In November 2007 Brisbane Catholic Education once again took aim at the Season of Lent this time for the Year 2008. Its annual Lenten Programme( see earlier: has been a regular cause of scandal and enjoys the Imprimatur of Archbishop John A. Bathersby.

If the choice of an ACU Associate Professor and a Nun ( watch out for the Ear Rings and the Technicolor Gear - and don't bother looking for the Rosary Beads) gave you some doubts about the content , you need not have worried - its just as bad as you had expected :

Here are some extracts from the Week 1 "Scripture Reflection":

"1. Some weeks back we heard the story of Jesus' baptism - what I call his "vocational " experience.

 2. We really do not know anything about Jesus as an adult prior to this event. What led him to John? Why did he leave Nazareth at this time? As a young man growing up in a Jewish family in Nazareth, Jesus would have entered into the deep faith traditions of his people. He would have known the long story of God's action throughout their history.

 3. Many came to John hoping that now at last God was going to act. Perhaps this was Jesus' hope too, and John's appearance was the catalyst for him to leave his previous way of life to seek what God wanted. It is important that we take very seriously the the Christian teaching that Jesus was truly human and truly divine. While we have no real understanding of this experience, his humanity was like ours and not a pretence. Like us Jesus had to seek out and ponder God's ways in his life. He did not come with a pre-ordained diary. In the moment of John's baptism, Jesus had a deep experience of God. He knew himself to be deeply loved by God. This experience is summed up in the words of the psalm "You are my son, to-day I have begotten you"(( Psalm 2::7) . In this moment , Jesus knew himself as "my son, the Beloved". No wonder that immediately after this scene the Gospel follows with his time in the wilderness. To know one's self as God's Beloved touches the deepest places in our hearts. It is a place of awe and wonder , joy and pain.

 4. In the wilderness Jesus is challenged on this very point. His newly articulated identity - "If you are the Son of God". Here is the crux of our faith - dare we believe that these words can be spoken to us?? It's just too good to be true. It's easier to believe that stones can become bread, than I could be a son or daughter of God. Jesus is tempted to seek other goods, security and power. 

 5. Between Satan's words and Jesus' reply I imagine Jesus spent sometime pondering and weighing what to do. Ultimately he chose the way of God over the way of Satan. 

And the "Closing Prayer":

 6.The ritual prayer takes place around the cross formed by the individual stones at the opening of the meeting. 

 7. The 1st Person takes one of the stones from the cross and places it in a position outside the cross. This will be the beginning of the circle which will be made once all the stones are re-positioned. As s/he places the stone, the 1st Person says :

 8. Leader : We see before us the empty space in the centre of this circle ..... Let us consciously create some empty space within our hearts this week..."


In extracts 1, 2 and 3 we see presumed an ignorance on the part of Our Lord of His own mission prior to His baptism by John. This is false teaching. And Jesus was not "called"( "vocation experience"). He was sent with His own full knowledge from the moment of His Incarnation. As for 4. and 5. "his newly articulated identity"and "spent some time pondering and weighing what to do "- this is totally inconsistent with the presentation of Our Lord throughout Sacred Scripture - always the Master of events, knowing all before it happens or is spoken by others. 

Items 6, 7 and 8 are by now standard mumbo jumbo approaching New Age rituals "the empty space in the centre of the circle".


While this new outrage was being propagated in Archbishop Bathersby's realm, his own Archdiocesan Website , and that of his Suffragan Bishop William Morris of TOOWOOMBA had each taken down the heterodox Advent Pastoral Letters of 2006.


Articles in the Magazine AD2000 in  October and November 2007 highlighted the liturgical and Scriptural abuses taking place in Parishes of the Archdiocese of Brisbane and detailed courteous but ineffectual correspondence to and from Archbishop Bathersby and his Auxiliary Bishop Brian Finnigan from and to a Brisbane Academic. Despite all the detail necessary for action, nothing was achieved.


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