Monday, September 30, 2013

A Break

I heard Mass this morning; to-morrow morning, however, after stopping off to pay my respects at my father's grave (it being the third anniversary of his death - do spare a prayer, gentle reader, for him), I will be driving south to the Tasman Peninsula for a few days' break. The weather forecast is not promising, unfortunately.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Congratulations Fr Sia

Please join with me in giving thanks to Almighty God for the ordination to the priesthood of Fr Brennan Sia, in Perth, Western Australia. What David said by the Holy Ghost of Christ now applies to him: Tu es sacerdos in æternum.

I met Fr Sia while I was living in Perth some years ago, and last ran into him in Rome... While I was unable to attend his ordination on Friday night, he very kindly accepted his first Mass stipend from me, and offered Mass for my intentions to-day.

I am sure he will be most grateful for every prayer that he be a wise and holy priest:

O God, who made your Only Begotten Son eternal High Priest, grant that those he has chosen as ministers and stewards of your mysteries may be found faithful in carrying out the ministry they have received.
Lord our God, who in governing your people make use of the ministry of Priests, grant to these men a persevering obedience to your will, so that by their ministry and life they may gain glory for you in Christ. 
O God, who have willed that your Priests should minister at the holy altar and serve your people, grant by the power of that sacrifice, we pray, that their labours may constantly please you and in your Church bear that fruit which lasts for ever. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Roman Missal, 'Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions', I. 6., alt.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Carn the Mighty Hawks!

Dad's footy team – and mine – is Hawthorn: the AFL Grand Final is about to start, "Up there Cazaly" has been sung, and the Hawks stand ready to defeat Freo. 

Thank God that Cazaly himself, when coaching Hawthorn sixty years ago, gave them their present nickname – prior to that, they'd been the Mayblooms...

I predict Hawthorn will win, by the skin of their teeth: the Fremantle Dockers are tough. Up the mighty Hawks!

UPDATE: the Dockers just didn't have it in them; Hawthorn won by 15 points. Excellent!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Novena to St Francis

My old friends the Dominicans liked to refer to St Francis as "Holy Uncle Frank". Clearly, something of the same resonated with a certain Jesuit earlier this year... And as I'm in a Franciscan parish these days, and one whose parish priest is getting on a bit (dear Fr Allan is eighty), I ask readers to join in a Novena to St Francis, with the intention that, when (hopefully none too soon!) our parish priest retires, we be given a new one (not a foregone conclusion, given the local shortage of clergy). An indefatigable parishioner suggested this to me yester-day: the Novena begins today, and concludes on the 3rd of October, the day of the death of St Francis.

What text? I suggest the traditional form of the Transitus: Psalm 141, Voce mea ad Dominum clamavi, which was prayed by St Francis as he lay dying – indeed he gave up the ghost as he recited the last verse, "Bring my soul out of this prison, and then I shall praise thy name" (and how wonderful a memory it is to think that I looked at that very spot when in the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels at Assisi a year or so ago) – with the antiphon O sanctissima anima; five Pater's, Ave's and Gloria's ("cross prayers" said with arms outstretched); the antiphon Salve, sancte Pater (which we sang last night at Compline and Benediction), with versicle and collect; and a final "Lord, hear my prayer" and "Let us bless the Lord", praying that He bless us by granting our request:



Aña. O sanctíssima ánima, in cujus tránsitu cæli cives occúrrunt, Angelórum chorus exsúltat, et gloriósa Trínitas invítat, dicens: Mane nobíscum in ætérnum.

Ps. 141.
Voce mea ad Dóminum clamávi: * voce mea ad Dóminum deprecátus sum.
Effúndo in conspéctu ejus oratiónem meam, * et tribulatiónem meam ante ipsum pronúntio.
In deficiéndo ex me spíritum meum, * et tu cognovísti sémitas meas.
In via hac, qua ambulábam, * abscondérunt láqueum mihi.
Considerábam ad déxteram, et vidébam: * et non erat qui cognósceret me.
Périit fuga a me, * et non est qui requírat ánimam meam.
Clamávi ad te, Dómine, † dixi: Tu es spes mea, * pórtio mea in terra vivéntium.
Inténde ad deprecatiónem meam: * quia humiliátus sum nimis.
Líbera me a persequéntibus me: * quia confortáti sunt super me.
Educ de custódia ánimam meam † ad confiténdum nómini tuo: * me exspéctant justi, donec retríbuas mihi.
Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, * et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.

Aña. O sanctíssima ánima, in cujus tránsitu cæli cives occúrrunt, Angelórum chorus exsúltat, et gloriósa Trínitas invítat, dicens: Mane nobíscum in ætérnum.

Pater noster... (v) Ave María... (v) Glória Patri... (v)

Aña. Salve, sancte Pater, pátriæ lux, forma Minórum: Virtútis spéculum, recti via, régula morum; Carnis ab exsílio duc nos ad regna polórum.

V/. Francíscus pauper et húmilis cælum dives ingréditur.
R/. Hymnis cæléstibus honorátur.

Deus, qui (hodiérna die) ánimæ beáti Patris nostri Francísci ætérnæ beatitúdinis præmia contulísti: † concéde propítius; ut qui ejus migratiónis memóriam piis afféctibus celebrámus, * ad ejúsdem beatitúdinis præmia felíciter perveníre mereámur. Per Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum Fílium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti, Deus, per ómnia sæcula sæculórum. R/. Amen.

V/. Dóminus vobíscum.
R/. Et cum spíritu tuo.
V/. Benedicámus Dómino.
R/. Deo grátias.


The first antiphon and the versicle are, of course, derived from the Office of St Martin of Tours, which itself drew from the Life of St Martin compiled by Sulpicius Severus:

«...O sanctissima anima...» (Aña ad Magn., 11 Nov.)
«... in cujus transitu...» (R/. vii, Brev. Rom. = R/. ix, Brev. Mon., 11 Nov.)
«...exsultant Angeli ...invitat: Mane nobiscum in æternum.» (Aña ad Bened., 11 Nov.)

«...Martinus, hic pauper et modicus, cælum dives ingreditur, hymnis cælestibus honoratur» (Aña. 5. ad Laudes et Vesperis, 11 Nov.)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Professor Palmer goes to Canberra

Please pray that Clive Palmer, that outspoken representative of an oppressed minority (there are, after all, few billionaires in Australia), will hang on to his slim lead in the battle to win the seat of Fairfax in Queensland, and thus – by three votes mayhap, as the current count indicates – he will take his rightful place in the House of Representatives, as just the sort of media-savvy and always entertaining politician that Australians in sober truth so richly deserve.

Apart from anything else, the service he provides to the populace, by disseminating such important revelations as links between Greenpeace and the CIA, the military’s involvement in attempting to frustrate his election, and a certain Ms Deng’s status as a Chinese spy, can only be further improved once he is protected by parliamentary privilege.

This blog can now exclusively reveal that the refounder and leader of the Palmer United Party (whose former leaders include Billy Hughes and Joseph Lyons, according to its website) plans to travel to Canberra on board that apple of his eye, his private ocean liner, a faithful replica of the ill-fated Titanic, currently under construction to his exacting specifications at an undisclosed location somewhere in the People’s Republic of China.

Work on the project has been accelerated in order to permit Clive to be conveyed in appropriate comfort from the Gold Coast to Australia’s capital in time for the state opening of Parliament, and repeal of the carbon tax (which ought assist his coal mines’ profitability).

Apart from a transient burst in dredging activity at Murray Mouth on the day the Titanic II sails in, some deepening of the main channel of the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Molonglo Rivers will be necessary to allow passage of the great ship up to our nation’s capital, as also reinforcing and extension works at the various locks along the Murray (beginning at the Goolwa Barrages), to which several more are to be added along the Murrumbidgee and Molonglo, including a new ship-lift at Scrivener Dam for the final ascension into Lake Burley Griffin.

It is understood that Professor Palmer’s company engineers have drafted all necessary plans, which his loyal employees stand by to complete at any moment – once his election is confirmed, and the already-chartered steam locomotives send them south to begin these capital works. 

(The alternative, a ship canal from Jervis Bay, is considered impracticable at this stage, but is viewed favourably as a vital nation-building infrastructure project suitable for implementation during the first term of the Palmer Government, once he becomes the Queen’s first minister.)

Rows of animatronic dinosaurs, specially shipped south from his luxury resort and Jurassic Park replica at Coolum in the cargo hold, will first be arrayed to line the streets from the jetty to Parliament House. They (and his employees and other loyal voters) will roar, cheer, bare their teeth and claw the air in triumph as his motorcade brings this Living National Treasure up Capital Hill.

It is understood that the festivities will be streamed online, and a documentary made to immortalize it, suitable for screening on the dedicated television channels at his many resort properties.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

God's in His Heaven...

...Tony's in Canberra, and Julian's in Hobart. Te Deum and all that, and not before time!

Having motored down to Hobart after work, I arrived at St Mary's Cathedral a good 70 minutes early: hence I actually got a seat in the nave. It was standing room only by the time the Premier and finally the Governor arrived for their reserved seats.

After "welcome to country", His Grace was welcomed at the doors of the Cathedral, and, coming in and up past the altar to before the tabernacle, he and all present knelt in silent prayer, the choir singing Bruckner's evocative Locus iste. After retiring to vest, he returned in procession with the ministers and concelebrating priests, bishops and archbishops, as the congregation and choir, accompanied by organ and brass ensemble, sang "Be thou my vision".

The Papal mandate was read by the Nuncio entirely in Latin, and very good Latin, too. I was pleased to realize that I could follow what was being said; for the benefit of us all, however, the Vicar General then read an English translation. How good to hear His Holiness exhort us to rejoice in our new Archbishop, and ever stick by him.

At the paying of homage to His Grace, the priests of the archdiocese came forward one by one, accompanied by parishioners representing their parish. I was struck by how very aged – no offence intended – were both the priests and the majority of the parish representatives.

One thing only marred the otherwise devout and beautiful ceremony, blessed with soaring music (such as C. V. Stanford's superlative Te Deum at the end) and excellent preaching: a mistress of ceremonies presided at the lectern, her locus of power being the superintendence of the lay readers (the lectionary being too holy for their hands) and psalm singer (who wasn't even allowed to hold his own music).

The ABC news today reports that, while "St Marys Cathedral has used middle-aged women as altar servers in the past... [Archbishop] Porteous says he prefers children and men to take on the role, to encourage them into the priesthood." Just as our new Prime Minister has started sacking senior public servants, so our new Archbishop is making his views clear.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


After work, I'll head down to Hobart to attend the installation of His Grace Julian Porteous as the new Archbishop of Hobart. Once I return, I'll probably post some details about the occasion. Of your charity, please pray for him and for the Church here in Tasmania, that its priests and people all profit from this change of leadership.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Prowse for Canberra-Goulburn

Congratulations to His Lordship of Sale, Christopher Prowse, who has just been appointed Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn. For his sins, he once taught me while I was studying for my theology degree... he's a good and pious priest (now of course a high priest) and I'm glad to see him promoted to the nation's premier see, as it were, as it is our federal capital.

Unfortunately, this leaves Sale (originally called Flooding Creek – Rivulus Inundans?) bereft of its chief pastor: thus the episcopal game of musical chairs continues. Pray that Abp Prowse's new ministry be blessed and fruitful, and that a right worthy successor to his present diocese be speedily appointed.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Election Night - the Morning After

I was a bit disgruntled at having to miss the first hour of the election night ABC coverage by going to the vigil Mass – not my normal reaction to missing television! – but singing in the choir, assisting at the Sacrifice and receiving the Sacrament restored me to a more supernatural outlook. That achieved, I went home, cooked an omelette, and settled back for a marathon viewing session beginning at about a quarter past seven, armed with my laptop (connected to the ABC's excellent election website) for further reference. I turned the TV off shortly after midnight.

Well, the news was no news of course: the Coalition defeated Labor, and Tony Abbott will be the new Prime Minister (I assume Mr Rudd must first formally tender his resignation to the Governor General, and then Mr Abbott will be summoned to take the oath of office).

In my own State, the swing against Labor was more than 10%, which presages a defeat of the Labor-Green State government here come March. It's a pity that Michael Hodgman died this year, not quite making it to see his son, Will, become Premier, as now appears almost certain.

When (after confession) I went to cast my vote yester-day (at my old primary school, as it happens), it was sad to see a rather crestfallen Geoff Lyons, MP, the (entirely forgettable) local member, rather pathetically trying to persuade someone, anyone, to vote for him. I snapped a great shot of him standing in front of one of the Liberals' "Labor: failure" banners...

After filling in the House ballot (numbering the candidates from 1 to 8) and then the Senate ballot (rather than numbering all 54 candidates individually, I chose the lazy option and simply numbered the party of my choice with a "1" above the line), I was glad to come out into the fresh air, and buy a nice fresh egg-and-bacon roll from the school parents and friends BBQ, and also a cappuccino from another stall. How civilized. Then I had to fill in the day – the farmers' market, a bush walk – before Mass and Election night.

It's not a proper federal election without some nonsense emanating from Queensland: quite apart from the defeat of our just-reinstated Prime Minister (he's retained his seat, but has announced he will not lead the Party in opposition), a titanic figure has appeared, bestriding the political stage as a behemoth: the somewhat eccentric and fulsome figure of Clive Palmer (as a cartoon titled him, "Professor, VC, QC,..." – he has a weak spot for laying claim to titles). 

It appears that this reputed billionaire may well win a seat (hopefully large enough) in the House – to the undying thanks of comedians everywhere – and also has snared for his eponymous party (Palmer United: according to its website, former leaders include Billy Hughes, Joseph Lyons and Bob Menzies) not one but two Senate spots; to my chagrin, not only one for banana-benders (he having shrewdly stood a former rugby great, and scored a hefty haul of votes), but one for apple-growers down here in Tasmania!

At least the comedy will continue.

The Senate, it appears from current predictions, will – thanks to a proportional voting system in serious need of reform – end up a real dog's breakfast. 

Recall that half the State Senators (six from each State, for a total of thirty-six) are elected every three years, for a six year term, while the Territory Senators (two from each, for a total of four) are elected at every general election, for a term of a maximum of three years – meaning that forty, or just over half the Senate, is freshly chosen every three years. For the sake of convenience, these half-Senate elections are made to coincide with elections for the House, though the State Senators chosen yester-day will not take office until the 1st of July next year (the Territory Senators take office at once, however).

Now, the remaining thirty-six Senators, those elected back in 2010, took office in mid-2011, and will retain their seats until mid-2017: by party affiliation, they are divided into sixteen Coalition, thirteen Labor, six Green and one minor party (DLP) Senator.  However, according to present calculations based on the computer modelling of preference distributions so far ascertained, the new crop of forty will instead have an almost farcical rainbow distribution: seventeen Coalition, twelve Labor, four Green and no less than seven minor or indeed micro-party Senators. 

The seven Senators from the minor parties may be as follows: Senator Xenophon (a well-respected independent); two Palmer United Senators (well, at least they'll be entertaining), one Liberal Democratic Senator (it appears that, by sheer luck, that tiny party snared first spot on the NSW ballot paper, and many voted for them thinking they were the Liberals), one Family First Senator (that party being a conservative Christian group that formerly had a Senator from 2005-2011, who was known then as "Senator Fluke" for somehow snaring election despite a minuscule first-preference showing), and then two real non-entities: one Senator each from – how embarrassing – the "Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party" and the "Australian Sports Party".

I am one with the respected psephologist Antony Green in saying that the cynical preference deals that are being used to engineer the election to high office of minor party candidates of whom no one has heard are making a mockery of the Senate electoral system. Fair enough, Senator Xenophon all agree won a large share of the votes, as have Palmer United candidates; but as for the all-but-unknown LDP, FFP, AMEP and ASP, they have only come to within coo-ee of winning (for the final cut-up of preferences won't be known for weeks) because of a quirk of the electoral system, whereby such minnows, thanks to complicated mutual preference swaps as specified by their party tickets, snare votes.

Green suggests – and I hope a like reform is passed through the new Parliament – that, instead of the seductive option, whereby perhaps 95% of voter did as I did, and simply number one party box "above the line" on the Senate paper, rather than face numbering off correctly all the massed candidates below, that numbering above the line be modified. Why? because by the current system, by marking a 1 in the box for, say, the Loony Party, that means that the Loony Party's official distribution of preferences will be automatically followed when calculating how your vote is distributed; and that makes the system open for exploitation by micro-parties, which have proliferated recently, to the point that up to fifty such unknown organizations run tickets.

The suggestion is that voting above the line be changed to signify instead optional preferential voting for each party's candidates, and no others. Thus, to number 1 Loony, 2 Monster and 3 Raving would mean that your first few preferences would go to the candidates of the Loonies, then the next few to those of the Monsters, and the last to those of the Ravings – and that would be where it would stop, you having resisted the urge to allocate any preferences to the Greens, Liberals or Labor (for example). Optional preferential voting already exists in several Australian states, and would effectually stamp out the oddity of the selection of Senators on the basis of minute first-preference votes augmented by sundry second-, third-, fourth- or even forty-ninth-preference flows.

This may prove highly relevant, if the new Abbott Government cannot get its repeal of the hated Carbon Tax through the Senate, or likewise its extremely generous paid parental leave scheme. The Prime Minister-elect has made it clear that he will not hesitate to call a double-dissolution election next year if the Senate proves obstructive: and that means all seventy-six Senate spots would be up for grabs, and – because of the quota being only half its normal value – that makes the current electoral system even more vulnerable to such gaming or, to be frank, manipulation by minor parties.

At least the new Senate – if it meets – will no longer have the Greens holding the balance of power. Their tyrannical and authoritarian tendencies, as also their sanctimoniousness, are odious.