The Aquinas Academy
The Aquinas Academy was set up under the auspices of the Australian Province of the Marist Fathers by Fr Austin Woodbury SM in March 1945. The Academy began as a centre for the study of Philosophy and Theology in the Thomistic tradition. For some twenty-nine years it continued in this capacity under Fr Woodbury's guidance, in premises at the back of St Patrick's Church, Gloucester Street, in The Rocks (Sydney, NSW). For a short while the Academy offered a License in Philosophy under accreditation from the University of St Thomas in Rome. Since its inception, a number of qualified priests, religious and laity have been part of the lecturing staff. The Academy was one of the pioneers of Catholic adult education in Australia.
Since 1975, the Academy has increasingly focused on general adult education in the faith. Perhaps the most popular of the programs mounted was the Christian Growth Program, offering basic education in theology, morality, psychology and spirituality.
Threat to religious tolerance from 'modern elites'
The Hon Dyson Heydon (centre)
In a stinging attack on “modern elites”, former justice of the High Court Dyson Heydon AC QC has condemned attempts to exclude religion from Australian public debate.
Delivering the inaugural PM Glynn lecture in Adelaide on Tuesday evening, Mr Heydon referred to Patrick McMahon Glynn’s contribution to the Australian Constitution, notably for ensuring the words “humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God” were included in the preamble. “Those words reflected what the elite of the Federation generation saw as fundamental,” Mr Heydon said in his address entitled Religious ‘toleration’ in modern Australia: the tyranny of relativism. Read more
How forced migration defined Francis' papacy
From the very first moments of his pontificate, Jorge Bergoglio signalled a departure in style from that of his immediate predecessors. His taking of the name Francis, his eschewing the full papal vestments, and his appeal to the masses gathered in Saint Peter's Square below to pray for him, before imparting his own blessing, all indicated a more personal, pastoral style.
Francis, most commentators agree, was elected on his perceived ability to address the need for reform of a Roman Curia increasingly beset by paralysis, inefficiency and scandal. It soon became apparent, however, that he saw this reform as a subset ... Read more
Seamus Heaney: ‘Walk on air against your better judgement’
On 30 August 2013, news of the death of Nobel Prize-winning poet, Seamus Heaney, was met with sorrow around the world. He was universally admired for his kindness as well as for his poems, which ‘gaze into the reality of the world and see its mystery’. On National Poetry Day, Edel McClean pays tribute to the life and work of a man whose death, according to his fellow poet, Don Paterson, ‘seems to have left a breach in the language itself’. Read more
Spiritual Pilgrimage to India (2018)
Information evening 6pm, 12 September 2017
Marie Fonseca (Spice Odyssey) is organising her 6th Christian spiritual pilgrimage to India “One Heart and One Soul” from February 19 – March 10, 2018.
The highlight of this pilgrimage will be a four night meditation/yoga retreat with daily mass led by Fr. Joe Pereira (Mumbai), in Goa. The pilgrimage also includes attending a Mass at St. Teresa of Kolkata’s Tomb and visits to some of her homes.
Conscience, hope and the double bind
Michael Whelan SM
One of the most wonderful gifts one human being can give another is the sense of realistic possibility. The presence of faith, hope and love tends to do this for us – especially when we are young and vulnerable. When others – typically parents – communicate faith in us, hope for us and love no matter what, it can awaken a realistic sense of our own dignity and worth and allow us to engage the world with some confidence and honesty. It tends to engender in us a life-giving sense of possibility, preparing us for adulthood ...
Relationship Seminar II
Starts 26 October 2017
Participants must have completed Seminar I
“Relationship is written into the very nature of human beings. As the Bible sees human beings, you cannot think about them, without recognizing that they are, as it were, made for relationship.” [Aelred Squire, Asking the Fathers, SPCK, 1972, 20]
Course: The Poetry of Grace III - Rainer Maria Rilke
The Duino Elegies
Starts Tuesday 7 November
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 – 1926) is a poet of and for our times in his unrelenting quest for the truth that might be revealed through the creative process. Deeply inspired by the visual arts (he was secretary for a period of Auguste Rodin), by Russian monasticism (Das Buch vom Monchischen Leben) and by the sacred inhering in the natural world, Rilke was throughout his life a seeker of the truth.
Life is gracious
Michael Whelan SM
The fundamental polarity of human life between what is and what ought to be, between lack and fulfilment, between determination and freedom, is not abnormal; it is the norm. Every person is exposed to it because of the inescapable structure of human formation. (Adrian van Kaam, The Transcendent Self, Dimension Books, 1979, 172.)
We grow well when we interact well with the grace of living, in the midst of the tension “between lack and fulfilment, determination and freedom”. Grace is everywhere! Facing your limits, submitting to the truth of your limits, is potentially a particularly rich experience of grace.
Spiritual Practices and Attitudes 2 – Breathing as a way into Contemplation
Notes by Michael Whelan SM
In the Book of Genesis we read: “then the LORD God formed man (adam) from the dust of the ground (adamah), and breathed into his nostrils the breath (nâshamah) of life; and the man (adam) became a living being (nephesh)”. (2:7) (In Hebrew thought, there is no “body” distinct from “soul”. Nephesh means literally “a being animated by the breath of life”.)
The “breath of God” is also referred to by the Hebrew word ruah and is generally translated as “spirit” – see for example Genesis 6:3, Psalm 104:30 and Job 33:4. Ruah – meaning either wind or breath – is generally used in both Hebrew and Christian Scriptures when speaking of the Spirit of God. In Greek the word becomes pneuma and in Latin spiritus.
In the Gospel of John we read: “(Jesus) breathed on (the disciples) and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’”. (20:22) This is the new creation!
We breathe because of God’s breathing.
Gospel for the Twenty Ninth Sunday (22 October 2017)
Gospel Notes by Michael Whelan SM
Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away. (Matthew 22:15-21 – NRSV)