Addresses and Statements

Opening School Year for Eastern Region

24 Mar 2015

Introduction to Mass Opening School Year for Eastern Region
St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, 24 March

Welcome to this year's CEO Eastern Regional Mass. It presents us with the opportunity to ask
for God to bless our school year in 2015 and especially our new leaders, teachers, staff and students.

acknowledge the presence of Very Rev. Michael McLean PP EV, Episcopal Vicar for Education, and concelebrating
clergy, Dr Dan White, Executive Director of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney, Mrs Elizabeth O'Carrigan,
Regional Director, CEO personnel, principals, executive staff members and teachers. Above all I welcome those
beginning teachers who will be inducted through our special rite tonight.

Homily for
Mass Opening School Year for Eastern Region
St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, 24 March 2015—Top-complementary-therapist-tells-changed-tune.html
drummer for the English band, The Clash, Terry Chimes also drummed for supergroup Cowboys International, for Finnish
hard rock bank Hanoi Rocks, and for lesser known groups such as The Who, Billy Idol and Black Sabbath. (Just browse
through Dan White's LP collection and you'll find them all there!) The Clash was part of the British punk rock craze
of the 1970s and '80s: political in lyrics, experimental in music and rebellious in attitude. Rolling Stone magazine
ranked The Clash 28th on its list of the 100 greatest of all time and in 2003 they were inducted into the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame. Baptised a Catholic, Chimes recently released his autobiography, The Strange Case of Dr Terry and
Mr Chimes, which describes the twists and turns of his life not just in rock'n'roll, and his eventual return, after
a somewhat extended holiday, to the Catholic Faith.

Stumbling across C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, Chimes
read chapter 8, “The Great Sin”, which is about pride, that attitude which suggests that we are better than we
really are and inordinately better than others. No stranger to the world of big egos, Chimes thinks that as pride
stirs in the human heart, Satan rubs his hands with glee and, reading Lewis, he realised he'd been caught in that
trap himself. Moments later, like Mary at the Annunciation, he had an “extraordinary experience” of a presence whose
power dwarfed everything else. Chimes suddenly realized his tininess and nakedness in front of the Almighty.

But along with this humbling confrontation with divine power, Chimes also became aware of “the most extraordinarily
powerful love”, which knew everything about Chimes but loved him all the same and from all eternity. Aware now of
God's greatness – His transcendence of, but presence to, everything – and his mercy, Chimes knew that he had to
change his life. Like St Augustine, full of spiritual turmoil in his Milanese garden, hearing children in the street
crying “tolle, lege” and in response taking up reading St Paul, Chimes' priorities were transformed. As Pope Francis
said in his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, to encounter Christ and get caught up by His love, is to have the
horizons of our lives expanded, to be given new hope and to be challenged to live in new ways (LF 53). That was the
experience of the Virgin of Nazareth in tonight's Gospel. Everything changes when we meet God.

On truly
encountering the love of God in Jesus Christ – in the sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion, in the Holy
Scriptures, in the community of the faithful, in our neighbour – we cannot pass by: the encounter turns our hearts
and minds and wills towards God and the life He wants for us. Our CEO reflection theme for this year is about this
transforming encounter that we want for ourselves and our students. In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus described the
blessing of a heart-changing, heart-purifying experience of God. It is also the theme chosen by Pope Francis for
World Youth Day in 2015: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5:8).

As Pope Francis
reminds us, beatitude or true happiness – by which we name Mary the 'Blessed' Virgin – is the very purpose of human
life. Utilising St Augustine's famous insight that our hearts are restless until they rest in God, the Holy Father
teaches that it is only in Christ that we “find fulfilled [our] every desire for goodness”.  In encountering
Christ we see God and that is something that both requires purity of heart and produces it. Like Augustine, like
Terry Chimes, we gradually let go of whatever is holding us back from pursuing the great adventure of the Gospel and
find ourselves enjoying the blessed life by which we come to see and know, to know and love, to love and serve

The Greek word for heart is ê���é� which in the Biblical tradition is the centre of emotions,
thoughts and intentions. It is in that tradition that we talk of people being open-hearted or half-hearted,
light-hearted or broken-hearted, kind-hearted or hard-hearted� Our hearts bleed, or go out to, or ache, or are
restless, or change, or are stolen� We cross our hearts, steel our hearts, find in our hearts, learn by heart,
lack the heart or are young at heart� We have our hearts in the right place or the wrong place, put our hands on
our hearts, wear them on our sleeves or find them in our mouths� When Christ blesses the pure in heart He is not
giving a National Heart Foundation tick to low cholesterol foods: He is talking about dispositions, choices and
actions, about habits of heart, virtues and vices, about conscience. To call a heart pure, ê�è����, is to
call it innocent, free from the clutter that blinds us to the good and true and beautiful, or that holds us back for
pursuing it wholeheartedly. Impurity obscures God's presence in us and our neighbours, and fractures our
relationships with them.  Without inner purity, we are not free to attach wholly to God and so see Him; without
seeing Him we will never experience that purifying Love that so changed Augustine and Terry Chimes.

we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation. At Mass on Sundays and big feasts like this, we profess our creedal
faith in the central fact of tonight's feast: that homo factus est, in Jesus Christ God was made man. Indeed,
tonight we actually genuflect at these words and before this mystery. The Annunciation to Mary by an angel that she
was to bear God-made-man, Emmanuel, was an event upon which the whole of history turned, as the prophets foretold
(Lk 1:26-38; Is 7:10-14, 8:10). The ancient fathers of the Church liked to imagine all humanity past, present and
future, the angels and even the animals, the whole material and spiritual universe, hushed, anxious, listening
intently at that Annunciation: Eve said NO, what would this new Eve say? A pure heart, the purest heart, freely said
YES and all of history, the salvation of every person, turned on that YES. Now the history of our redemption begins
to be unpacked. This is the stupendous moment that we recall every time we pray the Angelus. This is the event that
explains what it is all for: the Mass, the Church, the school, the classes, the teachers� In the mind-blowing
offer of God, in the YES of pure-hearted Mary, God takes on a human face.  This is what allows us to look God
in the face, and so to come face to face, heart to heart with the secret to happiness.

Whether you are a punk
rocker or a bishop, a poor country girl like Mary or a professional city-slicker teacher, a child starting kinder or
one finishing the HSC this year, the encounter with God commands a response of faith. And as Terry Chimes
discovered, that has implications for the rest of our lives. We may not all experience such a dramatic conversion,
but our decision in favour of faith, as the Holy Father says, is no small thing: it requires great courage, great
generosity; faith is not for the faint-hearted (LF 53). It requires a decision to embrace the great adventure of the

Catholic education, like the Annunciation to Mary, announces the invitation to that quest. If our
schools are to be true centres of the new evangelisation they must stir up a similar excitement for that adventure
in staff and students alike. As Church Father St Gregory Nazianzus taught “we must begin by purifying ourselves
before purifying others; we must be instructed to be able to instruct”.  I pray that this year's beginning
teachers – and those who've been at it a little longer – will grow in happiness and holiness, be able to bring a
Marian pure-heartedness and YES to all they do, and then stir up the same in our young people. God bless you! God
bless the Catholic schools of Sydney!

1. Message for 30th WYD 2015, 1.
2. Message, 2.
3. Message, 1.
Quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1589: Oratio 2, 71, 74, 73.