The Southern Cross

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Comfort of prayer

Opinion

Although Archbishop Wilson was far from well, his death on Sunday January 17 this year was sudden and unexpected. In the time I have been here in the Adelaide Archdiocese, I had the chance to visit him many occasions; sometimes it was very brief, other times well over two hours. No matter how long or short  the visit, we concluded with prayer and always a prayer for the Archdiocese.

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He said to me that one of the things that sustained him in this period of his life was not only the prayerful support of others, but the Psalms. I remember him saying that while he didn’t always feel like reading, the Psalms were something that he knew ‘near enough by heart’ that most times he didn’t need the assistance of a book. There is something comforting about knowing well-chiselled prayers which bear us up when other words fail. This is particularly so as many other sets of lips have done so through the ages.

The continual repetition of the Psalms allows them to take up residence in our hearts, it allows them to get under our skin. I could see that this was the case with Archbishop Wilson; despite all his physical difficulties, he could still pray, even with the ‘borrowed’ words of the Psalms. A great lesson. As Psalm 125:3 says, ‘The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy’. (30th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B)

As he sets down the burden of the years, may Archbishop Philip Edward Wilson, Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory. May he continue his habit of praying for the Archdiocese of Adelaide. May we echo Psalm 125:3, and may our prayer ever be, “The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy.”

* * *

Not many people suspected that the pandemic might have lasted so long, although a glance through history may have assisted in a deeper understanding. Even with the prospect of a vaccine on the horizon, which I heartily encourage everyone to participate in, the effects of COVID are very much still with us. While we have been rather fortunate in South Australia that the deleterious effects of the disease have not been as severe as other parts of Australia or the world, this is not the time to become complacent. I should like to thank the many people, mostly volunteers, whose efforts allow parishes and communities to function. I know it is a lot of extra work, and it is a cautious stance, it makes life and faith more difficult and it is wearying. Sadly we must answer ‘no’ to the little child in the back seat that asks that question on all of our minds, ‘Are we there yet?’

That is why we follow all of the health directives and why practices such as the offering of Holy Communion from the cup and communion-on-the-tongue are not permitted at this time in the Archdiocese.

* * *

One of the main focuses for 2021 is the first session of the Plenary Council. We have recently begun the 250 day countdown until the first session and the Working Document (known as the Instrumentum laboris) for the Council will soon be available.

I know that there are many things that demand our attention just now, and Lent is not too far away, yet may I ask that you and your parish and community continue to engage in the Plenary process. It has been shaped by your responses so far and it makes sure that we are responding to the question ‘What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?’.

In the end, let our joyful response be summed up in this phrase from the Psalms, ‘The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy’. (Ps 125:3)

God is good, good indeed

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