Newsletter 8: 19 June 2018
This past weekend in my own Parish, a young man whom I’ve known since he was just a little fellow stood before us at Mass as a Deacon soon to be ordained. It was a great moment for his family and indeed all Parishioners as he beamed out at the congregation, looking a little older and wiser after years away in Rome studying. From a family of nine, eight boys and one lucky girl, young Matthew took on the responsibility of giving the homily with the poise of an old hand. It was a moment to savour and share, one sadly too rare these days. What connection does this have to Marist Schools Australia? Well in the great Catholic tribe, Marists can claim Matt’s sister as a Marist teacher, his father and uncles as past students of Marist Brothers Mosman in Sydney, and his grandfather and family as friends and supporters of the Marists in Forbes and the central west of NSW.
Young Matthew’s homily was of such simplicity and earnest faith as to be worth repeating and replacing the original piece prepared for this edition of the MSA newsletter. Matthew recounted his trip home from Rome via Dubai, and admitted to viewing a few movies to pass the time, especially those interminable 14 hours on the last leg to Australia. The Greatest Showman struck the young Deacon’s fancy, and particularly the character of PT Barnum played by Hugh Jackman. In the final scene of the movie, Barnum reflects with great clarity on his priority in life, that of a father to his young daughters. The young Deacon used this dramatic epiphany as a segue to the message of the Gospel on Sunday, in which Jesus provides the parable of the mustard seed to explain the kingdom of God.
As encouragement to his old fellow Parishioners, Matt directed attention to the words of Cardinal John Henry Newman to guide our thoughts and actions as we contemplated the Kingdom described in the Gospel. In his work, Meditations and Devotions, the holy Cardinal outlines a simple path to holiness.
It is the saying of holy men that, if we wish to be perfect, we have nothing more to do than to perform the ordinary duties of the day well. A short road to perfection-short, not because easy, but because pertinent and intelligible. There are no short ways to perfection, but there are sure ones.
We must bear in mind what is meant by perfection. It does not mean any extraordinary service, anything out of the way, or especially heroic-not all have the opportunity of heroic acts, of sufferings-but it means what the word perfection ordinarily means. By perfect we mean that which has no flaw in it, that which is complete, that which is consistent, that which is sound-we mean the opposite to imperfect. As we know well what imperfection in religious service means, we know by the contrast what is meant by perfection.
The person, then, is perfect who does the work of the day perfectly, and we need not go beyond this to seek for perfection. You need not go out of the round of the day.
As the first Semester comes to its conclusion, these words are worth remembering. May we seek perfection in our work during these busy days. Every assessment marked and feedback provided, with every Semester report written, with each carefully chosen word of encouragement and challenge, with each grade, mark, and interview, may we do the works of the day as well as we can, confident these are our surest ways to perfection.