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30 March 2020

Rejoice in the Lord always, and, again, I say Rejoice!

The Church keeps calling us to Joy! Yet, in this difficult time of illness, and fear of illness, perhaps we may have a specially acute sense of reality – a return to a “2020 vision” – seeing the world and ourselves and our vocations as we are, as God sees us.

It is now four weeks and a few days of Lent done; two weeks (including Great Week, or Holy Week) to run until Easter Sunday. It is a hard Lent this year! But our faith in the resurrection is not abolished.

The liturgical calendar - Laetare

Last Sunday was a strange and difficult celebration of the Fourth Sunday of Lent, 2020, Laetare Sunday, which is simply Latin for the plural imperative, the command: Rejoice! It was Refreshment Sunday, where, visibly, the Lenten purple of vestments is replaced by a lighter, more joyful rose colour, and the prayers speak of joy! Joy in the midst of penance! In the novus ordo, the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite, one of the Lenten prefaces speaks of Lent as this “joyful season”.

The Annunciation

Then during the week, on 25th March, we celebrated the great Feast of the Annunciation, or God becoming flesh, a cause of great joy always, and a suspension of Lent!

The date of the Annunciation finds its way into Tolkien’s work, the Lord of the Rings, as the date
of the overthrow of Sauron, the Dark Lord.

As Tolkien was an intelligent and faithful Catholic, this is hardly an unimportant coincidence. The Tolkien Society has even adopted the date as “Tolkien Reading Day”, to encourage the reading of his writings.[1]

Caroline Chisholm

The 25th March is also important for the Caroline Chisholm Library, as it is the anniversary of the death in 1877 of our namesake, Caroline Chisholm, the great helper and imaginative defender of poor emigrants to Australia, especially women and children, and the diggers on the roads to the goldmines.

As the Keilor Historical Society says:


In 1854 Caroline Chisholm ('The Emigrants Friend') began her campaign to provide cheap and safe accommodation for families of Diggers, as well as newly-arrived immigrants, along the track to the Gold Fields.

In April 1855 tenders for the erection of ten "Shelter Sheds" or "Protection Posts" were sought in the Government Gazette at the following locations: Essendon, Keilor, Robertsons, The Gap, Gisborne, The Black Forest, Woodend, Carlsruhe, Malmsbury and Elphinstone.

Richard Fitzgerald won the contract to build ten shelters at a cost of 3,800 pounds and to provide ten stoves at 100 pounds. By November 1855 they were ready for occupation. The cost per night for an adult was one shilling and for a child sixpence.[2]


This part of Caroline Chisholm’s career and insight has inspired us to have this column on our Website and Facebook. It is our Shelter Shed, for those who, especially because of the virus, have been shut out from work, or family events, or visits of family or friends, and shut in to a world which may be fearful as well as isolating.

We shall add links and notes about people and places which are trying to bring human contact, and bridges to divine grace, to those who are isolated. Here are the first of these.

Until our next post, Rejoice!


[2] See the Keilor Historical Society,