict next recommends (n.14) that the Church do penance:

At the conclusion of my meeting with the Irish bishops, I asked that Lent this year be set aside as a time to pray for an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church in your country. I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.
Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.

(I am loath to criticise the Pope, but it ought not be the laity to do penance, but the clergy whom they trusted!  I can too clearly see that some will take scandal at this.)

Most importantly, I think, the Pope announces a forthcoming Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses, seminaries and religious orders, to get to the bottom of all these murky goings-on:

Furthermore, having consulted and prayed about the matter, I intend to hold an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations. Arrangements for the Visitation, which is intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal, will be made in cooperation with the competent offices of the Roman Curia and the Irish Episcopal Conference. The details will be announced in due course.

Rather than here and now demanding wholesale resignations of prelates and religious superiors, he is to have a thorough investigation made, and no doubt will then decide exactly what ought be done with individuals, once the full responsibility of each is found out.

He ends by proposing the following prayer:

Prayer for the Church in Ireland

God of our fathers,
renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation,
the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal,
the charity which purifies and opens our hearts
to love you, and in you, each of our brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus Christ,
may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment
to the education of our young people
in the way of truth and goodness, holiness and generous service to society.

Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide,
inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal
for the Church in Ireland.

May our sorrow and our tears,
our sincere effort to redress past wrongs,
and our firm purpose of amendment
bear an abundant harvest of grace
for the deepening of the faith
in our families, parishes, schools and communities,
for the spiritual progress of Irish society,
and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace
within the whole human family.

To you, Triune God,
confident in the loving protection of Mary,
Queen of Ireland, our Mother,
and of Saint Patrick, Saint Brigid and all the saints,
do we entrust ourselves, our children,
and the needs of the Church in Ireland.


Casting my Vote

Parliament House, Hobart

Most embarrassingly, I missed out on my chance to vote in the last State election – in Western Australia, where I was resident at the time – since I had moved from one Perth suburb to another, forgetting to change my voter registration, and therefore was not on the electoral roll for the correct electorate.  It was even more embarrassing to receive the official letter asking why I had not voted, and demanding I pay a fine (voting being compulsory in State and Federal elections) if I couldn't explain why: I had to fill in a form telling of my negligence, which put paid to the fine, but left me annoyed and promising to do better in the future.  In any case, the W.A. election went as I had hoped, chucking out the incompetents in Government, and returning a hung Parliament, forcing the politicians to cooperate together.

To-day, therefore (having made sure I was properly registered at the outset of the election campaign), I went along just before noon to the nearest polling place, at Trevallyn Primary School, where I was educated.  I still remember most of the school song: "Trevallyn! Our goals are high, as year by year proceeds; As days pass by, we always try to live by worthy deeds.  From kindergarten to grade six we live the golden rule, Helping others through each day to build a glorious school."

The process was relaxed and quick: from parking my car to getting back into it took scarcely five minutes.  I walked up along the path, thinking how the bushes had grown, and how low the fence now looked, then turned into the courtyard (evidently the school tuckshop is still in the same place), before entering a building erected since my time at school there (where it is was a wall and path down to the quadrangle) – it housed the music room, for to-day separated into two parts by barriers (the musical instruments could be seen over the top).

There were half-a-dozen waiting in line when I entered, with about the same number voting, attended to by eight persons working for the Australian Electoral Commission.  Along the wall were eleven small booths at which to fill out the ballot paper.  To the left as one entered were three men to whom one went first – they checked one's name off on the electoral roll (using laptop computers) and then gave out the ballot paper.  At the entrance and exit were two other employees assisting.  To the right was a table at which several other employees were assisting a lady, I conjecture she was casting a ballot for another electorate or something like that.

Very soon I was filling in mine, numbering the candidates in order of my preference from 1 to 20 (at the least, one is required to number the first five); as the secret ballot was invented in Australia, and was first known as "the Australian ballot", I will keep my choice to myself: secretum meum mihi.

Popping the ballot into the ballot box, that was it, and I walked out.

Polls (having opened at 8 am) close at 6 pm, and there will be coverage of the count to-night on TV: for election results, see the ABC's excellent coverage online.

The newspaper informs me that the initial count of first preferences will be 90% complete by late this evening, and final distribution of preferences will be done slightly faster than in the past, with the successful election of all 25 Members of the House of Assembly to be announced by Thursday the 1st of April.  As it is, the outgoing Labor Government has announced that, with a hung Parliament expected, if the Opposition Liberals garner more seats or first preference votes than Labor, Premier Bartlett will resign and advise the Governor to appoint Will Hodgmann as the new Premier.  Only time will tell...

At least a nasty organization called Emily's List (which funds pro-choice women candidates) did me a service, by listing online those candidates it supports: I put them firmly last.  No abortion, thank you!

Opera Christi non deficiunt, sed proficiunt

I recommend readers to attend to the inestimable Fr Z's reading of good Pope Benedict's third General Audience address about St Bonaventure, in which the Supreme Pontiff, referring to Bonaventure's theology of history, demonstrates how Joachimism is false, and how, just as Bonaventure's wisdom defeated the Franciscan spirituals of his day, so we should avoid the error of those who ceaselessly invoke the "spirit of the Council" while pretending that what we need is to sweep away all hierarchy and doctrine.

Joachimism, of course, is the belief that history is divided into three eras, and that, just as the era of the Father and of the Old Testament and of the Jewish Church is over and gone, so too the era of the Son and of the New Testament and of the Catholic Church is past, and (heralded by St Francis) what has now come is the third and final era, that of the Spirit and of the "Eternal Gospel" and of spiritual men, with no Church anymore.

The parallels between Joachimism and the nonsense dissenters promulgate about the "spirit" of Vatican II and even Vatican III (their hoped-for, fondly imagined future Council at which everything restrictive will be abolished and everything forbidden be allowed) are obvious.  Even the way that self-styled progressives have hijacked Bl John XXIII, who was no liberal, parallels the Joachimite belief in a Papa Angelicus who would drastically change the Church.

Consider the dismissive way that "progressives" consider everything in the Church from the age of Constantine (when allegedly she was corrupted by power - already a current debate in the time of Dante) till 1965 to be clericalist, obscurantist and corrupt... consider their hope for a future Utopia (indeed, a No-Place), when their project of mocking and rejecting all Catholic truth and practice will be complete.

But the Pope repeats forcefully what Bonaventure so rightly said: Opera Christi non deficiunt, sed proficiunt – the works of Christ fail not, but they prosper.  Indeed new good things arise, and old things are revitalized: the wise steward brings forth things both old and new from the garner.  Christ's work will never fail, but in every age flourish anew, just as St Francis and St Dominic were raised up in their day, revitalizing the Church, ancient but ever-new, with their own innovative charisms, yet in substantial continuity with the past.  

Here is the philosophical rejection of the hermeneutic of rupture, and the affirmation of the hermeneutic of continuity.  Here is one central message of this Papacy, guided by the thought of St Bonaventure that the young Ratzinger diligently studied long years before.  It would be mad and self-contradictory to imagine building a new Church, and condemning the old: in such a case, Christ's promises would have failed, and we'd be better off being Jews.

After all, the theology of history presented by Abbot Joachim of Fiore smacks of Tritheism not orthodox Trinitarianism: there are not three gods, each better than the next, but one God in three Persons, Whose final Word is Christ, and Whose Holy Spirit reveals to us the depths of Christ's message without changing it.  Similarly, all newfangled attempts to reject 1600 years of Church history as evil are frankly laughable, and evidently self-contradictory: and to work for a wholesale rejection of doctrine and practice is just to be another Protestant, five hundred years too late.

The Pope speaks:

We know, in fact, how after the Second Vatican Council, some were convinced that everything should be new, that there should be another Church, that the pre-conciliar Church was finished and that we would have another, totally "other" Church. An anarchic utopianism! And thanks be to God, the wise helmsmen of Peter’s Barque, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, on one hand defended the novelty of the council and on the other, at the same time, defended the uniqueness and continuity of the Church, which is always a Church of sinners and always a place of grace.

The Church is one and the same, always both ancient and new: as Hermas wrote in the subapostolic age, in The Shepherd, she appeared to him a beautiful woman, the spotless Spouse of the Lord, appearing both young and old, for such she is:

For she had appeared to me, brethren, in the first vision the previous year under the form of an exceedingly old woman, sitting in a chair. In the second vision her face was youthful, but her skin and hair betokened age, and she stood while she spoke to me. She was also more joyful than on the first occasion. But in the third vision she was entirely youthful and exquisitely beautiful, except only that she had the hair of an old woman; but her face beamed with joy, and she sat on a seat.   (3rd Vision, Chapter X)

He notes further that she appeared to him at first as old and frail, not because she was, but because he was mired in sin; then she appeared old but partly young as he gradually sloughed off his spiritual blindness and folly; only when he had regained righteousness did he perceive her truly.  Let fools attend!  It is our faults that make us spurn the Church of the Living God, to our peril.

Sancta Mater Ecclesia is beautiful, without spot or wrinkle, but she has the white hair of the old, betokening her age, which yet not makes her frail, but rather the Lord renews her youth as the eagle's.  The works of Christ do not fail, but prosper.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pray for a Priest

Of your charity, please pray for a priest whom I know, who has just been diagnosed with cancer and will be undergoing an operation within the week, with chemotherapy and suchlike to follow: the news is not good, alas.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Health of the sick, pray for him.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

We'll All be Roon'd, said Hanrahan

A rogue star flies head-on toward our solar system, ineluctably, at 14 kilometres a second...

Gliese 710, perhaps 60% the mass of our Sun, will come within 0.2 light-years of us in, oh, only about 1.4 million years time (it's currently 63 light-years away, but getting closer every day).  Coming so near, it will disturb the Oort Cloud, the far-flung shell of comets orbiting about our solar system – but it seems the sky will not overnight fill with the tails of dangerously veering celestial bodies portending terrifying impact and doom; rather, there will be a rise in what astronomers meekly call the "cratering rate" for about a million years.

Of old, it was said that comets appeared when the fog of man's sins, ascending as a miasma from our miserable world, was ignited by the blazing wrath of the Almighty: but as a wit observed, if this were true, the sky would be always full of comets!

Whatever of speculation old and new, there does remain, however, a 1 in 10,000 chance that Gliese 710 will run within 1000 AU of our Sun, which would disturb the orbits of Kuiper Belt objects such as Pluto and its dwarf planet brethren, even affecting the orbit of Neptune.

For those who enjoy the vicarious thrill of imagining disaster (literally the curse of "an evil star"), may I recommend a somewhat ghoulish pastime available at "The Astronomy Workshop", demonstrating what would happen if a passing star disturbed all the planets' orbits - oh how dreadful is the onrush of a rogue star to the people of earth!