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05/02/2013: Australia


Here is a link to the latest issue of the MSA Newsletter for this term.


 Dear Brothers, colleagues and friends

I quietly confess to long being something of a ‘Les Miz’ tragic. I’ve found myself in its audience a number of times over the last twenty-five years or more. So, of course, I was off over the holidays to see its latest realisation, this time on the big screen. Loved it.

I know, I know, the critics continue to pan it. More than one Head of Music in schools where I have delicately proposed its staging have told me that the music is banal and repetitive. Drama teachers have argued with all their literary sagacity that the storyline is shallow, poorly constructed and tedious, especially in the second half. But it continues to grab me. Every time.

Accuse me of being just a hopeless romantic, but I’d argue that there are profound themes explored in Les Miserables: redemption and retribution, envy and forgiveness, heroism and opportunism, selflessness and self-pity, and of course love. Tell me that Kretzmer’s lyrics and the Boubil/Schonber score are not just one big dramatisation of 1 Corinthians 13. And how can your heart be left unstirred by the final lines sung by Valjean, Fantine and Eponine?:

Take my hand, and lead me to salvation
Take my love, for love is everlasting.
And remember – the truth that once was spoken
To love another person is to see the face of God!

Indeed it’s probably that famous phrase from the pen of Victor Hugo that has hooked me most. To love another person is to see the face of God. I would like to think that Saint Marcellin might have also been taken by that thought. It so closely aligns with his own theology which was very incarnational.

The period about which Hugo wrote was Marcellin’s time. It was a time when there were arguments within the Church about the best way forward, the best way to be effective as a Church. There were those who thought it was most necessary to restore everything to the way it was – structures, liturgy, privilege, grandeur; there were conservatives, and indeed others that wore proudly the epithet that they had been given of being “ultra” conservative. Then there were those such as Victor Hugo – and I suspect Marcellin – who believed the Church was most credible when it simply put into practice the gospel of love.

What an awesome call you and I have received to reveal the face of God to young people! In school, we educators will do that so very powerfully this year, through the opening of holy Scripture to them, through the uplifting liturgies we will celebrate, through the religious education and faith formation programmes we will offer them, through art and symbol, and generally through an education based in Christian values. But perhaps nothing will – or indeed will not – reveal the face of God to them than through the way we in which love them.

Nisi Dominus

Brother Michael Green fms

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