The Filipino Chaplaincy in the Diocese of Broken Bay was officially launched on Saturday 25 May at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, Waitara by Rev Dr David Ranson, Diocesan Administrator.
Following is Fr David's homily from the Mass.
6th Sunday of Easter Year C
25 May 2019
Mass for the Inauguration of the Catholic Filipino Chaplaincy of the Diocese of Broken Bay
Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral Waitara
Fr David Ranson
One of my particular interests is choreography - not that I know very much about it, but I certainly enjoy watching productions of dance and motion. Perhaps this is because my parents were enthusiastic dancers and one of my most delightful memories as a child was watching them dancing.
One of the most poignant dances I have seen is that of the Turkish whirling dervishes. This is a sacred dance with its very particular choreography. It begins with very slow motion and gradually builds with intensity so that the many individuals who enter into the dance inter-weave their steps to create an extraordinary circular effect. It is one of the most sublime forms of dance that I have seen. The whirling dervishes derive their choreography from much earlier forms of dance in the Middle-East, particularly known as the round dance. One of the very early Christian writers of the 2nd Century, Hippolytus, who was the author of what we know now as the Second Eucharistic Prayer, saw in this dance a wonderful image of the very nature of God.
O thou leader of the mystic round-dance! O divine Pasch and new feast of all things! O cosmic festal gathering! O joy of the universe, honour, ecstasy, exquisite delight by which dark death is destroyed… and the people that were in the depths arise from the dead and announce to all the hosts of heaven: “The thronging choir from Earth is coming home.”
In this remarkable passage, Hippolytus is portraying the Risen Jesus as the leader of a divine dance which in its wonderful circular energy is sweeping us up into itself.
The Risen Jesus leads us into an eternal circular dance which, intimated by the choreography of the whirling dervishes, is a circle of communion. By the Risen Lord we are opened to a divine circle of relationship, a communion of life. Another early Christian writer John Damascene in the 8th Century speaks of the divine perichoresis. Perichoresis is the technical word that he uses to describe the way in which in this divine circle of life each person finds themselves with the other, from the other, through the other, by the other, in the other. It all speaks of the nature of relationship in the very being of God. God is pure relationship, and we who are made in the image of this God, find ourselves in and through relationships. We exist in relationship or not at all. This is our truth because it is the very truth of God, and the more we are oriented towards relationship the more human we become, the more we are open to that which is divine; the less relational we are the less human we become and equally the more we find ourselves turned away from the divine life.
Like the choreography of the whirling dervishes, this might all sound a little esoteric. However, the Gospel this Sunday speaks of the communion of life which is both our origin and our destiny. It speaks of this circle of relationship into which we are being drawn by the Spirit of Jesus.
It is the role of the Spirit of Jesus now to lead us into this circle of life, and this communion of relationship. And the wonderful thing is that this communion of life does not take away our diversity. Our diversity remains, but now through the Spirit it is threaded together to form an extraordinary unity. In our proclamation of God as Trinity, we celebrate the way that unity and diversity can co-exist, one does not need to cancel out the other.
This is why the Church does not expect all of its members to be exactly the same. It celebrates the marvellous kaleidoscope of culture that comprises human life. It does not suggest that to find Christ, we have to leave our culture. No, rather, to find Christ we must enter our culture and find there all the ways that Christ is present. Indeed, every experience of God is first and foremost a cultural experience for we cannot come to God except through our culture which is like the ocean in which we swim. Could we imagine a fish reaching its destination outside of the water which bears it?
In our single Diocesan family we have many different cultures, all of whom are important to acknowledge, to nurture and to celebrate – for each of them are for those who belong to them the means by which God reveals himself; each of them has something to teach us about the mystery of God and of faith.
Today we celebrate in a special way the Filipino culture within our Diocesan family. The Filipino peoples received the Gospel in the 16th Century, almost 500 years ago. Developing from their indigenous heritage and shaped by Spanish influence, the Philippines is now the fifth largest Christian country in the world and third largest in the Catholic world. In our own Diocese, our Filipino people have formed communities within six of our Catholic Parishes: Warringah, Chatswood, Gosford, Wyong, Wyoming and here at the Cathedral Parish of Hornsby. For the last 15 years the Scalabrinian Fathers at Dee Why have provided chaplains to the communities. Now, our Diocese itself assumes this responsibility. Effective from 1 May the Catholic Filipino Chaplaincy of the Diocese of Broken Bay has been established with Deacon Roberto Corpuz as our inaugural Pastoral Coordinator for the Chaplaincy. This is a wonderful illustration of how the unity of life created by the Spirit of God does not eliminate diversity and distinction, but rather weaves it all into a wonderful communion of life we share. Tonight, we acknowledge and celebrate this.
The communion of life into which we are drawn from the rich diversity of our community is the source of our peace and our hope as followers of the Risen Lord. The Risen Jesus gives us his peace. The peace that he gives us is own experience of being in such a communion of life. Knowing that we are held and embraced in a communion of life and of love gives us a sureness of ground so that at all times we know we are more than our difficulties and our sadness. This is the nature of peace in Jesus, and it is the peace that he wishes us to experience also.