Good afternoon PFG Team across Aotearoa and Oz,
After returning from Christchurch I can’t believe the weather I came back to– sunny and 26 degrees.
Well, I have come back to earth as the forecast is rain until, next Wednesday. Such is life!
We had a very successful time with catching up with Mid Canterbury parish and supporting them as they work towards a relaunch in early 2022 with much enthusiasm. Also very enthusiastic meeting with Christchurch South who are very organised and committed to a relaunch on the last weekend of February and Christchurch West a successful meeting where we are also working towards a relaunch in 2022. Christchurch North are on track for their relaunch on the last weekend in March.
I want to give a shout out to our Regional Team in Christchurch, to Stephanie and Joe Butchard for their support, leadership and hospitality. Also, a big shout out to Aileen and Murray Straight whose support and advice has been invaluable. I was able to be on the receiving end of their hospitality.
It’s not true they said, “when’s he going?” Is it? Ha!
To the rest of Aotearoa, I hope this finds you all reasonably well and coping with these uneasy times. I appreciate that there are many concerns of how things are going to move forward especially Auckland and its surrounds. The vaccination rates have improved and I guess the call is that this ‘virus’ is not going anywhere and we have to adapt and adjust to its presence in out communities.
For many, this creates fear and frustration and then added to this; are the other variants of people who refuse the jab and, those who constantly keep breaking the rules. Put it all in the mix and how are we to respond? Seems that we need to keep faith and hope at the fore.
“The virtue of hope is a call to action; it impels us to get to work rather than simply to hope in a shallow and passive manner. When Jesus teaches us to pray in the ‘Our Father’: “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, when he says that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, he is inviting us to join with God, in partnership, to make God’s dream for our world come true. The virtue of hope demands human effort. We must work as if it all depends on us and hope as if it all depends upon God.”
This can seem too much as people are tired and worn down by Covid. However, the hope that comes for each of us is when we reach out to others. When we put our concerns to one side enabling others to be heard, contacted, listened to and assisted through care. Each time you phone, send an email, wave on a walk, you are a contributor of bringing ‘hope’ to others and this in and of itself, breathes hope.
Thank you to each of you in your Passionist Family Groups for the outreach you have given during this pandemic. It has not been easy and I don’t see it getting much easier for a few week as yet. But, there is a light on (not just the traffic light system Ha!) and while it is on – there, is the possibility of sharing Christmas and summer with loved ones. As we are enthused by this let us remember those unable to travel due to illness, lack of income or ability. Let’s remember in our comfort to share some of that with those who need. Keep up the great work of support and care.
Our own human experience is that suffering in all forms is part and parcel of life. Fair or unfair, it strikes us and in and through our faith, human response, and interaction, we seek to make sense of it, of our life, our circumstances and ourselves. We, as part of the Passionist Family are called to be a sign – of love, forgiveness and a being down to earth in our life and faith sharing. Keep at it!
“I walk in dark and secure” – St John of the Cross
I thought the following except from an article in Cath news New Zealand would be of use as we face a few hurdles with our church communities – how is it going to work? What are the considerations? It is not easy balancing rights?
Churches consider traffic lights, vaccinated people, values and safety
Churches are considering a number of contingency plans while they weigh up if they will re-open only to vaccinated people when the traffic light system kicks in.
Last month the government announced details of its Covid-19 Protection Framework, involving the roll-out of a ‘traffic-light’ system once all DHBs hit 90 percent full vaccination rates.
Under this system, churches with over 100 people can only meet under the orange setting without restrictions if vaccine certificates are used. Without a certificate, only 50 people can gather one meter apart.
Green allows the same numbers as orange for vaccine certificate gatherings. However, only up to 100 people one metre apart can gather without the mandate.
Under the red setting, churches using certificates can have 100 people, one metre apart; without vaccine certificates only 10 people can gather with social distancing.
Among the people speaking to media about the vaccine certificates and how the mandate affects churchgoers was New Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre director John Kleinsman .
He says while churches are generally safe places, open to all without prejudice, that was far from clear cut during a pandemic.
“It is tricky and we’ve never been in this place before. Churches should be safe places and at the same time they should also be places that are open to all people without prejudice or any discrimination.”
Kleinsman says, some people would feel unsafe and would not want to come to church if non-vaccinated people were present, while some would feel excluded if non-vaccinated people were unable to attend.
“Ethical dilemmas inevitably involve balancing competing values and rights and this is a case in point, the ability and autonomy of people to choose and of course we respect people’s conscience.
“How do you balance competing rights, that’s what we’re debating and struggling with and reflecting on at the moment?” Kleinsman says this the Nathaniel Centre is providing advice to Bishops ahead of a meeting this week. He says they would be leaning on important values to guide parishes.
“Within our own Catholic social teaching, we have principles to assist in those dilemmas,” he says.
“In this case, I would say that the key principles that apply would be the principle of the common good, the principle of the option for the most vulnerable, the principle of solidarity and as well the dignity of the individual, which for me includes the right to be protected from harm from other people.”
“Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” – Joshua 10:25
Lectionary readings 34 Sunday of Ordinary Time
First reading: Daniel 12:1-3
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 15(16):5, 8-11
Second reading: Hebrews 10:11-14, 18
Gospel: Mark 13:24-32
Link to readings – simply click here
As the Church’s year draws to a close, the readings this Sunday speak both of endings and eternal beginnings. All of them offer hope and direction to communities living in the midst of turbulent change and uncertainty.
The Prophet Daniel in the First Reading offers hope of resurrection to a people facing persecution for their faith.
The Psalm is a song of confidence in God as a refuge and shelter. It would have been sung and prayed by those facing sickness and death, and by their loved ones. These comforting words speak of a joyful life when we keep close to the Lord, even in the midst of our difficulties.
In the Second Reading, the early Christian community is taught that there is no longer a need for the ancient priestly practice of offering sacrifices for the forgiveness of sin. Christ is our one Eternal Priest and offers us a life of forgiveness and freedom from the burden of sin.
Jesus is preparing his disciples for a time of loss, tribulation, change, and ultimately the new life of Resurrection (Gospel). Although dramatic change will soon fall upon him and the disciples, Jesus’s teaching also reminds us that it is the nature of our world always to be facing moments of death and resurrection. The eternal words of Jesus will never pass away, and these are our comfort and refuge for the uncertain times we live through now.
This week, let us pray for each other, that we will forever keep the Lord in our sight. May we be living signs of Christ’s love and forgiveness in our world, and may we face these challenging times with confidence.
- What’s the difference between a poorly dressed man on a tricycle and a well-dressed man on a bicycle? Attire!
- How many apples grow on a tree? All of them!
- Did you hear the rumour about butter? Well, I’m not going to spread it!
- Did you hear about the guy who invented Lifesavers? They say he made a mint!
- Last night I had a dream that I weighed less than a thousandth of a gram. I was like, 0mg.
- A cheese factory exploded in France. Da brie is everywhere!
- Why did the old man fall in the well? Because he couldn’t see that well!
- What do you call a factory that sells passable products? A satisfactory!
- Why did the invisible man turn down the job offer? He couldn’t see himself doing it!
Well, you all, have a good week.
Take care, keep safe and keep positive.