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“ Lord, increase our faith...” The Year of Faith visit our website: www.jescom.co.zw E
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THE DOOR OF FAITH
ope Benedict XVI announced the Year of Faith by releasing the letter entitled “The Door of Faith” (Porta Fidei). In this letter the pope wrote; ”The ‘door of faith’ (Acts14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church.” This special year has been set aside for Catholics to rediscover and share with others, the precious gift of Faith entrusted to the Church and the gift of faith that we have received as individuals from God. The 11th of October 2012 was chosen to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council (11 October 1962 - 8 December 1965) and the 20th anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). The Council was a huge wave in the history of the church, yet not much has been done to publicize the effect of the Council, to the ordinary faithful. The documents of the Council have remained treasures for theologians and those in priestly formation, and “inaccessible” to the ordinary Catholics. However, the Pope is convinced that the Council, if interpreted and implemented according to the mind of the Church stretching back to the Apostles, ‘can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church’ (Porta Fidei, 5). The Catechism, notably, is a systematic presentation of the Catholic Faith that enables the
By Guest Editor, Fr Clyde Muropa SJ
faithful to know the full opus of Faith. In the Catechism ‘we see the wealth of teaching that the Church has received, safeguarded and proposed in her two thousand years of history. From Sacred Scripture to the Church Fathers, from theological masters to the saints over the centuries, the Catechism provides a lasting record of the many ways in which the Church has meditated on the faith and made progress in doctrine so as to offer assurance to believers in their lives of faith.’ (Porta Fidei, 11). The Holy Father wants us to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ. He wants us to rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God, handed down by the Church, and on the bread of life, offered as sustenance for his disciples (Jn 6:51). This issue of Mukai/Vukani therefore
focuses on our understanding of faith, and the writers have taken wider shots on this topic. Beginning with the interpretation of the apostolic letter, Porta Fidei, and further personal faith experiences as presented by the writers, this issue is meant to impress upon the reader to begin the process of reflection on one’s faith journey and assessing how both the Council and the Catechism have been helpful tools for one’s and community faith. Following upon the pope’s intention, Mukai/Vukani 63 aims to draw the reader to profess faith in the Risen Lord, in parishes, homes, and in small Christian communities, so that everyone may feel a strong need to know better and to transmit to future generations the faith of all times. Similarly, to awaken in every believer the desire to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. Not understating the need to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, which is “the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed; … and also the source from which all its power flows.” But to facilitate a rediscovery of the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed and to reflect on the act of faith, a task assigned every believer until the year closes on 24 November 2013, the Solemn Feast of Christ the King. Meanwhile, the editor wishes the reader gracious moments in Advent, and finally a blessed Christmas. Until then, cheers!
No. 63 December 2012
CONTENTS EDITORIAL The Door of Faith...............................................................................2
No. 63 December 2012 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Weapons against witchcraft available in the Church.................... 4 YEAR OF FAITH The Year of Faith: Why and how we should celebrate...................5 Fr Edward Bingari Vatican ll, the unfinished Council................................................... 7 Fr David Harold-Barry SJ Catechesis in the Light of the year of Faith................................... 9 Paul Mutero Faith and Reason.............................................................................11 Fr Oskar Wermter SJ Models of faith for the church........................................................13 Fr Cylde Muropa SJ Faith and History..............................................................................15 The Challenge of Faith.....................................................................17 Br James Langlois FMS Its Election time :Lord “Increase our faith”...................................19 John Chitakure The lost gift of faith..........................................................................21 Brain Nyagwaya Thanks Mum for the faith................................................................23 Theresa Mangoma
Editorial Team: Frs Oskar Wermter SJ, Cylde Muropa SJ, Mr Gift Mambipiri
Editorial office: JesCom, 37 Admiral Tait Rd, Marborough , Harare, P O Box A949, Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe. Mobile : 0772 717994 e-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org websites: 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
BOOK REVIEWS “What shall l do with my life now that it has been given back to me?”.............................................................................25 Fr David Harold-Barry S.J Faith with Works.................................................................................27 Fr Oskar Wermter S.J Cover Picture: Gamuchirai Quavy Kazingizi St Luke Parish, Norton
Dear Reader JESUIT COMMUNICATIONS, publisher of MUKAI/VUKANI, is facing great changes. At the end of this year, Fr Oskar Wermter SJ , the director, soon 71 years of age, will move on to another assignment. Gift Mambipiri will be new managing editor, and Fr Clyde Muropa SJ will be editor. But this is not all. At the end of this year again, we say goodbye to our home of 9 years in Churchill Ave, Alexandra Park. Starting 1 January 2013, we will have a new home in Marlborough, Canisius House.(37 Admiral Tait rd) We say goodbye as well to the landline telephone numbers and fax number we had been using. But we remain reachable on email (email@example.com) and cellphone +263772717994. Our website remains www.jescom.co.zw. We also carry with us the desire to continue being of service to all our readers, by providing this platform for theological reflections on the many life situations that confront us today. We take this opportunity to thank Fr Oskar Wermter SJ for the brilliant work that he did in the past 9 years, helping us reflect on modern discourses through the gospel. He also safeguarded and grew this platform for each one of us to dialogue, even at a time when freedom of expression was under serious attack in this country. We wish him well in his next assignment. To you our readers and writers, we are grateful as we come to the end of yet another year. We cherish the support that came through from some of you –money, feedback, articles –and may we continue with that spirit in 2013. We wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a fulfilling 2013. May god bless us.
No. 63 December 2012
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Weapons against witchcraft available in the Church Dear Editor I would like to express my convictions and belief on the stance of the Church on witchcraft: the topic that was in the last two issues of Mukai/ Vukai. I’m wondering how the Church can provide pastoral care in the area of evil as suggested by a number of writers because there is a lot already covering that area like any other area in the Church since she, the Church first and foremost is already armed against all kinds and strengths of evil as Jesus Christ mentioned it when He said that no evil will prevail against her (Mt 16: 18b).The Church being herself armed also arms and strengthens the Christians against evil forces through the Sacraments, Christian communities and the Sacramentals. Personal conviction in Jesus Christ First and foremost, deep personal conviction in Jesus Christ and personal ascetic to God’s word is called for in every believer as stated by St Paul to the Philippians 1:27-30, where Christians are called to embrace a life of holiness. This means true conversion of self including cultural traits, habits, background and customs that attract evil. The Sacraments Renunciation of all types of evil including witchcraft is done at baptism. The Sacrament of Confirmation strengthens and arms the Christians more against the counter forces of faith. The Sacrament of Confession allows individuals not only to examine the sins committed but also the weaknesses and roots or causes of sin and amend the habits and tendencies of sinfulness, witchcraft included; thus gradually growing spiritually and overcoming evil. The Sacrament of the Eucharist which is celebrated everyday
and guilds and so remain in God’s love and life.
Sr. Felicitas S. Nyoni C.M.F.C.
continues to cleanse the evil in Christians’ whole beings. The Sacraments of matrimony and holy orders (ordination to priesthood) forms the basis of the individuals faith commitment and trust in the Lord through the sacrament received. Such leaves no room for the evil spirit in the person himself or herself, in the families, homes and communities in which the recipients of the Sacraments live. Where then does witchcraft reside in Christians who are allowing Christ to dwell in them through these sacraments? The Christian Community Christ mentioned that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is present in their midst (Mt 18:20). Christ, in these words encourages support from fellow Christians and the Church established small Christian Communities and guilds so that Christians can pray together, encourage one another and therefore stand up strong in faith against the prowling devil that is looking for someone to eat (Peter 5:8-9). Similarly, Christians are advised to be vigilant, meaning that as Christians practice and live their faith, they ought to be alert to all that is counter to God’s w o rd , C h u rc h t e a c h i n g s , constitutions of various orders
The Sacramentals Christians have ever since been and are still being encouraged to have crosses exposed in their houses and they themselves have acquired a habit of hanging the rosary in their cars and wearing it around their necks because we believe in the strength these items have against evil through the blessing imparted on them by the priests we ask to bless them before use. Holy water is another blessing carried to the houses of Christians and to sick people etc, also to wade away evil spirits. Immersed entirely in the above or surrounded by such as a Christian, how do witchcraft and the evil spirit survive in our hearts unless we allow it? With faith in Jesus Christ, conquering all evil forces, every follower of His has the strength through His grace not to allow oneself to be controlled by evil. His grace is enough for us to overcome evil (2 Cor 12:9) and He, himself has overcome all evil when He said to Peter that the gates of the underworld will never hold against the Church in which Peter was appointed leader (Mt 16: 18b). Finally I’m glad that we are in the year of faith, a year to check how convinced we are in Jesus Christ as individual Christians and increase or deepen our faith in God. Prayer life, which we are called to live is very challenging and difficult. It is a Spiritual war as stated by St Paul in his letter to the Ephesians 6; 10 – 18 yet it is the one that keeps us close to God, alert, sensitive to counter spirits and makes the devil dread to approach us. Let’s internalize what we believe in and are celebrating and see if witchcraft will continue existing alongside our faith. Yours in Christ Sr Felicitas S. Nyoni C.M.F.C (Gokwe)
No. 63 December 2012
YEAR OF FAITH
The year of Faith: Why and how we should celebrate it?
ope Benedict XVI issued his apostolic letter Porta Fidei (Door of Faith), announcing a Year of Faith that began on October 11 and ending November 24, 2013. In that letter, he reminded the faithful: “The ‘door of faith’ (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church.”(Porta Fidei) The pope saw the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed clear light. Despite the sufferings and joys involved, the journey of faith must be constantly renewed. The Pope believes that this would draw others to communion with God. For many Catholics, this Year of Faith comes at a pivotal moment. We live in a time where the future is uncertain. We don’t know what to expect tomorrow. Our country at the moment is embattled in several crises; political, social or economical. Given this situation, the year of faith becomes necessary. It is precisely when we face great crises that we are most in need of deepening our faith through reception of the sacraments, spiritual reflection and reading, and through works of mercy and service. The Holy Father teaches that the ‘Year of Faith’ is a time to renew our enthusiasm at believing in Jesus Christ, to revive the joy of walking along the path he showed us and bear concrete witness to the transforming power of faith (Porta Fidei 2). This ‘Year of Faith’ is intended to contribute to a renewed conversion to the Lord and the rediscovery of faith so that we may be authentic witnesses of Christ. It is faith in a God who is love and who comes close to mankind by taking human flesh and giving himself on the cross
rediscovery of faith. How we can celebrate the Year of Faith
Fr Edward Bingari to save us. Given this background there is need for ecclesial commitment to new evangelization to rediscover the joy of believing. It is against this background of a crisis in faith that the Pope called for the year of faith and a synod on evangelization.
The ‘Year of Faith’ is a time to renew our enthusiasm at believing in Jesus Christ, to revive the joy of walking along the path he showed us and bear concrete witness to the transforming power of faith
There is need to re-evangelize the evangelized because of secularism in regions where faith is waning. In some western countries, churches are being turned into hotels because of the depleting numbers of the faithful. The main point is to capture the young people. It seems the young no longer have interest in the Lord. The Year of Faith becomes the opportunity to usher the whole church into a time of particular reflection and
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i.) Read the Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei Begin by reading the Pope’s Apostolic letter Porta Fide. The Year of Faith is a good time to intensify the celebrationof the faith in the liturgy. In the Eucharist, mystery of faith and source of the new evangelization, the faith of the Church is proclaimed, celebrated and strengthened. All of the faithful are invited to participate in the Eucharist actively, fruitfully and with awareness, in order to be authentic witnesses of the Lord.2 ii. Go to confession Catholics find strength and grow deeper in their faith through participation in the sacrament of penance and reconciliation. Confession urges people to turn back to God, express sorrow for falling short and open their lives to the power of God’s healing grace. It forgives the injuries of the past and provides strength for the future. iii. Learn about the lives of the saints The saints are timeless examples of how to live a Christian life, and they provide endless hope. Not only were they sinners who kept trying to grow closer to God, but they also exemplify ways a person can serve God: through teaching, missionary work, charity, prayer and simply striving to please God in the ordinary actions and decisions of daily life.
YEAR OF FAITH
iv. Read the Bible daily. Scripture offers first hand access to the word of God and tells the story of human salvation. Through lectio divina (prayerful reading of Scripture) or other methods, we become more attuned to the word of God. Either way, the Bible is a must for growth in the Year of Faith. v. Read the documents of Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) ushered in a great renewal of the Church. As the Church celebrates the 50th anniversary of this Council, Catholics reflect on how it influenced the Mass, the role of the laity, how the Church understands itself and its relationship with other Christians and nonChristians. To continue this renewal, Catholics must understand what the Council taught and how it enriches the lives of believers. vi. Study the Catechism. Published exactly 30 years after the start of the Second Vatican Council, the Catechism of the Catholic Church covers the beliefs, moral teachings, prayer and sacraments of the Catholic Church in one volume. It’s a resource for growing in understanding of the faith. vii. Volunteer in the parish. The Year of Faith can’t only be about study and reflection. There are many activities in the parish be it liturgy, catechisms or general clean up of the parish premises.
viii. Help those in need. The Church urges Catholics to donate to charity and volunteer to help the poor during the Year of Faith. We meet Christ in the underprivileged members of our society. ix. Invite a friend to Mass. The Year of Faith may be global in its scope, focusing on a renewal of faith and evangelization for the whole Church, but real change occurs at the local level.
The Year of faith is our year; let us celebrate it with joyful hope. Let it not be a year of talk shows which never materialize...It is indeed a time of renewal, a time to look back and mend our broken pieces in Faith.
A personal invitation can make all the difference to someone who has drifted from the faith or feels alienated from the Church. Everyone knows people like this, so everyone can extend a loving welcome to them.
x. Incorporate the Beatitudes into daily life. The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) provide a rich blueprint for Christian living. Their wisdom can help all to be more humble, patient, just, transparent, loving, forgiving and free. It’s precisely the example of lived faith needed to draw people to the Church in the year ahead. These guidelines are nothing more than our primary obligations as believing Catholics, but let us embrace them anew, amid this period of testing and trial. 3. Conclusion. The Year of faith is our year; let us celebrate it with joyful hope. Let it not be a year of talk shows which never materialize. All Christ’s faithful are called to renew the gift of faith. They are also called to communicate their experience of faith to others. Each one of us should set a personal program for the year of faith following the recommendations given by the Sacred Congregation of Doctrine and Faith. Let us make this year our year. It is indeed a time of renewal, a time to look back and mend our broken pieces in Faith. The church has given us an opportunity here to update ourselves in faith. It is a stubborn fact that not many people have read the documents of the second Vatican council. This is the opportunity that we have been given. Fr Edward Bingare has just come back from studies in Rome and is lecturing at St Augustine serminary in Bulawayo .
No. 63 December 2012
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Vatican II, the Unfinished Council Fr David Harold-Barry SJ As I write, New York is struggling to cope with ‘Super Storm Sandy’ which has flooded the streets and underground tunnels, electricity cables and gas outlets. The storm had an energy and power that could not be stopped. Recently, I was in Dublin where I heard a talk by 91 year old Ladislas Orsy SJ, who was in Rome during the Vatican Council (1962-65). He told us the council released an energy that is ‘unstoppable.’ Vatican II was the largest meeting ever: nearly three thousand people met for four years. They were the bishops of all the churches in communion with Rome together with observers from other churches. There were not many women there, just 23. But that was 23 more than in any of the previous twenty such meetings of the whole church in her two thousand year history, an average of one a century. It was the first ecumenical (universal) council without an obvious agenda. There was no crisis to deal with and no one was calling for a council. No one, that is, except the pope. The great Pope John XXIII, a man close to 80, sensed the need for the church to ‘open her windows.’ Fr Orsy says the pope had a ‘clear and luminous intuition that the church needed renewal in the modern world.’ John became a ‘learning pope’ and set the council on course to be a ‘learning council’. For centuries, the Catholic Church had felt under attack and constantly felt the urge to ‘teach’ the truth. The Reformation in the sixteenth century tore the Christian church into pieces. The scientific awakening or Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries set up ‘reason’ as a
challenge to ‘faith’. And the French Revolution started a process that challenged political and social order. It was a tumultuous four hundred years and the church was constantly on the defence. By the 1960s, the clouds were lifting and the church was ready to listen and learn. She abandoned the way of condemnation and acknowledged the insights and advances of the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the age of Revolution. She was more confident and ready to meet the world, not in fear of attack, but in love and openness. The most quoted words of Vatican II illustrate her stance: The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men and women of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these too are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.The Church in the Modern World, #1.
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The main underlying issue, Orsy says, was to ‘restore the integral unity of the Body of Christ – that the People of God and the episcopate, including the Bishop of Rome, all play a harmonious role in the body, and none of them lies fallow, as all the talents and graces of the people of God, to a great extent, lay fallow before the council’. In other words, all the people who make up the church, from Mai Rudo to Pope Benedict, share in the great work of revealing the face of Jesus to the world. Everyone participates. Participation was the great theme of Vatican II. Its most tangible aspect, in the new liturgy, was the one we are most conscious of. But the unfinished business of the council was that this participation should spread to all aspects of church life. For those who lived through the days of the Council, it was intensely exciting. Even from a distance, we were able to learn something of the drama of the early sessions when the bishops threw out draft documents that the Roman Curia had carefully drawn up. The Curia officials went to Pope John and said, ‘what do we do, Holiness?’ John smiled at them and said ‘trust the bishops!’ Orsy calls it is ‘the miracle of the council –that these bishops who knew nothing of collegiality, and who were trained to be obedient and follow the pope, in a very short time (perhaps two to three weeks) began daringly but gently to exercise their collective power’. The bishops sensed that the pope really wanted them to be free to study and discern what the Spirit was saying to the Church and they grasped the moment. They gathered around themselves
YEAR OF FAITH theologians of repute (our Archbishop Francis Markall invited Orsy to be his personal theologian) and began an intensive reworking of the theology they had learnt in the seminary. The result was a succession of documents that delighted many, angered some and surprised all. The reform of the liturgy, as mentioned already, touched the lives of every Catholic. Mass was now in one’s own (native) language, the priest faced the people and the door was opened for multiple forms of participation in word and song, in gesture and dance. The one practice that still lingers in my mind as real drama after all these years was when I first received communion in the hand. I could hardly grasp that this was possible and I sensed that this, seemingly small gesture, was turning my world upside down. There were some contested documents on the laity, on religious freedom, on relations with Jews and Muslims and a host of others. Attitudes had hardened over decades and centuries and it was not easy to change overnight. It is hard now to believe that the 1918 Code of Canon Law forbade Catholics to participate in any nonCatholic service, even a wedding or a funeral. Some of the reforms of the council were carried out but others were not. The one body that was supposed to implement them, the Roman curia or government of the church, was not itself reformed. So the participation, referred to earlier, was not fully implemented. There has been no significant attempt, for instance, to implement the council’s teaching on collegiality, that is, the delegation of some aspects of governing the church to the
bishops and their national conferences. There were possible reasons for this. In the fifteenth century, a council seemed to be dictating to the pope about procedures concerning the government of the church and there has been a nervousness ever since about allowing power to slip from papal hands. It is an issue yet to be resolved. It is understandable that it takes time to resolve what is sensitive. But the longer it takes to carry out reforms the more disillusioned people can become. Orsy likens it to building plans for renovating a house. The plans look good on paper but they have to be implemented.
entering is a precious moment to reflect on our faith and grow in it. ‘Help my lack of faith’ (Mark 9:24). Faith is not a blind acceptance of a set of teachings, which I do not understand or I do not agree with. We are called to an intelligent faith, a faith that seeks understanding ‘even if now our vision is blurred’ (I Cor. 13:12). We are on a journey. But we are not passengers in a bus. We are searching the way for ourselves,‘guided by faith, not yet by sight.’ (2 Cor. 5:7) We really have to move from a passive non-thinking faith, where we just go with the flow, to the active reflective involvement to which Vatican II called us.
The council gave a huge lift to the faith of most Catholics though there were some who thought it a disaster for the church and a group of them broke away and formed their own Church. Slowly, very slowly, the energy unleashed by the Council is at work. It is far too slow for some and far too fast for others. But I think Pope John is still smiling! The Year of Faith that we are
No. 63 December 2012
YEAR OF FAITH
CATECHESIS IN THE LIGHT OF THE YEAR OF FAITH
By Paul Mutero Catechesis and Liturgy Catechesis and Liturgy are two hinges that anchor any Catholic parish activity. A parish without a vibrant catechesis and lively liturgy is virtually dead. This article will discuss catechesis. By catechesis, the Church fulfils the Lord’s command when He commissioned the eleven apostles: “Go therefore … and teach …” [Mt 16:19-20]. By way of definition, catechesis expresses all that the Church does to propagate the Word of God, thus strengthening the knowledge and faith of professed Christians and laying the foundation for catechumens for their spiritual formation and transformation of their lives in their quest for Christ.
The announcement of The Year of Faith [October 11, 2012 through November 24, 2013] by Pope Benedict XVI should give us all who profess the Catholic faith renewed intention and vigour to take part in evangelisation not discounting the fact that the Supreme Pontiff pointed out that “This [year] will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith” [Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei, # 4]. Tracing our Faith in the Past Decade I intend to share my own experiences as a part-time catechist in Kambuzuma; a parish located in one of the high density suburbs in Harare. On the positive note, there has been an increase in the number of people who receive the sacraments, especially the sacraments of Christian Initiation. Fellow parishioners expressed a notable growth in their faith in their personal life and relationship with God, over the last half century. This appropriation of faith can be witnessed by the seriousness in which some people try to live truly Christian lives. There are some
and negatives regarding our faith, the following are suggestions meant to improve upon catechesis and understanding of our faith.
Mr Paul Mutero
parents who continue to bring up their children in faith; they recommend to them the frequent reception of the sacraments. However, there have been some negative developments in our experiences that diminish the light of our faith. In his parish, the author witnessed people who have turned to other faiths. This turning away from the Catholic faith could be indicative of either poor formation at both the catechumenal and post-baptismal stages. Some reasons, though, could well be due to the weakness of the individuals concerned especially if they are faced with personal or family problems. People have hopped from the Catholic Church to other churches in the hope of finding healing or good lucky in crisis moments. Some people have simply lapse from the Catholic faith, claiming fatigue, and non tangible results of their faith. Some people even boast: Hapana chandisingazive muRoma ini; or Misa idzi takadzipinda kare-kare! Such people are content with taking solace from their past relationship with the Church. There are still some who are in the extreme of total rejection of their faith in Christ [apostasy]. In view of these few positives
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Length of the Catechumenate and RCIA The period of catechesis forms and transforms the catechumens in order to live with and for Christ. A reasonable period sufficient for proper and adequate formation should form the basis of every such program. A systematic syllabus, which should be covered over a specific period, uniform in all parishes should be a prerequisite for catechetical formation. Teachers of faith and catechists should thus be exposed to the fundamentals of this program and monitored that the basics are covered before passing catechumens for reception of sacraments. The full RCIA program, as recommended in 1972 should be adhered to as a way of ensuring community based growth in the individual faithful. During this period, families, faith groups, small Christian communities and the local church expose the catechumens to the foundations of our faith. Training for Catechists The teaching of catechism is an essential cog in the wheel of faith and life of the Church, following upon Jesus’ “Go … teach … baptise …’ [Mt 28:19] to his disciples. Teaching is the first and most important function of the Church, therefore, local parishes should strive to equip catechists with the necessary skills and comprehensive knowledge of their faith. Half-baked catechists are a danger to catechumens and those who convert to Catholicism. On the other hand, being a catechist should sincerely be regarded as a serious vocation. Together with the growth of the
YEAR OF FAITH Church, the catechists’ spirituality should likewise grow. The training of catechists should be a priority for all parishes, towards faith formation. Equally, catechists should view their role as the work of the Church on which the transmission of faith relies. In this Year of Faith, that also marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism the Catholic Church, catechists should not so much celebrate as renew their commitment towards fulfilling the aspiration of the Church. The Role of Parents and Godparents The family is the domestic Church and basic unit of formation whose importance in faith formation cannot be overemphasised. Awell formed family therefore becomes a fertile ground for the formation of the child, before the children are accepted into catechesis programs at the local parish. The family by default becomes the nearest example the catechumen has in matters of faith, morality and charity. It is unfortunate that some families fail to play this part yet expect the catechist to do all. The children may not immediately realise fully how important this gift of faith is to them but as they grow older, all the bits they received earlier in life come together, forming a meaningful whole [2 Tim 1:5]. Solid family life and practice of prayers are helpful means towards Christian formation in children. To achieve this, parents should be able to embrace Christ’s call and message in their day to day activities and by being the salt and light [Mt 5:13-14] to their children. Similarly, godparents are es p ecially en co u r ag ed to understand their roles. Most godparents think that their role begins and ends with the baptismal liturgy, yet theirs is role of a guide, a faith-friend, a fellow pilgrim in the journey to reach “the Promised Land”.
Godparents must keep in constant touch with their godchildren and accompany them in all life’s moments. Most tend to neglect their duty immediately after the child receives the intended sacrament. This Year of Faith is a golden opportunity to recollect on what they have achieved in the faith-lives of their godchildren and devise ways of on-going accompaniment for these godsons and daughters. Christ, Scripture and the Content of Catechesis Catechesis, as defined in the Encyclopaedia of Catholicism by Franklin K. Flinn, is an education of children, young people, and adults in the faith of the Church through the teaching of Christian doctrine in an organic and systematic way to make them disciples of Jesus Christ. This instruction or ministry of the Word given by teachers and catechists to new converts or neophytes aims at generating Christian faith [cf Acts 18:25; Rom 2:17-21; Gal 6:6; 2 Tim 1:13-14]. The content of what is taught to the catechumens is as essential as the manner in which this truth is exposed. If the goal of catechesis is to make of us disciples of Jesus Christ, all catechesis, then, fails dismally if it fails to bring people to Christ to whom we rightly belong. Let me reiterate the ever recurrent message of my parish priest on this issue to both catechists and the catechumens: You may lose everything that you were taught but never lose Christ!
All the teachings encountered towards the reception of sacraments should clearly point to the person of Christ [Lk 24:27]. Catechists should therefore have a thorough love and knowledge of the scriptures; for how can Christ be known if one is ignorant of the Scriptures? Frequent study of the Bible is indispensable in catechesis. Christ is at the heart of catechesis [CCC 426-29]. The General Directory for Catechesis [GDC 1998], while quoting CCC 426, stresses that “The definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch, but also in communion and intimacy with Jesus Christ”. [GDC, p. 58, #80] On-going Formation of Adult Christians Up until now, most parishes limit the work of catechists to those candidates who are preparing for the reception of particular sacraments, without taking cognisance of the fact that the teaching of faith in the Church must be on-going. On-going catechesis brings about enrichment in the knowledge of faith and the Church by adult professed Catholics. Regular reflections on different topics about faith should be regular on the parish calender. Bible study groups should be encouraged. Such activities are meant to renew and refine what people leant previously and enable them to personalize their faith. Finally, continuing catechesis helps to mature the profession of faith in Christ because the love for Christ that is expressed at baptism should lead Christians to wish to know Christ all the more. The Catechism of the Catholic Church should be made available and accessible for adults to read and reflect upon faith matters, as individuals, families and faith groups. This Year of Faith, comes at the most opportune moment, to facilitate and renew of faith commitment. Paul Mutero, a part-time catechist at All Saints Kambuzuma Catholic Church, Harare.
No. 63 December 2012
YEAR OF FAITH
FAITH AND REASON Science explores the Universe. But God is greater than the Universe. By Fr Oskar Wermter SJ
Scientific knowledge has its base in intellectual curiosity, in gifted human beings undertaking research into the world as it exists and its history. It is the answer to the human quest for knowledge. It has its beginning in humans. Faith has its beginning in God. The initiative lies with God. It is grounded in God’s self-revelation, God showing Himself. Faith is our response to this divine action. Faith is not the result of intensive ascetical practices, as if, by leaving the body behind, human beings could become mere spirits and somehow find access to the world of the spirits and the divine. As if we, by enormous human efforts like mountaineers in the Alps or Himalayas, could climb the very peak where the Divine is to be found and God dwells, though invisibly. Some theologians who wish theology to be just another science may regard God as just another subject of scientific research. But this would presuppose that God were just part of this world and in principle accessible as any other part. Some parts of this world may be very difficult to access like outer space, or the deep sea, or the world of atomic or subatomic particles. But in due course we will get there and reach them, for it is just a matter of time and scientific progress. Can the same be said about the Divine? Will we eventually come to grips with God and know Him as we know the universe? One paradigm is abandoned for another, and we never seem to come to an end. Every answer poses a myriad of new questions. But basically the world and all that is in it, ourselves included, is
Fr Oskar Wermter SJ
knowable. God is completely different, He is the “totally other”. He is not a fragment of the universe. The Soviet astronauts, party cadres brought up as atheists, made fools of themselves when they said, back from their space travel, “The sky is empty, there is no God”. Of course not, God is neither here nor there, he is not something among other things, he is not even one god among others gods, not one spirit among other spirits. He is absolutely unique. If scholars were to prove to us the existence of God as astronomers can prove to us the existence of extremely remote stars or galaxies of stars, it would not be God they were showing us, but a fragment of His creation. “Si comprehendis, nonest Deus”, St Augustine said in a famous paradoxical statement (“If you grasp it, it is not God”). God calls Adam, not the other way round (Gen. 3: 9). God calls Abraham to move to another country (Gen 12: 1). God calls and sends Moses (Ex. 3: 4). The
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prophets do not choose themselves for the work of prophecy, but are chosen by God, often against their will. The Virgin Mary is utterly astounded about the message of the angel. God takes the initiative. There are sceptics that claim that people merely project their longings and hopes, desires and expectations into religious myths as found in sacred scriptures. This is completely contradicted by the element of utter surprise we find in all these dramatic scenes of God calling his messengers and prophets, servants and disciples. God is the “God of Surprises”. In the lives of great saints and of ordinary servants of the Lord, there is often this element of surprise, of unexpectedness. The disciples were suspected by the Jews of having manipulated and stage-managed the resurrection of Jesus. But in fact nothing was further from their minds, and the risen Christ met with unbelief, scepticism and much hesitation. It was His calling Mary Magdalene by name that made her recognize Him. She did not live in expectation of his rising from the dead. It is always God acting, not man or woman. God was not expected to show Himself the way He did. God made Himself known, not through the abstract teachings of philosophers or even spiritual reflections of God-seekers or through learned writings in a book, but in a person. But first comes Christ, who is the Word (John 1: 14) and the “Image of the unseen God” (Col. 1:15). Writings about Christ collected in a book, i.e. the sacred scriptures show us Christ, give us His words, open our eyes for Him, but it is
YEAR OF FAITH Christ who reveals God to us, the Son who shows us the Father, not the book as such. It is in this person and his life story that God shows Himself. How do we respond to this ‘God made man’? That is the question of Faith. We can perhaps prove beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus of Nazareth actually existed and lived in Palestine in the first century. That is a historical question, and human science, in this case historical scholarship, provides the answer. But historians cannot prove that He was the Son of God, our Saviour and Redeemer; scientists cannot verify the claim that he is the Word and Image of God. This is beyond human knowledge and scholarly endeavour. It is precisely the mystery of God which we find in Jesus that points towards His Godhead. There is no historical precedent for Jesus’ relationship to his “Abba/Father”. No prophet was ever as close to God as the Son was to the Father. There was no ‘Son of God’ before so we have nothing and no one to whom we could compare Him. He is unique. There was no one like Him before and there won’t be, after Him. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is the Son who revealed the Father. God is beyond our reason. It’s precisely when human reason, science and all rational efforts fail us, that God shows Himself. But this does not mean that the idea of God is irrational. It makes sense
Can scholars prove to us the existence of God?
and therefore is reasonable that God exceeds our reason. It seems we cannot approach the truth of God except through a paradox. We cannot see God in our microscopes or our telescopes. But since God was made man, He entered human history as the Godman and his human existence and the effects he had on human history, these we can research with various scientific disciplines: history, archaeology, linguistics, literary scholarship, anthropology, sociology, even medicine and biology. But none of these disciplines has an instrument to grasp God himself. St Augustine said that the human heart will not rest until it finds its rest in God. The human heart is capable of perceiving the Infinite or at least longing for the Infinite. St Augustine claims that
it has a fundamental hunger and thirst for the Infinite, i.e. the Divine. Which is not just a thing or an immense power, but is like a person, except that it is infinitely greater than any person we can think of or imagine. This is revealed to us in Christ: only a human person could reveal God to us because God is personal and yet greater than any person we can perceive and beyond anything or anyone we can imagine. But there is no scientific proof for the existence of God. God shows Himself in a human person, in Jesus of Nazareth. He invites us to join Him in His intimate relationship with His Father and to walk the way of labour and trials, of self-giving love, of suffering and death. Only if we live His life do we learn His truth. Not in scientific detachment, but in passionate and loving self-giving similar to His.
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.
No. 63 December 2012
YEAR OF FAITH
Models of Faith for the Church The Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI is an opportune moment for Catholics to reflect on the historical journey of their faith, both as individuals and as faith communities. The Church has had and has numerous persons whose life is worthy reflecting upon as they challenge Catholics into deeper personal reflection on faith. We propose to discuss the contribution of Mary, Mother of Jesus, as a Biblical figure, the late Archbishop Romero of El Salvador, as a contemporary model in matters of justice, and finally the American doctor, Paul Farmer in restoring health and dignity to the poor in Haiti. However, it is prudent to begin by giving a basic understanding of the Catholic faith. The majority of Christian believers have a concept of God, some idea about what Jesus did and said; a basic understanding of the relationship between love of neighbour and salvation. Therefore, Christian faith is constituted by both the subjective activity of believing and the content of what is believed (the fides qua and the fides quae). Christian faith thus is an affirmative response, a “Yes” to life, not on account of some abstract principle but on account of Jesus Christ. Many of the Christians live out and proclaim their faith modelled along that of Christ, guided by the Scriptures and Tradition. In proclaiming and transmitting faith, the Church imitates God who communicates himself through the gift of his Son to humanity, who lives in Trinitarian communion to carry on a dialogue with humanity. The centre of this proclamation is Jesus Christ, who is believed and to whom a person bears witness. Below, we make reference to those who can be cited as models of our faith, lived in commitment and praxis. Firstly, the dogma of the Assumption, that Mary, assumed body and soul into heaven, is full of 1
her Son. Our second model is Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated on March 24, 1980. He followed Jesus, champion for t h e p o o r, o p p r e s s e d a n d marginalized. Romero died for a cause - the poor and oppressed of his country, El Salvador. In the weeks before his martyrdom, he knew that he was likely to be killed and he knew why. It was because he was standing up for justice for the poor and the oppressed.
Fr Clyde Muropa SJ
grace and that she lived a life of perfect union with her Son, is a dogma taught and believed by the Church. This dogma highlights in many ways Mary’s role as Mother of the Church. This title has been attributed to Mary from the b e g i n n i n g o f C h r i s t i a n i t y, especially by the early Fathers of the Church and most recently in Mariology. The Second Vatican Council affirmed and reflected upon this important role of Mary in the life of the Church and in our own lives. Mary exemplifies the type of faith that Catholics should possess. She desired nothing but to do the will of God [Luke 1:38]. Not only is Mary the first and perfect model of the Church’s “pilgrimage of faith”, but also the model and image of the Church’s destiny in glorification in Christ (Lumen Gentium 58). Mary shows us the final end of our pilgrimage of faith and that salvation in Christ is real and is the ultimate goal and destiny of the Church. Therefore, as we continue along our own journey of faith, seeking and contemplating union with the Lord, we equally undertake to grow in our relationship with Mary, that she may present us to Christ,
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There are two events that contributed to Romero’s standing up to justice. On 20 January 1979, a heavy army vehicle crashed through the iron gates of the retreat centre, El Despertar in El Salvador, where Fr Octavio Ortiz and some 20 youths were attending a weekend leadership training course dedicated to Christian formation. When Fr Octavio went out to see what the noise was, the soldiers shot him and then ran their vehicle over his face, captured four youths, whom they also shot and ran over. As this was happening, Romero was preparing to leave for the meeting of Latin American bishops at Puebla in Mexico. Instead, he came immediately
Mary, Mother of the Church
YEAR OF FAITH came immediately to El Despertar and was horrified by the condition of the corpses. He celebrated their funeral Mass in the Cathedral and preached a powerful sermon condemning injustice and violence. Second was the assassination of Rutilio Grande, a young Salvadoran Jesuit priest, together with an old man and a 15-year-old boy as they were on their way to celebrate Mass some 30 miles north of the capital. As Romero recounted afterwards, that night he read the Gospel message anew through the eyes of the poor and oppressed. He began to understand what Jesus has to say, and therefore what he as Archbishop should also be saying to the despised, the persecuted and the underprivileged. Over the next three years, Romero, growing in strength and conviction, became the defender of the oppressed, ‘the voice of those who had no voice’, the conscience of a nation. In March 1980, Archbishop Romero was shot whilst celebrating Mass. Romero’s action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, at least from his lenses. Correspondingly, the prophet Isaiah demands political justice as a condition to the acceptability of prayer. “Cease to do evil. Learn to do good, search for justice, help the oppressed, be just to the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). Without this political requirement, all else according to Isaiah, is hypocrisy. Simply put, a church is not rooted among its people if it
where he never turned anyone away for failing to pay the fees. His policy was that ‘every patient had to pay except for women and children, the destitute and anyone who was seriously ill’. Everyone had to pay, that is, except for almost everyone. Almost a million peasant farmers rely on Zanmi Lasante in Haiti. Zanmi Lasante built schools and houses and communal sanitation and water systems throughout its catchment area. It vaccinated all the children, and has greatly reduced both malnutrition and infant mortality. It launched programs for women’s literacy and for the prevention of AIDS. Paul Farmer’s is a tale that inspires, discomforts and provokes. Imitating these models, the Church continually rediscovers her identity as a People united by the call of the Spirit, who brings us together from the countless areas of everyday living to experience Christ’s presence among us and, thereby, to discover God as Father. The responsibility of proclaiming faith is a gift given to every person who confidently responds to the call of Jesus Christ and it is an experience of every Christian and the entire Church. Every Catholic, in whatever context, is thus challenged by these models, to be present to others, and to reflect on faith that does justice. 2
They grow in search of models
does not try to establish justice. Therefore, local churches are called upon to respond to specific social problems ensuring equality and the right to all to participate in society. In medical school, Paul Farmer found his life’s calling; to cure infectious diseases and to bring modern medicine to those who need them most, a kind of preferential option for the poor. Tracy Kidder, in Mountains Beyond Mountains writes that, from the moment he saw Zanmi Lasante (creole for “Partners in Health”) in Cange, a small village, in what seemed to him like the end of the earth, in what was in fact one of the poorest parts of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere - he felt he had encountered a miracle. And this miracle was Paul Farmer, our third model. Paul runs medical centres in Haiti,
The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith, Synod of Bishops, XIII Ordinary of General Assembly,Lineamenta No. 2, 2 February, 2011 Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a man who would cure the World. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2009 pg 22 The New Evangelization for the Transmission of Christian Faith, Lineamenta No 12 1
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No. 63 December 2012
YEAR OF FAITH
FAITH AND HISTORY ‘The WORD expressed in ever new words’ By Fr Oskar Wermter SJ
God had been showing Himself first to the people of Israel. He had been living with them, accompanying them on their travels, had made Himself part of their history, by guiding them when they followed in obedience, by rebuking, even punishing them when they turned their backs on Him, and by being merciful to them when their suffering in separation from Him became unbearable (e.g. repeated hostile invasions of their country by foreign armies, in the Babylonian exile, in times of oppression and famine). The whole history of Israel is summed up in one person, Jesus Christ, and is brought to a definite conclusion in Him, exceeding all that could be hoped for. He is the Son of the Eternal Father, in Him we have access to God Himself. In Jesus of Nazareth, God has lived a human existence. Jesus is the definite Word that makes God known. God has revealed Himself once and for all in Jesus Christ. His Word is entrusted to the Church and cannot be changed, and we keep turning to Scripture in order to encounter Christ. We do not expect another revelation. The final Word has been pronounced. But it is not the end of history. We know that He is the end of history, and we wait for his “second coming” when the Kingdom of God will be manifested. Then He will have the last decisive word through his triumphant love, justice and compassion. In the meantime history continues in all its changes and transformations, catastrophes and upheavals. As human knowledge grows and language is constantly transformed, to be able to express new insights and perceptions, so also the Word that reveals God to us has to rearticulate itself. The Word has to be expressed in
Parents may inspire their children to faith in God
ever new words because the questions we put to the Church and to Scripture do change, so does the language and context in which such questions are asked. There is development of the content of the teaching and preaching of the Church. The Spirit of Christ was given to the Church at Pentecost, so that He would be able to guide the Church through all the perplexities, doubts and queries which Faith would encounter throughout history. There is therefore “Development of Doctrine” (Blessed John Henry Newman). The Good News of Jesus Christ, the New Testament, was written in Greek – a big jump not only into another language, but also another culture and philosophy. The ancient scriptures were written in Hebrew, Jesus preached the Good News of the Kingdom of God in Aramaic, another Semitic language. Theology was first formulated in Greek and Greek philosophical concepts, shedding its Semitic origin. Greek thought produced the formula for the Trinitarian God “one divine nature in three persons”, “person” being a Greek/Latin concept. Just repeating the formula without
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taking into account the change of meaning leads into error, or at least to misunderstandings. But should we not just ‘return to Scripture and we will be alright’? This poses the question how Scripture and the later Church and her teachings relate to each other. The slogan of the Reformation was “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone). Scripture was supposed to be pure and unadulterated. The implication was that everything that came after Scripture - the teachings of the Church Fathers, the dogma of the Popes, the speculations of the theologians was less pure, mixed with error, corrupted. This development has been compared to a stream, pure and limpid at its source, but getting sullied and mixed up with all kinds of waste downstream. John Henry Newman says in the case of the Church, it is the other way round: The Church, more especially her theologians in a sometimes uneasy relationship with her teaching authority, is forever trying to clarify opaque expressions of the Faith and explain what lacks clarity. The water is cleansed as it travels downstream. True, there are developments which are unfortunate and need correction. Certain forms of popular piety, for instance, need to be seen in the light of the essential dogma of the Church. Sometimes Scripture is misread: selfprofessed healers and prophets claim the power of Jesus. Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin must be examined for the claims they make. Which spirit is at work in these claims? “Test the spirits to see whether they belong to God” (1 John 4: 1). But the Church can also be compared to a tree which is contained in a tiny seed which when planted, germinates
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“The Church, herself feminine is the champion of women’s dignity”
and grows into a huge tree. Or with a human being: there seems little similarity between a new-born baby, a young boy, and a grown-up man. And yet it is one and the same person, retaining his identity through all the changes and transformations (St Vincent de Lerin, see Office Reading 11 October). Take the Sacrament of Matrimony: The New Testament clarifies certain open questions about the relationship between man and woman. The Church with the authority given to her has made pronouncements and decisions on this vital issue time and again on the basis of Scripture, but saying actually more than Scripture. At one time very devout, ascetical people condemned human sexuality and marriage as evil. Instead the Church declared marriage to be a Sacrament, i.e. a way in which Christ is present to his people. Even though the Church was influenced by NeoPlatonism and similar philosophies
hostile to the body, the original truth was not corrupted and the goodness of the body, of sexuality, of the bond between man and woman in marriage and their fruitfulness as parents of children was maintained and defended by the Church to the present day. “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matthew 18: 18). As the Church encounters new cultures it is challenged to express one and the same Gospel in ever new ways. The communitarian nature of African society is a challenge to reflect more deeply about the relationship between the human person as an individual infinitely precious in the eyes of God and his/her self-fulfilment in community and family. The Church is accused of demeaning, even dehumanising women. Some cultural misogyny of past ages has in fact infected the Church. But essentially the Church, herself feminine and depicted as a mother, is the
champion and defender of woman’s dignity. Mary, the mother of Jesus, Virgin and Mother is the Woman par excellence. Her dignity and glory is the dignity and glory of all women. The teaching about Mary, the Mother of God is a prime example of the “development of doctrine”. The roots for this are to be found in the New Testament, with first indications even in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). These roots allowed a mighty tree to grow. Some churches of the Reformation see in this corruption of the original evangelical simplicity. They do not a p p r e c i a t e Vi r g i n i t y a n d Monogamy as crucial milestones in the developing relationship between men and women. Secular society despises them. And yet they are essential contributions in establishing the human dignity of women. The church has responded to the dignity and freedom of every man and woman over the years and continues to be a challenge to all attempts to enslave people once more in a different form in our own days. In her quest for transmitting the gospel message to the people of God, the church has submitted herself to dignify every human being, especially the poor and marginalized. Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God for all. And yet it needs to be redefined and articulated anew time and again as the Church moves through the ages, and ever-changing historical eras, while encountering never-ending cultural variety.
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No. 63 December 2012
YEAR OF FAITH
THE CHALLENGE OF FAITH By Br James Langlois FMS What comes to mind when we hear the word faith? Perhaps what we believe as Catholics, what we teach children about God and the Church. Or maybe trust in God when we turn to him for help. We then think of faith as a power, an attitude. When we speak of weak faith, faith getting stronger, being tested or shaken, we dwell instead on its dynamic capacity. But what is faith deep down? It is not something we can create. It is a gift that God offers us, that brings us to a new level of existence if we accept it and act upon it. Let us now look at two perceptions of faith. Of course they differ, and yet there are similarities in them, for the same Spirit was at work in both of them. The vision of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Recently I came across The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The spiritual dimension is strong in their programme. Step Three is like the opening of a door that is closed. “All we need” they say, “is a key, and it is called willingness”. Once unlocked by willingness, the door opens and looking through it, we see a pathway with an inscription. It reads: ‘This is the way to a faith that works.’ At the same time it calls for affirmative action, for it is only by action that we can cut away the selfwill which has always blocked the entry of God into our lives.” “Therefore our problem now becomes just how and by what specific means shall we be able to let Him in?” Steps Four and Five lead us in that direction. They ask us to do a searching and fearless inventory of our lives, to admit our wrongs, and to humbly ask God for assistance to do away with these. After this we are called to make amends to those we have harmed. ‘Spiritual awakening’ is the eventual 1
Br James Langlois FMS
outcome if the individual has done the Twelve Steps seriously. He has now “become able to do, feel, and believe that which he could not do before on his unaided strength and resources alone.” He now has the freedom, the ability to make right choices. His new found faith enables him to live a God-oriented life as opposed to his former chaotic self-centred life. “He finds himself in possession of a degree of honesty, tolerance, unselfishness, peace of mind, and love of which he had thought himself incapable.” “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps…we turn outward toward our fellow alcoholics who are still in distress. We experience the kind of giving that asks for no rewards. The Vision of Pope Benedict XVI The title of his encyclical to introduce this special year is “The Door of Faith”, a term taken from Acts 14:27. He says “it is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is
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to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime.” The Pope sees the importance of learning the content of the faith. He actually invites us to strive for a systematic knowledge of the faith during the year of faith. For this, he recommends the Catechism of the Catholic Church which he describes as a precious and indispensable tool. At the same time he calls us, in the words of Paul, to believe with our hearts. He stresses that “faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him,” thus “entrusting ourselves fully to him, in complete freedom.” In Light of the World, a conversation with Peter Seewald, Benedict reflects on the fact that in Germany every child has nine to thirteen years of religion in school. “Why, in spite of that, so very little sticks, if I may put it like that, is incomprehensible. You are right, (he tells the interviewer), the bishops must seriously reflect on ways to give catechesis a new heart and a new face. We too need to ask ourselves whether we do cover the content of the faith and do it in a language that the young people grasp, that can touch their hearts. Do we encourage them enough to enter into a loving relationship with Jesus who alone can give them life in abundance? Naturally, to be convincing we must have grown in that experience ourselves. In Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict refers to “an exterior knowledge of Jesus that, while not necessarily false, is inadequate. …”Today it is fashionable”, he adds, “to regard Jesus as one of the great religious founders who were granted a profound experience of God … but we are dealing with a human experience of God.” “They do not arrive at Jesus’ identity, at his newness.” 3
YEAR OF FAITH
The confessional could be starting point in mending our relationship with God
There are also those “who have somehow or other come to know Christ, who have even made a scholarly study of him, but have not encountered Jesus himself in his utter uniqueness and otherness.” With this mindset, “the individual decides what he is going to accept from the various ‘experiences’, what he finds helpful and what he finds alien. There is no definite commitment.” Pope Benedict stresses the need for “a deeper knowledge that is linked to discipleship, to participation in Jesus’ way, and such knowledge can grow only in that context.” In the Mystery of Jesus death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the Love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31). For Saint Paul, this Love ushers us into a new life (Rom 6:4). Through faith, this new life shapes the whole human existence according to the radical new reality of the resurrection. To the extent that he freely cooperates, man’s thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed, on a journey that is never completely finished in this life. ‘Faith working through love’ (Gal 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life.” Benedict dwells on the link between faith and action. “Faith without charity bears no fruit, 4
while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt.” Faith calls us to be present to those our brothers and sisters who live on the margins of society, the poor, marginalized and the lonely. Thus “we can recognize the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love. ‘As you did it to one of these my brethren, you did it to me’ (Mt 25:40). “ A call to discipleship The journey of faith is a challenging one, since genuine faith must involve both head and heart. If I am the slave of a secret sin, I must make a firm decision to break with it, and turn to God for help. In his compassionate love
he will empower me in time to become free. If I have long delayed to mend a relationship, I need to work on it. If I have grown slack in my love for God, I must listen to his call to resume my daily encounters with him in prayer, in the Eucharist. As I strive to study his word daily, to pray over it, the Spirit will gradually open my heart to its meaning in my life. Not being perfect, I must expect some pruning from above. Finally, the Pope challenges us to share the Good News that has changed our lives radically. “Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful, because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness: indeed, it opens the hearts and minds of those who listen to respond to the Lord’s invitation to adhere to his word and become his disciples.” Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions , Alcoholics Anonymous Word Services Inc., New York, 2010 edition, pp. 34-35. First published in 1953 by the two founders of A.A. to share 18 years of collective experience within the Fellowship on how A.A. members recover, and how their society functions. Idem, pp. 106-107 Light of the World — The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times, Asian Trading Corporation, Bangalore, 2010, p. 140 Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2007, pp. 291293. 1
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No. 63 December 2012
YEAR OF FAITH
IT’S ELECTION TIME: Lord, “Increase our Faith (Luke 15:5)” By Dr John Chitakure It’s 50 years since the historic opening of the Second Vatican Council (19621965), and His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI has found it important to dedicate this year (11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013) to faith. This is the faith which Jesus Christ preached, and the apostles propagated. It is the same faith which the Council Fathers tried to transform during the Second Vatican Council. At one point during Jesus’ earthily ministry some of his followers felt that they did not have enough of this faith, and they asked Jesus for some more. Saint James felt that faith had to be balanced with works if it had to be fruitful. This point has been reiterated by Pope Benedict XVI, in his letter “Porta Fidei”, where he says, “The Year of Faith will also be a good opportunity to intensify the witness of charity”. This is the faith that was brought to Zimbabwe by missionaries. Those missionaries made great sacrifices in order to pass on the faith to the people of Zimbabwe. They endured great challenges, for instance, disease, language barriers, cultural differences, rejection and so on, but they did not give up. They preached, converted, baptized, confirmed, and at times, ordained. They built schools, hospitals, Churches, orphanages, and houses. They balanced their faith with works. They gave us the faith and told us to remain with it (Ramba unechitendero…), and we still have the faith that I think has not been balanced with works. In the West, one of the major problems the Church is facing is the ever decreasing population of Christians. Their problem is that of quantity. In Zimbabwe, our problem is not of quantity, but that of quality. Our
Dr John Chitakure Churches are full of people whose faith has failed to bear fruits. One big sign of that is how our faithful live two different lives: one in the Church and the other at home. Their faith has failed to transform their behaviour in the communities in which they live because after every Mass some lock up their faith in the sacristy, and go home faithless. In Zimbabwe, the Year of Faith has coincided with the Year of General Elections (March 2013). Our past experiences of Presidential elections are that of violence. In past elections Christians too have been found wanting in three areas. 1. Some Christians were perpetrators of political violence. 2. Some Christians condoned political violence by not using their faith to challenge perpetrators. Some allowed their children to hold all-night harassment of their neighbors. 3. Some Christians remained indifferent during times of political violence. All this, is against the principles of the Gospel of love, peace, liberty, freedom, respect, and human dignity, which Christians profess to uphold. Violence, in whatever form, is against the principles of the Christian Faith and must be condemned in the
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strongest possible terms. Some Christians have chosen to stand by politicians in persecuting their own neighbors who have a different choice of political leaders. According to Porta Fidei, “Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him”. Something is really wrong with our faith, and this year is a great opportunity to reflect on it. What has gone wrong with our Faith? There are a number of areas that call for reflection and renewal: 1. Teaching of the Catholic Catechism. In Porta Fidei the Pope has called upon Catholics to “rediscover and study the fundamental content of the Faith that receives its systematic and organic synthesis in the Catechism of the Catholic Church”. It is true that Catholics need to relearn their Catechism, considering the fact that most Catholics learnt their catechism when they were too young to understand the richness and depth of the Catholic teachings. Passing catechism was tantamount to reciting memorized answers given by the catechist or written in the catechism handbook. Even where catechism was learnt by adults, that method of education did not promote the growth and transformation of the learner’s faith. Some Catholics’ faith has remained at that catechetical stage where they have to give back the answers that are ready-made. But faith must be Christians’ daily compass in life. Experiences of life are dynamic and they cannot be responded to by memorized answers only. In most cases Catholics cannot
YEAR OF FAITH deal with new challenges such as political violence because they do not have the answers in the catechism handbook. They were not taught to go beyond the memorized answers. 2. The lack of an organized ongoing formation for the laity. On the one hand the Catholic Church has some of the most learned clergy in Christendom, in terms of theological and philosophical training. On the other hand, most ordinary Catholics are barely catechized. Although the Second Vatican Council (Gaudium et Spes ) encouraged lay people to get involved in the modern world’s affairs, many people lack theological or philosophical insight. One contributing factor has been the unavailability of theological studies to the laity. So the Catholic Church ended up having very learned priests facing barely catechized faithful. Some people erroneously think that Catholic priests are not good at preaching, but the fact is that some do not know how they can dilute the theology they have studied until it becomes suitable for the barely catechized faithful. Whenever lay people have an opportunity to come together, their major worry is how to recite the rosary accurately. Their faith revolves around the rosary. They never spend time doing theological reflection in order to have answers to new problems bedeviling their communities, such as political violence. They do not condemn violence even if it is perpetrated by their children because that topic is not covered in the Catechism. There are times when the priest intervenes, but is then condemned by politicians because they know that he is enlightened and
cannot be pushed around. 3. The myth that faith and politics do not mix. The other setback has been the outcry by politicians that Churches should not be involved in politics, yet we have seen politicians politicking Church people. Some Churches have lost their prophetic role because of the interference by politicians. Instead of being the salt and light of the earth, some Christians now get their light from politicians. Christians who are worth a single drop of their baptismal waters should be involved in responsible politics by exercising their Christian duty of choosing their leaders responsibly. Killing one’s political opponents, burning their houses, or even confiscating their livestock are acts that are against what Jesus teaches. PASTORAL RESPONSE As mature Christians, let us heed the Pope’s call and relearn our Catechism. This relearning of faith has been termed, “ongoing
formation”. If the ongoing formation of all the Catholics is to be a prolific exercise there should be more teachers of faith. The perennial shortage of priests has seen Catechists working side by side with priests in teaching the faith. The Catechist should be in charge of on-going formation. However, most of these well-intentioned teachers have not received proper training and most work on voluntary basis. Catechism is precious and entrusting its instruction to an untrained Catechist is gross violation of the rights of the people of God. If Catholics are to understand their faith fully Catechists should be educated. Why not demand five O’ Levels or a Diploma in Theology from anyone wishing to teach catechism? If we are serious about our faith let us educate our Catechists and pay them a reasonable remuneration so that it becomes a competitive profession. The other thing is to demystify theology and take it to the laity. We must find a simple, portable, and useful method of doing theological reflection for the laity. We also should make theological studies affordable to them. Some theological institutions have started doing that, but more needs to be done. Conclusion We should realize that our faith has to grow so that it can give us solutions to modern challenges and contexts. Christians should strive to be the salt and light of the earth. The Year of Faith should teach Christians how to make their faith grow.
Mukai/Vukani email@example.com Is it possible to vote in peace?
No. 63 December 2012
YEAR OF FAITH
The lost gift of faith introduced to the Christian way of living. The majority of us went to catechism lessons not because we wanted to, but because every family member had to be baptised for that was normal family practice. Broken families find this connection and continuity a major challenge.
By Brian Nyagwaya Faith is a gift from God carried from generation to generation and aided by practical and theoretical teachings of the church. It is the power given through the Holy Spirit to connect with God. Faith, born out of Gods’ love, has existed since creation of mankind and has been the umbilical code joining God and man. The devil’s mission ever since has then been to break up this code so that man loses his lifeline. The world was lost for some time but God preserved his people, the Israelites, from which Jesus Christ was to be born. He lived, died and rose from the dead to give us hope, strengthening our faith and saving all races of the world. Thanks to the apostles and all men and women who went through persecution and martyrdom whilst evangelising the Good News. Since the Second Vatican Council, the Scriptures have been made accessible to all people of good faith, in their own languages. This has made church teachings and faith matters come closer home. With technology spreading, church documents have as well become accessible. However, technology has been used to transmit not only what is good, but perverse information. The internet, television and the print media have actually been the tools used to break down the basis of faith. The church’s effort has been compromised significantly. Let us look at it this way. The greatest number of people who use the internet and other advanced media is the youth who obviously become the most affected. Young people glorify the
Mr Brain Nyagwaya
life of celebrities and vie for such fame, caring less how they reach that level. Many have been influenced negatively by some celebrities. Christian models have been less received amongst the young generation, for what they picture as meaningful in life is littered with immorality, sensuality, to some extent lacking proper discernment.
In a similar manner, the challenges faced by families mirror as well the challenges of the wider society, the church included. The brokenness of families has been replicated by the numerous Christian denominations, some founded upon the gospel of prosperity, healing or leadership wrangles. Tribalism, nepotism and racism have also been contributory factors towards formation of some breakaway churches. There are churches known to have particular tribes, races or influential people coming from the same region or province.
Why then is it that the teachings of the church have become weaker and only theoretical in nature? Simple! The church has its basis in the family and its teachings start off in there, an institution which has broken down because of lack of true love. Single headed families have not had it easy raising children. Family challenges have contributed to this hardship significantly. Divorce and separation have taken the family unit by surprise, leading to gross psychological effect on the child. That has a negative impact on one’s Christian faith.
In principle, Christianity should be all-embracing, but in practice, Christians are divided along lines that are similar to political groupings . F or instance, the issue of race has been a dominating factor in some religious movements. The first Christians were Jews but the apostles spread the Good News to all other races, the Gentiles included. St Paul, the apostle of the gentiles, stressed that there was no need to be Jew first for them to be Christian, but just one’s faith was important. In order to support St Paul’s teachings, the church embarked on domestication of In Africa we have had our worship following the second Christian faith because our Vatican Council. Inculturation parents were born in Christian took its foot across all dioceses families from which we were
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YEAR OF FAITH Christian values although the church played a part during these wars in most countries. The government systems which were formed following independences had no or little reference to the Christian faith.
of the world and worship was in local languages with an enhancement of the respective cultures. Just when the effort was beginning to bear fruit, the trend of living has changed again within the century. The world is fast becoming a one cultured nation with a Western bias. Traditional musical instruments of worship have suddenly become outdated and Mass in native language has now been confined to the â€˜tooâ€™ traditional elders. However, the Church needs to impress upon the young generation on what really they believe in, as in the articles of our faith. An informative and transformative Catechesis is what the church needs. It is not enough for people to attend catechetical formation simply because they want a particular sacrament. Parishes should introduce on-going catechetical formation. A people fully formed, with genuine understanding of their faith are stable and can storm the weather of religious challenges. Over the past few years, a brand of westernised churches has emerged to fill in the void left by
mainline churches. But does the coming of these churches complement at all the faith that has been taught by the church before? Itâ€™s subjective. There is a general understanding that new churches have come to renew the existing faith. Confusion has won the day. Desperate for freedom and standard living in poverty stricken Africa, riddled by war, oppression and exploitation, the vulnerable youth has become victim of the gospel of prosperity. The hope for eternal life does not make any sense any more. There is no more patience on this planet, no happiness of the soul. Young people, just like some adults, have become obsessed with earthly success, wealth, status and external healing. One is inclined to propose making the Christian faith part of our national policy, like declaring ourselves as a Christian nation. However, this antagonizes the separation of religion and state. Apparently, a collaboration of state and church affairs cannot be avoided. The liberation wars of Africa had little basis to the
In Zimbabwe, the government has played part by including religious and Bible studies in school curricula although not compulsory. The use of the bile in Parliament is just but routine exercises inherited from the colonial masters and is not taken seriously to its meaning. Too much religion with less reflection is counterproductive, especially for the young. Plurality of religions even in Zimbabwe has left Christian worshippers, especially the young, at the risk of hovering from one denomination to another, from one faith group to another. Finally, what the church in Zimbabwe needs is catechetical formation that is developed along the lines of understanding our faith articles, more than the rote method that we find from most catechists. In tandem with this, the catechists themselves need thorough training in theology and other such other humanities and social sciences that shape the Christian. A major campaign on reading the Scriptures, personalizing the messages in the Scriptures in our life is another suggestion proposed for faith formation and maturity. The future of the Church, on the other hand depends on a well formed laity, as priesthood is declining in numbers and functionality. Keep the faith and share it to save a soul. Brain Nyagwaya is former president of National Movement of Catholic Students
No. 63 December 2012
YEAR OF FAITH
Thanks mum for the faith By Mrs Theresa Mangoma
I owe my faith, to some extent, to my mother who was a simple woman but with extra-ordinary faith that manifested itself through love and belief in a God who answers prayers. She has very little education, lived in a polygamous union, and has had no economic means to cushion her family by supplying the daily basics of life, but had a strong belief in a God, to whom she offered her prayers every night, and asked us too, to always say our prayers before going to bed. My father was the exact opposite of my mother, a carefree soul who left many family responsibilities in the care of his wife. He was a bus driver, in the 50’s and 60’s, but did not see much sense in investing in our education. Although he was baptized –and we did not know about it- he had stopped going to Church. I don’t remember seeing him in Church even for a single day. But he was always on our case whenever we missed Church. He was to receive sacraments again on his deathbed, and in gratitude, he said the reason why he pushed us to always be at Church was such that we could help him in his hour of need. Thank God he had that opportunity granted. Many people die at the click of a finger, without opportunities for such last rites. My mother’s faith was built around love for everyone and always setting aside time for prayer. Even though her husband was a polygamist and you can imagine the tensions, jealousy,
Mrs Theresa Mangoma
and hatred that characterize such families, my mother showed great love for all her husband’s children and that ‘gospel act’ has moved me to also believe in her God. Even today in her 80’s, she does not eat any meal before saying grace. It is in those “little” things that she connects to her God, and it is also through her mentorship that I grew to be what I am today. I was baptized when I was 12, and I have held strong to my belief and faith over the past years. There are instances when my faith took a knock, and the invisible God moved me. One of them was when I was at Loreto high school and a colleague lost her pocket money (2 pounds). The school head thought it was me because I was poor! And that allegation tore me into pieces. Thank God one of the nuns believed in me, and whispered that belief into my ears.
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Somehow I picked myself up, mumbled a prayer at the school grotto and the real culprit was discovered the following day. On reflection, I feel I owe a lot to the nun who whispered belief in me, and she always reminds me of St Paul’s words to the Romans, that “for with the heart, one exercises faith but with the mouth, one makes public declaration for salvation.” I have also found this to be useful in my work with students as a school teacher, that to impact on their faith, they need witnesses who live out their faith. I also had a challenge with school fees just after completing my form two. I could not see myself working anywhere because I had a small body, and I really wanted to pursue my studies. Life was hard, and confusion was setting in. My mother seemed to understand, for on this particular night when we gathered for prayers as usual, she also gave a little homily on how God remembers even the poor, the same way he gives rain to the rich, the sinners and the upright. Early next morning, we got a telegram that announced I had gotten a grant that would pay all my fees for forms three and four. My faith in the saving grace of God has helped me to be a selfreliant woman who is honest and believe in working for whatever one wants in life. I have been a visitor to many churches whenever I am invited by friends, and my neighbors’
YEAR OF FAITH growing up always turned out to be people from the other church, but my faith has always developed and grown in the Catholic Church. During my college days, I visited other Christian denominations for their services. This did not change my belief in Catholicism. The ultimate measure of a Christian believer is not what they do in times of comfort and convenience, but how they stand up to real challenges in their lives. The trials and tribulations that usually result from want, illness or death especially in African societies offer true challenges to one’s faith. During my sojourn as a Christian, I have experienced these quite often. My faith has been put to test when traditional beliefs within my family were pursued to find answers based on superstition. There was a time when I lost several family members one after the other and everyone around me reasoned that we ought to consult a n’anga. I do not know why death in this case rattled my family to that extent when there was enough medical evidence that HIV/Aids had taken its toll on our relatives. We had a case when my child, then doing grade 4, fell unconscious at school and was taken to a private clinic. Whilst there, any attempts at holding him so that the doctors could do medical scans and x-rays were met with a violent force from his small frame that rendered the attempts we were making futile. I have read and know the confusion that hits families whenever they are in such predicaments. The mind
Children learn first from their parents wonders. We search for extraordinary, quick fix answer. We try to get help from anyone close by, with no option to examine the suggestions. I thank God I had the presence of mind, and the faith to run and fetch a priest, who fortunately was available. After an hour of praying in the hospital, the priest went away, and our child started getting better and within hours, he was seated up and surprised at what was happening and why he was in the hospital. He has never done that again. But still family members were keen to consult with n’angas after that. There are times when I look at myself and feel sorry for all that I think had lost. I have had friends who betrayed me. Close relatives that I helped but they could just not look back when I wanted their hands later on. Even business can let you down. I remember in 2008, when it was all chaos in the Zimbabwean economy and we lost a huge portion of our investments in one day. These situations obviously invite you to sit back and reflect. And it was during one such reflection
when the words of a Shona hymn made sense to me; “…regai kuzviunganidzira, hupfumi pano pasi, pane mbavha dzinopaza…” I do not understand why I keep on holding to Christ even under the most difficult situations. Perhaps that’s the whole mystery of faith. A friend once told me that faith starts where wisdom stops. I have not had special visions, but I always feel that somewhere, someone is watching over me. I always feel the encouragement to hold on to that someone. When I think of the love and prayers of my mother, the Dominican missionaries who encouraged us to always pray when we were young girls, the light that led my father to be reconciled on his deathbed, and the Amazing Grace that has fulfilled and consoled me under the most difficult situations, I get a feeling that I am never alone on this earth and there is a God who is in charge. Theresa Mangoma is a teacher at the Dominican convent where she has taught since 1983. She is a dedicated member of St Anne’s guild and a parishioner of St Gerard’s parish in Harare.
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‘What shall I do with my life now that it has been given back to me?’ TED ROGERS: Jesuit, Social Pioneer and AIDS Activist in Zimbabwe. A Memoir. Cluster Publications, 2012. Review by David Harold-Barry SJ
Those of us who have known Fr. Ted Rogers in his energetic prime may have some difficulty in visualising him on a four hour watch on board a merchant ship in the middle of the Atlantic with nothing to do except look at the stars and watch out for other ships, especially enemy ones. Yet he mentions this war time experience more than once in his 300 page memoir: ‘The moods of the sea reflected life in its storms, its boisterous and cheering waves and its dead calm periods under the moon’. His reflections fed into the answer he gave to the question, ‘what shall I do with my life now that it has been given back to me?’ He had come close to death many times as ships were sunk all around him in the Atlantic convoys. At one point his ship, the Alfred Jones, was torpedoed by a German submarine and they took four days in the life boats to reach Freetown in Sierra Leone. This was the same war in which the late Fr. Hermann Husemann, also narrowly escaped death when, as a soldier in the opposing German army, he was sheltering in a house that was bombed by the British. Finding himself alive, he too asked ‘what shall I do with this life that has been given back to me?’ Both Ted and Hermann gave the same answer, joined the Jesuits and spent 50 years in this country. This memoir gives us Ted Rogers’ story in detail. His reason for writing, he tells us in his opening words, ‘is to thank the many people with whom I worked.’ He must have developed the habit of keeping a diary early because he gives the full names of hundreds of people he lived and worked
gave ‘considerable encouragement’ to the community school which they planned to start. Education came out as the first priority. In a time of few schools for Africans, study groups were being organised as, for instance, by Josiah Chinamano in Highfield and these became known as Community Schools. Ted Rogers appears as the driving force in setting up St Peter’s Community School first in the grounds of Morgan High School and later in Kambuzuma. In 1972 the school moved to its present site and changed its name to St P e t e r ’s K u b a t a n a . T h e Vocational or Technical School was built on the same campus and was opened in 1978 with Dominic Shoniwa as its principal and after independence it became the model for government plans for Vocational Training Schools countrywide. At the same time, Ted Rogers was working on a project that will always be associated with him: the founding in 1964 of the School of Social Services, later the School of Social Work. He felt there was little he could do on his own and so the decision was made to train local social workers. He set up an Advisory Council of local experts and academics from Salisbury and Bulawayo which drew up a programme of studies which would lead to a Certificate in Group Work. In the following year the decision was made to embark on a full professional course of Social Work. He calls the late 1960s the 3
Fr Ted Rogers SJ
with over the years. The impact of the book is that the man himself comes through. The imagination and energy that we have always associated with Ted Rogers is written on every page. It is astonishing to recall the number of initiatives he was involved in. He was still only 23 when he joined the Jesuits in 1948 after his years at sea but he fast tracked his way to ordination and arrived in what was then Southern Rhodesia in 1960. His first appointment was to St George’s and then to Musami but within two years he was asked by the Superior, Terrence Corrigan, to ‘do social work’ in what we now call the high density suburbs of Harare. He had no idea what this might mean and perhaps Fr. Corrigan didn’t either. It seems strange now to read the names of those Ted Rogers consulted about what to do: they were all quite high profile Europeans. But they were the people who were involved at the time and he notes that the Federal government 2
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BOOK REVIEWS ‘happiest I can remember … though we had not yet grasped the full implications of (UDI).’ It was a time of great imagination and creativity and while the School was being established in town Fr. John Dove was also exploring the shape and role of Silveira House, a Development Training Centre in Chishawasha. Both these pioneers of the social mission of the Church were to be awarded Honorary Doctorates in later life in recognition of their work. In 1969 the School became an associate college of the university offering a diploma in social work. Ted Rogers, as principal, had to acquire professional qualifications in order to teach at this higher level. He was now 45 but he set off for Cardiff to do a postgraduate Masters in Social Administration. By 1976 students who had completed their diplomas ‘at an acceptable level’ were enabled to apply for a Bachelor in Social Work degree. Rogers, drawing on his experience in the navy, insisted they do a practical year in the field – between the diploma and the degree course. Graduates of the School were in high demand both in Zimbabwe and in the region. The 1970s were the crucial years of struggle for a free Zimbabwe and the Catholic Church set up two commissions, in both of which Te d w a s i n v o l v e d : t h e Commission for Social Service and Development (later CADEC) and the Commission for Justice and Peace. The latter is better known as its publicizing of atrocities carried out by the regime infuriated the government and led to the imprisonment and exile of several commission members. The list of Ted Rogers’ involvements in issues of social 4
service as an expression of the gospel now begins to lengthen. Several times in the memoir he speaks of his admiration of Teilhard de Chardin, the French Jesuit palaeontologist, who died in 1955. Teilhard wrote a number of works but Rome forbade him to publish them. His central theme was the unity of all creation as it ‘groaned’ its way towards perfection. Everything was important and everything would be fulfilled. Ted Rogers had a compassionate heart that embraced a wide variety of people and organisations and he sought to involve the Church in issues she hardly knew existed. Despite Rome’s hesitancy over Teilhard, his thought was in harmony with the Vatican Council, called only a few years after his death and the teaching of this council and the subsequent reflection on it by the Society of Jesus inspired Ted Rogers in his work. This memoir details the lengthening list of organisations that flowed from this inspiration. In 1964, he became engaged with intellectually disabled people and contributed to setting up SASCAM. following Shall IInbethe a Jesuit? year he was involved with 7
others in establishing the C a t h o l i c Wo m e n ’s C l u b s drawing on the experience for the Methodist Church. He was also Chairman of the Council of Social Services (later VOICE and still later NANGO) from 1980 to 1984, an umbrella organisation for NGOs and this led him to be involved in drought relief work in 1985. There were many challenges at the time of independence and a big one was the welcoming home of the refugees and internally displaced people. The UNHCR approached Christian Care in Harare to coordinate the work and Ted Rogers, who was one of the representatives of the ZCBC on the national committee of Christian Care, became involved. One of the many pictures in this book shows him delivering supplies to the refugees. He visited the Governor, Lord Soames, to speak of issues concerned with the refugees. At the same time he worked with President Canaan Banana in starting a training college, Kushinga Phikelela, for excombatants near Marondera. The memoir makes a diversion as we follow Rogers on his sabbatical in Oxford, Brazil and San Salvador in the mid-eighties and his interest is always to see how the Church is responding to local needs. He was impressed by the involvement of the small (base) communities in the life of the Church and society. On his return to Zimbabwe in 1986, Ted Rogers became aware of the growing epidemic of HIV and AIDS and he soon became an ‘expert’ in the subject and organised a seminar for the clergy of the Archdiocese. In 1988 he contributed to the establishment of the AIDS Counselling Trust (ACT) to spread information about the disease and provide counselling. In 1984 Ted Rogers was sixty, an age when many might begin to 9
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BOOK REVIEWS think of slowing down. But in 1987 he was asked to take over as Secretary General of IMBISA, the 80 Southern Africa Bishops’ network and become involved in the first African Synod. After seven years in IMBISA he returned to his work in AIDS and developed a highly effective programme of peer education in schools. What comes through this memoir is that Ted Rogers writes as he lived; full of energy, enthusiasm and imagination. He seemed unable to say no to any request and yet he only took on what he could manage. The incredible thing is that he managed so much. In many ways he embodied the best of what the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) is all
about. The present Fr. General of the Society, Adolfo Nicholas, is fond of asking us, ‘where are the frontiers today where we should be engaged?’ Well, Frs.Ted Rogers and John Dove were two who saw where the frontiers were in the 1960s just when feelings in Africa were boiling over and some direction was needed, some channels, where this new energy could flow. A memoir is, I suppose, a particular genre. This book does not set out to be an account of Social Work in Zimbabwe. It does not give detail on the situations that called forth the responses that are here described. Its strength lies in its detail of the restless energy
that sought to tirelessly respond to needs as they arose. There are many descriptions along the way about the war, Jesuit life in England during the writer’s years of training and of the situation in Rhodesia and later Zimbabwe. This accounts or the length of the book. Above all it is a book that celebrates the life of a man who provided the spark that could ignite the energy of many people. 1 p.290 2p.105. He was asked simply to ‘do social work. ’3 p. 95 4 P. 110 5 Letter of Ted to Nigel Johnson, Sept 2012
Faith with Works John L.Sullivan, The Eagle and the Cross, The Life of Fr Odilo Weeger CMM, published by the Bernard Pepper Fund of the Catenian Society Bulawayo, Printed by Ilizwi Centre, Plumtree, 2009, 368 pp. Reviewed by Oskar Wermter S.J uncompromisingly as This biography is not the work unchristian, even demonic, but of a professional historian. There others are dazzled by the initial are no footnotes quoting sources successes of the “movement”. from archives. It is very much the Young Odilo also gives us an result of a labour of love. The insight into the inner struggles author, not a professional writer, about his missionary vocation. but an engineer and businessman, His elder brother Joseph is a held Fr Odilo in great esteem, and diocesan priest. As a diocesan he his admiration for him and warm would not have to sacrifice home, affection show on every page. He family and country. But the “had exceptional access to Fr Odilo missionary calling prevails. and his records and memories” and Opting for, or at least listened to him telling the story of accepting, celibacy is another his life. struggle. He admires women, and He listened well and is in love with some, even in his presumably took copious notes, old age, he still remembers their resulting in this substantial volume. names. All his life he enjoys the One could call it Fr Odilo’s company of women, and is happy autobiography, though written in to have them as loyal and reliable the third person. It reads like a co-workers and companions. novel, said Fr Bex, the Jesuit And they respond with loving Born Otto Weeger in 1912, he archivist who lent me the book. care and hard work, be they was a young religious when Hitler We get to know Fr Odilo’s took over as “leader” of Germany. married women in the parish or family very well and follow him Otto, now Odilo, takes part in the co-religious out on the missions. step by step into the seminary, the debate within the Catholic Church As a young priest he is sent to M a r i a n n h i l l M i s s i o n a r y about the new regime. Some of his Matabeleland North to start Congregation and eventually to this professors reject it missions in a completely new country. No. 63 December 2012
BOOK REVIEWS territory. This is wartime, and the flow of financial assistance has been cut. He moves around on a bicycle, on bad gravel roads, crossing flooded rivers and sleeping rough. It is good that he was a good athlete as a youngster. One day he travels by bike all the way from St Mary’s Hwange to the Falls and back, interrupted only by his brief arrest by the BSAP as a German spy. He shows great wisdom, rare in those early days, in his working with the local people. “’I am convinced that it is wrong to simply hand things over for nothing. We pay the men something for their work, not a lot, but the main thing is the work gets done by all of us,’ emphasized Father Odilo. The priest and the people worked together to construct classrooms, and it was not simply a case of the Church providing and paying for everything.” Today we would say that in this way the people learn to assume “ownership”. He becomes a fluent speaker of the local language, Ndebele, and he knows the way of life and the customs of the people. But he does not seem to have been concerned about using the cultural idiom in putting the Gospel across, or maybe the author just does not mention it, not being familiar with the problem. It seems, going by this book, that Fr Odilo, who never worked in an urban township, did not develop a more personal rapport with articulate and educated African people. They only appear in this story collectively, hardly ever as individuals. He does not seem to have understood their resentment about the contemptuous attitude many Europeans displayed towards Africans, their pain about loss of country and culture. Or is it the author? It is not always clear who is speaking, Fr Odilo or his biographer.
He says himself that, though the main content of the book came from Fr Odilo, “it is natural that the way I have written was influenced by my own experiences, education and perspective”. He insists that recognition must be given to the great contribution the Europeans made in developing this country. Or is it Fr Odilo speaking? Most likely both. The reader may be surprised that the dramatic political developments in the lifetime of Fr Odilo are only referred to towards the end of the book, mostly in the context of the killings of Fr Odilo’s fellow missionaries. They are, understandably, portrayed as the deeds of terrorists. Less understandable to the student of history is perhaps that similar atrocities committed by the security forces are not mentioned, nor the work of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, documenting them. But to do the author, John L. Sullivan, justice, he is not bitter or resentful about what happened in this country. He writes with Christian hope and goodwill. He has not written Central and Southern Africa off, as so many of his background has done. “Confident that African
misrule and turmoil will end, especially in Zimbabwe, he always urges friends and colleagues not to give up.” Though not crafted by a historian, this book will be useful,, nonetheless to future historians. It certainly tells us much about the incredibly hard life of missionary pioneers, but also about the limits of understanding found in admirable men and women of the dramatic times they lived through. Occasionally, Fr Odilo refers to the great controversy between Jesuit and Mariannhill missionaries about the exchange of mission territories in the end twenties of the last century when Jesuits left Matabeleland to take over flourishing Mariannhill missions in Mashonaland while Mariannhillers had to move to the, by comparison, arid desert of Matabeleland. Time also for Jesuits to appreciate the great qualities of the Mariannhill missionaries, men and women, who have built up a thriving church in a very tough corner of Zimbabwe. Reading Sullivan’s ‘The Eagle and the Cross’, the life story of Fr Odilo Weeger CMM, will certainly help towards that end. Retired Archbishop Pius Ncube recommends it warmly in his foreword.
Feeding the hungry - our calling as christians
No. 63 December 2012
"Lord , increase our faith ..."