This is an amazing ordination cake. The symbolism is manifold. I wish I had taken two photos, from different angles, because the “birds eye view” doesn’t do it justice.
At the base of the cake is an icing cincture which, the creator says, signifies that the ordinand is no longer his own man. He is consecrated to the Lord in the service of his people.
The cake is covered in red icing which evokes the precious blood of the Eucharist.
The image of Michelangelo’s Last Judgement is a second tier, encased by a clerical collar. It speaks to the eschatological significance of the priestly ministry.
The white zuchetto is not a prophecy of papal election! It’s a tribute to Pope Benedict, whose pontificate coincided with the ordinand’s seminary training.
The images of our Lady and St Joseph refer to the ordinand’s devotion to the Holy Family, and the rosary was an unplanned addition credited to inspiration.
The rose petals were made with sugar and rose water, so they smell like real roses. And the water called for in the cake’s recipe was replaced with holy water!
When the chef isn’t making amazing ordination cakes, she owns and runs Veritas, which is possibly the country’s best Catholic bookshop. You’ll find it in Albury. I highly recommend it!
As for the ordinand, his name is Bradley Rafter, and he is one of the best men I know. He is a “late vocation,” joining the seminary at 28. During his late teens and early twenties, I don’t think he darkened the door of a church at all.
A comparison to St Augustine may not be entirely fair, both on the measure of his worldly excesses, and also on the measure of his scholarly output.
Nonetheless, I think now-Father Brad speaks with a similar sort of authority. A man who exploited the opportunities the world offers, and found them wanting. These days, he has the zeal of the convert, and the common sense and realism you’d expect of a thoughtful 35 year old. He is one of those rare people who is at home at every situation society might throw at him. As a much older priest said to me, “he is very balanced,” which is high praise in the context of older, more progressive priests, commenting on us younger traditionalist types.
Bradley Rafter will be a great priest. Pray for him!
Well, I won’t give up my day job. I don’t think I’d make a very good travel agent. I neglected to mention the dates of my planned Holy Land pilgrimage.
We will depart Melbourne on Thursday 26 September, and land in Jordan on Friday 27. From there we travel to Mount Nebo, where we share the view Moses was given of the Promised Land.
Moses, of course, never actually got to the place. We’ll hopefully fare better, though I do notice that nothing else is scheduled for the day we cross the border into Israel. Judging from the experience my brother seminarian recounted in his journal, navigating Israeli Customs is a time-consuming endeavour!
Once we’re in Israel though, we’ll be happily ensconced in Nazareth for three nights, and Jerusalem for four. The final night is spent back in Jordan, before a morning flight departing Saturday 5 October. I can’t speak for other pilgrims, but I’ll be flying back to Melbourne, where I’ll arrive on Monday 7 October, just in time to start a twelve-day course of study and recreation!
I’ll upload a brochure on the trip in the next few days. The idea is really growing on me. I’ve received several emails and other messages from people who have been to the Holy Land and loved it. What an opportunity!
One of my brother seminarians travelled to the Holy Land at Christmas time. I read his journal of the trip, which touched me deeply — both for the places and experiences he related, and for the insights it gave me into his interior life. (Pray for him! I think he will be a holy priest.)
As I read the journal, it occurred to me what a wonderful thing it is, to walk the land that Jesus walked! To visit the place of his death. His burial. His resurrection. A visit to the Holy Land must reinforce, like nothing else, the historicity of our faith. Its sacramentality.
I suspect we are all susceptible to a small voice — the voice of the enemy — which whispers that God is in some distant heaven, remote from the world. That we can only find God by escaping from the mess of human affairs.
When I think like that, I remind myself: the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God is with us — in the midst of the ordinary business of work and family. For most of us, the spiritual life and the task of sanctification lies in the world — in the daily routine which our Lord himself lived for thirty years.
I can only imagine that visiting the Holy Land would reinforce and invigorate that claim of our faith. The so-called “scandal of the Incarnation.”
“One day,” I thought, as I read my brother’s journal. “One day I will go myself.” That day has arrived much sooner than I imagined.
An acquaintance — a travel agent — organised a Holy Land pilgrimage which he himself intended to join. You can imagine the care he put into the itinerary and accommodation. He even had a Catholic chaplain lined up — another friend of mine. But, at the last minute, a scheduling conflict obliged him to pull out of the trip, though the trip itself is going ahead.
Still intent on going himself, and having established all the contacts, he is now organising a similar trip which will depart a few weeks later. The trip is contingent on bookings of course, but I’ve put my hand up.
It’s not a long trip (ten days), but nor is it cheap ($4,730 twin share). That’s a lot of money! Having said that, my experience of international travel is basically limited to missionary trips and WYD pilgrimages. Those trips precluded four star accommodation, which kept the price down.
Friends tell me this is a very good deal, considering it’s all expenses paid:
☼ Emirates Airline economy class, including taxes.
☼ Meet/assist at Amman International Airport at arrival and departure.
☼ Three nights in Nazareth at the four star Gold Crown Old City.
☼ Four nights in Jerusalem at the four star Eldan Hotel.
☼ One night in Amman (Jordan) at the four star Cham Palace.
☼ All breakfasts and dinners included.
☼ Seven lunches in local restaurants during excursions.
☼ New air-conditioned 30 seat coach.
☼ Licensed English-speaking guides during all excursions.
☼ Portage at airport and hotels.
☼ Entrance fees and taxes.
Any advice? Or expressions of interest?
During Lent, I’ve really curtailed my Internet time. A lot of that time is spent working on some of the websites I administer, which leaves little time for blogging.
I’m working on one of those sites at present, which has given me cause to embark on a few Google image searches. Two photos jumped out at me, though they aren’t helpful to the task at hand.
One is a photo of my old friend, Fr Joe Martins, who was parish priest of West Melbourne, 2000–2006. He provided a written reference without which the seminary would not have admitted me.
The picture shows him offering Mass in the dining room of the presbytery:
The picture accompanies an article from The Age. Barney Zwartz describes the scene:
He is leading a mid-week Mass in the presbytery sitting room. This is because workmen have occupied St Mary’s Star of the Sea, the West Melbourne church where he is parish priest. It’s a simple service for about a dozen, and the reverence is almost palpable. “God wants your life to be a divine adventure,” he tells them.
It’s easy to imagine. Fr Joe’s masses were always edifying.
Zwartz records a memorable quote from Fr Joe, which I haven’t seen before. But again, I can easily imagine Fr Joe saying it:
Liberal Catholics dislike Opus Dei for its ultra-conservatism, and traditionalists because it breaks down the clerical caste system. Before Vatican II (the 1960s reforming church council) people thought Opus Dei was too avant garde, says Father Martins; they thought laypeople working for holiness degraded the whole idea. “Since then the Church has become neighbourly and folksy, so if people want to pursue their faith they must be religious freaks.”
Fr Joe now works in Sydney, and I don’t think I’ve seen him since bumping into him during Sydney’s World Youth Day. Speaking of which, here is the other photo which jumped out at me:
This photo was taken shortly before the papal mass at Randwick which concluded World Youth Day. Pope Benedict had just got out of his popemobile, and he was mobbed by seminarians as he approached the makeshift sacristy. Or at least, he would have been mobbed but for the barriers and security detail.
I think I’m in this picture. By which I mean, my hand is in this picture. I was near that person in the top left hand corner. Do you see her? She’s the middle-aged woman, dressed in soutane and surplice, who snuck in with the seminarians.
I’ve often wondered about her. What motivated her to dress like a seminarian and join us? Did she know that we’d get close to the pope? (None of the seminarians knew it.) Was she a sacristan and server, who wears choir dress in her parish? Or did she organise the outfit specifically for Randwick?
Maybe these questions will only be answered in eternity.
It’s funny to think that we’re now at the stage that the results of a random Google Image search can document our history!
The smell of smoke and an eery red hue have lingered since lunch time. Reports from the CFA aren’t great. The nearby fires in the Grampians doubled in size overnight, and it seems only rain can bring them under control now.
But it won’t rain before Monday, and in the meantime, a change from the north will raise temperatures and redirect the fires toward population centres. It’s going to be a long weekend, in the worst possible sense.
Many parishioners are already adversely impacted, and many more have dropped everything and joined in the effort to fight the fires, and care for the fire fighters. Keep them in your prayers!
Some unexpected visitors joined us for daily Mass in Hamilton this morning.
As I was walking across the carpark towards the church (which at 9:30 was already baking in the summer heat) a mini-van pulled up beside me. I watched in astonishment as one habited sister after another emerged from the car.
The sight was so unexpected that it invited comparison (in my mind) to the old cliché of one clown after another, emerging from a comically small clown car. In light of that, this photo of the good sisters, which evokes the Benny Hill era of comedy sketches, is curiously apropos:
The Sisters of the Immaculata are making a pilgrimage to Penola to honour St Mary of the Cross. Like hundreds of other pilgrims who pass through Hamilton every year, they came to pray at the grave of Mary’s father Alexander, who died and was buried in Hamilton in 1868.
The Immaculata community is in its infancy, so the sisters have, no doubt, a lot to confide in St Mary. And Mary, being herself the co-founder of a new community, is bound to sympathise. Still, you might add your own prayers to theirs.
The sisters’ primary apostolate is the spiritual renewal of parishes by means of adoration of the Eucharist and the catechesis of young adults. You can find out more on their website.
Before today I was not, I must confess, aware of this community. But I did recognise one of the postulants from my seminary days. She has since graduated from the JPII Institute for Marriage and the Family, where she received several academic prizes. And one of the sisters’ pre-postulants is from the Ballarat diocese. God is good!
Especially recommended to me — a favour I’m now passing on — is an interview with the community’s founder, recently broadcast on Sydney’s Catholic radio station. You can listen to Mother Mary Teresa’s story at Cradio.