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PROPHETIC MOVEMENTS: Challenge to Catholics
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THE CHURCH AND THE CHURCHES From the beginning Africa received Christianity in a broken form. The most ancient Christian Churches on the continent, the Coptic and Ethiopian Churches, were separated from Rome. The missionaries who stepped on African soil in the 16 century were mostly Catholic. The suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773 led to the collapse of that missionary church. When after the French Revolution missionaries came to the continent once more they were led by Protestant churches, and Catholics were by and large latecomers. They transplanted their confessional animosities and enmities from Europe to Africa. Robert Moffat, the great missionary pioneer of Southern Africa, hardly ever mentions his Catholic colleagues in his famous diaries. Africa inherited Christian disunity as a most unfortunate legacy. As a result members of divided churches see no problem in further dividing the church, resulting in more and more ‘denominations’, ‘ministries’, ‘new religious movements’ etc. Christian unity is regarded as a merely spiritual unity. These churches do not see a need for visible unity and amalgamating churches into one. “There is only one God”, so changing churches is merely a matter of convenience, personal taste and th
preference. ‘Prophetic’ churches declared their independence from missionary churches, starting in the first half of the 20 century. European dominance and cultural alienation made men with leadership potential go their own way, together with their followers. In Southern Africa, in a situation of political oppression and racial discrimination, becoming a church leader was the only chance for ambitious people – mostly men, but also a few women – to become leaders. This has led to a situation where just about anybody can start his own church as long as he owns a Bible. Positively, you can say that this releases creative potential in local Christians. Negatively, one cannot deny that it makes Christian unity more and more difficult to achieve. In some cases one has to question the motive that drives these new “prophets”. Power hunger (or at least personal ambition)? Economic gain (at a time of unemployment and poverty)? Self-made prophets and selfappointed shepherds contradict of course the Biblical principle that the disciple does not call himself, but is called, does not assume leadership on his own, but has the hands of the elders laid on him. But then this “sacramental principle” that works through established structures which last through the ages is not accepted by “spirit churches”. For them the Spirit comes down on individuals, not the Church th
as such. Anyone can be chosen, so anyone can call a church or church community together. But is there not one Body of Christ and one Spirit of Christ? How can there be one Spirit, but many bodies? However, this contradiction and this unsolved question should not prevent us from seeking unity. In fact, the Catholic Church is obliged to seek unity and promote it wherever possible precisely because of her catholicity, universality and oneness. Catholics cannot be but ecumenical in their outreach to other Christians. Ecumenism and the search for unity are not free options, a hobby for those ecumenically inclined. It is a strict duty. You cannot be Catholic without feeling the deep hurt of Christian disunity and wanting to heal this great wound in the Body of Christ. But ecumenism is not a matter of pretending. Pretending that unity can be achieved easily by ignoring the real divisions, e.g. by sharing the Eucharist when in fact we have no common Eucharistic doctrine and practice, we are not One Body yet. It is for theologians to find out about what really divides us and what are merely human traditions about non-essentials. In the meantime we remember that with most churches, whatever may divide us, we do share Scripture, Baptism, faith in Christ and in His Kingdom of justice, love and compassion. This is enough to work together, especially in matters of social justice and practical charity.
Vision Statement Mukai-Vukani (“Rise”) Jesuit Journal for Zimbabwe serves as a Bulletin for Theological Reflection among Jesuits in Zimbabwe and their friends. It tries to help us answer the question, “What direction do we have to follow in the light of the Word of God at this moment in time?” (Mukai 23, p.2), facilitating dialogue among Jesuits and their friends based on study, prayer and discernment.
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EDITORIAL The Church and the Churches......................................................................... 2 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Pastoral Care with Regard to Evil Powers.........................................................4 HEALING Healing an Act of Faith ........................................................................................7 Fr Anold Mhuriro CSSp Healing and the Faith of the Healer....................................................................9 Fr Oscar Wermter S.J PREACHING Preaching - How do Catholics Fare?...............................................................11 Preaching in the Catholic Church...................................................................12 Fr Abel Makahamadze YOUTH “Youth Formation our Real Challenge”.......................................................... 14 Tinaye Pedzisai Youth Formation in the Catholic Church Today..............................................15 Fr Ignatius Musenge sdb MUSIC Music in the Church: Is there a tune that makes God Angry?........................ 17 Dr John Chitakure Church Music : The other Side........................................................................ 18 WOMEN The Role of Women in the Church .................................................................. 19 Priscilla Mapfuwa SACRAMENTS Sacraments of the Catholic Church - Sign and Reality .................................21 Fr Clyde B Muropa SJ DIALOGUE Dialogue Between Churches: Common Grounds and Challenges...............23 Dr John Chitakure BOOK REVIEWS Failed State or Failed People?.........................................................................25 Fr Oskar Wermter S.J The Gospel of the Carmelites..........................................................................26 Gift Mambipiri Back to Life.......................................................................................................27 The Birth And Life of the GNU..........................................................................26 Gift Mambipiri Some Things Never Change........................................................................... 28 Gift Mambipiri
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Editorial Team: Fr Dominic Tomuseni S.J, Fr Oskar Wermter S.J, Mr Gift Mambipiri JesCom, 1 Churchill Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, P O Box A949,Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe. Tel. 263-4-744571, 744288, 0712-419453, Fax : 263-4-744284 After hours : Tel/Fax 263-4-2910233 e-mail: email@example.com, websites: www.jesuits.co.zw, www.jescom.co.zw. Editorial Committee Fr Oskar Wermter SJ (Chairman),Fr Chiedza Chimhanda SJ, Fr Clyde Muropa SJ,Sr Marceline Mudambo, H.L.M.C, Francisca Mandeya, Dr John Chitakure, Gift Mambipiri (Secretary) Readers may contribute to the production costs by cheque or cash. Articles with full names of their authors do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board Printing: Print Dynamix
Dear Reader Zimbabwe has struggled with shortages of almost anything in the past decade. But we have never been short of new churches. In fact, in most high density areas of the country, there are two or more ‘new churches’ in every street. All the open spaces around the cities are filled with groups of men and women, separated by a few metres, and conducting different church services. Most buildings in the city centre are taken up by ‘new churches’. There are many prophets who have taken the city and the country by storm. Through this edition of Mukai-Vukani, Jesuit Communications would like to enter into dialogue with its readers to understand their thoughts on this subject. We have writers who have looked carefully at these churches vis-a-vis our Catholic Church and present lessons that we may learn from the ‘new churches’. We discuss the similarities and differences between the ‘new churches’ and the Roman Catholic Church in the manner of preaching, youth formation, the role of women, healing as well as sacraments. We also carry in this edition book reviews, and one of them, by Shimmer Chinodya, discusses ‘new churches’ We are happy when you write back to us your views on the subject under discussion. We publish in this edition views of some readers on the issue of witchcraft and the Church that we discussed in the last edition, Mukai-Vukani 61.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
PASTORAL CARE WITH REGARD TO EVIL POWERS Dear editor, In the previous issue of Mukai Vukani two of the faithful made the same suggestion on the subject of witchcraft. Mrs Priscilla Mujuru wrote: “The Church is aware of the existence of witchcraft and must therefore arm the faithful against it. It is not good enough to give the stance of the Church without giving the ammunition to fight the evil powers.” Miss Zandile Mafi agreed: “I firmly believe the church today ought to equip its congregation with weapons, in the form of the word and prayer, to fight against this evil”. There is definitely a need for pastoral care in this area. My focus, though, will be on evil powers, for this is a broader subject than witchcraft, and it is of importance to us all, even beyond our borders. I thought of beginning by sharing experiences I came across, my own and those of others, to root my insights into reality. One of our workers was caught with some stolen clothing. He was so upset that he decided to leave his job on the farm. We asked another member of our staff to replace him. As this man returned to the workers’ quarters that afternoon he saw a snake crossing the road ahead of him. Gripped with a deadly fear, he also chose to go. A third one, well aware of all this, took over the job and no harm came to him. Once, a religious had a health problem that medical personnel had not been able to correct. She was so worried that in the end she saw a n’anga. He told her that he needed to contact some spirits about her problem. Afterwards she found it very difficult to pray and, on the advice of a friend, she came to ask for help. She then realized that her faith in Jesus had been shaken in the process. She chose to lift her problem to him in trust and recovered her inner
Bro James Langlois, F.M.S peace. In the last years before independence local members of our retreat team noticed young people wearing this and that to invite spirits of the dead to dwell in them. They tackled the subject and as a result some came for help. One decided to return to his family an item meant to help him become a medium. One teenager was brought to us because at times she behaved in a strange manner, trying among other things to remove forcibly the cross the Sisters were wearing. At another school a girl had been in bed for a couple of days, speaking as if she had been another person. It turned out that it was her grandmother who wanted her to become a medium. The prayer for deliverance was easier in her case. We invited her to focus her life on Jesus. She accepted to wear a crucifix to remember him and put her trust in him. The previous girl fell back some time later, misbehaving with boys. Many years ago a lady who was a Satanist had experienced increasing troubles as she surrendered more of herself to obtain additional evil powers. She went to see a doctor who happened to be a committed Christian. He was puzzled. The
health problems were there but he could not identify physical or psychological causes for them. He asked someone he knew to see that person, warning him of the possibility of something weird. This individual had once been told by a priest that if ever he had to deal with anyone dabbling with evil powers, he ought to take the Eucharist. He took it literally and carried a consecrated host the times he saw that patient. (Only later did that priest explain to him that he had meant receiving the Lord beforehand.) Anyway he saw the patient in public places to ascertain the root of the problems. To his dismay he discovered the dark background of this lady, the fact that she even belonged to a coven of witches. They would ask Satan to harm individuals with a successful ministry, and bad things did happen to some of them. When it became clear this must be a case for exorcism, the local bishop appointed a priest to deal with her. The latter selected some individuals with different expertise to support him in sessions with her. When possessed she was unpredictable, unruly and even threatening at times but would obey the priest at the name of Jesus or when holy water was sprinkled towards her. She would cringe at the sight of a crucifix. At one point she told the priest that she had been led to bring into trouble the person the doctor had advised her to see. She added she could not do anything and wondered why. She was later exorcised successfully by another team. One day I was on my way to meet a group on a directed retreat. I had decided to give them St Ignatius’ rules of discernment for the first week. As I was travelling on a narrow rural road a car came out of a property and headed straight for me. I narrowly escaped a collision, and straight after that I had to swerve sharply to the right to avoid hitting a cyclist. I was shaken. That very day
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WITCHCRAFT AND THE CHURCH I had two other near accidents, again due to negligent drivers. It got me wondering. Was someone out there not happy with what I was doing? It happened afterwards that before or during a retreat I was giving, several things would go wrong as if someone was trying to make me lose my focus. I then saw the need to turn to Jesus for protection and that type of disturbance stopped. On the social scene the activity of our spiritual enemy may be more difficult to pin down but it is very real and more pernicious. When people open their hearts to evil, our spiritual enemy can use them for his wicked schemes. Thus he is behind many initiatives to confuse, enslave young people and lead them astray, some even to suicide. At the same time our spiritual enemy instigates violence, organized crime and even mafia style killings that go unpunished. Committed Christians say that in the world of business and in the corridors of power they face so much greed and callousness. They admit that it takes exceptionally strong individuals to abide by moral values in such a climate. If someone goes along with it, he gets entangled and quickly becomes corrupt. Then there is the problem of those amassing huge fortunes by dubious means, while there is much poverty and even hunger in the country. Meanwhile the plundering of our natural resources goes unchecked, to the benefit of a few. I n s ig h t s g a in ed f ro m s u ch experiences These incidents give an idea of the nature and extent of the problem. They also show the need there is for correct discernment. Let us reflect now on what we can do as shepherds of the flock, whether we are priests, laity or religious, to improve our ability to identify the activity of evil powers around us and our effectiveness in the struggle against them. Here are some insights on the way forward: People with fertile imagination are of no use to fight the Lord’s battles.
One must focus on hard reality. Individuals with a foot in the camp of the enemy would not be reliable. He needs individuals who can identify the enemy and his tactics, who are spiritually fit and follow his orders. The training for this takes place in fidelity to prayer time, study of his word as well as great honesty in daily life. Regular reflection on personal experience also helps. Jesus saw clearly the failures of the religious leaders of his time and their empty temple rituals. He spoke up on these issues, even when evil men opposed him. His solution was to create a new people, the family of believers, and he became the new Temple of God drawing worshippers from all over the world. Later Paul identified the Jewish customs that needed to be dropped, since it was now baptism that made them all children of God. We too must have interior freedom to assess our culture, our traditional religious practices, even the life of our Christian communities. We ought to recognize what is of the Lord in our world. We must also have the courage to drop what does not agree with our faith, say why perhaps, and adopt new customs in line with our faith, if need be. If we have a responsibility to teach others, we ought to be familiar with the teaching of the Church on the fall of man, the rebellion of Satan and the fallen angels, their real but limited power over us, God’s supremacy over them, his ability to build up his Kingdom of Love even in evil situations. A summary is found in sections 385 – 412 of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”. The sections on divination, magic, sorcery and witchcraft, 2115 – 2117 deal with practices we condemn as Christians. It is helpful to adopt Scripture texts that see us through tough situations. One that helps a number of individuals I know is a phrase
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from Romans 8:28: God turns everything to the good of those who love him. Another one that sustains people when they feel inadequate is this one from 2 Corinthians 12:10: “It is when I am weak that I am strong”, for it leads them to count on our Lord. Personally I rely on the name of Jesus in nasty situations, for scripture tells us that at his name every knee must bow (Philippians 2:10). He never fails me. A must if we are facing serious evil is to focus not on it but on our Saviour. One thinks here of some snakes that sort of hypnotize birds the better to come nearer and catch them. From the days of our first parents Satan has been trying to draw attention to himself, away from God. He used this tactic even with Jesus. When giving teaching on the powers of darkness, we must therefore insist on Jesus’ victory over them through his death and resurrection. Evil spirits know this, which is why they cringe before a crucifix. There are so many groups of faithful coming together in the church: parish sections, guilds, prayer groups, others sharing on the Bible. We also belong to informal groups of neighbours and friends who share intimately. In most of these there is sensitivity to the needs within and outside the community, and the members do something to meet the problems they identify. These are people we can encourage, initiate and support if need be to engage in the struggle against the forces of evil they
WITCHCRAFT AND THE CHURCH encounter. Let us stress the dimension of faith, the use of the word of God and prayer as our weapons. Their trust in the Lord will increase as their prayers are answered. When it comes to the activity of the powers of darkness in our society, we may well feel powerless. It is so widespread and intimidating. Let us learn from Jesus who embraced human
weakness by choice. He let the light in him shine in the darkness of his cruel world. Those who accepted it became children of God. It is thus that grace and truth slowly triumphed over the corrupt empire of Rome. Let us give a chance to Jesus’ light and love to shine in us and touch hearts where he planted us. Like the small band of early Christians let us share the good news that has changed our
own lives. Let us work in close unity with fellow disciples of the Lord to build the kingdom of love and peace. Let us intercede together for our people. Let us join those already doing marvels to alleviate the needs around us. And in faith we will know that we are on the winning side. Brother James Langlois, F.M.S.
Genesis of Violence - Distorted? I enjoyed reading the June 2012 issue of Mukai with particular references to corrections and comments made by Gift Mambipiri on The Genesis of Violence in Zimbabwe .It is like we live in two worlds but let the truth be said to shame the devil. Lovemore Chirara , 13 Jongwe Street , Mufakose Harare
FEAR slate right’ and be able to live happily with the memory of their forebears. How can they love us less after life has ended for them and require this sort of expiation? It is quite unthinkable to me.
In 1979 I was privileged to be present when my Mother was dying in England. I sat by her bed and for hour after hour was with her reflecting on our lives together. We loved each other deeply but as I contemplated I wondered, she who knew me through and through, warts and all, how in her heavenly life she would react to my qualities and my failures. My temptation was to feel a little fear. Then I said to myself, ‘My dear Mother loved me deeply during my whole life how could she possibly love me less when she reached her heavenly reward?’ I felt a great joy and calm at that thought.
The other point I find so distressing is that perfectly innocent people, especially women, are subjected to harassment and even worse because they are accused of witchcraft. Those who accuse them are often seeking for a scapegoat, as Fr. Wermter points out, for their own failure to cope with life, or with the desire to further their own doubtful ends.
It is with this thought that I question the prevalence, and it is all too often, that our dear people of Zimbabwe feel fear after the death of someone who loved them during life. The need to find out what caused their death or what in their children’s lives was wanting and now had to be expiated somehow by the use of doubtful visits to the ‘nangas’ with their requirement of sacrifices to be made to ‘ put the
I do believe in the power of evil, to put it bluntly in the power of Satanism It does exist, though a rare occurrence, why should the Church otherwise feel the need to ordain exorcists? But the Church wisely keeps a tight control on the ministry and very few priests may actually use the power they have to drive out the spirit of evil. What we do come across is rather more prosaic. A hysterical human state
which a bucket of water or ignoring the manifestations of hysteria are fruitful remedies without accusing anyone of being under evil powers. I once gave the first stage of Baptism to about 15 women and when I came to one, during the ceremony one lady became ‘convulsed’. I just ignored her and passed on. The failure to receive the stage was a better way to help her than recourse to any more serious intervention!! While on this subject I wonder why, as the priest recites his breviary every day, he comes across so many violent passages in the Psalms. It seems that we all, according to the Psalms, have deadly enemies only too quick to destroy us. In fact I am not very conscious of such ‘destroyers’ though plenty of memories of minor incidents of confrontation and disagreement. Old Testament people seem to have the same sort of problems as our people in Zimbabwe?!
Anthony Bex SJ
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Healing an act of faith By Fr. A. Mhuriro, CSSp
to receive care, healing and support.
New religious movements have for the past few years grown in numbers and have enjoyed quite a good number of new members. The healing practice in these churches is one of the main contributing factors to the growing numbers of these movements especially those of African origin.In other words, the membership of these movements comprises of many desperate people who will have gone there in search of healing. The question that may worry us today is, where do we as Catholics go when we encounter or are affected by witchcraft, Satanism, magic, or sorcery related illnesses? Normally, immediate arrangements are made in search of healing, but the question still remains, where? The traditional healer out there is waiting patiently, the Vapositori sects or new religious movements welcome everybody especially those with problems, self proclaimed true as well as false prophets are also in business, medical doctors and herbalists are all over, and of course at our disposal, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church with all her ordained ministers and sanctifying sacraments. It is a fact that healers gifted with exceptional powers to cast out demonic spirits and be able to handle evil related sicknesses that affect people, have always been the centre of attraction in every society. And this is a serious challenge to the Catholic Church, for there is a need to do more, to try and fit in the missing link, that is a clear catechesis and effective
Fr A Mhuriro CSSp pastoral healing ministry. Public healing which is an integration of healing and worship is very much common in new religious movements. For them, the link between healing and worship is very important in the sense that, there is participation of the whole congregation invoking the healing spirit to come down and redeem all the sick. Of course, the prophets will be at the forefront, but church members play a supportive role by offering highly emotional prayers and singing choruses. Public healing is practiced during every service, and people are given time to give testimonies, praising God for the restoration of their health which is one of their strategies of attracting more people. The hospitality that is given to the sick in some of these new religious movements is so overwhelming, no discrimination, that is one does not need to be a member in order
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Deepening our thoughts into scripture, healing ministry in the Acts of the Apostles fuelled the expansion and growth of Christianity, (Acts 3: 1- 4: 4, 9: 32-43, 5: 12-16). New religious movements are also flourishing by day as they claim to respect the command of Jesus, â€œthe Kingdom of heaven is upon you, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leapers, cast out devilsâ€?, (Mt 10: 6-7). On the other hand, the Catholic Church is and will always be committed and concerned about the health of her members. There is the sacrament of anointing of the sick, mission hospitals, popular religiosity, charismatic renewal movement and of late the use of traditional medicine or herbs. However, setbacks are also being experienced. Catholics try to avoid the sacrament of anointing of the sick until they feel that their breath is evaporating. The priest is seen as an angel of death rather than a healer, which means that many do not properly understand the effects of the sacrament. The Church in Zimbabwe built so many hospitals in response to the healing needs of the people, but non of these hospitals are able to diagnose African related sicknesses. Medical doctors reach a point whereby they tell patients that, izvi zvave kudachivanhu (you may have to seek help at traditional medicinemen).Popular religiosity normally rises because of various kinds of needs within a society and in this case healing miracles.
HEALING People go to places or shrines, others devote themselves in praying through the saints, the rosary and other devotions which in a way show how desperate people are in search of healing. Such being the case, it i s d i ff i c u l t t o m a k e a n assessment of how helpful or effective popular religiosity is with regard to healing. The use of traditional medicine is gaining momentum in the Church. It is a fact that Catholics consult those who are gifted in the use of traditional medicine because they see nothing inherently wrong in using herbal medicine. Early missionaries were not in favour of people using traditional herbs. The danger being that some traditional herbs are connected to magic which is against the Catholic teaching. Bearing in mind that most sophisticated remedies have a herbal base, the use of natural traditional herbs is positive in as much as there are no magical practices. To a certain extent, some Catholics in need of healing find solace in these herbs. In Zimbabwe, the relationship of Charismatic Renewal groups and Church authorities differs according to dioceses. Some dioceses are not in favour at all for the movement to operate. For some, they are not so clear whether to promote the movement or not, regarding the healing ministry which is thought to be a sensitive issue. It is sensitive because the Church’s approach to healing ministryis to be respected, and the Church at all costs must protect her members from dubious practices that are performed by some self proclaimed practitioners of healing in the name of the Church.
Is going to the hospital a sign ofa lack of faith? the things that we have to work with, and one will still question if they are really helping us because the exodus of people from the Church to new religious movements is increasing by day. What is it really that is out there that the Church is lacking? It is also helpful to look deep within the Church especially those who intend or who either temporarily or permanently leave the Church in search of healing, though they pose a pastoral challenge to the Church ministry, they also deny the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church as well as demonstrating their lack of faith. On one hand it may also be that they show their ignorance of the true teaching of the Church, and on the other hand it is also the duty of the Church to impart a catechesis which unveils the Church as having all that she requires for the sanctification and redemption of all in Christ Jesus. In the scriptures, a good number of people were healed
simply because they believed, (Mk 2: 5, 9: 23), (Mt 14: 36),(Lk 18: 42-43), ( Acts 14: 8-10), and in (James 5: 15-16), it is even said that the prayer of faith will save the sick person. Others were healed in as much as they were willing to be healed, (Mk 5: 2534). In a way faith can be understood as that vital force that brings life, that which releases God’s healing powers. The challenge of today is that, many people put their faith in people not in God, and this is likely the main reason people move from one Church to the other, one traditional healer to another, one prophet to another, place to place and son on. Jesus said that, “ I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, (Jn 14: 12). Faith controls the whole healing process, in other words, it is a call to all the faithful especially the sick to be moved by Jesus’s words, “ ...your faith has healed you...”, (Mk 5:34).Through faith, the power that can drive away all kinds of evil is in the life and prayer of the body of Christ which is the Church.
As Catholics, these are some of
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HEALING AND THE FAITH OF THE HEALER In memory of Dr. Elizabeth Tarira (1951 - 2012) Tonderai (not his real name) was one of our brightest students. He had been born with a defective heart. During games he would sit quietly just watching. He could not take part in the rough and tumble of competitive field sports. He should have and could have been seen by the doctors in the mission hospital. But his parents would not allow him to go to a doctor trained in science and equipped with technical skills. Their faith forbade them to have anything to do with modern medical care. ‘Your child will be healed by prayer and prayer only. Do you have no faith in God?’ they were told by the leaders of the ‘vapostori’ community to which they belonged. But Mai Tonderai could see that her son was getting weaker and weaker. Clandestinely, without telling her husband, she took the boy to the doctors asking for help. The doctors gave him a thorough check-up. They were appalled by what they saw: a year or two
before surgery could have corrected Tonderai’s innate heart defect. But now it was too late. The damage had gone too far, and he was too weak to undergo surgery anyway. We never saw him again. A few weeks later the message reached us that he had died at home. Just a culture clash between western science and traditional African spirits?Maybe.The scientist asks :what is causing this pathological condition? The traditionalist asks: who is causing it? Who is hostile to me? Who is wishing me ill? Certainly, rely solely on prayer power. very different patterns of thought In many ways this seems to be an admirable attitude. and behaviour are at work here. But it seems there is more to it. The ‘vapostore’ are not just traditionalists. They read the Bible; though not academics they have their theology, and try to apply Biblical insights to their varying life situations. They want to be men of faith and trust in God and God alone. They are people of prayer and want to
The late, Dr Elizabeth Tarira
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Still, somewhere there must be an error, considering the tragic outcome for Tonderai when his father insisted on his faith in “God alone”. The underlying assumption is that God necessarily works directly and is restricted to a special sphere where he works his miracles. Anyone else trying to heal doubts the power of God and is an unbeliever lacking faith. But in fact God is present everywhere. He is not restricted to a narrow sphere or space of his own. He is the Lord and Creator, and all power, all reasoning, all skills, all human endeavour, all that humans can achieve and do, belongs to him. He is at work in all his creatures. Where human ingenuity brings about healing, it is God himself who heals. You do not have to be an atheist and unbeliever to be a doctor. You are not usurping God’s power of healing when you use your human gifts for healing people and curing their diseases.
HEALING in Zimbabwe and elsewhere. She decided to go back home, work for and with the poor as long as she could and die among them. She died at peace with her Lord, her community and all she loved, on 23 July 2012 at St Albert’s Mission, and was buried among her people next to the hospital.
Many are lured by notices like these! The believer, the man or woman of faith, prays, “Lord, use my hands, my brains, my skills and experience in the work of healing.” He or she prays as much and as intensively as the “mupostore”, but they have a much wider vision of God who can use anything and anybody in his healing work. It is by no means only ‘vapostore’ who see God and his creatures in competition with each other, as if God was just one power among many other powers though maybe the greatest of them. The ‘vapostore’ are merely an example. There are many other prayerful people in various churches and communities who have this intense desire for direct divine intervention, including certain Catholics; they see the Spirit at work in their laying-on of hands, but unfortunately nowhere else. P a s t o r a l l y, t h i s c a n b e disastrous. Pastors and other
prayerful people who go round hospitals and tell patients they can be healed, physically and visibly, if only they have faith, cause depression and misery among the seriously ill. The woman with incurable cancer all over her body, for instance, is left with the impression that it is her own fault, her own lack of faith, which prevents her from being cured of her terminal condition and being healed. “So I say to you my friends, bring me to Jesus and you will see miracles. Healing does not mean taking away the disease or pain, but also giving strength to carry the cross with serenity. When Jesus was on earth he did miracles but not all the sick were healed. I have friends who are believers and others non believers, each one will find a way of helping me. Even just a thought of wishing me well, thought of altruism is a form of prayer,” wrote Dr Elizabeth Tarira, a mission doctor who had been fighting cancer for ten years, from Rome to her friends
In this too God was at work. Elizabeth died. Did she die despite all the prayers said for her, abandoned by God? No, she died with her Lord and united with him. She died as a healed person. God was at work in her as he is in all ‘the works of his hands’. Which is really what a ‘miracle’ is all about. Both “mupostore” and the scientific doctor face a temptation: the healing ‘prophet’ may ask the Lord for a miracle, and when it happens, or at least when something happens that looks like a miraculous healing, he is inclined to ascribe it to himself and his own “prayer power”. The modern “medicine man” in his sterile operating theatre who is an unbeliever and does not pray while he performs an operation is tempted to play God, may claim that God has become superfluous, that surgeon, with his astonishing technical skill, has replaced the Almighty and made him obsolete. Both have too narrow a conception of God. Both have to leave inadequate ideas and images of God, virtual idols, behind and reach out, or be carried away by, the “ever greater God” whose active presence can never be limited.
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Preaching - how do Catholics fare? In the past few months, Jesuit Communications took a snap survey on what people think about the preaching and preachers in the Church and weather we can learn something from the preachers and preaching in general in the new religious movements. There are varying comments that were made that we summarize here. There is general acknowledgement that preachers (mainly priests) are different and preaching is therefore affected by the personality of the preacher. Some priests are good and lively and generally understand that to preach is to communicate therefore there is the need to keep your audience interested in what you are saying. These understand that there are many communication barriers that distracts their audience and they try to keep them in the loop of what they are saying by using imagery, voice intonation and movements. They try to get you involved to keep you interested and by so doing the message gets delivered and appreciated. Then there are other Catholic preachers who are ‘boring, lifeless and mechanical. They are devoid of feeling and fail to connect with their audience.’ These ones are accused of simply regurgitating seminary notes without contextualizing their homilies to their present time and space. New religious movements have no time and space for such lifeless and boring characters. To be a preacher there, you ought first to prove you are a good orator. A positive that was noted on preaching in the Catholic Church is that the source documents are wide and offer a holistic picture. Catholics refer to the bible, to Church tradition and the life of the saints. Where the bible is used, it is normally a whole passage that is used and explained, This is unlike in new religious movements where a sermon is generally constructed from a single
bible verse. The risk is the verse can be taken and expanded contrary to the context in which it was written. This has brought sharp differences within the Christian communities on topics like alcohol, single parents, fasting, dressing and gender appreciation. New religious movements also place emphasis on spiritual revelation by individuals. Whereas this is good and confirms the work of the Lord amongst his disciples, it is also subject to manipulation by individuals who develop sinister motives especially regarding power, wealth and women in their church. There is also a clear distinction on the focus of the messages preached in the Catholic Church and in new religious movements. Most Catholic preachers lean towards the gospel of the Cross. The emphasis is that everyone ought to carry their cross and follow Christ. There is an appreciation that God has a plan in our sickness and we must not only pray that the sickness instantly goes away, but pray also that we understand the Lord’s plan. The same teaching applies to poverty, where there is usually a persuasion to ‘leave everything’ and follow Christ. This is unlike in new religious movements where it is believed that Christ carried the Cross for you and there is no need for one to carry it again. The emphasis here is you have to be prosperous as a sign that God has blessed you, the way he blessed his chosen ones in the Old Testament. There is zero tolerance for sickness and poverty, and these are identical to curses and should be prayed for that they set you free. Positives noted for new religious movements include the use of public address systems for audibility especially where there are many people. Catholics seem content to sit through Mass even when they can hardly hear the preacher. Preachers in new
religious movements have the flexibility to deal with practical issues affecting people whereas their colleagues in the Catholic Church are ‘stuck’ in liturgical fences. Weaknesses observed on preaching in the Catholic Church is that the time for the homily is short (average 15minutes) when there are three passages to be explained and linked. At times the time is up before the “noise’ in one’s heart has died to be able to properly listen. The new religious movements take hours and hours on the sermon and you have just to get something out of the many hours. Some Catholic preachers are just academic and philosophical and sideline children in formative years and old people in their homilies. New religious movements seem to tailor make their message for everyone in their congregation. Weaknesses of preaching in new religious movements are that bible interpretation is left to individuals, and they give false hope at times especially to the sick. Some people on ARV’s were told ‘you have been healed today by listening to the Word’ and they stopped taking their medication only to die a few months later. The net result from our snap survey clearly show that preachers from both sides here have something to learn from one another.
The word of God
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Preaching in the Catholic Church By Fr Abel Makahamadze In the snap survey conducted by Jesuit Communications the respondents expressed very valid observations worthy our attention. The crux of the survey sought to establish what the Catholic preachers can learn from ‘The New Religious Movements’ (Hereinafter called NRMs). How do we compare preaching in these two expressions of Christianity? Does the proliferation of NRMs in Zimbabwe say anything at all about preaching in the Catholic Church? When we look at preachers in these NRMs do we as Catholics draw any lessons from them? It is important to underscore that preaching is indispensable to Christianity. There are several observations that emerged from the survey but in this article I intent to dwell on two observations: (1) The style of delivery in the Catholic preachers compared to that of preachers in the NRMs. (2) The content of preaching in the Catholic Church against that of NRMs. The delivery style Respondents rightly observed that preachers have different preaching styles which are a product of their personalities. Some preachers are ‘very lively and captivating’, while others are “boring, lifeless and mechanical”. I am not sure what the respondents had in mind when they used these descriptive terms but I imagine lively preaching to mean that preacher who speaks loud enough to be heard with a lot of e n e rg y, m o v e m e n t a n d gesticulation, and boring preachers will be the exact opposite. I would also like to imagine that extroverts are by and large lively while introverts are not so lively.However, this should not be
inflection and gestures. It is also a study of how communication can be enhanced by anything from a sound system to the special effects of video. This has been the great strength of the NRMs preachers. As Catholic preachers can we not benefit from techniques and technology?
Fr Abel Makahamadze misconstrued to mean that introverts are incapable of delivering lively and captivating sermons. The survey findings seem to suggest that NRMs preachers are livelier than the Catholic preachers: “NRMs have no time and space for such lifeless and boring characters”. While this is not to mean that there are no lively preachers in the Catholic Church it means Catholic preachers have to invest some time working on style of delivery. Preaching is an art and like any art it has rules to be observed for its perfection. The development of communication skills is an important process in the formation of good preachers. It is not only important for a preacher to know what to say when he stands before a congregation but also to know how to say it. Poor communication has been a great downfall for many a preacher. Many NRMs preachers have gotten into cybernetics. Cybernetics is a study of the mechanics of communication, both human and mechanical. Cybernetics can help a person with things like voice projection,
The Content of the Homily. Let me include in this discussion a true story by an American bishop. He had in his parish a prominent couple who left the church some years ago to join one of the popular, mushrooming, evangelical mega churches in the area. The reason this couple gave for leaving the Catholic Church was that they wanted “solid Bible-based preaching”. After a couple of years they came back to the Church. The reason they gave was “they missed the Eucharist, and more to our point here, they found the preaching in the new church, while skilful, catchy, well-prepared and exquisitely delivered, to be sanitized”. By sanitised they meant that the preaching was always feelgood, affirming, but no message of the cross. The survey findings seem to suggest that while Catholic preachers are not so good in delivery style their content is more substantial compared to the feel good and sensational sermons of the NRMs. Notwithstanding this we have many who have left the Catholic Church and joined the NRMs. Can we say these have opted to forego substantial messages in search of lively preachers? Cardinal Arinze addressing other cardinals on the Challenges of the NRMs highlighted two important observations from which we can
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PREACHING learn: Void and Fear. In people there is a void and a hunger for God’s Word. Like the above-mentioned couple many have left the Catholic Church in search of solid Biblebased preaching. When these view the NRMs they feel that in them there is an answer to their thirst for Scripture, singing, dancing and emotional satisfaction. Without being prejudiced against the NRMs I have discovered that what happened to the abovementioned couple continues to happen to many. The void remains. Instead of solid Bible based preaching they get “sanitized, feelgood, boutique, therapeutic spirituality that makes no demands, calls for no sacrifice, asks for no conversion, entails no battle against sin but only soothes and affirms”. Many discover that the preaching is just a lot of fluff, air and sugar but no substance. The lesson for Catholic preachers is to become relevant preachers. Preachers who are able to enable people to see their lives in the light of the scriptures, to let the Word of God speak to their situations. Preaching that is detached from people’s existential situations is irrelevant. The preaching activity should not just be an exposition of one’s knowledge of bible verses or of theories about the Word. Neither should it be a mere social analysis. Instead preaching should be a fusion of two stories: the story of the text (scripture) and the story of the community. Preaching should be an activity in which people encounter the risen Jesus. The experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus (Lk 24) illustrates my point. Before meeting the risen Christ they were steeped in deep sorrow and were downcast. When Christ joined them he explained the scriptures to them and at the end their eyes were opened. Preaching should be an encounter with the risen Christ. This
is what people are looking for and the void in their hearts can be filled only by encountering the risen Christ. The second aspect is that of FEAR. In Zimbabwe, like in most African countries, there is pronounced fear of witchcraft, suffering, sickness and death. NRMs rise and spread in situations where the majority of people experience acute poverty and even sickness and they present God as a granter of protection, wealth and health. However, this God grants protection, wealth and health depending on one’s generosity. Thus a good number of leaders of these NRMs take a good amount of their time preaching about giving to God, so that God may reciprocate with a financial breakthrough. The challenge for preachers today is to go back to the beginning of the Church. Our Lord Jesus commanded his disciples to stay in the city until clothed by the power from on high (Lk 24:49). In the Acts of the Apostles we learn that the preaching activity only started after the apostles where clothed with the power from on high (the Holy Spirit) (Acts 2: 1ff). Preachers who are not clothed with
the power from on high merely expose eloquence or superior wisdom, or wise and persuasive words (1Cor 2: 1ff). Preaching ought to be a demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit. True Christian preaching should be marked by its unique content: Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 1:23). In Conclusion The rise of NRMs and people’s response to them is a clear indication that there is a void in people and there is a deep hunger for good preaching. This should give a wakeup call to Catholic preachers to take the preaching ministry seriously. A lot of time has to be invested in preparing the homily. A lot of effort has to be put in developing good communication skills. The exercise of prayer should be an integral part of the preaching ministry. Fr Cantalamessa says a priest’s decision to pray is arguably the most important decision he can make. Without a decisive commitment to prayer, the ministry of preaching becomes an intolerable burden to the priest and to those who have to hear him preach.
Preachers to master the art of communication
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“Youth formation our real challenge” these reputable Catholic high schools in the country. The question that troubled me then is what are Catholic children being taught at our various Catholic schools around the country?
By Tinaye Pedzisayi Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has declared the year starting October 2012, the year of Faith. This declaration comes at a time when there is a general decrease in popularity of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe and abroad and this can be attributed to the mushrooming of New Religious Movements e.g. UFIC, Spirit Embassy, AFM etc. It is now common to receive news that one of our fellow Catholic friends has finally come to know the “Truth” about Christ and left the Catholic Church. Some leave only to come back because the promised ‘truth” was but a mere shadow. Many Catholics leave because they never got the opportunity to learn about the Catholic faith in depth.
Unfortunately for most people, this is the last time they learn about the faith and the question which I usually ask myself is, how adequate is such formation?
‘’When Catholics are well formed in their faith they have nothing to fear from listening to opposing views. It is only a shaky or fundamentalist grasp of faith that sparks suspicion or fear of the other. Often times this fear of dialogue stems from the fact that the person doesn’t feel capable of defending or justifying their reasons, hence they don’t want to listen to the other...’’ Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture. As explained by the above statement, a lack of adequate faith formation leads to a lack of capacity to defend our faith. Most Catholics get to start to learn the Catholic catechism in preparation for baptism and receiving the Blessed Sacrament. At this stage most people will still be young i.e. below the age of 12 and the small Chishawasha Catechism is used.
When one has decided to be Catholic, it means one has to live his/her life in a Catholic manner through and through. But to be able to live life the Catholic way, one has to know and live the faith like how we know our earthly professions. A very few Catholics really know the church’s stance on many contemporary issues, and to those who know very few are knowledgeable enough to be able to explain or defend it against evangelicals and Protestants. I was saddened during a discussion on contraceptives with fellow Catholic students at the National University of Science and Technology to discover that even these young adults are not aware of such simple but topical doctrinal issues, yet they are almost ripe for marriages. To make matters worse, most of those who were present for the discussion learnt at many of
With the year of the faith fast approaching, as Catholics, lets grab our bibles and catechisms and re evangelise our families. All children should be taught the catechism well. It is now vital to teach the little children the essence of the Catholic faith, not to cramme the texts of the small Chishawasha catechism, but to love and live the faith. Catholic schools should now go back to the basics, include in their academic curricular, Catholic faith formation. If Catholic schools don’t take up the task of teaching students the truth of their faith, how different are they from circular schools like Specis College? I pity them. When I have my own children, I will not send them to such Catholic schools. Lastly, I strongly feel our shepherds; the Bishops (ZCBC) should come up with a compulsory program for all Catholics to continue learning the faith from the moment they finish the small Chishawasha Catechism. I believe every Catholic should be a Catechist, but this is only possible if both the clergy and the laity take up their arms for the battle of faith. Remember, “WE ARE SOLDIERS IN CHRIST’S ARMY”. Tinaye Pedzisai is a former president of the National Movement of Catholic Students
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YOUTH FORMATION IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TODAY By Fr. Ignatius Musenge, sdb Youth ministry is a process of faithaccompaniment offered to the young.The first and foremost goal of youth ministry in the Catholic Church must be evangelization by educating. In youth ministry both evangelization and education go together. Evangelisation is the goal and education is the method (Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…and teach them to obey everything that I have commanded you-Mt. 28:19).So Catholic institutions must educate in order to evangelise. Here it means Catholic institutions that educate without reaching the goal of making young people true disciples of Jesus fall short of true youth ministry as it should be. Excellent academic result is therefore not the end of youth ministry. In Africa alone, Catholic institutions have produced excellent academics and professionals who in some cases are also excellent dictators and professional brigands. The challenge is whether Catholic educational system succeeds in making Disciples of Christ. Picnics, congresses and sports for the Youth (in Parishes especially) may not necessarily be Youth ministry. Youth ministry is about announcing the good news of Jesus Christ to the young and helping them to live values of the gospels- Loving God and serving his people. This constitutes the major d i ff e r e n c e b e t w e e n C h u r c h institutions and Government. Both educate but the goals are different.
Fr ignatius Musenge sdb Government aims at producing professionals. On the other hand, the church must aim at producing Jesus’ disciples. When I shared this point with a confrere of mine, he retorted saying that schools, for example, are not catechetical institutions. He argued that Parishes have duty to evangelize and the schools have duty to educate. I do not certainly share his view. Schools must be institutions of catechesis. If education alone is the goal of church’s institutions, according to my confrere, then we do not require religious and priests to run institutions. On the other hand since evangelization is our aim, it makes sense to have religious and priests in educational systems. With this view in mind, handing over our institutions to other professionals, in some cases who do not share Catholic faith, Youth ministry is diminished or very much compromised. How to carry out Youth Ministry? METHODS
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YOUTH MINISTRY The first method is initiation. Those involved must be initiators of evangelization and not transmitters. Transmission means announcing from the roof top (point A) and through some medium the word reaches the Youth (point B). Transmission doesn’t necessarily require the announcer to be where the receiver is. A transmitter is sufficient. The process of Initiation, on the other hand, requires the initiator and receiver to meet (Example of the incarnation). The second method is witnessing. Those involved in youth ministry are to be Role Models of converted and convinced Christians. This is the aim of initiation. Our boarding institutions are our biggest opportunity and strength to offer this. Discipleship should be witnessed to the young. The lack of sufficient maturity in the young people (which is a normal process of growth) leaves them with the option to look for role models. Sometimes lack of role models in Catholic Youth ministry, results in exodus to the Pentecostals and New Church Movements. Self ordained Pastors offer, temporarily as it may be, a convinced faith. Pastors (I prefer to call them Vafundisi - teachers for they are rightly so. Pastor is a more richer word) in Pentecostals offer themselves as role models of faith. In Catholics circles, role models of faith are usually Saints. My only fear is that these role models are, in many
YOUTH Youth ministry. Living educators must be role models of discipleship themselves. Talking about self experience of faith is a rare recipe in Catholic circles. Superficially, Vafundisi offer attractive ‘youth ministry’ in their modern three piece-suits and their amplified voices in front of three people. Lo most Vafundisi have no interest of The Kingdom Of God but focus fully on the here-andnow-faith. In this regard, most Vafundisi can pull masses of youth but cannot do Youth ministry because Youth ministry is focused on Salvation and not earthly prosperity (let the little children come to me… for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs Mark 10: 14). In the same vain, Catholic institutions or in some cases congresses can be fully parked but if The Kingdom Of God is not the focus then there’s no Youth ministry. I was once invited to speak to the students in the Catholic school but before I addressed them the rector warned me not to say anything Catholic as this could offend non-Catholics. On another occasion, I was also warned by mother superior not to preach to students or give a reflection during mass as there was no time for that. Children had to rush for sports as it was a sports day. These are examples of how Youth ministry can die within Catholic institutions. THE CHALLENGE OF ‘Youth Culture’. Most societies have witnessed profound cultural transformation. Single cultures have virtually disappeared or are disappearing. Most of us live in ‘cocktail’ cultures or mixed grill cultures. Cocktail culture refers to many cultures lived side by side. For
Youths need companionship, not mere lectures example, at marriage a Shona procedure of lobola is followed but the wedding day itself is largely western. This is cocktail cultures at deeper or superficial level. Among the youth there’s no identifiable independent culture. We can safely talk about cocktail cultures than anything Shona or Ndebele or even African. Culture today is lived than defined. Maybe Youth culture is that undefined culture. In Youth ministry it is important to recognize the different ways in which young people live their faith in various educational and social context. It is in this complexity that Youth ministry comes openly with Christ and His gospel to continue to offer the best way of living. Fruits of Youth ministry. The first fruit consists in seeing the young people succeeding in living out the gospel values in their daily choices. The second fruit consists in seeing the young people living the life style that is committed to serve others as way to true happiness. This takes place when youth are formed for others with professional skills, with a moral
conscience and a social commitment. CONLUSION Rethinking Youth ministry in the church as a whole is the foundation of credible Christians of tomorrow. It is to be centered on CHRIST AND HIS WORD. We should run away from initiatives that are not directed at education to the faith. Sacramental catechesis, which are events, must be re-thought so that catechesis becomes a process of accompaniment where faith is fully offered and has opportunity to grow. Youth Guilds and Sections (if not hijacked by events and preparations that go with them) could be fertile soil for true Youth Ministry. The lack of infrastructure and continuity, the result of insufficient reflection and study, has sometime led to a ministry of initiatives and events than of processes. Youth look for deeper meaning of life and search for deeper understanding of faith. Congresses of thousands may not have the capacity to deepen faith. Fr Musenge is parish priest for Kambuzuma where he runs a vibrant Don Bosco youth centre
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Music in the Church: Is there a tune that makes God Angry ? Dr Chitakure, who teaches at Arrupe college and is a parishioner at St John’s Parish in Harare, was a guest presenter at the Jesuits Communications/ Arrupe College Lenten lectures on 17 March 2012 and he had the following remarks on music and dancing in the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and in New Religious Movements (NRM)… Missionaries should be applauded for allowing the singing of Shona hymns, drumming and dancing during worship. Our people love to sing and to dance. However, there are a few challenges to this development. (a)The Catholic hymns are fixed and most have been copied from the Psalms. These hymns were composed for the Israelites and they were intelligible within that context. Some of the message has become irrelevant to Shona believers. Does it mean that Shona believers cannot reflect on the works of God among them and be inspired to compose their own hymns? Although NRM take some of their hymns from the bible, they contextualize them. (b) The hymns that are sung in the RCC have complicated tunes. It takes some doing to be able to sing them fluently. One hymn has many tunes. There are some Catholics who always remain strangers in their father’s house. They cannot join others in singing because the tunes keep changing at a rate they cannot master. Now to deprive a Shona Christian of singing is tantamount to chasing her from the church. NRM sing choruses that can be learnt easily even by strangers. The tunes are vivid and contextual. Even Catholics buy these people’s cassettes, but members of these churches do not buy Catholic music. Whenever, Catholics seem to be excited when singing or sing some fast tune hymns, they are sometimes strongly reprimanded by their pastors and catechists. If they want to feel at home as far as music is concerned they have to join NRM or wait for guild meetings. Is there a
“Our people have a dancing for the church and a dancing when they are at home”
tune that makes God angry and makes a people sinful? I teach at a Church of Christ college in Harare and at times I have an opportunity to attend their mid-day prayer sessions. Most times I can literally sing all their hymns but that is not the case in the RCC, my own church. Dancing Our people love to express themselves through dancing and they can dance. Fortunately, the RCC allows dancing, but a type of
dancing that can be described as a mere movement. Our people have a dancing for the church and a dancing when they are at home. They are a divided people. Dancing during their worship is not inspiring: it is just making a rhythmic movement. If Christianity is to become African and Africans Christian, true African dance should be allowed to take place in the church. If this is not there, our people will find it in Zionist and Pentecostal churches.
WANTED: WRITERS We invite our readers to respond to MukaiVukani through letters to the editor. Articles should NOT BE LONGER THAN 1200 WORDS.Editor
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Church Music: The other side Jesuit Communications engaged New St Peters’ Church choir in Mbare for a focus group discussion that analyzed Dr Chitakure’s remarks (see previous page). Here is our brief report of their views...
There are Catholics who are upbeat about the way music is arranged in the Church and they believe the status quo should be preserved as it has brought so many harvests to the Church. They look at the number of converts from New Religious Movements who are regularly received into the Catholic Church as a sign that the Church, aided by the type of music currently being played, is doing well They also look at the ever popular Catholic choir competitions as pointers to the success and appeal of the Catholic music brand. The competitions, that started in the mid 90’s in Harare and would draw less than 15 choirs, are now a massive crowd puller with more than 55 choirs participating. The same scenario is replicated in the other diocese where everything comes to a standstill whenever there are choir competitions. There are too many songs in the Catholic Church, with new songs being released in tens each year. This has resulted in many Catholics failing to participate by singing with others during Mass. But other Catholics see the many songs as an expression of the richness and diversity of the Catholic C h u r c h . We h a v e m a n y liturgical occasions, they argue, that demand we sing songs proper for each and every occasion. For example, there are seasons like Advent, Christmas, lent, Easter, and
Singing for the Lord ordinary time in the Catholic calendar. There are also particular feasts and each day has its own liturgical orientation which must be supported by fitting songs. This explains the huge number of songs. This point is contrasted with the situation in the New Religious Movements who are ever in ‘ordinary time’ and they have the same songs all year round. The same song is also sung at weddings, funerals, and every other church function. The song is therefore well known because it is overplayed! These Catholics challenge assertions that Catholic songs are mainly out of context and are stuck in the past realities of the Israelites. They argue that the songs are didactic and tailor made for specific time epoch’s. This, they say, is unlike the situation in new religious movements where to sign is to entertain by the instruments with little regard to underlying messages from the singing.
They also point to fact that Catholic music disc’s are big business, though not much Catholic music is played on tv/radio gospel shows. They say radio people want entertainment songs laced with gospel messages, but catholic songs are worship songs that deify, without seeking to entertain first. Then there is the question of the choir singing songs that are known by a few during Mass. This group believes Catholics are many with varying responsibilities and interests. There are many Church ministries that battle with choir practice sessions for time. And so some congregants do not attend choir but are engaged in these other functions hence they fail to master the songs. Then there is also the issue of personal desire. You have to like choir to attend and learn and if you do not have the inner personal drive, you will not attend and therefore you become a ‘stranger in your father’s house’.
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The Role of Women in the Church A young Catholic woman speaks to her evangelical sister By Priscilla Mapfuwa, Harare Pope John Paul in his letter to women in the world at the Beijin Conference, said ‘The church desires … to contribute to upholding the dignity, role and rights of women… by speaking directly to the heart and mind of every woman…Women’s dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude. This has prevented women from truly being themselves and resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity. Jesus treated women with openness, respect, acceptance and tenderness. In this way he honoured the dignity which women have always possessed according to God’s plan and in his love. There is an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work… equality of spouses with regard to family rights and the recognition of everything that is part of the rights and duties of citizens in a democratic State’ As a young Christian woman I have questions: What is the creative purpose of women in the world? What is the role of women in the Church? Is it to gain position , power or a chance to display natural ability? Women were given great honour. Mary of Nazareth was chosen as the mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene was the first to see the Risen Lord; Priscilla, with her husband Aquila, was a valued teacher in the early church and led Apollos to the truth about Christ (Acts 18:26); Philip, the evangelist, had four daughters who were prophetesses (Acts 21:9) ; older
you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Our faith teaches us that God created man and woman both in the likeness of His own image to serve Him. We are all the pilgrim church of God regardless of our gender.
Ms Priscilla Mapfuwa women were to teach the younger women (Titus 2:3); Phoebe served as a deaconess in the church (Romans 16:1). Being a woman in the Catholic Church is a very special and supreme vocation where God calls women to serve him as mothers, sisters, wives, doctors, electricians, using their many talents. Mary portrays two dimensions: motherhood and virginity (pure).These aspects are crucial and important in any image and dignity of a Christian woman. (Elizabeth Chikomo). Being a young Catholic woman I have seen many women being secluded from guilds and the of Sacrament of Holy Communion as a result of having children outside marriage but the “perpetrators” do not suffer the same consequences. Men get away with their male misdeeds and injustices, and society is quick to point fingers at women more than at men. Paul’s letter to the Galatians (3:28): “There is neither Jew not Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for
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The Spiritual gifts mentioned in the letter of St Paul to the Corinthians are not genderspecific but meant for all Christians irrespective of gender, race, background and ethnicity .Which means both men and women are capable of doing the same things and “test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes”(Bella Abzug quote) Both mother and father are to provide not only for the bodily well-being of their children. The role of teaching and training has since been left to the mother alone.. Because of “surbordination” and “submission” to their husbands, women tend to forget themselves and they become “servants or people for others” in their various roles as women and oversee the family‘s social needs whilst the men are more concentrated on the economic needs of the family. (Elizabeth Chikomo) In my quest for answers to some of the questions I have I was priviledged enough to speak to Mrs. Etheldreda Chikopa who is my neighbour friend and a sister. Unlike me Etheldreda is not a Catholic, she is a member of Inspiration House church, a Pentecostal community.
WOMEN What does it mean being a woman in your church? Being a woman in Inspiration House has unlocked my various gifts through the church’s ethos, which promote empowerment, wisdom, knowledge, revelation and deep understanding. Exposure to the Inspiration House environment has seen me being catapulted to realms of understanding and recognition that I previously didn’t believe I could attain as a woman. I have become an established well of wisdom, knowledge and deep understanding, permitting me to influence, ignite and impart the same wherever I go. Through meditation and constant exposure to God’s Word, I have evolved greatly, evidenced in the finetuning of my roles as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and business owner. (Proverbs 31 vs. 10-31) What is the role of women in your church? The role of women in Inspiration House is to be a healthy source of inspiration towards change, transformation, healing and birthing of concepts in line with God’s Word and will for women. (Genesis 3:20) What is special about women in your church? The women of inspiration House are unique in their many individual ways. We are taught to strive for excellence (Joshua 1:8). The Word teaches us that a God orientated life, which is built on obedience to His Word, will take us to new and higher levels that will see us subdue, overtake and have dominion, with the powerful
weapon that is submission (1Cor 11:5-15). Are men and women treated equally in your church? All members of Inspiration House church are treated equally regardless of their gender, race or age. The church believes in the Word that says the God is not a respecter of persons (gender, race, age) ( Acts 10:34-35). Our church recognizes that all of God’s people are equipped with individual and person specific gifts. As a woman if there is one thing you could change in your church what would it be? Inspiration House is a prophetic house led by the Holy Spirit who leads us to the truth (John 16:13) and the desires of God’s heart. We rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us to make any changes as He sees fit (1Corithians 2:10-11). “Without her there can be no family, no home. Without her the
strongest sources of human strength will disappear. Without her, goodness, love and mercy vanish. She is the sturdy staff upon which the wary pilgrim supports himself as he plods the dusty road of life. She is the unknown soldier of common everyday life. The hand that rocks the cradle holds the helm of the world. Everything that lives and dies on earth has its origin in mother .The Church today should recognize and appreciate all the effort from the dedicated Christian women of yesterday, today and tomorrow. All Men must rise and once again be the spiritual leaders that God has called you to be and Thank you women who are mothers, you have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. Thank You all women who work in the church following the greatest example of Mary mother of Jesus Christ “ (Pope John Paul 11). Prsicilla Mapfuwa is a trained media worker, at present working for Jesuit Communications.
How content are the women in the Church?
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Sacraments of the Catholic Church - Sign and Reality By Fr Clyde B. Muropa SJ, Harare Sacraments are visible signs (water, oil, bread and wine, joined hands, a blessing hand etc) representing invisible realities, a sign designated by God to point to a divine reality and contain that reality within itself. A basic misunderstanding of sacraments by most Catholics has resulted in both Catholics and nonCatholics attacking such visible signs in Catholic liturgy as magic or as unbiblical. The sacramental life of the Catholic Church distinguishes her from most emerging churches and it is imperative to give a simplified interpretation of the Fr Clyde Muropa S.J sacraments of the Church. We will discuss sacraments in general he does not believe that it is without necessarily dwelling on necessary to trace each of them back individual sacraments. to moments in the life of Jesus in order to hold the traditional doctrine S a c r a m e n t s – H i s t o r i c a l that Christ instituted the sacraments. Background He sees this as a different As defined by the Council of interpretation of the doctrine of the Florence (1438-39) and the Council institution of the sacraments by of Trent (1545-64), the Catholic Christ and not a denial of the C h u r c h r e c o g n i z e s s e v e n traditional doctrine. But the sacraments, and each individual sacraments continue Christ’s work sacrament gives the individual and action : his healing of body and person salvation with finality and spirit, his sending the Spirit, his certainty. The Catholic Church feeding the hungry with the bread of arrived at a proper understanding of life, his sending of the disciples and the truth of sacraments as the Spirit his presence at the wedding feast, a worked in the Church all through symbol of his love of the church. history. The sacraments were Until the mid-twentieth century, the contained in the Church instituted R o m a n C a t h o l i c C h u r c h ’s by Christ himself. The Church is the u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f i t s s e v e n irreversible presence of God’s offer sacraments was largely independent of reconciliation and healing in of historical facts. The definition Christ. above implies that the sacraments were directly introduced by Christ, Karl Rahner, the renowned German even though there is little evidence theologian, accepted the fact that in the scriptures that Jesus Christ there is no historical evidence in the actually instructed his followers to Bible that Jesus personally instituted perform some of these rituals. It is all the seven sacraments. However, important to note that the Church,
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under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, was becoming more and more aware of the fullness of divine revelation. Thus, what was perhaps only implicit in scripture could in the course of time become an explicit part of the Church’s doctrines. God’s Self-Communication Through Jesus Christ, the drama and dialogue between God and his world has entered into a phase which makes the triumph of God over Satan in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ historically tangible. Apparently, it is in Jesus Christ that God’s revelation finds its final fulfilment. Therefore, God’s offer of himself becomes manifest in the lived experiences of every individual through the Church, which is the basic sacrament of salvation. The Church makes present God’s self-communication in the world primarily in the seven ways: in introducing others to a new life; in sharing the power of his Spirit with them; in healing their illness and forgiving their sinfulness; in ministering to their spiritual needs; in being faithful to his Father and his Church; ultimately in the action of sanctifying himself out of love. In simple terms, sacraments, are God’s “sign and word” to us humans, in which God offers himself to his people and thereby liberates them to accept God’s selfcommunication by their own acts. If a person responds to God’s offer with an acceptance, he has to profess that this acceptance takes place by the power of God’s grace. When the symbolic activities are performed, the community
SACRAMENT collectively expresses what it is and what it is becoming more fully, a community of those who are saved by grace, confirmed to live in the Spirit or willing to forgive. Sacraments – Christo-centric In the celebration of single sacraments as sources of the Spirit, we do not only see Jesus, but we believe that Jesus is active and acting in them (faith responding to God). The spirituality of the seven sacraments returns to Jesus as the primordial sacrament, resulting in all the sacraments being centered on Christ. In the Church, God offers himself to mankind in such a way that by God’s act of grace, this offer continues to be definitively bound up with the acceptance of this offer by the history of the world’s freedom. Sacraments are not magic because they do not coerce God and because they are God’s free act upon us. They have nothing to do with magic because they are efficacious only to the extent that they encounter man’s openness and freedom to relate with God as a member of the Church. Thus man’s acceptance and response to God’s offer is through a profession and that acceptance takes place by the power of God’s grace. Thus, sacraments are God’s word (self-communication) in which He offers himself to people and thereby liberates them to accept God’s self-communication by a deliberate act. Common aspects of the Sacraments All sacraments relate a person to the Church. They are symbols of human meaning – as invitations to be fully human, to live to the ideals that the rites represent such a fidelity (marriage), service (orders), conversion (reconciliation), maturity (confirmation), viewed also as ritual affirmations of basic human
Eucharist, one of the seven sacraments in the Church needs and desires such as belonging (baptism), healing (anointing) or community (Eucharist). The sacraments are not only something that is administered by the Church, but they are also and really the self-actualization of the Church, in both the one who administers the sacrament and in the one who receives it. This brings us to the conclusion that a sacrament is a dialogue and a partnership between God and his people in the sense in which such a relationship has to be understood when the partners are so radically different as is the case between God and his creatures. Consequently, every sacrament is an event in the relationship between the individual and the Church, giving the individual a specific function in the Church. He/she is incorporated into the church by baptism, they are reconciled again with the church’s community of grace by the sacrament of penance; or as a member of the holy people of God and of the community of Christ, they con-celebrate the deepest mystery of the Church in the Eucharist. Therefore, in this way, the Church exists in the fullest sense, so that Christ himself is present in the midst of the faith community.
Final word to all practising Catholics Since the Second Vatican Council, Catholic theologians have expanded the meaning of the term “sacrament” so that it can be applied to Christ and the Church as well. However, the sacramentality of the Church can only be understood with a fundamental appreciation of the seven sacraments. It is important to research and reflect on the meaning of the individual sacraments, as official signs and acts of the Church, as signs and acts of Christ. And a word to “new churches” You miss “the Spirit” in the sacraments of the Catholic Church. We can assure you: we believe as much as you do in the presence of the Spirit. But he is not just present in individuals specially chosen, but in the entire Church and her sacramental signs and words, from the time of the apostles until today. Fr Clyde B. Muropa SJ is the new Catholic Students Chaplain based at the University of Zimbabwe, working with the National Movement of Catholic Students. He has just completed his theological studies at Hekima College, Nairobi/Kenya and was ordained a priest in July 2012.
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DIALOGUE BETWEEN CHURCHES: Common grounds and Challenges By Dr John Chitakure INTRODUCTION There are so many forms of ecumenical dialogue that manifest themselves daily in the lives of ordinary Christians. Last year I attended a manyaradzo ceremony (church service to console the bereaved, signifying end of morning) at a farm in Chivhu and I was really touched by the ecumenical spirit that the Christians who attended that ceremony displayed. The old lady who had passed on was a member of the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe. During her long illness her four daughters had taken care of her at her farm home. All the four daughters belonged to four different Christian Churches: Anglican, Reformed Church in Zimbabwe, Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church. One of her sons and his family belonged to Positori. The deceased woman had many relatives who attended the ceremony and they belonged to different Christian Churches. An Anglican priest presided over the service. During the service each denomination represented was given time to sing and to preach. It was a rich, diverse, and all-embracing liturgy. The songs were selected carefully so that everyone could join in the singing. It was amazing to hear a member of the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe asking for a Catholic hymn. I got a few lessons on that day. Ordinary Christians because of the contexts in which they find themselves when the pastor is not there, are already deeply involved in ecumenical dialogue. This is a dialogue of life that doctrinal
Dr J. Chitakure differences have failed to impede. It happens at funerals, weddings, manyaradzo, and so on. THE NECESSITY OF DIALOGUE A question has been asked whether the dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and New Religious Movements (NRM) is necessary or not, and both negative and positive responses have been given. There are many people who think that this dialogue is necessary because of a number of factors. 1. The joys and challenges of this life such as; weddings, graduation ceremonies, poverty, illnesses, deaths, and so on continue to bring people together irrespective of their different religious identities. At these gatherings Catholics listen to or even sing hymns from other Churches. They also listen to homilies from pastors of other Churches. During trying times
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some of our Catholics find more and meaningful solace from people who belong to Churches other than theirs. 2. For ordinary Christians there is only one Christ whose message is written in the bible, and all use it. Most Christians are not aware of the complicated Christological and doctrinal controversies that divided the Church in the past and continue to do so now. 3. For most people the aim of each Christian denomination is to transform the world; to make this world a better place to live in. They want a message of hope; the hope of a world without sickness, hunger, poverty, hatred and suffering of any kind. As long as a Church preaches that, most people are at home in it. 4. In some families, members belong to different Christian denominations, yet they continue to live and work together amicably. Most of these families hold prayer meetings in their homes at which differences are set aside and people dwell on common grounds. The bottom line is: interdenominational dialogue can never be avoided. Ordinary Christians live it everyday. Some priests are not even aware of this dialogue because some of the time they do not live with the people and when they arrive at gatherings where Christians from different churches are present, Catholics behave in the manner that pleases the priest. When the priest is gone Catholics go back to ecumenism.
BOOK REVIEWS denominations and denouncing them as false Churches.
They find their own way, liturgy and language during these occasions. The situation in life is such that they cannot run aware from this dialogue. What they need is direction of how to do this dialogue without losing their own identity and integrity as Catholics. CHALLENGES For any kind of dialogue to be fruitful the dialoguing partners must be ready to meet challenges head on. One of the biggest challenges in ecumenism concerns the different Christological and doctrinal beliefs different Churches have. To be a Catholic is to believe what the Catholic Church teaches about true belief. Each Church stubbornly defends its beliefs and vehemently denounces different beliefs. These differences might be few but since they are about our identity we cannot just let them go. We are not ready to compromise them. A big problem comes when these differences are reiterated and blown out of proportion. The question is: is it possible to respect religious views which are different from ours but continue to keep our own identity and integrity? The other challenge is that of counter accusations and mutual demonization by Christian Churches. Mapositori accuse Roman Catholics of being alcoholics, unbiblical, idol worshippers and lacking the Holy Spirit. Catholics retaliate by denouncing these churches as mere sects, witch-hunters, polygamists, illiterate, fundraising Churches and the like. It seems no one sees the good in the other. This demonization
Formal dialogue between churches must be cultivated creates hatred since it does not support mutual understanding and respect. Pride is one other big challenge most Churches face when it comes to dialogue. One of the principles of a prolific dialogue is for those involved to approach the dialogue as equals. Pride cannot allow us to do that. It is difficult to imagine a Catholic priest or bishop sitting on the same table with Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, or the Prophet of Africa, Baba Mwazha or any other leader of some of these African Independent Churches, as equals. The other challenge has its roots the missionary zeal of the Christians. According to Matthew 28:18-19 Christians have the duty to preach, teach, and baptize other people. If this obligation is to be met, then there should be competition for converts. Different Churches are likely to steal followers from other Churches. This is done by verbally abusing other Christian
PASTORAL RESPONSE The Roman Catholic Church leadership should take ecumenism seriously. It would be wonderful if an office for ecumenism is established, (that is if it is not in place already). That office would be mandated to do the following: To carry out research in the area of ecumenism; produce materials that would give Catholics guidelines on how to do this dialogue of life which we all know cannot be avoided; and to do workshops with the faithful on this dialogue. Dialogue should be supported by the leaders of the Church as an apostolate in its own right, or otherwise ordinary Catholics would go it their own way. This would also demystify the beliefs of these other Churches so that when our faithful gather with them they already know what they teach. Many Catholics would appreciate the availability of an ecumenical liturgy for these gatherings. I have in mind hymns and prayers that are ecumenical in spirit. In terms of hymns, it would be fruitful to have hymns that Christians from other denominations can sing. These gatherings should be taken as opportunities to market our Church, and I do not think that singing complicated tunes would achieve that. Some Catholics tunes, instead of inviting converts, they drive them away. In conclusion, I want to say that the Roman Catholic Church has a prophetic duty towards her members, and that duty demands that she continuously discerns the signs of the times, and respond to them contextually.
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Failed State or Failed People? Shimmer Chinodya, Chioniso & Other Stories, Weaver Press, Harare, 2012, pp. 180. Reviewed by Oskar Wermter SJ This collection of short stories largely reflects Zimbabwean postindependence society, especially the urban intelligentsia. But the first story in this volume by one of Zimbabwe’s best known writers goes back to the time of the “struggle”. Indirectly, of course, the author guns for the present ‘elite’ and its mythology: that the ‘freedom fighters’ were all heroes, unblemished by any moral defects, ‘knights in shining armour’ who deserve our unquestioning loyalty now and forever. A school girl, Martha, does her patriotic duty and becomes the bush wife of Comrade Ponda. She ends up pregnant; the hero, after executing a whole family, is last seen behaving as one “possessed, fighting his demons”. Most of the post-independence stories are not, as one might expect, about the new government and its politics, the “failed state” and economic collapse – that is considered well-known and only mentioned by the way - , but about the relationship between men and women, or, to be “politically correct” (in terms of gender politics) between women and men. There is not one couple, married or otherwise, where man and woman really relate well to each other, and are at peace with each other and function as parents. The only one which seems to be a respectable married couple, socially acceptable, is in fact a classical case of marital oppression of the wife by
the husband (“The Car” – which is a symbol of the motorized wife’s independence deeply resented by the pedestrian husband). On the whole the women do better: they are more mature and responsible, especially about their children, than the self-indulgent, irresponsible, alcoholic husbands and fathers. “Chioniso”, the girl and the story that gave the book the title, is in fact a very bright, but spoiled daughter who is caught in between her alienated parents, her mother using her as a weapon in her vicious attempts to make life miserable for the man with whom she has fallen out of love, but is still married to. The “Last Laugh”, published somewhere else already, is likely to become a classic: it contrasts the best and the worst in enterprising Zimbabwean women. Mai George sells her sadza and stew to workers in the industrial area, to teachers, clerks and even policemen (who at
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other times arrest her and confiscate her pots and pans). Always alert and on the look-out, and yet serene and ever smiling, she is the Queen of her neighbourhood. The raucous banter and rude language of her male customers does not affect her. Hers is a rough world of conflict in the daily battle for survival. She has found her slot. But she too is subject to exploitation. Her vicious, greedy landlady tries to squeeze more of her hard-earned cash out of her. Normally quiet and self-controlled, she sees through this game, and laughs, laughs and LAUGHS. Hers is the LAST LAUGH. A wonderful piece of writing by a gifted social observer who knows his people. “Infidel” is a ruthless assault on “new religions” and their “prophets” and preachers. He exposes them, not because he is an orthodox Christian, but out of sheer contempt for self-made “men of God” (and some women too). These “new religions” preach a different god, an idol really, who “despises poverty – the poor must be sinners – and tacitly approves of the amassing of wealth” . Giving (“tithing”) to these “churches” is an investment for present and future happiness, an insurance payment. What the “elite” is doing - grasping greedily, stealing and looting on a massive scale - is justified and given a blasphemous blessing.
BOOK REVIEWS The war between women and men continues ferociously in this new “religion”, and its preachers preach male superiority and degrade women in line with their cynical misreading of Scripture. “He c r e a t e d Wo m a n f o r t h e Gratification of Man”, - exactly what male abusers of women want
to hear. Those who have left the churches they were brought up in for these false prophets will be disillusioned with preachers and their conflicting and confusing messages altogether. They will not find their way back. Worse, they
may give up any search for truth. It seems the author himself now distrusts all preachers, old and new. But he has tried very hard to show us the true Zimbabwe. Much false glory, false values, even false gods were unmasked in the process.
The gospel of the Carmelites Celts amongst the Shona, Fr Michael Hender(ed), Carmelite Order, Dublin,2002, 182pp Reviewed By Gift Mambipiri Since 1893 when the Jesuit, Fr Gonzaro Da Silveira, set foot in what is today called Zimbabwe, there have been hundreds of missionaries from all corners of the world who chose to follow his example. Among the many missionaries who came are the Carmelite fathers mostly from Ireland who first set foot in Zimbabwe in 1946.The most popular of the Carmelites became Raymond Lamont, who became the first bishop of Mutare diocese and fought running battles with the colonial Rhodesian government as he queried at every turn the apartheid regime that existed in colonial Rhodesia. The book, carefully edited by Fr Michael Hender, O.Carm, is a collection of letters that the missionaries wrote to their friends and families back in Ireland, especially between 1940 and 1960.Reading through this book opens one up to the history of the Carmelite priests in Zimbabwe, and the history of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe. Some of the letters sought to reassure those in Ireland that there is life in the ‘jungles’ of Africa. People back in Ireland wanted to know a lot about the
life in African missions and in one of the letters, Raymond Lamont, O. Carm, had to deal with the questions: “Are the African missions glamorous?, is missionary work in Africa a spiritualized big game hunt, with the religious issue a secondary matter? Do the missionaries spend most of their time in the veldt, following the spoor of elephants and lions, dodging the bonded cobras and deadly mambas that rise up out of the tall grass with poisonous fangs, ready to strike the unwary travellers? Is a rifle the most important part of our kit(165)?” Fr Raymond Lamont, O. Carm had to correct the thinking of Shall I be Jesuit? those who have notabeen to the
mission and spell out their many pastoral responsibilities, underlining always that “the harvest is great but the laborers are few”. He clearly points out that at most of the missions, besides the many congregants who needed attention, there were always “schools to be built and administered, a hospital to be directed, an orphanage to be kept going, a farm to be supervised for essential food, more than a dozen bush schools to be visited r e g u l a r l y, s o m e o f t h e m inaccessible not only by car but even by bicycle or horseback. The rainy season presented its own challenges with cars getting bogged in mud, rivers rising up rapidly and floods destroying things at a moment’s notice. To put the above workload in perspective we are told the missions were usually under staffed, with one priest aged seventy seven being assisted by two brothers aged eighty five and seventy eight. And during an era in which the spirit of ecumenism did not exist and the game in town was competition, the aged priest had to “compete” with non Catholic missionaries who were young and had more resources. The missionaries concur in the many letters that there is loneliness and
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BOOK REVIEWS disappointment and “drudgery and in even danger and plenty of hardships and tons of opposition and very little encouragement” that if one doesn’t have a “completely apostolic outlook” on things, and bring with him a Christian zeal and a spirit of self sacrifice, then they would be crushed by he workload and mountains to be conquered in the missionary endeavors. The missionaries believe they succeeded in the ‘jungles’ mainly due to the hand of God that had followed them because of the sacrifices they made in leaving home as well as the many prayers offered on their behalf by their
families and friends. “All these seem to earn from providence a special grace that gives even the most listless of us energy, a supernatural outlook, and a spirit of confidence which can accomplish great things for God and his church (167)”. Besides having faith, being ordained and being in full possession of all one’s faculties, there were further requirements that were necessary to make a good missionary, wrote Fr Lamont in one of the letters. You needed to be able to sleep well, to have a good appetite and to have a sense of humour!
There are a lot of things that have changed ever since the first Carmelites came. These are in the areas of politics, education, road networks as well as social relations and ecumenism. But also some things have remained the same. Whereas they competed with other churches that were trying to evangelize the same people and draw them to their various churches, today they ‘compete’ still New Religious Movements that promise people heaven on earth and engage in all sorts of advertising and crusades to woo people to their churches.
BACK TO LIFE Immaculee Ilibagiza, with Steve Erwin, Led by Faith, Rising from the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide, Hay House, United Kingdom, 2008, 205 pp Reviewed by Oskar Wermter S.J
This is the second autobiographical volume by the young Rwandan woman who believed she survived the genocide because she was “left to tell” (the title of the first volume, see review in Mukai-Vukani 61, June 2012, p. 25). Though living now in New York she cannot escape her memories. The horrific story she told us in her first book is now reflected more deeply and always prayerfully in this follow-up volume. Immaculee has lost her entire family, except one brother. Jeanette, her old close friend since childhood, is the last of her entire clan. She has lost her mind, indeed her very self, her identity. ‘Imma’ held her in her arms, yet to her horror, ‘she wasn’t there. She had died from the inside out’. The physical death of her loved ones was horrible enough. Now this death of the person as she knew her, leaving a mere shell. She argued with her God. ‘Perhaps He wanted
to give me another lesson in unconditional love by showing me that I must love Jeanette even though she may never love me in return.’ The great theme after the genocide is revenge, or rather how to stop it. After Kagame’s Tutsi army conquered first Kigali and then the country, the Hutu, killers ( known as Interahamwe) as well as the innocents (how was one ever to tell the difference?) flowed
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in one mighty stream of humanity into nearby Congo. Tutsis, having returned from neighbouring countries after a long exile, boiled with anger and the desire for revenge. The killing was not yet over. She had herself battled in her heart with these “negative energies”, so she understood. But she had been taught by God in her incessant prayer that the only way was forgiveness, and she said so to all these angry Tutsi brothers and sisters. She met with mocking laughter and outright hostility, she was called mad and demented, when in fact the vengeful ones were on the brink of madness, about to lose their minds. The genocide was for many a deep crisis of faith. Where was God when my parents and brothers and sisters were slaughtered, when my daughters were raped and killed? But Immaculee insists: the answer to so much hatred can only be
BOOK REVIEWS God is love, and love is God. The people of Rwanda and Burundi (where the hostility between Hutu and Tutsi was even worse) have a long way to go if they are to regain faith and love, life instead of death, peace in place of incessant war. Prayer, that is to say the presence of God, brings about the change in ‘Imma’. “I had a vision of Jesus on the cross, using his last breath to forgive his persecutors; for the first time, I was able to completely open myself to let him fill my heart with his power of forgiveness.” “Faith is a living thing that must be nurtured everyday through prayer, kindness, and acts of love. It will lead us through our darkest days and restore love and light to even the most troubled soul in the most dire of circumstances.” The author’s faith is so vibrant and alive precisely because it is regained in the daily confrontation with hatred and death, as the only alternative to absolute despair and complete darkness. For her readiness to forgive Immaculee is hated and threatened. Eventually it is no longer safe for her to live in Rwanda. She leaves with her new husband for the United States. She takes her memories along, but also the “unconditional love” and readiness to forgive she has learnt are the only possible alternatives to hatred and revenge. God taught her when she opened up to Him in continuous prayer, Our Lady did as well, and she learnt unconditional love
Immaculee Iiibagiza in 1994 from the Sisters of Mother Theresa who were forever ready to accept more and more children, orphans, victims of the genocide. Love was their only response. One might say this book is about prayer. Struggling with God in prayer. Incessant prayer. Persevering in prayer. Forever trying and starting afresh. But it also gives us insights in what happened after the genocide. How to deal in terms of justice with such monstrous crimes committed by a whole people with the support of the government of the day and state media putting out hate propaganda day and night? Normal court procedures being too cumbersome, “gacaca” (“on the grass”) courts were set up. As a mother is quoted saying, “I need to know how my children were killed so I can put it behind me. And I have to hear the killers apologize.
It’s a good form of justice…If the people at the gacaca don’t believe what the killer says, or if we don’t think his apology is sincere, we send him back to jail. If he convinces us that he is sincere., then we’ll let him come back home. The worst criminals still have to go to court, and the organizers go to the international court…but our neighbours who picked up machetes have to answer to us.” “Led by Faith” has much to tell us here in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa, just as the first volume “Left to tell” had. If Immaculee Ilibagiza ever met survivors of “Gukurahundi” and the subsequent political killings, violence and torture, they would find common ground, nurse the same wounds and long for an answer which the woman who was “left to tell” might well be able to provide, precisely because she was “led by faith”.
IN TOUCH with Church and Faith Through JESUIT COMMUNICATIONS A Catholic News Service for Zimbabwe Get IN TOUCH with Church and Faith through JESUIT COMMUNICATIONS accessing our website www.jescom.co.zw. JESUIT COMMUNICATIONS is also sending out an electronic newsletter “IN TOUCH with Church and Faith”. If you wish to receive it send your request by e-mail to JESUIT COMMUNICATIONS firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Prophetic Movements: Challenge to Catholics