The Birth of the Messiah (Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24)
A reflection on the Gospel from Saturday 19th March; Feast of St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Year C)
Written by Mr Casimir Douglas
The companies that design the software for our phones have chosen the colour red for notifications based on psychological and neuroscientific research. It is all about attention and reaction time. We process information through visual, aural and tactile channels, and the little red bubble with the numeral 1 enclosed is an example of visual coding. Human beings have a shorter reaction time to primary colours, and research indicated that the colour red induces the quickest attention and reaction. That is why red is used for stop lights, signs, and brake lights on cars among other examples.
And yes, you know what the little red symbol in the image above means. It’s the reminder that you haven’t yet completed that update for your smartphone. And if you’re like me, you’re one of the 75% of smartphone users who waits at least 22 months before completing the update. And we give ourselves every excuse under the sun for not doing it: it’s not the right time, I’m not sure if it will work, I’m too tired, I’m too busy, and I just can’t be bothered… it’s too much effort!
St Thomas More’s Catholic School was commissioned to be built by Archbishop Justin Simmonds in 1936. He invited the Sisters of St Joseph to operate the school, and it was opened in 1938 with 15 students under the careful watch of Principal, Sr Mary Camillus. In preparation for the role of Principal at St Thomas More’s Catholic School, I read the book St Joseph’s Island by Sr Josephine Margaret Brady rsj. The book captures the history and story of the Sisters of St Joseph in Tasmania, and the leadership of Julian Tenison Woods in that endeavour. Most evident in the character and quality of the Tasmanian Charter of the Sisters of St Joseph was their utter commitment to lives of simplicity, ordinariness, self-sacrifice, resilience, hardship, asceticism, and hiddenness. How magnificent that I could not think of any better a collection of words to describe the charism of the eponymous namesake of their order, St Joseph.
St Joseph only casts a very brief (but also significant) presence in the Gospel narrative in the role of Jesus’ earthly father. Indeed, no single word of St Joseph’s is included or recorded in the Gospel. Talk about hiddenness. But this does not mean St Joseph was not a man of action, nor that he was not involved in the life of his adoptive son, Jesus. We learn from Matthew 13:55, that St Joseph was a carpenter, the word used in Greek from the Gospel to describe St Joseph’s profession is ‘tekton’. The best approximation for which in the English language is ‘craftsman’. This does imply working with timber in our modern understanding, but the usage of the word in its historical context could just as easily have cast St Joseph as a metallurgist or stonemason. Indeed, how fitting that St Joseph then played such a significant role in the ‘shaping’ of Jesus who is the cornerstone that the builders rejected (Psalm 118:22). It is this imagery of St Joseph that paints him with the traditional masculine traits of stoicism and steadfastness. And when combined with his contentment of his wife’s child being born in manger in a barn, it evokes the characterisation of simplicity, ordinariness, and asceticism. We know from historical and anthropological studies into the ancient Hebrew culture, that as a devout Jewish family, St Joseph’s role in the upbringing and education of Jesus will have been to teach and train Jesus in this craftsmanship (ostensibly to prepare him for a life in that trade), and to also be his primary instructor in learning and understanding the Hebrew scriptures and law. Suffice to say, from the brash confidence, wisdom and presence that Jesus (as a mere twelve year old) displays in Luke 2:41-51 (The Boy Jesus in the Temple), it would seem that St Joseph’s instruction was indeed adequate.
St Joseph cannot, and must not, be relegated to the nosebleed seats as a passive observer in the role of the life of Jesus, rather, he was in the game, raising, shaping, guiding, helping, building. Even more pressingly, St Joseph can and must, in our community here and now, be embraced as the very model of resilience and self-sacrifice in the face of hardship. In the Gospel passage for the Mass on Saturday 19th March (St Joseph’s Feast Day), the Gospel writer Matthew describes St Joseph’s dilemma. Mary was pregnant, and he knew he was not the father, and had decided that in order to spare Mary the publicity, shame, and subjugation to the law that accompanied such circumstances at the time, he would divorce her informally. However, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and explained to him the miraculousness of the immaculate conception, and commanded that St Joseph must take Mary as his wife, and name the God-child, Jesus. Not only was St Joseph’s response simple, but immediate and urgent: “When Joseph awoke from his sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him”. No complaining, no delaying, no denying, no procrastinating. St Joseph’s response was identical (both literally and in the literature) when he was commanded by the angel of the Lord to both flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:14) and then return to Israel (Matthew 2:21): “Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went…” St Joseph consistently responded immediately and urgently.
The truth is, it is not only our smartphone notifications we do not respond to immediately and urgently. There are many phenomena in our lives to which our response is: it’s not the right time, I’m not sure if it will work, I’m too tired, I’m too busy, and I just can’t be bothered… it’s too much effort! For me, in addition to updating the software, it's the gardening (especially the weeding), emptying the gutters, cleaning out the garage, catching up with that old friend, or going to the doctor to sort out that niggling back injury. Enter your own here.
Imagine if when St Joseph received those ‘notifications’ from the angel of the Lord, that he had decided it’s not the right time, I’m not sure if it will work, I’m too tired, I’m too busy, and I just can’t be bothered… it’s too much effort! If St Joseph were a modern man, you can bet he would have updated the software on all his devices, finished the gardening, emptied the gutter, cleaned out the garage, spent time with his old friends, and sorted out that bothersome back ache. But the point here is not to lecture about the importance of updating your smartphone software. The point is to pay attention to the important notifications in your life and to respond immediately and urgently to: your relationships, your promises, your commitments, your family, your friends, your health, yourself.
So next time that little red bubble appears on the settings app on your smartphone, don’t just ignore and lock the phone. Take a moment, and ask yourself how St Joseph would have responded to this notification? Then start to pay attention to all the notifications in your life and how you respond to them. Do you simply lock them out, ignore, complain, delay, deny, procrastinate? I pray that in the charism of St Joseph, we may pay attention to those notifications that are important, and that we respond immediately and urgently.
Friday 1st April, 2022
Dear Parents and Carers,
Grace to you and peace.
GOSPEL VALUE AWARDS: INTEGRITY
At our Prayer Assembly on Monday morning this week, I spoke to our students about our focus Gospel value for the month of April: INTEGRITY. I highlighted to our students that to live with the value of integrity is to be honest, to be brave, and to be safe. We then collectively drew upon the wisdom of Maria Montessori, the architect of the scientific method and champion of character education, in her defintion of integrity: "Intregrity is doing the right thing even when no-one is looking". We explored how this might apply in our lives at school, and it was suggested that all members of the community would not walk past a piece of litter without picking it up. We then engaged with the story of Ian Kiernan AO and the promise of Clean Up Australia Day.
The following students received a Gospel Value Award during the School Assembly (held via Zoom) on Friday 18th March for an act of integrity captured by their teacher this week:
|Charlie Thomas||Prep More|
|Blair Wetselaar||Prep Thomas|
|Gemma Richardson||Grade 1/2 More|
|Eden Luttrell||Grade 1/2 Saint|
|May Gill||Grade 1/2 Thomas|
|Eliza Eldershaw||Grade 3/4 More|
|Zoe Goldsmith||Grade 3/4 Saint|
|Lewis Farrell||Grade 3/4 Thomas|
|Georgia Kerkham||Grade 3/4 Thomas|
|Isaac Sullivan||Grade 5/6 More|
|Lucie Hall||Grade 5/6 Saint|
|Emily Bester||Grade 5/6 Thomas|
These students will also attend the Principal’s Morning Tea this coming Tuesday (5th April) morning during first break at 10:50am with Mr Douglas, Fr Chathura Silva and Fr Jesse Banez.
TREAD LIGHTLY SHOE DRIVE
The Tread Lightly Shoe Drive is a national recycling initiative of the Australian Sporting Goods Association that takes unwanted sport and active lifestyle footwear and responsibly recycles it to give it new life. Our Grade 5/6 More class under the guidance and leadership of their teacher, Ms Jessica McLauchlan, collected over 260 second-hand and unused pairs of shoes. These will be collected by Tread Lightly and taken away to be transformed into items such as gym mats, flooring, and playground equipment. I am proud and pleased with the efforts of these students, and their achievement is to be acknolwedged and celebrated by all members of the school community. Their actions are in keeping with our Catholic value of stewardship, the need for sustainable practices in our local and global community, and the divine call to ecological responsbility by Pope Francis in his 2015 encyclical, Laudato si'.
PARKING DURING SCHOOL PICK-UP TIME
It has come to the attention of the school that a small minority of parents and carers are parking for prolonged periods of time in the assigned no-parking zones and bus zones in both Campbell St and Abbott St during pick-up time. I must ask that members of our school community please comply with the relevant signange. The school has supported, and will continue to support, families to pull up into these zones long enough for their child to exit the gate and climb into car before moving on again. However, the practice of parking in these zones for prolonged periods of time, waiting for your child, is not only contrary to the expectations of the school and the message of the Love40 initiative, but also against the law. In the coming week, the school has invited the presence of the Road Safety Advisory Council and the Launceston Police Department to both observe these traffic areas, and provide support in ensuring the fidelity of road users in complying with the road traffic signage. Therefore, please expect that a member of staff will advise you if you are required to move your vehicle, and thank you in advance for your support of these expectations.
PLAYGROUND UPGRADE UPDATE
Following the consultation processes conducted in 2020-21, and recent discussions with Miriam Shevland (Landscape Architect from Playstreet), Adam Martin (Facilities Manager, Catholic Education Tasmania), the School Leadership Team, and the School Board, we are now edging closer to finalisation of the project details and starting date. The playground will include new sandpits, a climbing frame (pictured below), six individual swings, and a nest swing, monkey bars and grassed nature play and reflection areas. Please stay tuned for further updates.
May the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Today we say goodbye to the Lacco family, who are making the big move to Western Australia. There have been cupcakes made in cooking, icypoles on chilly days, and many frivoloties during Harmony day today.
We wish Cooper, Myles, Ava and their family all the best for the future.
Thank you to the school community for your contribution to the Treadlightly School Shoe Drive for 2022. It was an amazing effort to receive over 200 shoes in just one week!
All the shoes donated will be given a new life as playground and gym flooring. It takes 1000 years for components from sports shoes to decompose, so this is a wonderful way of helping recycle and help our environment.
In exciting news, St Thomas More's is the Tasmanian winner of the TreadLightly Shoe Recycling Drive!! This was just announced this afternoon. Thank you to Grade 5/6 More for their efforts in counting all the shoes!!
School Photo day is Monday, 9th May 2022.
Photo ordering is completed through Compass using the link on your Compass app homepage - an email will be sent early next week with details on how to order.
Please also note that all sibling photos are taken before school from 8.30am, and MSP Photography request that students present themselves to the photographers at the allocated time for the sibling photo to be taken.
More information will be available early next week.
Last weekend Vinton, Lewis, Angus, Harry and I went to a cubing comp in Sorrel. The comp went for 2 days and we were all really excited. I went really well in 3x3 (which was the main event) with 13.01 average of 5. My friends also went really well with PB averages. All in all I came 9th overall.
On the weekend Vinton, Reuben, Angus, Harry and I went to a Cubing Competition in Sorell, Hobart. It took about 2 and a half hours to get to my hotel in Richmond. At the competition I did really well. I broke all of my comp PBs from my first competition and I even made Pyraminx finals. I was really nervous because I was sitting next to Riley Dexter, one of the best cubers in the nation. Anyways on pyraminx I got three 8 second times, a 9 second time and a 7 second time. Overall I’m really proud of myself with my crazy times and can’t wait for my the next cubing competition in Tasmania.
On the weekend Lewis, Reuben and Vinton (me) from our school and Harry and Angus used to go to our school. I went really well. I got a 38 second average in 3x3. All of the boys from school made it to a second round and I also made it to pyraminx final and came 11 in that. It was a really fun comp and all of the competitors got a free cube.
CWA Handcraft and Home Industries Exhibition
The CWA invites all community members including people with disabilities, teenagers, children and CWA members to participate in a range of handcraft, art projects, photography and cooking competitions. This is run over two days of judging and craft
workshops. To encourage participation, we offer awards and prizes for each category. Please see the attached entry schedule with Section P the relevant section for young
people. Entries close on the 17 May with items required at the venue by Friday 27 th May. Please direct any queries to the CWA on email@example.com.