Bishop


 

 

Pastoral Letter

My Dear People,

I take this opportunity to write to you about prayer.

 

St Alphonsus Ligouri, the founder of the Redemptorist Order, is the author of a booklet on prayer “The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection”. He considered this booklet the most important that he had written because of the absolute necessity of prayer for salvation and for obtaining grace from God.

 

It is not difficult to understand why St Alphonsus said this for in order to perform any supernaturally good action, to overcome temptation, to practise virtue, or to observe God’s law, we need the Lord’s assistance. He gives this assistance to those who pray, and who pray with perseverance.

 

Necessity of Prayer

 

The Holy Scriptures emphasize the absolute necessity of prayer, the need to pray continually and never lose heart:  “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock, and the door shall be opened to you” (Mt. 7:7); or “Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation.” (Mt. 26:41)

 

Because of the weakness of our wills we cannot long resist temptation without the assistance of God’s grace which is given in response to prayer.

 

We have been given by God the power to pray as the key to our salvation. Through prayer grace come to us. On the other hand, the one who neglects to pray closes the door of eternal life to himself.

 

 

Hope

 

The certitude of Christian hope rests upon prayer. Hope is a virtue by which we confidently expect from God eternal happiness and the means necessary for its attainment. The motives upon which the certainty of hope is founded are the power and goodness of God and His fidelity to His promises. Of these the strongest and most certain motive is God’s infallible faithfulness to the promises which he has made to us through, His son, i.e. to save us, and to give us the graces necessary for salvation.

 

Jesus promised that if we ask the Father anything in His name, the Father will give it to us. God has then bound Himself by his unfailing promise to answer every prayer that is made in the proper way. Upon the unshakable rock of God’s fidelity, our hope is founded.

 

Perseverance

 

Perseverance in prayer, is necessary, for we never cease to be dependent upon God’s help. Therefore we should continually ask for God’s help. Our Lord has told us that we must always pray and not lose heart. This is the lesson which Jesus wishes to teach us in the parable of the man who gave the loaves of bread to his friend only after he had persisted in his pleas.

 

Conscious of our human weakness and trusting in God’s power, goodness and love, we should constantly turn to Him in prayer. Pray in the morning when you rise, offering the day to God and asking His blessing. Turn to Him often during the course of the day with short but fervent prayers. Recite the Rosary daily to obtain the assistance of God’s holy Mother. Pray especially in times of temptation for it is only by the grace of God given in response to prayer that we can resist temptation.

 

Every day we should pray for the gift of final perseverance, that the moment of death finds us with the love of God and grace in our hearts. This grace we should particularly ask from Mary, the Mother of God, the one who is so often portrayed in imagery as the one who prays and who is a true figure of the praying Church.

 

Mary

 

There is no better model of prayer than Mary for she stands out clearly as the one blessed among women. Her presence in the early Christian community, which was waiting in prayer for the outpouring of the Spirit, reminds us of her part in the Incarnation. At the beginning of the Church, St Luke tells us in Acts 1:13: “All those with one accord devoted themselves to prayer together with the women and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and with His brethren”.

 

In the month of October let us especially pray the Rosary, a beautiful prayer which epitomizes the whole Gospel and honours the blessed Mother with special devotion.

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that medieval piety in the west developed the prayer as a popular substitute for the Liturgy of the Hours.

 

Pope John Paul 11 once said “The Rosary is a daily appointment which you and I must not miss. If you want to be close to my heart for a few moments I suggest the time of the Rosary in which I remember everyone to the Virgin Mary. I would appreciate it if you would remember me to her in the same way”.

 

So I remind you to pray the Rosary as a form of devotion in our Churches, in your homes each day and when you are travelling

 

Finally, I remind you of the question mark hanging over the Diocese, and the investigation which is taking place. Do pray the Holy Spirit to influence the decision makers.

 

Yours sincerely in Christ,

 

 

 

 

Most Reverend Kevin Manning

Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastoral Letter

 

Awareness of the Need

 

            Because of the predicament we find ourselves in, in the Diocese of Wilcannia –Forbes because of the shortage of priests questions are being asked about the viability of the Diocese. The big question is: where do we find the priests?

 

            The Scriptures are replete with vocation stories with evidence of God making the call which was resisted. Jonah is a good example in the Old Testament of one who resisted, but God’s persistence finally brought him around.

 

            Jesus’ “Come follow me” to His disciples was a personal invitation to which most responded. The classic refusal was the rich young man. He carried too much baggage, too many material possessions, too many worldly distractions.

 

            Obviously God calls each of us to follow Him in a special way, a way corresponding to the unique gifts and talents He has given us. And we are expected to be stewards of that invitation whatever it may be.

 

            The call can be seen as a challenge to be resisted, rejected, or embraced or, on the other hand, accepted and lived up to. Or it can be seen as a gift, as well as a responsibility, for God calls each one of us by name and invites us to respond.

 

            And it is important that we support and encourage one another in our respective vocations, and in the case of members of the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes a serious responsibility to reach out to the young people and encourage them to think seriously of vocations to the religious and priestly life.

 

            A serious question I ask is: “When was the last time you encouraged a young man or woman to say Yes to God’s special call? Or supported a seminarian or deacon to pursue his vocation; or young a person preparing for marriage, or even to live their faith as single persons?”

 

            God calls each of us with a personal invitation and encourages us to encourage and support one another in the discernment and faithful living of our vocations.

 

            The big question is: How well are we responding to Him – reluctantly, fearfully, confidently, or enthusiastically?

           

 

 

 

Pastoral Letter

The Real Presence

 

 

My Dear People,

            I was drawn to pen this pastoral letter on the Real Presence following the Investigative Committee’s meeting in Forbes on 30th May where I mentioned that I hadn’t seen too many parishioners making visits to the Blessed Sacrament. A quick counter was: “It would help if the Churches were left open so we could!”

            Belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is difficult to comprehend as an intellectual experience. And we are left to embrace His Real Presence as a faith experience from the heart. When Jesus said “Take and eat, this is my Body; take and drink, this is my Blood”, we accept His Word and respond acting on the words of Jesus Himself.

            The Eucharist is the central focus of all the Church’s Sacraments because of Christ’s Presence. As the Council of Trent taught: “The whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained. This presence is called real because it is present in the fullest sense. It is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes Himself wholly and entirely present.”

            The Church Fathers make no secret of the importance of the Real Presence:

            St. Thomas Aquinas indicated that the Real Presence “cannot be comprehended by the senses, but only by faith, which relies on divine authority”;

            St. Cyril of Alexandria advised: “Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the Word of the Saviour in faith, for since He is the truth, He cannot lie”

 

 

Making Christ Present

            It is the Mass which makes the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist possible through the hands of the priest. It is the Mass which re-presents the Sacrifice of Calvary. Every time we come to Mass we are present at the foot of the Cross, like Mary and St. John sharing in the great event of our salvation. For us to be united at the moment of sacrifice the Father left us the Presence of Christ Himself in the Church.

            The Father gave us the sacrifice of His Son as a way of sharing in His own divine life. And this is how we worship Him, by joining ourselves to Christ’s sacrifice as He makes up for the sins of mankind.

 

Adoration

            Eucharistic adoration is a pre-eminent way in which we can honour God. In adoration we look upon the Real Presence and speak intimately to Him and Him to us. We talk and listen to Him from His vantage point in Heaven with the Father, Mary, the angels and the Saints. Looking at the Host is like looking through a window into eternity.

            I urge you to spend time in adoration talking to Jesus as a close friend, asking for His help to bring you to a better understanding and acceptance of the Real Presence.

 

Food for Our Souls

            The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist takes away venial sin for the holiness of the Eucharist is so much greater than our sinfulness. For that reason the Eucharist is “food for our souls.”

            The love of the Eucharist reaches into, and nurtures areas within us and helps redeem them because we know that the Eucharist is also medicine against sin. It heals the deep down hurts and heals the emptiness within.

            And the Eucharist is not simply a gift for ourselves. It pours out graces – free, undeserved gifts from God Himself – to help us live our Christian Faith outside of Mass and in the world. God is not a distant God. He dwells in the midst of His People, in His Real Presence, in us.

            Surely the aforesaid is reason enough to keep our Churches open, and welcoming to the parishioners seeking The Lord.

 

 

Yours sincerely in Christ,

 

 

 

 

Most Reverend Kevin Manning

Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes

 

 

 

 

 
 

The Sunday Obligation

 

My Dear People,

 

For patently obvious reasons I offer some blunt reflections on the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation for, nowadays, too many Catholics are ignoring their solemn obligation to attend Mass every Sunday.

 

This is a serious problem for individuals, families, parish communities and for the whole Church. Sunday Mass is not optional and unless there is a serious reason there is simply no excuse for missing Mass on the Lord’s Day. If, through your own fault, you miss Mass on Sunday you are committing a serious sin.

 

The First Precept of the Catholic Church is to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation, and to keep the Lord’s Day holy by avoiding work, or other activities, that could prevent us from recognising the sacredness of this time. I can’t emphasize enough the seriousness of the obligation we have to observe the Third Commandment because it is so important to us as individuals and as members of the family of God, the Church. Without the Eucharist we lose all sense of who we are as disciples of Christ and members of His Body. Without a serious commitment to worship God in Word and Sacrament on the Lord’s Day, and Holy Days of obligation, we cannot claim to be Catholics in good standing.

 

The Sunday Eucharistic celebration, which may begin with an anticipated Mass on Saturday evening, is at the heart of the Church’s life. Sunday is that special day when we celebrate the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection until He comes again. It is here that we prepare ourselves for discipleship and service during the coming week. If we fail to worship God on the Lord’s Day we betray our baptismal promises, and we neglect our responsibilities, as disciples, and as stewards, of the mysteries of God.

 

 

I make no apology for these remarks because many Catholics need a good wake-up call. Too many have forgotten how serious this obligation is, and how important it is to our identity as Catholics.

 

The Precepts of the Church speak to Catholic identity. They provide a framework for answering the question: what is expected of me as a Catholic in good standing? It's true that these precepts are the minimum and that we are called to do much more in order to grow in holiness and live our faith in ways that are truly vibrant. But we have to begin somewhere, and we need some indication or warning sign when our practice of the faith becomes substandard.

 

Have you allowed your observance of the Lord’s Day to become one option among several: trips, football or Sunday Mass? Have you neglected your responsibility to bring your children to Mass? Have you forgotten who you are or why you are called disciples of Jesus?

 

And the Catholic community in your parish misses you. It needs you to help strengthen its identity as God’s family. It will welcome you back with great joy because your presence makes the Lord’s Day holy.

 

Mass attendance is not the only requirement for being a good catholic, but it is the first and most basic Precept or law of the Church. This First Precept makes it clear that attendance at Mass on Sundays, keeping the Lord’s Day holy, is not an option or an ideal. It is a basic requirement. If we follow this Precept faithfully God’s blessings will sustain us in our efforts to live our faith more fully.

 

 

 

Yours Sincerely in Christ,

 

 

 

 

Most Reverend Kevin Manning

Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes