Cardinal George Pell's new book 'Be Not Afraid' (Duffy & Snellgrove) is to be launched in Sydney on 3 November and in Melbourne on 4 November 2004. The book consists of selections from Dr Pell's sermons and talks given since the 1980s. They are arranged under various topic headings.
Two extracts from the book are included on these pages. Appropriately they are on the topic of Our Lady, since October is the month of the Rosary.
'Be Not Afraid' will be available from AD Books following the launches for $24.95.
Our Lady Help of Christians
Readings: Eccl 4:11-18 1; Cor 1:18-25.
Gospel: John 19:25-27 (Mary was standing at the foot of her Son's cross with John when Jesus turned to her and said 'Woman, behold your son.' To John He said: 'Behold your mother.')
Sermon preached to primary school children at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, 24 May 2002, Feast Day of Our Lady Help of Christians, Patroness of Australia.
THE Cathedral Church of the Archdiocese of Sydney is dedicated to God in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate, Help of Christians.
This wonderful church was built by your ancestors without any government money. They were poor and there were not many of them. It shows what they thought was important, and the strength of their faith.
In the year 1821, the pioneer missionary priest Fr John Joseph Therry, recently arrived in the Colony of New South Wales from Ireland, began construction of the first Catholic church to be erected in Australia. The government of the colony granted the land for this building in a spot away from the city and close to the jail, the army barracks and the rubbish tip. This sacred edifice was named in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was known as "St Mary's Chapel". It was therefore known as the "Mother Church" for all Australia, because it was first.
With the arrival in Sydney, in 1835, of the Most Reverend John Bede Polding OSB, Vicar Apostolic of New Holland and later Archbishop of Sydney, the Catholic Chapel became known as "St Mary's Cathedral". A Cathedral is where the bishop's teaching chair is placed. "Cathedra" is the Greek word for this chair. Most of your priests were ordained here, and some of you were here for the blessing of the oils for baptism, confirmation and anointing of the sick.
The devotion to the Mother of God of the Catholics of the Australian colonies was reaffirmed by the First Provincial Synod of Sydney in 1844, which elected as Patroness of Australia, the Blessed Virgin Mary under the Title of "Help of Christians". This Act of the Synod was confirmed by the Holy See in 1847.
With the tragic destruction by fire of the first St Mary's Cathedral on 29 June 1865, Archbishop Polding and the Catholic people of Sydney began the task of raising a new and more noble Cathedral on the site of the old building. William Wardell, the great English Catholic architect was commissioned to build the new Cathedral and his brief was simple: to build "Any style, any plan, anything that is beautiful and grand to the extent of your power". The foundation stone was laid in 1868, and is dedicated under the patronage of the Immaculate Mother of God, Help of Christians.
The Cathedral was opened for worship by Archbishop Roger Bede Vaughan in 1882, while only partly built; the spires were completed in the Jubilee Year 2000.
During your years in Catholic schools we want you to learn and understand some important and beautiful truths. Only a few are of first importance. The most important truth is that God, the invisible Spirit, is love and God loves all His creation, every person, every one of you, me too.
However, among the many different races God chose one group in particular to do His work and explain His teaching, the Jews. Jesus was born a Jew and His teachings built on all the good news in the Jewish writings we call the Old Testament. As Catholics we are now part of God's people.
The Old Testament prophecy tells us this, that Yahweh, the Jewish name for the one true God, is coming to look after the Jews, and that later, other people, like us Aussies, will know God too. The second reading from St Paul tells us we are God's sons and daughters. The first truth is that God loves us, especially when we are in trouble.
The second truth has been mentioned already: that Jesus is Mary's son, but that He had no human father, as He is the only Son of God. He was born in a stable, not a palace, had a hard life with many attacking Him and died, crucified on a cross when He was about thirty-three years old.
He saved us through his death and resurrection so that our sins can be forgiven and so we can go to heaven to be happy forever. This is the second truth. Jesus is God's Son and redeemed us.
The gospel passage shows us that when Jesus was dying He gave His mother Mary to the apostle John, who represents us, as our mother.
I know how you love your own mums. With your father she is the most important person in your young lives. Mary is our heavenly mother. You must learn to pray to her, Our Lady, regularly, each day, even if for some reason you do not always get to Sunday Mass. That is why we have prayers each day at school. But that is not enough. You yourself should always pray a Hail Mary every day, with the Our Father, so that Our Lady will ask God to protect you and your loved ones.
Nearly all children turn to their mother when they are sick, or in trouble, or in need of help or advice. I want you to turn to Our Lady, to pray to her, when you are in trouble.
The stained glass window behind the altar shows Our Lady Help of Christians. Her statue is there. The windows around the Cathedral show the mysteries of the rosary. Get your teachers to explain this to you.
Many centuries ago, Pope Pius V gave the title Help of Christians to Our Lady after a European fleet in an immense battle defeated the Turkish fleet at Lepanto in 1571. The Turks were pressing on many points to conquer Europe. Those of you from Malta would have heard of the heroic deeds of the knights and people defending Malta in the siege in 1565.
The Australian bishops chose this title Mary Help of Christians in 1844 at their first official meeting together, because two successive popes, Pius VI and Pius VII, had been imprisoned by the French leader Napoleon some thirty or forty years before, and the Catholic people prayed to Our Lady Help of Christians to protect them.
We too should pray for one another, our country, especially the soldiers who died for us and pray for peace, now and especially during your lifetimes.
October, the month of the Rosary
Reading: Luke 1:26-38
Homily at Rosary Home for the Aged, Keilor Downs, Melbourne, 10 October 1997.
WE find in our Blessed Lady the most generous example of dedication to God and to the needs of the children of God. In Chapter One of St Luke's Gospel we hear the wonderful story of how Mary placed herself in God's hands and accepted His call to be the Mother of His Son. St Bernard described the meeting of Mary and the Archangel Gabriel as the most important conversation that was ever held on earth. It is, he said, as though the whole of humanity was waiting for the response of the humble maiden of Nazareth. Her "Yes" to God was the beginning of the mystery of our salvation in Christ.
When Mary said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord", our faith tells us that the only Son of God began His human journey among us. In a real way we can say that Jesus took from His mother not only His body, but also many of her attitudes: His concern for the poor and the weak, in exactly the same way that many of our own ways of acting were taught us by our own mothers.
In the month of October, the Church traditionally recalls the importance of one of our most beautiful traditions: the Rosary. It is a unique and incomparable prayer. In the Rosary we have a complete summary of the principal truths of our faith. We proclaim our belief in the Incarnation of the Son of God in the joyful mysteries. In the sorrowful mysteries we recall the events by which Christ saved us and gave us the gift of new life. In the glorious mysteries we anticipate the truth that one day we will share completely in the risen life of Christ.
Legend has it that it was St Dominic who first spread the Rosary as a popular devotion. He was accustomed to asking his listeners to seek Our Lady's intercession each time that he explained a mystery of the Catholic faith.
The Dominican family has been associated with the devotion to the Rosary for many centuries. It was a Dominican Pope, Pius V, who established the feast of the Rosary in 1571, as a thanksgiving to Our Lady for her protection during the Battle of Lepanto - one of the three great victories of Western Christendom against the threat of the Turks.
I know that the Maltese are also devoted to Our Lady for her intercession in the great Siege of 1565 which ended on the feast of Our Lady's Birthday, 8 September 1565, the first of the victories.
Today, perhaps more than ever, we need the intercession of our Mother Mary in the struggle against those forces which would deny God and His plan for us. One of the bigger struggles is the issue of euthanasia, which would have us believe that human life is no longer a sacred good, and that an old and sick person loses the right to live when he can no longer contribute to society.
In this area in particular, the Church, through such places as this Rosary Home, proclaims the truth that all people, regardless of age or health, are precious to God and are a sign of the suffering of Christ. My prayer for all of you is that you will always, whatever the difficulties you face, be confident of God's love for you. You, in your turn, can be a great source of good for your families and for the whole Church.
I know that many of you pray every day for your families - that God will bless them and protect them. May I also ask you to pray for the Church - for the holiness of our priests and religious, for an increase in vocations to the priesthood, and for the Church in the many difficulties she has to face both here and abroad. And perhaps, when you say your Rosary, which I know is a part of the community life here, you might spare a prayer for me as your bishop, that I might be supported by the intercession of Mary, Mother of God.
In the month of the Holy Rosary in 2002, Pope John Paul II announced the creation of a new set of Mysteries to be used in praying the Rosary. The Luminous Mysteries, or the Mysteries of Light, centre on important events in the life of Christ: His Baptism; His presence at the wedding feast at Cana; His call to conversion; His transfiguration; and His institution of the Eucharist.
The Holy Father called for the Joyful Mysteries to be said on Monday and Saturday, the Luminous on Thursday, the Sorrowful on Tuesday and Friday, and the Glorious on Wednesday and Sunday (except for Sundays during the Christmas season when the Joyful Mysteries are said, and the Sundays of Lent when the Sorrowful Mysteries are said).