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Prophets and Prophecies today â€“ Genuine worship or signs of the End times?
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inside this edition 3
Editorial - Bad shepherds or lost sheep?
Prophets and Prophecies today – Genuine worship or signs of the End times?
Prophets and Prophecy - An Elaborate presentation
Catholic Charismatic Renewal - A Church within a Church?
Catholic Charismatic Renewal - Panacea for Catholic Pentecostals
“Mercy Versus Doctrinal Discipline”
A Journey Of Hope
My unique Christmas stories
Son Of The Soil, Son Of St Benedict
Book Review: God has a Dream
A baby from Makumbe Children’s Home
Jesuit Journal for Zimbabwe No. 68 Dec 2014/Jan 2015 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, tel. (+263) 0772 717 994 / (+263-4) 309 623 e-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org 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 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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Bad shepherds or lost sheep?
Modern day Christianity, particularly in Africa, can be equalled to seventh and sixth centuries BCE in terms of the varied understanding of prophets and prophecy. There were many prophets active in Judah in the late seventh and early sixth centuries BCE. It was a time of a volatile situation, politically and religiously, further complicated by the competition between prophets, each claiming to possess the word of YHWH. Jeremiah 27-28 narrates one such encounter between two mutually opposing prophets, Jeremiah and Hananiah. Such a reference, encountered in Christian circles this day in Africa as a whole and Zimbabwe in particular, has necessitated choice of the theme for this edition of Mukai/Vukani. The proliferation of churches, of prophets and gospel of prosperity that marks these sects have been spiritual tumors concern of late. the Testimonies and miracles resulting from modern day prophecy, the misunderstandings that emanate out of the content and contexts of current prophets/prophecy is easily comparable to the classic debate between prophets Jeremiah and Hananiah (Jeremiah 27-28). The debate as such is about the authenticity of prophecy, is also reflects two modes of doing theology, of pastoral praxis and interpreting the signs of the times and of interpreting the Word. Modern prophets have been accused of cashing in on the suffering of the people, who naively respond to miracles and promises of a better life. Notwithstanding the fact that there are well to do people who patronise splinter faith groups for various reasons. In this issue, contributors have identified the mission of a prophet, basically as having been called to interpret the Word of God to a community in specific historical contexts. In the example of the OT prophets above, Jeremiah shows
forth a strong fidelity to such a mission, whereas Hananiah, on the other hand merely repeats the words of the prophet Isaiah, who prophesied about two centuries before him. Hananiah's lack of historical consciousness in his mission proves to be detrimental both to himself and to the people of Judah. Such has been the case in our day and context. However, the profile and the social locations of a prophet still has an important role to play in his grasping and interpreting the Word. What therefore is the Catholic understanding of prophets and prophecy? Concerns have been raised on the effectiveness of a pastoral practice that demands a dialogue between scripture and the concerns of the community. Ever since the Word became flesh, the Word has to be heard not from the scriptural texts alone, but also in the cries and concerns of the community. This requires serious discernment of the spirits, surfing which promptings come from the Holy Spirit. Failure to do so, has led to some misapprehensions even within the Catholic Church, of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR). Is the CCR a quasi-Pentecostal group, focusing on speaking in tongues and Spiritfilled reveries over the more traditional Catholic Church? Is the gift of prophecy limited to the CCR and Pentecostals only or open to all, even in the Catholic Church? Apparently, Christians are fundamentally prophetical in nature because they have their origin in the Holy Spirit who is the source of every prophetical action. The gift of prophecy means preaching or instructing in the Christian faith rather than merely foretelling of the future, because to teach the truth of the mystery of Christ in an enlightened way, one must be especially equipped with the gift of wisdom.
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Fr. Clyde Muropa SJ The challenge that the Christian community faces today, is the realization of the various charisms with the Church. Charisms are the gift of the Holy Spirit, originating from the promise of Christ that he would send his Spirit to his disciples, when he would return to the Father (1 John 14:26, Luke 24:49), and that this Spirit will be his abiding presence until the end of time. CCR has been interpreted as a remedy for migrating Catholics, those whose hearts lay in Pentecostalism but still want to remain Catholic! Some CCR sections have unfortunately been viewed as not being faithful to the church structures, yet the church has always accepted and believed that Christ established it with a certain hierarchical structure in which some members are invested with special powers and ministries for the service and good of the whole community. Nevertheless, in the same breath, the church also affirms that the Holy Spirit is given to all the faithful, great and small, more or less important, all have their functions and duties, from the Saints to the least gifted Christian. The season of Advent is before us and leading us into the solemnity of the Nativity. Advent is a time of preparation, of waiting in expectancy for the Messiah. With all charisms given to us, it is vital that this moment of waiting, be used for serious introspection and discerning the spirits. This is the moment to respond to Isaiah's prophecy, â€œall mountains shall be levelled, all valleys shall be lifted, to smoothen the way for the coming of the Messiahâ€?. Personal mountains and hills need to be worked on right away, so are the valleys of our life. At the birth of the Messiah, therefore, our paths will be smooth. Wishing all or readers a very joyous and Spirit filled Christmas. Stay safe
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Prophets and Prophecies today
– Genuine worship or signs of the End times? By Fr. Fanuel Magwidi OFM
The idea of Prophets or Prophecies in the Judeo - Christian view is actually a borrowed idea. The word prophet comes from the Greek word Ðñïöçôçò – prophetes from where we get two words an adjective porro, which means far away, far off, and a noun phanos, which means “bright vision”. Among the ancient Greeks this term could have referred to one who had a clear sight, clear vision of things that are still in the distance. It was then believed in Ancient Israel that a prophet could foretell the future. Perhaps some of our contemporary prophets understand themselves as prophets from this definition. They imagine themselves having this ability to foretell what is to happen in the future … conveniently the future of someone. Certainly the prophets mentioned in the Old Testament often made predictions concerning the future, but they did this in as far as it had an influence on their present situation. Like for example, if one had a serious disease like cancer, and the doctor tells the patient that “you are going to die in two or three weeks,” the doctor is predicting something about the patient's future, but it has an immediate influence on the patient. It influences the patient's present conduct.
he phenomenon of prophets and prophecy is a complex topic, and a lot of it is very subjective if not speculative. We never really know what's going on in the mind of the one who claims to be prophet and between that prophet and his God. I would like to reflect briefly on the Catholic Church's understanding of prophets and prophecy. In this discussion, I will proceed by first defining this controversial notion: Prophet … from where we get the idea of prophecy or prophecies and I will present the Catholic Church's understanding of this phenomenon and relate this to the current storm on prophets and prophecy in modern times Zimbabwe.
In the Old Testament when the prophet announced what God was going to do, it was meant to bring about a change in the current conduct of the people. In most cases the prophet intended to bring the people to conversion. In other words, the biblical prophets were mainly concerned with the Present. The task of the prophet was to communicate God's message to his contemporaries and invite them to respond at that time. This brings me to another definition of this concept of a prophet and prophecy. We can see that the same word Ðñïöçôçò – prophetes can also be understood to be made up of two elements: pro and phemi. The word phemi for the Greeks suggested “to speak”. The particle “pro” had 3 implications: could mean instead of; so here the Greek term would mean one who speaks for another, as a spokesman. It could also mean before. If we then look at our word ðñïöçôçò in this sense, it m eant “one who speaks instead of, meaning that where someone was supposed to speak the prophet would speak instead of that person or on behalf of that person. This could be in the case of God sending a prophet to speak on His behalf to the people or the prophet speaking to God on behalf of the people. The particle pro could also suggest the idea of before, as in speaking before a thing happens”, that is one who speaks in the future. He or she makes the future present. But as you have seen already, it could also propose to mean speaking before as in front of; thus the term could refer to one who speaks before or in front of someone else, and here you take into consideration the activity taken out by the person. A Greek prophet carried out his or her activity in a shrine or temple thought to be the habitat of a divinity. In Liddell&Scott's Greek-English Lexicon, a prophet is defined as one who interpreted the will of deity for benefit of human beings. Several examples of particular prophets in Greek culture are considered and each of these persons was regarded as a persona religiosa, (a religious person) and these prophets conveyed the will of deity and in this sense, the term ðñïöçôçò was understood as one who forth tells, one who conveys divine revelation, not necessarily a foreteller.
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The prophet in this sense was seen as a messenger of the Lord, who, as a believer, saw God at work in his present situation and pointed out to the people what God intended in the present circumstances. In everything the prophets said, they spoke to the current situation. They spoke from a perspective that was more "current." They were not so much interested in or even spoke in abstractions. Yes, sometimes they used symbolic language, but that would have been very clear to their audience. Where they enunciated general principles, as in Micah's definition of true religion (6:8) or Isaiah-Micah's still unfulfilled vision of a warless world (Isa. 2:2-4; Mic. 4:1-4), they spoke to the people as they were, in terms of what ought to be. For such a prophet, God is the master of history who accomplishes His saving, loving design through historical events.
We have several examples of such in the Old Testament and these persons were referred to as nebi'im in Hebrew: from the singular nabi (one called). Along with this notion of nabi, came along other titles like ro'eh, and hozeh, (seer)'ishha'elohim,(man of God) 'ishharuah, (man of spirit) 'ebed 'elohim& 'ebed YHWH,(servant of God), Mal'ak YHWH, (messenger of God) and Sopheh / shomer (watchman or guardian). In other words, the Hebrew prophet was not merely a man enlightened by God to foretell future events; but was an interpreter and supernaturally enlightened herald sent by Yahweh to communicate God's will and designs to Israel. The prophet's mission consisted in preaching. In a sense therefore he or she had to maintain and develop the knowledge of the Covenant, the Law among the
Chosen People, lead them back when they strayed, and gradually prepare the way for the new kingdom of God, which the messiah was to establish on earth. Many people today think of a prophet as any person who sees the future. While the gift of prophecy certainly includes the ability to see the future, I want to assert that a prophet is far more than just a person with that ability. A prophet is basically a spokesman for God. He or she should be a person in a relationship with God,a person chosen by God to speak to people on God's behalf and convey a message or teaching. In the biblical sense, prophets were meant to be role models of holiness, scholarship and closeness to God. They set the standards for the entire community.
Modern day â€˜prophetsâ€™ rely on captive audiences and mesmerise them with words without substance. No. 68 Dec 2014/Jan 2015
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The prophets saw and set forth visions that still stir us. They could read “the signs of the times” and interpret them for the people. As could be case, the people were not often well disposed and did not mind about the Will of God, the prophets often threatened them (prophecies of doom). Nevertheless, the message of the prophets always contained elements of hope. Disaster was never the last word. So in a way, the prophet was an optimist, because he or she was a believer. He pointed out to the people that the events of their time are already a call to return to God, to come to conversion. The prophets often insisted that things and especially people should change. This disturbed the complacency of the people, especially the leaders. One could say that the prophets were indeed “professional troublemakers”. As a result they were often hated and made to suffer. As messengers of God they would go to the kings and rulers and would tell them what God wanted from them. They would be referred in these circumstances as “the conscience of the kings or leaders”. C o n s e q u e n t l y, t h i s c o u l d sometimes upset the leaders and
the people, who would have been living self –centred and selfish lives – exploiting others. They were often seen as honest persons who spoke openly and bluntly – criticising what ought to be criticised without fear. In such cases, they would be accused of being rebels and traitors, and upsetting the peace of the community. But of course this was not true. In fact they loved their communities and people. They only criticised their countrymen and leaders because they wanted to improve their communities; they wanted their people to be a better “People of God”. Often they would not be understood and listened to. In spite of all this, they persevered, because they had the deep conviction that God had called them and sent them. They did not speak their own words, but those of God Himself. Reading through New Testament literature, one would notice that the phenomenon of prophecy is in fact not limited only to Old Testament times. The letter to the Hebrews 1:1 records that, of old, God spoke through the prophets, but now He speaks through His Son; Jesus brings to fulfilment all that the prophets had spoken and done. The OT prophets were
God's messengers of His divine revelation (John 1, 18). In Jesus all the promises of the prophets found their fulfilment. Jesus himself was a prophet and the people recognised Him as a great prophet among them for, in Him, God was visiting His people (Luke 7:16). Jesus spoke out from time to time against the religious leaders in order to put new life in them. He was hated, rejected and eventually killed. What would become of His followers? The Early Christian Community had its prophets also. They were given prominent places among those especially gifted by the Holy Spirit, second only to the apostles (I Cor 12:28; Eph 4, 11). They were called Prophets because they could read “the signs of their times” in the light of Jesus' Gospel and tell the people what the Lord Jesus wanted from them. They had a deep insight into the Christ-Event, His mystery, and they were able to apply this insight to the circumstances of their time. As such they gave an important contribution to the life of the local churches. They obviously had a function in the Church that was to witness to the fact the structures and administration are not absolute.
Prophets should be the light leading people to God.
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God spoke and still speaks through prophetic people like Mother Theresa You will have noticed that today such an office of prophet does not exist officially in the Church. From the 3rd century AD onwards, we no longer have Christians who are formally called “Prophets”, but that does not mean that they have ceased to exist. The Church is prophetic not as an institutionalised structure but because all Christians through their baptism have a share in the prophetic ministry of Christ and some individuals are chosen by God to live more fully and more explicitly this prophetic function of the Church. The Second Vatican Council in the Constitution on the Church no. 12, points out that “the holy people of God share also in Christ's prophetic office by spreading a living witness to him particularly by means of a life of faith and charity …” In other words, we are reminded that the Church of Christ is indeed a prophetic community and so there are still prophets among us. In as much as the Church may no longer be naming people as Prophets as such, it is nevertheless plain that God spoke and still speaks through prophetic men and women like St Francis of Assisi, St Catherine of Siena, St John Paul II (pope), Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Martin Luther King etc. While speaking out especially as the voice of the voiceless, strongly
defending the rights of the weak and underprivileged the prophet must be a true person, who is not afraid to be different from others, and so to be alone, like the great prophet of old. The prophets indeed have an important role to play in the up building of the Church of Christ, just as they had an irreplaceable role in the building up of the history of Israel in the Old Testament. Christians, as prophetic people, need to speak out in the world of today. Jesus gives us the supreme example of prophetic involvement. Accordingly, the prophet has to be prepared to pay the price – even sometimes of his blood for defending the defenceless like so many prophets in the history of Judaism and Christianity. The treatment given to Jesus, like to so many of His predecessors, was to be expected. (cf., Luke 13, 33). He warned shortly before his death, that the disciple is not greater than the master. Being involved means taking the risk of being hurt and is the only way, if we are to take the message of the prophets seriously. Let me also mention here that the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe has been quite prophetic in many ways. In an address to the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops in Rome, sometime this year,
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Pope Francis heaped praise on their work. Pope Francis said, “The church in your country has stood fast with her people both before and after independence and now in the years of overwhelming suffering as millions have left the country in frustration and desperation, as lives have been lost, so many tears shed.” The Pope went on to praise the prelates for the exercise of their prophetic ministry, in which they have given voice to all the struggling people of their country, especially to the downtrodden and refugees. The Church has been very prophetic in empowering the people of Zimbabwe. Considering the importance it places in education, one observes that many of the top schools in Zimbabwe were actually built by the Catholic Church in its prophetic ministry: that is responding to the signs of times. In the health sector, the Church has also been quite prophetic, by building many hospitals and clinics. In fact, many of the personnel (like nurses and other health care workers) working in those hospitals (and some of the private and Government hospitals) have actually passed through Catholic schools and institutions where they have been formed and educated in the Catholic ethos. In politics, a good number of politicians and civil servants have p a s s e d t h r o u g h t h e
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hands the Catholic Church, either because their education was sponsored by the Church or they were actually educated at some Catholic institution. There are other prophetic structures in the Church like Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation … and many other initiatives run or sponsored by the Church. These are tangible prophetic ministries. They are evidence enough of how prophetic the Catholic Church is in Zimbabwe. You will notice that these have a lot to do with empowering the people and not necessarily foretelling the future as we seem to see happening with the so called prophets. On a lighter note, one
can say also that some of the so called prophets in some of these sects or ministries as they want to call themselves were once Catholics and they received the sacraments in the Church like the Sacrament of confirmation which actually gave that power they use to prophecy… The sacrament of Confirmation empowers the recipient to be an apostle of Jesus, and with those spiritual gifts received, one is empowered to prophecy. Indeed, it is true that the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe has stood true to its prophetic mandate from the days of oppressive white rule to these days of equally oppressive black rule. However, there is still more to be done
because the human situation in Zimbabwe is getting more and more desperate. Unfortunately, what the Pope said about the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe cannot be said about the some of these Protestant and Pentecostal churches! We obviously need prophets who speak out, and who dare to stand up alone, even if this means loneliness and lack of understanding. We are not speaking here of fellows who make this charisma their source of livelihood...fleecing unsuspecting hapless and troubled Christians of their hard earned meagre resources and money in the name of prophecies.
Prophets receive from God the ability to scrutinize the times in which they live and to interpret events: they are like sentinels who keep watch in the night and sense the coming of the dawn (cf. Is 21:11-12). Prophets know God and they know the men and women who are their brothers and sisters. They are able to discern and denounce the evil of sin and injustice. Because they are free, they are beholden to no one but God, and they have no interest other than God. Prophets tend to be on the side of the poor and the powerless, for they know that God himself is on their side. from Pope Francis letter on “Year of Consecrated life”
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Prophets and prophecy – An Elaborate Presentation By Theophilus Tapfumaneyi Murayirwa
Today's prophets and prophecies in Zimbabwe are rather focused on manipulating the ordinary man's fears around the themes of sickness, death, witchcraft, poverty, barrenness and other infirmities.
Today, prophecy is one of the most consuming topics among the general population of Zimbabwe. In this article I intend to present my views on prophets and prophecy. I will speak from the point of view of the ordinary Catholic though not necessarily espousing traditional Catholic beliefs and practices in Zimbabwe. Like in any Christian denomination in Zimbabwe, the practice of ordinary Christians does not usually tally with the official teachings of the Church and those of the Bible. Part of my intention in this paper is to try to narrow this gap between ordinary Christian practice and the official teachings of the Church. Much of the ordinary Christian practices and beliefs are
influenced by the daily challenges that people face in life and the copying strategies they developed in dealing with these challenges. While dealing with the challenges, African Christians suffer an identity crisis. On one hand, there is the African traditional religion and on the other, there is the Christian religious teaching. African traditional religion is more uniform in its application because it is based on family traditions and can be easily superintended by traditional leaders like village heads and chiefs if there are disagreements. Christianity on the other hand has the problem of multiple interpretations and disagreements can result in recriminations, accusations and denunciations.
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Splinter churches have often emerged as a result of these divisions. Much of the Christian beliefs and practices with regards to prophecy and prophets are a direct product of the identity crisis among Christians. If a Church is supposed to be a community of believers with one goal, then few if any of the Christian denominations in Zimbabwe would be in existence today. The divisions in the Body of Christ have given rise to the denominations, starring ‘prophets’ and throwing ‘prophecies’ around.
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According to Felix Just, S.J, â€œContrary to what many fundamentalist preachers or latenight radio hosts would have you believe, biblical prophecy is not primarily about "predicting the future" or finding clues in the Bible that correspond to people or events in our own day and age!â€?
transmitting messages on behalf of God (as Jews and Christians believe), much of what they wrote for their own time is clearly also relevant for people living in the modern world. The overall message of faith and repentance is timeless and applicable in all ages and cultures.â€?
The prophets of Ancient Israel did not look into some kind of crystal ball and see events happening thousands of years after their own lifetimes. The books they wrote do not contain hidden coded messages for people living in the 20th or 21st centuries! Rather, biblical prophets were mainly speaking to and writing for the people of their own time. They were challenging people of their own world, especially their political rulers, to remain faithful to God's commandments and/or to repent and turn back to God if they had strayed. They were conveying messages from God, who had called or commissioned them, rather than speaking on their own initiative or authority. However, because the biblical prophets were
On the contrary, today's prophets and prophecy in Zimbabwe are rather focused on manipulating the ordinary man's fears around the themes of sickness, death, witchcraft, poverty, barrenness and other infirmities. Anyone who consciously objects to the current practices of prophets and prophecy is dismissed as someone who has not yet met these challenges or condemned as the one bringing these misfortunes to other family and community members. Sickness is in most cases a medical issue seeking the attention of doctors and nurses but most Africans including the most devout Christians have a dual if not tripoid approach to it.
Some don't even approach the medical institutions and prefer to seek solutions from village herbalists, diviners and prophets (madzibababa). While it is controversial whether their solutions are helpful or not, what is worrying is the general belief that once you see a prophet, you can do away with conventional medical solutions to sickness. People who are HIV positive are told to stop taking ARVs and rely on muteuro. Some are told to engage in sex with young children as a way of curing themselves. I have also noticed people with mild mental problems getting worse because their helpers stopped following the advice of psychiatrists. Usually this is because it is generally believed that madness is an African problem needing a traditional solution. They will quickly point at witchcraft or some traditional problem like Ngozi (avenging spirit), mombe yeumai isinakufambiswa zvakanaka, botso (punishment for having beaten one's mother) etc.
Divination or Prophecy? 10
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Death is one of the issues most people fail to come to terms with. Very few Africans can handle death without the assistance of prophets, religious priests, diviners etc. This is because death is regarded as the bridge between the world of the living and that of the dead. From an African Traditional point of view, death symbolises one's entry into the spiritual realm joining the large community of spiritual guardians o f t h e f a m i l y (vadzimu/amadhlozi). If the death rites are not properly followed the relatives might suffer various infirmities until they atone the dead person. Take for instance the question of; where does the dead person face when s/he is being buried? Is it to the East (facing Sunrise) or to the west (facing sunset?) I once witnessed an altercation between a Catholic priest and one of the undertakers at an old woman's funeral. The undertaker was saying the corpse should face the East so that it becomes easy for the person to arise when the time for the rising of the dead comes. The priest overruled him saying this did not matter because even those who are burnt to ashes will arise when the time comes. While the priest prevailed the undertaker left in a huff before the completion of the burial. Also closely associated with death is the divination on the causes of death (kurova gata) for death is never natural in an African context. Consulting diviners when one is sick or after a death in the family has been one of the most known causes of family
Prophet at work - cleansing his flock? divisions in Zimbabwe. Witchcraft is one of the issues that is manipulated by today's prophets. Stories have been told of religious men with almost supernatural powers. They are believed to be able to cast out spells, send demons (spirits of the dead) to the depths of the sea and endow their followers with a certain spirituality that will enable them to charm their ways into promotions at work, examinations and generally out of poverty. Curiously, such prophets usually have a formula and an object that they use to show their power. They can wave a hand or rod. They can touch your head or some parts of the body. Interestingly, these prophets became popular with the advent of Satellite TV in Zimbabwe and the prophets are said to have links with West African prophets. They often blame witchcraft or the evil casts by other members of the family or community for oneâ€™s nisfortunes. They also blame spirits of the dead, casts by spited lovers or even spirits hanging in
the trees that just jumped on to you when you were passing by. In conclusion, I believe that if there are any prophets today, they should be playing the same role as the Biblical ones, highlighted by Felix SJ above. Through prayer and meditation on God's word in relation to the challenges we face on a daily basis, we should be able to come up with answers on what God intends us to do in every situation. We should under no circumstances be compelled even by fear of death to violate God's plan for our life. Our main purpose is to seek what God's plan for our lives is and this might not necessarily tally with our own earthly needs. We should always humbly submit to God's plan just like what Jesus did on the cross.
What Is Biblical Prophecy? - Felix Just, SJ catholic-resources.org/Bible/Prophecy.htm
Theophilus T. Murayirwa is a Parishioner from Murewa and a lecturer at Nyadire Teachers College. He is married, and blessed with four children.
WANTED: WRITERS We invite our readers to respond to Mukai-Vukani through letters to the editor. Articles should NOT BE LONGER THAN 1200 WORDS. - Editor No. 68 Dec 2014/Jan 2015
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Catholic Charismatic Renewal - A Church within a Church? By Elie Yoda SJ Th e C ath o lic C h ar is matic Renewal (CCR) movement is one group that has attracted different views both from within the Church and outside. Some people have critically opposed it while others are in great support of it. Conservative Catholics usually oppose it on the basis that it seems to be influenced by modern and contemporary Pentecostals or they simply see them as ‘Pentecostals in the Catholic Church’. Those who support the CCR claim they had a life changing experience and the CCR helped them live a fuller life in the Catholic Church. But why does the CCR attract such type of skepticism? Does it have a biblical foundation? Does it oppose the Church? The mission given by Jesus to the apostles before ascending to heaven was to “go throughout the whole world and preach the gospel to the whole human race…Believers would be given the power to perform miracles: they will drive out demons in my name; they will speak in strange tongues; if they pick up snakes or drink any poison, they will not be harmed; they will place their hands on sick people, who will get well” (Mk 16, 15-18). At Pentecost the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke new languages. Peter, led by the Holy Spirit, preached, and the Holy Spirit came upon 3000 people, and they converted. The Pentecost experience led to the birth of a new community with people gathering together to pray and to share the Body and Blood of Christ. They were also putting their wealth together and distributing it according to the need of each member of the community. It was a community of strong faith. Through the power of the Holy Spirit the disciples preached
saints were gifted with the grace of performing miracles, healing people, speaking in tongues and so forth. The Holy Spirit has always been present in the Church and is manifest differently depending on circumstances.
Elie Yoda SJ without fear, performed miracles, healed people and were ready to give their lives for Jesus. This was a clear and distinct witness that Jesus was the Messiah and had risen from the dead. Through the strong faith and witness of the apostles, it is estimated that more than 2.18 billion people have today accepted Christ in their lives (www.pewforum.org/2011/12/19 /global-christianity-exec/) The manifestations of the Holy Spirit as described in the Acts of the Apostles seemed to be obscured at a certain moment in Church history. According to Walsh “the manifestation and workings of the Holy Spirit, as outlined in the New Testament, seemed for the most part to cease. Church preaching turned to other elements of Christian life, such as C re e d , S a c r a m e n t s a n d Commandments”1 . But the Pentecost event did not stop because the Church was concerned about the systematic prayer life of Christians. A person who grows in a life of prayer comes to get a deep knowledge of Jesus Christ which is the purpose of the Charismatic Renewal. The CCR helps Christians to know Jesus, their Saviour. Jesus said “when, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth” (Jn 16, 13). The life of the saints and mystics in the Church give witness to the Pentecost event. Some of the
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The modern Pentecostal movement did not start within the Catholic Church. It started with non-Catholics. It began at Topeka, Kansas in United State in 1901. A group of people used to gather together to pray. One day one of them called Agnes Ozman asked the other members of the group to stretch their hands toward her and pray in the manner described in the Acts of the Apostles. As a result she spoke in tongues. Six years later at Asuza Street in Los Angeles the same event happened and people spoke in tongues. The Church did not accept them. They went on to form their pentecostal groups. On the other hand, the birth of the Charismatic Renewal movement can be traced to the Second Vatican Council. Pope Saint John XXIII composed a special prayer for the Council. In this prayer he was asking a renewal through the Holy Spirit asking for a new Pentecost. Vatican II holds that the manifestation of the Holy Spirit described in Acts cannot be reduced to the biblical apostolic age, but it is actual and available today for everyone. That is why Vatican II called for an openness to other churches. Vatican II taught that “Catholics could learn from the spirit's action in other churches” (Walsh 6). This openness led a group of Catholics from Duquesne University in USA to go to pray with a “Pentecostal group in Pittsburgh” (Walsh 6) and to ask for baptism in the Spirit. After this they manifested the charismatic gifts. This was the beginning of the Charismatic Renewal movement in the Catholic Church. It spread rapidly over the world.
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May the spirit of the Lord come down The Church sees the Charismatic Renewal movement as a gift offering Spiritual Renewal within herself. Saint John XXIII and Pope Paul VI prayed for a renewal in the Church, for a new Pentecost.
same Spirit who inspired their writing. Certainly one of the most important results of this spiritual reawakening has been that increased thirst for holiness which is seen in the lives of individuals and in the whole Church."1
certain categories of people but a movement for everyone in the Church. As Cardinal Suenens said: “It is a movement of the Spirit offered to the entire Church and destined to rejuvenate every part of the Church's life”.2
Saint John Paul II said that: "The emergence of the Renewal following the Second Vatican Council was a particular gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. It was a sign of a desire on the part of many Catholics to live more fully their baptismal dignity and vocation as adopted sons and daughters of the Father, to know the redeeming power of Christ our Saviour in a more intense experience of individual and group prayer, and to follow the teaching of the Scriptures by reading them in the light of the
The Catholic Pentecostal movement is not a church with a different doctrine from the mother church. The CCR “believes in the Catholic Church and in the authority given to the Church by Christ” (Walsh 8). They are obedient to the Church authority such as priests, bishops and so forth. The CCR is not in contradiction with the Church. It is a way of life. The CCR through the baptism in the Holy Spirit reawaken the gifts received during baptism. The Charismatic Renewal is not a movement for
1 CCR of Arlington Diocese “History of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal” http://www.arlingtonrenewal.org/history. Assessed: 14/11/14. 2 Ibid.
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Elie Wossoyam Yoda is a Jesuit Scholastic from Burkina Faso, currently studying Philosophy at Arrupe College. He is doing his apostolate with UZ Charismatic Renewal.
CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL - A panacea for Catholics who want to be pentecostals? By K P Matsikidze
powered by the Holy Spirit.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, including perspectives that the CCR is a panacea for Catholics who want to be Pentecostals or that the CCR is a Church within the Church. Through an outline of the CCR history, identity and purpose, it is the writer's prayer that what the CCR is and stands for will become clearer. The article demonstrates in the process that the Catholic Charismatic Renewal derives its identity from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church; the Church founded by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is this Church that is being refreshed, re energised and revitalised by the power of the Holy Spirit, which constitutes the CCR. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is therefore not the Catholic Church's response to Pentecostalism, but the Old Catholic Church going through continuous transformation. The history of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is traceable to the turn of the 20th century. Then, an Argentine nun, Sr Elena, at a convent in a small town in Italy called Luca near Florence, sent a note to Pope Leo XIII inviting, asking and begging him to begin the year by starting a nine-day Novena. This Novena was dedicated to inviting the Holy Spirit back into the Church. The Pope went on to publish a small d o c u m e n t c a l l e d 'Provitamatriscaritate' and invited the whole Church to dedicate 9 days before the beginning of the New Year to pray, intercede and ask the Holy Spirit to fill the Church. On the eve of the New Year, 1900, Pope Leo XIII invited people to St. Peter's Square and after greeting them, he began his address with a song called 'VeniCreatoSpiritus', meaning 'Come Spirit of Creation'.
Catholic - The CCR in an integral part of the Catholic Church. In Matthew's gospel, Jesus assures us that He will not abandon the Church He founded and continues to head, with His followers being constituent parts of the Body of Christ. “I am with you until the end of the age”. Mt 28: 20b. Being Catholic, CCR follows the doctrine of the Catholic Church as well as regards the hierarchical structures of the Church.
K P Matsikidze
Through this, the whole Church was dedicated to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the century then began with an invocation of the Holy Spirit.
Charismatic - stems from the gifts the Holy Spirit freely and willingly given to individuals. “Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church.
Some years later, in the same 20th century, groups of Methodist and Catholic students in the United States who went on retreats separately, experienced the manifestation of gifts of the Holy Spirit when they laid hands on each other and prayed for the There are sacramental graces, gifts outpouring of the Holy Spirit. proper to the different sacraments. There are further – more special In preparation for the Second graces, also called charisms, after Vatican Council (Vatican II), Pope the Greek term used by St Paul and John XXIII circulated a prayer that meaning “favour,” “gratuitous was to be prayed or recited by the gift,” “benefit.” Whatever their whole Catholic Church. Included character – sometimes it is in the prayer was the phrase, “Lord extraordinary, such as the gift of renew your wonders in this our day miracles or of tongues. Charisms as by a new Pentecost.” This are oriented towards sanctifying phrase leaves one wondering grace, and are intended for the whether the Pope meant pouring common good of the Church. They out the renewal of the Church to are at the service of charity which the degree of, or to the equivalent builds up the Church.” (CCC of “A New Pentecost?” The 2003) interpretation of Vatican II documents, together with how the “Charisms are to be accepted with renewal of the Church is taking gratitude by the person who shape, suggests that the Lord's receives them and by all members response to that prayer, the world of the Church as well. They are a over, is along the lines of “a new wonderfully rich grace for the Pentecost.” apostolic vitality and for the T h e C a t h o l i c C h a r i s m a t i c holiness of the entire Body of Renewal derives its identity from Christ, provided they are genuine the constituent parts of its name. gifts of the Holy Spirit and are CATHOLIC, CHARISMATIC, used in full conformity with RENEWAL with a revitalisation authentic promptings of the same and refreshing, emphasis and Spirit, that is, in keeping with
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charity, the true measure of all charisms.” (CCC 800). “It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Catholic Church's shepherds. “Their office (is) not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,” so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together “for the common good” (CCC 801). CCR is thus guided by the prayer: Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in us the fire of your love; Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.
Renewal Many Catholics view renewal as setting a new direction for the Church, rather than as a return to a love, favour and practice of faith that existed in the past.The Vatican Council's teaching is often interpreted as this type of renewal; the idea being to change things to bring them up to date as with technological advancements. This interpretation overlooks that much of what the Vatican Council taught is an affirmation of authentic past practices and understanding of the Catholic faith. Authentic renewal relates to the rediscovery and re-appropriation of elements that truly belong to the Church as it has been instituted by Jesus Christ and that strengthen and enrich her. This renewal unfolds in history through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. One of the most fundamental teachings that emerged from the Council, through the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, was the call of all Catholics to
A youthful spirit-filled church holiness. (Lumen Gentium 5) Each follower of Christ is invited to actively follow the example and teaching of Jesus Christ (to be Christ like) in the power of the Holy Spirit. “So be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5: 48). That also entails a readiness to suffer for the sake of the Lord, for “whoever does not take up my cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.” (Mt 10: 38)
Purpose of CCR The purpose of the CCR is aptly captured in the CCR objectives covered in the Vatican approved Statutes of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS) and in our own Zimbabwe Statutes. In a nutshell, the CCR seeks the conversion, salvation and sanctification of all people and their unification into an effective Assembly of God's people. The centrality of Christ Jesus as stressed by the need for an active, continuous and personal conversion to Jesus. The need to nurture a sound personal relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, as emphasized in 1 Cor 12: 3. There is also the need to empower the in-dwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in us as insidivuals as an essential component of CCR. The
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importance of charism or gifts of the Holy Spirit cannot be over emphasized as it forms the central foundation of the CCR. These gifts, however, are to be used for the benefit of the entire Church (1 Cor 12:4-11). Similarly is the the call to prayer, and to the praise and worship of God and essential is (Acts 2: 4247). The community is thus built as the Body of Christ (Acts 2:42-47) and is commissioned to evangelize and witness (Acts 1:8, Matt 28:1920). Finally, CCR goals are derived from the mission of Christ to the Church in Luke 4:18. The soul of CCR thus is baptism in the Spirit. The Catholic Church's sacramental and spiritual graces provide the sources of the Church's immense potential to address the practical challenges faced by humanity. This is being achieved through the CCR transforming the Church to be relevant through delivering solutions to practical challenges faced by all people. Such solutions include healing, counselling and deliverance. These solutions are a result of the hand of Christ Jesus working through the members of the body of Christ, the Church. K P Matsikidze is the Coordinator of Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the Archdiocese of Harare.
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MERCY VERSUS DOCTRINAL DISCIPLINE By Fr. Tim Peacock
‘Many church members are lost due to stringent church laws’
Does our ‘rigidity’ drive them away?
any a parish priest suffer the dilemma of losing members due to stringent church laws, for example, marriages and other sacraments are shrouded in numerous requirements that make them not easily accessible or completely inaccessible to many parishioners. Yet, in other sects, people enjoy “freedoms” and participate fully due to relaxed rules and a welcome size fits all attitude. This comparison, has posed huge challenges on the parish priest as he continuously lose members. In responding to this concern, I was invited to offer my own remarks on the above topic, which I see affects many of us parish priests. I run a rural mission with 23 outstations and just over 2,000 Catholics. It is true we lose many of our members these days to other churches, but I find there are many different reasons why people leave the church. I often come across apostates since I have a habit of asking those I meet if they would mind telling me which church they belong to. The large majority of them profess to
belong to one sect or another membership of the mainline protestant churches seems to be very rare in our area. Very few admit to being apostates, but I often ask a further question, 'would you mind me asking if you were ever in our church?' I find a sizeable minority admit that not only had they been in our church but that they were also baptised in it. Whilst I find some leave our church since they find other churches less demanding, I find the majority leave for other reasons. I want to share with you a summary of what I have heard.
Some reasons why people leave our church; Ignorance about the Catholic faith; - The faith of many of our members is shallow and when a member of a sect bumps into one of them on the roadway and challenges them to join their own church they have no defence for our Church. All someone from a sect has to say is, “Saturday is the Sabbath”, or “You have no Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church” or “There is only healing in our own
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church”. Most of our members have no answers to statements such as these, and so, after spending two years learning catechism they manage to leave our church after a five minute conversation. Maybe it would help to have another article where challenges to our faith such as these can be answered? There is a lot of pressure to join other churches; - There is a lot of proselytising done. The main reason surely is the lure of the tithe, so the pastors insist on their members being very active in gaining new members. It amazes me how many sects are cheating their members, yet the members are blind to it. Our youth are attracted to the sects; - Our youth can be attracted by the prospect of all night dancing and singing, plus the excitement that goes with apparent healing and deliverance. Mixed marriages; - Marriage is another reason why many of our girls leave the church. If they are proposed by someone from
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another church I find a sizeable majority of them leave the church immediately to join their husband's church. They seem to feel that their husbands have to come first, even before God. The frustrations of being 'half married'; - The strictness of our rules does come in to play here. Our couples often spend years together even before making any attempt to marry in the church. But by then many men have already lost interest in going to church whilst some of their wives have been tempted to join other churches. In those churches they are regarded as 'full' members, with no pressure made on them to marry. In our church the fact of being denied the Eucharist can often make 'half married' couples feel they are not 'full' members anymore. This is where we priests may be tempted to support the 'watering down' of church teachings concerning marriage. But surely we would be going against the Bible if we did that? If Christ himself insisted that it must be God who cements a marriage relationship, then what right have we to tell unmarried couples that it is OK to just live together, whilst at the same time keep on receiving the Eucharist? What is excessively stringent about insisting that members of our church should keep the commandments? The problem of marriage break ups; - In one or two cases I have found people leave our church due to the frustration of going through divorce proceedings, followed by annulment proceedings, which often takes some years. Whilst it istrue that the process for gaining annulments is tedious and lengthy I find the bigger challenge is the time it takes to get a civil divorce. Few of our people can afford to hire lawyers and so it can take years to raise the capital needed. Instant membership of other churches; - Our catechumens are supposed to attend catechism classes for at least two years, and yet in other churches they become full members even on the
occasion of the first time they attend a service in that church. Though some may criticise us for making the catechumenate so long, I feel there are at least two good reasons why the time is not wasted: firstly, we have a lot more to teach about our church than the other churches since they have little or no doctrine, and secondly, another reason is surely that this time is needed both for the candidate and the church authorities to discern if they are ready and suitable to commit themselves to a Christian life. The challenge of sickness; -The challenge of how to cope with sickness is another reason in my opinion why many leave our church. Christ preached that if we wish to follow him we should deny ourselves, take up our crosses in life, and then follow him. This is a message we don't want to hear! The sects are past masters at defying this teaching, preaching the gospel of success instead. 'Healing, healing, miracles, miracles,' is their message, and it tickles our ears. The sects promote a way of behaviour which is following the way of the world, but Christ warned that Satan is 'the prince of this world'. A lack of a sense of belonging in our church; - This can occur when our congregations are large. The intimacy of the small congregations, often associated with the sects, is to their advantage. The promotion of our
own SCC's (Small Christian Communities) is important here. The influence of the God channels; - This does not affect us much in our parish since very few have TV's, but we quite often meet people who have been influenced to join other churches due to watching god channels. People don't realise how dangerous these channels are. These channels preach nothing about the sacraments or the commandments, but they preach a lot about healing, miracles and tithing. Conclusion; - It is sad to see many of our members leaving our church. I find the majority leave our church out of ignorance of the claims of our church. Invariably I find our catechesis does not empower our Christians to defend out church. I would be very happy if new catechisms could be published, particularly for those preparing for confirmation. These publications could include topics on the defence of our church, the meaning of suffering, the dangers of following false prophets, and the beauty of Christian marriage. I would agree that the strictness of our rules does drive some to leave our church, but it is a minority. I also can't see that our 'strictness' can justify watering down our rules. We cannot compromise the truth. Fr. Tim Peacock is a Diocesan Priest working in Hwange Diocese
belonging in A lack of a sense of
churches r e th o f o ip h rs e b m Instant me
The inf The challenge of sickness luence of the G Mixed marriages Our youth are o attracted to th d channe ls e sects
Ignorance about the Catholic faith married' lf a 'h g in e b f ns o The frustratio ressure to join other churches There is a lot of p
The problem of marriage break ups
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Of Nomadic Catholics and Sunday only faithfuls By Paul Tivenga
This discussion was teased by the concern that there are Catholics, who in the morning are at Mass, and in the afternoon, they seek solace in some Pentecostal crusades. Whereas for some, Sunday worship is enough and the rest of the week is left for “themselves” to seek healing, deliverance and prophecy. Africa, according to John Mbiti, is notoriously spiritual. But there is need to engage thoroughly with “apostates”. Paul Tivenga
The word nomad is derived from a Greek word that means one who wanders for pasture. They don't have a permanent home, and they move with no proper formula. Today they are here tomorrow they are there, as long as they get what they need for that particular moment, all will be fine with them. They wander aimlessly and seemingly in confusion, roaming about from place to place frequently without a fixed pattern of movement. The above definition befits most people we have today in the Catholic Church. On Sunday we worship together and midweek they are at interdenominational prayers, on Sunday they come for Mass and midweek they belong to the African Tradition Religion. What are such people really looking for and why? This article is an attempt to answer these and other related questions.
greener pastures outside the Catholic Church. The so called prophesies, healing and deliverance sessions, are so luring and hope filled. Since someone will be in search of instant results it is most likely that they are easily drowned, they will follow the waves and begin to enjoy being told what they want to hear. The other contributing factor is laziness: Most of these nomads They say the Catholic Church are very reluctant when it comes sticks much on doctrinal issues t o p r a y i n g , t h e y w a n t rather than dealing with needs of someone/others to do it for them. this modern generation. They Out there everything will be done want jobs, marriages, and good for you, the so called man of God, living, (material prosperity) and or Prophets will do everything for out there they are told, “Before the you, what is just required of you is end of this year you will be to believe and wait for the results,
It has come to my knowledge that most of the nomadic Catholics are failing to identify what they are actually meant for, their exact destination and how they will reach that destination. Confusion is their daily bread, they do not understand what is best for them, and they just do what they deem necessary at that particular moment. One major cause is, they assume that there is no spiritual nourishment within the Church; hence they go out there in search for it. The preaching out there is so cunning and attractive, in other words there seem to be
married, by the end of this month you will get a job, and sooner you will be driving you “own car”. Then they will begin to see light, their dreams seem to be coming true, and they are filled with hope, and a better future is promising. On the other hand the Catholic Church will be preaching about the cross, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me”. (Matthew 16: 24). This is not good news at all to someone who is in search of a better living and moreover someone living in Zimbabwe, a country derailed in an economic meltdown. On the c o n t r a r y, t h e s e u p c o m i n g Ministries will be saying “God does not want his people to suffer, a follower of God will be blessed with riches, and will prosper”.
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and the results are always said to be instant, you will not wait for long before you receive what you want, miracle money, miracle baby, miracle whatever. Peer pressure is also a contributing factor especially amongst the youths, as some are being pulled by friends to these crusades, someone will attend mass in the morning, and then accompany a friend to a crusade or to a prophetic healing session etc, during the afternoon. I would like also to point at the current formation system within the church as one of the contributors to these nomadic activities. Catechism seems to be just meant to help someone receive sacraments hence they are just taught to prepare for catechism tests not that they gain long lasting knowledge of the Church. Most of the young people who attend catechism lessons are just good at cramming things so that they pass the tests and qualify to receive sacraments, like holy communion, confirmation etc, and after this has been achieved it will be all done and there will be no need for them to deepen their knowledge of the church. This has a higher risk in the sense that, when someone is not well informed about the teachings of the church, that person is easily swept away from the church by these roaming and upcoming Ministries. At the same time lack of faith also leads to this exodus, because when someone is stronger in terms of faith and belief in the Church, he or she will stand to endure any hardships and challenges that may come his or her way. Some people also visit traditional healers seeking help, because they suspect some challenges in life are beyond God. Some are forced to attend healing ceremonies, for instance, the majority of the extended family are attending such ceremonies for family cleansing, someone will be forced to attend because they fear that if they absent themselves,
...another moment, they sing a different hymn they might end up being blamed as and he himself will be playing a the ones causing family problems, greater role to make these people and end up being victimized. realize where the truth lies, and hence they will end up being led Some of these people are being back to the church by the spirit of pushed away from the Church God. especially by what people say against them. For example, “Often, we hear people say: the separated or divorced or single Church doesn't do this …the p a r e n t s a r e n o t w e l l Church doesn't do that!' 'Tell me accommodated in the Church, who the Church is? – 'is the people will be saying a lot of Church the priests, the bishops, negatives against them especially the Pope …?' We are all the within the small Christian Church! All of us, all of us communities (Sections), and by so baptized! We are the Church, the doing they become uncomfortable Church of Jesus'”. Pope Francis and search for solace elsewhere. said these words during his General Audience on 29 October However, the Catholic Church is 2014. I therefore recommend that well known for being the Church everyone must play his/her role in which was established by Christ the Church, let's not wait for himself, and it's very rich in terms everything to be done for us. of sacraments, teachings and Through baptism we were made doctrines. Many of these people Priest, Prophets and Kings, so know this very well and they will nothing should stop us from using never want to completely part these gifts to achieve what we ways with the church, they know think we should achieve in the that if they fail to achieve what Church. There is no need for they wanted out there, they will anyone to go outside there to look always have a home to go back to, for things that are already there and will be accepted back as the within the Church. prodigal sons and daughters of the church. I also want to believe that Paul Tivenga, Liturgy Chairperson, Jesus Christ himself is much more St Agnes Catholic Church, Zengeza concerned about the lost sheep
On Sunday we worship together, but midweek, they are at interdenominational prayers. On Sunday they come for Mass but midweek they belong to the African Tradition Religion.
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A JOURNEY OF HOPE - Reflection on ADVENT 2014 By Fr. Oskar Wermter SJ
The people of Israel whom hunger had driven to Egypt, the breadbasket of the region along the Eastern seacoast, had fallen into the hands of the Egyptians. Turned into slaves, they did hard labour for Pharaoh. They still remembered where Abraham and Isaac and Jacob had come from “Ur of the Chaldaeans” and the “land of Canaan”. But they did not go back there. Moses was called to take them out of “the house of slavery” and lead them into the “Promised Land”, a land of “milk and honey” they had not seen yet. The people of Israel never forgot where they came from. But above all they were people looking forward to the future. They were people of Hope. When Jerusalem was captured by the kings of Babylon and they once more had to serve their enemies as slaves, the prophets promised them freedom. A Messiah would come and re-establish the reign of their greatest king, David. He would not just come to drive their Roman oppressors into the sea, but he would “bring justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42: 1). The Messiah, the Anointed one, the Christ, the Son of David did come. Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the words of the Prophets. He brought “good news to the poor”
(Luke 4: 18). He said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4: 21). He announced the “Kingdom of God” and promised he would come again to complete it at the end of time. Those who believed in Jesus would not just remember him nostalgically as a great figure of the past, but would look forward to his “coming again”. Having triumphed over “sin and death” as the Risen One, he would establish the Kingdom of Justice, Love and Compassion once and for all. His followers would be people of Hope too.
We are a people of Hope, but unfortunately we do not really celebrate it. Yes, we hear the message and we see the priest dressed in purple, the colour of repentance. But we do not repent. We do not purify our hearts (through confession, for instance). We celebrate Christmas already. Christmas parties start as early as October and November. Why? Because we have secularized Christmas. We celebrate Christmas without Christ. We celebrate X-Mas, a pagan, un-Christian, Christ-less feast of over eating, gluttony, drunkenness and horrible accidents killing dozens as a result of drunken driving.
That is what we are as Christians, people of Hope. That is what we celebrate during ADVENT, on the four Sundays that precede CHRISTMAS, the birth of the Messiah, Christ the Saviour. We remember the people of Israel on their long journey to the Promised Land and their hope for the Messiah, Christ, and Son of David who would announce a new kingdom.
And we shame the poor who do not even have a chicken while we gorge ourselves with heaps of beef and goat meat. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall be dead”. People eat and drink, dance and rejoice, but they have no hope. They get drunk so as to forget.
We expect and long for Christ to come again to fully establish the Kingdom of God, the “new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelations 21: 2).
The great hope people had in 1970 -79 has not been fulfilled in our country. There is a rich upper class that has maintained the status quo by looking after itself at the expense of the majority. The elite class hope to keep its wealth in
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spite of the majority of the people who are as poor as ever. The rich focus on their affluence and neglect the abject poverty in the majority. There are people who have reached middle-class status, have decent houses, maybe cars, but they are frightened this may be taken from them by the failing economy. Their children cross the borders, not as 'freedom fighters' but as job seekers. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied,” said Jesus in the 'Beatitudes' (Sermon on the Mount, Mt 5: 6; 'righteousness' can also be translated as 'justice'). Justice will come, Jesus says. The self-centered ones who only care about their own comfort and wealth, the looters and embezzlers, the profiteers and racketeers who make money out of manipulating their banking business very cleverly, the violent ones who threaten us with armed power, but will not win.
But do we really yearn for justice, or just to come out on top of the pile while those at the bottom, crushed by those on top, perish in poverty and hunger? Some Christians have been misled. They think the Kingdom of God and its justice is only for heaven, for the end of the world. While we are here on this planet Earth, there is only injustice, oppression and suffering.
walk with a young woman who is with child, Mary who will soon be called the mother of Jesus, the mother of God. The child she is carrying in her womb is the reason of our Hope. In this child, God identifies himself with all the children of this world. He will be the “Word of God” in person and say, 'Whatever you do to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do to me.' (cf. Matthew 25: 40). The sick and hungry, the naked and those in prison, Jesus says that he is one of them. This is the Kingdom of God, the kingdom of justice. This gives us Hope. This gives us courage to work, not just for ourselves, but for the Common Good and for Justice.
That is quite untrue. If we really believe in the coming again of Christ and his Kingdom of Justice then our Lord empowers us to work for justice, here and now. We will not see heaven on earth. We will not enter paradise here and now, but we can work for justice, have compassion and mercy, share the resources of this earth more equitably, preserve God's Creation for our children and grandchildren, and recognize the dignity of every human being.
During Advent we renew our Hope. We renew our dedication to working for justice and more equality. The one who will establish the Kingdom of God and realize its justice is very near. His mother is looking for a place where she can have her baby.
During this time of Advent we
Fr. Oskar Wermter SJ
My unique Christmas stories By Fr Admire RufaroNhika SJ
I come from Makumbi, I live in Makumbi and my home is Makumbi Children's Home. A unique home indeed, something I came to realize as I started to go to the pre-school and from my past two years at Makumbi primary school. I have not yet seen many Christmases yet, but I have seen enough to share my experiences of them. I have many brothers and many sisters, I live in one of the houses, one of the 8 houses which form part of our compound. The name of our house is Mukarati. It is the name of a beautiful African tree. One of the uniqueness of where I come from and who I am, already comes from that fact. My other friends do not have houses with names of trees, they do not have houses with numbers, nor houses with any specific name whatsoever.“Your house does not have a name why?” I had asked one of my friends from the preschool. “Well, I don't know, I just know it as kumba kwedu. But,
Let the children come to me there is the name of our village and its name is Shereni, people call it KwaShereni, some boys and girls sometimes refer to it as kwaShedza”. Replied my little
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friend Rumbi, wondering why their house had no name. As we played then with our toys and dolls, we tried to ask some of our mates to find out which ones'
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house had a name. Only those with houses with names came from the Home, as everybody calls our compound of 8 houses. Names like Msasa, Mukute, Mupane and so forth. Some talked of their fathers and mothers. And my friend once shared with me, “My father teaches at the primary school, and how about yours, what does he do?” “Mine works in the office, he is Father”. I also came to realize that my Father, whom I had initially thought was only our Father at Mukarate house, was also the Father of the other 8
houses. As we introduced ourselves, all of us from the Home, would give a particular name of the mother of the house and when it came to that of the father, he was the same person. The mothers also were 2 for each house, one was the maivakuru who is with us for 24 days but disappears for some 8 days. And for those 8 days, there is a substitute mother, or maivadiki who comes to take care of us. An arrangement that puzzled Rumbi again, but she could not ask further questions. I realized then, that it is only us,
from the Home, who had a father whose first name was Father – as I imagined those days. “But, your father has many children!” retorted little Rumbi some other day when we were playing, looking puzzled again about something about me. “How many children has your father?” I asked. “Five, we are five, 3 boys and 2 girls, and I am the last born,” Rumbi replied sharply. I tried to give my detailed facts about myself as Rumbi did, but I hesitated, because, though I knew that at the home we were 88, I did not exactly know how many were boys and how many were girls,
Jesus came into the world as one of the little ones
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moreover, whether I was….56th born, or 40 something born. There were quite a number of those older than me, and quite a number of those younger than me. I remained stuck as Rumbi looked at me in great expectation for what I would say about our strange home, strange mothers and strange Father. “Well, I am the 4th born in Mukarati house.” I said confidently. It was only at Christmas when I realized that Fr Mueller was not only the Father of 88 children, but there were some elderly men and women who visited us and gave us presents, these were referred to by Sr Alois as former children of the Home. They asked affectionately about their father, Father Mueller. “But how come, these former children of the home, are not former children of Father”? I was thinking to myself, harboring a little jealousy that our Father had even more children, which explains the little attention accorded to us, and especially, to me. Sometimes he forgot or mixed our names, and we would laugh and remind him. It was also at another Christmas, the one that followed, when our mother at Mukarati house called us to hurry up getting dressed, so that we could meet Father in the hall for the party. So, when our mother was calling upon us to be on time, she shouted, “father is already there!” I then posed the following question to her: “Is he your father?” She looked at me curiously, then she shrugged and calmed down, with a gentle nod she said, “Yes”. She and I knew that I had discovered something, and that I was adding some pieces together. I knew it straight away that she figured what was going on in my head, having stayed with
another family during the previous holidays. There was something unique about this father of the Home. He is the first one of a kind I have seen who is a father to the children of whom the mothers are not his wives. Things at the Home are quite different from elsewhere, I came to conclude. It was at the Christmas of 2013 when I realized something new. Many people came and would bring different gifts, for example, sweets, biscuits, juices. These were referred to as Christmas Visitors. Most of them came in droves, especially from Christian groups. They chatted with us, prayed and handed over their donations. But it was during the prayers of these people, that I noticed some uniqueness in all of them. Some would pray calmly and some loudly. I usually did not pay attention to their words as they pray, they always say more or less the same petitions somehow. What caught my attention was one woman, praying loudly, “Yes Lord! You are the defender of orphans, take care of these orphans!” I looked at her and though her eyes were closed, she was gesticulating towards us. That is when I heard that word or became aware of that word, “orphans” as referring to us. As other groups of Christians came, each and every individual would say “orphan” in his/her prayer. In my thoughts I said, “an orphan must be a very special person, because everyone prays for the orphans at Christmas”.
as I liked to listen to her as our stories would be different. She always got puzzled with my stories as I discovered the uniqueness of my place when I listened to her. So, the beginning of the year would always be a time to share Christmas stories. Our stories were running parallel for most of the time despite the usual differences of the types of visitors they have at home - family members, cousins, uncles and aunts. Whereas at the home, the visitors would be mainly people from different organizations, Church ones and secular ones. Rumbi told me that the visitors at their home hardly mention that word when they pray. One most unique thing was when we shared about our presents. “What do you do on boxing day?” Rumbi asked. “Well, in the morning till afternoon, we help sister to sorting out the Christmas presents, separating the old ones, worn and torn ones from the seemingly fine to new ones”. Rumbi was puzzled again, and I could not figure out why. “You sort out presents, and your presents are old and new, how come?” “Don't you sort out presents at your home?” I hit back. She sighed and exclaimed, “Presents are always new!” And there goes again, another unique thing about the Home, presents come in different packages, very old and ragged, fairly new and new ones. The lucky year is when there are more new ones than old ones.
However, coming back to school, now in grade 2 in 2014 and again, sharing the same class with Rumbi, who liked listening to me
Fr Admire RufaroNhika SJ is Mission Superior at Makumbi in Domboshawa. He writes in the voice of a child from their Home at the mission.
Mukai-Vukani (“Rise”) Jesuit Journal for Zimbabwe serves as a Bulletin for Theological Refection among Jesuits in Zimbabwe and their friends. It tries to help us answer the question, “What direction do we have to follow in the light of the Word of God at this moment in time?” (Mukai 23, p.2), facilitating dialogue among Jesuits and their friends based on study, prayer and discernment. No. 68 Dec 2014/Jan 2015
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SON OF THE SOIL, SON OF St BENEDICT The Solemn Profession of the first Zimbabwean Benedictine monk By David Harold-Barry SJ
Placid Mavura, from Marymount, became the first Zimbabwean to become a monk when he made his solemn commitment to live his life in the Benedictine monastery of Christ the Word at Monte Cassino, near Macheke, on 25 January 2014. In a moving simple, yet solemn, ceremony he was welcomed into the community of St Laurence at Ampleforth, a village near York in the North of England, by the Abbot (father) of the community, Fr Cuthbert Madden. Christ the Word was founded by the community of Ampleforth in 1996 and will remain dependent on them until it attains viability as an independent abbey on its own. Br Placid spent seven years in the monastery before taking this final step so is now well acquainted with the life of monks in a monastery. It is a way of life that had its origins in Africa in the third and fourth century when Anthony of Egypt first laid down guidelines for those who sought to flee the distractions of the emerging cities of the late Roman Empire by devoting themselves to prayer in the desert. Monasticism became the seedbed of some of the early pillars of the church like St Basil and three other great “fathers of the church” who were all called Gregory. Benedict himself lived about a century later and he provided a rule which gave identity, structure and inspiration to generations of monks. During the turbulent times of the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth centuries it was the monasteries which provided the only schools then in existence and they preserved all the books where the ancient texts of the bible and commentaries, we now treasure, were preserved. They became hugely important in the middle ages and, of course, importance often leads to influence and wealth. They came to own vast lands to support their many activities and an avaricious eye was cast in their direction by
the powers of the time. A notable example of this was King Henry VIII of England, who broke with the pope over his marriage affairs and while he was at it decided on a land grab of the monasteries. He distributed their farms and wealth among his supporters. In modern times monasteries and monks have been frequently persecuted but this “trial by fire” led to a great rebirth of monastic
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life in the nineteenth century and, despite their commitment to a life of prayer, many of them became great missionaries as they felt the need to combine their contemplative life with some active involvement in the development of the lands in which they settled. In England, for example, Ampleforth and other monasteries ran renowned schools.
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Our Marianhill priests and brothers started out as monks but Abbot Francis Pfanner decided in 1882 in South Africa that the needs of the gospel at that time demanded a hands on participation in the mission of the Church. Three years later he also founded the Precious Blood sisters with the same intention. But even if monks did not make such a radical break with their original way of life as the Marianhills, they still became
actively involved in different ways in the development of people. I once met an ancient French monk in Burkino Faso who told me proudly that he had built 69 dams in the desert. (Burkino Faso borders the Sahara). Monasteries are also to be found in Ivory Coast, the Congo, Tanzania, South Africa and other countries. One that was much in the news some years ago was Tibhirine, in Algeria, where most of the monks were killed in
Benedictine chapel at Macheke monastery
the troubled 1990s. A beautiful film has been made of their life and death called Of Gods and Men. And now we have our own here in Zimbabwe. If you would like to contact the monks (pronounced as in 'sunk' not as in 'honk') at their monastery near Macheke, their e mail is email@example.com and their telephone 0798369. They welcome visitors for retreats or quiet days
A MAGIS volunteer with the Benedictine Monks at Macheke
Mukai-Vukani Jesuit Journal for Theological Refection is an in-house 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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GOD HAS A DREAM: A Vision of Hope for Our Time Desmond Tutu, Rider, London, Johannesburg, 2005
Reviewed by Bro. James Langlois, Marist
hat is often lacking in society nowadays is a challenging goal worth striving for. In this book, Archbishop Desmond Tutu offers our contemporary world a vision, God's vision, to lead us out of the present dissatisfaction into worthwhile hope for humanity. It is the fruit of the insights he gained during and after the struggle for majority rule in South Africa. He also draws lessons from events elsewhere. What strikes the reader is the depth of perception his lively faith gives him. He admits that faced with so much evil and tragedy around us, we may feel helpless at times. All the more reason, he tells us, to focus instead on the fact that God is “actively working with us to transfigure and transform the world.” In the dark days of apartheid, he kept on stressing that God cared about what was right and wrong, about justice and injustice, ensuring that good would eventually prevail. All the same he admits there were times “when you wanted to whisper in his ear: 'God we know you are in charge, but can't you make it a little more obvious?' This raises the question about the presence of evil. “God took an incredible risk in creating us with freedom… free to choose to love or to hate.” Each of us has a capacity for great evil but also for great good. But our God is a God of grace who does not give up on us, and his action is real. For every act of evil, there are a dozen acts of goodness that go unnoticed in our world, as this is not 'news'. God's dream. What is this dream of God? It is that we, whoever we are, know we are members of his family. This is part of the good news Jesus brought to us. He
came into a deeply divided society. Because of him, however, a miracle unfolded – all sorts of men and women, rich and poor, slave and free, Jew and Gentile, came to belong in one fellowship and communion. They regarded one another not just as equals but as sisters and brothers, members of God's family. In a family members respect one another, seek the greater good and are willing to share. Desmond Tutu's prayer is that “our world learn to address the injustices that cause a small minority to consume the majority of its resources, while the vast majority live in poverty”. Before we love our neighbour, however, we must first love ourselves. “This is not easy for us who live in a culture of a c h i e v e m e n t a n d competitiveness, forever trying to impress everyone, including God... The reality is that he loves us as his children, with our weakness, our vulnerability, our failures. We are loveable precisely because God loves us.” Desmond Tutu points out in a Capitalist society, despises weakness, vulnerability and failure. The West has paid a price for its disdain of human frailty. It has brought about shocking poverty and untold suffering. And in South Africa the victims of the apartheid system were prone to develop a negative selfimage that took the place of selflove and self-assurance. Moreover they tend to accept that the values of the domineering class are worth striving for. The same has happened in our country. It is so important, therefore, to focus on God's love
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for us and our love for others. “This is the single greatest motivation force in the world. And this love and the good it creates will always triumph over hatred and evil”. He goes on to state: “God's love is too great to be confined to any one side of a conflict or to any one religion... And our prejudices, regardless of whether they are based on religion, race, nationality, gender or sexual orientation are absolutely ridiculous in God's eyes”. God's message to us is clear: “every child is precious, every person is fully human, and without qualification a child of God.” Even our enemies then are our brothers and sisters! Desmond Tutu observed that when we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. He also learnt that true enduring peace requires real reconciliation between enemies. Those who simply forget the past are doomed to repeat it. In the act of forgiveness we are declaring our faith in the future of our relationship and in the capacity of the wrongdoer to change.
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Indeed there is much work to be done to fulfil God's dream and bring about the transfiguration of the suffering that exists in our world. “Before we can address this suffering from a place of love and not hate, of forgiveness and not arrogance, of generosity and not guilt, of courage and not fear, we must learn to see with the eyes of the heart.” No one likes suffering. Strangely enough, though, “in our world suffering is often how we grow emotionally, spiritually and morally. That is, when we let the suffering ennoble us and not embitter us.” Take the case of Nelson Mandela. During the 27 years in prison he mellowed. When he went to jail he was angry, and with reason. His suffering transformed him. He could never have been the political and moral leader he became had it not been for that suffering. What is it that transforms our suffering? Ultimately the answer is love. We see this in a mother. And love is not a matter of feelings. It is an act of the will, where you act lovingly even if you do not feel loving. “Perhaps the ultimate expression of seeing with the eyes of the heart is when we are able to see each other as God sees us – not our earthly human bodies but the divine light that shines through
them”. Tutu's experience taught him that “as you begin to see with the eyes of God, you start to realize that people's anger and hatred and cruelty come from their own pain and suffering. You can then have compassion for them. You no longer feel attacked by them … and when you look for the light of God in people… you find it in more and more people, all people.” What makes this radical change of attitude possible? Prayer. Initially in prayer we focus on technique. There comes a time, however, when we need to move on. This is not easy because we see ourselves as doers. We have not always learned to be receptive, to be in the presence of God, quiet, available, and letting God be God. We come to realize that what actually matters is being with our Beloved, like being together with the one we love. We then grow more and more in our God awareness. As we love God and strive to be like God, we reflect him more. This takes faith. We can't have a relationship without faith. When you fall in love, you are in a way abandoning yourself to another person whom you can't know completely, but nonetheless you commit yourself to this one in the faith that this relationship is going to grow. The Bible helps to transform our faith because it
becomes a source of inspiration as we listen to God's voice in our lives. When we turn to Jesus as a role model, he can help us to know how God wants us to live. From him we also learn the true nature of power – meant not for selfaggrandizement, to lord it over others, but for service, for being compassionate, gentle and caring, for being the servants of all. Eventually God sends us into the midst of human suffering. Like his disciples we then need the gift from on high to embark on our mission and be his witnesses. Desmond Tutu ends on a note of hope, at the same time challenging you and me, all of us. “God works through history to realize God's dream. God makes a proposal to each of us and hopes our response will move His dream forward. But if we don't, God does not abandon the goal, he does not abandon the dream. God adjusts God's methods to accommodate the detour, but we are going to come back onto the main road and eventually arrive at the destination. The sooner we are able to hear God's voice and to see with the eyes of the heart, the sooner God's dream of peace and harmony, of brotherly and sisterly love, will come to pass. And the less bloodshed and suffering we will have to endure.” Bro. James Langlois, Marist
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