Two weeks ago I celebrated my 66th birthday and give thanks for those who sent good wishes. Today I mark another milestone with the 66th anniversary of my Baptism.
Yes, with names like Anthony Gerard it is pretty obvious that I was baptized Catholic an acknowledgement I make with some trepidation in the current climate.
However, there is a spectrum of Catholicism. At one end you will find George Pell and at the other, Andy Warhol You will find Mary Queen of Scots, but you will also discover St. Mary MacKillop. Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce carry membership cards as did Mum Shirl. and Fr Ted Kennedy of Redfern. Scoundrels, saints and sinners , have filled the pews,written our history and taken us on the highs and lows of human experience.
I grew up in a era of Catholicism that nurtured a love of music and singing. The popular Hymn, “How Can I keep From Singing” is rarely sung in Catholic Churches but it captures a sentiment that some of us will identify with as we scroll our social media and watch the reports of clergy abuse dominate our screens.:
Thro’ all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing; It finds an echo in my soul— How can I keep from singing?
Each year I publish a list of hymns and music that I have sung in Catholic communities from childhood to my adult years. The list now runs to 66 pieces to commemorate this anniversary. If you are Catholic you might enjoy a trip down memory lane. If you have never sung with Catholics, you will probably be amazed at the clips you can find on youtube!!!
I hope the sharing of this post nurtures hope for all of us who live in these days of “tumult and strife”
Today I went along to a seminar on Wills and Bequests. I really don’t expect to have much left in the account when I start climbing that Stairway to Heaven so bequests aren’t really an issue. My will I suspect will primarily contain details of my Requiem desires and enough for a decent wake.
I am happy to send out final shout outs in the document so let me know if you would like to be included in the life credits roll call.
Today’s session included a chat with the State Library Foundation staff and arrangements for an assessment of my personal memorabilia as a possible donation in lieu of a bonfire or extra trip to Vinnies. Part of pre death planning is to archive what is fast becoming a major collection of digital images.
Not sure if I want to continue having an online presence post ashing although I suspect I will continue to get into a google search for birthdays I can’t attend. Open to volunteer social media geeks who want to keep me posting into eternity.
It’s really challenging when you don’t have heirs as such for whom you are responsible or who can lay claim to your physical heritage. Add to that the tyranny of distance which probably inhibits extended family members travelling interstate to lay claim to your microwave or fridge. Pity the poor executor with all those trips to Vinnies
So now it’s off to write the document and make sure it is legit with witnesses, signatures and no cartoons. I’m tempted to include my own eulogy and some background music for a series of public readings.
There is probably a little irony in doing this seminar on #RUOK Day
There are no eggs in this post. However you will find a feast of images, text and music that I am mulling on during the great season of Easter. This is a post that will be added to and developed as we explore the themes, the stories and the mystery of this celebration.
On Easter Sunday my Facebook feed included this beautiful set of images of the L’Arche Community in Syria:
فإن كنت وانا السيد والمعلم قد غسلت ارجلكم ، فأنتم يجب عليكم أن يغسل بعضكم أرجل بعض . يوحنا 13:14 غسيل الأرجل في السفي…
It doesn’t quite have the feel of Boxing Day with the sales and family BBQs. There are no Myer windows to watch a diorama. In fact whereas Christmas has a bit of cuteness with the Bethlehem creche., Easter is a bit hard to market with the image of an empty tomb. The Myer window in Brisbane that usually hosts a Nativity setting is plastered with an Easter sales poster this week.
Even the music is muted. Bing Crosby put “White Christmas” into the standard repertoire for December but his rendition of Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade is now just a curiosity. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir have outviewed him with their rousing rendition of Christ the Lord is Risen Today, but you won’t hear it at your local shopping centre.
The eggs and chocolates will be half priced today and will drop off the shelves by the end of the week to make way for the next eye catching marketing ploy for our holy dollar. Pity really that those advertising gurus don’t realise that there are 50 days of Easter and a pretty sizable market of Greeks, Russians,Serbs and assorted Orthodox will be doing it all over gain on May 1 without the advantage of aisles of edible bunnies.
So, the challenge is to baffle friends by wishing them a “Happy Easter” over the next 49 days as you catch up at the footy, the pub and the supermarket. You can really cause chaos by wishing the staff at checkouts a “Happy Easter’ as they have probably been re wired to chant “Have a nice day” for the rest of the year.
This week in the Christian community of the West is known as Holy Week. it is a time of intense drama and memory retold in story and ritual. It has the power to shatter our self image as much as the original story recorded in the Gospels.
The ancient texts proclaimed this week tell of the “turning away” both of the imperial might of Pilate and the loyal followers of Yeshua of Nazareth.
It has been the turmoil of history in the Church as prophets and outsiders challenged Popes, clergy and civic authorities who turned away from the vision of a new world founded on justice and peace.
In our own days we witness the “turning away” of religious leaders from the long history of sexual abuse in the name of religion.
It is not unusual that the voices that challenge come from outside the structures of religion. That has been the pattern of reform from the time of Abraham and Sarah.
The powerful lyrics of Pink Floyd won’t make their way into the formal liturgies of this week. But they will touch the hearts of those who have seen the signs and heard the words that lead to life.
As I grow older and perhaps a little wiser I am more convinced that art will touch the heart and challenge the attitudes of people as much as politics and religion.
The winner of the 2015 Sydney Peace Prize, George Gittoes deserves to be among those we name as national treasures.His biography is a litany of grace and power for social change.
In 2015 George Gittoes was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize
Some highlights of a remarkable life
1986: Travels to Nicaragua, Central America and visits the arts collective on Solentiname Islands, collaborating with Miriam Guevara, Olivia Silva and Ernesto Cardenal. 1992: Awarded Blake Prize for Religious Art for the painting Ancient Prayer, inspired by the death from motor neurone disease of his close friend and artistic collaborator Ronaldo Cameron.
1994: Awarded Blake Prize for Religious Art for the painting The Preacher, which came out of the Rwandan series of works. 1997: Travels to Northern Ireland. After contact with both Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Protestant paramilitaries, commences a series of works based on confrontations between the two groups.
Contributes to the group exhibition, Sarajevo, developed by Ivan Dougherty Gallery, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney and touring nationally.
2002: Commissioned by the Visible Art Foundation to create a painting for the Republic Apartment Tower in Melbourne to mark the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. The commission is cancelled once the work is completed and the painting, War on Terra, is subsequently exhibited at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne on 11 September.
Explore his work, but more than that take it to heart and engage with it and watch what happens!!!!