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The Church & the family:

Reflections from a vantage point

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MUKAI - VitUKANI No. 66 April/May 2014 our Vis

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EDITORIAL

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Family originates from marriage

t is a prerequisite for all sane and sundry to appreciate marriage before attempting to understand family. According to The Code of Canon Law, “The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life, and which of its own very nature is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children, has between the baptised, been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament” (Can 1055 #1). The Second Vatican Council, in the Pastoral Constitution, GaudiumetSpes, on “The Church in the Modern World”, presents a theologically and spiritually profound doctrine of marriage. Thus, marriage is understood as an all-embracing communion of life and love, body and spirit, between a man and a woman who mutually gives themselves and receives one another as person. Through the personally free act of their reciprocal consent, an enduring, divinely ordered institution is brought into being, which is directed to the good of spouses and of their offspring and is no longer dependent on human caprice; “As a mutual gift of two persons, this intimate union and the good of the children impose total fidelity on the spouses and argue for an unbreakable oneness between them” (no.48). Marriage, therefore, can be understood and lived as a sacrament only in the context of the mystery of the Christ. Unfortunately, with social and moral degradation,it has been secularised or regarded as a purely natural reality, thereby obscuring its sacramental character. This has had undesirable interpretations to marriage and family life.

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The 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family declared by the United Nations for 2014 offers an opportunity to refocus on the role of families in development; take stock of recent trends in family policy development, share good practices in family policy making; review challenges faced by families worldwide and recommend solutions. Sharing the great concern on the institution of marriage and the family faced great moral decadence; there have been enormous challenges to the family, thereby compromising the basic unity of evangelization. Family life will be the focus of the extraordinary general session of the Synod of Bishops called for by Pope Francis, which will meet at the Vatican between 5-19 October 2014. Around 150 Synod fathers will take part in the meeting to discuss the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization”. The Vatican stressed that the bishops globally must gather information from the “grass roots” of the faithful and listen as widely as possible to Catholics views of controversial issues like contraception, same sex marriages and divorce. Gathering from this directive, Jesuit Communications has thus ‘consulted’ widely from various sectors of the spectrum on responses to family and family issues. The political and economic situation in Zimbabwe over the last twenty years has seen a new phenomenon of child-headed families. Apart from economic challenges, this has also been so because of the HIV and Aids pandemic. Parents succumb to the disease leaving children to

play surrogate parents to fellow siblings. This has its own toil on society, and the Church at large. The church cannot hide her head in the sand in the midst of moral and spiritual corruption. Humane Vitae begins “The Most serious duty of transmitting human life, in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator, has always been a source of great joy to them even though sometimes not without considerable difficulties and distress” (n. 1). Pope Paul VI’s encyclical of 25 July 1968 raised a hornet’s nest, and still find resistance from married couples. This encyclical on the regulation of births has been widely misunderstood thereby leading couples either to wholesomely dismiss it or to follow it blindly. Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the institution of marriage and the family has gone through phases of ‘near extinction’. Inmodern days, the concepts of the “independent woman”, “single mothers”, “separated couples” and even “divorce” have become so popular, yet controversial due to misunderstandings and suspicions attached therein. One question that arises in reference to any of these is their role in the church. In some ‘progressive’ communities, they are “tolerated”, yet in worse situations;they are discriminated against and find no “home” in the church. Apparently, Pope John Paul II in FamiliarisConsortio,noted that pastors are obliged by love for the truth “to exercise careful discernment of situations” and showing a high degree of concern and understanding. This has been taken wrongly by some sections

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CONTENTS

CONTENTS

EDITORIAL Family originates from marriage FAMILY AS BASIC UNITY OF EVANGELIZATION The Christian Family as a Believing and Evangelising Community FR FANUEL MAGWIDI OFM The Carmelite Sisters and the Family in the Modern World SRS. BLESSING, MILDNESS AND CALLISTA O’CARM SISTERS An Authentic African Family: Contemporary challenges to family DOMINIC SATUMBA Single parenting-reality and the pastoral challenges TAFADZWA MUROPA Children and the new communication gadgets PAUL TIVENGA Understanding Family and some challenges that are faced FR. ADMIRE RUFARO NHIKA SJ Marriage preparation and Education GEORGE CHIRENDA A marriage voyage KENIAS SHONAI Understanding Humanae Vitae GIFT MAMBIPIRI Traditional Concept of Bride Price and the Gender Debate HAMADZIRIPI CHINHOI SPIRITUAL TIT-BITS Too good for the World (Heb 11:38) PETER BOUDILLON The death of a poor church FR. IGNATIUS MUSENGE In the midist of spiritual guidance crisis RUSASA BARAKA, S.J

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Jesuit Journal for Zimbabwe

No. 66 April/May 2014 Published by the JESUIT COMMUNICATIONS office of the Jesuit Province of Zimbabwe as an in-house magazine for Jesuits and Friends. Editorial office: JesCom, 37 Admiral Tait Rd, Marlborough , Harare, P O Box A949, Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe. Tel. (+263) 0772 717 994 / (+263-4) 309 623 e-mail: jescomzim@gmail.com or gmambipiri@gmail.com websites: www.jesuits.co.zw or www.jescom.co.zw Editorial Team : Fr Clyde Muropa SJ, Gift Mambipiri, Wongai Zhangazha, Emmanuel Kaparasa SJ Layout & Design: Gift Mambipiri, Frashishiko Chikosi

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SUPPRESSION & RESTORATION OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS The letter – writer who brought consolation to the Jesuits FR JOHN THORPE SJ

Printing: Print Dynamix 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.

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Cover Picture: Marriage

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EDITORIAL of the faith community, calling for a relaxation of doctrine, for instance, on re-admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist. But Archbishop Gerhard L. Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, recently wrote, “The Church cannot respond to the growing incomprehension of the sanctity of marriage by

pragmatically accommodating the supposedly inevitable. The Gospel of the sanctity of marriage is to be proclaimed with prophetic candor”. Mukai/Vukani 66 therefore is a must to all family oriented Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Finally, in 1773, the Society of Jesus was suppressed across the world by Pope Clement XIV. Happily,

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41 years later, another pope, Pius VII undid the suppression and “restored” the Jesuits. This year and next year, Jesuits worldwide will commemorate these two anniversaries and try to delve into their deeper meanings. This which was the Gethsemane moment for the Jesuits, ended in the “Resurrection” or the restoration.

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FAMILY AS BASIC UNITY OF EVANGELIZATION

The Christian Family as a Believing and Evangelising Community

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Family as basic Unity of evangelization

et me begin this reflection by making reference to the document Familiaris Consortio (36-39) – loosely translated - “On the role of the Christian Family in the Modern World” - a post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation authored by Pope John Paul II and promulgated on November 22, 1981. This reflection is informed by this document, which describes the official position of the Roman Catholic Church concerning the meaning and role of marriage and the family, and the role that the family is supposed to play in the ministry of evangelization. It also outlines the challenges associated with realizing that ideal. In this reflection, I am particularly drawn to the first paragraph of the document and Pope Francis’ important observation: “The [institution of the] family in the modern world, as much as and perhaps more than any other institution, has been beset by the many profound and rapid changes that have affected society and culture. Many families are living this situation in fidelity to those values that constitute the foundation of the institution of the family. Others (however) have become uncertain and bewildered over their role or even doubtful and almost unaware of the ultimate meaning and truth of conjugal and family life... Knowing that marriage and the family constitute one of the most precious of human values, the Church wishes to speak and offer her help: to those who are already aware of the value of marriage and the family and seek to live it faithfully; to those who are uncertain and anxious and

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be emphasised enough. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church describes the family as “the vital cell of society.” The Compendium demonstrates how Sacred Scripture repeatedly underlines the importance and centrality of the family. We can already observe the plan of God reflected here. The book of Genesis narrates the creation of the first man and woman, and the family is portrayed as having a central role in creation.

searching for the truth, and to those who are unjustly impeded from living freely their family lives. Supporting the first, illuminating the second and assisting the others, the Church offers her services to every person who wonders about the destiny of marriage and the family.” Informed by this background I would like focus my reflection on the faith facets of the Family (a Christian Family) and how this family can be seen to be partaking in the ministry of Evangelization. As “charity begins at home,” so does faith. Faith begins in the family – at home. The family is therefore “the primary place for the transmission of faith.” It is in the family that faith is communicated to young people, who, in the family, learn both the contents and practice of Catholic belief. The family has a very significant role in the evangelisation mission of the Church to the society. The importance of the family in the society and Church cannot

The words of Pope Paul VI during his visit to Nazareth in 1964 could be recalled here, when he spoke of Jesus being born and living within a family “accepted all its characteristic features and conferred the highest dignity on the institution of marriage.” The Church therefore sees in the family “the first natural society, with rights that are proper to it, and places it at the center of social life.” It stresses that the family, founded on marriage between a man and a woman, becomes so important both for natural reasons, as the principal place of interpersonal relationships, and also for supernatural reasons, as a divine institution. One of the notable functions of the family is the transmission of life through the birth and nurturing of children. Nevertheless, it should be bone in mind that procreation (by itself) is not the only reason for marriage or family to be. In fact, when a couple is unable to have children the value of communion between the spouses remains. Marriage must unite couples within the Church according to God’s plan. In fact, the sacrament makes

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FAMILY AS BASIC UNITY OF EVANGELIZATION the family a sort of “domestic Church” in which the family is called to be a sign to the world. And the love of the married couple is also raised to a new level by the sacramental grace. We can observe already that the role of love within marriage and the family becomes very vital. The family is a place where communion is brought about, and thanks to love each person is recognized, accepted and respected. Marital love is more than just emotions or sexual expression. It is a full and total gift, marked by unity and fidelity. Moreover, the nature of conjugal love requires the marital union to be stable. The introduction of civil divorce “has fuelled a relativistic vision of the marriage bond” and can be termed “a plague on society.” Many young families have collapsed because of this possibility. A Christian Family has a Vocation to Evangelize As baptized Catholics, the Christian Family is called to evangelize through announcing the Good News to those who have never heard of Christ, engaging in ongoing catechesis, and “reproposing” the Gospel to those who, although baptized, have drifted away from the Church. In fact by deepening our relationship with Christ and experiencing his love, we renew our faith as disciples in a community of believers, grow in confidence in the truth of the Gospel, and then share our faith in Jesus Christ joyfully with others. The New Evangelization invites all Catholics to see the world as an opportunity to bring people to Christ and to grow closer to Christ themselves. The family is the heart of the New Evangelization, since it is where the faith is first encountered, passed down, lived, and sustained.

Real Evangelisation Must Take Place in the Family According to Lumen Gentium (11), real evangelization first takes place in the family. Parents, “by word and example, are the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children”. The “domestic church,” the family is a small version of the Church. The family receives its life from the Church and in turn mirrors the life of the larger Church. In the family, children first learn about God, love, and the Church. Mothers and fathers are indispensable in sharing the faith with their children. Isn’t it true that when parents practice and live their Catholic faith together, children receive a sure foundation to assist them in difficult life choices? As parents and families learn and live their faith together, they tend to grow in confidence in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his Church and are nourished by the sacraments and desire to share. In the family, children will learn that they are members of the Body of Christ and have a valuable role in the Church. Evangelization in the family should not be a complicated task. Parents teach children to live the virtues (Gal 5:22-23) and love the Lord with their whole hearts (Mt 22: 27). When children see their parents committed to the Lord and the Church, they are much more likely to do so themselves. The family is indeed a privileged route to evangelization. As a domestic Church every baptized person is called to be a disciple of Christ and proclaim the Gospel. This is true of individuals and of families. While this task may seem daunting, the Church—through the sacraments—provides married couples and families with the grace and resources necessary to be evangelizers in their local communities. And remember,

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living the everyday moments of our lives with faith, hope, and love is the most effective way to share our faith with others. A Christian family has to become an ambassador for Christ in our world – leading people to Christ through their actions and words, in an intentional and active way. Christ communicates his love in and through the family. The marital love between man and wife extends into the world through children. In other words, the Christian family that accepts the Gospel and matures in faith, becomes an evangelizing community as Pope Paul VI rightfully noted: “The family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates. In a family which is conscious of this mission, all the members evangelize and are evangelized. The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them. And such a family becomes the evangelizer of many other families, and of the neighbourhood of which it forms part.” The family unit together has a language that speaks to our culture and world regarding the inner, dynamic love of the Trinity. As a family becomes a community of faith and love, it simultaneously becomes a center of evangelization. As sharers in the life and mission of the Church, which listens to the word of God with reverence and proclaims it confidently, our families fulfil their prophetic role by welcoming and announcing the word of God: thus becoming more and more a believing and evangelizing community.

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FAMILY AS BASIC UNITY OF EVANGELIZATION This service that is rendered by Christian families to the Gospel is essentially an ecclesial service. It has its place within the context of the whole Church as an evangelized and evangelizing community. In so far as the ministry of evangelization and catechesis of the Church of the home (Christian family) is rooted in and derives from the one mission of the Church and is ordained to the upbuilding of the one Body of Christ, it must remain in intimate communion and collaborate responsibly with all the other evangelizing and catechetical activities present and at work in the ecclesial community at the diocesan and parochial levels. This kind of evangelization becomes the response to Christ’s explicit and unequivocal command: “Go into all the world and preach

the Gospel to the whole creation.” As the document Familiaris Consortio puts it, ‘the Christian family’s faith and evangelizing mission also possesses this universal missionary inspiration. The sacrament of marriage takes up and reproposes the task of defending and spreading the faith, a task that has its roots in Baptism and Confirmation, and makes Christian families witnesses of Christ “to the end of the earth,” missionaries, in the true and proper sense, of love and life.’ Indeed the future of evangelization depends in great part on the Church of the home. This is so because this apostolic mission of the family is rooted in Baptism and receives from the grace of the sacrament of marriage new strength to transmit the faith, to sanctify and transform

our present society according to God’s plan. In conclusion let me reiterate that the Church indeed needs the laity (Christian Families) to help in many and various ways of evangelization. Primarily, the Church needs Christian families, whether they have been blessed with children or not, to be faithful to their vocations. They are called to live out that vocation in a “domestic church,” a community of life and love, each spouse helping the other to get to heaven, and both striving to lead their children to eternal beatitude. Fr Fanuel Magwidi OFM

The Carmelite Sisters and the Family in the Modern World

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he Carmelites have their roots and origin on Mount Camel where in the Old Testament times Elijah consumed by the zeal for God had fought a mortal combat with the prophets of Baal. The precise date and terms of their foundation are impossible to arrive at. They arose from unregulated hermitage at Mount Camel. The Carmelites belong to the era of religious renewal in Europe and must be understood in line with other religious orders of the time as movements of renewal. They were founded at the time the Latin West launched a series of crusades in the East in the bid to wrestle control of the Holy land from the Moslems. The order of the Carmelite nuns appeared much later when compared to the order of males.

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In Zimbabwe, the Handmaids of Our Lady of Mount Camel congregation of sisters was founded by Bishop Donal Lamont for purposes of domestic work, teaching in church schools, catechizing and pastoral work.

The Carmelites as a family The Carmelite Sisters live a communal life. This resonates well with our origins. Carmelites originated as a lay movement and as such, retains its close connections with the widespread branch of lay Carmelites.

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FAMILY AS BASIC UNITY OF EVANGELIZATION The Carmelite sisters profess the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. By the vow of poverty, Carmelites are called upon to live the life of sharing in common. Poverty here does not mean giving up their personal riches but a life of living in a state of poverty. The taking of this vow is meant to leave space for God to act in the individual’s heart. This vow is taken as a direct heed to the Sermon on the Mount, ‘Blessed are the poor in Spirit for they shall inherit the Kingdom’ (Matt. 5: 3). They trust in God’s Providence (Matt. 6: 26). The call made by Christ is for all Christians to take heed. Like all earlier movements of reform that appeared in the history of the church, the Carmelites are a catalyst to spiritual renewal. Their way of life is a living testimony to Christ’s call for all Christians to invest in the heavenly (Kingdom Matt. 6:19). The vow of chastity calls us to lead a chaste life, that is, a life of purity. The purity here is of mind, heart and body. Mary becomes the paragon of chaste life, for she kept herself pure for God to breathe his Spirit into her womb. Here even the people of God are called upon to lead a chaste life for Jesus’ call was not only to a selected few but to all those willing to take up their crosses and follow him. The Carmelite way of life is a reminder to Christian families that evangelical counsels are possible in families. This way the Carmelite sisters are a witness to Christ’s call for a chaste life. The Carmelite Sisters profess the vow of obedience. This vow is more about listening and discerning the will of God. Indeed they are bound to obey their superiors but this is not blind obedience but its more about what Christ is telling

them through their superiors. Paul the Apostle reminds us that all authority comes from God. Here the Carmelites become available for others. They are ready to serve others than to be served. This is in line with their ancient traditions and rule of life. They are bound to the vow of obedience in much the same way that Christ was obedient to his Father unto death. Carmelites become a model of family life for where there is no desire to listen to each other in the family discord arises. Children are bound to be obedient to their parents and parents are in turn bound to be obedient to Christ. The Carmelite Sisters by professing this vow are not doing it for themselves but are a living example of the call to all Christians to follow the example of Christ who became obedient unto death. The Second Vatican Council document, “Gaudium et Spes” [joy and hope] points to the view that family life has to be celebrated every day in anticipation for future life. In 1994 pope John Paul II wrote to the families of the world reminding all that the family is the measure of God’s plan (Letter to the families). This was also highly emphasised by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) in the post-election pastoral letter which called for peace and reconciliation in the nation (3 Dec 2013). With this in mind, peace should start in the family as the primary source and then spread in society at large. The Carmelite tradition has served the church and the people with charisms centred on prayer, community and service. A Carmelite sister is a woman consecrated to Jesus Christ through Mary and Elijah who spent their lives in prayer and contemplation, enkindling new

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life and inspiration in every age. Drawing this inspiration from the Trinity, the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as the model or replica of the families we have in this modern world, the Carmelites as a family, in comparison with these other ordinary families which have a natural bond joined by the authority of same father and mother, the religious sisters struggle for that bond. As a sacrifice, more tolerance is needed since all come from different backgrounds. Hence, in the imitation of Mary, the sisters are called to live a life of silence which is conducive to listening and pondering the word of God, watchful prayer and be attentive to the needs of the people in the world. Within this ecclesial setting, the Carmelite family offers a specified spirituality to help God’s people meet the demands of a gospel way of life in the midst of our common world. Pointing to the view that the society in this modern world is corrupt, this spirituality then carries Marian devotion which is meant to cleanse the society. From the 15th century, women religious orders emerged so as to reform the society. The Carmelite women such as St Theresa of Avila and St. Theresa of the child Jesus by being exemplary, rejuvenated the state, reformed the church, thereby cleansing the society. Having stated this, one can infer that it is impossible to talk of a church without a family. Our work goes hand in hand with worship. St Paul notes that one must give him or herself to some kind of work so that the devil may always find one busy (2 Thess. 3: 6-13). Carmelite sisters like any other ordinary Christians, are involved in the same apostolate such as

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FAMILY AS BASIC UNITY OF EVANGELIZATION teaching, nursing, administration and pastoral work. However in their religious life, they differ from other ordinary people by their contemplative way of life where God is found right at the core of their apostolate. For instance, people prefer the services rendered by religious people in church institutes like hospitals and schools to secular institutes. This shows that the Carmelite way of life is the incarnating of the Carmelite ideal of discipline which is being

“A contemplative fraternity community at the service of the church and the whole world.”

ordinary people also greatly affect their operations and fulfilment of some of their set objectives.

The Carmelite sisters continually engage the world around them and are therefore not immune to challenges that are faced by ordinary Christians. They face challenges such as depleting vocations, and lack of material resources for their day to day needs. The economic challenges that are being experienced by

Srs. Blessing, Mildness and Sr. Callista O’Carm Sisters

# All three Carmelite sisters are studying at the University of Zimbabwe and active members of the University Catholic Students Society.

An Authentic African Family: Contemporary challenges to family

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he family is an institution established by God Himself when He created heaven and earth and then created man – Adam and Eve – and gave them children. What then this means is that a basic family unit is basically composed of a father and mother and the fruits accruing from that ‘man and woman’ union. A good example is the family created by God of Joseph, Mary and the child Jesus. That of Zechariah, Elizabeth and John also comes to mind. Catholic teaching identifies the family as the social and moral centre of the community. The family, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is the original cell of social life. The traditional Catholic teaching makes the primary end of marriage childcentred, that is, the procreation and rearing of children. However, with new thought patterns, with education and the influence of cultures coming together, marriage has subsided beyond child bearing and rearing as the core reasons for marriage. Love, respect and morals have been the pillars of family, which comprises of the larger network of people, including brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, inlaws, and etcetera. This being the case, apparently, modern trends

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their status as a husband and wife and provided legitimacy to their children. Traditionally, bride-wealth was given in animals, especially cows and goats, traditional cloth (zambia/ mucheka), honey (huchi), hoe (badza), axe (demo), baskets and mats.

and understanding of family have brought in challenges to the traditional family set up. Bride-wealth Among the various elements involved in the rite of marriage, bride-wealth plays an important role. Traditional understanding of bride-wealth has been affected as a result of global changes. According to the African tradition, if there is no bride-wealth, yet a couple is staying together, have children, it is not recognised as a marriage. It brings shame. Marriage would be recognised as such only after the bride-wealth has been given. Bride-wealth is a seal of marriage that gave the young the permission to stay together, confirmed

With the globalised village, money is now the most common way of paying bride-wealth. Even if the amount of bride-wealth is given in terms of cows, it can easily be converted into money. Culturally, the groom is always ‘bound’ by bride-wealth – it is an ongoing process of “unending indebtedness”. Mukwasha muonde hauperi kudyiwa. In practice there is no upper limit of bride-wealth because the groom is expected to contribute to various family occasions and to give something to the parents each time he visits them. Some Christian parents may allow their daughter to marry a man even though he might not be able to pay bride-wealth at that moment. The Church could help in strengthening families by providing a Christian perspective to issues of bride-wealth seeing

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FAMILY AS BASIC UNITY OF EVANGELIZATION that bride-wealth causes drift in families. Marriage, being a duty that one was to undertake and bride-wealth being its necessary component, points out to the sacred dimension of life in Africa. Marriage is a sacred duty, wanted by God to promote the community. In that regard, one could conclude that paying bride-wealth is also a sacred duty. By doing it, one is fulfilling his obligations towards God. So, the church has a role to play in spiritually nourishing the bride-wealth and the subsequent marriage and wedding. Child rearing An ancient axiom states “it takes a village to raise a child.” Unfortunately, this is no longer the case now. One reason is because of individualism and the failure by people to recognise the importance of community. Yet traditionally, a child is not supposed to be raised by their biological parents only, but by uncles, grannies and aunts or other in-laws. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons. They should educate their children in fulfilment of God’s law (CCC 2222). It also stresses that the home is the innate setting for building a human being into a responsible adult. The successful grooming of the children leads to an enrichment of the faith of the children, which is good for the growth of small Christian communities, parishes, diocese and the Universal Church. Equality With the coming of the hype of human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights and other basic rights to persons, the world has experienced a deteriorating family set-up, where women are now even failing to subordinate themselves to their husbands as written in the Bible. Although the Catholic Church long defined the family as a hierarchical structure headed by the father, it now in keeping with

the declarations of Second Vatican Council and the teachings of John Paul II rejects the traditional subordination of women in the family in favour of equality of dignity and responsibility between men and women. However, this has to be taken with a pinch of salt as it has negatively affected the family institution, with women (wives) fighting to be on par or even on top of men (husbands), in clear defiance of Christ’s teaching that wives should submit themselves to their husbands, the same way the Church submits herself to Jesus Christ, the head. Men and women share many roles but some roles have different gender priority, some, like child birth, are exclusive to women. While we can agree on commonalities in the struggle for empowering of women we have to also realise that not every item relevant to women in the West can be transplanted into Africa. In-laws When a man or woman gets married, they became part of another family with its own set of expectations. There is need for recognition and respect for these. The traditional African family gives great importance to the maintenance of good relationships between in-laws from both spouses. This all starts from the bride-wealth negotiations where the two families meet to negotiate. The basic principle that applies here is that, if one is a Christian, they owe their inlaws behaviour that’s consistently Christian in nature. This doesn’t disregard the reality that if your in-laws are ‘difficult’ people, are domineering and manipulative, or don’t share your faith, this may be a particularly hard challenge. The problem is that they’re not just anyone but are connected to your spouse through blood. “Honouring” one’s parents (Exodus 20:12) does require showing them patience, kindness, gentleness and respect. This applies to inlaws, too. However, it doesn’t require that one submerge all their feelings, desires, preferences and

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needs in the service of making inlaws happy. Inheritance In the African context, when a spouse dies, the families gather together to deliberate on issues of inheritance – which includes the spousal inheritance (kugara nhaka), children and property left by the deceased. An heir would be chosen from the family members – uncles taking over the husband roles and aunts or sisters taking over the wife roles (chigadza mapfihwa). The eldest child usually takes over when they are deemed to have reached maturity. In line with global trends, issues of inheritance are now dealt with more in the courts through written wills administered by lawyers. Nowadays, the heir to the inheritance is usually the surviving spouse and or children. Members of the extended family like uncles and aunts no longer have much to do with inheritance issues. However, there are also issues to do with children born outside wedlock, who otherwise can also lay claim to inheritance, yet they may be termed illegitimate. The Church could advocate for the equal treatment of all children, whether from out of wedlock but belonging to either spouse, to benefit also from the inheritance of their father or mother. Conclusion So, an authentic African family is where there is mutual negotiations between families of the bride and groom, and these bridewealth negotiations should be underpinned by the love of God, where the male and female are all equal in the eyes of the Lord, yet women should continue to regard the man as the head of the family. After this we can be assured of children who grow in the love of their parents, the same way Jesus grew in the love of Joseph and Mary, with Mary respecting her husband at all times. Dominic Satumba Soccom Mutare

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FAMILY AS BASIC UNITY OF EVANGELIZATION

Single parenting-reality and the pastoral challenges - Tafadzwa Muropa 1

Abstract The objective of the article is to give a personal overview of single parenting in the 21st century, the challenges that most Catholic single parents face in Sub Saharan Africa, the support that the Church provides, the gaps identified and how to strengthen single parents in raising their children in the Catholic faith. This article also brings out the complexities that single parents face in as far as their commitment to abstinence is concerned, which the Church needs to constantly address. However it is in the hope that this article will, once again, bring an open discussion in the Church on how today’s gospel should begin to address the current realities, not in a way to drive single parents away from the church, but to be able to bring them forward to Christ.

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efining single parenting can be seen in various ways, but one can define it as a way of bringing up a child or children without the other partner, either due to death, divorce or unwanted pregnancy. The challenges that single parents face in bringing up children in the Catholic faith are enormous, varying from the single parents being accepted in the small Christian communities, their children being isolated by other children, as well as lacking support from the church structures through providing counseling and other forms of support. From a personal experience, it has been noted that single parents contribute immensely to the activities of the church as their responsibilities at home are not enormous as compared to married couples, as they tend to dedicate their lives to serving God (reference to 1 Corinthians 7 verses 8 and 32-35). However, the Church should start recognizing the role that single parents play in the development of their children’s faith and ensuring that their participation in church is also enhanced. It is hoped that the upcoming Synod will be able to give a special status to single

parents in the Catholic Church, especially in Sub Saharan Africa where a lot of stigma still abounds. It is imperative to to allude to the point that, against common understanding, or lack of it, single parenthood is not always to be blamed, especially on the woman. In most cases, the woman carries the burden and the label, yet she might not be the one who “failed”. One cannot afford, in the present age to live in an abusive marriage, or has simply been dumped by the husband, and cannot force herself on the man, who in notable cases, would have moved in with

another woman. That leaves the first woman a “single parent”, not out of her own design by the partner’s. Its unfortunate that society, including the church, tends to reduce respect and limit participation of the single parent, because of the tag that’s forced on him/her. participation in church is viewed with suspicion, membership in guilds is limited, it at all considered or “tolerated”. Children of single parents at times have it hard to get into the sacraments of initiation, not until they are of mature age and can participate on their own. One can argue that single parenting also comes with gender dynamics, as most single mothers face discrimination from church activities unlike their make counterparts. Society still sees single mothers as ‘failures who would not have made their marriages work, or who did not manage to get married at all’. Yet we have success stories of eminent men and women around the world who have been raised by single mothers such as the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, and the former President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton, just to mention a few

Tafadzwa Muropa, a Gender and Governance Consultant, based in Malawi, with Progressio, writes this article in her personal capacity. She is a single mother to her only daughter, Rutendo-Ashleigh Muropa, aged 6 years. She has been an active Catholic, since high school (as an active member of the Zimbabwe Young Christian Students: ZYCS: 1995-1998) and has been an active member of the National Movement of Catholic Students (NMCS) and Zimbabwe Young Christian Students: ZYCS whilst based at the University of Zimbabwe(1999-2002). She belongs to the Holy Name Parish in Mabelreign, Harare hopes that through this article, she will be inspired to play a more meaningful role in the Church.

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FAMILY AS BASIC UNITY OF EVANGELIZATION Hence the Church needs to ensure that single mothers, especially, get support in strengthening their faith and become actively involved in directing young women towards the right path, especially where relationships are concerned. Socio-economic challenges and other related challenges get most single parents distracted from their faith, losing their spiritual track and most of the times, very few pastoral leaders often have the time to track how their members (single parents) are coping in their faith. Single parents have an enormous duty to continue praying for their child/children, as today’s society can distract the children, through social media and other distractions. The fact that single parents are the only ones whom their children rely on, should inspire them to become more spiritual in their lives. Family and community support to single parents is critical in strengthening their spiritual growth, the pastoral leadership in the parish should always encourage the single parents in the parish to attend mass with their child/children and ensure that their child/children participate in church activities, especially attending Sunday school classes. I believe that’s the foundation of their faith. Most single mothers can also support the youths through motivational talks so that they grow in the right path and focus more on their educational and spiritual growth. One can therefore ask what role can the Church play in encouraging

single parents to become more involved in church activities? From personal experience, I have noted that being a single parent is a task that I have embraced and it only needs God’s grace and wisdom to be able to raise my daughter in God’s ways. The Church leadership therefore, should ensure that at parish level, single parents are not discriminated against but should be allowed to take part in church activities (liturgy, choir, fundraising, Sunday school). It would be a good opportunity at parish level to have married women and single mother exchanging experiences and ideas on how to raise children in a Catholic context, without condemning single mothers, but hoping that such a dialogue will bring more understanding, healing and tolerance in the church community and society as a whole. The Church needs to encourage its congregation to look at single parenting not as a curse but as a sociological reality that cannot be avoided. Society need to be taught to embrace single parenthood, albeit at all costs as still members of the wider church, needing belonging, care and love. When the single parent is accepted in any society and in church that gives them the impetus to raise their child/children in a God loving way. Laying blame on the single parent has not helped matters, but has in some cases seen the single parent slowly disappearing from church as they feel unwanted. It is not society’s duty to judge but to be compassionate to any who needs the Lord, in spite of their marital

situation. Many single parents have reclined to the back pews in church, have become non active parishioners because they have been rejected and disallowed from full and active participation. In as much as there are some church guilds that encourage participation of single parents in the guilds, more needs to be done to ensure that single parents become part and parcel of the church and contribute positively to the growth of the church. A huge and immediate pastoral concern is that of children of single parents who are not freely allowed into the sacraments of initiation. Lots of questions are asked, demands made, simply because the “existing” parent is single. The child thus suffers for a fate that is not of their own making. It would be prudent and pastorally loving for our priest and catechists to be welcoming all children into any sacrament without any limits due to parental situation. Another major concern is the exclusion of single parents from receiving Holy Communion. It appears from the current doctrinal teaching that, when one has a child out of wedlock, or is a single parent, in this case a woman, they are no longer worthy to receive Christ in the Eucharist. Yet, Christ says he did not come for the righteous, but for sinner. Apparently, we are all sinners, needing Christ. The Eucharist is used as a punishment, not for being unworthy in one’s spiritual state, but status in society. Tafadzwa Muropa

Mukai-Vukani Jesuit Journal for Theological Reflection is an inhouse magazine for Jesuits and friends. It is distributed for free, but donations to help cover the production costs and office expenses, as well as the costs of distribution are received with gratitude. You may also help us lower the expenses by letting us know how we can send your copy, by handpost, especially if you receive many copies for distribution at your school, college, university, hospital, mission or parish.

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Children and the new communication gadgets, – the reality of parenting in the face of technology and child rights - PAUL TIVENGA

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edia technology is an integral part of children’s lives in the twenty-first century. The world of electronic media, however, is changing dramatically. Television, which dominated the media world through the mid1990s, now competes in an arena crowded with cell phones, iPods, video games, instant messaging, interactive multi-player video games, virtual reality sites, Web social networks, and e-mail. The majority of children now have access to multiple media. Most now have internet and video game access, most of them they now own a cell phone and are joining social networking websites like face book, whatsapp, Skype, mix it, MySpace, googletalk, and lots more. Many children can now use a cell phone to surf the Internet. As a result most of the children are spending much of their time using media than they do in any other single activity. Many parents are today facing challenges in maintaining moral values for their children because quite a number are unable to spend much time with their children

as they are always engaged and occupied in these communication and media gadgets. There is no time for parents to educate their children on moral and social values since children are always occupied. There is now loss of concentration even when doing household work, someone is at the same time busy on social networks trying to multi-task. This reality is a greater challenge being faced by many parents. Social networks sometimes encourage interpersonal relations that are unrealistic. A child’s

online interactions with people who could influence them in a negative manner may expose them to quite serious threats and potential dangers. As a result many are being exposed to threats such as dilution of their Christian values, as some are following different Christian teachings on face book, tweeter and other networks. They may end up joining other religious groups different from those of their parents and family, and this has a serious risk of family divisions and there will be a lot of discord in the family when it comes to issues of religion. The family will crease to pray together, since there will be varying religious beliefs amongst family members. This has become a major challenge to most parents, and a lot of them are failing to deal with this due to issue of children’s rights, hence a divided family. Effective family communication is also now very difficult to achieve as it is very difficult for children to listen and talk with their parents because their attention is always on their gadgets. Some even communicate with their siblings via whatsapp, yet they are within the same house or in the same

Vision Statement

Mukai-Vukani (“Rise”) Jesuit Journal for Zimbabwe serves as a Bulletin for Theological Reflection among Jesuits in Zimbabwe and their friends. It tries to help us answer the question, “What direction do we have to follow in the light of the Word of God at this moment in time?” (Mukai 23, p.2), facilitating dialogue among Jesuits and their friends based on study, prayer and discernment.

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room. How funny it is, in a house no one will be talking to the other because they will be busy with their gadgets, this is also a major challenge being faced by parents as it is now a bit difficult to exercise effective family unity. In Exodus 20 verse 12, God commanded that we should honor our father and mother so as to have a long life. Many children are facing challenges in keeping this commandment as most of them are failing even to give an attentive ear to parents when they speak to them because they are glued to gadgets of modernity. Sometimes a child’s online social interactions may not be appropriate. The luxury of hiding behind a screen where they are unknown gives them the opportunity to say anything, mostly immoral and most children are now used to vulgar and dirty language, cyber bullying, resulting in loss of moral values. It has become stressful to most parents, as a lot of children are being exposed to risky behaviors due to using these new technologies and the internet. Many young people access pornographic material, illicit videos, pictures, music etc; leading to pre-marital sex, early child pregnancies, abortions and other anti-social practices.

Our Catholic Church teaches that a family is the first of the small Christian communities where parents will have to educate their children on certain aspects of their faith and catechesis, but this has become very difficult to achieve as most parents cannot get enough time for this. In some cases, it’s the parents themselves that are so engrossed on social media that they pay less attention to family life and values. This has had negative effects on the family and the Christian church. However, technological development can and should be used to advance our level of connectivity and growth in both faith and morals. Access to the internet should be used to inform or educate people positively. Learning from other cultures has been made possible through the use of the internet. Meanwhile, we can cross reference and research using the same facility. E-bibles available on mobile phones should make it easy for anyone to access the bible, the missal and biblical reflections. Church doctrine is now no longer a preserve of theologians, for now all can access documents of the Second Vatican Council, encyclicals, and pastoral letters. Evangelization has been made possible, regardless of age, sex, global location.

Modern technology has made it easy to study, for one no longer needs a library in a school set up to study. With the correct use of the internet and other technological advancements, study has been made possible. However, there is need for a culture of discipline where young people are taught to be selective and moderate in the use of these facilities. Discipline requires knowing what one is looking for and how one accesses that. Discipline requires that both young and old people respect the ethics of relations, of communication and human values essential for family life and education. Finally, social media and these new technologies and communication gadgets are of great importance in the modern world but they are at the same time harmful to the society and a burden to most parents. Most parents are failing to deal with these challenges as most children claim that it is their right to have access to these new communication gadgets. A lot needs to be done so that young people use these gadgets for the right purpose and at the right time. Family life has thus been both compromised and blessed, though the availability of technology. It is the value that this adds to the family that matters. By Paul T. Tivenga

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Understanding Family and some challenges that are faced - FR. ADMIRE RUFARO NHIKA SJ “The family, which is founded and given life by love, is a community of persons: of husband and wife, of parents and children, of relatives. Its first task is to live with fidelity the reality of communion in a constant effort to develop an authentic community of persons - Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 1981”. When celebrated the feast of the Holy family, we celebrate the communion of persons; Jesus the child with Mary and Joseph as husband. At the same time, that family was like that up to a particular point in time. It is a fact that families undergo change either by addition or subtraction of their members. Families begin as one starts his or her own family, but with time, they also come to an end as other families take over. Sometimes there is no takeover, some families dwindle and just cease to exist. A family then, ought not to be understood in the narrow sense of a rigid entity that always has its members intact without change. At a particular time, the family of Jesus had to lose one key member. This is when Joseph died. Then this family was left with Mary and Jesus and also with other brothers and sisters (Mk 3:31-35). Death is a reality that changes the dynamics of a family. It is natural, but it sometimes possess difficulties for the family. Though in the absence of Joseph the father, we still had a family, a holy family of a widow Mary, with Jesus and other brothers and sisters. We continue with the journey of this holy family minus Joseph up to the time of the passion, Christ dies, resurrects and is taken up to heaven - and that family changes again. We have Mary remaining, the mother and the new adopted child, John. This time around, it is John who takes care of Mary and takes her to his home (John 19, 2527). In a way that holy family has changed, but is Mary considering herself living in a family? Yes, she

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to be applauded that our traditional African societies have had strong systems of supporting families affected by death. The system of inheritance was, in its pure form, meant to provide supportive and a loving family to the children left behind. Thus we talk of extended families.

is incorporated into a new family, that of John. If we look at it from a merely human point, we see that Jesus cares about the future life of his mother, and is aware that without Joseph and now, without him, it would not be easy for her mother to continue alone. There and there, he ‘makes’ a will, he creates or prepares a family for her mother to go into. Despite the disappearance of other members of the family, central to one’s life as they may be, the one who remains still needs a family. To be devoid of a family is quite catastrophic. For many, we may not realize it until we face it. Like Jesus, the Church has a role to help facilitate the creation of families when death takes its toll. Furthermore, as a community of believers in the Gospel, we have a duty in one way or another, to support, materially and emotionally the remaining members of families. The members do not need necessarily be traced based on biological lines as we see what Jesus does on the cross. It has

In marriage and family life, everyone has to leave his/her old family and start a new one. “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gn 2:24). There seems to be a big challenge in this modern day for the young to establish their own families as is to maintain them. By and large, when we think of the family and its challenges, we concentrate more on families that are already established. But there is a plight faced by those who would like to establish their families in the first place. Generally, every young person growing up has a dream that one day he or she will start a happy family. Nowadays, there are circumstances which make young women face more challenges when it comes to the time they want to start their own families and to settle down. To a greater extent, women seem to find more problems in securing lifetime partners than their male counterparts. Many of them had and still have a dream of finding someone to be married to. The little compositions they write at primary school about the man they would like to be married to, becomes a reality hard to come by. This is reflected by the increasing numbers of single mothers who

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FAMILY AS BASIC UNITY OF EVANGELIZATION had never been married. Yet marital union is valued across cultures and religions, why then is it becoming more and more difficult to establish especially for the young women? And how does the Church respond, or address such an issue? Some churches use this aspect to win followers as they include on their placards or advertising leaflets among many promises, that of finding one a husband. In some of these churches, dating then appears to be initiated by church elders to bring some two people together. This is their way of trying to answer to this problem. Whether this works or not is another story. But the bottom line is, for the young ladies who spend more time pursuing education and their careers, probably in different countries, may find it tough to secure a husband. Cultural issues also come to play as many men seem not to be interested or are intimidated by a woman more or equally intelligent and earning more money than them.

not to turn a blind ear to these realities. The first challenge posed is the survival of families after bereavement, especially of key figures of the family. It could be a father, a mother or both parents, sometimes it consists of children dying and leaving their parents. How sensitive are we as a Church to provide a shield for families that undergo such challenges? The second fairly big challenge comes when it comes to those who would like to start families of their own and seem not to be successful. No concrete solution has been

provided, but a call to be aware, sensitive and supportive to people in these situations is important especially from members of the Christian body. In a way we may be able to get successful results from that. These two aspects are some of the many challenges that families face on the social scene, but these challenges affect the whole person and it is our responsibility as Christians, to continue Christ’s mission that they may and we may have life in abundance (Jn 10:10). Fr Admire R. Nhika SJ.

In a desperate move, some give up the prospect of getting married and they go ahead to have a child out of wedlock and proceed to raise that child alone. They say to themselves that if they fail to get someone to marry them, then they will make sure that the second aspect of having a child of their own should be pursued knowing that the man involved will never marry them. In this reflection our aim was to highlight the seemingly subtle challenges that families undergo. It is our feeling that as a Church, we reflect more on these aspects so as to find ways of providing help and

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Marriage preparation and Education: getting our priorities right, (do we prepare for an event or for the long journey?) - GEORGE CHIRENDA

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hen I was growing up, I used to see young people doing the traditional marriage ceremonies and living with their husbands for the first time and it all seemed so perfect. The two would look so in love and living in a world of only milk and honey. It however would not be long until you start seeing the other side of each one of these. The woman would be seen running out of the house with a torn dress and half naked crying for help. This was domestic violence, whose classification I only got to know of later in life. The haunting question used to be and remains, “What has gone wrong in this marriage?” Now that I have grown I believe the answer is contained in the comprehension of the subject of Holy matrimony and marriage education. Civilization, urbanisation, Americanization and the 21st century has brought with it fashion designs, clothing, shoes, makeovers and many other things to make women look more beautiful! Education has enabled all to crave for the magis, the more, the better. In all that advancement has also brought with it serious challenges to couples who want to get married. There has unfortunately been a mismatch of platonic love among the young generation and what marriage really is. Many of the young people of today are getting into marriage for the wrong reasons. Some people get into marriage simply because that’s what society expects of them at a certain age. Meanwhile get married for the perceived material gain, whilst others to

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are called to persevere in every circumstance good or bad and above all to learn to please their families as they prepare to live in eternal happiness with God. Holy matrimony as a vocation calls upon all to promise to share lifetime experiences together and to serve each other with a covenantal love, which extends to agape love, love for all.

quench their sexual desires, procreate and become parents. The concept of love in marriage has since long been a bygone. The increase in divorces the world over, and Zimbabwe in particular is a huge indicator of the lack of understanding of what marriage really is. Marriage, according to Joe Babendrier (The Faith Explained Today p755) is a vocation; it is a calling from God for a man to be the spouse of his wife and also for the wife to be the spouse of her husband. Marriage is a sanctified union of the two, male and female, who are called to commit their lives to each other and vow to be faithful to one another until they are separated by death. Along with other vocations like priesthood, marriage is a way of living God’s divine call to holiness. It is very important therefore for any two, male and female who want to commit their lives to each to fully understand what this sacrament entails. Marriage is a vocation – in marriage both man and woman are called to a life of commitment to each, they

A misunderstanding of marriage as a child spinning enterprise has also led to divorce, separation or stress in couples who are not blessed with children, the fruits of marriage. The other end of marriage is established in Genesis 1:27-28: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply...” It was for this purpose also that God created man and woman: to multiply his image in the children born of their marital union. This means that he gave them a mission, an extraordinary and privileged mission, to carry on the work of creation, to be co-creators with Him (St Josemaria). It allows those who are preparing to get married to fully understand what they are called to do with their lives and also helps eliminate most of the selfish desires that most people carry before they know God’s gift for a particular marriage. The traditional understanding that marriage is for making children and if this is not so, some foreign aid should be sought, has led many Christian marriages asunder. Marriage education therefore plays a pivotal role in creating families that understand their mission and

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FAMILY AS BASIC UNITY OF EVANGELIZATION are well prepared to serve God in the way that they have been called to. Many a times couples go into marriage without having the opportunity to get educated on marriage, this has some of the most disastrous results as it has led to divorce and both domestic and sexual violence within families. This is because most of the people do not understand their role in marriage and therefore they tend to exert what they perceive as the best or what they have seen or heard in many of social circles which they belong to. Couples also do not understand that in most of these social circles people tend to say things which they themselves do not even do but simply want to portray a picture which preserves their status within these circles. Most of the wedding ceremonies of today are filled with glamour and

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flamboyance, well done, but are we carrying the same glamour and flamboyance into our matrimonial homes? The answer which I think is a big NO. Most couples aren’t prepared to face the challenges that come with marriage and are not willing to sacrifice to make happy their partners and families for happiness, love and respect in their marriage. This lack of knowledge coupled with an unwillingness to give oneself wholly to the spouse has also led to the increased cases of adultery in what society has condoned and politely dignified ‘small houses’ One never ceases to hear people referring to “small house” albeit with no shame at all. We have learnt to live with unfaithfulness, lack of integrity and a warped understanding of the sanctity of marriage. People tend to view marriage no longer as a sacramental covenant between wife and husband, witnessed before God, but we

have commercialised marriage into weddings of glamour and colour. All this has been because of ignorance on what really, the sacrament of holy matrimony is! Marriage education should be conducted by people who understand Gods desire in creating marriage, people who can clearly help couples in sacrificing their lives for their partners and their families. Because it is in this foundation that we build families, communities and nations we ought to have a stronger foundation built through people who teach the real essence of marriage and above all live an exemplary life for it is the works that are important not the talk! George Chirenda

A marriage voyage - KENIAS SHONAI

arriage is one thing that many people wish to enter into. Marriage, however is a word that denotes different things to different people but the net effect is the same, that is, a desire to have a life-long relationship. Depending on one’s perspective, in terms of Shona customs, marriage simply means a male and a female coming together and show their commitment to stay together by paying lobola. This type of marriage has limited recognition at law but it is the most common one in Zimbabwe. If they are informed enough, the partners can register their marriage and get a customary marriage certificate. To a ‘civilised’ person, marriage means marriage in terms of the civil laws. To a Christian, marriage means marriage in terms of the

such an extent that some Catholics get tired before the sacramental blessing.

Christian rites. For one reason or the other one can travel the journey from customary marriage through civil marriage to Catholic (Christian) marriage provided the parties are the same. This is perfectly allowed. However, such a route is too long and arduous to

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Marriage in general, is however a commitment by two or more people to love each other. The Catholic marriage is distinguishable from all these marriages by one feature, being indissolubility. It is a sacrament and a life commitment. For a couple to fully partake in God’s plan of salvation they have to be married in terms of the Catholic rites. However, to many Catholics it is not an easy thing to get married in Church. There are many reasons as to why Catholics seem to relax when it comes to Church marriages. Chief among them is that many Catholics do prefer cross pollinated marriages. There is also lack of proper

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FAMILY AS BASIC UNITY OF EVANGELIZATION education when it comes to Church marriages. Again generally people lack commitment. Cross Pollinated Marriages Since this is not a research, I stand to be corrected but I strongly believe that many Catholics have non-Catholic partners. I will not delve into that since my concern is on the marriage journey of some Catholics. In Shona they say “rudo ibofu” (translated to mean love is blind), in deed love knows no boundaries. By virtue of taking a partner who is non-Catholic one exposes self to faith risks. It will require the non-Catholic partner some considerable time to understand the Catholic faith. As a result s/he has to undergo some catechesis. What this means is that, in the mean time the two will be either cohabiting or will get married customarily. Understanding the meaning of sacramental marriage is one of the requirements for its validity. It is not easy for the nonCatholic partner to convert before ‘marriage’. This is an embarrassing moment since both of you will be barred from partaking in most of the Church activities. Some will not endure the embarrassment and they will eventually leave the Church. It is at this juncture that others will opt to go for the civil rites currently Chapter (5:11) formerly known as Chapter 37. There are however many reasons as to why people may opt for the Civil marriages. Some say it is cheaper and faster. Some believe it is similar to the Church marriage since the certificate is the same. All this boils down to lack of education. Lack of knowledge It is a practice in the Catholic Church that marriage lessons are given either to those who intend to marry or the married ones. By 2

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those intending to marry I mean “vagadziriri” (those preparing to receive the sacrament of marriage). I think more focus should be given to the youth. There is great misunderstanding concerning the sacrament of marriage. Common among them is that many people confuse the sacrament and the celebrations commonly referred to as “reception”. Reception and the sacrament have been used interchangeably. For many people marriage means reception and the converse is true. It is in the reception that much of the attention and energy is drawn to an extent that many average people end up thinking that they cannot manage or afford it. The focus is now on the material capability rather than in the sacrament itself. As already said above, some will resort to a Civil marriage which is “cheaper and faster” and in any case they think it is similar to Church marriage since the certificates are similar. Yet, marriage is a life-long commitment between the two covenanting with God and not what people mostly focus on, the reception. Lack of commitment Apparently, the world is becoming secular. Many people are hesitant to commit themselves for life. The Catholic marriage once it comes into existence, is indissoluble. What it means is that, parties cannot wake up one day and say we no longer love each other therefore let us file for a decree of divorce. Only annulment is possible if it can be proven that there was no marriage at all in the first place. This is impossible since there are no institutions for divorce in the Church. I am not, at this point, concerned about the reasonability or otherwise of this point, suffice to say it is the Church’s position. On the contrary, both Civil and customary

marriages are dissoluble. This has reminded me of some sentiments by a certain judge of our High Court, he said “… no matter how you try to ‘civilise’ an African man, he shall for ever remain entangled in the web of customary law and invariably shall have a customary wife somewhere in the back ground, even as he upgrades himself by marrying someone else by civil rite.”2 This simply shows that an African man lacks the commitment which is required by our Lord Jesus Christ, that as he gives himself to us a man should as well give himself to his wife. Many African men are caught in the cultural quagmire. Commitment calls for faithfulness, one wife one husband. As a result one would want to maintain some degree of freedom to opt out when things are no longer working, the freedom to divorce and take another one. Life commitment requires the grace of God. There is however much joy in the sacramental marriage. God willed that men and woman be joined in the sacrament of marriage for a purpose. Marriage is for love and God is love therefore marriage is for God. Too long a journey to the sacramental marriage is sometimes not necessary when people marry within the Church. This can be avoided if people receive proper and adequate information concerning marriages in general so that they will make informed choices. The nature of the Catholic marriage should be seriously looked into; it is too rigid when it comes to divorce. There should be room to allow those whose love would have died down to divorce since where there will be no love there will be no God. By Kenias Shonhai

Ndlovu (Nee Nyoni) v Ndlovu (Nee Sithole) and Ors HB 10-11.

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Understanding Humanae Vitae

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By Gift Mambipiri he late ever jovial Professor of Political Science at the University of Zimbabwe, John Makumbe was once invited to speak to Catholic Students from Zimbabwe’s tertiary institutions in Harare on the subject of good leadership and he started off by sloganeering: Below my belt, there is life. Below my belt, there is power. Below my belt, there could be death! His comments made in reference to human sexuality got me thinking on the incomprehensible nature of life. How can something represent both life and death? This is the same question that faced Pope Paul VI in 1968 when he gave the Church the encyclical Humanae Vitae that is both insightful and controversial till today. Insightful in so far as it lays bare the teaching of the Church on “the transmission of life” and controversial in that not all Catholic theologians and pastors agree to its definitions and prescriptions The encyclical underlines that “Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the procreation and education of children”, and any act of science designed to stall or change that is “intrinsically evil.” Pope Paul VI acknowledges the steps that science has made in human development but concludes that “the question of human procreation, like every other question which touches human life, involves more than the limited aspects specific to such disciplines as biology, psychology, demography or sociology.” In challenging couples to ‘take charge’ of their sex life outside the help of science and its birth

In building the argument against artificial birth control, Pope Paul VI teaches that married love particularly reveals its “true nature and nobility when we realize that it takes its origin from God, who “is love,” the Father “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.”

control options, Pope Paul wins to his side a key ally in human society, Mahatma Gandi who in the “Autobiography of M. Ghandhi” says “In my opinion, to maintain that the sexual act is a spontaneous action analogous to sleeping or eating, is crass ignorance. The existence of the world depends upon the act of multiplying—upon procreation, we say—and since the world is the dominion of God and a reflection of his power, the act of multiplying—of procreation, we say—must be subjected to the norm which aims at safeguarding (the development of life on earth). Critically, Ghandhi says “The man who is aware of all this, will aspire at all costs to dominate his senses and will furnish himself with the necessary knowledge to promote the physical and spiritual growth of his offspring.” In another passage from his autobiography, Gandhi says that twice in his life he was influenced by the propaganda for artificial means of contraception in conjugal life. But he arrived at the conviction that, when it comes to birth control, “one must act primarily through interior force, in the mastery of oneself, that is through self-control”.

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Artificial contraceptives, generalized, are not healthy for your family and society, says Pope Paul VI on three fundamental grounds. The first one is that “an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design which constitutes the norm of marriage, and contradicts the will of the Author of life.” The advice here is clear to married couples, that “To use this divine gift (of sex) while depriving it, even if only partially, of its meaning and purpose, is equally repugnant to the nature of man and of woman, and is consequently in opposition to the plan of God and His holy will. But to experience the gift of married love while respecting the laws of conception is to acknowledge that one is not the master of the sources of life but rather the minister of the design established by the Creator.” Another reason why artificial birth control methods are unwelcome, in the teaching of Humanae Vitae, is that they would “open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.” Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand “that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation— need incentives” to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law.

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FAMILY AS BASIC UNITY OF EVANGELIZATION

The third and final reason why Pope Paul VI, teaches against artificial birth control methods is the desire to encourage respect especially of women in sexual relationships. “A man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.” But without artificial family planning, don’t we fall into the trap of having huge families for which “responsible parenthood”, to which we are called as married couples, becomes difficult? This would be a big question especially in developing countries where family basics like health and education services are beyond the reach of many. Pope Paul VI has an answer, for which he says demands “heroic effort.” He asks couples to resort to nature whose master “has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced

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through the inherent operation of these laws.” In this regard, the Church teaches that married people may take advantage of the “natural cycles immanent” in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles. In short, Humanae Vitae says when it comes to the transmission of life, we are not God! There is no doubt a number of high profile Catholics have found this teaching to be defective, therefore rendering it controversial. The most interesting intervention was that of Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco who noted that many men and women of good will do not accept the “intrinsic evil of each and every use of contraception.” He says this conviction is shared by a majority of priests and the¬ologians, a conviction found among “theologians and pastors whose learning, faith, discretion and dedication to the church are beyond doubt.”

of contraceptives but reject the blanketing of all methods of contraceptives as “intrinsically evil’, which is akin to saying, “you are on the pill? You will surely go to hell! They insist that the basic issue is not primarily one of method, but of attitude, in use of contraceptives. The opposing views from theologians on the church teaching on birth regula¬tion, has created a dysfunctional family that is unable to talk openly about a problem that everyone knows is there. A number of bishops’ conferences, especially in the West, were clear even in 1968 when Humanae Vitae was published, to leave the choice of methods of contraceptives to “individuals’ reflection and conscience.” To the majority of people in the South, the issue is not sufficiently discussed, and for that, a great number of Catholics no longer look to the church for enlightenment in the area of sexual morality. Gift Mambipiri Executive Director Jesuit Communications

It appears the majority ‘dissidents’ against the teaching of Humanae Vitae, are not merely in support

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Traditional Concept of Bride Price and the Gender Debate - HAMADZIRIPI CHINHOI

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hen we grow up certain things are apparent, every girl dreams of one day having their own kitchen and a white wedding. The concept of marriage in the traditional understanding requires the man to pay a bride price to the in-laws, as a sign of gratitude for birthing and raising his now newly found love, the mother of his children. Lobola or price price has also been seen as a unifying symbol, joining the two families. Other circles, regard the woman as a priceless gift, whilst others put a price tag on her. This and other views have led to the general thought of doing away with this practice. This article thus intends to deliberate and discuss the importance and significance of roora and to impress upon the critical mission of marriage, even in the face of modernity which challenges roora, faithfulness, wrong interpretations of the gender debate. The concept of roora dates back to the biblical time of Jacob. There is a significant occurrence here;

in the Shona culture we have the concept of ‘KUTEMA UGARIRI’ and Jacob had to work for 7 years to have Rachel even though in the end he was deceived and had to labour for an additional 7 years. The concept of Bride Price is as old as humanity itself. In the local cultures there are different forms of marriage; roora, kutema ugariri, musengabere, kuzvarira and other forms.

note that spouses, man and woman make a huge leap into commitment to one another. Secondly, both families are joined. In our context, the bride changes her sense of belonging to that of her husband, marked by, in some cases, change of her surname, literally physically moving to the new family. A name symbolises identity, values, purpose of life, unity and a sense of belonging. The bride swears like Ruth, “your people shall become my people”. It means the wife would have to learn how to do things the family way, to present herself in the rightful manner which will not put the family name in disrepute. Therefore this change from one tradition to the next needs to be respected and appreciated. As such women sacrifice a lot by merely changing the name, not only identity but, all that is associated with the name they have to carry.

Marriage and the bride price are one single process that has a huge significance in the traditional culture. Firstly, it is important to

In the African context, the primary role of marriage is love and to participate in the mission of procreation, “go fourth and multiply”

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FAMILY AS BASIC UNITY OF EVANGELIZATION

Men have a huge task, daily you should ask yourselves, “How best can I die for my wife?” (Genesis 9:7). Because the minute one commits in the Sacrament of Marriage, the basic understanding of being co-creators with God abound. It is not enough to get married, or to have children, but go beyond to raising the children in a Catholic way. Having children is a noble thing and it strengthens the family. However, we need to pay attention to some specific details. Most of our Zimbabwean communities are patriarchal; thereby children will carry the father’s name. In addition, we need to bring into contemplation the value of a woman. Women add value to men, they give direction and wisdom in the family. Yet the downside of it is when a woman gets married in a family that offers no support to her, but rather looks at her with suspicion. Nomatter how good the muroora maybe, sometimes it is a pathetic reflex which has exposed us to the whims and caprices of the extended family. In such tough times and a jealous family, wives still do their best in executing their

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tasks and taking care of the family. When a wife comes in a family she assumes her own family and the extended family. One might ask “what is the real essence of a traditional marriage in this modern context?’ It is also crucial to refer to the gender question to provide guidance to couples in marriage. Ephesians 5:21-25 talks about wives submitting themselves to their husbands. And in truth girls/ women have sacrificed a lot for the sake of their husbands and families. And the verse continues by saying men should love and protect their wives in the manner which Christ did for the church. Men have a huge task, daily you should ask yourselves, “How best can I die for my wife?” Most wives take in the atrocities men commit [small houses, children out of wedlock, excessive drinking and other misdemeanours]. They still forgive and have the heart to take the man back no matter how bad a husband he is.

The Holy Family is and continues to be for us a model family. Joseph, Mary and Jesus are to be regarded as one unified family, a family that overcame life’s challenges without giving in to such challenges, but remained committed to the mission. Modern families, however, fail to identity their place in the wider human family, their mission as cocreators. What one would want in any marriage is love. Love is best described in 2 Corinthians 13, and if all married couples were to live in fulfilment of this teaching, family life would truly espouse God’s love for all. Finally, from Proverbs 19:14, “House and riches are given by parents: but, a prudent wife is a gift from God.” Marriage as an institution is critical for the propagation of faith, for participating in the work of creation, and finally, for the sake of humanity. Hamadziripi T. Chinhoi (NMCS President Emeritus)

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TOO GOOD FOR THE WORLD (Heb 11:38)

n our search for peace, harmony, justice, care and respect for each other it could be helpful to consider how some leaders in recent times have used their authority to build their nations. Their influence touched family life, work, government, church and sports. What is so impressive is their inner heart which showed itself as transparent and sincere. Their private lives mirrored their public life so that the person came across as integrated and living one life. I have chosen four leaders from three continents who witnessed to these values and I believe they are inspirations for our time: Mahatma Gandhi of India, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Jose Mujica of Uruguay.

Mahandas “Mahatma” (Great Soul) Gandhi (1869–1948) had an enormous impact on the social and political environment of India, although he never became the leader of the country. As a Hindu, he displayed a special care for the poor, the needy and especially the “Untouchables”. A humble man, he showed little inclination for material wealth or luxuries; nor did he show arrogance in his behaviour. He was ascetical, often fasting from food and drink. He inspired others, through his inner peace-of-mind and compassionate

understanding. As a peace-lover, he was against violence and war. In 1893, he went to South Africa and became involved in the struggle for the human rights of South Africans of Asian descent, and this led to his becoming politically active. On his return home in 1915, he used the skills he had acquired to reach out to the people of India. His influence grew as the struggle for independence developed. His non-violent approach, passive resistance and peaceful non-cooperation caught on and, although conflict did break out in some areas between Muslims and Hindus, he persevered in his approach. Some Hindu extremists were impatient with his attitude and assassinated him soon after Indian independence in 1947. Mahatma reached out to everyone and his concern was for unity, peace, harmony and justice, through inter-action, communication, negotiating and compromise. He had a deep respect for others, even for those outside of his group in political and cultural life. Julius “Mwalimu” (Teacher) Nyerere (1922-1999) was a school teacher until 1954; when he decided to devote himself to the formation of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) and campaign for the country’s independence from Britain. In

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1962, he became the first President of the independent Republic of Tanzania. In his early political career, he was known for his wisdom and moderation, although he could lose his “cool” quite often, especially when others held different opinions to his. He dressed simply. He was willing to admit his mistakes, such as when in 1983 he fell out with the Attorney-General, who had said it would be unconstitutional to appoint a certain person as a Regional Commissioner. Nyerere wanted to rescind the constitutional obstacle, but eventually saw that he was wrong. He apologised to the AG and admitted that his advice was justified. He also admitted he made mistakes over the setting up of a one-party state and in the Ujamaa village programme. Julius Nyerere drew strength from his Christian faith and was concerned about the good of the people. He tried to instil moderation and fairness in public policy. After his retirement he lived in a humble way without wealth and luxuries.

Nelson “Madiba” Mandela (1918-2013) was elected as the first black President of South Africa in 1994. He was released from 27 years of imprisonment, 18 of them on Robben Island, in 1990. He was totally committed to the struggle for a free South

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His devotion to the general good of the people, as a whole, has been of primary importance. Africa, working through the African National Congress (ANC). As a result of his working with his predecessor, F W de Klerk, he was able to bring about a spirit of peace and harmony among the opposing cultures and races in the country. And, this was recognised globally, when both leaders were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize! Mandela, as a leader, knew when to be unyielding and when to be compromising in his strategic planning and actions. He was, also, a very moderate, sensitive, measured and fair leader. His devotion to the people of South Africa, as a whole, was clearly evident. As the first black President, he could have been full of revenge and hate for his opponents, but he chose, rather, the way of healing and bringing the people together. His general lifestyle was humble and he did not display signs of seeking to enrich himself. He reached out to the whites, when South Africa hosted the Rugby World Cup in 1995. He was amazingly inspirational when he wore the Springbok rugby jersey during the final, which South Africa won! He mixed with the Springbok players, and was full of pride and excitement. Yet, the team was made up mainly of white South African players! Madiba was a great example for the rest of the world. When Madiba eventually went into full retirement, he continued to be respected and honoured both at home and abroad. He was devoted to his family and, especially, his children and other youngsters.

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Jose “Pepe” Mujica, (Born 1935) is the 40th President of Uruguay. His integrity and dedication are very evident in his remarkable

style of life. He has often been described as the “poorest President in the world”. He donates around 90% of his monthly presidential salary, approximately US$12,000 per month, to the poor and needy small-entrepreneurs in the country. His devotion to the general good of the people, as a whole, has been of primary importance. In the 1960s, he was a guerrilla fighter and escaped from prison more than once. He eventually served 14 years in a military prison and was ultimately freed in 1985, under an amnesty law, when constitutional democracy had at last been restored in the country. His political ideology evolved over time from being an orthodox leftist one to a more pragmatic political stance. He became more flexible and able to think outside the usual routines of the leftist political ideology. He is immensely popular with the people in rural areas and has also been active in interaction with the European Union and the regional trading block, Mosur. In his first speech, as Presidentelect, Mujica acknowledged

the need to interact with his adversaries, in order to bring into the country the spirit of general togetherness: “it is a mistake to think that power comes from above…; it comes from within the hearts of the masses…; it has taken me a lifetime to learn this.” Many have interpreted this statement as an admission of mistakes made by the armed revolutionaries in the 1960s. His inner attitude, behaviour and lifestyle are reflected in his private life. Jose Mujica and his wife, Lucia, live on an ordinary farm on the outskirts of Montevideo, the capital city, cultivating chrysanthemums as an economic activity. He had declined to live in the luxurious presidential palace and uses an ageing VW Beetle to travel. He comes across as one deeply interested in the good of his people, rather than himself, his family, friends or his group. Perhaps we can draw on the inspiration of people such as these 4 leaders in our search for peace, harmony, justice and unity.

Peter Boudillon, worked as an educationist with the Ministry of Education, as a researcher and education Officer for English in Harare, later on, joined Zimbabwe Institute of Management, as a senior manager and the registrar of their exams. He became involved with the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA). He also became chairperson of Harare branch.

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THE DEATH OF A POOR CHURCH

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Fr. Ignatius Musenge t remains an unchallenged fact that poverty cannot make human beings happy. And unhappy people cannot praise God correctly. People are created to be happy. One enemy to happiness is poverty especially when it is abject. This is why all human beings are in full swing to conquer poverty. Very poor people have no time to pray, all their time is to fight poverty. If they pray, their prayer is always connected to their poverty. The prayer of thanksgiving is unknown. They view life as being unfair and consequently its author must equally be unfair. They judge God harshly. In this case, poverty, by and large, has power to distort the image of God in people. The above statements are not said in order to glorify mad accumulation of wealthy. It does not mean that being rich is being happy or having good image of God. No. Happiness does not come from material wealth. There are many rich people who are not happy at all. Excessive richness and excessive poverty are both evils that do not make human beings who they are supposed to be - happy people. This is the proof of an old saying: Too much of anything is bad. But being rich is a lesser evil to happiness than being poor. Those engaged in fighting these two evils must begin by uplifting the poor first rather than bringing the mad rich down. For the believers, faith does not come from being rich neither does it come from being poor. It is a power of trusting He who created all regardless of one’s status.

lives. Their poverty includes not having personal property as such, not having outstanding reserved bank accounts, no husband, no wife and no children. It’s all poverty. It also includes being obedient, potentially no power of your own. In fact the widely criticised celibacy is just a mode of living out poverty. Today there’s frightening drop in the number of new candidates showing up to serve in the church as priests or nuns. Can the exaltation of poor life be one of the issues? Many

outsiders and critics of the church have pushed the reduction in numbers of candidates to celibacy. They have judged the practice of celibacy to be harsh. Well celibacy is and can be manageable. Some observable misconduct is not caused by celibacy. To link misconduct to celibacy is just good fallacy. In fact there’s growing love for single life even outside religious profession and outside the church. Promiscuity does not rise from celibacy. It comes from being unfaithful. That’s why even a polygamist with 5 wives can be promiscuous. So whether priests and nuns marry does not eliminate promiscuity in those who are promiscuous. They remain promiscuous. Back to poverty! While there’s growing love for celibate life by both men and women, there’s no growing love for poverty anywhere. Poverty remains unattractive. Hence calling people to live poor life is simply unattractive also. It should be guessed that no poor

Narrowing the issue of poverty to the Catholic Church, it is at the centre of the lives of priests and nuns who are the engines of the church. They are to be poor and live poor

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SPIRITUAL TIT-BITS person would like to be associated with such a calling. It is for this reason that those who have been ordained and have professed poverty find accountability and financial transparency a huge challenge. Exceptions may be there but very few if at all they exist. Those from rich backgrounds show relatively more transparency than those from poor backgrounds. Are these people unfaithful? No. It is a consequence of calling a poor person to being poor that make them error. In fact there’s hard work, individual hard work, usually unseen, by many priests and nuns to redeem themselves from the professed poverty. Where is the secret? It is in detachment, being rich but living as though one was very poor. The paradox is that there’s no detachment where one has nothing to be attached to. Classical examples of poor people such as St. Francis of Assisi were all rich personalities who at one point detached themselves from their riches and saw being rich as an opportunity to share. This is the spirit. We need rich people who know how to share. We need rich institutions that know how to share. We need a rich church that knows how to share. Young men and young women who are being called to serve in the church should be exalted to uplift themselves from poverty and be taught to share. A mechanism on how to implement this should be put in place. The poor can’t just be called to be poor. Those young people have all the good intention to serve God faithfully but one can bet, they have no intention to remain poor. They have no intention to be super rich either. Poverty is simply unattractive. In Christian tradition Jesus has been presented as a poor Saviour. The opposite is the truth. Jesus

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Christ is the richest person ever known. He possess the whole of creation even that which human beings think is theirs. He possesses all the powers that there is. It can be presupposed that his first followers, Peter and others, did not leave their boats and nets to become poor. They must have seen in Jesus the richness that he had. So leaving boats behind was like leaving nothing. They had to possess more, “a hundred fold now in this time,” mixed with persecution (Mark 10:30f). Jesus even promised them higher riches, the eternal life. No one follows a poor person. In fact these disciples were relatively rich. They had boats and nets. They could even hire workers (Mark 1). Along rivers, lakes and seas having a boat and nets is what makes one rich. “We have left everything,” Peter told Jesus (Mark 10: 28). To this statement, Jesus promises them a hundred fold reward. Jesus decided to share his riches. Paul puts it clearly, “Jesus Christ: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness...”(Phillipians 2: 6-8). Truly rich people do not hold on to riches but they come down. Here we have examples of mother Teresa and St. Francis of Assisi. Jesus is by no means a poor person. His story from Nazareth is not of a poor person but of a rich person who has come down to share with those who do not have. Jesus remains the happiest man who though rich decided to

live among the poor in order to draw them to God’s riches. Every rich person should live as he if has nothing. Evil lies in clinging to riches and not in possessing. Jesus has serious warning for the rich who refuse to share. It’s hard for them to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:23-25). The rich people who have learned the art of sharing that have made big donations to build church infrastructures. Poor countries to do not look up to other poor countries for help neither do Churches do so. A rich person who shares with the poor is called by Jesus to follow him (Mark 10: 21). Like a ball being kicked out of the playing field, the church must kick out poverty. If servants of the church, priests and nuns, who are its engines, are very poor, they will lead the church to its death. Like Jesus, they should be rich yet detached. That richness include; visible and convinced manifestation of their personal faith, economically empowered, well professionally educated, professionalism in their conduct, sensitive to social justice and great love for those who have less. The evil of mad rich selfproclaimed pastors (many of whom are baptised Catholics or even exreligious) that is witnessed today, especially in poor countries, is in fact an extreme reaction to the Church’s poor servants position. Fr. Ignatius Musenge sdb. Karuwa Parish

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IN THE MIDIST OF SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE CRISIS, THE CHURCH HUNGERS FOR EMPATHIC LISTENERS

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t seems to me, as Emanuel Levinas would think too, that the key to success in seeing and loving others is empathy. Empathy starts with an attentive listening and an intuitive reading of the uniqueness of another. Although hard to put in practice, empathy is getting inside the skin of another, walking in his or her shoes, seeing and experiencing reality as it looks through the eyes of another. In the end, most spiritual guides miss out this aspect; empathy offers not advice but only understanding. While the essence of empathy is listening to and living vicariously the life and experience, the price of empathy is sacrifice; a temporary leaving of one’s self, one’s own thoughts and feelings and one’s values and beliefs. The aspect of empathic listening is of great demand in the contemporary Church; the Church that is learning on how to open her arms unconditionally to the hopeless humanity that suffocates in the disintegrated societies. In one among my fruitful retreats, I spent some time reading the book on spiritual guidance by John Powell. In his reflection, certainly borrowed from Carl Rogers’s psychology, John Powell suggests that our experience of the human condition often involves the feelings of a person who has fallen into a deep, dry well. The desperate man trapped in the well can’t climb out, so he keeps knocking, knocking, knocking on the side of the well, hoping against hope that someone will hear him and realize his situation. Most of us find ourselves in this same situation of helplessness, in moments when we are hungry of just a little understanding from another person. If by chance,

getting out of ourselves and into the other’s thoughts, feelings, and life situation.

same as the poor man hears a responding knock from outside, someone really listens to us and registers understanding; there is an explosion of relief: “Thank God! Someone finally knows where I am. The experience of most people would seem to indicate that there are not many really good listeners among us. As part of my experience, when we try to share who we are, many others tend to leap in, reduce us and our sharing to a problem, and proceed to solve the problem. The mechanics like spiritual guides volunteer to tell us what to do. At other times they may seem to question the sincerity of our communication, or they go off into a narration of their own, assuring us that they have gone through our experiences in their own lives. None of the above reactions is part of empathic listening. The emphatic listener ought not to judge, criticize or direct, because in the act of empathy we leave our own positions, our perceptions, and most of all our prejudices. The Church is hungry for spiritual guides that will totally concentrate on the experience of another’s person. As good listeners we ought to break our fixation with self by

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When we have identified with another in this way, we are already supplying the primary need of everyone: to have someone who really understands what it’s like to be us! Only after immersing ourselves in the experience of empathy can we know what we might say or do or be for another person’s happiness and wellbeing. “All they need is a little understanding and a little love”, the old priest often said this to me. You might not have thought of this but, as it seems to me, loving is indeed an art. When we are trying to respond to the needs of another, there are no automatic decisions or fixed and final formulas. We might have to be tough or tender, to talk or to be silent, to sit at other’s side or allow that person the luxury of ‘aloneness’. Only the empathic listener can master this art. By the emphasis of this reflection, then, the eyes of love see in every other person not one but two persons: the wounded and angry, the good and gifted. It is understanding and love that call forth the good and gifted person. It is this way that Jesus Christ loved people like Zacchaeus and Mary Magdalene and the Twelve Apostles into the fullness of life. The essential prelude to love then, as this reflection pointed out, is always empathy, which breaks our own self-centered fixation and provides for the other the inestimable good feeling of being understood. Having cultivated a listening and available heart in empathy, we must then reach out to respond to the specific needs of those we love.

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INTRODUCING THE SUPPRESSION & RESTORATION OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS It is high time that the Church and its shepherds should fully recognize that. People are basically needy. No matter how much we try to conceal our need for understanding and love, we are all thirsty to be understood and

hungry to be loved. Only when this thirst is quenched and this hunger filled to the people of God, can we be the fully alive people the Lord has called us to be and serve. This is the way our brother Jesus himself sees us and it is the

same way his primary mission and vision invites us to see one another. By Rusasa Baraka, S.J Arrupe College, Jesuit School of Philosophy and Humanities

The letter – writer who brought consolation to the Jesuits - FR JOHN THORPE SJ Fr Tom McCoog SJ introduces the English Jesuit who experienced the Suppression first hand in Rome In the mid 18th century, few religious orders could rival the Society of Jesus in size and influence. More than 22,000 Jesuits operated nearly 700 colleges and 200 seminaries in the 1750s.They had powerful friends and wealthy benefactors. But they also had equally powerful and wealthy enemies, particularly in Portugal, Spain, France and Austria. Jesuits became popularised as secretive, deceptive,manipulative and devious regicides.There was also great suspicion over their loyalty to the pope.Within 25 years,anti-Jesuit forces succeeded in persuading Pope Clement XIV to issue Dominus ac Redemptor, the papal brief suppressing the Society of Jesus, in order to secure peace in the Church. As the Jesuits were progressively expelled from large parts of Europe,John Thorpe watched from Rome.Born in Halifax, Yorkshire,on 21 October 1726, Thorpe had studied at the English Jesuit College in St Omer in the 1740s,before entering the Jesuit novitiate at Watten (Flanders) on 7 September 1747.He was sent to Rome to study theology in 1756 and was ordained there around 1759.To the best of our knowledge, he never returned to England but remained in Rome until his death on 12 April 1792. From 1765 until the Suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1733, John Thorpe served as the Englishlanguage confessor at St Peter`s Basilica,a post which he himself admitted was not too demanding. So he had plenty of time for what

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must have been his favourite pastime:letter writing. Nearly a thousand letters are preserved in various archival collections. We know that Thorpe destroyed numerous letters,so we can only imagine how many he actually wrote. Thorpe began his bi-monthly newsletters as Jesuit refugees flooded into Rome, and as the Bourbon monarchs pressured the pope for universal suppression. Thorpe relates stories ranging from the macabre to the tragic as ecclesiastical Rome crumbled under Spanish and French pressure.The Englishman also provided an eyewitness account of the Suppression`s implementation. “Thorpes relates stories ranging from the macabre to the tragic as ecclesiastical Rome crumbled under pressure”

Thorpe`s Jesuit community in Rome had just sat down to supper on 16 August 1773 when a loud peal of the bell signified the arrival of soldiers.They were informed of the pope`s decision to suppress the Society and were held under house arrest for eight days. Eventually,they were allowed to leave with a few possessions and a short cheaply-made soutane:the longer,traditional Jesuit cassock had to be left behind. But where would they go? Thorpe had invitations to take up positions in an English Catholic household or in a convent on the continent. However,he decided to remain in Rome, residing instead with

friends and other ex-Jesuits. Over the ensuing years,Thorpe served as an agent for English Catholic families,especially the Arundells of Wardour, in their acquisition of antiquities and work of art.In late 1770s, he and Lord Henry Arundell,a former pupil,collaborated at Wardour on what the ex-Jesuithoped would be “the most elegant Chapel in England”. Many items in Stonyhurst`s collection were acquired through John Thorpe during this period.As well as art, he collected and distributednews and information throughout the world under the Suppression:everything from pasquinades (abusive or satirical lampoons,posted in public places) to official correspondence was copied and translated by him. Indeed,Thorpe played an important role in what was later christened by scholars as the “Ex-Jesuit International” whereby former Jesuits remained in contact to console and encourage each other and to work for the Restoration of the Society. Sadly,Thorpe did not live to see the Society of Jesus restored in 1814:he died in Rome 22 years before Pope Pius VII issued the bull Sollicitudoomnium Ecclesiarum. But others did, among them Robert Plowden, whose life and ministry in England during the Suppression will form the focus for the next article in this Jesuits and Friends series. First published in Jesuit and friends, Issue 8g Winter 2013, page 13

MUKAI - VUKANI No. 66 April/May 2014

Profile for JesCom Zimbabwe- Mozambique

Mukai / Vukani No.66  

The Church and the Family : Reflections from a vantage point

Mukai / Vukani No.66  

The Church and the Family : Reflections from a vantage point

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