Index page of Articles

INDEX of ARTICLES

 

029 :
26 May 2017

Headline"The time has come for us priests to re-invent ourselves." Today's short commentary by Fr Eugene Stockton was originally addressed to the priests of his own Deanery in the Parramatta Diocese. It logically flows on from a series of commentaries he wrote and which we published back in 2013 arguing for a continuing renewal of the priesthood [LINK]. His stronger call in this commentary has been prompted by the recent revelations flowing from the Royal Commission in Australia and the recent revelations of a continuing exit from the pews. What he writes in this short commentary deserves wider circulation than to just priests in one Deanery of one Diocese. How many other priests across this nation might take up this call and help restore a bit of morale to the institution in this country? ...Brian Coyne, Editor [more]

028 :
12 May 2017

HeadlineDo we need to re-think the concept of Parish? In this commentary Fr Eugene Stockton is effectively asking whether we need to go back to the raw canvas and re-think the basic parish structure upon which the entire Church has been built. It's not a completely blank canvas he suggests we go back to but to look at other models of pastoral care that have been used at various earlier points of history in the Church. He argues the present challenge the Church faces with the massive turning away from participation "is not a crisis for the Church. It is a crisis for a certain model of Church leadership and ministry." ...Brian Coyne, Editor [more]

027 :
14 Mar 2017

HeadlineA Vision for a Missionary Church... This commentary from Fr Eugene Stockton sits beautifully with the call made in the commentary yesterday by Fr Eric Hodgens for the Church to return to following the Way of Jesus [LINK]. What Eugene writes is largely based on the writing of the British-American writer, Rosemary Haughton, who wrote a small book for the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Sydney in 1980 titled "There is Hope for a Tree: A Study Paper on the Emerging Church". If the Catholic Church is to reclaim a place of respect in the world, and in that now large congregation that has exited its own pews across the face of the educated world, there would seem to be some urgency in recovering the original vision of Jesus and his earliest followers. ...Brian Coyne, Editor [more]

026 :
23 Nov 2016

HeadlineA young Aboriginal Woman writes of her love of Country... On Sunday I was privileged to be present, and to video, the launch of a book commissioned by Fr Eugene Stockton under the auspices of the Blue Mountain Education & Research Trust (BMERT). It is a hugely valuable piece of research that has been the personal endeavour of historian, Dr Jim Smith, over a period of decades. This is a piece of history of local interest to those of us who live in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney but will be of more important interest to indigenous people everywhere. The Burragorang Valley is situated on the Southern edge of the Blue Mountains and is the place where at least five different rivers meet. In the 1950s this valley was flooded to provide the main fresh water supply for Greater Sydney via what became Lake Burragorang and Warragamba Dam. The Aboriginal people who had lived in the valley, possibly for centuries, and later mainly poor Irish settlers, were forced out of the valley to make way for the flooding of the Valley. Today we bring you the foreword to Jim Smith's book written by a young Aboriginal woman, Taylor Clarke – who also spoke superbly in launching the book on Sunday [I'm still in the process of editing the video of her address] – and the address by Dr Jim Tulip, a fellow trustee of the BMERT and former Associate Professor of Literature and Religious Studies at Sydney University, to explain more about the book and introduce Taylor to the audience on Sunday. ...Brian Coyne, catholica editor [more]

025 :
21 Nov 2016

HeadlineLearning lessons about Celebration from our Indigenous Brothers & Sisters... Over recent months I've been engaged in a lot of work with Fr Eugene Stockton preparing what I hope might be a major initiative for catholica in the coming year – encouraging a wider discussion on what religion and spirituality might look like in the future. Eugene started this with a proposal for a series of talks or papers under the broad title "Re-imaging the Parish". This shortish reflection today is one of a number Eugene has been sending through within that theme. In this reflection he suggests we can learn from our indigenous brothers and sisters in the ways they celebrate. He contrasts their ways of celebration to the very different ways we straight-laced non-indigenous peoples celebrate. Can we learn anything from what he writes in this reflection? ...Brian Coyne, Editor [more]

024 :
08 Nov 2016

HeadlineA reflection by Eugene Stockton on Eucharist and the remembrance of Jesus... There's a good conversation been flowing on catholica for a long time now about the future for religion. The conversation is now diversely spread over many commentaries and posts so it is difficult to provide any three-sentence summary. From a completely different direction, Fr Eugene Stockton, has made a suggestion for our sponsoring some event, perhaps early next year, looking at ways in which parishes might be rejuvenated. He's offered a short reflection today that flows out of these two conversations on the meaning in the Eucharist — the central liturgical event in the life of a parish and the Church. I've also provided a lengthier but not too lengthy introduction to his reflection attempting to tie in what Eugene writes to these other valuable conversations that have been underway. ...Brian Coyne, Editor [more] | [more]

023 :
13 Sep 2016

HeadlineA reflection by Eugene Stockton on "the Love of God"... In recent days on the forum I've raised the question of what, precisely, do we mean when we talk about the mercy and compassion of God [SEE: "Is 'God' simply one BIG Myth or Metaphor?" LINK]. To what I wrote there I might have added the phrase "the Love of God". This reflection on what we mean by "the Love of God" arose out of a discussion Fr Eugene Stockton has been having in recent weeks with a mutual friend here in the Blue Mountains. When we speak of "the Love of God" what, precisely, do we mean; or is an expression like this incapable of being expressed too precisely? What are your thoughts and beliefs on this subject? Tell us what you believe and think, not what you think someone like Pope Francis or Fr Eugene might like to hear. How do you experience "the Love of God"? ...Brian Coyne, Editor [more]

022 :
20 Nov 2015

HeadlineTransforming feelings of victimhood into victory... In a commentary in The Tablet back in July, Fr Daniel O'Leary wrote: "Recent research by Microsoft suggests that the average human attention span now stands at eight seconds. That is less, apparently, than that of a goldfish. This is astonishing. Can the quality and depth of our thinking have been so deeply affected by the incessant distractions of modern life? Our minds are precarious and vulnerable. Whenever we suffer pain, something in our consciousness is always quick to identify with that pain and we relay it over and over again, so that the stress we experience is magnified and intensified. The American Franciscan writer, Richard Rohr, believes that 'almost all humans have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder of the mind, which is why many people become fearful, suspicious, wrapped around their negative commentaries'. In other words, we are all inclined to become prisoners of our own thought patterns. But while the way we think has the potential to wreck our contentment, our thoughts also have an extraordinary capacity for transforming our lives for the better. It is not by stopping our thinking that we are set free; it is by thinking differently." In this commentary for catholica Fr Eugene Stockton shares some of his perceptions learned from his long years of pastoral work with the indigenous people who were saddled with monstrous injustice in the way their land, their culture, and their sense of self-respect was stolen from them. We all suffer injustice in some form or other. This commentary is a reflection on how do we turn ourselves from victims into victors? ...Brian Coyne, Editor [more]

021 :
21 Aug 2015

HeadlineWhat if we ARE the most intelligent life in the Universe? The small village of Linden in the Blue Mountains where we live and publish catholica, does not have a shop, a church, or village hall. Its claims to fame in terms of infrastructure are a railway station, a fire station, more recently catholica, and, of all things an Astronomical Observatory. In fact it was the second observatory established in Sydney. It's also famous because the gentleman who has been the heart and soul of this observatory in recent decades has also been a Uniting Church Minister, the Rev Bob Evans. He is renowned internationally as the astronomer most responsible for discovering by visual means more Supernova in the heavens than anybody else*. And he's done that as an amateur astronomer. In light of the recent news interest in the search for life elsewhere in the Universe in a new project encourage by Stephen Hawking, we are presently planning to record a video conversation with the Reverend Evans and Fr Eugene Stockton on the possible theological implications that the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe might have for our theologies. As a prelude and preparation for that conversation, we are presenting today an earlier essay from Fr Eugene that we published on this website in a slightly different context. In this essay he presents a cogent argument that is is perhaps unlikely that life evolved anywhere else in the Universe. He presents the argument not from the expected theological point of view but from the scientific or statistical observation that, as far as we can tell, life on earth evolved only once and from a single source. ...Brian Coyne, BMERT editor [more] | [Original Publication]

020 :
31 May 2015

HeadlineThis Land, Our Mother... Today is my birthday and I'd like to share with you an extract from a small, new book by Fr Eugene Stockton which I have purchased three copies of to present to my own children. There are a few themes covered in what I present today: the theme that is likely to be covered in the coming Encyclical of Pope Francis on our obligation to respect our planet, our environment and the rest of Creation. But it's also a commentary on how, in recent centuries we have plundered and exploited our earth and its resources and we need to take stock of what we have been doing. I think my children have been teaching me more about these things far more than I have been teaching them anything much. I'm partly giving them a copy of this book to affirm to them that I admire, respect and agree with the choices and commitments they have made. I have a trusting sense that despite these being the words of a Catholic priest, what Eugene Stockton writes about "This Land, Our Mother" will resonate deeply with views that my own children hold today — and the three of them are pretty diverse in their own political perspectives today. To run this as the lead commentary today was partly triggered by a video that Maitland brought to our attention on the forum in recent days paying homage to the American wilderness. That short video from The Atlantic I'm running as a prelude to the excerpt from Eugene's book which I re-publish here with his permission. What Eugene Stockton writes might be seen as a perspective written from the other side of the Pacific Ocean on the respect we Australians need to pay both to our land, but also to its original inhabitants who nurtured it in highly sustainable ways for tens of thousands of years before the arrival of the Europeans and, more recently, people from diverse other cultures. Enjoy! ...Brian Coyne, BMERT editor [more] | [Original Publication]

019 :
24 Mar 2015

HeadlineAboriginal Catholic Ministry... Fr Eugene Stockton is renowned for his many years of work with the indigenous peoples of Australia not only as a pastor but for his professional work helping to uncover the indigenous history as an archaeologist. Sunday week ago, 15th March, he delivered a brief address to the Australian Catholic Historical Society titled "Aboriginal Catholic Ministry: The urban apostolate". Here is how he introduced his talk: "My big hope in giving this paper is that an historian among you may be drawn to research and publish this story in a comprehensive, professional way. I am not an historian and I was too involved to be able to give an objective account. But it is an important story in the history of the Australian Church, one that should not be forgotten. In the time available I can give only a sketch, one very much from a personal point of view, glossing over the work of individuals and the content of the many reports. For these I would refer the researcher to the select bibliography. Let us pick up the sense of movement through time." [more] | [Original Publication]

018 :
26 Feb 2015

HeadlineA retreat with Catholic Earthcare... I was privileged yesterday to spend the day participating in a retreat for staff of Catholic Earthcare Australia (and also some from other agencies such as Catholic Mission) at a newly-opened retreat centre up here in the Blue Mountains. The retreat itself was led by Fr Eugene Stockton and covered territory that should be familiar to regular catholica readers from his commentaries on Deep consciousness [See this series in particular: LINK but also look at his other commentaries HERE.]. What follows is not so much a report on the retreat but an attempt to explore other territory that is the core business of Catholic Earthcare Australia that should be of wider interest to our readership. ...Brian Coyne, BMERT editor [more] | [Original Publication]

017 :
17 Dec 2014

HeadlineSacred Ground... While Fr Eugene Stockton's recently published book, This Tortuous Ridge, will primarily be of interest to residents and those interested in the local history of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, we have something from that book that might be of interest to a wider audience today. Eugene is also an archaeologist and has had a lifetime interest in the indigenous history of Australia before the arrival of the Europeans in 1788. A significant part of his research, which has been all over the world, has been centred here in the Blue Mountains where he was born. He was surprised to learn in his research that this central part of the Blue Mountains where we live was actually spiritually significant for the original indigenous inhabitants a long, long time before Europeans discovered the land. In this chapter from This Tortuous Ridge, along with archaeologist colleague, Kelvin Knox, he shares some of the history of this Sacred Ground. [more] | [Original Publication]

016 :
21 Aug 2014

HeadlineEugene Stockton: A Life's Work: A Gift to the Nation The publishers of catholica have established a close working relationship with Fr Eugene Stockton, a now retired archaeologist priest here in the Blue Mountains. Recently a glowing tribute to Fr Stockton's life work was published in the Australasian Catholic Record by Mercy Sister, Ann-Marie O'Beirne. It is our pleasure today to republish this tribute with permission. Sr Byrne's commentary provides insight into how Fr Stockton's work as an archaeologist has helped form his theological understanding and the lessons he believes we can all learn from indigenous spirituality. catholica readers might value this as an essay not only providing insight into indigenous spirituality but also our own Judeo-Christian spiritual heritage. [more] | [Original Publication]

015 :
19 Aug 2014

HeadlineThe Search for Meaning: The Word This lead commentary from Fr Eugene Stockton sits well with the frequent discussion on catholica about the difference between either-or and both-and thinking. It's a reflection on our human search for meaning, travelling through the general place of religion in our search for meaning, and ending with a pretty profound exploration of the role played by St John's, The Word Made Flesh, in our search for meaning. ...Brian Coyne [more] | [Original Publication]

014 :
10 Apr 2014

HeadlinePlumbing the Depths Of Consciousness Part 2 This is partly a theological essay but there's also a very practical dimension to it that has wide application in our lives. Fr Eugene Stockton seeks to explore more deeply some ideas that were on the table in our series of video conversations recorded late last year [LINK]. All of us human beings "think" — we have minds and neurons and they are active. Few of us probably think about how we think. Is that surprising? Do any of the animal species think about how they think? In this extended essay Eugene seeks to depth some thoughts about how we think — how consciousness operates. ...Brian Coyne [more] | [Original Publication]

013 :
08 Apr 2014

HeadlinePlumbing the Depths Of Consciousness Part 1 This two-part essay from Fr Eugene Stockton seeks to explore more deeply some ideas that were on the table in our series of video conversations recorded late last year [LINK]. All of us human beings "think" — we have minds and neurons and they are active. Few of us probably think about how we think. Is that surprising? Do any of the animal species think about how they think? In this extended essay Eugene seeks to depth some thoughts about how we think — how consciousness operates. ...Brian Coyne [more] | [Original Publication]

012 :
30 Jan 2014

HeadlineIs it the poor, or the rich, who will inherit the earth? In a blessed country like Australia, even those of us who survive on pensions, should consider ourselves rich compared to the vast majority of the world's people. In recent days I have been reading Fr Eugene Stockton's recently re-published book Landmarks: A Spiritual Search in a Southern Land. Early yesterday I was reading a section where Eugene reflects on these confronting insights of Jesus about the poor and the rich. The subject is particularly pertinent at the moment given Pope Francis's theme that he wants to see "a Church of the poor for the poor" [LINK]. It has often intrigued me that even the wealthy a lot of the time seem to think of themselves as "poor". Don't we all think of ourselves as "poor" to some extent? Eugene has given me permission to reproduce this section from his book on catholica today as our lead commentary and I will add some further comments to challenge your own thinking on our forum and in the Disqus comments at the conclusion of the article. ...Brian Coyne [more] | [Original Publication]

011 :
21 Oct 2013

HeadlineThe Search for a Theology that speaks to Today's People... This is the third in a series of commentaries preparing the ground for a series of videotaped conversations between four writers, Peter Todd, Eugene Stockton, David Tacey and Kevin Treston, facilitated by Stephen Crittenden which we'll be recording in November. These writers have been exploring fresh ways of thinking and talking about the Numinous and Theology/Spirituality today that might help redress the enormous slide in disbelief and non-participation. The reality today is that the religious paradigms that have played such a huge part in the evolution of civilised life and the creation of human culture are all under pressure. The pressure comes from the neo-atheists on the one side who want to write God and the Numinous totally out of the picture; from the fundamentalists at the other extreme of the spectrum who want to frog-march humanity back to some kind of theological and liturgical dark cave; and somewhere in the middle are a plethora of ideas that challenge our traditional theologies because of what is being "revealed" to humankind of the "Mind of God" through our discoveries in the hard and soft sciences, and even about how our own brains and emotions work. What is under discussion in today's commentary by Fr Eugene Stockton are two different theological pictures of the relationship of Wisdom or Sophia to the Godhead and, in turn how this Mystery we condense into the word "God" relates to little old you and me. Get the metanarrative correct and you're likely to end up at the right destination. Screw it up and goodness knows where you might end up. In this relatively short commentary, which in fact is taken from Appendix II of his book The Deep Within: Towards and Archetypal Theology, Eugene delineates what the two competing visions are and in his conclusion argues his case in favour of the view he prefers. ...Brian Coyne [more] | [Original Publication]

010 :
08 Oct 2013

Headline'The Word' of God: What does it mean? As editor of catholica, I am privileged at the moment to be sitting amidst a group of gifted thinkers and writers developing this new project we will begin unveiling on catholica next month in its full glory [See further information in our forum HERE]. We're already engaged in a pretty exciting private conversation via email and phone in the background as we develop the project and I think we're all becoming impatient to begin the fuller, public discussion. Today's commentary is a hand-written essay Eugene Stockton handed to me on the weekend in response to ideas in Peter Todd's book and other discussions we've been having with him. It also serves as something of a teaser for you, our readers, of the territory we'd like to open up for wider discussion in the final months of this year and beyond. When St John's Gospel opens talking about 'The Word' what, precisely is this expression meant to convey to us, especially given the scientific knowledge about creation, and human nature, we're becoming privy to today? ...Brian Coyne [more] | [Original Publication]

009 :
20 Sep 2013

HeadlineTowards a continuing renewal of the priesthood: Part 3 Can the priesthood be revived in the First World? Fr Eugene Stockton was perhaps prescient in 1982 when he wrote this essay suggesting that there needed to be a greater sharing of roles with lay people — and that has certainly happened — but the situation remains critical on the statistical evidence as to whether the priesthood can be revived in countries like Australia. Readers may also be interested in Pope Francis' comments to the priests of Rome in recent days which we have published on our forum [LINK] and drew attention to in yesterday's email [LINK]. [more] | [Original Publication]

008 :
18 Sep 2013

HeadlineTowards a continuing renewal of the priesthood: Part 2 The Catholic Church throughout the world faces many challenges today. In First World countries where the majority of the readership of catholica are located one of the greatest challenges is in finding priests and pastors who might provide leadership and stem the massive exit out of the pews. In Australia now the non-participation rate has slipped to a tad below 90% and if the present rate of decline continues by the next official count in 2016 the participation rate will be in single figures. Back in 1982, when Fr Eugene Stockton, wrote this essay the national participation rate in Australia was still around 27 or 28%. As reported on our forum yesterday, new information coming to hand suggests that in some Australian dioceses the bishops are now reliant on a massive influx of imported priests from third world and developing nations. In some dioceses now 70% of the priests are not local but imported from elsewhere. What will eventually happen if things continue on the way they have been going? Contrast what Fr Eugene writes with a blog post a reader sent us from a young Sydney seminarian posted on Monday. We provide a link to that blog post on our own forum HERE. [more] | [Original Publication]

007 :
16 Sep 2013

HeadlineTowards a continuing renewal of the priesthood: Part 1 At the conclusion of what will be a three-part essay, Fr Eugene Stockton concludes: "Our present need is not simply for more priests, but for priests alive to their charisms and ready to co-operate with other charisms of leadership/service within the community". Eugene is a still active albeit a supposedly 'retired' priest who, in this essay – originally written in 1982 – provides an interesting and informed historical explanation of the evolution of the modern priesthood and, in the concluding part of his essay, will be arguing how the priesthood might be renewed for continuing service to human society in the future. [more] | [Original Publication]

006 :
17 Apr 2013

HeadlineThe Miracle of Life : Did it spring from a singularity? Here is a provocative commentary from priest-archaeologist, Fr Eugene Stockton. Eugene poses the question: what if Life – i.e. organic life, the life that led eventually to us – like Creation itself evolved from a singularity? What are the implications of that for science? Or for theology and our spiritual and religious beliefs? I was challenged on the forum the other day for suggesting that the ancient poets and seers who dreamt up our theologies might have a thing or two to teach modern science (if little to teach the "moderns" who want to take theology, religious belief, reason and science back to mindset of humanity around the time of The Council of Trent). In this essay, Fr Eugene might seem to suggest there is some connection between what we're learning from contemporary scientific insight and what was discerned intuitively by some of those ancient seers and writers. ...Brian Coyne, Editor [more] | [Original Publication]

005 :
06 Sep 2012

HeadlineThe Universal Search for Sophia or Wisdom... A shorter commentary today, but one packed with wisdom. In fact it is all about "Wisdom" and the universal search for this elusive quality. This is from the second appendix to Fr Eugene Stockton's book, The Deep Within: Towards an Archetypal Theology and seeks to bring together some ideas that seem universal across many religions and philosophies in the human quest to better understand ourselves, and the meaning and ultimate objectives of life. ...Brian Coyne, Editor [more] | [Original Publication]

004 :
15 Aug 2012

HeadlineEugene Stockton: What I mean by Archetypal Theology... I was initially hoping to bring you a mini-documentary to introduce Fr Eugene Stockton's book, The Deep Within: Towards an Archetypal Theology but because of some technical hassles and simply finding I am too stretched to do what I'd like to do with the documentary, I've decided today to bring forward Fr Eugene's essay explaining what he means by an Archetypal Theology and why the concept might be important. He is not pretending to advance some "completed theory" or "idea" but wants to open-up a conversation, particularly amongst theologians and other scholars, on a new way of approaching this whole business of understanding the Mystery of the Divine or God. ...Brian Coyne, Editor [more] | [Original Publication]

003 :
19 Jul 2012

HeadlineIn Search of the Deep Within: A Conversation with Fr Eugene Stockton (Part 2)... In this second conversation with Fr Eugene Stockton to introduce an extended investigation into the theological insights common to all religions, catholica editor, Brian Coyne, quizes Fr Eugene about the different ways in which the indigenous peoples he has encountered view life and the world in different ways to Western people. [more] | [Original Publication]

002 :
12 Jul 2012

HeadlineIn Search of the Deep Within: A Conversation with Fr Eugene Stockton (Part 1)... Today we introduce a new and extended investigation to catholica. The lead commentary today consists of three parts: a written introduction to this "extended investigation" by the editor and publisher of catholica, Brian Coyne; a short video interview with archeologist and priest, Dr Eugene Stockton, whose work will be central to this investigation, and thirdly an invitation if you would like to join us here in the Blue Mountains later in the year for a social gathering and discussion in physical space where we can meet face-to-face and extend our conversation. [more] | [Original Publication]

001 :
12 Jul 2012

HeadlineA handshake through time... In the essay Dr Eugene Stockton outlines some of the long history of the engagement of the Aboriginal people with the Blue Mountains. [more]

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