"Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves"( Matt. X:16)
Last Sunday, I had several very special privileges. The first and the greatest was to attend Holy Mass and to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. Because of a later event in the City we went to the 10.30am Solemn Mass in St.Mary's Basilica, the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Sydney and Mother Church of Australia. The principal Celebrant was His Eminence Cardinal George Pell. The liturgy was celebrated, as you might expect, with great solemnity, from the steady progress of the procession from the Sacristy down the geographical eastern aisle to the main doors and then along the centre aisle to the Sanctuary. The procession was extended by about 30 Acolytes -elect who were to be instituted in the course of the Mass.They had come from various Parishes of the Archdiocese.

The music for the liturgy was mostly by Palestrina and the choir was truly magnificent as was the mighty organ.

So, here was the Archbishop of Sydney at the very centre of his Divinely established responsibilities. His Eminence is a tall man by anyone's standards, slightly stooped by back problems, but always impressive. His voice is deep and his manner of speaking is quite easy in conversation, but perhaps a tad clipped in preaching. This comes from the distinctive style of his homilies which present a related series of concise ideas, each carefully constructed to claim the attention of the hearer. This is in marked contrast to most homilies in which the homilist relies on the hearer to follow the development of his ideas through the progress of his delivery. His Eminence is bad news for the person accustomed to "tuning out "during the homily.

Reflecting on this inspiring celebration of the liturgy, two things related to the Archdiocese of Brisbane, which I have so recently moved from, come to mind:

Acolytes  - there are none in Brisbane - can you guess why? This entire strata of service at the Altar is foregone in Brisbane because women cannot be instituted as Acolytes. Canon 486 makes this clear as it defines the continuous tradition of the Church - just not good enough for the outgoing administration in Brisbane.

St.Mary's Basilica -the main organ pipes can be seen around
the Rose Window.
St..Stephen's Cathedral - the organ is the focus of attention
-for this photo even the organ console has temporarily
been placed in front of the Altar !

Organs - poor Sydney has not been sufficiently enlightened to place the Organ ( or even one of them - the Basilica has two) in front of the congregation above and dominating the Altar. This has been done
with great effect in St. Stephen's Cathedral 
Brisbane just like many great City Halls. Oddly, poor Sydney appears to have the idea that the Tabernacle enshrining the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ should be the focus of attention in the Basilica. Catholics! 

Still bathing in the spiritual delight of that liturgy we headed out of the Basilica past the press of people gathered about His Eminence in the Vestibule and out into the wind, rain and cold of this Spring morning . We had a quick bite of lunch in a pleasant cafe in the Temple of Commerce which Westfield's new mega development is, and on to a performance of 1940's music at the ornate State Theatre. The tickets were a gift from our daughter and her husband and the audience must have constituted the largest assembly of "Senior Citizens"in recent history! It was a grand occasion.

On the way back to our car, to go to Nathan's 40th Birthday Celebration, we were walking East on Market Street when we passed none other than the Cardinal heading in the opposite direction. We did not disturb his privacy, though we know His Eminence well enough to have done so, but it seemed to me he deserved some time to himself. I thought how vulnerable he is. It is horrifying to read the mindless hatred of him in Comments on press blogs. His offence of course is , as he once put it "to teach what the Catholic Church teaches, and do what the Catholic Church does, and let the chips fall where they may". So every abortion advocate, homosexual advocate, pornographer, radical feminist, euthanasia advocate and self-styled atheist, slavers at the mouth on hearing his name.And to top it all off, when His Eminence recognises the extent of our cold weather and the record of history to become a Global Warming skeptic, the devotees of the New Religion become apoplectic!

A true gentleman -.."as a sheep among wolves".. God Bless him!
When so many Bishops concentrate, it seems, on being inaudible and invisible, we should thank God for Cardinal George Pell, for his orthodoxy and his apostolic zeal and for his fostering of devout liturgy, and for seeking to restore to Sydney authentic Catholic institutions through gradual reform and fresh initiatives alike.


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