"Without any understanding of man's deep-seated urge to self-transcend, of his very reluctance to take the hard, ascending way, and his search for some bogus liberation either below or to one side of his personality, we cannot hope to make sense of our own particular period of history or indeed of history in general, of life as it was lived in the past and as it is lived today. For this reason I propose to discuss some of the more common Grace-substitutes, into which and by means of which men and women have tried to escape from the tormenting consciousness of being merely themselves. .... human beings have felt the radical inadequacy of their personal existence, the misery of being their insulated selves and not something else, something wider, something in Wordsworthian phrase, 'far more deeply interfused'." (Aldous
Huxley, "Appendix" from The Devils of Loudun, Penguin Books, 1971, 313f.)

News

Postponement of Courses

JSuspended2

Upcoming scheduled courses at Aquinas Academy have been suspended. (Courses which have started will continue to completion.)

The human family is facing an unprecedented and most serious crisis with the coronavirus. We must be mindful of the common good, always weighing our actions in terms of their possible ramifications and effects on other citizens. Let us cooperate fully with the efforts at “social distancing”.

With this in mind, we have made the decision to suspend courses at Aquinas Academy for the foreseeable future.

When it is appropriate to re-commence courses we will announce that here.

Let us look out for each other, using phone and social media to keep in touch, encouraging each other during these difficult days.

Read more ...

Catalyst Dinner - Recovering the Mystical Heart of Catholicism

Catalyst Dinner, Hunters Hill, 3 March 2020
Michael Whelan SM

Background

During the days of 17-20 November 1998 – on the sidelines of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ ad limina visit and the Special Assembly for the Synod of Bishops for Oceania, in Rome – representatives of seven Dicasteries and fifteen members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference met.

This meeting was at the request of Pope John Paul II. The Catholic media organization, Zenit, wrote at the time, that “similar meetings held with other Episcopal Conferences have proved to be equally beneficial as expressions of ecclesial communion”. Read full Talk in the link below.

CATALYST_DINNER_13-03-20

Video Series: "The Cross ... Dying that Leads to Life"

Michael Whelan sm

An inspirational video series for Lent and Holy Week

Dying is not the enemy of living but the servant of living.
At the heart of our lives there is a profound paradox: the surrender and letting go is a dying that allows us to live; the refusal to embrace the dying leads us away from life into death.
Life is full of these moments where living and dying intersect.

These are some of the key reflections Michael Whelan opens up for us with insight, depth and relevance in this 6-episode video series, available now in the Emmaus Online Video Prayer and Meditation Library.

Follow this link for more information and to view a sample of the video series.

Courses Outline - 2020

Aquinas Logo

All Courses held at Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, The Rocks, Sydney.

February 2020
Writing Your Life I: A Freeing Journey
Presenter: Catherine Hammond BS in Ed, MA, MPh
4 Tuesday mornings, 10am – 12noon, February 4, 11, 18, 25.
Cost: $150/person (Including class notes)

Developing Your Own Spirituality I: Mystery and Freedom, Participation and Possibility
Presenters: Michael Whelan SM, PhD & Marie Biddle, RSJ, MA, MTh
4 Thursday evenings, 6pm – 8pm, February 6, 13, 20, 27
Cost: $150/person (Including summary notes)

Film Lectio I: Woman in Gold

See full list

"Comments on" and "Response to" Michael Whelan's Book Review

See Article "Problem-solving has Little to Offer in the Face of Evil" on this website

Comments on Michael Whelan’s Review of the book: Abuse and Cover-Up: Refounding the Catholic Church in Trauma (Orbis Books, 2019), by author Gerald A. Arbuckle, SM.

I am grateful to fellow Marists Michael for his review and to Tom Ryan for his Response that are on this website. They have tried to engage my book seriously. I offer a few reflections in light of their interchanges.

Read more ...

The Power of Vulnerability

Brené Brown
JBrene Brown

Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. See this TED Talk here

Connected, but alone

Sherry Turkle
JSherry-Turkle

As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other? Sherry Turkle studies how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication -- and asks us to think deeply about the new kinds of connection we want to have. See this TED Talk here

An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow

Les Murray

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17 Oct 1938 – 29 Apr 2019
Les, the Poet Larrikin' (Les Murray) by Bob Baird 1999

The word goes round Repins,
the murmur goes round Lorenzinis,
at Tattersalls, men look up from sheets of numbers,
the Stock Exchange scribblers forget the chalk in their hands
and men with bread in their pockets leave the Greek Club:
There's a fellow crying in Martin Place. They can't stop him.

Read more

Lecture - To Change the Heart: A Biblical Defense of Pope Francis

JDr Robert Tilley 2
Dr Robert Tilley
Thursday 12 Sept, 7pm
CIS Campus Strathfield

If there is one message that the Bible imparts it is that it is impossible for humanity, unaided by the grace of God, to change its heart. Thus in Scripture we read how people can see miraculous healings, the dead raised, amazing displays of divine power, be warned by prophets of coming judgment, and yet for all of that they stay unchanged. But God ...See here for details

"Nazareth" - a Marist place of solitude and silence

JNazareth 2

See the new "Nazareth" video tour to learn more about this very special place.

 Aquinas Academy has established a place of solitude and silence. It is located on the Colo River about 75 minutes drive from the heart of Sydney. Click here for more information.

Fr John Thornhill SM RIP

JJohn Thornhill sm 2

Fr John Thornhill SM died on Sunday evening 28 July. John was professed as a Marist in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1955. He made an outstanding contribution as a theologian both in Australia – where he was involved for many years with the Marist Seminary at Toongabbie, the Catholic Theological Union at Hunter’s Hill and the Aquinas Academy

Read more ...

Is Cardinal Pell a Martyr?

The Australian Church Tries to Move On
JPELL

Because he has a weak heart and must build strength in his chest muscles, the seventy-seven-year-old Australian cardinal asks for a broom he can push around the jail’s exercise yard each day. The remaining twenty-three hours of his solitary confinement in Melbourne Assessment Prison George Pell reads and writes, when not sleeping and praying. He is not allowed to say Mass. Read more

Ideological bias cannot taint our approach to sexual abuse

By Matt Malone, S.J.
JBENEDICT-92-LETTER
Pope Benedict XVI

Since last summer I have taken part in about a dozen panels and programs across this country that were organized to discuss the causes and consequences of the crisis of sexual abuse of minors by members of the Catholic clergy. I have visited several cities and met people from every walk of life—victims, survivors, bishops, priests and religious, lay leaders, moms and dads, young and old. Read more

Parsing the Australian Catholic bishops' election advice

By Andrew Hamilton
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Tentative prelates dip their toe into the water after a freezing winter.

The Australian Catholic Bishops' statement on the upcoming federal election, 'Politics in Service of Peace', is significant as much for the fact that it was made as for its argument.

It comes in the middle of a long, bruising time for the Catholic Church, and for the bishops in particular, culminating in the trial and sentencing of Cardinal George Pell.

When speaking on moral issues the bishops have lost much credibility in the wider society and among Catholics. Read more

Outline of Courses for 2019 (Updated)

Aquinas Logo

New Courses and changed dates shown in this colour.

May/June 2019

Developing Your Own Spirituality III
Presenters: Michael Whelan SM, PhD & Marie Biddle, RSJ, MA, MTh
When: 4 Thursday mornings, 10am – 12noon, May 2, 9, 16, 23
Cost: $150/person

Day of Silence and Solitude: May 4
Where: At “Nazareth”, Colo Heights
Cost: $50

Mysticism: Plain or Flavoured?
Presenter: Thomas Ryan, SM, PhD
When: 4 Tuesday mornings, 10am – 12 noon, May 7, 14, 21, 28
Cost: $150/person

Film Lectio II: Bede Griffiths OSB - A Human Search and the New Creation in Christ
Presenters: Marie Biddle RSJ, MA, MTh & Michael Whelan SM, PhD

Read more ...

Close and Concrete: Pope Francis Evangelizing a World in Flux

JAusten Ivereigh D.Phil
   Austen Ivereigh, D.Phil

The 2019 Helder Camara Lecture at Newman College, Close and Concrete: Pope Francis Evangelizing a World in Flux, was delivered by Dr. Austen Ivereigh who is a journalist, author and commentator.

He is a former deputy editor of The Tablet and was for a time Director for Public Affairs of the former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. Read the Lecture here.

St Patrick's Feast Day 2019

Homily at the midday Mass, Michael Whelan SM
JSt Patrick

“Remembering well”
Feast days are days for remembering. Today is our feast day. We remember the people, events and things of 175 years. This particular act of remembering by us here today, is grounded in a more general act of remembering by the Church. For the feast of St Patrick evokes a broad landscape of memories that belong to the whole Church and, we could say, the human race at large. As Sister Fidelis McTeigue is wont to remind us, there are two types of people in the world: Those who are Irish and those who want to be!

Remembering is a mysterious process. Among other things, it is crucial to our sense of identity. “If you do not know where you come from you will always be a child.”1 The words of the ancient Roman poet, Cicero. I would add: “If you don’t remember well your past, your future will be more or less stunted.”

Read more ...

The sex-abuse crisis is global

And the Vatican knows it
JPope Francis and bishops

2018 was the year that many Catholics finally accepted that the church's sex-abuse crisis is truly a global problem. Hence the Vatican's decision to bring the presidents of all the bishops' conferences together in Rome to discuss the issue between February 21 and 24.

The abuse crisis forces us to look at the interconnectedness of the church, and to resist the spirit of our time, which not only closes borders and builds walls, but also blinds us to how what's happening in one part of the world relates to what's happening in another.

Of course, we Catholics have all been taught that the church is the Body of Christ, and that if one member of that body suffers, the entire body suffers. Read more

'Red Hat Report' to 'audit' cardinals, ahead of next conclave

By Tom Roberts
JCardinals Procession

A group of Catholics calling itself the Better Church Governance Group is gearing up to compile dossiers "in the manner of political opposition research" on cardinal electors ahead of the next conclave, the gathering that elects a new pope.

Although its publicly available literature casts the effort as non-political and one that is interested in gathering and collating information, an early memo associated with the effort drew severe conclusions about one of its targets, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state and a member of Pope Francis' Council of Cardinals. Read more

 

Transparency key to tackling sexual abuse, says Vatican official

Catholic Church authorities' response of denial, silence and cover-ups in the past had only exacerbated the problem.
JPress Conference

The Vatican's leading investigator of clergy abuse cases has made it clear that if a priest stands accused of sexually abusing a child "whether it's criminal or malicious complicity and a code of silence or whether it is denial," such reactions are no longer tolerable.

Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta, Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and a member of the Organizing Committee for the Protection of Minors in the Church Meeting was speaking to reporters Feb. 18 regarding the meeting that will take place in the Vatican Feb. 21-24. Read more