The Aquinas Academy
The Aquinas Academy was set up under the auspices of the Australian Province of the Marist Fathers by Fr Austin Woodbury SM in March 1945. The Academy began as a centre for the study of Philosophy and Theology in the Thomistic tradition. For some twenty-nine years it continued in this capacity under Fr Woodbury's guidance, in premises at the back of St Patrick's Church, Gloucester Street, in The Rocks (Sydney, NSW). For a short while the Academy offered a License in Philosophy under accreditation from the University of St Thomas in Rome. Since its inception, a number of qualified priests, religious and laity have been part of the lecturing staff. The Academy was one of the pioneers of Catholic adult education in Australia.
Since 1975, the Academy has increasingly focused on general adult education in the faith. Perhaps the most popular of the programs mounted was the Christian Growth Program, offering basic education in theology, morality, psychology and spirituality.
With remembrance goes compassion: Manus
In 'Epic', Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh mused on the relative importance of world and local contemporaneous events — Chamberlain's meeting with Hitler in Munich and a bitter local dispute about a patch of land.
'I have lived in important places, times / When great events were decided, who owned / That half a rood of rock, a no-man's land / Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.'
This poem came to mind when the refugees on Manus Island were forcibly evicted from their quarters. In Australia it was a small event ... Seen through the eyes of the refugees it was a large event, Read more
What brings a Jesuit pope to Asia?
The seeds of the pope's interest in the region and his missionary zeal were sewn by the former head of the Order, Pedro Arrupe.
One of the biggest influences on Pope Francis remains relatively unexplored — Pedro Arrupe, the Superior General of the Jesuits who appointed Jorge Bergoglio as Provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina at the fairly tender age of 36. Though he described the appointment as "crazy," the now pope, who served as Provincial from 1973-79, was set on a path of leadership by someone who was to shape his imagination in ways that almost daily are reflected in his ministry as the Bishop of Rome, including the priority he gives to Asia. Read more
The war against Pope Francis
Pope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world today. Those who hate him most are not atheists, or protestants, or Muslims, but some of his own followers. Outside the church he is hugely popular as a figure of almost ostentatious modesty and humility. From the moment that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became pope in 2013, his gestures caught the world’s imagination: the new pope drove a Fiat, carried his own bags and settled his own bills in hotels; he asked, of gay people, “Who am I to judge?” and washed the feet of Muslim women refugees.
But within the church, Francis has provoked a ferocious backlash from conservatives who fear that this spirit will divide the church, and could even shatter it. Read more
Threat to religious tolerance from 'modern elites'
The Hon Dyson Heydon (centre)
In a stinging attack on “modern elites”, former justice of the High Court Dyson Heydon AC QC has condemned attempts to exclude religion from Australian public debate.
Delivering the inaugural PM Glynn lecture in Adelaide on Tuesday evening, Mr Heydon referred to Patrick McMahon Glynn’s contribution to the Australian Constitution, notably for ensuring the words “humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God” were included in the preamble. “Those words reflected what the elite of the Federation generation saw as fundamental,” Mr Heydon said in his address entitled Religious ‘toleration’ in modern Australia: the tyranny of relativism. Read more
How forced migration defined Francis' papacy
From the very first moments of his pontificate, Jorge Bergoglio signalled a departure in style from that of his immediate predecessors. His taking of the name Francis, his eschewing the full papal vestments, and his appeal to the masses gathered in Saint Peter's Square below to pray for him, before imparting his own blessing, all indicated a more personal, pastoral style.
Francis, most commentators agree, was elected on his perceived ability to address the need for reform of a Roman Curia increasingly beset by paralysis, inefficiency and scandal. It soon became apparent, however, that he saw this reform as a subset ... Read more
Conscience, hope and the double bind
Michael Whelan SM
One of the most wonderful gifts one human being can give another is the sense of realistic possibility. The presence of faith, hope and love tends to do this for us – especially when we are young and vulnerable. When others – typically parents – communicate faith in us, hope for us and love no matter what, it can awaken a realistic sense of our own dignity and worth and allow us to engage the world with some confidence and honesty. It tends to engender in us a life-giving sense of possibility, preparing us for adulthood ...
Course: Go, seek the Kingdom - Pilgrimage & Poetry
Dr Elizabeth Guy
Starts Tuesday 6 Feb 2018
This course examines the vibrant response of poetry to the experience of pilgrimage. Human beings have been compelled to turn their backs on the comfort of home in order to journey to the sacred. Even Odysseus knew the difficult journey of pilgrimage - fraught with suffering and an intense longing for a distant goal. Paradoxically, pilgrims travel forward in order to reach what the Ancient Greek philosopher Plotinus called that place from which we have come. Why?
Life is gracious
Michael Whelan SM
The fundamental polarity of human life between what is and what ought to be, between lack and fulfilment, between determination and freedom, is not abnormal; it is the norm. Every person is exposed to it because of the inescapable structure of human formation. (Adrian van Kaam, The Transcendent Self, Dimension Books, 1979, 172.)
We grow well when we interact well with the grace of living, in the midst of the tension “between lack and fulfilment, determination and freedom”. Grace is everywhere! Facing your limits, submitting to the truth of your limits, is potentially a particularly rich experience of grace.
Spiritual Practices and Attitudes 3 – The Jesus Prayer
Notes by Michael Whelan SM
In Psalm 6:2 we hear the psalmist cry out: “Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak.” In Luke’s Gospel we hear the blind man cry out: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (see Luke 18:36-43); in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians we read: “God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name ... at the name of Jesus every knee should bend” (see 2:5-11); St Paul urges us to pray without ceasing (see 1Thessalonians 5:16-19).
These words from Sacred Scripture prompted the early Christian communities to develop a brief and practical approach to prayer. Perhaps the best known of these prayer forms is the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”.
Gospel for the Third Sunday of Advent (17 December 2017)
Gospel Notes by Michael Whelan SM
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said,
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’”
as the prophet Isaiah said.
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing. (John 1:6-8 and 19-28 – NRSV)