Saturday, February 27, 2010

Diaconate Ordination

I attended a diaconate ordination for a young man from the Paramatta diocese the other day. It was mercifully short, just 1.25 hours. The apostolic delegate (former bishop) seems like a very kind man with a good pastoral sense about him. He is very kindly.

I very much like the new Cathedral that was built three years ago. The old one burned down, but they gutted it and they now use it for a baptistry and a chapel of reparation that leads to the main church. As I was sitting inside, I felt like I was immersed in a baptismal river. The way the light streamed through the Cathedral windows gave a sense of flow and movement like a river. The fixtures in the Cathedral are stunning with a Crucifix that radiates many different emotion. The architects of this cathedral are liturgical space geniuses.

I met the newly-appointed bishop who will be installed next Friday. He is 49 years old and an academician. I pray for many blessings on his ministry as he pastorally cares for this growing diocese.

I also met a Capuchin who just took vows a few weeks ago. He is friends with the Capuchins back in New York. It is a small world.

The Kukaberra and I are friends

I continued clearing out the bush in the back of the house and I am pleased with the progress I am making. I get freaked out by the spiders and their webs and I hate the thought that I am stepping on hundreds each time I go out there, but I still go out there and I get less and less grossed out. I do like clearing the bush floor and watching the Kukaberras line up on the perches of the trees to swoop down and eat skinks and grubs. These birds are rather friendy. You can get rather close to them.

I told Massa, the handyman, that there was a gross stick-looking spider on the door and we told me that it is a friendly spider. Gosh, it is ugly and I can't imagine it has many friends. He then pointed out two tarantula looking spiders and he won't kill them because he says they are friendly. My heart sinks whenever I see them. Ughh.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Friends from Boston

It is so neat to be half a world away, a different hemisphere, and to visit with friends who are from New England. Linda and Jack, Paul and Pat, were taking a vacation to Australia and New Zealand. They just came from Uluru and will stay a few days in Sydney before they move onto Wellington, Christchurch, and Auckland.

We at in the Rocks area of Sydney at a German Brauhaus where Lowenbrau and other delicious beers were on the menu. The wait staff were all German. We had litre beers and some nice German food. I enjoyed playing host and showing them the Harbor and environs. I sounded as if I knew what I was talking about as we explored the Harbor. I was able to give good suggestions on places they could visit and I think I connected them with a Jesuit school to visit.

The rest of the week has been decent. I have had an unusual amount of energy in the morning, but I require at least 1.5 hours of naptime each day. I've been doing a little bit of yardwork. I'm over my fear of spiders and snakes. I'm told the cockatoos make sure there are no snakes because the cockatoos are carnivors. The spiders are big and ugly. I'm clearing the yard behind the house.

Tomorrow I will present Chapter 7 of the Constitutions. It is the foundational chapter and it is one that is most attributed to Ignatius. I recall presenting this chapter as a novice. Tomorrow night, I will attend a chamber concert at a nearby facility. I love listening to live music. It fills up my senses and unleashes my imagination.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Pleasant Start to the Day

Today I arose early and washed my clothing and linens. I have come to like hanging my clothes outside to dry once again. I have used a dryer for so many years long in the states. Then I went back to my bedroom and vacuumed, washed the sink, and tidied up. The room smells fresh and sparkling clean. I just returned from Mass and I will now take a nap (10:30 a.m.). This feels so decadent. When I awake I will read Chapter 7 of the Constituions as I have to present on Thursday.

Photos: Captain Cook Cruise around Sydney Harbour

To see photos of the cruise around Sydney Harbour, please click on the link below:

Pics of the Cruise around Sydney Harbour

Captain Cook Cruise around Sydney Harbour

I watched Break Morant last night. It was a good film, though I am told that the South African accents are not realistic. Morant, an Australian cattle breaker, was put through a hasty trial by the British military during the Boer War in South Africa. He is portrayed as a scapegoat to cover up some British blunders. I want to see if I can find some poems written by Morant because that is highlighted in the film. The British government just recently has decided to reinvestigate the case to see if they gave Morant a fair trial. The goal is to possibly exonerate him. The British typically did not treat the Australians or New Zealanders well in their history.

Today was a lovely day. I awoke early and cooked some bacon and eggs for the brethren. I do like cooking. It seems to be a part of my ministry of food. I’m half-Italian. It is in my blood. Then I met some friends in Sydney Harbor to spend a day visiting. These friends have a link to the town next to my boyhood town of Douglas, Massachusetts. I know this family rather well and I was able to meet Cathy, her husband, John, and their daughter, Caitlin. I would have included their pics, but I did not ask their permission to publish them online.

We walked along the harbor and saw the cruise ship, Queen Victoria. How stately. Poor John is recovering from a back and hip injury and we did a fair amount of walking. We went to the Rocks, which is an open air market. It is quite fun. We ate at an excellent Italian restaurant on the pedestrian mall.

Then we took a coffee tour of Sydney Harbour. The tour departed from Gate 6 and sailed for two hours. It was narrated by a very thorough cruise master. The harbor was very busy with a number of sailing competitions going on as it was a Saturday at the tail end of summer. The Australians really love their water. We traveled by many coves and beaches and many mansions. It was quite a scenic tour. Some of the homes cost in the millions. One house was in the market for 60 million, but many of them were below 30 million AUD. There’s lots of money in Sydney.

One of the coolest parts of the trip was encountering rough waters where the harbor met the ocean. You could just feel the difference in the waves. The harbor does have many sharks, but there has not been a serious attack in seven months. The man lost his arm and a leg. However, that does not impede swimming at all or sailing. There were many sailboats and windsurfers who tipped over and had to be in the water for a while as they wrestled with their vessels to get them aright. I can’t believe the number of boats and ships that line the harbor. A boat is an expensive piece of property and there are thousands of them just for pleasure vessels. We passed by three nude beaches and I did not take any photos of those areas. I do want to visit the zoo that is one the other side of the harbor.

The cruise served coffee and tea, but they had a lot of desserts as well. I don’t think I can remember the name of it, but they served a cake that was moist yellow cake inside dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut. It was so moist and tasty that I had three. So much for fasting. I had a flat white as well.

Cathy, John, and Caitlin were great hosts. It is so neat to see that Cathy looks like her father and her siblings. It was easy to spot her at the Quay. I look forward to seeing them again.

When I came home we had breaded lamb chops and then we played bocce and Frisbee before watching Quantum of Solace. Oh, I saw the movie Kenny a few weeks ago. It was very funny. I also saw a film with a very young Sam Neill in it. I like his character in Jurassic Park better than the crazed, bohemian

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday after Ash Wednesday

I said Mass today and decided to preach about fasting, abstinence, and penance, but when I walked down to the dining room at lunch, I was greeting by a big bowl of meat sauce for the rice. I was so surprised that they would serve meat on a Friday of fast and abstinence. It appears that this particular custom has evolved over the years. The only days that remain this way are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. I rather like the Lenten discpline so I am trying to keep it, but by using good judgment.

I received word that I will be missioned for three weeks to Hervey Bay, which is just north of Brisbane. It is supposed to be a beautiful community and a sub-tropical environment. I'm happy with the choice.

This week we studied the autobiograhy of Ignatius and then spent some time discussing multi-cultural communities. I very much enjoyed the conversations about the autobiography and learned quite a few new perspectives on Ignatius.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Photos: The Blue Mountain

To see photos of the Blue Mountains, please click on the link below:

Pics of the Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains

I overslept this morning and did not think I would make it to the Blue Mountains this morning with my brothers. I saw that three guys needed a navigator/driver and decided to join them afterall. It was a good day.

Hiked for several miles along the cliff of the mountain and saw some waterfalls. There is a nice set of rock formations called the Three Sisters. They are opposite the Medicine Man. Trekked through the tropical rainforest and then had lunch in Katoomba Cafe in Katoomba. We went to a couple other vistas, but the fog was too omnipresent to see anything. It was like a Stephen King story. We then drove back to Pymble and went out to dinner at Gordon Grill. Since it was late, I had a nice lamb salad so I would not eat too much.

Tomorrow I will join friends at the Chinese New Year Mass at Our Lady of the Way parish. The Year of the Tiger begins.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Concert at the Opera House

Today was 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37C) and it was too hot to go for a walk. We finished up a long week of conferences and I was glad for a little downtme. For some reason, I fell asleep around 3 a.m. last night. I realized I needed a good rest today, but I was offered a ticket to a Mahler concert at the Opera House and I decided that I would take advantage of a kind offer like that.

The Symphony was good. The orchestra members were very young - many of them under 40. I would imagine the concertmaster to be around 48. The conductor, Vladimir Ashkenazy, was quite good, even despite his jerky movements. He is intense and jagged and it fit the musical arrangement, but I could not figure out his conducting signals.

I had front row seats so I could not gain an appreciation for the ways the music filled the hall. I could see the front row of musicians, but had a good view of the concertmaster and the violin section. The orchestra is in the middle of the hall with many seats encircling the pit. It seems to be an unusual arrangement, but the place was packed. I believe this was the beginning of the concert season.

The musical score was: Richard Strauss - Don Juan - poem, Mahler's Blumine and Songs of a Wayfarer, and then Symphony No. 1 in D. I enjoyed being back in front of a symphony. I realized that I was spoiled in Portland and with the Magic of Christmas chorus.

The trip home was something I want to erase from my mind. I took the train to Pymble because the Gordon bus was not running. Pymble is only a 12 minute walk. Since I did not get exercise today I welcomed the walk home. It had drizzled part of the evening in Sydney and I figured a little bit of light rain was tolerable, maybe even refreshing. Well, when I got off the train, we had a terrific thundershower. I knew there was no bus there and there were no cabs as well. I decided to wait out the showers. I stood under an awning to stay dry. I looked at all the store fronts for a cardboard box to use as a makeshift umbrellan just in case I needed to make a mad dash. Nothing. I waited under the awning for 45 minutes and the shower were not letting up. Lightning was right above me and thunder was intense. I had to do something so I began to walk home. I was immediately drenched. About 10 minutes into the walk, I found a piece of plastic that might have been a sign at one time and I used it for cover. Wouldn't you know, the rain lightened up. Just as I was five minutes away from the house, I placed the plastic covering into a neighbors recycling bin so it would not be left as trash. The skies opened up again and I got soaked to the bones once more. I was frustrated but almost there. I saw our recylce bin at the bottom of the driveway and I decided to wheel it back to the house. It was filled with water but I decided not to empty it. Well, as I'm wheeling it up the driveway, the wheel gets caught on a branch and I stumble. The open bin surge foward and douses me with more water and I am not happy. I had one last redeeming thought as I was near the house. The cook was leaving a plate for me for dinner. How thoughtful of him. So I went in and had fish and chips, but those chips were just as soggy as I was.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Villa at Newport Beach

I am delighted to find our villa so close to our house at Canisius College. It sits right on the beach. It is wonderful. The waves provide a good surf and there is a little human-made swimming pool right in the ocean. The villa is very comfortable and it makes me just want to take a nap because of the pounding waves and fresh salt air. Oh, it feels so good. We had a tasty salmon dinner with David Holdcroft as well as Jeremy, Greg, and Kolbe.

Tonight we had a nice time getting some of the older guys out of the house to play a version of Bocce ball. They were getting into it and you could see the life just springing from their eyes.

Otherwise, we finished day 3 of sex, intimacy, and love. They are full days. Since I preached three days in a row and presented today, I felt very sleepy. I tried to take a nap but I am just so excited by all the sun and warmth. I couldn't waste the day. Since I finished my required reading, I began The Personal Vocation by Herbert Alfonso, SJ.

Plans are to hike in the Blue Mountains on Saturday.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Photos: tea at art museum, sydney, and our villa at Newport Beach

To see photos of tea at the Art Museum, Sydney Harbour, and our villa at Newport Beach, please click on the link below:

Pics of our villa

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Day of Cricket

Today was a blast. I began by saying Mass in a local parish at North Rocks. Three Jesuit priests and I took off for our novel adventure of introducing ourselves to the parish. It was quite funny as we drove to St. Gerard Majella's parish. I introduced myself to the sacristan, told her I had arrived to say Mass and began to look at how everything was set up. The frightened look on her face gave me a clue that we showed up at the wrong place. We had no idea where we were. It turns out that there are three Catholic Churches on North Rocks Road and we were to be at Christ the King parish church.

We frantically drove down the road to find the other church and the road kept twisting and veering off into various directions. When we finally arrive to the church, we took a left to get into the church parking lot, but there was no way in. We pulled into the parish school, but could not get access to the church driveway. We drove down the road that we assumed hugged the parish boundaries, but it travelled further away and ended up as a dead-end. We turned around and had to find another way in. We made it in just in time to begin Mass.

Though I was rushed, Mass went off fine. So many people are so well-trained with their ministries that it was nice just to pray the liturgy with and for the people. I did not have to orchestrate a thing. Anyways, the people were very lovely. We had tea with Sr. Katherine and Fr. Eric afterwards. Folks were very appreciative to have us around to say Mass.

When I returned to Pymble, we met Phil and his family. He collected us and brought us to Willoughby for a barby. It was quite tasty and our hosts were so welcoming. A large group of people showed up and we had a blast. I bowled a few cricket balls and finally was able to bat. I'm still used to American baseball so my batting produced six and out. I earned six point, but I was finished batting. I like the sport, but it can get rather complicated. Phil's son, Tom, taught me how to maneuver an American League Football and then we also learned some rugby passes and kicks. I ate and drank plenty. The dessert was superb. It was a New Zealand meringue bisquit with yogurt and fruit topping. It was light and delicate.

Then I came home and napped, then went to recreation and dinner before going out for a hour's walk. Lovely day, it was.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I miss Holden Caulfield

I just finished reading The Catcher in the Rye and it was easy to have sympathy for Holden Caulfield. I'm glad I re-read it because I hadn't remembered a blessed thing about it since I read it 30 years ago. I rather likee the fellow and I think he will turn out just right as he grows and matures. Salinger was able to capture many possible ways of thinking of a teen that must still speak to the young generation today. I certainly suggest refreshing your memory with this quick and compelling read.

Now I will continue on with With Christ in Prison by George Anderson, S.J. He's a good writer. I worked with George in NYC.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Art Museum

I went to the New South Wales Museum of Art this afternoon. It was quite good. You could see the evolution from the early artists who had a European style of painting to a more nationalistic type of Australian painting. It was evidenced in the dark colors that suited European Romantic landscapes to a dark tone to the sky. When the Impressionist styles began to come about, the tones and hues lightened in the Australian landscapes. Soon these paintings began to tell stories of the country to its own citizens and members of the British Empire. Strong features showed the pride and strength of the invidual man in the rugged territory. The aborigines were depicted as noble savages and as men and women with dignity. The more contemporary art shows that Australians are comfortable creating their own type of art. The aborigines continue to depict their ancient art forms in new media. I'll have to get back there some day soon.

I also stopped by the Cathedral of St. Mary's. It is a space that creates silence. It is cavernous with soft lighting. Its many side altars seem to fit easily into the main space of the church. Many people are able to pray with few distractions around them. I wish I could have taken som photographs. The rebel in me was tempted, but I decided to be obedient.

Ivan, Nano and I walked around Sydney Harbor. We are exhausted from all the walking. On the north side of the Harbor a great outdoor fair was going on with lots of outdoor restaurants and live music. We had many choices for dinner, but we decided to go to the Harbor first. Then when we looked for places to eat, we could find nothing suitable. All the Aussies were hanging out at these packed, high-end clubs and it would not have been comfortable to try to get a meal there on a Friday night. The parties seemed to be really rolling. I think the beginning of the weekend is an intense letting go of energy for many young people, especially for this elegant young woman who let go of her dinner in a main square in front of hundreds of people. She picked up well though and went back inside to see her friends.

I'm tired. We have one conference tomorrow morning, but I will just spend the time tonight reading a little further in "The Catcher in the Rye."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I took on the world

Tonight I battle valiantly in table tennis with a representative from China, Slovenia and Cambodia. I lost each set - badly. However, I improved a lot and held my own. I haven't played in 30 years and I did not realize how much of a sweat I can work up at such a low activity game. I picked up a few helpful techniques. I will not lose as badly again and I'm sure I will win a few sets.

To cool off, I went for a walk around 8:30 p.m. What I really like about the layout of the Sydney streets is that each residential street is short with cul de sacs at the end. As I walker, each of these cul de sacs are connected by pedestrian walkways. No walk ever ends up with a dead end, but the neat thing is that traffic is really cut down so there are low noise levels and few cars to try to avoid when there are few sidewalks. However, I came back and I am still drenched with sweat.

Good on ya

Good on ya. I have no idea what this means but many people say it as a salutation. It sounds complimentary though. The accent is wonderful and most of the words and phrases makes sense. There is one guy here named Guy who has a very strong British Indian accent. It is quite an odd mixture around the other dialects. He speaks quite loudly, but slowly so everything is very manageable. The Aussie dialect is slightly different from the Kiwis.

The past few days I have remained around Canisius College so I can get into a bit of a rhythm in my schedule. We are listening to deeper aspects of our stories this week. We are an international group so there are always surprising aspects of people's stories. We have a man from Austria, one from Slovenia, a guy from the Czech Republic, another from Cambodia, one from China, two from Korea, an Aussie, a Californian, a Marylander, and me, from New England.

February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, is the day the Province celebrates vows. This ceremony was moving as there were about 45 Jesuits in attendance plus family and friends of the vovendi - those who were taking vows. The service was quite simple, but elegant, and there was a very warm spirit throughout the prayer. Kieran Gill and Robert Morris are the new scholastics. Mark Pelletier, Justin Glyn, and Andy Nguyen are now second year novices. Three men who were entering the Society the next day came to the vows to witness them. I was delighted to see the Society grow in another part of the world. Australia's Assistancy contains New Zealand, Timor, and some smaller island nations. In the Asian provinces, just as in Africa, the provinces continue to grow. Anyways, the whole program was moving. We had a nice haustus (celebration) that lingered on late into the evening

Joe Sobb is the Rector of Canisius College. He is certainly the right man for the job. He is hospitable, kind, gentle, nicely directive and he has an exuberance for life. He is a lot of fun. His assistant, Kevin Huddy, does a whole lot of under-appreciated work in the background, but his spirit is just as bouyant and his charity is remarkable.

I am trying to do some reading. George Anderson has a book called With Christ in Prison. I'm moving through that well enough, but I'm captivated by J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger died this week and I wanted to pay tribute to him. I recall really liking Franny and Zooey better than Catcher in the Rye, but this book is available. I'm supposed to be doing more reading as preparation for our week of sex and intimacy, but I'm celibate so that will have to wait.

Tomorrow, I will go to an Art Museum in Sydney and then I will go see Invictus. I also want to see the Hurt Locker as Sandra Bullock may get an Oscar. The weekend will be low key as I say Mass on Sunday at a local parish and will then visit friends of Jeremy Clarke for lunch and an afternoon visit.

All is good. All is well. I'm very happy.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Photos: Our Neighbors in Pymble

To see photos of our neighbors houses in Pymble, Australia and of St. Ignatius High School, please click on the link below:

Pics of our neighbors in Pymble