Peace prayers for taxi drivers
Mother Teresa at 100 years
How to understand Jesus
Modern women and their faith
August 18 to August 24, 2010 Reg No. 1920/002058/06
SOUTHERN AFRICA’S NATIONAL CATHOLIC WEEKLY SINCE 1920
Padre Pio relics theft attempt
Inside Alpha on mega SA drive With more than 33 000 courses worldwide,. the Alpha course is preparing to go further in South Africa with the launch of a new evangelising initiative.—Page 2
Planting 10 000 trees A Johannesburg Catholic is responding the UNs billion tree campaign by pledging to have 10 000 trees planted by the end of the year.—Page 3
First Communion age drop? Children today are maturing so quickly and are exposed to so many different influences that it might be time to consider allowing them to prepare for and receive their First Communion even before their 7th birthdays, said a Vatican cardinal.—Page 4
Newman’s painful conversion In the third part of Fr Michael Austin’s series on John Henry Newman we follow the cardinal’s conversion to Catholicism.—Page 9
What do you think? In their Letters to the Editor this week, readers discuss liturgical errors, Vatican III, authentic prayer, repeating history, old struggle songs and homosexuality in the parish.— Pages 8 & 11
This week’s editorial: Two icons of the Church
Mother Teresa’s birthday stamp BY VERONICA AMBUUL
R5,00 (incl VAT RSA)
COMMEMORATIVE stamp of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta issued by the US Postal Service, in recognition of what would have been her 100th birthday, was designed by acclaimed artist Thomas Blackshear II. Mother Teresa was named an honorary US citizen in 1996. During his long and varied career, Mr Blackshear has designed roughly 30 stamps for the US Postal Service, painting everyone from civil rights activist Rosa Parks to boxer Joe Louis. Although the stamp was just one of many projects Blackshear has done for the postal service, some aspects of Mother Teresa’s life distinctly resonate with the artist—in particular the idea that God has a specific mission for each person. When the postal service announced it would be issuing a stamp of Mother Teresa, some groups protested against the decision on the grounds that a government agency should not be honouring a religious figure, but Mr Blackshear dismissed the criticism. “Look at what the woman did. There is nobody in the 20th century that comes close to the kind of life that woman led, and all the people that she helped. The 44-cent stamp featuring the founder of the Missionaries of Charity will go on sale August 26 on what would have been her 100th birthday. —CNS
Southern Cross columnist Fr Evans Chama greets the people at the end of his ordination as a priest for the Society of Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) at Kwacha parish in Kitwe, Zambia, by Bishop Alick Banda of Ndola. Fr Chama has been appointed to St Etienne parish in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. His latest column is on page 9.
HIEVES attempted, but failed, to steal a few relics of St Padre Pio from the Capuchin cemetery in San Giovanni Rotondo, the town where the friar lived and ministered. Italian police said thieves entered the cemetery chapel at night by breaking a window. St Pio is not buried with his Capuchin confrerés in the cemetery but rests in a shrine dedicated to him nearby. Police said the would-be thieves used a sharp object to try to break the glass case of a reliquary containing some of St Pio’s hair, a gauze bandage that had been wrapped around his ribs and a pair of his gloves. The bandage and gloves are stained with blood from the stigmata that marked the saint’s body. For more than a half century, St Padre Pio bore bloody wounds on his hands, feet and side, like those that marked Christ’s crucified body. The glass on the reliquary was scratched but not broken, police said.—CNS
New survey: Catholic numbers down in SA BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
NEW survey released by the Southern African Catholics Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) showed a decline in the total number of Catholics in South Africa. This year, 3 092 077 Catholics were recorded through information obtained from 26 dioceses around the country. This was a decline from last year of more than 100 000 Catholics. At least 12 of the country’s dioceses recorded reductions in membership with Bloemfontein, Klerksdorp, Queenstown, Umzimkulu and Durban recording significant losses. Kokstad, De Aar, Cape Town, Pretoria and Rustenburg all recorded growth with Johannesburg increasing by 65 000 and Dundee by 50 000 Catholics. There are nearly 3 250 000 Catholics in the Southern African conference region, which also includes Botswana and Swaziland. Fr Chris Townsend of the SACBC’s Office for Communication and Media said: “The Church has not seen a lot of growth, but these statistics are more realistic compared to previous national census done.” Much of South Africa’s religion statistics are based on Statistics South Africa’s 2001 census which left many churches unhappy at the time. “There were a lot of anomalies,” Fr Townsend said. ”Our 2010 survey addresses many of the questions the Catholic Church had.” Fr Townsend said two issues have been
raised as factors which may have led to some of the big changes in the statistics. “Much of Johannesburg’s growth can be attributed to informal settlement areas becoming more permanent through national housing projects. These areas will grow naturally.” He pointed out that “there is a deficit of nearly ten churches in Johannesburg, most of these in the informal settlement areas”. The second factor, attributed to both the rise and fall of the population was the “strictness” in which the information was gathered. “We are now more aware, more careful but never completely accurate,” he said. Fr Townsend said that social mobility accounts for some of the challenges in obtaining the data. “Many dioceses cross municipal lines. People are also quite mobile. We can’t ask people to stand still so we can count. “The exact number of a parish is extremely tricky to gauge. The number on the Church’s books will be less than the number of Catholics in the area. But the number of people actually in church will be less than both of those figures. An aggregated educated guess is needed to come up with an appropriate figure.” In addition to the population trends, the 2010 survey also revealed statistics on marriages, confirmations and baptisms. Almost 49 000 baptisms took place and nearly 5 000 marriages were conducted in
the Church across the country over the past year. “These [figures] help to see where the Church is going,” Fr Townsend said. 2009 saw a high number of people confirmed in the Church with Johannesburg (7 502), Marianhill (3 200) and Gabarone (2 400) recording the highest numbers in the Southern African region. Fr Townsend said this was both surprising and encouraging. Similarly, the marriage statistics had increased with Bloemfontein, seeing 916 unions in the Church. The survey showed the percentage of Catholics in the country had decreased from 7,1% in the 2001 census to 6,5% in the new survey. However, Fr Townsend suggested that the number had been inflated in the census and the new survey was a little more accurate due to the process. He said the Church was working with Statistics South Africa to improve data collection for the national census to be conducted in 2011. The last official census from Statistics South Africa in 2001 showed the Zion Christian Church had the biggest national following with the Catholic, Dutch Reformed and Methodist churches following respectively. The Vatican announced in April that the number of Catholics worldwide is now 1,16 billion.
The Southern Cross, August 18 to August 24, 2010
Alpha on mega SA drive Thérèse’s ‘shower of roses’ for South Africa
BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
ITH more than 33 000 courses worldwide, the Alpha Course is preparing to grow further in the country with the launch of a new initiative. Regional Director for Alpha International in Africa Nelinha van der Walt said the Alpha Cape Town Invitation is “an opportunity for anyone to explore the Christian faith in a relaxed setting over ten thought-provoking weekly sessions, with a day or weekend away”. The course is run across the country by all major Christian denominations in churches, homes, workplaces, prisons and universities. With the Alpha for Catholics Event held on August 19, Alpha South Africa hopes the initiative will receive a big boost in Cape Town. From September 25, a hundred churches across Cape Town will join an advertising campaign, the first in Africa, to ask the big question: “Does God Exist?” The question will be asked on street pole posters, outdoor billboards, radio stations, church notice boards and social networks. This comes in response to the need for the “evangelisation and transformation of the Mother City” made by 130 church and lay leaders last month. Renato Acquisto of South Africa Alpha for Catholics is encouraging churches to join through the hosting of Alpha courses or regular prayer meetings. “The Alpha course will be
BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
HE relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux are touring South Africa for the veneration of the faith-
A “mega” drive to attract people to participate in the Alpha course will start in October and run till end of the year. answering a call to Catholic evangelisation,” said Mr Acquisto who is hopeful churches would run Alpha courses from October to December this year. “It encourages unity among the churches in the community and makes it easier for people to invite potential new members. “Alpha is helping Catholics respond practically to the challenge of evangelism,” Mr Acquisto said. “From early on, Alpha has been run in Catholic parishes.” Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg, who supports the programme, said: “It is with much enthusiasm that we in the Catholic Church embrace and support the Alpha initiative and we encourage all Christians to work together in spreading the Good News.” Alpha South Africa will be looking for further involvement in prisons, schools and retirement homes.
With an estimated 78% of prisoners in South Africa re-offending, the Cape Town initiative will aim to make the course available to every prisoner in the Western Cape within five years. The re-offending rate of offenders who complete the course falls from 78% to 8%, the organisers have said. The initiative also aims to be visible within Western Cape high schools, concentrating on drug and HIV/Aids related issues while “Senior Alpha” offers the course to retirement homes in the province as “an increasing number of old people are abandoned, alone, abused, neglected and afraid”. Organisers hope the Alpha Cape Town Invitation will be extended to other provinces around the country. For more information on the course visit www.alphasa.co.za or contact Renato Acquisto on 083 625 3818.
ful. The tour forms part or a world pilgrimage that has included more than 40 countries in 13 years. In Cape Town the saint’s relics was welcomed by St Theresa’s parish in Welcome Estate. The relics arrived in a hearse after a procession from the airport. They were received at the parish by retired Archbishop Lawrence Henry who offered a welcoming prayer before celebrating Mass. Capuchin vice-provincial Fr Sean Cahill told The Southern Cross that St Thérèse saw herself as a missionary. “Through her prayer-life and love, reaching out to all members of the Church, and to all peoples, Thérèse saw herself as a missionary. She is, in fact, one of the Church’s patron saints of the missions,” said Fr Cahill. St Thérèse who was canonised in 1925, is the patron saint of Aids patients, aviators, florists and illness. Born in France in 1873, St Thérèse entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux at age 15 and received the religious name Sr Theresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Also known as “The Little Flower of Jesus”, St Thérèse died of tuberculosis in 1897, at the age of 24. “Before her death her superior had commanded her to write her memoirs, which were later published under the title The Story of a Soul. In this book Thérèse explains her “little way of spiritual childhood,” Fr Cahill said. Her memoirs describe her calling as being “love at the heart of the
The reliquary containing the relics of St Theresa of Lisieux are placed in the hearse after its arrival at Cape Town international Airport. Church”. After joining the Carmelites she offered herself totally to God with “childlike trust, confidence and love, and in a spirit of total dependence on him”. Before her death, St Thérèse promised to “spend my heaven in doing good on earth” and to “send down a shower of roses”. “She is undoubtedly one of the Church’s favourite saints. May the visit of her relics and her power intercession with God bring down a shower of blessings on the local Church,” Fr Cahill said. The Relics will be going to Swaziland from September 2-4; Midrand from September 5-6, Port Elizabeth from September 20-23, and then to Johannesburg in Rivonia parish from September 27-30 and Yeoville from September 30 to October 5. Yeoville’s St Francis’ parish will combine the annual St Francis Day with the presence of the relics on October 3, with Mass at 10am followed by cultural and social activities.
Info on cross-border trading BY MUNYARADZI MAKONI
HE Ecumenical Service for Socio-Economic Transformation (ESSET), a non-profit organisation, has started a multipronged study to gather information on the impact of mega-events on informal cross border trade. “The long term goal is to use the study and subsequent initiatives coming from this project to lobby Southern Africa Development Community leaders and relevant stakeholders at national levels to ensure that informal cross border traders benefit from future mega events taking place in the region,” Thabo Koole, ESSET spokesperson, told The Southern Cross. ESSET, a socio-economic justice pressure group formed in 1996 and based in Johannesburg, comprises the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Institute for
Contextual Theology, the Ecumenical Foundation of Southern Africa, the Ecumenical Advice Bureau and the Christian Citizenship department of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. Mr Koole said the group wants to draw lessons that can be used for future events taking place in the 15member SADC region to benefit traders. He said the study had been necessitated by the success of this year’s football World Cup in South Africa, and has the potential to attract other global events to the region. He said the group would use the World Cup as case study. Mr Koole said a past survey of street traders around Johannesburg has found that street trading made a huge contribution to the economy of South Africa. ESSET would like to strengthen that position, he said.
St Anthony’s parish, Pietermaritzburg is proud to launch its Commemorative Brochure of the
celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Marian Centre The brochure traces the history of the founding and building of the Landmark Marian Centre, the Marian School for Boys and the Marian Hall. The building’s founding Priest, Fr Leo Gabriel OMI, is also profiled. The brochure also celebrates St Anthony’s Catholic Church, founded in 1862, and provides a nostalgic walk down memory lane, commemorating the existence previously of St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School in Retief Street, Pietermaritzburg. To order a copy of this full-colour 60-page brochure, please contact the parish secretary, Therese Naidoo, on 033-342 5307 or email us email@example.com
The Southern Cross, August 18 to August 24, 2010
Kiffy Forests answer UN Call BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
JOHANNESBURG Catholic is responding to the United Nations’ Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign—a call to plant 12 billion trees worldwide. The campaign encourages the planting of indigenous trees internationally. Aline Johnson, the head of department for Religious Education and Life Orientation at Sacred Heart College in Observatory, Johannesburg, created the Campaign for a Blue, Blue Earth, to fulfill her organisation's pledge to plant 10 000 trees by the end of the year. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity and, in the second year of the campaign participants from 170 countries will aim to reach the international target of 12 billion trees which will contribute to raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity. “Planting a forest not only raises awareness about the environment, but, for me, is a symbolic commitment to purifying
Larissa and Michael Johnson planting a tree in Haartebeespoort.
our air, both literally and figuratively,” Ms Johnson said of the 500m2 fruit and climbingfriendly tree forests she will be planting. “I am inspired to make a difference in the lives of children and have chosen to do so by planting forests at schools
where they can reconnect with nature, add to our biodiversity and assist the planet with carbon sequestration,” she said. The forests are called Kiffy’s Forests, named in honour of seven-year-old Sacred Heart College learner and Mandela family member, Kefuoe Seakamela, who died on December 2, 2008, in a school swimming accident. “Her death left a lasting impression on me and I would like to do my best to reconcile two concerns I have as an educator and parent, namely, freedom to play and explore in as safe an environment as possible. The forests are my means of realising this aim,” said Ms Johnson. Endorsed by the Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg, the Campaign for a Blue, Blue Earth has pledged to plant ten thousand trees in 2010. For more information in planting or donating a tree (R40 each), or if schools or orphanages get involved, contact Ms Johnson at 083 209 1003 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Mgr Jock Baird (right), of St James parish in St James, Cape Town, retired on his 75th birthday after serving the Church for 46 years. Before joining the priesthood, Mgr Baird worked at SA Railways and was also a member of the Cape Town Highlanders. He spent six years at St John Vianney Seminary before being ordained. During his tenure as priest, Mgr Blair, also knows an Fr Jock, served as episcopal vicar for properties, chaplain to the South African Air Force based in Ysterplaat, and was national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies. Pictured with Mgr Baird is Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town.
CONGREGATION OF MARIANNHILL MISSIONARIES
Group prays for taxi drivers BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
GROUP of women from East London have dedicated their time to bringing peace in South Africa through prayer. Called “Prayers for a safer SA”, the group is made of women from various denominations and meets once again to pray on different themes. “We can make a difference in a gentle and quiet way,” Colleen Robus of St Bernard parish in Gonubie, East London, said of the group’s intentions. She hopes the group’s prayers will inspire popular prayer chains around the country and invites all South African’s to do something “small but meaningful”. Each month prayers will focus on a different theme.
The group devotes its time to people who are on the fringe of society and those who are in need. August is dedicated to taxi drivers. “We hope people will pass our prayers on to each other and those who we are praying for,” she said. Ms Robus handed out the first batch of prayers to group members and taxi drivers at the beginning of August and was “overwhelmed” by the response from the taxi drivers. “All of the drivers wanted one,” she said. The group is encouraging national involvement. Those interested in joining the network or for more information, contact Colleen Robus on 072 697 3353 or e-mail her at email@example.com
The prayer is: “To all our taxi drivers we dedicate this prayer and ask you to hand it to a driver today, with a friendly smile: Lord Jesus, my guide, my leader, my friend. Help me today to drive with care, to be well mannered on the road. To behave like Jesus would to others. O Lord Jesus Christ, be with me on my journey and bring me home in peace. At the end of life meet me and welcome me, as I welcomed my passengers, to my true Home. O Lord, make me a careful and watchful driver so that I may not cause death or pain through any neglect of mine. Protect all who are with me in my taxi that no harm may come to them. Help me to enjoy the beauty of creation and to be thoughtful of others at all times. Amen.”
Brescia House, St David’s and St Theresa’s senior schools in Johannesburg were represented at Rivonia Catholic church as part of the Catholic Schools Office initiative of Catholic Schools Sunday. The children arrived in uniform and brought up the offertory during Mass. Pictured with Brescia House learners is headmistress, Marilyn Bothma.
Catholic Film Festival highlights untold stories BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
ILM production company Metanoia Media is at the forefront of “new evangelism”, which has been described by founder Norman Servais as “using modern communication tools to spread the Gospel of Christ”. This was the vision of Pope John Paul II and Metanoia Media is attempting to answer that call by producing “highly customised top quality documentaries”. Some of these award-winning films will be screened at the Catholic Film Festival over August and September at St Paul’s church in Somerset West,
just outside of Cape Town. The films showcase untold Catholic stories from across Southern Africa. One film, Sowing in Tears, charts the response to the HIV/Aids pandemic in the diocese of Tzaneen. The film was awarded the Grand Prix at the 22nd International Catholic Films and Multimedia Festival in Niepokalanow, Poland, as well as the Fraternity Prize at the Religion Film Festival in Italy in 2007. Metanoia Media will also screen two follow-up documentaries on the Church and HIV/Aids at the Somerset West festival: The Change Is On and Called to Care which further
describes the response of the Church to the issue. The festival line-up includes Tshimangadzo—The Life of Benedict Daswa, a documentary on the life and death of a Catholic teacher who was slain in 1990 because of his stand against witchcraft, and The Angel of Biscay a new film about the “Fatima priest”, Fr Aloysius Ellacuria CMF. Out of the Darkness (2008) looks at the Church and people in Zimbabwe. The festival will run from August 28 to September 18 and entrance is free. For more information contact Norman Sevais on 082 437 7714 or visit www.catholicshop.co.za
Ora et Labora The Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill, CMM, sprung from the Trappist Monastery of Mariannhill founded by Abbot Francis Pfanner in South Africa in 1882. We believe that: “Our missionary field is the Kingdom of God and that has not boundaries!” Faithful to the example of Abbot Francis Pfanner, the Mariannhill Brothers and Priests try to be of service to the local church through pastoral, social and development works. We make our contribution to the call for renewing, uplifting, developing and sustaining the human spirit, as our response to the signs and needs of the time. In our missionary life of Prayer and Work (Ora et Labora), we try to effectively proclaim the Good News to all people, especially to the poor and needy, so that there are “Better Fields, Better Houses, Better Hearts!” To know more about us contact: Director of Vocations PO Box 11363, Mariannhill, 3601 or PO Box 85, Umtata, 5099
The Southern Cross, August 18 to August 24, 2010
Cardinal: lower First
Communion age BY CINDY WOODEN
HILDREN today are maturing so quickly and are exposed to so many different influences that it might be time to consider allowing them to prepare for and receive their First Communion even before their 7th birthdays, said the head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. “A child’s First Communion is like the beginning of a journey with Jesus, in communion with him: the beginning of a friendship destined to last and to grow for his entire life,” wrote Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera. “Let us not deprive them of the gift of God,” the cardinal wrote in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. The cardinal’s article marked the 100th anniversary of the decree of Pope Pius X, “Quam Singulari Christus Amore” (“How Special Christ’s Love”), which reversed the decadesold practice of delaying First Com-
munion until a child was ten or 12. St. Pius said delaying the reception of Communion until long after the child reaches “the age of reason,” generally accepted to be about seven years of age, was the result of the erroneous belief that “the most holy Eucharist is a reward rather than a remedy for human frailty”. The late pope pointed out that the ancient tradition of the Church, still kept by many of the Eastern Catholic churches, was to give babies Communion immediately after their baptism. The practice died out in the West, largely because of concerns that the baby would spit out the consecrated bread and wine. “This practice of preventing the faithful from receiving, on the plea of safeguarding the august sacrament, has been the cause of many evils. It happened that children in their innocence were forced away from the embrace of Christ and deprived of the food of their interior life,” Pope Pius wrote. In his article, Cardinal Canizares
said that Pope Pius’ insistence on the careful preparation of children to receive First Communion still stands, but so does his concern that children have access to the grace that will help them be good and to mature into strong Christians. “The encounter with Jesus is the strength we need in order to live with happiness and hope,” he wrote. “We cannot, by delaying First Communion, deprive children—the soul and the spirit of children—of this grace.” The cardinal said he wanted to use the anniversary of St Pius’ decree to remind pastors that children should receive First Communion when they have “the use of reason, which today seems to be even sooner” than age seven. The sacrament “is the guarantee of their growth as children of God, generated by the sacraments of Christian initiation in the bosom of holy mother Church,” he said. —CNS
heavily and represented a deep inequality within Catholic education,” it said. Even though there may have been many parishioners who begrudgingly accepted the presence of girls as servers only when there were no boys to fill the role, “overcoming this barrier was very important for young women.” Permitting girls to assist at the altar “has meant the idea they were impure because of their gender came to an end” and has meant girls, too, “could live out this extraordinarily important formative experience.” The article came the same week Pope Benedict met with more than
53 000 altar servers from Europe during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square. The majority of young pilgrims, aged 14-25, were female—60 %, according to organisers. In 1994, the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments issued rules officially stating that local bishops could allow women and girls to be altar servers. The Vatican clarified in late 2001 that bishops could not require priests to use altar girls and that the use of male servers should be especially encouraged, in part because altar boys are a potential source of priestly vocations.—CNS
Rosaries hang among the personal possessions of genocide victims at a memorial inside the church in Ntarama, Rwanda. Some 5 000 people, mostly women and children, sought refuge near the church in April 1994, but were massacred by Hutu extremists who used grenades, clubs and machetes to kill their victims. Earlier this month, Rwandan voters returned Paul Kagame for a second seven-year presidential term since the genocide. PHOTO: FINBARR O'REILLY, REUTERS/CNS
Church leaders back Allowing girl servers ended prejudice legal drug debate BY DAVID AGREN
BY CAROL GLATZ
ERMITTING girls to serve at the altar marked the end of a form of inequality in the Church and allowed girls to experience the formative power of directly assisting with the mystery of the Eucharist— the core of the Christian faith, said the Vatican newspaper. Assisting the priest during Mass is both a service and a privilege and represents “a deep and responsible way to live one’s Christian identity”, said an article published in L’Osservatore Romano. “The exclusion of girls from all of this, for the sole reason of their being female, has always weighed
PO Box 11095, Mariannhill 3624 SEPTEMBER 3-5 Fr Emmanuel Ndlovu: “The Power of Prayer” Weekend from supper Sept 3 to lunch 5. OCTOBER 22-24 Mgr Paul Nadal: “Second Vatican Council, Forty Years After”. Weekend. NOVEMBER 19-21 Advent meditiations by Fr Pierre Lavoipierre: “Arm Ourselves – Appear in the Light”. DECEMBER 10-18 Fr Michael Gumede OMI Seven-day retreat “In the Footsteps of the Apostles and the Saints”, from supper Dec 10 to breakfast 18
DECEMBER 10-18 Fr Urs Fischer & Team: 7-Day Guided Retreats, from supper Dec 10 to breakfast 18 DECEMBER 24 - JANUARY 1 “Our Joy in Being Catholic” (written by Bishop Oswald Hirmer), presented by Fr John Driessen, from supper Dec 24 to breakfast Jan 1. A SPIRITUAL CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY! January 3 - February 2, 2011 SPIRITUAL EXERCISES according to St Ignatius of Loyola. Thirty days of prayer and meditation, led by Fr Urs Fischer JANUARY 3-11 Br Crispin Graham & Team: 7-Day Directed Retreats, from supper Jan 3 to breakfast 11.
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WO Mexican cardinals have endorsed a proposal by President Felipe Calderon to open a debate on the merits of drug legalisation in a country beset with violence attributed to narcotics-trafficking cartels. Cardinals Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City and Juan Sandoval Iniguez of Guadalajara did not express support for drug legalisation but called for the issue to be studied and for Mexico to learn from the experiences of other countries. “It’s a question of health, and from that perspective it has to be studied,” Cardinal Rivera said at a national dialogue on public security convened by President Calderon. Cardinal Sandoval echoed those comments: “There must be a lot of thought, a lot of study. It’s not easy.” The vice-president of the Mexican bishops’ conference, Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez of Tuxtla Gutierrez, also agreed with the idea of a debate but made clear that legalisation “would be imprudent and harmful”, and “not resolve the problem of narcotics trafficking and...criminality”. President Calderon made his proposal to debate legalising drugs in August. He later clarified he did not favour legalisation, but he was open to the debate. Mexico decriminalised the possession of small quantities of drugs in 2009 in an effort to focus enforcement activities on detaining drug dealers instead of drug users. Some political observers interpreted President Calderon floating the legalisation idea as a potential backup plan for dealing with an ever-growing wave of organised crime violence that has claimed
28 000 lives since he took office in December 2006. The newspaper Milenio reported that July was the most violent month of President Calderon’s term, with 1 234 recorded deaths attributed to organised crime. In a meeting with the country’s religious leaders, President Calderon called on them to exert moral authority in the areas they serve and to promote the law and denounce crimes and wrongdoing. “Your intervention facilitates the repairing of the social fabric and not only keeps children and adolescents within a framework of positive values for society, but also keeps them away from the scourge of delinquency,” Calderon said. Cardinal Rivera spoke of a sense of hopelessness felt by many Mexicans because of their lack of information on what the government is achieving in its cartel crackdown. He added the federal government must address social issues such as the lack of educational and employment opportunities for young people in order to combat crime and violence. “We can’t stay with our arms crossed. We have to help out so that these young people and children have better opportunities, because otherwise they will be easy prey for organised crime,” he said. The violence engulfing regions of the country has directly impacted the Church. In July, Archbishop Constancio Miranda Weckmann of Chihuahua ordered his priests to celebrate services only in authorised places of worship because of security concerns. The dioceses of Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros recently cancelled evening Mass because many residents of the violent cities on the Texas border fear going out at night.—CNS
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The Southern Cross, August 18 to August 24, 2010
Church aids in Pakistan flood BY ANTO AKARA
HURCH charities in Pakistan are gearing up for prolonged relief and rehabilitation work as the South Asian nation is faced with the worst flood in its history. “With continuing rains and floods spreading to more areas, the challenge before us is growing by the day,” Carolyn Fanelli, head of programming and acting country representative for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Pakistan, told Catholic News Service. “We have already distributed emergency relief material to 6 400 people and our target is being regularly revised upward.” The devastating floods that began in late July in the mountainous north under incessant monsoon rains have claimed more than 1 600 lives and affected more than 13 million people. The United Nations reported that the floods have affected more people than the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 earthquake in the Kashmir region of Pakistan and the January earthquake in Haiti combined. Ms Fanelli noted that floodwaters are expanding into new regions,
including the plain provinces of Punjab and Sindh, forcing the agency to raise its estimates of people needing assistance. She said the agency may need to provide emergency shelter and hygiene supplies to as many as 100 000 people. “We were able to distribute nearly 100 relief kits as the fresh supplies reached us,” said Nasrullah Khan, head of the CRS office in mountainous Besham, 298 km north of Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. “Our staff have covered up to 40 km on foot to remote areas where the people are in great suffering. Mules remain the only option for us to get the material to those in remote areas made inaccessible by landslides,” said Mr Khan. CRS has already started a cashfor-work programme in the mountainous region to repair the drinking water supply system the agency built after the 2005 earthquake. “Ironically, though water caused all the problems, people are struggling for water now. They have to walk miles to fetch drinking water,” Ms Fanelli said. As the flood-affected area grows, roads and bridges have been washed away and much of the country’s communication network has been
Actress Patricia Neal dies
CTRESS Patricia Neal, who won an Oscar for best actress for her starring role as a housekeeper opposite Paul Newman in the 1963 film Hud, died August 8 of lung cancer. She was 84. Ms Neal, who became a Catholic some years ago, starred in 68 films and TV productions. She starred in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) with Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, and the sciencefiction classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) with Michael Rennie. In the 1960s, she endured the death of her seven-year-old daughter, Olivia, from measles and an accident that left her infant son, Theo, with a brain
injury. She suffered a series of strokes in 1965 that affected her speech and her ability to move. Her 30-year marriage to British writer Roald Dahl, with whom she had five children, ended in divorce in 1983. But she often said one of the biggest tragedies for her was the abortion she had as a young actress in Hollywood in 1950 after she became pregnant by actor Gary Cooper, her co-star in The Fountainhead (1949). In recent years, Neal had been active in prolife causes. Ms Neal is survived by three daughters, and son Theo; a sister and a brother and ten grandchildren—CNS
destroyed. An official of Caritas Pakistan said some supplies, including plastic sheeting for shelter, water purification tablets, cooking utensils and food items, have come through. “The destruction and human suffering caused by the floods is colossal. Thousands have nothing left and are living in the open,” Anila Gill, national executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan. Ms Gill said all Catholic dioceses in Pakistan are involved in the relief work. The agency has assisted 4 800 families with tent materials and hygiene and kitchen kits. An outbreak of disease and diarrhea because of the lack of safe drinking water is affecting the population in flooded areas. “Medical personnel have not reached many areas and our challenges are increasing day by day,” Gill said. Meanwhile, Caritas Korea is preparing to send $30 000 to its sister organisation in Pakistan to help with relief efforts, reported the Asian Church news agency UCA News. “The money will be sent to Pakistan as soon as possible,” said Theresa Kim Jou-yeon, the agency’s public relations officer. “It’s unfor-
Residents carry their belongings through a flooded road in Nowshera, Pakistan, July 30. North-west Pakistan has been devastated in the worst floods the country has had in 80 years. PHOTO: ADREES LATIF, REUTERS/CNS tunate that we have already used much of our urgent relief funds. We sent $400 000 to aid the earthquake
victims in Haiti and $50 000 to Chile earlier this year,” she said. —CNS
Bishops accept Kenya poll A FTER spending months urging voters to defeat Kenya’s new constitution because it loosens restrictions on abortion and allows for the entrenchment of Islamic courts, Catholic Church leaders have accepted the results of the August referendum on the document, which two-thirds of voters approved. Despite its acceptance of the outcome, Cardinal John Njue of Nairobi, chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference, pledged that the Church would continue to work for legal reform that would guarantee the rights of the unborn and people of all faiths. “We respect the outcome of the referendum, where the larger numbers of Kenyans have voted to accept this proposed constitution,”
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Cardinal Njue said in a statement. “However, truth and right are not about numbers. “We, therefore, as the shepherds placed to give moral guidance to our people, still reiterate the need to address the flawed moral issues in this proposed constitution. That voice should never be silenced,” he said. Kenya’s election commission reported that 67 % of the 8,6 million voters who cast ballots supported the new constitution. The document replaces a British colonial-era document dating to 1963, the year of Kenyan independence from Britain; that document gave broad powers to the president. The new constitution limits the powers of the presidency and includes sections on judicial reform, land reform and an end to
impunity. The margin of victory likely prevented violence from flaring as it did after the disputed 2007 presidential election that claimed more than 1 000 lives. Cardinal Njue said the Church played a significant role in the debate before the vote despite the outcome. “We are convinced before God that we have played our role as mandated to us with diligence and respect. God will be our judge,” Cardinal Njue said. The cardinal told Catholic News Service that the win by the government does not take away flaws in the document that were highlighted during the months-long campaign. “The issues we addressed still remain unaddressed,” he said. —CNS
The Southern Cross, August 18 to August 24, 2010
The Southern Cross, August 18 to August 24, 2010
100 Years of Mother Teresa On August 26, Mother Teresa would have celebrated her 100th birthday. CLAIRE MATHIESON reflects on the life of a woman who devoted her days to the “unloved” and “poorest of the poor”.
NE HUNDRED years after the birth of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and 13 years after her death, her legacy, vision and international projects live on. “Mother is a real mother,” said Sr Sneha El-Balawi of the Missionaries of Charity in Johannesburg. “We will remember her like we remember our own mothers,” she said of the founder of her order, who was beatified in October of 2003. Mother Teresa would have celebrated her 100th birthday on August 26. Despite her physical absence, some 4 500 Missionaries of Charity Sisters around the world continue the work to uphold their founder’s values. They take the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience along with a fourth: wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor. This service to the poor is the image most will remember of Mother Teresa. “She was really holy and had a great simplicity about her. She would do anything for the poor,” Sr El-Balawi said. Mother Teresa was awarded the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971 and the Nehru Prize for her promotion of international peace and understanding in 1972, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and India’s highest award, the Bharat Ratna in 1980—all noting her work with the poor and, as she called them, the “unloved”. Born to Albanian parents in Skopje, now the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu left home at age 18 to Ireland where she learnt English with the Sisters of Loreto. A year later she was sent to India and, on May 24, 1931 took her religious vows. It was then that she adopted the name Teresa, after the patron saint of missionaries, St Thérèse of Lisieux (whose relics are currently on tour in South Africa). In 1948, Sister Teresa, as she was then known, adopted the now instantly recognisable white habit with the blue trimmings. She took on Indian citizenship and went to the slums of Calcutta. According to her diary, she had no income and had to resort to begging for food and supplies. On October 7, 1950 she received permission from the Vatican to start the Missionaries of Charity and was known as Mother Teresa thereafter. The order would care for “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone”, she later recalled. Mother Teresa established the first South African house of the Missionaries of Charity in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, during a visit to the country in November 1988.
The veteran journalist Sydney Duval was working with the late Archbishop Stephen Naidoo as chancery assistant at the time. He remembered: “I was involved in helping Archbishop Naidoo to organise her visit at short notice. Her job was to find a site for the first foundation of the Missionaries of Charity in South Africa.” Mr Duval was her driver for the duration of the Cape Town visit. The Southern Cross reported in 1988 that Mother Teresa was not interested in the politics of the country. When asked to comment by the then editor, Cardinal Owen McCann, she said: “It is our duty to love and serve the poor. I hope the government will do its part. Each one of us must do our part to love the poor.” Mr Duval recalled the moment: “Struggle politics and state repression were rife at the time. But she showed from the outset of the press conference that politics was not her business—only the plight of the poor and serving their needs.” Mother Teresa’s South African objective of establishing a new home was met on the first morning of her visit. She shortly announced: “Well, my job here is done so I am leaving tomorrow. I have to get to Kenya where my sisters are waiting.” “She was wasting no time on her journey and was ready to ditch the rest of her programme,” Mr Duval said. “Her main business was done and she had to get to Kenya.” A concerned Archbishop Naidoo intervened, reminding her of her commitments. Mother Teresa spent a week in South Africa, drawing thousands of people to her cause in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Johannesburg.
n driving Mother Teresa around, Mr Duval witnessed many interesting scenes, including ambitious journalists in car chases and even several young Holy Cross Sisters offering to pay money to sit where Mother Teresa had sat. “I did not take any money” Mr Duval said, “But I did invite the sisters crowded around my car to take turns in sitting where Mother Teresa had sat. And they did, warming themselves to the idea that they were touching the afterglow of a saintly spirit. “The journey I remember most is the morning she paid a call on the Carmelite Sisters at their [encloistered] convent beside Springfield convent. She sat in chair as close to the dividing grille as she could to catch every word. The sisters reciprocated from their side of the grille. She talked to them as though they were old, intimate friends. She told them about her life as a Loreto Sister. They asked her if they could pray for her special intention. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘pray for the conversion of Russia’.” Mr Duval said. Today South Africa is home to four Missionaries of Charity houses and there are 17 in the Southern Africa region. The country’s second home was founded in Pretoria but later relocated to the heart of Johannesburg. “We came to the city during the apartheid era to show that people of different casts and creeds can live together,” said Sr El-Balawi. It was important to have a place devoted
A woman prays on the tomb of Blessed Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. PHOTO: PARTH SANYAL, REUTERS/CNS
to love and to the needs of others, she said. “First, we had to show the world it could be done.” Mother Teresa’s Home in Bellevue East, Johannesburg, cares for HIV/Aids patients and patients in the order’s hospice. “We also care for children, fight abortion with adoption, and help and encourage mothers.” The house sees more than 100 adoptions a year. “We are very blessed. We don’t live in a safe area but we are much loved here and are well supported,” she said of the house. “We often have too many people wanting to help. Many are not Catholic but they want to help Mother Teresa’s house.” Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997 after suffering nearly 15 years of heart trouble. The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference said at the time Mother Teresa had “shone like a bright star whose light has only been dimmed. That light will continue to shine in a world shrouded in a culture of death”. Former president Nelson Mandela said she was “one of the few people who could truly be said to have accomplished their mission in life.” Mother Teresa was beatified on October 19, 2003 after the Vatican recognised the healing of a tumour in an Indian woman as a miracle. A second miracle is required for her
Mother Teresa of Calcutta believed in caring for the “unloved” and poorest of the poor. PHOTO: NANCY WIECHEC, CNS to proceed to canonisation. Almost 13 years after her death, Mr Duval said: “I had met a woman of simple vision and resolute spiritand definitely one of the most single-minded people I have met in nearly 50 years of journalism. “What she did do, from within that small and frail exterior, was to find the extraordinary power to make the world stop and think and perhaps, if only for a moment, do something good for another human being.” Sr El-Balawi said: “She was just loving to everybody.”
At the time of her visit to South Africa, Mother Teresa’s message to The Southern Cross was: “There is need for much love of God and fellowman. You must pray together and then do something beautiful for God.” She is remembered for her 45 years of ministry to the sick, poor and dying, her 610 missions operated around the world and efforts for international peace, and her words to The Southern Cross in 1988 which could serve as her credo: “Many things can be solved by prayer and love.”
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The Southern Cross, August 18 to August 24, 2010
The Editor reserves the right to shorten or edit published letters. Letters below 300 words receive preference. Pseudonyms are acceptable only under special circumstances and at the Editor’s discretion. Name and address of the writer must be supplied. No anonymous letter will be considered.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Liturgical errors have a long history
Editor: Günther Simmermacher
Two icons of the Church
OR South Africans, it is a happy circumstance that the centenary of the birth of Mother Teresa of Calcutta on August 26 should coincide with the tour through this country of the relics of her namesake and inspiration, St Thérèse of Lisieux. The Canadian author Jacques Gauthier in his 2005 book I Thirst described the 19th century French saint and the 20th century founder of the Missionaries of Charity as “two mirrors who mutually reflect each other, one revealing what at first glance is not obvious to the other”. Their exterior lives were very different. St Thérèse of Lisieux hardly travelled beyond her region of France (other than a pilgrimage to Rome where she met Pope Leo XIII) before becoming an enclosed Carmelite nun at the age of 15, and died in obscurity at 24. Mother Teresa left her native Skopje, in present-day Macedonia, as a young woman to first study in Ireland before beginning her mission work in Calcutta and founding a new religious congregation. She travelled widely, met many famous people, and was one of the world’s most iconic individuals when she died on September 5, 1997 at 87. And yet there is much that connects them. Gauthier in his book points out that both women, in their very different situations, were driven by the “thirst of Jesus” for people to experience his love. Both were distressed by a common indifference towards Jesus, and so were compelled to palliate Jesus’ thirst. Both saw, in St Thérèse’s words, their “vocation as love”. St Thérèse, who was not considered an intellectual by her contemporaries, did so through her intense prayer life and, more significantly, by writing her posthumously published book The Story of a Soul, a work of such powerful spirituality and holiness that Pope John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Church in October 1997—just a
few weeks after Mother Teresa’s death. Mother Teresa lived her commitment to Christ much more publicly, inspiring not so much with words than by concrete action. By living her charism so publicly, Mother Teresa came to define the virtue of caritas and the imperatives of Christ’s love, especially for the poor. As a public figure, Mother Teresa was hugely admired, and she certainly knew how to market herself and her cause, from the design of her congregation’s distinctive habits to her pragmatic fundraising endeavours (the latter of which have been criticised by some for not being sufficiently discriminating about her association with tryants). But it is the interior life of these women that provide us with their most profound spiritual legacy. Both St Thérèse and Mother Teresa experienced what St John of the Cross called the “dark night of the soul”, feeling an absence of God—not so much in the way an atheist would but as one might experience unrequited love. Their struggles with faith, in both cases published only after their death, are perhaps the most exemplary constituent in their Christian witness. They encourage Christians who go through what may be tormenting periods of doubt to appreciate that the path to God remains open, that spiritual chaos need not give way to disbelief and the abandonment of faith, that even if they feel the absence of God, he can still work through them. Far more than by a life of private devotion or public charity, St Thérèse and Mother Teresa through their “dark nights” may counsel the many people who experience spiritual struggles. Mother Teresa’s centenary and the presence in South Africa of St Thérèse’s relics provide us with an opportunity to reflect on and give thanks for the lives of these two great women of the Church.
N his letter “How Mass language changed” (June 30), John Lee is correct in stating that the early liturgy was celebrated quite freely by the presider. But author Mike Aqualina in The Mass of the Early Christians writes that prudence however led to increasing regulation of the Mass as time went on and while Hippolytus encouraged a bishop to pray “in his own words”, he immediately added that his words should, if possible, “be grand and elevated”, and in any event “orthodox”. This suggests that improvised prayers were sometimes sliding into
a sloppy or even heretical language. The great Jesuit liturgical scholar Joseph Jungmann SJ, commenting on the fixed Mass rites of the Council of Trent (Pastoral Liturgy), wrote that “the Church’s worship was now prevented from running wild, as it had threatened to do in the hands of ignorant priests, to the vexation of the faithful”. With all the abuses that have taken place since Vatican II, the Holy See probably thinks there has been enough “vexation of the faithful”. For Mr Lee to suggest “an insidious move afoot to dismantle Vatican II reforms”, shows that he has not been aware of either abuses
worldwide or has not been aware of the call for a “reform of the reform” over many years by liturgical scholars like Cardinals Antonelli and Ratzinger, Fathers Klaus Gamber, Thomas Kocik, Kenneth Baker SJ, and Aidan Nichols OP as well as Drs Alcuin Reid and Laszlo Dobzay and others. Although Jungmann is critical of the Tridentine liturgy, he admits that “the Baroque period itself preferred to draw from secondary channels and yet from these it nourished an amazingly rich life”. Attie Schlebusch, Camperdown, KZN
Some of the major areas that concern the laity and which such a Council would need to address are: Marriage and divorce: today our knowledge of human behaviour is far greater than it was only 20 years ago. This new found knowledge illustrates that cases exist where couples must divorce in their own best interest and in the interests of children. Such persons should be allowed to re-marry without being denied the right to receive Holy Communion. Birth control: whether we like it or not, the world’s resources are limited, a fact that is exacerbated by climate change. If we are to avoid a growing poverty, which could lead to a world catastrophe, the world’s population growth must be reduced. The Catholic Church must reconsider its doctrine in this important matter. I am not advocating any form of abortion, but there are other forms of contraception which are available and must be considered. Indeed, forward thinking clergy, including our beloved Archbishop Denis Hurley advocated a change to this important doctrine. Priestly celibacy: the number of vocations to the priesthood are declining and existing clergy are ageing. Surely the time has come for consideration to be given to allowing diocesan priests to marry if they so desire. Candidates for the priesthood would then have an option to enter a religious order, where the marriage option would not apply or follow the diocesan route whereby the marriage option would exist. Indeed a priest supported by a wife and family could strengthen and enhance parish life. These three points are what I, as a lay Catholic, believe are the priorities facing the Catholic Church today. Surely the time has come for Pope Benedict to start re-building the standing of the Church. The time for an all-embracing Vatican III Council is now. Mervyn Pollitt, Hillcrest, KZN
notices placed around the Church advertising: “Say such and such a prayer a certain number of times, then pass this notice on to as many people as possible. It has never been known to fail.” Such advice is certainly not Christian. It is superstition. One cannot manipulate God. One short aspiration from the heart, prayed in simple and trusting faith, according to his will, may be all the Lord requires. I was edified and humbled to read in the book God and the World, conversations between Peter Seewald and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), when asked how the Cardinal prays the Rosary: “Three sets of mysteries are two too much for me...I would wander too much. I just take one, and then often only two or three mysteries out of the five.” Advice worth following. John Lee, Johannesburg
HE article “Benedict’s Choice” by Rose Moss (June 9) is only the latest to appear in the newspaper calling for the Catholic Church to take a long overdue look at itself. The sexual abuse scandals have plunged the Church into what I believe is the most serious crisis since the Reformation. Initial responses from the Vatican were feeble, clearly illustrating how out of touch the Vatican is with the 21st century. The Vatican seem more concerned with reviewing the Mass wording in English than with the serious abuse scandals. What is clear to the laity is that there is a power struggle between the conservative and forward-thinking elements within the Vatican which diverts attention from the realities of today’s world. This power struggle has resulted in incalculable damage being done to the standing of the once revered Catholic Church. This is borne out by the growing number of Catholics who are leaving the Church. What is required is a total overhaul of how the Church functions. The Vatican must understand that the body of the Church, the laity, will no longer allow a handful of clergy in the Vatican to dictate to us. The views and opinions of the laity must be considered. Whether Pope Benedict will have the wisdom to take the courageous step to lead the Church out of its present crisis, as articulated by Rose Moss, remains to be seen. What is clear is that a Vatican III Council is required in which the laity must have full participation. Opinions expressed in The Southern Cross, especially in Letters to the Editor, do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editor or staff of the newspaper, or of the Catholic hierarchy. The letters page in particular is a forum in which readers may exchange opinions on matters of debate. Letters must not be understood to necessarily reflect the teachings, disciplines or policies of the Church accurately.
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E Catholics have a commendable, venerable and ancient tradition of praying with the help of beads. The practice was picked up by the Crusaders from eastern Orthodox Christians, who adopted the practice from the Muslims. In the west, monks prayed the 150 psalms with bits of knotted string, stones strung together, beads and even bits of bread. This developed over time into the Rosary originally with its 150 Hail Marys. Authentic prayer is the raising of the mind and heart to God. The Catholic pratice of praying a novena, nine times in imitation of the nine days that elapsed between The Ascention and Pentecost, has its dangers; we can empathise too much with the number of times a prayer is to be said, to the exclusion of “prayer from the heart”. For some it seems quantity is more important than quality. Some of us may still remember the days prior to Vatican II when the priest babbled his way inaudibly through Mass at breakneck speed in Latin, which few could understand. How often have we seen little
History repeats itself again
HE silencing of Galileo was not only a blow to freedom of speech, it was a blunder on the part of the Church, as the esteemed man was only verifying a fact the brilliant monk Copernicus had arrived at a century earlier. Incidentally, for reasons unknown, Copernicus was hesitant to publish his heliocentric theory (the sun being the centre of the solar system, not the earth as was the belief at the time), and it was released only shortly before his death. In the present era, the Church is once again intent on silencing freedom of expression by labelling any talk of women aspiring to the priesthood as a crime against the Church. The greatest gift bestowed upon us in the moment of creation was that of opportunity. Creation itself was an opportunistic happening. The fact that we exist is an expression of that gift. There are many societies throughout the world which enforce the status quo using various means, but the advancement of humanity depends on our willingness to confront delicate issues with an open mind. Pat Dacey, Johannesburg
Old struggle songs
CANNOT agree more with Archbishop Buti Tlhagale that we should “leave old struggle songs in the past” (August 3). We even went to the extent of blaming God for making us black in one of the protest songs! People have made the supreme sacrifice for South Africa to become a truly democratic country. During the World Cup we proved that we can forget race and become an undivided democracy. We shocked the world with our warmth and friendliness. Now let’s take it a step further and shower each other with these attributes every day of our lives. We can all become a united community and prove to the world that Christ is truly our redeemer. Vesta Smith, Johannesburg
Evans Chama M.Afr
Echoes of African Synod
Africa’s prophetic mission today
VER a century ago, missionaries arrived in different parts of Africa. They found no hospitals or schools as they had known them in their own countries. In some places such facilities existed, but not for all— they were for foreign colonial masters, not for the native people. Missionaries, despite the unfavourable political climate they found themselves in, pioneered the provision of services to the indigenous Africans which governments of the time didn’t find necessary to do. In so doing, missionaries took a stance which was defiant of unjust regimes. In fact, many countries are indebted to missionary schools for educating young people who later took up leadership of the independent countries. Missionaries continued to sustain the young nations even long after independence. In such missionary activities there was much more than providing services. More importantly, it was a creative and prophetic manner of announcing the Gospel. As the African Church, what is our prophetic action in African society today? Is it necessarily to keep mission hospitals and schools running? Where is the creativity, the originality of the maturing African Church? Many mission schools or hospitals have been passed to the diocesan bishops. They continue to provide quality service which people appreciate. While governments have come in to share in the cost, there is a financial burden that often continues to weigh heavily on dioceses—especially those in countries where the state’s contribution is minimal. Such institutions run on budgets that a diocese just can’t bear. Bishops or priests in charge of those institutions run around left, right and centre to source funds. What are we doing? Why are we doing that? It might seem stupid to ask these questions, and perhaps a waste time to answer them. Still, these are questions we always need to refer back to in order keep direction and a sense of what we are doing. Alternatively, we will end up continuing with institutions that we can no longer sustain simply because we are conditioned to think that the Church has to do that. In any case, whether we like it or not, the changing picture of the Church in the West on which we have depended to fund such institutions may just force us to reconsider what we do. How does the African Church, with her limited resources, continue her witness creatively? Or does it bow to natural death as foreign financial resources diminish? Today, in many places, we have plenty of parallel institutions of education or health run by either the government or the Church. Does our prophetic mission still necessarily require us to continue in the same way just because our institutions are better appreciated? Couldn’t there be another way we can relevantly give the same witness, but in a different way? We are supposed to be, as Scripture and the Synod tell us, the “Salt” and “Light” of the world. In such a way, our mission should consist less in the separateness of Church institutions, manned by the religious, which are lauded in contrast to those of the government. We must rather change the picture so that more religious are qualified to be employed in government institutions and be leaven there. A lot of funds are pumped into government institutions, but often they are badly managed. What better places for active religious to witness to society? My point is that there are many good things that we can do, but we need a continuous discernment that will enable us to be up-to-date with the most urgent areas of witness within our capabilities, so that we can also break off what may be sheer attachment to traditions. One observation at the synod was that in Africa today people are poor and live in misery, not because there are no resources, but because of poor management. In this case, it is not by building a parallel Church institution alongside that of the government that will transform society. Here is where I feel the African Church should rise and take up her pallet and walk: to open herself up to the many possible, urgent areas of witness beyond the traditional engagements. The African Church may not have huge financial resources to run big projects yet, but with a bit of creativity, she can help to educate the people and governments to make a decent living out of the little they have, especially when they open themselves to the mutual enrichment from the mine of their diversity. See Evans Chama’s previous columns on www.scross.co.za/category/columns/chama
In the second part of Fr Austin’s series on the life of Cardinal John Henry Newman, who will be beatfied by Pope Benedict in September, we observed the cardinal’s growing disenchantment with the Anglican Church and the beginnings of his slow move towards Catholicism.
EWMAN’S “Romish” tendencies created a storm of protest in Oxford that blew into parliament and finally broke over his head. His position as an Anglican vicar was becoming untenable. But to become a Catholic would require his resignation from the Church of England which he loved as his spiritual mother. Conversion meant abandoning the Oxford Movement which he had helped to shape and lead. And finally it would involve his resignation from his beloved church of St Mary the Virgin in the High Street, and even leaving Oxford itself. Conversion to Catholicism would almost seem betrayal of friends, faith and indeed country. Humanly speaking, the prospect of all these losses—family, friends, university and church—were intolerable to a sensitive person like Newman. Humanly speaking, there was nothing to attract him to the Roman Church. He knew little of it, and what he did know was anything but attractive. Newman was an Anglican, an Englishman through and through, and to him everything about the Roman Church was “foreign”, one of a 19th century Englishman’s strongest epithets. Indeed this was a church despised by Englishmen, a church whose pope Newman considered as the anti-Christ. These six years of doubt, searching and agonising must have been unbearable. It would probably have given him little consolation to know that his fellow Englishman Charles Darwin was already into a two-decade process of deliberation about publishing his own very different but not unrelated ideas about development. For Newman, conversion to the Roman Catholic Church became fundamentally a matter of personal salvation. What he needed above all was time and space to sort it all out. Attached to St Mary’s was a small outstation at Littlemore, a few miles from Oxford. There he refurbished a set of old stables and turned them into a humble retreat for himself and some young scholars who joined him. For almost two years, Newman and these young men led a near monastic life as celibates. They prayed, studied and spent some of each day in silence. More and more the “Kindly Light” was leading Newman away from St Mary’s and Anglicanism towards the Church of Rome.
Michael Austin SJ
The Newman Chronicles In September 1843 he resigned as vicar of St Mary’s and became a layman in the Church of England. He remained at Littlemore for two more years, praying and studying, until his fateful meeting one cold, rainy night with the Italian Passionist missionary who was drying off before the fire. Newman entered the living room, knelt at his feet and asked: “Would you, good Father Barbieri, receive me into the Roman Church and hear the confession of my sins?” It was for this very reason that the Italian priest had made the journey by stagecoach from London on this miserable night. That very morning he was about to return to Italy, disappointed and disillusioned at his lack of success as a missionary in England, when he was advised that the eminent Anglican divine of Oxford wished him, Fr Dominic Barbieri, to receive him into communion with the Catholic Church. Fr Barbieri, who has been beatifed himself, had come to England on what seemed a fool’s errand: to recall the people of that land to the ancient faith of their fathers. He preached any place he could get a hearing—in pulpit, on street corners, in the market place. His Italian accent was atrocious, his clothes fitted his frame badly, and he represented an institution that the English had long ago nearly wiped out of their land. At best he was ignored; at worst they stoned and mocked him. But Newman paid no heed to these externals, for he saw beyond them to the message Fr Dominic proclaimed, namely to return to the faith of their fathers. Later, recounting the events of that night, Dominic admitted: “I was astonished. Doctor Newman is one of the most humble and loving men I have ever met in my life.” For Newman, his conversion to Catholicism marked the end of a long, painful passage, and also the beginning of another series of trials, mishaps and heartaches that would end in eventual triumph: the cardinal’s scarlet hat, the unseen theologian at Vatican II, and now his beatification prior to his canonisation. Although a most prolific writer, Newman never described his feelings on the occasion of this dramatic meeting with Fr Dominic; not even in the account of his faith journey called the apologia. But that the events of that cold, wet night represented a major step his conscience demanded of him, there can be no doubt. The one force that John Henry Newman respected, loved and obeyed, was his own conscience. This had been his “Kindly Light” from his earliest days and now it was to bring him into communion with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church—his true home. This is the third in Fr Michael Austin SJ’s seven-part series on the life of Cardinal John Henry Newman.
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The Southern Cross, August 18 to August 24, 2010
Hearing the Good News
Understanding the language of Jesus
N our growing years we might have become familiar with such wise instructions as “be prepared to walk the talk” and “actions speak louder than words”. And it’s true. Words are hollow if not given flesh and enacted in daily living. But that doesn’t mean that words are unimportant. Jesus used both words and actions to invite his listeners into a relationship with him, and he demonstrated by integrating the two that he was the ultimate teacher. In this article we will examine some of the ways Jesus used words effectively, and in the next we’ll look at his use of actions. One of the reasons that the teachings of Jesus continue to resonate with listeners centuries later is that he used language in a wide variety of ways. Perhaps his use of parables is what people most call to mind. A parable is basically a story with a lesson, but the lesson is most often delivered in an unexpected twist. That twist is what draws us in and makes the lesson effective. Describing a Samaritan as “good” in Jesus’ day (Luke 10:30-37) would be like asking a gang member to believe one of his rivals could be merciful. Telling a story of a shepherd who searches for one lost sheep sounds irresponsible in terms of caring for the other 99 (Matthew 18:12-14). And sowing a seed without care for where it lands (Matthew 13:3-8) sounds inefficient and wasteful. And yet, these stories and so many others reveal profound lessons about the mercy and generous love of God, and how that love is to be manifest in the lives of Christ’s followers. Some of the language of the gospels draws heavily on the poetic style found within the Hebrew texts that Jesus would have known. Simple repetition is one such poetic technique, as found in the series of “blesseds” that make up the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11; Luke 6:2022). Even the devil employs that technique as he repeatedly challenges Jesus in the desert: “If you are the Son of God …” (Luke 4:3, 9). Parallelism is another poetic device found in the Gospels. The point is reinforced by stating it more than once but in slightly different phrasing. Consider the scene of Jesus being awakened in a boat that is being tossed by wind and waves. Jesus rebuked the forces of nature with simple words—“Quiet! Be still!”—and then we are told that “the wind ceased and there was great calm” (Mark 4:39). Twice he speaks quieting words, and then twice we are told how that quiet was achieved. In these parallels he teaches a simple lesson: he is master of the universe and can calm the storms of life as well. On another occasion, Jesus employed parallelism when he said to his followers: “My yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matthew 11:30). Sometimes Jesus feigns ignorance or respect but he is really using irony, and his words are meant to communicate a judgment. For example, Jesus healed a man with a withered hand on the sabbath. Because he knew the Pharisees, the guardians of the law, were watching him, his words are intended to communicate irony: “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” (Mark 3:4). On the surface he seems to defer to the legal observers, but we should hear the irony as he is really illustrating their inability to understand the meaning of the law. When an audience is antagonistic he will sometimes employ irony as the best way to teach. Jesus also used language that was imaginative. This is particularly true when he is inviting his listeners to embrace the kingdom of God (or the kingdom of heaven). In Matthew 13, there is a series of similes, sometimes also called parables, that compare the kingdom to a much sought after buried treasure, a merchant searching for select pearls and a fishing net that captures all manner of fish. These are concrete images from daily life and yet they stir listeners to imagine something beyond this reality, something that defies simple definitions. Those who respond to this kingdom invitation also hear about the uselessness of worry (Matthew 6:25-34). Don’t the birds of the air find food and the wild flower grow without effort? Even so, God will take care of our needs. Words have the power to shape our minds and our vision of the future. The words of Jesus and the evangelists are powerful indeed. Catherine Upchurch is the director of Little Rock Scripture Study in Arkansas. This article was originally published in the Arkansas Catholic, newspaper of the diocese of Little Rock. It is the fourth in a series of 13 articles which explore the four gospels.
The Southern Cross, August 18 to August 24, 2010
Women’s spirituality in the 21st century During women’s month, COLLEEN CONSTABLE reflects on Christ as a Best Male Friend, his mother and the near-namesakes who helped define modern women’s spirituality.
N the modern world women have to advance and adapt prayer techniques. What worked once may need adaptation now. We need to be open to such changes according to our own personal circumstances. Sometimes a “one size fits all” approach to prayer may not be appropriate. There are different variations to our prayer life: in posture, formula and format, according to our preferences. All this finds its way into our personal, intercessory and community prayer lives. We need to find the connecting point under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to create balance in our spiritual life, and to allow an element of surprise: that you can move from “beginner to advanced status” in the blink of an eye. St Teresa of Avila called Jesus “His Majesty”. This implies that she saw him through his divinity. That determined the departure point of their relationship. It was the 15th century. The 21st century woman has been groomed by her mother and catechist about the divinity of Christ, but they might not have been indoctrinated on how to have a personal, intimate relationship with him. Maybe generation X and Y women today may want to engage Jesus on different terms. Adoring his divinity, she may turn to him in his humanity and ask him to be her BMF: her “best male friend”. She knows no other male friend can compete with him. And he will always be there! She starts her rela-
tionship with him, integrating and glorifying his divinity and humanity. He becomes the person with whom she shares her secrets, before whom she becomes most vulnerable and sheds more than the occasional tear. He becomes her psychologist and physician, consultant and life coach. Sometimes she agrees with him, sometimes she totally disagrees: at times she does not understand why he chooses complicated ways to solve simple problems. And he prefers lessons she would not choose. He sets his own time for each season. In the long run she discovers that though his way is difficult to understand and follow, the outcome is perfect, and it is so cool to have him around! She decides to keep him as her permanent life coach. The reason: better than him you cannot get. There are no consultation fees and the advice is most accurate. He only requires her to spend time with him, sometimes in silence so she can hear him clearly. And he has a support system available without charge.
is mother is the BMTK: “best mom to know”. She has perfect credentials, including the right street address and is heavily connected. She has a huge network that cannot be matched by anyone else. It is said that those who call on her for help have never been disappointed. If you want to be counted, get to know her and keep the connection. It makes sense to visit the BMTK and chat to her and get her to discuss the concern with him. The mother will not take it to the son if it does not require his intervention. And if she does take it to him, he will surely cancel all other appointments to assist his mother. And sometimes he sends his love: then her spirit is uplifted and she finds herself in cheerful mood at the most awkward moments. She
For modern-day women, a one-size-fits-all approach to praying may not be the answer. The writer argues that women should formulate their own way of praying, one which suites the individual. PHOTO: CNS suddenly sees the knot in the rope, and the missing link, and she finds the connecting points in the puzzle. She no longer cares to stand in a crooked line. She looks at everybody else and sees how wonderful and crazy they all are: life is indeed great! Generation X and Y women cannot ask for a better rolemodel than the remarkable and youthful St Thérèse of Lisieux, Carmelite nun and Doctor of The Little Way of Spiritual Childhood. She is so cool that every woman can relate to this true modern day, contemporary saint.
nlike many of the women saints that preceded her, St Thérése had no legacy of raptures, ecstasies and visions, but a grounded spirituality where she
HOT POT PAINT AND HARDWARE
wanted only an “elevator”, a shortcut to reach sanctity. Extremity had no place in her spiritual approach: her form of penance included “mortifying her self-love” of which some examples are simply good manners, such as “not to interrupt another’s story with a witty remark or another story”. She preferred to eat the leftovers. She saw others as the most important person—and herself as a sinner who has been forgiven in advance. “My vocation is love,” she explained. Likewise, Mother Teresa of Calcutta loved with joy. Her life and religious order provide a blueprint of how to love and serve your neighbour with joy. It gives true meaning to the concept of Christian love: a love that has no bound-
aries or limits. If Mother Teresa’s example of joyful love and service to the marginalised of our society is applied by every follower of Christ, irrespective of denomination, suffering and poverty will have a new face. Families will be reunited: for the marginalised in our society are there because their loved ones, whether immediate or extended relations, have long given up on the joy of loving them. It is much easier for us to ignore a family member who turns out to be the “black sheep”. If they end up in prison, we might sever contact and spend time mourning the disgrace to the family name. Their names are not to be mentioned. If they live on the streets, we make as if the resemblance is by default and deny the relation instantly. Or we just turn a blind eye, saying: “I cannot live their life for them.” But we forget that the problem will not disappear. It will just become someone else’s problem— of the Mother Teresa’s of the day, who walk the streets to give love and joy to those that society gave up on. If we fix our dysfunctional family relations, we may solve a large part of the socio-economic problems in our community. Mother Teresa has left us a different legacy of true love. For centuries women have fought in society to get better support, hence the birth of women’s networks and forums, sisterhood groups, etc. In our spiritual life every other woman is our sister. Every girl child is your child, every woman your younger or older sister. Women and girls can learn much from each other. In the spiritual world we may find the jewel in the girl child we have just passed by. She may have discovered new shortcuts to sanctity without doing any spiritual reading. May true spiritual sisterhood grow from strength to strength.
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The Southern Cross, August 18 to August 24, 2010
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Gay parishioners welcome?
AM reading a book at the moment entitled A Whosoever Church by Gary David Comstock welcoming lesbians and gay men into African-American congregations. A very controversial issue within the Catholic Church—why? Comstock interviews several pastors from black American churches in the US. I’d like to bring your attention to two of his interviews from the Catholic Church—Mgr Raymond
G East and Mgr Russell L Dillard. To quote Mgr Dillard when asked by Comstock, “Do you think Saint Augustine’s (the parish Dillard serves) is seen by lesbians and gay men as a place in which they are welcome?” he replies “I guess the ultimate answer is yes, just based on the fact that we have lesbians and gay men in our congregation and there seems to be a sense that they are certainly a part of our family.” What do our Catholic leaders in South Africa think regarding this issue? Is there any dialogue taking place on the issue? Are gay peo-
ple rejected or taught to be silent or told to seek psychiatric help as if it is a disease? Being gay is not a disease or an illness but a fact of life that people in the Church need to come to grips with, instead of discriminating— because God loves them too. At the end of the day God should be the ultimate judge. Will the Church remain conservative in its thinking and teachings on this issue? Any comments? Joseph Williams, Pietermaritzburg
Sister Seraphina McCurry OSC Cap
OOR Clare sister Seraphina, who died 22 July in Swellendam, was born Martha McCurry, in Tavnaharry, Cushendal, County Antrim, Northern Ireland on October 15 1922. She was the second of six children, born to Annie and John Mc Curry. Martha was 21 when she heard the call to religious life and entered the Holy Cross sisters order in 1943. She was sent to Zambia as a missionary in 1946 and worked as a teacher in Tabankulu, Maitland Convent in the Cape, and then went up to Windhoek. She was, however, very attracted to a life of
prayer and after 19 years as a Holy Cross sister, she entered the Capuchin Poor Clares in Swellendam in 1961 and made her vows in 1962. She was discouraged by her fellow sisters from entering a contemplative life, but Sr Seraphina proved to have an iron will that helped her overcome all the difficulties she encountered in her new life. She had typical Irish wit and was a good story-teller, often entertaining the sisters at recreation with jokes and anecdotes from the time she was an active missionary in Zambia. She had a deep religious spirit and a great love for Jesus the Eucharist.
She was very faithful to the hours of prayer and adoration, right up to the end. She never missed a night adoration, even during cold winters and was always the first to come to church in the early hours of the morning. During the last years of her life, she was often seen in chapel with the rosary in hand. A very hard working person, she was very faithful to the work assigned to her, even when she became very frail and could not walk any more. She asked to be taken to the altar bread room where she would sit in her wheelchair and help sort the altar breads. She fully embraced
the Franciscan Poor Clare spirit of poverty and simplicity and was an example of obedience and respect towards all her superiors. As she gradually became more infirm, she accepted her sufferings with patience and resignation to God’s will. She died peacefully. She is sorely missed by all at the Capuchin Poor Clare Adoration Convent.
Mass readings for the week
Thoughts for the Week on the Family FAMILY CALENDAR 2010 FAMILY THEME: “Families Play the Game.” August theme: HOW MEN AND WOMEN PLAY THE GAME 22nd August 21st Sunday of the Year C. The Lord gathers a People to Himself. The readings make challenging statements saying that although the Lord gathers a people to himself it is an invitation to which we must respond to be counted among the chosen. The 2nd reading speaks specifically about “sons” when it mentions that the Lord trains those whom he loves, but it must be applied to men and women. Will there be more women ultimately amongst the chosen? 27th August St Monica: The mother of the great St Augustine is a saint in her own right through her commitment and devotion to her son for whose intercession is prayed. That is the role of many women in our families today too.
COMMUNIT Y CALENDAR BETHLEHEM: Shrine of Our Lady of Bethlehem at Tsheseng, Maluti mountains; Thursdays 09:30, Mass, then exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. 058 721 0532 JOHANNESBURG: First Friday Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament 10:30. First Saturday: Devotions: Our Lady’s Cenacle, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Rosary, 15:00–16:00. Special devotion to Our Blessed Lady for her priests. Our Lady of the Angels, Little Eden, Edenvale, 011 609 7246 First Saturday of each month rosary prayed 10:30-12:00 outside Marie Stopes abortion clinic, Peter Place, Bryanston. Joan Beyrooti, 011 782 4331 KRUGERSDORP: Culture of Life / Anti-Abortion campaign fund raiser, August 22 15:00, AFM Church Noordheuwel Krugersdorp. Also Celtic Praise Sing along with “One Accord” singers and musicians. Safe parking, for more information or to book tickets 011 660 4814 or 082 360 4815 PRETORIA: First Saturday: Devotion to Divine Mercy. St Martin de Porres, Sunnyside, 16:30. Shirley-Anne 012 361 4545 CAPE TOWN: Adoration Chapel, Corpus Christi church, Wynberg: Mon-Thurs 6am to 12pm; Fri-Sun 6am to 8pm. Adorers welcome 021-761 3337 To place your event, call Claire Allen on 021 465 5007, or e-mail email@example.com
Sundays year C, weekdays cycle 2 Sun August 22, 21st Sunday of the year: Is 66:18-21; Ps 117:1-2; Heb 12:5-7,11-13; Lk 13:22-30 Mon August 23, St Rose of Lima : 2 Thes 1:1-5,11-12; Ps: 96:1-5; Mt 23:13-22 Tue August 24, St Bartholomew: Rv 21:9-14; Ps145:10-13,17-18; Jn 1:45-51 Wed August 25, St Louis, St Joseph of Calasanz: 2 Thes 3:6-10,16-18; Ps 128:1-2,4-5; Mt 23:27-32 Thur August 26, feria: 1 Cor 1:1-9; Ps 145:2-7; Mt 24:42-51 Fri August 27, St Monica: 1 Cor 1:17-25; Ps 33:1-2,4-5,10-11; Mt 25:1-13 Sat August 28, St Augustine: 1 Cor 1:26-31; Ps 33:12-13; Mt 25:14-30 Sun August 29, 22nd Sunday of the year: Sir 3, 17-20,28-29; Ps 68:4-7,10-11; Heb 12:18-19,2224; Lk 14:1,7-14
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IN MEMORIAM ABOUD—Shaff Ernest. Passed away August 21, 2009. Our most beloved Dad, Oups and Abu Jidu, the void you have left can never be filled but your love of life, generosity of spirit and abundant gift of love and appreciation of all that was beautiful remains with us always. You taught us about compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves and your daily prayers were a living example of your love of Christ and Our Blessed Mother Mary. We miss you more than you will ever know but you remain in our hearts and sustain our spirits in the joy of so many happy memories. We Love you our darling Dad. Your children Nadya and Michael, Ann, Kevin and Karen, Enzo and Lynette their families children and grandchildren. FALLER—Emil. Died August 18, 1990. Lovingly remembered by all your sons and daughters and their families. May you enjoy peace and life to the full. HERHOLDT—Berty. Passed away 22-08-2005. We miss you so much. From your wife Lorna. sons Albert, Harry, Gary and Paul and grandchildren. RIP. YOUNG—Berry. Mama the year passed so quickly. You slipped away quietly August 19, 2009. Now, I have my own special angel in heaven. Always in my thoughts. Ramona.
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PRAYERS HOLY St Jude, apostle and martyr, great in virtue and rich in miracles, kinsman of Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor of all who invoke you, special patron in time of need. To you I have recourse from the depth of my heart and humbly beg you to come to my assistance. Help me now in my urgent need and grant my petitions. In return I promise to make your name known and publish this prayer. Amen. Thank you for prayers answered. DC. HOLY St Jude, apostle and martyr, great in virtue
and rich in miracles, kinsman of Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor for all who invoke you, special patron in time of need. To you I had recourse from the depth of my heart and humbly begged you to come to my assistance. You helped me in my need and granted my petition. In return I promised to make your name known and publish this prayer. Amen. SN. OH my thirteen Blessed souls so wise and understanding, I ask for the Love of God that my request be answered. Oh my thirteen Blessed souls so wise and understanding, I ask for the Love of God that my request be answered. Of you I ask for the sake of the blood that Jesus shed that my request be answered. My Lord Jesus Christ that your protection wrap me with your arms. Guard me with your eyes. O God of kindness you have been my defender in life and death. I ask that you free me from the difficulties that torment me. My thirteen Blessed souls so wise and understanding having received the grace I seek from you, please help me to find a good job. I will be devoted to you. BRT.
THANKS THANKS to the Sacred Heart and St Jude for prayers answered. Alix. GRATEFUL thanks to Our Blessed Lady, the Sacred Heart, St Anthony and St Jude for help received and publication promised. PVE.
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CHURCH BELLS FOR SALE Foundry cast brass bells 3 of 700mm dia 2 of 600mm dia 1 of 400mm dia (Approximate sizes) To view by appointment at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 88 Langalibalele (Longmarket) Street, Pietermaritzburg. Contact Bill Middleton on 033 3472461 / 0828213665 (office hours)
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22nd Sunday – Year C (August 29th) Readings: Sirach 3:19-21, 30-31, Psalm 68: 4-7, 10-11; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24; Luke 14:1, 7-14
OUR God is a very unexpected one, as next Sunday’s readings remind us. The context of the first reading is the appropriate way of behaving towards our parents, which is placed in the context of our attitude to God. So it is as children that we are advised to “conduct your business with humility, and you will be loved by a person who is acceptable”; and it is no good our saying “I am too important to bother about my parents”, for “the greater you are, the more you should humble yourself—then you will find grace before the Lord”. True wisdom, the author argues, consists in recognising one’s own lowly status, and glorifying God’s power; arrogance, on the other hand, is beyond healing, because “an offshoot of wickedness has taken root in such a person”. The psalm from which the responsorial for next Sunday comes is almost impossible to translate, though your English versions will give an unruffled impression of competence, as is their wont; it begins, however, clearly enough “the just shall rejoice and they shall exult in the presence of God”, and our version misses out some of the more incompre-
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Can we deal with an unexpected God ? Fr Nicholas King SJ
Scriptural Reflections hensible bits. One of the reasons for rejoicing in God, though, is quite clear, that he is “Father of orphans, and defender of widows”. This is a God who looks after those who have no-one to look after them, “who gives a home to the forsaken, and brings out prisoners”, and finally (coming to the heart of Israel’s identity), “you claimed a land as your own, O God...you poured out abundant rains”. That is, at least, one possible translation; but the gist is clear: God looks after the under-privileged and the marginalised. The second reading continues our brief run through the Letter to the Hebrews, with a reminder of the holiness of God, “burning fire and cloud and darkness and storm, and the sound of a trumpet”. We are very properly terrified of this phenomenon, but the reading
encourages us not to be frightened: “You have drawn near to Mount Zion, and the city of the Living God...and the assembly of the firstborn ones whose names are written up in Heaven...and the intermediary of the new covenant is Jesus.” This is an awesome dispensation to which we are invited, but the Letter invites us to approach confidently. Confidence is something that Jesus never lacked; in next Sunday’s gospel, we see him cheerfully going for one of the “disastrous dinner-parties” with which Luke adorns his gospel. The host this time is “one of the rulers of the Pharisees—and they were watching him”. So we know that there is going to be trouble. As indeed there is, for Jesus heals a man with dropsy, but for some reason the compilers of our lectionary have omitted that bit. Instead (and would you invite Jesus to one of your dinner-parties?) the first thing we encounter next Sunday is Jesus criticising his fellow guests for wanting the best seats at the party, and encouraging them instead to go straight to the worst seats, on the perhaps slightly cynical grounds that it is better to find yourself summoned upwards from there.
Proclaim the faith! AM delighted to see that in spite of the best efforts of sports administrators to put a halt to the practice, more and more Catholics are unashamedly acknowledging their faith publicly. The recent World Cup in South Africa saw dozens of Catholic football stars blessing themselves as they ran onto the pitch and after scoring goals. The same thing is happening in rugby and many other sports. Of course, there are some who claim that these players are asking Jesus Christ to help them win games, but you only have to talk to them to realise that they are just thanking Jesus for the privilege of playing and for the skills they have acquired. Certainly sporting celebrities are fast becoming very influential evangelists. Take the Brazilian star Kaká, for example. The pentecostal Christian player, whose real name is Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, said football played second fiddle in a life which has been devoted to Christ. Just weeks before the World Cup in South Africa, he became involved with the Billy Graham organisation in a TV campaign which had an astonishing effect in his homeland. It was nationally reported that “hundreds of people were freed from demonic possession, hardened criminals turned to Christianity in their thousands and many more were cured of alcohol and drug addictions”. Moreover, “a former voodoo princess turned to Christ”. As the campaign launched, Kaká told
The Last Word millions: “I truly cannot imagine my life without Christ. Everything I have accomplished, everything I have done in my life was because God has a plan and purpose for my life. The Bible says he will do more than we ever thought or imagined, and this is truly how it has been. If God wasn’t in my life, then my life certainly would not be like this.” The Real Madrid star’s faith in God has been broadcast across the world via an iconic picture of him on his knees celebrating a goal and showing a T-shirt which proclaims: “I belong to Jesus.” Kaká, 28, has won a World Cup and the Champions League, and has been named FIFA World Player of the Year. But he told ten million fellow Brazilians that nothing compared with the peace of knowing and serving Christ. “I have been named best soccer player in the world. This, for me, was a great honour. But the greatest honour is serving Jesus Christ, because he gives me hope.” Such is the depth of the star’s faith that he refused to have sex before his marriage to Caroline. “I am a great example. The majority of people say after marriage, they don’t like jumping into bed
with their partner because there is no desire. However, this is not true; my wife is the person I love and it was worth waiting. “A lot of people were surprised and shocked with me, but I think it’s the best decision. I am an evangelist and I believe in those values. I think people need to prevent themselves from making love before marriage. Everyone has their opinion, but I think it was worth the wait,” he said. His faith in the Almighty was strengthened immensely in 2000 when he fractured his neck after cracking his head on the bottom of a swimming pool. “That helped shape me, principally as a person, but as a player too. It was a time in which I learned you have to give your best every single day, because the next day you might not be able. The doctors said I was very lucky, that I could have been paralysed. But I think it was God— he saved me from something worse. “I had gone to visit my grandparents in Caldas Novas in Brazil and I slipped on a swimming pool slide. When I fell into the water I hit my head on the bottom of the pool and twisted my neck, which caused a fracture of a vertebra. All I knew was that anyone with a broken neck would be disabled for life. The doctor told me I would not be able to play for at least three months, then they would be able to tell if I was going to fully recover. But after two months the injury had healed and I was able to resume my football career. That was when I knew God was looking after me and that he was on my side.” Kaká says one of the chief influences on his footballing life has been former Brazil and Portugal coach Phil Scolari, a Catholic. “When I was just 20 he took me to the World Cup in 2002 and gave me the opportunity to be a champion, which was very important. “If things happen, it’s because God has prepared me. God has great things for us.” Kaka’s influence on modern youth must be immense. He is doing what Pope Benedict exhorts all Catholics to do: giving witness to their faith. How good it would be if all those Catholic players who bless themselves before and during games were to speak about their Catholic faith as openly as Kaká does.
Then, in case things had not got quite uncomfortable enough, he turns on his host, and attacks him for inviting his friends. “Don’t”, he says, as we groan with embarrassment, “invite your friends or brothers and sisters or your cousins or your wealthy neighbours—otherwise they’ll invite you back.” Instead, it seems, the people we are supposed to invite to our parties are all the wrong people (those with whom Jesus was nearly always to be found): “the destitute, the crippled, the lame, the blind—and then you’ll be happy, [precisely] because they have no way of repaying you: for you’ll get your reward at the resurrection of the just.” We feebly try to imagine what the mood was like around the dinner table after this speech; but if you are making a mental resolution not to put Jesus on your guest-list, then just ask yourself: suppose it is really true that we are happiest if we make a priority of those whom society ignores? Suppose that we are dealing with a God who prefers those on the margins? Can we cope with this unexpected God of ours?
Southern Crossword #405
ACROSS 1. Monks’ heads (6) 4. Gaulish (6) 9. The first thing God did (7,6) 10. Pens were once dipped in it (7) 11. Nod ye to the senior (5) 12. Do angels play them? (5) 14. Send out the children? It’s debatable (5) 18. Abram built one (Genesis11) (5) 19. Sated with food (7) 21. Traditional Marian prayer (4,4,5) 22. Pays out cash (6) 23. Have trust in (4,2)
DOWN 1. North Pole area (6) 2. When you eat after Lent? (9,4) 3. Church tax (5) 5. And sage holds orders of business (7) 6. Christ’s unhateful command (4,4,5) 7. Clergy weapons? (6) 8. False gods (5) 13. Became dry (6) 15. Ah, stop. It makes you sad (6) 16. In a faithful way (5) 17. Westminster’s cardinal in the 1960s (6) 20. Feeling of resentment (5)
SOLUTIONS TO #404. ACROSS: 1 Hobs, 3 Afforded, 7 Insider, 9 Quest, 10 Mysticism, 12 Radios, 14 Pierre, 16 Carmelite, 19 Whale, 20 Dispose, 21 Shepherd, 22 Chat. DOWN: 1 Hail Mary, 2 Bosom, 3 Fervid, 5 Dreamer, 6 Date, 8 Discourse, 9 Quirinius, 11 Vestment, 13 Decease, 15 Lender, 17 Enoch, 18 Awes.
addy was at the races one day, deciding which horse to back when, just before the first race, he saw a Catholic priest at the starting line. The priest blessed one horse, which then won the race, and the same thing happened in the second race. The priest blessed another horse just before the third race and Paddy put all his money on it. This time, however, the horse dropped dead halfway through the race and Paddy angrily approached the priest and demanded an explanation. The priest replied:” “A fine Catholic you are, Paddy! Can’t you tell the difference between a blessing and the last rites?”
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