WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Archbishop’s column: social justice on sacred ground

Archbishop John Dew
February 2011

alt‘Any place is sacred ground, for it can become a place of encounter with the Divine Presence.’

These words from Br David Steindl-Rast, appeared on the ‘Word for the Day’ on the gratefulness.org website on New Year’s Day this year. Wonderful words for the beginning of the year, they reminded me that I can stand on sacred ground and meet God anywhere. When I am aware of God’s presence, I am not only filled with gratitude, but I learn to treat others with reverence and respect.

We are still close enough to the beginning of the year to think and pray about how we are going to live the year ahead of us.

Do we have the courage to encounter the presence of God wherever we are?

Are we ready to make large investments in goodness knowing that goodness is an investment which never fails?

We all long to live in a sacred place and encounter the Divine Presence. We sometimes struggle to do this. At times we find it difficult to respond to Jesus’ invitation when he says to us ‘Remain in my love’. However, the church gives us wonderful gifts to help us to stand on sacred ground and to encounter God.

One of these gifts is Lectio Divina. Ten years ago Pope John Paul II wrote in his letter Novo Millenio Ineunte (At the Beginning of the New Millennium)
‘There is no doubt that the primacy of holiness and prayer is inconceivable without a renewed listening to the word of God. It is especially necessary that listening to the word of God should become a life-giving encounter, in the ancient and ever valid tradition of lectio divina, which draws from the biblical texts the living word which questions, directs and shapes our lives.’

I encourage you to use this gift of the church. Listen carefully to the word of God, read up on lectio divina, explore it on the internet (a helpful site is that of the Broken Bay Diocese, Australia, www.dbb.org.au/
There are many other ways to learn about this powerful and rewarding way of praying with scripture which help us to stand on sacred ground and encounter God.

None of us stands on sacred ground on our own – we are in relationship with others and we have the privilege of helping others to stand on sacred ground and to open up ways for people who struggle with life to also encounter the Divine Presence.

At the end of this month the archdiocese is hosting a Social Justice Hui – a time for people to come together, to pray and reflect on how we can make life more bearable for others and how we can treat others with reverence and respect.

We are able to give ourselves a wonderful gift this year by listening prayerfully to God’s word.

We are able to give others a gift to by becoming even more aware of the fact that we are all sisters and brothers and the gospel calls us to live with others in God’s presence.

‘Any place is sacred ground, for it can become a place of encounter with the Divine Presence.’