Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP,
15 Jul 2017

St. Benedict's Church, Broadway

John Donne is remembered today as a metaphysical poet, and especially for phrases such as "for whom the bell tolls" and one-liners like "Love built on beauty, soon as beauty, dies" and "When a man dies, [his] chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language". In his own day, however, Donne's fame rested not on his verse so much as on his preaching, and it was for his sermons that he hoped to be remembered. After his own brother died for the Catholic faith, Donne defected to the Anglican establishment, married, was ordained and rose all the way to Dean of St. Paul's in London. But his Catholic petticoat often showed, as when he referred to Dominican theologians in his sermons, including St Thomas Aquinas, St Antoninus, Banez, Cano, Porrecta and Cajetan.

Many of his aphorisms seem especially apt to describe Dominican life. On finding one's identity in and through a community, Donne famously taught that "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main" - which is why we should "Never send to know for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee". Of the monastic-contemplative side of life he advised: "Be then thine own home, and in thyself dwell… Be thine own palace, or the world's thy gaol". Of the ascetical side: "Affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it". Of our search for truth: "Reason is our soul's left hand, faith her right". And of the deep happiness we find in union with God and service to others he said: "True joy is the earnest which we have of heaven". But before we hear more from Donne, we might ponder the words of the One who most inspired him.

In our Gospel this morning (Jn 15:9-17), Christ speaks to His apostles but also to each one of us in our personal vocation: "You did not choose me," He says, "No, I chose you". I taught you my commandments and to "abide in my love" by keeping them. After such a course of formation, "I no longer call you servants but friends", and I appoint you "to go out and bear fruit". If these instructions are for every Christian, there are hints, also, of the particular task of the preacher: "These words that I have spoken to you" - these words that you must now relay - are spoken "that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete."

Complete joy in heaven and imperfect beatitude while on earth - what Donne called 'the earnests', foretastes or promises of heaven - these are the ultimate objects of our preaching. St Paul talked of being drunk not on spirits but on the Spirit (cf. Eph 5:18) and Fr Paul Murray OP takes his lead from this in his delightful book The New Wine of Dominican Spirituality: A Drink Called Happiness.1 Ever since "that joyful friar", St Dominic, Dominicans at their best have not just been absent-minded professors or dour-faced inquisitors, but evangelical, exuberant, exultant "celebrants of grace". We think of Blessed Reginald of Orleans, the scholar-preacher who was first to be clothed in the habit by Dominic. When asked "Are you ever sorry you took the Dominican habit?" he replied, "I very much doubt that there's been any merit in it for me at all, because I've always been so happy in the Order!" Dominicans, Murray argues, "learned to drink deeply from the wine of God's word, and became witnesses not only of certain great moral and doctrinal truths but also of an unimaginable joy." So much in modernity dumbs down and thins out not just what is true and good and beautiful, and so also what we count as happiness. But true evangelical preaching offers people God's plan for their happiness now and for all eternity, and hopefully not only persuades but magnetically attracts them to the true life, the good life, the beautiful life, the truly happy life!

How, then, are Robert and Lawrence to be living promises of the happiness of heaven, voices of the One who came that we might "have life - life to the full" (Jn 10:10), that we might "have joy - complete joy"? Well, we read in The Catholic Weekly that the boy from Bangalore has been a Hindu, an atheist, an agnostic, an Anglican and for more than a decade now, a settled Catholic. He's been a student of physics, of philosophy of science, of patristic and medieval studies, and finally those things required for a friar and priest. When first I met him, Kiran had the ability both to enthuse and exasperate people at the same time with his insatiable curiosity. I recall him joining some other young people kindly helping me move into the Watson's Bay presbytery. Kiran's job, it was, to put my books on the library shelves; but he wanted to read each one before shelving it and so we got very little heavy lifting out of him! As he pondered perennial and personal metaphysical questions, he gradually came to realise that the only answer was to be found in God. As John Donne said: "He must pull out his own eyes, and see no creature, before [a man] can say, he sees no God; He must be no man, and quench his reasonable soul, before he can say to himself, there is no God."

But then, which God or whose? One thing that drew him to the Catholic Church was the evident happiness of many young Catholics in professing and living what the Church teaches. He says he was converted more by their example than their arguments. But that Sydney Uni Chaplaincy that brought Kiran to the God of Jesus Christ also brought him into the dangerous orbit of that latter-day Jordan of Saxony, Fr Dominic Murphy OP, of Fr Joseph Vnuk OP and other friars, of the Nashville Dominican Sisters, and of Dominican laity such as Steve Peterson and Chris Wolter, and his doom was sealed. Having been well formed and educated by the Dominicans to be both friar preacher and priest, he now declares his aspiration to be to bring people close to the God revealed in the sacraments, Scriptures, history and life of the Church. We hope his preaching and pastoral care will bring others to share in that joy that he has found in union with God and His Church.

The boy from Choiseul's story is a simpler one. Brother Lawrence came from a small family of a Mum and Dad and twelve children. He studied, worked the farm, did youth work. But a deep calling to priesthood would not be refused and so he entered the Order in Loga, and studied in Honiara, Bomana (Port Moresby) and Melbourne. Like all the baptised he is called to abide in Christ's love by keeping His commandments and abide in Christ's joy by bearing fruit for God's kingdom. Now he will serve the Word of God, the Altar of God, and the People of God as deacon.

Robert and Lawrence: there are many sides to your calling as friars and clerics. John Donne, the metaphysical poet, dared compare the way priests mediate Christ in word and sacrament with the way the Blessed Virgin Mary incarnated and bore Him.2 "What a coronation is our taking of [Holy] Orders, what an intronisation our coming up into the pulpit". Each morning, he said, God's sweet call to the priest is to bear Christ to the world, to "go forth today and preach, preach consolation, preach peace, preach mercy." "Do not wound them", Donne writes almost as a premonition of Pope Francis, "do not grind" your people, "do not astonish them with the bitterness… heaviness… sharpness… of [your] judgments." David sang of judgment certainly, but of mercy first.3 God is appealing through us, as St Paul says in our Epistle today (2Cor 5:14-20), and His message must be the message of reconciliation, of mercy.

My sons and brothers, today Christ chooses you to be his joyful preachers of salvation. At a time of great challenge for our Church you must share with all mankind "the hope that is in you" (1Pet 3:15). To do that you must first let God reign in your life. "Batter my heart, three-person'd God," John Donne prayed, for "Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue." So "Take me to you [Lord God], imprison me, for I, Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me." Your brother friars, your family and friends, and all the Church pray for you today: receive the Gospel of Christ whose heralds you now are: joyfully believe what you read, joyfully teach what you believe, and joyfully practise what you preach!


St. Benedict's Church, Broadway

Welcome, friends, to this celebration as Robert Krishna, Friar of the Order of Preachers, is ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ, and his brother Lawrence Bosekana comes one step closer to the same, being ordained today to the diaconate. Today will be the third time I lay hands on Robert, but fear not that this will make him a bishop: rather, it was that I confirmed Kiran, as he then was, at a Sydney University Chaplaincy Retreatsome years ago, last year ordained him deacon, and now am privileged to call down the Holy Spirit upon his head and heart and whole life for a third time.

I acknowledge concelebrating with me today Most Rev. Bernard O'Grady OP, Bishop emeritus of Gizo, the Dominican Provincial Very Rev. Fr Anthony Walsh OP, the local Prior and Parish Priest Rev. Fr Dominic Murphy OP, and those who have guided Robert and Lawrence along the path of their formation. To all the Dominican family here today: a very warm welcome and my hearty congratulations.

I extend a special welcome to Robert's family and friends, especially his father, Dr Krishna Lingegowda.
I also recognise the presence today of priests, religious and lay faithful from our Archdiocese and from the rest of the country. I thank those who have travelled far to be with us today. To everyone present a very warm welcome.


1 Paul Murray OP, The New Wine of Dominican Spirituality: A Drink Called Happiness (Burns-Oates, 2006).

2 John Donne, "To Rev. Mr Tilman, after he had taken Orders".

3 Ps 101:1; John Donne, "Sermon on 1 Cor 9:16, on Preaching Consolation".