Tuesday, December 24, 2013

new website

Food For Faith has shifted to

This blog is no longer updated and will vanish from cyberspace in the next few days.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

foodforfaith - new beginning

Over the last few years this foodforfaith blog has grown far beyond my original intentions and expectations. Several thousand people visit the foodforfaith blogger site every week, and our statistics show that most people spend a good amount of time reading several posts on each visit. Foodforfaith seems to be meeting a need.

The statistics also show that while the initial readership was from New Zealand, now people from the United States and Europe make up the majority of visitors to the site. More recently numbers from Asia are growing too.

Earlier this year I offered a few brief video clips on a variety of faith themes. The response to these was also positive. Many people have suggested an expansion of the project, and I have been open to this, but I don't have the technological skills or ability to do this myself. Another suggestion is that we develop podcasts - five or ten minute encouragement and teaching that provides food for faith. This will come next month.

It was Jason McTague who suggested the way to meet these requests, and now with his practical IT skills and resources, and with the support of Bishop Barry Jones, the Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, this new site is launched at

You may be reading this on the old blogger site. If so you might take a moment now to make the journey to the new site and continue to read this post there simply by tapping on

If you are reading this on the new site, welcome. We have tried to make the site as simple and predictable as possible. Our hope is that anyone with a screen (computer, ipad or smartphone) can easily navigate the three central sections of the site: 

READ. This section of the site will be updated most regularly and is made up of written entries. 
WATCH. Here you can view a selection of video clips providing food for your faith. 
LISTEN. Nothing here yet - but watch this space. This section will provide foodforfaith podcasts. 

The Home Button offers the map for the site with easy links to each of the three main sections, and to an attic where you can browse a variety of interesting stuff - like you might on a rainy day in the attic of an old house. 

As always, your comment and feedback is welcomed. We are still fine-tuning the site, and as you browse you might find broken links or others errors, and have suggestions. Please let us know!

NOTE: This will be the last posting on this old site. All previous postings (almost one thousand of them) can be found on the new site at

A new foodforfaith Facebook page has been created. Don't forget to "like" us, using the "Facebook" icon on the front page of the new site.

If you have found foodforfaith helpful, please spread the word. While we are not in the numbers game, it is encouraging for us to know that someone out there is appreciating what is offered. 

Thank you for your continued prayer interest and support.

"a new day":  sunrise from St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church, Chatham Islands.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Inform & Faithfest

The December issues of the Christchurch Diocesan magazine "Inform" arrived this afternoon, so I made a coffee and sat in the garden to savour the Faithfest photos.

You can read Inform online by tapping on the image. You can pick up a hardcopy at any Christchurch diocese parish this weekend.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

you did know this

After my post about the Advent "O Antiphons" a couple of days ago, some have comment that they had never heard about the "O Antiphons".

But most Christians know the Advent hymn, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", and anyone who has sung this hymn has sung the O Antiphons - each of the seven verses, one of the antiphons for the last week of Advent.

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel, 
And ransom captive Israel, 
That mourns in lonely exile here 
Until the Son of God appear. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel! 

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high, 
Who ordered all things mightily; 
To us the path of knowledge show, 
and teach us in her ways to go. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel! 

Oh, come, oh, come, our Lord of might, 
Who to your tribes on Sinai's height 
In ancient times gave holy law, 
In cloud and majesty and awe. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel! 

Oh, come O Rod of Jesse's stem, 
From ev'ry foe deliver them 
That trust your mighty pow'r to save; 
Bring them in vict'ry through the grave. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel! 

Oh, come, O Key of David, come, 
And open wide our heav'nly home; 
Make safe the way that leads on high, 
And close the path to misery. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel! 

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high, 
And cheer us by your drawing nigh, 
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, 
And death's dark shadows put to flight. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel! 

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind 
In one the hearts of all mankind; 
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease, 
And be yourself our King of Peace. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel! 

I was going to upload a Youtube music clip, but there are many and you can choose for yourself at this link.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

nativity difficulty

Earlier today I visited the home of parishioners who had just finished setting up a nativity scene in their living room. It was prepared with love, beautifully created, and was even illuminated with the manger awaiting the Christ child the most brightly lit part of the stable.

Even in this so-called secular age, there are images, models and other artistic representations of Mary and Joseph with their newborn in many town-centres, stores and homes. A peacefulness pervades these scenes, and a few moments savouring these provides a welcome focus in these days of pre-Christmas busy-ness and end-of-year (at least in the Southern Hemisphere) stresses.

In the presence of a peaceful nativity scene, it is easy to forget all that the reality of these weeks would have been for Mary and Joseph and their new baby. It is a helpful connection with the reality of the incarnation to remember some of the facts surrounding the months both before and after the nativity of Jesus.
  • Soon after the conception of Jesus, Mary and Joseph would have faced considerable pressures and the threat of scandal. Imagine the moment when Mary breaks the news of her pregnancy to her parents Anna & Joachim: "Mum, dad, I'm pregnant, but don't worry, the father is the Holy Spirit." 
    • How many young women and men fear breaking this news, or other difficult news to their parents and family? 
  • In his "Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives" Pope Benedict reminds us that after the conception of Jesus "Joseph has to assume that Mary has broken their engagement, and according to the law he must dismiss her."  
    • How many people live today with uncertainty about the future of the relationships with those they love, especially when a tension threatens the security of the relationship?
  • As the time for the birth of their child nears, Mary and Joseph have to embark on a journey of 180 km to Bethlehem. According to Pope Benedict the journey was necessary probably because Joseph "had property in Bethlehem, so that he had to go there for tax registration." 
    • While it is perhaps rare today to have to undertake an arduous journey immediately before the birth of a child, uncertainty, poverty and threats are all too common in the lives of many expectant parents.
  • When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem they could find no place to stay. 
    • Too many parents, even in our own so-called "first-world" countries lack the basic securities of life and live with the threat or reality of homelessness.
  • The first visitors to the newborn Jesus and his family were strangers who brought company and gifts. Pope Benedict writes of an "element that has been particularly emphasised by the monastic tradition: the shepherds' watchfulness. Monks set out to be watchful in this world - in the first place through their nocturnal prayer, but above all inwardly, open to receiving God's call through the signs of his presence." Chapter 3
    • Today, in the absence of family and friends it is often watchful neighbours, workmates and friends who are sensitive to the needs of newborn children and their parents.
  • The visit of the Magi "from the land of sunrise" (ie the East) Ch.4  coincides with the presence of a fatal threat. These visitors knew that King Herod was also aware of the birth of a new king and sought to kill him. Joseph too is asked by the angel of God to quickly head for Egypt with Mary and the newborn Jesus "for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." (Mt:2:13) So now Joseph, Mary and Jesus embark on a 300km journey to a foreign land.
    • Today too a human life is at its most vulnerable in the couple of years after conception. Too easily the threat of disease, hunger, and the fears of parents take away the security that is essential for the healthy development of a child.
For the next thirty-three years, until his tragic death,  Jesus was the victim of persecutions, misunderstandings, betrayal, suffering, and death as a criminal. This is good news for us since our lives seem to follow a similar pattern. This is the stuff of earthly human existence. 

The powerful reminder of a household nativity scene, is that the reality of God is breaking into our human struggle in every difficult moment. We have nothing to fear since, in every struggle and anxiety, God is with us.

And we know from our past experience that the most wonderful experiences in life are not the moments when we are free of all problems, but when, even in the midst of great worries and burdens, we know that we are loved.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

7 more sleeps - O wisdom

In the Prayer of the Church, prayed through the hours of each day by many Christians, and which priests and many Religious communities pray on behalf of all people, the journey of Advent moves up a gear on December 17 when the date appears alongside the day of the week in the Breviary. This marks the last week of preparation for Christmas, with each of these seven days marked with one of the "O antiphons"

Fr. Z's blog gives a helpful introduction and a links if you wish to pray with these antiphons over the next week.

December 17: "O Wisdom"
"O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence."

Monday, December 16, 2013

priests are sinners

In 1984 as a seminarian I spent three months on pastoral placement in the parish of Pukekohe, South Auckland. It was a very good experience for me. I recall attending a day clergy seminar at St. Ben's in Auckland on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The day concluded with the opportunity for each of us, priests and seminarians, to receive the sacrament. At this service Fr. Eugene O'Sullivan OP (d.1988) gave an inspiring reflection on the need for the minister of the Sacrament of Reconciliation to himself be a regular receiver of the sacrament.

The following year I was ordained a priest of the diocese of Christchurch and I now know, from my own personal experience, that Eugene was right: a priest, the minister of this sacrament, is a sinner, and needs to regularly receive this sacrament himself.

In the seasons of Lent and Advent each year, the priests of the Christchurch diocese gather to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance. After a communal preparation led by one of our number, we each have the opportunity to come forward to one of half a dozen of our brothers appointed as ministers of the sacrament for the gathering. 

It is a powerful witness to see the priests of our diocese coming forward, humbly confessing their sin, and receiving God's forgiveness.  There are few things as powerful as kneeling in front of your brothers, knowing that as they watch you confess your sin, they are praying for you.

After a communal thanksgiving, the time together concludes with a meal together. The food and drink is good, and the company superb since we are sinners, who together have confessed our sin, and once again have experienced the beauty of God's mercy and love.