The Temple Of God Is Holy

23 April 2015 | Reflections From Abbess Mary

Dedication of our Church
25 Years
Silver Jubilee
The temple of God is holy and YOU are that temple.

This evening, we are embarking on a number of days of remembrance and commemoration. We know that throughout Australia and New Zealand and in Turkey and France, people are preparing for the many ceremonies which will mark the centenary of the ANZAC landing on the beaches of Gallipoli. The stories of Gallipoli and the Western Front are once again being told, the images being recreated, the discussions about the significance of Anzac Day for modern Australia are once again being heard throughout the media, in classrooms and no doubt around a few dinner tables.

Here in our little church tonight and tomorrow, we our commemorating our own small piece of history as we gather to celebrate the 25 th anniversary of the Dedication of our Church here in Jamberoo. We too will tell some stories and remember special moments which have occurred for us here. We will also reflect on the significance of this place for our past and present community and also for all who come to worship and pray here.

These special days of anniversary, of remembrance, of commemoration...no matter how big or small...invite us to stop, to reflect, to give thanks and to reclaim our present through the prism of our past.

So, what are we reclaiming here tonight?
Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, proclaimed loud and clear that “everyone is called to holiness”. It then went on to say “in a very special way this holiness appears in the practise of the evangelical counsels” ............. religious who take vows. It says that “they must give...an outstanding witness and example of this holiness.”

When we think of “holiness”, the words that usually come to mind are hallowed, consecrated, saintly, dedicated, sanctified. When we dedicate a church or a person it means that we separate it from other uses and consecrate or dedicate it to God. So to be “holy” is to be set apart and dedicated to God.

We as Benedictines are dedicated for a particular purpose – for the praise and worship of God. This church and our altar were dedicated and made holy 25 years ago on this date. It is therefore set apart and used for one purpose – the glory of God. Each day it is sanctified anew by the presence of Jesus when the Scriptures are read and when his body is broken and blood is poured out during the Eucharist. It is also sanctified by the gathering of each of us here...each of us “called to be holy”

Sometime ago I watched a film about coral in the Great Barrier Reef. (Coral Rekindling Venus by Lynette Wallworth). In this production an artist, Lynette Wallworth, talks about the effect that the moon has upon the coral in our oceans. On one night of the year, because of the position of the moon, the coral send all their offspring up into the ocean in a kind of frenzy and that event is orchestrated by the moon. From this one night of frenzy, the coral is recreated and life is renewed and sent forth once more.

This story of recreation reminded me of what happens at the Eucharistic celebration each day. We have the gathering of the faithful. The Scriptures are read from our lectern. The bread and wine are consecrated on our altar then broken, poured and shared. In some mysterious way all these events are orchestrated by the presence of the Spirit of Jesus and something inside of us is recreated and rises up in a kind of frenzy within this ocean of God’s love. Grace explodes in us and is sent out to the whole world.

candles church

Just as we are amazed and shake our heads in wonder at the story of the annual coral frenzy, we have a similar event happening almost every day here in this church, an event also full of wonder, amazement, privilege and grace! Of course, this wonder- full event can take place anywhere – even in the trenches of Gallipoli - but we are privileged to celebrate it here in our church and it is this event, this Eucharist, which really makes our church holy and in the process, makes us holy.

Yes, our church is beautiful...it is the fruition of many years of discussion, planning, drawings, searching...it was and is specially dedicated to God but it is important to remember on a day such as this that it is what happens in it that really brings it alive. This worship of God in which we are engaged right now is what the church is built for. Every time, we come here to praise God, we sing it into being and at the same time, it sings us into being! It really is a “marvelous exchange”! This whole idea brings a new meaning to the phrase in Scripture which reminds us that: The temple of God is holy and YOU are that temple.

On another level, everyone who enters our Church is called to holiness and is dedicated to God even just by their entry into this place of dedication and holiness. So many people come here and find a place of “refuge”. Churches have always been a “place of refuge for the needy in distress”. We live in a very fast-paced and often dangerous world and we all need to have a place to come to where we can be “set apart” for a while, where we can rest and be revived and healed.

We believe, in faith, that not only those who enter our church are made holy but indeed, the whole world. The wall of glass in our church reminds us of this world, every time, we enter here. During our prayer, we reach out to all humankind beyond the glass and pray for their needs. This is the symbolism of our glass wall and the symbolism of the statue of the Ascending Christ, gathering all people to himself - this is also our work.

As Pope Paul V said: “you are the connecting cord between heaven and earth” - we are to bring all peoples into our church and make them holy, healed, restored. This is real holiness - being in touch with the needy in our world and bringing them, through prayer, into our church, into the presence of God.

So, as we look to the past over the next few days, let us reclaim our present! Let us become a beacon of light and holiness here on God’s holy mountain. Let us ensure that we use this dedicated building to the glory of God and the spreading of God’s word to all humankind. We might not be big in size, but with God, we can do big things! We are part of that great “frenzy” of all creation bursting forth from the Word of God and every Eucharistic celebration – reaching out to the whole of creation and beyond.

As we enter the Church each day and sign ourselves with the cross and the waters of life, let us, like the coral, ready our hearts for a frenzy within the ocean of God’s love!

~  Everything that lives and that breathes gives praise to the Lord  ~

Jamberoo Abbey

Jamberoo Abbey, Benedictine Nuns
695 Jamberoo Mountain Road,
Jamberoo NSW 2533 Australia

Phone/Fax: 02 42360628
Email: benedictineabbey@bigpond.com