The Archdiocese of Brisbane booklet Lenten Program 2003 subtitled, "Attending to the Sacred," had little to do with Lent, nor was it particularly "sacred". It was intended to be read and discussed in six sessions during Lent. The booklet was accompanied by six video showings.
From its cover (a picture of a waterfall) through the over 30 glossy colour photos one could be forgiven for thinking that the environment is sacred and ought to be the object of our worship. There were no photos of saints or churches, no representation even of Christian symbols, such as a cross.
Is Easter not an appropriate season to mention the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross and his resurrection?
Scripture passages were interpreted strangely as if to suit the green cause. Referring to Abraham's obedient readiness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, the authors concluded (p. 22): "God does not ask the sacrifice of any living being - animal or human. All life will be considered sacred". Yet, as we know, God enjoins Abraham to sacrifice a trapped ram (rather than his son).
To God, obviously, a human life is more important than animal life. If "all life" is to "be considered sacred," are we all to become vegetarians?
But our authors' agenda goes beyond ecology.
Australian sailors come in for a swipe in the Tampa ship controversy, the incident which divided our electorate in the last Federal election. Such confusing, complex issues in a religious program can serve no useful purpose.
To the above must be added the feminist 'god', Sophia-Christ. On page 27, we are to ask for her/his blessing: "Sophia-Christ, walk with us." In our parish group, several people asked, "Who is this Sophia-Christ?"
Ours is a large parish with two churches, yet we managed only four Lenten Program groups (averaging 7-8 in each). In my group, all but one was present at the first night's meeting. On the last night, only three were present.
I asked a few parishioners why they didn't sign up. A typical response: "It's just rubbish". In previous years some of the objects of study were individuals from Australia's secular life - no study of saints, not even Christians, let alone Catholics.
It would be good if the Archbishop of Brisbane could ensure that next year's Lenten Program is actually about Lent.