Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mary MacKillop - The Little Brown Book

Guardian Angel
I have had a wonderful weekend at the property at Demondrille, Murrumburrah NSW. At the church of St Anthony of Padua at Harden this morning - Sunday - I met Jean who is arranging a women's morning breakfast next Saturday. The guests are the authors of - The Little Brown Book, Sue and Leo Kane. I became familiar with this book when I was researching information and writing on Mary of the Cross MacKillop, for the Icon I was writing. I am looking forward very much to hearing them speak. God is so good to have given me the opportunity to be at this breakfast.
The country folk are a wonderful testimony to the strength of faith in Australia.
The following is a book review from the Catholic Leader by Barbara Flynn, June 2009-

The Little Brown Book delicately illustrated with iconic symbols of Mary's experiences, makes access to Mary's spirituality possible.
These joint authors with academic and personal interest in the spirituality of Mary MacKillop have prepared a journey of exploration into Mary's spirituality for individuals and for members of groups.
The three instruments that they skilfully employ to involve the reader in this deep and spiritually rewarding journey are first the messages from Mary's writings, either given to her mother, to another relative or to members of her congregation.
Second, from their own backgrounds in spirituality and education, the authors offer guided contemplation in anecdotal form, generated from values inherent in Mary's written message or messages.
Third, a Scripture verse or verses with relevance to the spiritual values emerging out of Mary's message concludes each exercise.
These brief poignant Scripture verses mirror in intent the spiritual values and Christian principles encapsulated in Mary's written messages.
They are a precious enrichment in the exercise and draw the reader contemplatively deeper into imbibing elements of Mary's spirituality, derived from her deep faith, trust and hope in the providence of God.
Seventy brief messages written by Mary are recorded for the reader's exploration.
A mosaic of inter-woven values and beliefs reflecting Mary's spirituality in living out the Gospel of love and service emerges as one contemplates the meanings behind Mary's words.
The Gospel values and beliefs regarding God and God's love of her and of all people, embedded in
either written messages, become a device for anecdotal reflections guiding each contemplation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Our Lady Help of Christians, St Mary's Cathedral Sydney

Our Lady Help of Christians, St Mary's Cathedral Sydney
Many Blessings to you and your family on this the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians.
I took this photo at the time the World Youth Day Cross arrived in Sydney 2007. It is the statue of Our Lady Help of Christians, at St Mary's Cathedral Sydney. She has a most beautiful face, as does the Child Jesus.

In the early days of Australia the  patron selected by the people and their newly arrived pastor, Father Therry, for the Mother Church was Mary, the Immaculate Mother of God, under the special invocation of Help of Christians.
The  feast of Mary Help of Christians is the 24th of May.
The infant Church in Australia was largely kept alive by the recitation of the Rosary. Catholic Australia remained faithful to Mary, and was the first nation to choose her, under the title of Help of Christians, as principal Patroness.
To confirm this, Archbishop Kelly's pastoral letter of 1904 lends strong weight: "The first Catholics here had brought strong devotion to Mary, Help of Christians, who was the Patroness selected by the people and Father Therry for their mother-church, Mary Immaculate under the special invocation of Help of Christians."
Indications are that Father Therry simply watered a Marian seed already planted by church-minded lay people.
The altar at St. Mary's, with its statue of Mary Help of Christians, was erected as a memorial to Fr. Therry's name.
In this remarkable way Australia became the first nation in the world to have, Mary, Help of Christians as Patroness: the first church to celebrate May 24th on a national scale.

She is also the Patroness of the Military Ordinariate.
The following is a beautiful pray for such a day - 
Mary Help of Christians patroness of Australia
and of the Military Ordinariate (Feast: 24th May)
Almighty God, deepen in our hearts our love of Mary Help of Christians.
Through her prayers and under her protection, may the light of Christ shine over our land.
May Australia be granted harmony, justice and peace.
Grant wisdom to our leaders and integrity to our citizens.
Bless especially the men and women of the Australian Defence Force and their families.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Mary Help of Christians, pray for us.
For full text -

I commend this prayer to the blessed Mother for a friend of mine, Anne, who is battling with cancer at the moment. May Anne and all those fighting the battle of cancer be blessed by the intercession of our patron Mary Help of Christians.
Sydney Opera House
Sydney is a most beautiful city, this is the Sydney Opera House at dusk.
Put it on your todo list of places to visit.

Monday, May 23, 2011

John the Beloved

Icon, St John the Beloved, Corpus Christi Parish, Gowrie Canberra
This Icon I wrote last year, 2010 for the Parish of Corpus Christi, Gowrie,
Australia. It is egg tempera with gold leaf.
Icons are the written Word. The following is the meaning of some of the symbolism of this icon:
The hand of John is in an attitude of receiving from Christ, but also of supporting Christ in his journey to the Cross and Resurrection.
You will notice the folds on Christ's blue robe are symbolic of branches, echoing his words - I am the vine, you are the branches.
The water jug and towel are symbols of forgiveness and healing, and of servanthood.
John’s eyes are fixed on Christ. Christ looks to you, and invites you to come also to his table to eat and drink.
The gold sash on Christ's shoulder is the 'cloth of gold' the symbol of authority - Matthew 28:18 "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me".
Wishing you many blessings as you contemplate the icon and discover what else is written in it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Walk and Talk - 15 May Harden-Murrumburrah

Geoff and I 'Walked and Talked' on May 15 down the pretty main street of Harden Murrumburrah NSW. 

We didn't solve all the problems of the world - but we did discuss how we could support people in our lives for the better.

We did probe several subjects from family and parish communities, to our own lives. We found it a wonderfully worthwhile experience - just walking and talking about issues that are important to us.

And of couse after the walk we had a cuppa at the Terracotta restaurant - we chatted to some of the locals along the way and had a great afternoon.

Yes I hope we have made a few decisions that will change some lives for the better.
And we found it so worthwhile we have decided to have our own walk and talk each month to revisit issues we looked at on the 15th May between 2pm and 3pm.

I have spoken to six other friends who Walk-and-Talked and they also found it very rewarding and exciting.

Thanks for the initiative Fr John - we are looking forward to joining you again next year.

Walk and Talk in Paris

Merran and Peter joined the Cursillo Conversation in Mallorca with the Walk and Talk City with a Soul - the initative of Fr John Armstrong from Gowie ACT, Australia with a visit to Paris.
The following are Merran's comments on the day -
Hi John and Sue
Attaching our photo from 15 May, Walk and Talk.
Peter and I went to Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral, had lunch in one of the delightful little cafes and then did our Walk and Talk between 2pm and 3pm local time all around Ile de la Cite along the banks of the Seine, right in the centre of Paris. It was fine but windy and as you see I was having a bad hair day!
The whole trip including the Conversations in Mallorca was fantastic. Wonderful to visit so many places significant to the birth of Cursillo. Subsequently we stayed with a community of Marist brothers near Lyon in southern France and did a little pilgrimage to places associated with St Marcellin Champagnat their founder. It was an incredibly picturesque region. Paris was beautiful, as always! Talk about a City with a Soul - how blessed were we!
Love Merran

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Old School house

Geoff and I have been blessed to own an old school house and 120-year-old school in NSW, not too far from Canberra. There I have a studio - it is the original kitchen which I have claimed as my studio!
The image on the right is the Icon of Mother of Tenderness which I am in the process of writing. She is beautiful. I am using pigment with egg yolk - the traditional way of making tempera paint on a board prepared with 13 layers of rabbit skin glue and whiting. It gives a beautiful rich colour to the image and through the process I feel a connection to the iconographers of centuries ago.
I love the discipline of iconography. I put on a Gregorian Chant CD and am absorbed in the moment.
Icons are 'the written word'. As the word of God is written so is an icon. It is full of symbolism which can be read by those who cannot read the written word. Stain glass windows also preach the word of God. When one sits and meditates on an icon much of the symbolism is revealed and one is drawn into the spiritual realm. Icons are 'windows to heaven'. Gold leaf surrounds the image.
We are enjoying the delights of the farm. Last weekend we picked olives from our two olive trees. We are in the process of salting them and hopefully the will be good to eat in a few months. We have also feasted on apples and nashi pears - delicious.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A blind man sitting by the road. Meditation on Luke 18:25

Luke 18:25

A blind man sitting by the road.

First I am a man, second I am a father, third I am blind, fourth I am a beggar.
I am a victim of circumstances.
The crowds are going by, I heard the noise, the people walking, shoving, pushing, to hear someone speak, at though the words were pearls of great price. People knocked me as they walked ahead of Him - turning backward to catch a view of Him. They did not know I was sitting at the side of the road. Although, some of the people did. I have sat here for years. Asking for help but none came. Begging is such a soul destroying existence, especially when you are blind. Often I don’t know what people are giving me, or throwing at me, and of course I fight the rats for the crusts others give me. No, it is no sort of life, being a blind beggar. I am near to giving up completely, there is no light in this darkness.
It was not like that in the beginning. People would help, nurse me, feed me, give me water. But then it got too much. My wife left to find someone who could support her and the children . Oh how I miss them. But they have gone - to greener pastures. I used to be a shrewd business man till the attack - when I was hit by a plank of wood on the back of my head. Then darkness surrounded me. I thought it would pass. The doctors did not know what to do. They seldom do. So I waited and prayed. I prayed to any God that had ears to hear - not one of them heard or answered.
I was always clean and tidy, a proud dresser in those days. I tried to keep up my self respect but… how can one when no-one helps and the attempts I made were ridiculed. My hair I would brush, but it was always sticking up in odd places because of my double crown. The filth around the streets sticks like glue to your hands, face and feet. No matter how often I wash apparently there was always some dirt left, a mark to laugh at. So I gave up. Now I go to the pool only to drink. Why try anymore? My good is never enough. Dad used to say that to me. “Try harder son. Do it better. Here let me, I’ll do it myself.” I loved dad but I was always a disappointment to him. He wanted me to be a rabbi or a captain in the army. But I became a tax collector - I was good with figures. I wasn’t too hard on people. But if you were too lenient your area would be taken from you. So I got my pound of flesh but no more. Till one day when one of my tenants could not pay. He too was desperate and about to give up like me now. So he picked up a plank of wood to knock me out. I don’t know what happened to him. But I pity the poor bugger. He was only doing what any captured animal would do - fight for freedom. I hope he got his freedom, the soldiers can be harsh round here. Not paying taxes is a serious crime, with heavy punishments and no pity. “I forgive him” there I’ve said it. The anger and hatred has been killing me. I have sat here and been haunted by his terrified face and his plank of wood for 15 years. Now look at me. I am in the same place as him. I have nothing, no hope and no way out. Poor beggar, I feel for him. We are so incredibly unaware of each other's needs. Society has made us hard and bitter. Love is gone - every man for himself. But why? So the rich can get richer and the poor - die. Hum.
“Oh grief - watch out feller. That was my hand you trod on.” I can’t make myself any smaller than I am. It is a battle, some of the time I need to be seen - to get food. The rest of the time I want to hide.
What’s going on? Who is here? Why is everyone so preoccupied. “What’s happening?” I asked. “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by,” they told me.
Jesus of Nazareth! Something hit me like that plank of wood. It is Him! I have been waiting and had given up. But here He is, Jesus my only hope. My only light in the darkness. I had heard of his wonders. I had heard about other miracle workers coming by before but this one is different. He is from the line of the king - David. I could hear Him speak soft, gentle, but controlled. He spoke with the authority I have only heard in the Emperor’s voice. My heart was racing, oh where are my legs. Stand up man, you will miss Him. Hurry. I kept getting knocked out of the way by people who wanted to get closer, for a better view. Ah... a better view. If only I…
I cried out “Jesus son of David, have mercy on me.” I knew He was my only hope. He could do something about my situation. Maybe he could get someone to find my wife; my children; to stop the fleas, the scurvy - my sore dry lips, the crusting around my eyes. Oh if only I could speak to Him.
“Jesus son of David,” I called all the louder - “have mercy on me.” Too late I thought, He’s gone, just like the other Gods, all too busy to hear. Too many other important people. Not a poor, blind beggar. The story of my life, no one listens. The din was loud as He passed, people telling others to be quiet so they could hear the Master. Telling me to stop shouting, because they could not hear His words. - Those words, - what, - of gold? All I heard Him say was “love and forgiveness, this brings the light and I am the light.” He is the light.
Oh, I need His light, the sun has gone. I need some light in this darkness. “Son of David have mercy on me.” I called as loud as I could, I knew He could bring back the light. I knew this was my time “Jesus.”
He stopped. The crowd hushed. What was happening? What was He saying now. I couldn’t hear. Someone came to me, a man with a rough voice. “Get up, Jesus had called for you. Come to the Master.”
My heart raced. A thousand thoughts ran through my head. This is the moment I longed for; but what do I say? Oh my life, my kids, my wife, the man with the log, dad, the Emperor, the rats, the restless nights, the empty stomach, the ache in my heart for love.
My heart burned with a new desire, to be in Master’s presence. If only I could touch His hand. I will follow Him until I drop then I will rest in peace.
“What do you want of Me?” he asked. He picked up my hand and touched my cheek. Strong hands, soft, but callused. Calloused like my heart. And what was that smell - sweet like incense, the incense of a king, but bitter like myrrh - sorrow - like my life. “What do you want me to do for you?” He asked again.
“Lord I want to see.” I could not catch these words, they just bubbled up from within. The deepest desire of my heart, to see again, to be freed from this dark prison.
Jesus said “Receive your sight your faith has healed you.” And as quickly as my sight left, it returned. I could see. Praise the God of all, I can see. With faith the size of a tiny mustard seed, He healed me. I looked into His eyes deep brown, big, with so much love in them - for me. He healed my sight but into my heart- that look of love poured a healing balm. It melted the bitterness and the hopelessness. My heart leapt with joy. Praise of God bubbled up from my whole being. I had been freed. I was a captive - now I am freed. Jesus healed every part of me. This Jesus the son of David, the hope of Israel stopped for me. Oh praise God. You came from your throne and healed me, a worthless blind sinner.
I followed Him everywhere. I could not bear to be out of His presence. This man of power and authority. This man of love, compassion and mercy. The love in His eyes could melt the hardest stone - and it did - my heart. It will continually shout the praises of our God. The God who sees and hears and comes to His creation to heal, to minister His love.
Everyone around me saw His mercy to me. I was blind and now I see - they praised God. Oh heaven came to the streets of Jericho that day.
Praise the Lord my soul.
Let everything within me praise the living God.
“Give the Father all the glory,” He said. “I only do that which I see the Father do. Give Him praise.” When He said the word Father His countenance melted into even greater love, it is the love I have for my bambinos. The love of their daddy, their Abba. Oh how my heart sings with joy at my awesome God.

Rosemary's Gluten Free Rainbow Pizza

Rainbow Pizza
A pre-made pizza base [gluten free is necessary]
Pumpkin - Jap or butternut is nicest
Tomato paste
Fetta cheese
English spinach

1. Spread tomato paste over the pizza base - as thick as you like!
2. Pumpkin - cut onto small chunks and roast in butter and honey until
quite soft - smaller pieces cook nice and quickly. Slice the chunks up
and place on the pizza. Drizzle the honey and melted butter mixture
over the pieces of pumpkin and onto any exposed bits of pizza base.
3. Pile the spinach onto the pumpkin slices using as much as you like.
4. Add chopped fetta cheese [ I like to use goat's fetta as I can't eat
cow's milk!]. Mozzarella also works.
Add some more honey if you're feeling adventurous
5. Bake as for any pizza.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Walk and Talk - 15 May - 2-3pm wherever you are in the world

On their way to the Emmaus two people talked about all the bad news that seemed to have happened.
Their hopes seemed to have been dashed.
Yet as they walked and talked Jesus came to be with them.
He helped them to see their lives in a new way. The scriptures sprang to life and they rushed to share their joy.

On 15th May wherever you are in the world you can Walk and Talk as well between 2 and 3pm. How can you share hope with another and take action?

1. Find a friend to walk with
2. Register on
3. Walk and Talk on 15th May between 2pm and 3pm
4. Share the conversation, photos and videos on 

On Sunday 15th May at 2.00pm I am joining those around the globe who are going to Walk and Talk-City with a Soul
I like to walk and talk (!!!) so the concept sounded good to me.
If we come up with an action by the end of the walk that sounds fantastic too. Let's give it a go - let's join together and MAKE A DIFFERENCE

As Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop says - We are all but pilgrims.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mary of the Cross - Icon

It is a privilege to write an Icon.
Each time I start a new image it is hard work. It is a new challenge with all of its own issues.
Mary of the Cross, MacKillop

This is an icon of St Mary of the Cross which I completed in March 2011 for a school in Northern NSW.

I find prayer is a crucial element in its construction, gaining an understanding of the Saint and situation is invaluable.
When I prepare a scripture reading for our Sunday Liturgy I try to prise apart the words to find the message within. What is it that I need to understand for my life from the words of this passage? What is the essence of the message that I need to convey when I read the words?
Equally when writing an Icon. What does the Icon need to say? What is the essence of the saint being depicted?
When I looked at the photo of Mary of the Cross I see a spirit of joy and love. Her eyes speak of the compassion and love she has for Christ which she expressed through each person she encountered. I am sure St Mary showed that love and compassion to my great-great grandmother when she visited her on her sick bed.
St Mary's sayings give us an insight into her spirituality -
"Seek first the poorest and most neglected parts of God's vineyard."
"Let us humbly thank God alike for the trial and the blessing, for the bitter and the sweet."

St Joseph and Mary Mother of Jesus
 Writing an Icon has many bitter and sweet moments - as does life. Slowly I am beginning to understand that I need to slow down and not rush headlong into the painting of the Icon or into life.

Stopping and breathing is an essential part of seeing the whole picture and at the same time seeing the minute detail.

 St Mary of the Cross had a great love of St Joseph - 
"May St. Joseph shower many special graces upon each and every one of you."
Can I urge you to find St Joseph in your life just as Mary of the Cross found St Joseph.
He has always been a wonderful advocate and companion to me.
Feast Day of St Joseph the Worker - 1 May.