"The fundamental polarity of human life between what is and what ought to be, between lack and fulfillment, 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.)

Michael Whelan SM

Letter to the Catholic Weekly (21 September 2014)

Letter by Michael Whelan SM

JMichaelWhelanOn September 21 2014 the Catholic Weekly published a letter to the editor from Michael Whelan. Here is the text of that letter.

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The Ground of Hope

Michael Whelan SM PhD

JMichaelWhelan[The substance of this essay was originally given as The Dr Laurie Brooks Memorial Lecture at St Dominic's High School, Penrith, NSW, May 4 2005. It was later published in The Australasian Catholic Record.]

In the First Letter of Peter we are urged to have a response to those who ask us about our hope.[1]  It is as well for us, especially in the climate of the times, also to be able to speak coherently of hope as a fundamental human experience.  That is my intention in this essay,

Consider our use of the word in common speech:  “I hope the weather is fine tomorrow” or “I hope this letter finds you well” or “I hope the pathology report is favourable” or “I have great hope for our young people,” and so on.  It seems to me that we are, for the most part, describing something like a positive state of thinking and feeling about the future in this sort of usage.  Hope is seen here as a psychological condition based on expectations of a favourable outcome in the circumstances of our lives.

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The Grace of the Present Moment

Michael Whelan SM

JMichaelWhelan"I will be with you!" [Exodus 3:12]

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Response to the Vatican Questionnaire

Michael Whelan SM

JMichaelWhelanIn November 2013 the Vatican sent out the "Preparatory Document" for the Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and the Family. That document contained a questionnaire. The response to that questionnaire by Michael Whelan can be donwloaded here.

pdfMichael Whelan's response122 KB

Keeping the Sabbath Holy in a Topophobic Culture: Reflections Arising From Dies Domini

Michael Whelan SM PhD

JMichaelWhelanOriginally published in Compass: A Review of Topical Theology, 33:2 (Winter 1999), 21-25.

"Don Quixote has not arrived at the age of taedium vitae, which is commonly manifested among not a few modern spirits in the form of topophobia: these people spend their lives running at top speed from one place to another, not from any love of the place to which they are going, but from odium of the place they are leaving behind, thus fleeing all places, which is one of the forms of despair."[1]

Pope John Paul II has given us a very rich, dense and timely document in his Apostolic Letter entitled Dies Domini (On Keeping the Lord's Day Holy)[2]. The Letter evokes a number of serious questions. It would be unfortunate if we did not take the opportunity to reflect at depth on those questions. This response to the Letter is not so much an analysis, as an attempt to unearth some of the questions it raises.

The unearthing begins with a brief comment on the world in which we find ourselves at this time in Australia. Against that backdrop I will look at the text of DD itself and consider some of the questions it evokes.

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Conversation: Notes in Aid of Understanding the Gift

Michael Whelan SM PhD

JMichaelWhelan[Written in 2011]

In 1994 I was part of a group that met in Balmain, NSW, to explore possibilities for involving the laity more effectively in the life and renewal of the Catholic Church. At the end of 1994 that group formulated the following mission statement:

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The Noonday Devil: Acedia

Michael Whelan SM PhD

JMichaelWhelanIn every person self-opinion prevents self-knowledge. Do you wish to know God? Learn first to know yourself.[1]š›

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The Christian Tradition of Asceticism

Michael Whelan SM

JMichaelWhelan[Fr Ignacio Ellacuria SJ, the president of Universidad Centroamericana "José Simeón Cañas" (UCA), was murdered by members of the Salvadoran army in San Salvador on November 16 1989, together with two other Jesuit scholars – Fr Segundo Montes SJ and Fr Ignacio Martín-Baró SJ – three university colleagues and two employees. Not long before his death, Fr Ignacio spoke to Christians of the first world:] I want you to set your eyes and your hearts on these peoples who are suffering so much some from poverty and hunger, others from oppression and repression. Then (since I am a jesuit) standing before this people thus crucified you must repeat St Ignatius' examination from the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises. Ask yourselves: what have I done to crucify them? What do I do to uncrucify them? What must I do for this people to rise again? [1]

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Befriending Your Emotions

Michael Whelan SM

JMichaelWhelanThere are two assumptions we can - perhaps must - make about our emotions: They contain wisdom and they contain healing.

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Four Interlocking Exercises

Michael Whelan SM

JMichaelWhelanOur life in Christ – that is, our Christian life – is first and last a gift. The two most obvious signs that this is in fact true in my life are grace and freedom. There is a graciousness about people alive with Christ. Such people have a freedom in themselves and they help to set others free. Beware of rigidity and dogmatism – these do not radiate Christ.

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Breathing into Contemplation

Michael Whelan SM

JMichaelWhelanIn the Book of Genesis we read: "then the LORD God formed man (adam) from the dust of the ground (adamah), and breathed into his nostrils the breath (nâshamah) of life; and the man (adam) became a living being (nephesh)". (2:7) (In Hebrew thought, there is no "body" distinct from "soul". Nephesh means literally "a being animated by the breath of life".)



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Eucharist and Reconciliation - the Forgotten Teaching

Michael Whelan SM

JMichaelWhelanThe Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the treasures of the Catholic Tradition. Yet it is not well understood. Among other things, to refer to the Sacrament as "confession" actually misses the point. The focus should be God and God's gift and action in Jesus Christ - we are reconciled! That needs to be celebrated. In the celebration we certainly bring our need for healing and forgiveness, we seek the mercy of God and so we confess our sins. It would help revive that focus on God's gift in Christ if we re-discovered one of the Catholic Church's central teachings concerning the relationship between Eucharist and Reconciliation: to receive Holy Communion is to be forgiven your sins.

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An Introduction to the Jesus Prayer

Michael Whelan SM

JMichaelWhelanRejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. (1Thessalonians 5:16-19)

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Becoming Contemplative and Sane

Michael Whelan SM PhD

JMichaelWhelan

 

There is a story from the Desert Fathers where the great Anthony offers ome advice: "A time is coming when people will go mad and when they meet someone who is not mad, they will turn to them and say, 'You are out of your mind,' just because they are not like them'." (Benedicta Ward, editor, The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Mowbray, 1975/1983, 6.) Our world is fast paced - dangerously so. Most of us find it difficulty to slow down and be actually present to ourselves and those we love. The following notes offer a response.

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