09 July 2012

Blog has been moved

Come and visit the new blog: frrick.me

I decided to consolidate my websites on the one server and to move from blogger to wordpress; so you will find the latest updates and resources available on my two new websites - at the new addresses: frrick.org and frrick.me

All of the posts from this blog have been transferred to the new site.

08 July 2012

Grace and weakness

The disciples in the gospel of Mark are at times amazed and astonished by the work and ministry of Jesus. Here, when Jesus makes his way back home to Nazareth, there is more amazement and astonishment - but not in the good way. The people think they know Jesus - they grew up with him and know his large extended family. How can he be one who brings in the kingdom of God?
In second Corinthians, St Paul has been defending his ministry against a range of people who are called false apostles who describe in great detail their powerful and incredible spiritual experiences. Paul can also offer his own amazing encounters with Christ, but instead he talks about someone he knows who had this most sublime spiritual encounter some fourteen years before (described in the opening verses of 2 Corinthians 12). But more than anything, Paul wants us to know about his weakness and this particular affliction that he has received - this thorn  in his side - that has kept him humble and allowed him to discover that 'my grace is enough for you.'

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Recorded at St Paul's, 8am (8'56")
Sunday 14, Year B
2 Cor 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6

02 July 2012

Crowds and sandwiches

In the Gospel of Mark we are treated to a rather brilliant example of the Markan sandwich - two inter-related stories that provide flavour, texture and context to each other to highlight the power of the kingdom of God that breaks into our existence through the ministry of Jesus. The woman suffering with the hemorrhage for twelve years and the twelve-year-old daughter of Jairus are both fearful, suffering, in need of healing and salvation, and both are supported by faith in the midst of a crowd that has other ideas and does not share in the same faith.

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Recorded at St Paul's, 10am (11'22")
Sunday 13B

24 June 2012

Centre of history

One of the deepest deficiencies of our current age is that our religious education presents the person of Jesus and the teaching of Christianity as if they existed in splendid historical isolation. You experience this in part with the tendency to focus only on the stories of Jesus - the parables and the mighty deed narratives drawn from the gospels, and perhaps a few lines from the writings of St Paul - and little more. Although formally most Catholics would acknowledge that the rest of the scriptures, including the writings of the Old Testament were equally part of divine revelation, in practice they are regularly ignored.
As we celebrate the nativity of St John the Precursor, we have to take account of the fact that both the Gospels and the writings of St Paul place the life and example of St John as central to the ministry of Jesus. So we must begin by taking time to remember what it was that provided the context of John's life and what he can continue to offer for us today.

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Recorded at St Paul's, Vigil Mass (6pm, 8'27")

17 June 2012

Mustard Seed Mary

Even though as a family we would gather to pray the Rosary every night, I have never had a strong devotion to Mary, and some forms of Marian devotion have been a real turn-off for me. So when I was discerning which Diocese to join, the fact that the Patronal Feast of the Diocese of Wollongong was the Immaculate Heart of Mary was something of a turn-off. I had always considered it appropriate that the two feast days of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary were celebrated side-by-side in the liturgical calendar, but that the Sacred Heart was a Solemnity (the highest form of the feast day) and the Immaculate Heart was only an optional Memorial - the lowest form. This provided the correct balance between the worship of Jesus and the honour due to Mary. Yet in Wollongong, since it is the Patronal feastday, the Immaculate Heart is also celebrated as a Solemnity.

So what do our readings today - complete with two images and parables of the seed taken from the 11th Sunday in the Season of the Year - have to offer us?

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Recorded at St Paul's, 10am. (8'21")

16 June 2012

Images of the Sacred Heart

Growing up our home was full of images of the Sacred Heart - not just in the lounge room but almost every bedroom also had a large image of the Sacred Heart. But many of the images can be somewhat ... interesting.
This first image is similar to the images that I grew up with (except our almost always seemed to be in an oval frame).

This image is more modern, but still very physical and a hyper-realistic depiction of the heart of Jesus, complete with the crown of thorns, flames and cross.

 This image is perhaps even more scary? Somehow the heart of Jesus is able to be held out and offered to us! A rather strange image in my humble opinion.

This image of Jesus comes not from the English or Irish traditions, but from the Spanish school of spirituality, which is content to feature the heart of Jesus in more symbolic ways. This is one of my favourite images of the Sacred Heart and expresses the authentic French spirituality powerfully as the risen Lord invites us to "Come unto me." This was the image that I chose for my ordination six years ago.

Finally the fresco that is found in the Visitation Chapel in the town of Paray le Monial in the middle of France, which is where St Margaret Mary received the apparitions of the Sacred Heart. This image firmly connects the devotion to the heart of Jesus with the crucifixion as Jesus opens his arms and heart to all people and declares: "Behold the heart that has loved [us] so much..."

Recorded at St Paul's, Camden, at a whole school liturgy with children from St Justin's.

10 June 2012

A sacrifice of blood

Although the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is the only feast day during the year where the traditional Latin name is still well-known, to call the feast Corpus Christi seems to do some injustice to the richness of what today's liturgy offers us. The readings today do not focus on the Body of Christ - but indeed on the Blood of Christ. Each reading, beginning with the description of the people of God entering into the covenant in Exodus 24, through the description of the feast of Yom Kippur - the annual Day of Atonement celebration in the Book of Hebrews 9, through to the remembrance of the Passover celebration with Jesus and the disciples in the Gospel of Mark 14 focuses on the blood of sacrifice.

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Recorded at St Paul's Camden, 5.30pm. (9'09")

03 June 2012

Go make disciples

It is no wonder that the Gospel of Matthew ends with the disciples gathered on a mountain. Mountains are key in the history of Israel, as well as being key to the ministry of Jesus. So I am sure it was with light hearts that the disciples made the journey from smelly Jerusalem that sunny Spring day to the fresh air upon the slopes of the mountain, with the gentle breeze sweeping across the landscape from the lake below. As the eleven gathered there, Jesus appeared to them and the natural reaction for most of them was to fall down and worship the one who was now demonstrated to be worthy of praise (although some hesitated - wondering if their concept of the one and only God could be extended to this very human Jesus). Then Jesus offers his final words to the disciples and to the Church - five short statements that provide us with the shape of church mission ever since. First he declares that all authority has been given to him - a somewhat bizarre declaration if it is not understood correctly. He ends with a reminder of the promise that was made at the birth of Jesus - that he will be called Emmanuel - God with us; now it will be Jesus who remains with his Church until the end of time. In between Jesus gives the church the Great Commission, the call to the church to GO! There are three elements to the commission: (1) make disciples; (2) baptise them; and (3) teach them. It is clear that the Catholic Church has been very faithful over the centuries to the last two, but that there is a natural priority and order to the commission that requires that the first step is to make disciples. Unless a person is allowed to be and called to be a disciple, the other two aspects appear to make little sense.

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Recorded at St Paul's (10'05")
Trinity Sunday. Matthew 28:15-20.

27 May 2012

Becoming the people of God

About a month ago I accepted the invitation of one of our parishioners - Peter - to go gliding with him. It is certainly an incredible experience as you are towed up a couple thousand metres by an old crop-duster, and then once you reach the designated height the cable connecting you to the plain is released and then you are on your own - somehow managing to glide and soar up there - and not crash. Rather cool - especially because the only noise (still fairly considerable) is of the air rushing past - you don't also have the vociferation of motors. As we flew around above Camden, Peter gave me a quick run through of gliding theory as we attempted to source any available thermals so that we did not just glide but also soar - the real object of modern gliding/soaring.He also explained that contrary to what I probably (and did) learn in science, that it is not really accurate to say that hot air rises, but that cooler air, being denser and thus heavier than warmer air, falls and causes warmer air to be displaced - and thus rise.
This started me thinking about the feast of Pentecost that we celebrate today - enriched with the imagery of the wind and fire of the Spirit - and celebrated by the first disciples as the festival of Shavuot, which also became known as the Harvest Festival or the Feast of Weeks, and celebrated seven weeks (or a week of weeks) after the Passover (Nisan 14), so that it usually fell on Sivan 6 or 7. [Today it is always celebrated on Sivan 6, so that it falls on the same day that we celebrate Pentecost this year.]
After being rescued from the slavery of Egypt and travelling through the wilderness for seven weeks, the people of God arrived at Mount Sinai - and for the first time in recorded human history - and perhaps the only time - God addressed himself not just to an individual, a family or a group of people - but to an entire nation (Exodus 19). God called this people as a treasured possession of the Lord - a chosen nation and a royal priesthood - a people who would be covenanted and be the people who received the law of God.
After the people settled into the promised land, this festival also took on the character of a harvest festival, when the first fruits of the summer harvest would be offered to the Lord. So both dimensions would have been in the minds and prayer of the disciples as they gathered in the upper room to celebrate Shavuot. The events of Pentecost could never have happened to only one or two holy people - it only made sense in community. And it could only make sense in a community that were caught up in the harvest and the desire to go beyond their own little world and their own little walls. Maybe this is what we are missing in the contemporary individual church?

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Recorded at St Paul's, 8am (9'41")
EPB [E8B] - Pentecost Sunday (Year B)

20 May 2012

Seated at the right hand of the Father

The Feast of the Ascension can strike us a quite bizarre affair - especially to one who grew up on a diet of science-fiction and imagined that Jesus somehow managed to add flying and living outside of the atmosphere to his walking-on-water and multiplying food - as well as raising the dead and getting through locked doors (after being resurrected from the dead). So today I want to allow St Paul's powerful prayer in Ephesians to inspire us to look deeper into the truth behind the feast, and particularly to consider what it meant for Jesus to be seated at the right hand of God. We begin with the description of the burnt offering in Leviticus 1.

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Recorded at St Paul's, 5.30pm (12'29")