Sunday 30 July
9.00 Holy Eucharist
Celebrant: Fr David Jones
Sunday 30 July
9.00 Holy Eucharist
Celebrant: Fr David Jones
On Sunday 9 July Bishop Richard visited the Church of St John the Beloved in Melbourne where he admitted Nicole and CHristine to the second stage of the order of Our Lady – the Stage of Devotion.
At the end of the month Bp Richard will attend the Provincial Episcopal Synod (meeting of the Australian Bishops) in Perth. Fr David Jones will celebrate on Sunday 30 July at St Michael and All Angels.
Our monthly newsletters, both the current newsletter and past ones, can now be found on the blog page.
NEWSLETTER June 2017
July services at St Michael and All Angels
Sunday 2 July Visitation of Our Lady
Intent: God as ruler of the angels
Sunday 16 July 5th Sunday after Trinity
Intent: God as peace
Sunday 30 July 7th Sunday after Trinity
Intent: Purity, a day of devotion to the Holy Spirit
Sundays with no service at St Michael’s:
Sunday 9 July, 4th Sunday after Trinity
Intent: God as love
Sunday 23 July, 6th Sunday after Trinity
Intent: Steadfast service
Visitation of our Lady
The first Sunday in July has as its principle focus the Festival of the “Visitation of our Lady”. In the Eucharist celebration the Gospel passage for this day is taken from St Luke and it records the visit of Mary to her relative Elizabeth’s home. Elizabeth is carrying the future John the Baptist. When Mary first enters her house, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Ghost, in the same way that the disciples were inspired by the Holy Ghost at Whitsunday. Elizabeth speaks profoundly prophetic words which have come down to us in the 21st Century as “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb“. Mary responds with the words “My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my saviour”. Many beautiful and famous music settings have been applied to these words throughout the Christian era. The deep spiritual lessons of this family narrative and the profound connection with the Wisdom concept as seen in the passage from the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, which has been adopted for the Epistle for this day, are very meaningful sources of inspiration in our meditations and reflections.
Mary and Elizabeth, Fresco by Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua
There are 25 Sundays in the “season” of Trinity, including Trinity Sunday, which is commemorated after Whitsunday. The first Sunday of July is dedicated to the Visitation of our Lady as well as being the 3rd Sunday after Trinity, and the intent for this Sunday is “God as Ruler of the Angels”. During the second half of the Church year the intents of the Trinity Sundays allow us to reflect on the Festivals of the first half of the year and to gradually incorporate these into our mediations and prayers, keeping us spiritually grounded in our busy lives.
We are reminded of the Trinity every time we start a Church service such as the Eucharist, where the Celebrant says the Invocation, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”, which links all those taking part in the Church service with the concept of the Trinity. The Invocation also establishes the intent of all those involved to accept the Trinity as the basis of our Church practice, worship and prayers.
The concept of the Trinity goes back a long way in the history of Christianity and incorporates the spiritual concept of God being “three persons in one”. Perhaps this is not such a straightforward idea for all people to adopt or work with, but in fact we have examples of this in our own lives and in the lives of those with whom we continually interact. A Supreme Court Judge, for instance, can have a day job, maintaining the law of the land, and perhaps then go home at the end of the day to a family. In home life, this person then plays a different role with usually quite different behaviour. Perhaps, besides being a judge, she is a mother to her children, a wife to her husband and the establisher of a family structure in all its varied forms.
In this scenario, in the morning this several-sided person takes a deep breath and plunges back into her varied rolls, energised to carry out her lives in a meaningful way. Our “three in one “analogy can be seen as a microcosm of the Trinity in our daily lives.
A few reflections from Venice and the Veneto
At the beginning of June, Else and I enjoyed some time in the city of Venice and the surrounding Veneto. The opportunities to experience the mixture of art, religion and political power in the context of the history of Northern Italy is certainly overwhelming, and careful pacing is crucial. But a few highlights that I would like to share with you are as follows. The Basilica of St Mark’s in Venice is an intense focus of tourism, but the long lines of sightseers patiently waiting to get in can be avoided by attending one of the many scheduled Masses. We chose the sung Mass and enjoyed truly stunning choral work. It was a reminder of the deeply moving experience that quality music and singing combined with the Mass can have on the attendees of such a church service.
We visited the island of Torcello in the Venice lagoon, where the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta was established in 11th Century. With an island population of a few dozen now, it is hard to appreciate that this was the power centre of the Venice area at that time. The frescoes and mosaics are very bright and well preserved and it is easy to see the instructional effect such art would have had on congregations where reading was not widespread.
The city of Padua can be reached by slow “all stops” trains in an hour or a fast train in 10 minutes. We enjoyed the passing scenery of the slow train and visited the Baptistery of the cathedral of Padua decorated with frescos by Giusto De’ Menabuoi and also the magnificent Chapel of the Scrovegni (family) decorated with frescos by Giotto. The Baptistery frescoes by Giusto De’ Menabuoi show in a very vivid, direct and colourful way how the education of the people was structured. In effect, these art works are a four-sided “Sunday school” combined with moral instruction. We spent over an hour in this relatively small space, and the impact of the depictions was very powerful, and by no means “spiritually exhausting”. The puritan impact of plain white walls in our modern churches certainly appears to be a step backwards in providing a rich experience for church goers.
With God’s blessing
Padua Baptitstery of the cathedral
NEWSLETTER February 2017
MARCH services at St Michael and All Angels
Sunday 5 March First Sunday of Lent
Colour: Violet, Intent: Self-examination
Sunday 19 March Third Sunday of Lent
Colour: Violet, Intent: Understanding
Sundays with no service at St Michael’s:
Sunday 12 March Second Sunday of Lent
Colour: Violet, Intent: Control of Speech
Sunday 26 March Fourth Sunday of Lent
Colour: Red, Intent: The Holy Spirit as the fire of love
Self-examination in the period of Lent (Becoming our own therapists!)
The period of Lent starts this year on the 1st March with Ash Wednesday. This name refers to the practice of burning the last year palm crosses and putting the resultant ash on the forehead as a sign that the period of preparation has commenced.
Not all members of the Liberal Catholic Church follow this practice, but it is worth noting the day (Ash Wednesday) as the start of a special time when, using the intent of the first Sunday in lent, we can begin a period of self-examination.
Over the last few years there has begun to be an interest in a program of inner review and conscious thought redirection under the general heading of “Mindfulness”. Mindfulness programs are presented in different formats and with different emphases and teachings, but the common theme is to break entrenched negative ways of thinking and develop a level of mental resilience. This resilience firstly enables us to deal with the usual range of “slings and arrows” that we all experience at times in our lives, and ultimately aims at increasing our inner contentment and enjoyment of life.
Some of us use the techniques of focussing on our breath as a means of starting and sustaining a meditation session. This generally leads to a quietening of our “rattling” mental chatter and a deepening experience of calm. This meditation technique is quite similar to the process of Mindfulness in our everyday activities, as they share a common mind-body-breath link and utilise the interacting nature of mind, body and breath.
This brings me to “self-examination” and getting the best from a Lenten preparation practice. The mediaeval use of physical extremes and pain as a practice related to Lent is definitely not prescribed in the Liberal Catholic Church and achieves no beneficial change in the practitioner. The focus of change should be the heart and the mind. What is of benefit is to look for real, sustainable change in our negative thoughts and feelings and establishing a new, “hard-wired” positive thinking process. This is the bedrock that underpins a more contented and healthier life.
It is interesting to note that present day research in the areas of cognition and physical brain function has found that obsessional and negative thoughts actually create physical neural pathways that reinforce this negative thinking process in an unhealthy, circular fashion. In other words, what we practise is what we become good at! The antidote is to avoid dwelling on whatever part of such a negative process we observe in ourselves, and instead to place our full focus on a positive part of our life, something we can be grateful for, and to do this as a regular, daily practice. The advice from our grandparents to “count our blessings” is, in fact, the most effective and far-ranging mental process to build a happier and more contented “mental environment” for our waking consciousness. And neural scientists tell us that it keeps us physically healthier as well.
So this is what I would recommend for us during this Lenten preparation period. By all means begin to discard unhealthy eating practices and have a second look at that “daily walk” routine but, most importantly, as we prepare for the festival of Easter, let’s get our hearts and minds into great shape, ready to fully embrace the rich message of Easter.
The Battle Between Carnival and Lent (Painted by Jan Miense Molenaer in 1633)
Visit to the church of St John the Beloved in Melbourne
It was a great pleasure for Else and me to attend a service at the church of St John the Beloved in Melbourne on Sunday 12 February. Thank you to Fr Fred and his cheerful congregation for making us so welcome. For me personally it was a special occasion because, as my first pontifical ceremony, I was very pleased to admit Nicole and Christine to the Order of Our Lady at the Stage of Purity.
With God’s blessing
NEWSLETTER January 2017
FEBRUARY SERVICES at St Michael and All Angels
Sunday 5 February
Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple (Candlemas)
Also the 5th Sunday after Epiphany, Colour: White, Intent: Steadfastness and Diligence
Sunday 19 February
Sexagesima, Colour: Red, Intent: The Holy Spirit as sanctifier
Sundays with NO SERVICE at St Michael’s:
Sunday 12 February
Septuagesima, Colour: Red, Intent: The gift of wisdom
Special note: Monday 13 February is the 101th anniversary of the founding of the Liberal Catholic Church
Sunday 26 February
Quinquagesima, Colour: Red, Intent: The Holy Spirit as the fire of love
The Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, or Candlemas, follows the Festival of the Transfiguration, celebrated on the fifth Sunday of January. This “presentation” is symbolically re-enacted at Candlemas to signify the mystical presentation of the transfigured Jesus to God the Father.
The pre-Lenten Season
The pre-Lenten traditional Carnival season, also called Shrovetide, falls in the last three weeks in February this year. The usual preparation periods such as Advent and Lent have the colour violet, but this period has a different tone, being one of pre-Lenten “carnival”, and the colour is red. The red signifies that we are invoking the Holy Spirit during this time.
The pre-Lenten period starts on Septuagesima, which is 70 days to the end of the Easter festival season, the ninth Sunday before Easter and the third Sunday before Ash Wednesday, the 3rd March. Sexagesima (60 days) and Quinquagesima (50 days) follow in the same pattern. The pre-Lenten period concludes on Shrove Tuesday, which is traditionally the day of Mardi Gras (from the French “fat Tuesday”) and is the day before Ash Wednesday when the Lenten fast begins.
Celebrations and Preparations
It is worth noting that a Carnival season is a practical opportunity for bringing the community together. In the northern hemisphere Carnival brings people “out of their houses” after a long cold winter spent mostly indoors, and allows a measure of frivolity prior to the next preparation cycle which starts on Ash Wednesday. To assist with the process of bonding in the community, the wearing of masks and costumes in some Carnival festivities allow people to hide their everyday identities and mix freely in the community.
Carnival in Venice Carnival in Rio
The pre-Lenten carnival celebration season need not be thought of as complete abandonment of all moral boundaries; rather it is an opportunity for people to experience companionship with friends and strangers alike behind their disguises and, most importantly, an opportunity to experience what it was like to be a different person.
From Christmas through to the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, we celebrate three very significant personal growth events for Jesus, sometimes called initiations. The first is Christmas (the establishment of a firm base); the second is Baptism (an expansion of the intellect); and the third is the Transfiguration (establishment of close contact with the spirit within).
After his Baptism Jesus spent a period in the desert in isolation where, as recorded in the Gospels, he was confronted by the Devil offering Him a series of temptations. These he successfully worked through and overcame. We might imagine Him returning after his period in the desert, where He had integrated the enormous change of awareness brought about in Him by the initiation of Baptism. In spite of the very significant internal growth he had experienced, as he still looked the same externally He would naturally have been treated by the people with whom He lived as if nothing had changed.
We can learn from, or perhaps we have even taken part in, the experience of being in disguise or being dressed up as actors on the stage where, although people may recognise us, they accept a radical change in behaviour during the time we are playing that part. In these circumstances we have the experience of being a changed person simply by changing our outward appearance. We experience what it is like to change internally, an experience that is significant and real. In a similar way, this is what we are looking for as we pursue our own internal spiritual path.
.In Jesus the change is internal and is brought about by a structured initiation. In the “dress-up” or carnival situation we can experience the loosening of our previous limitations because the people around us allow us to try out different behaviour patterns as a result of our having an altered outward appearance. Compared to a spiritual initiation and the structured growth it enables, the feeling of expanded possibilities that we experience by a change of clothes and masks is severely limited, but it is still an experience that reminds us that internal change is possible for the individual.
Visit to the church of St Francis and St Alban in Gordon, NSW
On Sunday 29 January I celebrated the Festival of the Transfiguration at St Francis in Gordon. Else and I were very happy to enjoy the hospitality of the clergy and parishioners of St Francis and, in spite of the organ not operating, we all enjoyed the impromptu four-part a cappella sung service. How fortunate St Francis are to have such talented singers. Once again we were struck by the beauty of the church and the magnificent stained glass windows, almost all of which were designed and made by the Very Reverend Ron Rivett. Our thanks to all for a lovely lunch after the service.
Bp Richard and Deaconess Robyn Puhlmann Our Lady Altar at St Francis