March 2 to March 8, 2011
Getting ready for Lent Pages 4,6,7,9,12
SA sacred art winner bound for the Vatican
R5,50 (incl VAT RSA) Reg No. 1920/002058/06
Why God made you unique Page 7
Bishops: Drop Zim election plans STAFF REPORTER
HE Catholic bishops from the whole southern African region have called for the cancellation of plans to hold an election in Zimbabwe this year. In a letter addressed to Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, as current president of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the bishops wrote that “holding elections at this stage would be dangerously premature”, saying that “conditions in the country are emphatically not conducive to elections in 2011”. The letter was issued after the plenary session in Pretoria by the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (Imbisa). The grouping comprises the bishops of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, São Tomé e Príncipe, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The bishops acknowledged progress made by the 2009 SADC-facilitated Global Political Agreement (GPA) which led directly to the formation of the government of national unity. “This was the fruit of a true African solidarity—something to be celebrated and a cause for great hope in the region,” the bishops said. “It promised a new dawn for Zimbabwe.” However, the bishops noted, “not all aspects of the GPA have been fulfilled within the agreed timeframe”. “Despite some improvements in the country we note that the ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe continue to suffer from, amongst other things: extreme poverty; high levels of unemployment; inadequate health and education services; lack of investment and confidence in the economy of the country. “This is all the more tragic—and indeed a matter of grave injustice—when we consider the wealth of the country with respect both to its human and its material resources.” The bishops said they oppose the mooted
elections for 2011 because the GPA has not been fully implemented. “The process of formulating the new constitution remains incomplete and is in fact way behind schedule. It is not known when the referendum on the constitution will be held,” the bishops said. Moreover, they said, the voters’ roll has not been updated and the freedoms of association and of the media remain “severely restricted”. The bishops expressed fears that an election this year could replicate the violence of previous campaigns. “The nation is in the grip of extreme fear; polarisation is still evident; there are increasing signs of intimidation and/or violence as the election campaign builds up.” They said that should elections take place this year, “then we assert emphatically that two things should be considered as preconditions...namely a roadmap leading up to the elections be put in place and the elections be conducted in accordance with SADC’s Guidelines for Elections” The bishops called on the SADC to “be the agent that brings about this urgently needed recovery of Zimbabwe”. “The positive gains achieved by the intervention of SADC, including the establishment of the government of national unity, simply cannot be allowed to go to waste,” the bishops said. “This southern African situation cries out for a solution that respects human dignity and social justice.” The bishops said they hope that SADC intervention “would bring with it the longawaited development and integration of the region. It would bring healing, peace and prosperity to the suffering people of Zimbabwe”. They ended the letter on a prayerful note: “We implore Almighty God to bless our long-suffering region and so too, the continent of Africa. May his Holy Spirit give wisdom, courage and compassion to all those entrusted with the leadership of its nations.”
Nun expelled over Facebook
SPANISH nun has been expelled from her encloistered Dominican convent where she lived in seclusion for 33 years because she spent too much time on Facebook. Sr María Jesús Galán announced on her Facebook page that she was asked to leave the religious order after a quarrel over her cyber activities, according to Britain’s Daily Telegraph. The 54-year-old nun collected almost 600 “friends” on the social networking site around the time of her eviction. But now fan pages with thousands of supporters have cropped up, calling for her to be allowed back into the 14th-century Santo Domingo el Real convent in Toledo. The convent’s mother superior first allowed a computer inside the premises after she was persuaded that it would reduce the need for nuns to enter the outside world. “It enabled us do things such as banking online and saved us having to make trips into the city,” Sr Galán said. Sr Galán also had scanned in the convent’s precious library archives, page by page, making them accessible to the world in digital format—a painstaking task for which she won a local government prize in 2008. It made headlines and won her scores of Facebook friends. But other nuns reportedly disapproved
and “made life impossible” for her, she said. She is now living at her mother’s house, and is ready to make a fresh start: “I would like to visit London and New York,” Sr Galán posted on her Facebook page. “Such things were impossible to even dream when at the convent.” Her Dominican superiors have declined to comment on the issue, and Archbishop Braulio Rodríguez Plaza of Toledo has called it “an internal matter”. Sr Galán’s expulsion came just weeks after Pope Benedict encouraged the use of the Internet as a means of evangelisation, but warned social-networking Catholics not to trivialise or dilute the message of Christianity in order to reach a wider message.—cathnews.com
Jesus and the disciples at the Last Supper in a scene from the 2006 version of the Durban Passion Play. The play, which is staged every five years, will run for most of April this year.
Durban Passion Play careful to avoid offending Jews BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
HIS year’s Durban Passion Play has been preceded by wide engagement with Jewish leaders to ensure the script will not contain elements that could be seen as anti-Semitic. Presented by the Durban Catholic Players Guild (DCPG), the play is held every five years. It will run from April 1-24 at Durban’s Playhouse Drama Theatre. Director Dawn Haynes, who is working on her third Durban Passion Play, said the play tries to stick to history as closely as possible. “We are the only city affiliated with Oberammergau and by linking our play to theirs, we avoid anti-semitism.” Ms Haynes added that by avoiding emotionalism, the cast is able to portray the characters “factually and as historically accurate as possible”. Starting in the early 1990s, the Oberammergau script underwent successive revisions to eliminate all traces of historical anti-Semitism. The first Durban Passion Play was performed in 1952 after the mayor and community of Oberammergau in Bavaria, Germany, granted special permission to the Durban Catholic Players Guild to stage an abridged version of their world-famous Passion Play. “What was first enacted in 1634 in Oberammergau was used in Durban as a means of celebrating the centenary of the arrival of the missionary Oblate priests of Mary Immaculate who arrived in South Africa in 1852,” said Toni Acton, the play’s publicist. She said the first play was so successful that the late Fr Noel Coughlan OMI travelled to Bavaria to gain permission for the Durban version of the play to be staged every five years in Durban. “The mayor of Oberammergau invited the DCPG Production committee to Ober-
ammergau for the 1960 play, prior to the staging of the 1962 Durban play, and on their return the script was adjusted to ensure that it followed as close as possible that of Oberammergau,” Ms Acton explained. “The main difference between the two plays is that Oberammergau has a run-time of eight hours and Durban has two hours,” Ms Acton said. Unlike the Oberammergau version, the Durban version has no tableaus, choir and orchestra. The play moved from the Greyville Race Course to the Durban City Hall. Since 1997 it has been staged at the Durban Playhouse Drama Theatre. “In its 59-year history, the Durban Passion Play has been blessed with the talents of many people, professional and amateur alike, but always with the aim of presenting witness to the greater glory of God to all and not just to those of the Catholic faith,” Ms Acton said. This year will mark the 13th time the play has been staged in the city. Ms Haynes’ cast comprises 150 actors who have been preparing for seven months. They receive no monetary compensation. Ms Acton said the cast, an inter-denominational group of diverse people, vary in age from toddlers and teenagers to young adults and the more mature, and even a dedicated and active 90-year-old. “It is a fantastic preparation during Lent for Easter,” Ms Acton said. “It makes the Gospel account come alive in a very real way. We have observed in every performance that audience members are actually moved to tears.” Ms Haynes said those with hearing impairments are catered for at the performance on April 16 at 14:00 when sign language interpreters will be present. Tickets are currently on sale at Computicket at R30–R60.
The Southern Cross, March 2 to March 8, 2011
A history as diocese SA artwork finds new home in Vatican Museum readies for new bishop BY VuSI TukAkHOMO
BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
ELIGIOUS artists from around the country showcased their work at the January plenary session of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), as part of the first Sacred Art Competition. The winning piece was a hand-painted glazed half ostrich egg called “Our Lady of the Rainbow Nation” by Jennifer Summers of Port Elizabeth. The piece will be donated to the Vatican as an example of South African sacred art. The competition drew 16 original Africa-themed pieces from across the country, in various media. Entries were delivered to the SACBC by the bishops who attended the plenary session each with two pieces of art from their diocese. The final decision was made at the plenary session with input from the public via the SACBC website (www.sacbc.org.za). According to contestant Diane Shaw, the competition was organised to encourage South African art and came after a request from the Vatican Museums for distinctly South African Art representing the uniqueness of the southern African people, their customs and their culture. The competition called for pieces made specifically for the competition reflecting God, his
“Our Lady of the Rainbow Nation” by Jennifer Summers was the winning piece of art in the SACBC’s Sacred Art competition.
mysteries and faith in an African context. Ms Shaw said preparing a piece of art from the contest became a spiritual journey. “God was definitely at work and it has been an honour and a very beautiful project for me to take part in,” she said. “I really would like to encourage more people to take part in this com-
petition next year. Who knows what journey God will lead you on.” While Ms Summers’s work is en route to the Vatican Museum, the other works of art have been donated; most to the SACBC where they will be displayed to the public at the conference’s headquarters, Khanya House in Pretoria.
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HE new bishop of Kimberley will be ordained on March 19 at St Patrick’s Christian Brothers’ College. Bishop-designate Abel Gabuza, former administrator of Pretoria archdiocese, succeeds retired Bishop Erwin Hecht (pictured) whose resignation upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75 was accepted in December 2009. Bishop Hecht, a German-born Oblate of Mary Immaculate, came to South Africa as a young priest in November 1961 and first worked at St Boniface parish in Kimberley as assistant priest, then as priest-incharge from 1970. He was elected Oblate provincial superior in 1970. In May 1972 he was ordained auxiliary bishop to Bishop John Bokenfohr, and appointed bishop of Kimberley in July that year. At his retirement, Bishop Hecht was the longest-serving bishop in Southern Africa. Bishop Hecht said the diocese of Kimberley has seen a lot of development in the nearly 40 years since his arrival. “Most of the formerly private Catholic primary schools were handed over to the government. In addition to CBC and St Boniface in Kimberley, high schools were developed in Taung (St Paul’s), in Mafikeng (St Mary’s), and many pre-schools were started, especially in the Kuruman-Moshaweng as well as the Taung and Mafikeng areas,” Bishop Hecht said. “Full-time employed catechists were phased out and replaced by voluntary catechism teachers. Various other voluntary ministries were introduced in most communities,” he recalled. He said that in 1972, when he became bishop, the diocese’s clergy comprised 99% Oblate priests. Some priests were born locally, but most were from Germany and Belgium. In the 1980s the clergy were reinforced with diocesan fidei donum priests from Poland, India and Germany. “Later candidates from Uganda joined our diocese and finally members from two African missionary societies strengthened our clerical team. At present among the 40 priests, 19 are locally-born diocesan priests, and a dozen young men are studying for the priesthood at St Joseph’s Theological Institute in Cedara, KwaZulu-Natal, and in Port Elizabeth.” But the biggest changes concerned the female missionaries,
he said. The Poor Sisters of Nazareth had to give up their home in Kimberley, but could stay on at Fourteenstreams. The Holy Cross Sisters could not continue at Taung or at Mafikeng. Likewise the Holy Family Sisters, the Pallottine Sisters and the Sisters of Perpetual Help could only spend several years in the Kimberley diocese. The Dominican Sisters of Oakford extended their presence at St Boniface for some years but moved to Bendel, the resettlement village in the Moshaweng valley. The Franciscan Sisters of Assisi moved from Devondale to Batlharos and for some years served the Portuguese-speaking community at Pomfret. New Sisters came to the Kimberley diocese in 1993: the Contemplative Sisters of Mount Carmel settled at Mafikeng and more recently the Missionaries of Christ came to Taung. Several Oblate Brothers served mainly from Taung, and Irish Christian Brothers at St Patrick’s College and St Boniface. For a number of years Marist Brothers served the people of Moshaweng resettlement area, residing at Slough/Loopeng. Then came the Focolare movement with the first male members sent to Taung, where they served as medical doctors in the then private Catholic hospital. They presently run a carpenter training project. They were later joined by a group of female members at Mafikeng. Speaking on external development, Bishop Hecht said hundreds of churches and other buildings were constructed, including halls, classrooms, crèches, houses, clinics, and toilets. Boreholes were drilled and windmills erected for villages in the Kalahari.
LOCAL In the Footsteps of Jesus Today is a new illustrated booklet of meditations on the Stations of the Cross.
Booklet reflects on Stations of the Cross with art STAFF REPORTER
HE new Stations of the Cross at Holy Trinity church in Braamfontein parish, Johannesburg, are featured in a new booklet of meditations on Christ’s Passion. Published by CB Publications and titled In the Footseps of Jesus Today, the 40-page booklet is illustrated in full colour with the artworks of Joseph Capelle, who also provides a reflection on his paintings. Jesuit Father Russell Pollitt, pastor of Holy Trinity, offers a prayerful meditation on each station. The introduction to the booklet notes that “the paintings of the Stations of the Cross do not seek to reproduce the natural world but
rather to interpret the events detailed in the scriptures...and make them relevant today”. The artworks show a distinct African influence. For example, Veronica is depicted wearing a coloured head scarf and beaded bodice. Mr Capelle, a parishioner of Maryvale, Johannesburg, previously created a multimedia Stations of the Cross for his parish, and painted the stations at St David’s Marist College in Inanda, and the stations and resurrection at Rivonia church. The booklet also includes a brief history of Holy Trinity church and outlines the parish’s current activities. ■ In the Footsteps of Jesus Today can be ordered from the Catholic Bookshop in Cape Town at R50 (plus P&P).
The Jesuit Institute has been working closely with the National Seminary of St John Vianney. The institute’s foundation staff (pictured) attended their three-day seminar on “Spirited Leadership”. The seminar was based on the course that the institute delivers through Wits university’s Business School to help senior managers connect their spiritual values with their role as leaders.
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The Southern Cross, March 2 to March 8, 2011
New head takes the reins at leading girls’ school BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
PRINGFIELD Convent in Cape Town has high hopes for the year with new headmistress Barbara Houghton steering the school in a new era. Ms Houghton has succeeded Melanie Bruce who retired after 27 years in December. The youngest of four daughters, Ms Houghton comes from a long tradition of Catholic education. “For 12 years we lived directly opposite St Theresa’s Catholic church in Camps Bay and our home was always the meeting place for parish priests and parishioners,” she recalled. Ms Houghton attended Loreto Convent Catholic Primary school in Camps Bay and then moved to Loreto Convent in Sea Point, matriculating in 1974. After matriculating, she studied and graduated from the University of Cape Town with honours in a Bachelor of Arts, a Post Graduate Diploma in Education, an Advanced Diploma in Adult Education and a Master of Philosophy Degree in History Education. “I also completed the leadership course for teachers offered by the University of the Witwatersrand and received a visitorship from ISASA [the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa] to undertake research in Britain and Holland on ‘The role and impact of a head on the ethos of a school’,” Ms Houghton said. Ms Houghton has written several school textbooks on Economics and Management Sciences for Grades seven to nine, and is currently writing a series of history articles on various curriculum topics.
Springfield Convent’s new headmistress Barbara Houghton. Ms Houghton said she was always active in various Church and school activities, including Legion of Mary, Christian Life Group, Peace and Justice Commission, Parish Council, Renew, the “Community Serving Humanity” initiative, Alpha, and served on the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. Her late father, Bill Houghton, was a former director of the company that publishes The Southern Cross. She hopes that the students at the girls’ school will similarly be involved. While education has received much attention in her life, Ms Houghton said life experience should never be undervalued as she had been taught invaluable
life lessons through her work experience. Ms Houghton said the debates and active involvement by the oppressed community to end racism in South Africa “enabled me to gain greater insight into the daily struggles of the majority of people and to participate in activities that could ultimately result in equality and a better education for all”. Ms Houghton, who taught at Harold Cressy High School for 23 years, said it was this experience that aided her to be part of the formation of the Western Cape Teachers’ Union where she was secretary of the Cape Town Branch for five years. She also served as deputy head at St Cyprian’s school before being appointed to head Springfield Convent. She said during her time at Harold Cressy and St Cyprian’s it has confirmed a belief held from her own schooling years: “The impact spiritual values and understanding has on the lives of young people.” Meanwhile, Public Relations Officer Sue Anderson added that Springfield was in the Top 10 schools in the Western Cape in 2010 and achieved not only a 100% pass rate, but each of the matriculants received a bachelor’s pass rate—a feat Ms Houghton hopes to maintain. ● Springfield extends a warm invitation to all past pupils, families and friends of the school to attend the 140th birthday Mass on Sunday March 6, at 14h30, to be celebrated by Archbishop Steven Brislin of Cape Town, in the Avenue, Springfield Convent, and thereafter for tea in the Gardens.
po Box 11095, mariannhill 3624 mondays 19h15: march 14, 21, 28, april 4, 11 lEnTEn lEcTUrEs by Mgr Paul Nadal Keeping the dream alive - an invitation to reflect on the teaching of Vatican ii, its contents, its message, and the vision of what it means to be church today. march 25-27 (wEEKEnd) Fr Pierre Lavoipierre: Growing in Faith. april 1-3 (wEEKEnd) Fr Urs Fischer: The sacrament of penance & reconciliation april 16-24 1) holy week retreat by Fr Christopher Neville OFM 2) on the mercy of God according to pope John paul ii and sr Faustina by Fr Urs Fischer
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The Southern Cross, March 2 to March 8, 2011
Pope on Lent: Don’t be selfish BY CINDY WOODEN
ENT is a time for self-examination and to let go of all traces of selfishness, which is the root of violence, Pope Benedict has said in his annual message for Lent. “The greed of possession leads to violence, exploitation and death,” which is why during Lent the Church encourages almsgiving, “which is the capacity to share”, the pope said. Lent begins on March 9 this year. The theme of the pope’s message was taken from the Letter to the Colossians: “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him.” Pope Benedict said Lent is a special time for people either to prepare for baptism or to strengthen the commitment to following Christ originally made at baptism. “The fact that in most cases baptism is received in infancy highlights how it is a gift of God: No one earns eternal life through their
own efforts,” the pope said. In his message, the pope took the year’s Lenten Sunday Gospels and used them to draw lessons he said would be helpful in making the Lenten journey towards Christian conversion. The Gospel account of Jesus’ victory over temptation in the desert “is an invitation to become aware of our own fragility in order to accept the grace that frees from sin and infuses new strength”, he said. The story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well is a reminder that all people, like the woman, desire the “water” of eternal life, he said. Only the water offered by Jesus “can irrigate the deserts of our restless and unsatisfied soul until it ‘finds rest in God’”, as St Augustine said. The Gospel account of Jesus healing the man born blind “is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also to open our interior vision so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognise him as our only saviour,”
the pope said. The story of the raising of Lazarus, read on the fifth Sunday of Lent, reminds Christians that their destiny is eternal life with God, who “created men and women for resurrection and life”. The Lenten process of conversion, the pope said, is designed “to free our hearts every day from the burden of material things, from a self-centered relationship with the ‘world’ that impoverishes us and prevents us from being available and open to God and our neighbour”. Through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, “Lent teaches us how to live the love of Christ in an ever more radical way”. Fasting helps people overcome selfishness and self-centredness; almsgiving is a reminder of the sharing that should mark each day of a Christian’s life; and time dedicated to prayer is a reminder that time belongs to God and his desire is for people to spend eternity with him.—CNS
March 10 at the Vatican. The first volume was published in 2007. Cardinal Cottier told a packed house that the confusion between the work of the theologian Ratzinger and Pope Benedict was not helped by publishers of the first volume, who wrote “Pope Benedict XVI” on the cover in much larger letters than they wrote “Joseph Ratzinger”. Writing the pope’s name like that, he said, makes it appear “as if this were a text of the magisterium”, the teaching authority of the Church. In the foreword, “the pope himself makes a distinction that commercial interests don’t make. A theologian, “like any human being, can make a mistake or propose his own opinions”, Cardinal Cottier said, even if the theolo-
gian is Joseph Ratzinger, “one of the greatest theologians of our age”. On the other hand, “when one is dealing with the writing of the pope, one is dealing with a very special charism, that of the successor of Peter, a gift which aims to maintain the unity of the Church” in holding the true faith. The role of the pope is to tell Catholics “what is conforming to the faith and what is not. Obviously, to make this kind of discernment, human qualities are needed, but on the more crucial, more central points, there is the assistance of the Holy Spirit”, working not only personally with the pope, but also with the College of Bishops called to advise and assist him.—CNS
Pope Benedict blesses a statue of St Maron on the exterior of St Peter’s basilica. A fourth-century hermit, St Maron founded the Maronite Catholic Church. Among the many people attending ceremony were Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and the Maronite patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah P Sfeir. Although Maronites live all over the world, the church is most closely identified with Lebanon, which is home to nearly 1 million of the world’s approximately 5 million Maronites. (Photo: L’Osservatore Romano)
End of road for talks between ‘Theology can be debated even with a pope’ Vatican and traditionalists? BY CINDY WOODEN
S the second volume of Jesus of Nazareth is about to be published, a Swiss cardinal said it’s important that people realise the book was written by the theologian Joseph Ratzinger and not by Pope Benedict XVI. “This distinction is not a matter of splitting hairs,” said Cardinal Georges Cottier (pictured), the former theologian of the papal household. It is important for people to understand that theology is a human exercise, which is open to debate and criticism; but because of the Holy Spirit’s gift to the Church and to the individual elected, the teaching of a pope requires a greater degree of assent, the cardinal told an evening conference organised by the Vatican publishing house. The pope’s second volume of Jesus of Nazareth will be released
Numbers of Catholics, priests and deacons go up
HE number of Catholics in the world, the number of deacons, priests and bishops and the number of dioceses all increased in 2009, while the number of women in religious orders continued to decline, according to Vatican statistics. At the end of 2009, the worldwide Catholic population increased by 15 million to 1,18 billion, or by 1,3%, slightly outpac-
ing the global population growth rate, which was estimated at 1,1%. The statement reported a handful of the statistics contained in the 2011 Annuario Pontificio, the Vatican’s yearbook. In 2010, Pope Benedict established ten new dioceses, bringing to 2 956 the number of dioceses and Church jurisdictions in the world. The number of priests went
from 405 178 to 410 593, increasing everywhere except Europe. The number of permanent deacons reported, 38 155, was an increase of more than 1 000 over the previous year. The number of women in religious orders fell by almost 10 000 in 2009, despite increases in their numbers in Asia and Africa. At the end of the year, Catholic women’s orders had 729 371 members.
BY JOHN THAVIS
HE head of a group of traditionalist Catholics said reconciliation talks with the Vatican would soon be coming to an end, with little change in the views of either side. In addition to disputes over the changes introduced by the Second Vatican Council, new problems have been created by plans for the beatification of Pope John Paul II and for an interreligious prayer meeting in Assisi, Italy, Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), said in an interview published on the society’s website. The talks were launched in late 2009 in an effort by Pope Benedict to repair a 21-year break with the society, which was founded by excommunicated French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. The pope said that full communion for the group’s members would depend on “true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the pope and of the Second Vatican Council”. But Bishop Fellay said his society went into the talks with a different purpose: to show the contradictions between the Church’s traditional teachings and its practices since Vatican II. That is “the only goal that we are pursuing”, he said, and the dialogue with the Vatican is not a search for compromise but “a question of faith”. “Is Vatican II really a stumbling block? For us, no doubt whatsoever, yes!” he said. “Until now Vatican II was always considered as a taboo, which makes the cure of this sick-
ness, which is the crisis in the Church, almost impossible.” Bishop Fellay said the society has presented its doctrinal arguments in writing to the Vatican, followed up by theological discussion. “It is really a matter of making the Catholic faith understood in Rome,” he said.
sked whether the Vatican participants in the talks have changed their thinking in light of the talks, Bishop Fellay answered: “I don’t think that you can say that.” He added that recent events at the Vatican have, in fact, dispelled any “illusions” of progress. “I am thinking about the announcement of the beatification of John Paul II or the announcement of a new Assisi event along the lines of the interreligious gatherings in 1986 and 2002,” he said. Bishop Fellay said the scheduled beatification of Pope John Paul II on May 1 poses “a serious problem, the problem of a pontificate that caused things to proceed by leaps and bounds in the wrong direction, along ‘progressive’ lines, towards everything that they call ‘the spirit of Vatican II’”. He said it was a “mystery” to him how Pope Benedict could convene another interreligious gathering next October in Assisi. The society was highly critical of the first such encounter 25 years ago. Catholics, he said, should “pray that the good Lord intervenes in one way or another so that [the Assisi gathering] doesn’t take place, and in any case start making reparation now!”—CNS
The Southern Cross, March 2 to March 8, 2011
Pope to create three new saints in October ceremony BY CAROL GLATz
OPE Benedict will create three new saints on October 23, including the founder of the Xaverian missionaries, Bl Guido Maria Conforti. The pope announced the date for the canonisation ceremony at the end of what is known as an ordinary public consistory, a for-
mal ceremony opened and closed with prayer, during which cardinals present in Rome express their support for the pope’s decision to create new saints. Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, read brief biographies of the three in Latin. Bl Conforti, founder of the Xaverian Foreign Missionary Soci-
ety, was born in 1865 in Italy. Vice-rector of a seminary even before his priestly ordination, he was said to have filled seminarians with an awareness of their obligation to be missionaries. In 1895, seven years after becoming a priest, the future bishop of Ravenna and then Parma founded a congregation of consecrated men dedicated to the evan-
Prelates repent over abuse BY MICHAEL kELLY
EPENTING for the crimes of priestly sex abuse does not mean that the Irish Catholic Church can return to business as usual, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told abuse survivors during a prayer service in Dublin’s pro-cathedral. However, seeking forgiveness can be an important step towards healing and overcoming the pain that survivors feel, he said during the “Liturgy of Lament and Repentance”, attended by 1 000 survivors and their families and supporters. Archbishop Martin and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston offered apologies for the Church’s failure to respond to reports of abuse. Many in attendance were visibly moved when Archbishop Martin and Cardinal O’Malley washed the feet of eight survivors as a sign of humility. “The archdiocese of Dublin will never be the same again,” Archbishop Martin said. “It will
always bear this wound within it. The archdiocese of Dublin can never rest until the day in which the last victim has found his or her peace and he or she can rejoice in being fully the person that God in his plan wants them to be.” Cardinal O’Malley was in Dublin conducting an apostolic visitation of the archdiocese in the wake of a scandal that found Church leaders doing little to investigate abuse claims and working to keep abuse reports under wraps to protect the clergy involved and the Church’s reputation. Other prelates also visited various Irish dioceses and religious congregations as part of the visitation. “On behalf of the Holy Father, I ask forgiveness for the sexual abuse of children perpetrated by priests and past failures of the Church’s hierarchy, here and in Rome, the failure to respond appropriately to the problem of sexual abuse,” Cardinal O’Malley told the congregation in his concluding remarks.
“Publicly atoning for the Church’s failures is an important element of asking the forgiveness of those who have been harmed by priests and bishops, whose actions—and inactions— gravely harmed the lives of children entrusted to their care,” he said. Planned principally by survivors, the service began with the two prelates lying prostrate in repentance before a silent congregation. A handful of protesters gathered outside insisting they could “neither forgive nor forget” the abuse. Archbishop Martin paid tribute to the survivors who had the courage to raise their voices and not be silenced by the Church. “Some of you in your hurt and your disgust will have rejected the Church that you had once loved, but paradoxically your rejection may have helped purify the Church through challenging it to face the truth, to move out of denial, to recognise the evil that was done and the hurt that was caused,” he said.—CNS
Arrest in priest killing A
MAN who worked at the Salesian mission where a young Polish missionary priest was found murdered has been arrested in connection with the death. The Tunisian ministry of interior reported that Chokori Ben Mustapha Bel-Sadek ElMestiri, 43, was taken into custody after the body of Fr Marek Rybinski, 33, was discovered in a storeroom in a Salesian-run school in La Manouba outside the capital of Tunis. Authorities said robbery was the motive for the killing and was not a sign of increased religious tension weeks after the ousting of the country’s autocratic president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January. Fr Rybinski’s body was discovered by police after the director of the Salesian community in La Manouba became alarmed when he had not been seen for a day and his room was found empty.
A Muslim Tunisian girl places flowers on a table bearing a photograph of murdered Fr Marek Rybinski during a Mass in memory of him at La Goulette church in Tunis. (Photo: Anis Mili, Reuters/CNS) In a statement, the interior ministry expressed “relief” that the murder “was not politically motivated”. “The victim was dragged to a shed where he was beaten on the neck and head, which resulted in his death,” the statement said. The missionary news agency Fides said Bishop Maroun Lahham of Tunis explained that Fr Rybinski had given a worker about R10 000 for work at the school in November. When the work was not started, the priest
began asking the worker for the money to be returned. The priest’s murder prompted demonstrations in support of the Salesian community by hundreds of people including students from the school and their parents. An estimated 15 000 people also took to the streets in Tunis after news spread of the priest’s death. Fr Lawrence Essery, the Salesians’ director in Manouba, said Fr Rybinski had arrived in the country in 2007, two years after ordination.—CNS
Events planned for JP2 beatification BY CINDY WOODEN
HE Vatican has released a three-day schedule of events for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, and warned against people selling counterfeit tickets to the beatification liturgy, which is free and open to all. Pope Benedict will preside over the beatification Mass on May 1 in St Peter’s Square. Immediately after Mass, the faithful can pray before Pope John Paul’s mortal remains, which will be set in front of the main altar in St Peter’s basilica.
The veneration “will continue until the flow of faithful ends,” the Vatican said. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said the late pope’s remains will be in the casket in which he was originally buried in 2005 and will not be visible. The night before the beatification, a prayer vigil will be held in the grassy open space that was the ancient Circus Maximus in Rome. The morning after the beatification, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, will celebrate a Mass of
thanksgiving in St Peter’s Square., Archbishop James Harvey, prefect of the papal household, which organises the non-liturgical side of papal events, emphasised that tickets will not be required to attend the beatification. The archbishop said he had been “informed of the existence of unauthorised offers by some tour operators, especially on the Internet”, claiming that for a fee they could help people get tickets to papal events, particularly the beatification Mass.—CNS
gelisation of non-Christians. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1996. The Xaverian missionaries today include 793 priests and brothers, and 183 Xaverian sisters. The others to be canonised on October 23, World Mission Sunday, are: l Bl Louis Guanella (18421915), an Italian priest who found-
ed the Servants of Charity, the Daughters of St Mary of Providence, and the Confraternity of St Joseph, whose members pledge to pray for the sick and dying. l Bl Bonifacia Rodriguez Castro (1837-1905), Spanish founder of the Servants of St Joseph, a congregation originally dedicated to providing a religious and technical education to poor women.—CNS
The Southern Cross, March 2 to March 8, 2011
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
New Mass translation confusion
Editor: Günther Simmermacher
Our great gift
S the Church prepares for the penitential season of Lent, Catholics will apply their minds to the nature of this year’s sacrifice (or, indeed, sacrifices). Most often, these sacrifices will involve abstention from items of consumption, such as meat, alcohol, chocolates, chips, cola or cigarettes, or refraining from habitual pleasures, such as gambling, watching television or using social networking sites. The Church urges that money saved from making Lenten sacrifices should be used to supplement our contribution to the bishops’ Lenten Appeal. Pope Benedict in this year’s Lenten message amplifies the need for what he calls our “capacity to share”. Lent is a time for conversion; a time in which we are called to prayerfully reflect on wrong paths that we might have taken, and try and resume our pilgrim’s journey in the right direction. It is a time when we must seek to purify ourselves in preparation for our encounter with the risen Christ on Easter Sunday. So we strive to purge ourselves from bad habits and routine sins, make sacrifices, and thereby seek spiritual renewal. Lent is a time for personal stocktaking, when we are called to eliminate that which does us—and others—harm, when we discern the deficiencies in our life and in our faith, when we repent for our trespasses and also give thanks for our blessings (especially if we have fallen out of the practice of doing so). It is commendable to make a Lenten sacrifice by abstention as a regime in internal discipline (even if for many it has become a cultural practice). We must not be discouraged when we lapse in our Lenten pledge in moments of temptation, but continue our walk through the desert with Jesus. At the same time, giving up an old habit during Lent might be an easier option than taking on a new habit. In his encyclical Deus caritas est (God Is Love), Pope Benedict noted: “There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There
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.
will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable.” The need for the proclamation of love—caritas—is perennial. Lent is a stimulus for sacrifice, which in itself invariably is an act love. The possibilities for expressing that love through sacrifice are plenty. Volunteer at an orphanage, even if your qualifications in that field are confined to playing with the little ones. Seek out the lonely and the aged in your parish to provide companionship and, if needed, help. Give to or volunteer at a soup kitchen for the homeless. Hand food parcels to your parish’s Society of St Vincent de Paul or care group. Donate toys to a children’s hospital or a township crèche. Visit prisoners, who will be grateful for contact with the outside world. Offer your help to organisations that provide desperate pregnant mothers with an alternative to abortion, such as Birthright or the Mater homes in KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town. Offer professional skills pro bono to charities that might struggle to pay for legal, accounting, marketing or maintenance expertise. Of course, not everybody has the time or resources to engage in such activities. It does not take long, however, to write letters of appreciation and encouragement to your priest, deacon, parish pastoral council and bishop—itself an act of reaching out. Lent is a time for sacrifice and for healing. Rancour and the absence of love towards others can profoundly inhibit our relationship with God. It is a good time to sacrifice the impulses of pride and mend relations with estranged family members, friends, neighbours or colleagues. As we journey towards the crucified Lord whose loving sacrifice offers us the gift of salvation, it should not be so difficult to ask for and offer forgiveness and healing broken relationships. The Lenten season is penitential and sacrificial by nature. These attributes may not have great currency in modern society, but for us, as Catholics, it is a remarkable gift through which we may restore our spirit.
he controversy regarding the new Mass translation has been going on for ages, with the notunexpected lack of response from Rome. There is division among the members of our parishes. Personally, I am averse to the changes that are being introduced, but do they really affect me, or anyone else, so badly? Are they a real obstacle to prayer? Does God hear supplications in one form only, rejecting others? I don’t think so. I am sure he hears my prayers as long as I say them with reverence and faith, no matter what form they take. Did Jesus not say that God knows our needs even before we have the chance to articulate them? I really don’t mind which form is used at Mass as long as those people
responsible for leading us—our shepherds, our parish priests—make up their minds one way or another. The priest at one of the parishes where I attend Mass is openly averse to the use of the new translation— he has said so several times from the pulpit. But he has gone on to tell the congregation that they should decide for themselves which responses they wish to use. As a result there is a diminished response at the most well-attended weekend Mass, most people still using the older form and some trying to use the newer, and quite a few remaining silent, not quite knowing what to do. At the earlier Mass in the same church there is much greater participation in the new form, but the continued use by many of the old form is causing confusion. I am told
Set up a Catholic music academy
arrangers. People sang with gusto and reverence, including the priests, I might add. Celebrations at Easter and Christmas were events one never forgot. However, it is now sad to see many parishioners leave the church before the priest and altar servers. We are prepared to sit in a cinema or in front of the TV for much longer periods of time, but cannot endure an hour of Mass. Priests reduce the length of sermons to satisfy parishioners and only two or three verses of a hymn are sung. We as Catholics are being sung and prayed into oblivion by other denominations who take their religion very seriously. It is a shameful disrespect for God whom we purport to worship. Fr Townsend, were I a lotto winner, I would join you in establishing a Catholic Church Academy of Music. I am all for progress, but it is sad to see the Church bending over backwards to accommodate the flock on every level. We should not hold the sword of Damocles over the Church’s head but assist it on every level to re-instate the true meaning of Catholicism—in its practice and its music. Do not treat our relationship with the Lord as an academic exercise. I recall the words of a friend: “Perhaps what Catholics need today is another Nero to bring them to their knees more often.” Nicholas J Basson, Senior Professor of Music (retired), Cape Town
ATE” is a rather strong word for one who, like Fr Chris Townsend (December 15), listens to “everything” from great polyphonics to Gregorian chant et al. Much of the aforementioned is embedded in Catholic music. Perhaps “unacceptable” would be much easier on the ears. For the most part I fully agree with what Fr Townsend has to say. As a former choirmaster and organist of the Church for more than 50 years (now retired), I have witnessed a steady decline in the music ministry of the Church—certainly in the archdiocese of Cape Town. Many attempts have been made by parish priests to stimulate and encourage the youth to participate in the music of the Church through youth Masses where music of more of a swing nature is played and sung. Strange as it may seem, as Fr Townsend says the youth do not identify with this and seem to be more at home with traditional hymns. In the days of the Catholic Church Music Society (CCMS), led by the late Fr John Walsh, master of choristers and organist of St Mary’s Cathedral, Cape Town, parish choirs within the archdiocese boasted a variety of specialties—Gregorian chant, mixed male and female choirs and boys’ choirs. Practically every parish had a choir, although these were never show pieces and Mass was never used as a concert platform for them to perform. These choirs led the congregations, exposing them to the finer and more solemn Catholic music of renowned composers and
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.
that the faithful at weekday Mass, a far smaller group, use the new form completely. All this in the same parish! Direction is needed. Should the parish priest feel that he does not wish to make the decision, then perhaps he should refer the matter to his parish council. I don’t know whether the diocesan authorities may be defied—I don’t think so. But, one way or the other, firm action is required. Apart from their parish council, the faithful have no forum, and I doubt that they will do anything except murmur and perhaps lose a little more of the faith that they have, not to mention their respect for their Church. In the meanwhile we are bumbling along—the dignity of the Mass is being jeopardised due to the lack of leadership by those who should be our shepherds. Tom Drake, Johannesburg
Mix the music up
HERE has been much debate over Church music since Fr Chris Townsend wrote his article “Why I hate Catholic music” (December 15). As much as I enjoy some of the music at church nowadays, I agree with him that liturgical music has to a large extent become mundane . The songs we sing have a “happy family” feel to them, but lack nobility. Many are not awe-inspiring and majestic. Some of the music used for the parts of the Mass are so boring that I want to groan in frustration when we sing them. I cannot hear the angels’ voices in the Sanctus as they are drowned out by tunes lacking in splendour! There is all too often a lack of variety in the style of music. I long to hear some Gregorian chant and hymns sung by voice alone. Is it not possible to sing this type of music in Mass as well as the feel-good music? We can sing/chant in the vernacular as well as Latin! Maybe if we had this variety, it would help us to discern which music is suitable to stay and which is better to leave behind. It can be so difficult to determine what is reverent or noble, and what is not, as we have different opinions on what meets these standards. But what is certain, is that music has a major effect on our devotion. As a young person, I can say that I am far more moved and impressed with Gregorian chant and plainsong than I am with “happy family” music! We have a long liturgical heritage, and I hope to see some beautiful music return to our churches in the years to come. Thank you, Fr Townsend, for raising this important issue! Dolores S Steenhuis, Cape Town
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You’re unique for a reason
T is an obvious truism that everyone wants to have an identity. We all want to have a name and to know our mother and father, as well as our racial or ethnic group. Most people want to know their ancestry and to know the history and achievements of their ancestors and race. People can go to great lengths to search for their roots. In all this search for identity there are two things we tend to forget. First, we often fail to ask ourselves whose we are. Yes, we may think we know who we are, but whose are we? The problem here is that we convince ourselves that we belong to ourselves. That’s why we can glibly say: “It’s my life. I can do with it whatever I want!” We even fail to acknowledge that we did not participate in the process of being created. We only discovered that we existed when life had already been given to us through the instrumentality of our parents. We fail to see that somebody else gave us this life which we call ours. The second thing we usually are not aware of is our uniqueness. Just think of this: There are six billion people in the world today, but out of those six billion, there is no one like you. There is no one who has the same physical features, characteristics and gifts as you! Even identical twins are different from each other in some ways. There will be some physical feature, quality, manner of speaking or gift which makes the one twin different from the other. Eeach and every one of us is unique. Each of us is in a sense sui generis, a special type, a unique being whose uniqueness has been determined by our Maker, the one who created us. It is only God Almighty who has the power to make sure that we are different from everybody else on earth.
This uniqueness should be seen not only from the perspective of appearance, gifts and qualities. The one who made us made each one of us for a special purpose. God did not make us just for the fun of making us. Our God is a God of purpose. Everything he does or makes has a purpose. As for us human beings, every one of us was created not only to know and love God and have eternal life; but also to play our part in the history and unfolding of salvation. Without a doubt, salvation can only come through Jesus Christ: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). However, God also decided that Jesus would bring the Good News of salvation not only through himself working single-
Everybody is unique so as to play their part in God’s plan of salvation.
Lent: A time to love T HE first quarter of the year is marked predominantly by a strong sense of love, be it in secular or religious circles. In the secular world, we recently celebrated Valentine’s Day, which has now become more about spending than about showing genuine affection for one another. But the kind of love I’m concerned about is that love which emanates from the Father and the sacrificial lamb Jesus. How can we take that love and channel it to others? Ash Wednesday takes us back to the reality of our human vulnerability to death, and our need for forgiveness for the sins we have committed. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. These 40 days are meant to draw us closer to God, to remember those in need, to count our blessings, literally, one by one, and to seek forgiveness for our sins. It is during this time that most staunch and loyal Catholics abstain from meat and fast on Fridays. We do this to remind ourselves of the love the Father had for us, that he gave his Son to die for our sins on the cross so as to secure our redemption. This is well and good, but do we Catholics take the time to consider the plight of the poor or to show genuine concern for those in need of assistance? Somehow our actions and behaviour are not always convincing—not compared with the Muslims, for example. When they celebrate the mysteries of their faith, they really go out of their way to express their love for the Supreme Being in their love for the less fortunate. Remember those beggars on the street whom we despise and think are filthy?
What have we ever done to change that? Even during Lent most of us choose to turn a blind eye to them, at the very time we are supposed to be closer to them. If Jesus were you, would he not take the last item of clothing from his back to give to that same person whom you despise so much? What about a simple meal? How many of us cook more than we can consume and end up throwing away the leftovers? Couldn’t we be so loving, kind and considerate as to pack that food and give to the first person we meet who is in need of something to eat? Better still, can we not open our homes to the poor and share a meal and fellowship with them in the way Jesus would have?
any of us have clothes which we have not worn for a long time. Some have clothes and shoes which have never been worn. Can we not give ours to the needy? It is easy to throw away worn-out clothes. Let us rather sacrifice our good clothes to those who could make better use of them. The poor also love cool jeans and fancy dresses. Let us recognise our humanity in them by sharing our treasures with them. Why don’t we just become the other Christ and also give till it hurts? If God could be so selfless as to sacrifice his only Son for us, why can we not do the same for our less fortunate brothers and sisters? Jesus willingly gave up his throne to redeem you and me, and your showing your appreciation will go a long way to proving that his death for us was not in vain. As Catholics, we hide glibly behind the story of “I donate to St Vincent de
Emmanuel Ngara Christian Leadership
handedly as the Son of God, but through him with the assistance of human beings. This is why Jesus founded his Church so that the work of making him known would continue through his disciples from the apostolic times down the ages to the end of the world. And this is why Paul would proclaim: “And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Rm 10:14). Jesus himself said: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” (Lk 10:2). Yes, the work of salvation is so much that God wants every one of us to play his or her part in advancing the cause of salvation and building the kingdom of God on earth. Each of us was born in a particular society at a particular point in history because God assigned a particular task to each. The point of this column is to emphasise that for a Christian, and even more so for a Christian leader, it is not enough to know and love God; it is also essential to discover one’s purpose in life. The challenge for every Christian, therefore, is to discover one’s purpose in life and to fulfil that purpose. My challenge is this: Have you discovered your purpose in life? If you have, ensure you keep developing the character and sense of commitment that will enable you to fulfil that purpose. If you haven’t discovered your purpose, join me in next month’s column, and together we will ask the Lord to help you know who you really are and why he brought you into this world at this particular point in the history of humankind.
Alistair T Gogodo CMM Point of Reflection Paul every year” or “I give a lot of money to the Church”, or I do this, I do that. Well, news flash: that’s good, but not enough. Let’s be honest, in our giving, we Catholics do not always give the best to the poor. We give that which we no longer need. In most cases, when money is donated, it is done with a surplus, so that bank balances are not strained, holiday plans not upset and luxuries not compromised. My Lenten appeal to each and every one of us this Lenten season is to remember always the love of God. God gave the most precious gift without any reservations. Thanks to that sacrifice you and I are redeemed. Why not also, in your privilege express the same love to your fellow brothers and sisters who have none of what you have? A little also goes a long way. For the coming 40 days of Lent out of the 365 days of the year, the Church and God himself asks you to give till it hurts no more, and you will be the receiver. As Catholics in this Lenten season, let us also run soup kitchens for the street kids and shelter those without shelter. Let us practise the selfless and compassionate love of God. This year, let Lent be different for ourselves, our families, our parishes, our communities and for the Church in South Africa. This Lent let us go beyond the confines of race, religion, tribe, denomination or any other constraints there might be, in helping others. Let’s proclaim the crucified, risen and loving Christ to everyone through our good deeds.
The Southern Cross, March 2 to March 8, 2011
Michael Shackleton Open Door
Were rules bent for Pope John Paul II? Pope John Paul II died only in 2005 yet he is to be beatified this year, barely six years later. Is this not what one might call unusual haste? Has the present pope done his homework and ensured that all the correct rules and procedures have been followed in letting his immediate predecessor “jump the queue”? Feeny OUR question is one that has been asked by so many others that Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation for Causes of the Saints, agreed to explain the matter in an interview published in L’Osservatore Romano, the Holy See’s newspaper. He admitted that the cause for the late pope’s beatification had proceeded quickly. This was due, he said, to Benedict XVI’s granting a dispensation from the prescribed five years of waiting. With no waiting list to hinder its progress, Pope John Paul’s cause could proceed smoothly (as Pope John Paul had done for the cause of Bl Mother Teresa). The cardinal felt that this was appropriate, because there was a wave of sympathy and love for John Paul that swelled within the Church. People acknowledged the pontiff’s patently exceptional virtues, and Pope Benedict decided that this “fame of holiness” was enough to waive the waiting period. According to Cardinal Amato it also made his own task a lot easier. The cardinal stressed that no exceptions to the procedures governing the beatification process were made. Because the cause was not on a waiting list for attention, it could be “fast tracked” without sacrificing the normal scrupulous investigation into the life and works of the late pope. In fact, said the cardinal, because of the pressure from the media, doctors and theologians worked with extra-special attention to detail. Another thing to note is the reported miracle in which a French nun who had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease since 2001 was abruptly cured. When Sr Marie Simon Pierre heard of John Paul’s death in 2005, she and her community prayed to God, requesting him to give healing to Sr Marie through the prayers of John Paul. She was restored to complete health almost at once. Medical experts did an independent investigation and concluded that the event was medically inexplicable. The Church therefore accepted this as a miraculous cure, which is a requirement before anyone can be put forward for beatification. The Church will not take the next step towards canonisation of the beatified person until at least a second miracle can also be attributed to that person.
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The Southern Cross, March 2 to March 8, 2011
Bishop Francisco De Gouveia of Oudtshoorn at the confirmation of members of Christ the king parish in Worcester. The confirmands were accompanied by their sponsors. With Bishop De Gouveia is Fr Douglas Sumaili.
Fr Melese Tumato welcomed 35 children to the Children of Jesus Sodality in the St Francis parish in Tabankulu, kokstad. (Photo: Nombini Mavango)
Iteboleng Gift London was robed during a ceremony at the St Theresa hall of St Peter’s church in kimberley. She has been accepted into St Anne Sodality. (Submitted by Vusi Tukakhomo) Fr Titus Gamede of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta parish in Eshowe conducted a thanksgiving Mass for his mother, Augustine Gamede, for her 75th birthday. (Submitted by Clotilda zondi)
Newly commissioned altar servers from Regina Pacis parish in Ladysmith, kwazulu Natal, with Fr Graham Bouwer. (Submitted by Lynn Wood)
IN FOCUS Edited by Nadine Christians
Send photographs, with sender’s name and address on the back, and a SASE to: The Southern Cross, Community Pics, Box 2372, Cape Town, 8000 or email them to: pics@scross. co.za
The Southern Cross, March 2 to March 8, 2011
Doing something for Lent It is usual to give up something for Lent, but that is not enough as we prepare for the Resurrection at Easter. CLAIRE MATTHIESON explains.
OR many, deciding on their Lenten sacrifice—perhaps something that’s not too much of a challenge, but not too meagre either—can be difficult. But Lent is not only about selfdenial; indeed, instead of giving up a habit or luxury it can also be a time of taking on something for the improvement of oneself and others. Lent is a period of preparation: it is not enough to temporarily say goodbye to something—almsgiving and prayer are also an important part of this time. Salesian Sister Patricia Finn from the Catechetics Desk of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) said Lent is “about conversion, turning our lives more completely over to Christ and his way of life which always involves giving up sin in some form or other”. Sr Finn said Lent was an opportunity for people to grow in faith and strive to become more Christlike. “We can understand Lent as a time of spiritual spring-cleaning during which we make a spiritual inventory and then systematically work on those elements in our lives which hinder our personal and community relationships with Jesus and our love for our brothers and sisters”, she explained. This, she added, happens through fasting, almsgiving and prayer. Seithati Molefi, a young adult parishioner of St Rose parish in Bochabela, Bloemfontein, said it was the combination of prayer, fasting and almsgiving/works of mercy that made Lent fulfilling. “I will be cleaning out my wardrobe and donate the clothes I don't use or need to the needy. I have already identified a parish to which I will donate in the Bloemfontein archdiocese. “For myself, I will complete at
least one novena for a personal intention,” Ms Molefi said. Sr Finn said there are many things one should be doing to complement the self-denial. “Lent is a good time to begin or to strengthen a discipline of daily prayer,” she said, adding that it would be a good opportunity to make the effort to attend daily Mass. One could also take on study, she suggested. “Catholics are not particularly known for their scriptural literacy, and Lent is an excellent time to remedy this problem,” she said. “One way to read Scripture is to use the daily Mass readings for the season of Lent, or to read and reflect on the Sunday Readings of Lent.” Sr Finn said Lent was also about putting something positive in its place. “One of the best ways to get rid of vice is to cultivate virtue, and Lent is traditionally the time for helping the poor and carrying out acts of charity, compassion and mercy.” The concept of almsgiving is linked to our baptismal commitment. “It is an external sign of our care for those in need and an expression of our gratitude for all that God gives to us,” she said. She said works of mercy and the promotion of justice are integral elements of the Christian way of life we began when we were baptised and that we put into practice throughout our lives. “Almsgiving can be done in more ways than just giving out money to people begging on the street corners and at traffic lights: it can be done by helping one’s own family, friends, neighbours who are in financial difficulties. We might even try to be a bit more generous to our domestic workers”, said Sr Finn. Sr Finn said there was no shortage of outreach centres or opportunities to get out of one’s comfort zone to help another. Although Christians are meant to be kind and compassionate all year round, she said, “Lent can become a good time to examine ways to become more involved in the poverty and sufferings of others”. Ms Molefi said it was important to her to give up something
A priest distributes ashes on Ash Wednesday. The Catholic Church observes the start of Lent by marking Christians with a public and communal sign of penance. (Photo: Owen Sweeney III, Catholic Review/CNS) and to give something of herself. Even if it is small, it is an integral part of Lent and Catholic life, she said.
or families, Sr Finn said, Lent is an important season for traditions to be passed on. She said Lent and Easter should be celebrated at home and in the parish, and it is a good time for the family to communicate better in order to build up family unity. “Choose a suitable reading from the liturgical readings of the day, prepare to read or tell the story and prepare a related activity,” Sr Finn suggested. “Encourage fasting and abstinence as a family: choose one day in the week with only one simple meal. Plan a simple soup and bread meal for Wednesdays. The
money saved can be given to the Bishops’ Lenten Appeal for those who only ever have one meal a day.” Sr Finn said instead of simply abstaining, we should donate the money we would have spent on the item to those who need it. This is something everyone could do.“Fasting can help us realise the suffering that so many people in our world experience every day, and it should lead us to greater personal and community effort to alleviate that suffering. “Abstinence from meat also links us to the poor who can seldom afford meat with their meals. If we keep in mind the purpose of abstinence we can use it as a spiritual link to those whose normal diet is simple and sparse”. For those new to the faith or
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for children, it is important to spend time explaining why these days are different and why as Catholics we are called to refrain from luxuries during Lent. Sr Finn suggested families draw up a Lenten calendar and choose suitable acts of love and sacrifice for each day of Lent. “Use only good words when speaking; offer to do something extra around the house; do an act of kindness for an older person you know; be especially honest in everything you do and say; keep silent instead of arguing or having your own way.” Ms Molefi said Lent was a time to do more. She said it was good motivation to get further involved in her community and parish and an opportunity to be proudly Catholic.
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The Southern Cross, March 2 to March 8, 2011
Bringing the exorcist to the silver screen When Matt Baglio met a priest who came to Rome to study exorcisms, he had no plans to write a book about it, never mind one that would be adapted to become a blockbuster movie featuring Anthony Hopkins, as he tells MARk PATTISON.
LASH back to 2004. American journalist Matt Baglio is living in Rome. He’s never written a book before. But he meets a US priest who came to Rome to learn how to conduct exorcisms. “I didn’t tend to be interested in the topic. I’m not a big horror fan,” Mr Baglio remembers. “If you were to ask me six years ago, seven years [ago], if I would be an expert on demonic possession, I would laugh.” He hasn’t even seen the 1976 classic film The Exorcist all the way through. But one book, interviews with 17 exorcists and being a witness to 30 exorcisms later, Mr Baglio knows much more about exorcisms than the typical Catholic layman. And now that book, The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, has been turned into a movie—The Rite, which opens in South Africa on March 9. “I didn’t know the priest. I had no idea that I was going to write the book. I didn’t have a concept. I just heard that I was going to a seminar,” he recalled. The priest, Fr Gary Thomas, can’t speak Italian. But Mr Baglio can. This is a theme that made its way
into the movie, where a seminarian (Colin O’Donoghue) sent to learn about exorcisms, meets an Italian journalist (Alice Braga) who is more eager than the seminarian to learn about the rite (of exorcism). The book focuses on Fr Thomas’ training as an exorcist. The priest ministers in the diocese of San Jose, California. Mr Baglio said that from his own participation in the training class, “my own preconceptions were reversed”, he said, having found out “things I didn’t expect”. “Psychologically, the exorcist is the ultimate sceptic” in making a determination whether someone is demonically possessed, he explained. “Fr Thomas came back to me...a week later, two weeks later [after the course’s end], and he said: ‘You won’t believe what I saw. I met an exorcist,’” Mr Baglio recalled. From that point, he and Fr Thomas met weekly. “He had all these questions,” the writer said. “I kind of structured the book along that journey that he took. I was able to interview and I asked the same questions. He had specific questions he wanted answered, and I put that into the narrative.” Mr Baglio said many of the questions he and the priest had “were pretty simple”, including how and why holy water, a crucifix, relics of saints and blessed salt that are part of the exorcism rite are used. The Rite was a success even before it was published. “The book actually was optioned to become a movie even before I had written the book,” Mr Baglio said. What’s more, he added, “I had never written a book. This was my first book. “I wrote the book proposal to send to the publishers and I got the
Left: Matt Baglio is author of The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist. After interviewing 17 exorcists and being a witness to 30 exorcisms, Baglio says he knows much more about exorcisms than the typical Catholic layman. Top: Anthony Hopkins stars in a scene from the movie The Rite. (Photo: Warner Bros) book deal shortly after that. The proposal went out to the various studios and they were interested into making it into a movie. I was
completely shocked by that,” Mr Baglio said. Still he tried to keep his hopes in
check. “I was caught up in the whole whirlwind of, wow, this could be a movie, but realistic enough to know that a producer says he’s going to make your book into a movie and it doesn’t happen,” Mr Baglio noted. As it turned out, Mr Baglio became a technical consultant for the movie. “From what I saw on the set, I was very impressed with the professionalism of the actors and the desire by everybody to make a really good movie,” he said. Mr Baglio said he had viewed The Rite twice and liked what he saw. He had heard Fr Thomas had also seen the movie in advance of its nationwide release and had liked it, too. In an interview published in The Southern Cross in December, Fr Thomas said: “I think the movie is very authentic about the topic. I was very impressed with Anthony Hopkins and Colin O’Donoghue and their portrayal of the ministry of exorcism was accurate.” Mr Baglio said: “I wrote the book for people I considered to be in the middle—who want to know the unvarnished truth. “What I hope for with this film is that people will be exposed to a topic they hadn’t really thought of before.” The Rite is a “religiously honourable drama” but “aesthetically tentative” as a piece of cinema, said John Mulderig of Catholic News Service’s media review office in reviewing the film. The point of believing that demonic possession is possible, he added, “edged, somewhat uncomfortably, into the mold of a conventional horror movie. The effect is to diffuse—and slightly diminish—its valuable underlying message.” —CNS
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Why settle for less than a great marriage? Discover the tools available to you to rekindle the fire and keep it burning. Join more than 2 million couples who know that Marriage Encounter helps build stronger marriages. IT WORKS! What is Marriage Encounter? It is a Catholic marriage enrichment weekend which was sanctioned by Pope John Paul II Who is it aimed at? All married couples and priest Where are the Weekends held? Weekends are held in retreat centres throughout South Africa. What does it cost? The cost depends on the cost of your all found weekend stay at the different retreat centres. The following are dates and Regions where Marriage Encounter weekends will be held in South Africa.
Western Cape Contact: Melanie and Alvin 021 705 6885, 079136 8777
11 – 13 March 2011 20 – 22 May 2011 29 – 31 July 2011 28 – 30 October 2011
Schoenstatt Retreat Centre Constantia
Northern Region (Gauteng) Contact: Tony and Rose De Sousa, 072 539 8298, email@example.com
25 – 27 March 2011 1 – 3 July 2011 28 – 30 October 2011
La Verna Retreat Centre
KZN English Expression Contact: Sadha and kogie Devan, 0737383930, firstname.lastname@example.org
8 – 10 April 2011 30 Sept – 2 Oct 2011 21 – 23 October 2011
Marianhill Retreat House Newcastle Marianhill Retreat House
KZN Zulu Expression Contact: Thabile and Nathi,031 363 1186 08294 65545, email@example.com
11 -13 March 2011 6 – 8 May 2011 2 – 4 September 7 – 9 October 2011
Newcastle Glenmore Pastoral Centre Glenmore Pastoral Centre Newcastle
Eastern Cape Contact: Pappa and Jacque Prince 041 452 5373, 084 250 3937
May 2011 July 2011 September 2011
To be confirmed To be confirmed To be confirmed
Sotho Expression (Free State) Contact: Thami and Palesa 082 784 2548, 082 771 2379
25 -27 March 2011
The Southern Cross, March 2 to March 8, 2011
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Guardian of the Light details
N Sunday February 6, Radio Veritas broadcast an interview in which several references were made to the biography of Archbishop Denis Hurley, Guardian of the Light, as well as to the Denis Hurley Centre Project at Emmanuel Cathedral. Your readers will be happy to know that they can save more than R100 per copy by ordering Guardian of the Light from the Diakonia Council of Churches in Durban. Phone Hester Joseph on 031 310 3521 or 083 799 4136 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org The book is available at R275 per copy plus packaging and postage of R25 to anywhere in South Africa. Ms Joseph will be able to inform you how much overseas postage costs. The Denis Hurley Centre Project can be reached through Jean-Marie Ntamubano 031 301 2240 or 072 549 0338 or myself on 031 201 3832 or 072 806 4417. If you would like to make a financial contribution, the banking details are: Denis Hurley Centre Fund, First National Bank, Account Number 6220 4261 002, Durban Branch (Code 221426), Swift Code: FIRN ZAJJ 659. For further information see www.denishurleycentre.co.za. Paddy Kearney, Coordinator: Denis Hurley Centre Project
Family Reflections 2011 FAMILY THEME: PEACE ON EARTH BEGINS AT HOME” MARCH—IF YOU WANT PEACE WORK FOR JUSTICE. -Pope Paul VI INTRODUCTION—SA Hum an Rig h ts Day , on March 21, appropriately always falls during Lent. The Catholic Church’s Charter of Rights of the Family sets out that not only individuals but families too have rights: to life, to a reasonable quality of life, a place to live, employment, education, etc. The Charter aims to reinforce the awareness of the irreplaceable role and position of the family; it wishes to inspire families to unite in the defence and promotion of their rights; it encourages families to fulfil their duties in such a way that the role of the family will become more clearly appreciated and recognised in today’s world. Are we doing so in our own families and are we doing so with love? Is there a need for reconciliation and healing during this season of Lent? 6th March, 9th Sunday of the Year. Christ, our Rock of Refuge—In the gospel Jesus speaks of the wise man who built his house on rock and the foolish man who built on sand. Jesus is our rock in whom we put our trust. At the same time belonging to the kingdom means acting with wisdom and integrity so as to receive a just reward. How strong is our commitment to the kingdom?
Community Calendar To place your event, call Claire Allen at 021 465 5007 or e-mail email@example.com, (publication subject to space) BETHLEHEM: Shrine of Our Lady of Bethlehem at Tsheseng, Maluti mountains; Thursdays 09:30, Mass, then exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. 058 721 0532. CAPE TOWN: Holy Hour to pray for priests of the archdiocese, 2nd Saturday monthly at Villa Maria shrine kloof Nek Rd, 16:00-17:00. Good Shepherd, Bothasig. Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in our chapel. All hours. All welcome. Day of Prayer held at Springfield Convent starting at 10:00 ending 15:30 last Saturday of every month—all welcome. For more information contact Jane Hulley 021 790 1668 or 082 783 0331. DURBAN: St Anthony’s, Durban Central: Tuesday 9:00am
Mass with novena to St Anthony. First Friday 5:30pm Mass—Divine Mercy novena prayers. Tel: 031 309 3496. JOHANNESBURG: Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament: first Friday of the month at 09:20 followed by Holy Mass at 10:30. Holy Hour: first Saturday of each month at 15:00. At Our Lady of the Angels, Little Eden, Edenvale. Tel: 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. PRETORIA: First Saturday: Devotion to Divine Mercy. St Martin de Porres, Sunnyside, 16:30. Tel Shirley-Anne 012 361 4545.
Liturgical Calendar Year A, Week 1 Sun, March 6, 9th Sunday of the year Dt 11:18, 26-28, 32, Ps 31:2-3, 3-4, 17, 25, Rom 3:21-25, 28, Mt 7:21-27 Mon, March 7, Ss Perpetua and Felicity Tob 1:3; 2:1-8, Ps 112:1-6, Mk 12:1-12 Tues, March 8, feria Tob 2:9-14, Ps 112:1-2, 7-9, Mk 12:13-17 Wed, March 9, Ash Wednesday Joel 2:12-18, Ps 51:3-6, 12-14, 17, 2 Cor 5:20-6:2, Mt 6:1-6, 16-18 Thurs, March 10, feria Dt 30:15-20, Ps 1:4, 6, Lk 9:22-25 Fri, March 11, feria Is 58:1-9, Ps 51:3-6, 18-19, Mt 9:14-15 Sat, March 12, feria Is 58:9-14, Ps 86:1-6, Lk 5:27-32 Sun, March 13, First Sunday of Lent Gen 2:7-9; 3:1-7, Ps 51:3-6, 12-13, 17, Rom 5:12-19 or 5:12, 17-19, Mt 4:1-11
Southern CrossWord solutions SOLUTIONS TO #434. ACROSS: 3 Reprobate, 8 Away, 9 Galileans, 10 Sodium, 11 Seeds, 14 Ophir, 15 Slap, 16 Dower, 18 Rake, 20 Abner, 21 Elder, 24 Reject, 25 Episcopal, 26 Vera, 27 Unvarying. DOWN: 1 Mass-goers, 2 Handshake, 4 Exam, 5 Rhine, 6 Breads, 7 Tint, 9 Guard, 11 Sower, 12 Slandered, 13 Spiritual, 17 Ravel, 19 Elisha, 22 Ebony, 23 Span, 24 Rain.
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DEATHS HINDE—Anthony David (Dave). My dearest husband and friend for 46 years, gently passed away February 18, 2011, after a brave fight with cancer. You will always live in our hearts my darling, your infectious smile, gentle ways and happy spirit will always be remembered. Ever true and faithful to your God, family and friends. May Jesus and His Blessed Mother hold you till we meet again. Sadly missed by your wife Sheilagh, your sister Dawn, your children, Patricia, Geraldene, Stephen, Colleen, Angela, kathleen, granddaughters Anne, Nicola, Jessica, grandsons Edward, Martin, Charles, Michael, Richard and Luke, son’s and daughter in-law, other family member’s and friends. May you rest in peace.
IN MEMORIAM BLUNDEN GUNTER — Trevor, Rochelle and William. It’s been a year now but it still feels like only yesterday. We miss you so, mom, dad and William and we always will. May the Lord cradle you gently and grant you eternal rest. Lovingly remembered by your children Liz, Chris, kathy, Mike, Genevieve, Shaun, Terry, David and the rest of the family. LOVATT—Terence (Ted). Passed away 2/3/2002. Always in our thoughts and prayers and lovingly remembered by his wife Eileen, children Graham and Patricia and grandchildren.
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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
Pray that AFRICA may draw closer to the heart of CHRIST
urgent need and grant my petitions. In return I promise to make your name known. Amen. RCP O MOST beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendour of Heaven, blessed Mother of the Son of God, immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me where you are, Mother of God, Queen of heaven and earth I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succour me in my necessity. There is none who can withstand your power .O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Holy Mary I place this cause in your hands. Thank you for prayers answered. Carol E
THANKS GRATEFUL thanks to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Mother Mary and SS Joseph, Anthony, Jude and Martin de Porres for prayers answered. RCP
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HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION BETTY’S BAY: (Western Cape) Holiday home, sleeps seven, three bathrooms, close to beach, R600/night. 021 794 4293, firstname.lastname@example.org CAPE TOWN: Vi Holiday Villa. Fully equipped selfcatering, two bedroom family apartment (sleeps 4) in Strandfontein, with parking, R400 per night. Tel/Fax Paul 021 3932503, cell 083 553 9856, vivilla@telkom sa.net CAPE WEST COAST Yzerfontein: Emmaus on Sea B&B and self-catering. Holy Mass celebrated every Sunday at 6pm. Tel: 022 451 2650. FISH HOEK: Self-catering accommodation, sleeps 4. Secure parking. Tel: 021 785 1247. FISH HOEK: Peninsula Fever self-catering, against mountainside overlooking False Bay. Sleeps up to 4
people at R680 per night. Lounge with sleeper couch, kitchenette, double bedroom, timber deck with sea views. Phone Lizette 084 827 0385. GORDON’S BAY: Beautiful en-suite rooms available at reasonable rates. Magnificent views, breakfast on request. Tel: 082 774 7140. E-mail: bzhive@telkomsa. net HERMANUS: Pleasant getaway. Self-catering double accommodation, comfortable, fully equipped in tranquil church garden. Five minute walk to village centre and seafront. R250 per day, minimum two days. Get one night free for all bookings of three days or more. Phone church office 028 312 2315. (Tues/Thurs/Fri 10am-1pm or leave a message and phone number). KNYSNA: Self-catering garden apartment for two in Old Belvidere with wonderful lagoon views. Tel: 044 387 1052. LONDON, PROTEA HOuSE: underground 2min, Picadilly 20min. Close to River Thames. Self-catering. Single per night R250, twin R400. Email: houseprotea@hot mail.com. Tel 021 851 5200 MARIANELLA Guest House, Simon’s Town: “Come experience the peace and beauty of God with us.” Fully equipped with amazing sea views. Secure parking, ideal for rest and relaxation. Special rates for pensioners and clergy. Tel: Malcolm Salida 082 784 5675 or mjsali email@example.com STELLENBOSCH: Five simple private suites (2 beds, fridge, micro-wave). Countryside vineyard/forest/mountain walks; beach 20 minute drive, affordable. Christian Brothers Tel 021 880 0242, cbcstel@ gmail.com UMHLANGA ROCKS: Fully equipped self-catering 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house, sleeps 6, sea view, 200 metres from beach, DStv. Tel: Holiday Division, 031 561 5838, holidays@ lighthouse.co.za
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1st Sunday in Lent - March 13 Readings: Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7, Psalm 51: 3-6, 12-14, 17, Romans 5:12-19, Matthew 4:1-11
EXT Sunday is the first Sunday in Lent; it is a bit late this year, so for once you may even have been waiting impatiently for it. As always on this first Sunday, the readings invite us to face (and not run away from) the mystery of sin in our lives. The first reading recounts in dramatic style the first sin of our parents. You know the story, for you were brought up on it in your childhood: the cunning serpent, the gullible woman and her gullible husband, the attractive fruit, and the disobedience, followed by the discovery that they were naked, and the consequent need to make loin-cloths out of fig-leaves. But there is a bit more to it than that. It may be worth noting that the Hebrew word for “cunning”, describing the serpent, comes from the same root as the word for “naked”; so eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil leads to an unwelcome discovery, one that makes them ashamed. Deeper still, we should notice the very first line of our reading: “The Lord God fashioned Adam out of dust from the soil.” Here we should observe that the Hebrew word for “Adam” is connected with the word for “soil”, as we shall hear on Ash Wednesday: “You are dust, and to dust you will return.” And then the next line: “And he blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and
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Our Lenten journey begins Nicholas King SJ Sunday Reflections Adam became a living being.” And the line after: “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the East, and planted Adam there.” So the mystery of sin is not a matter of meaningless over-regulation by an oppressive divine bureaucrat; instead, it is a matter of our deliberately choosing to ignore the blueprint offered by the one who so generously created us, and placed us into this wonderful world. If we ignore what God advises, then things will go horribly wrong. That is the tone of the psalm for next Sunday, one that we shall be singing several times in the course of our Lenten journey. It is the Miserere, often attributed to David when he repented of his appalling behaviour, combining adultery with murder. He says what we must all say when we recognise our ungenerous response to God’s generosity: “Have mercy on me, O God, in accordance with your steadfast love; in accordance with your immense compassion blot out my transgression.” Twice he uses the word “pure”: “Make me pure from my sins” and “create a
pure heart for me”. That sense of being clean and uncomplicated is what he longs for (as do we in our journey to Easter). The singer has a very strong sense of this mystery of sin. In the second reading, Paul, in a very difficult and much-discussed passage, meditates on that first example of the mystery of sin: he sees it as the entry into the world of those hostile powers, sin and death, all because the first humans ignored the blueprint that they had been given. But (and here is the importance of the reading) the mystery of sin does not mean that God has given up on us, for “God’s free gift and generosity in the grace of the one man Jesus Christ has overflowed to the many.” Jesus’ obedience is the answer to the mystery of sin, and because of God’s unfailing generosity it enormously outdoes the evil that sin causes. The gospel reading for the first Sunday of Lent is always the narrative of Jesus’ temptation; the invitation is for us to watch Jesus generously coping with the seductive invitations of the devil, one by one. The three temptations taken together show the arsenal of weapons that sin’s mystery uses to entrap us. The first one is to use his talents to do some magic: “Turn these stones into loaves of bread.” Jesus’ reply is taken from the book of Deuteronomy, Israel’s “mission-statement”: “Humanity doesn’t just live by bread, but on every word that comes
The art of brevity T
HE digital age has vastly improved global communication. For instance, grandparents in South Africa are able to talk at very little cost to their children and grandchildren all over the world and see them at the same time on Skype. But the by-product of all this wonderful hightechnology is a chronic decline in the written word. Indeed, people of all ages are able to communicate by e-mail and SMS as well as on Facebook and Twitter, but the immediacy of the medium has, in many cases, reduced languages to abbreviations and technospeak. So much so that many people over the age of 50 can’t understand messages youngsters send each other these days when they use language such as “gr8 2 C u” and “#u2concertinjozi”. On one hand, I suppose one has to keep up with the times and just accept that languages are prone to change and have to move on. On the other hand, I must admit that it irks me to see the Oxford English Dictionary adding the most extraordinary words to the English language every year— words that no-one had ever heard of only a few months before and that suddenly achieved global notoriety because some drug-crazed celebrity famous for nothing other than having rich parents decided to invent a new word for a feeling of wellbeing or re-defining the extreme, materialistic version of that basic pursuit of
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Chris Moerdyk The Last Word mankind called shopping. It is at times like these that I have to remember that even the great William Shakespeare added dozens of words to the English language, and in his day there were probably people like me getting very steamed up about his new-fangled expressions. Something else that seems to have disappeared is the art of brevity in writing. I must admit to being a culprit who cannot avoid going on and on about something. I am in awe of people who can write or say something in just a few words. Such as this young fellow called Leroy who, in talking to his mother and in his letters to God was a model of brevity. Little Leroy came into the kitchen where his mother was making dinner. His birthday was coming up and he thought this was a good time to tell his mother what he wanted. “Mom, I want a bike for my birthday...” Little Leroy was a bit of a delinquent, it must be said. He had regularly been in trouble at school and at home. So Leroy’s mother asked him if he thought he deserved to get a bike for his birthday. Lit-
tle Leroy, of course, thought he did. Leroy’s mother, being a Christian woman, wanted him to reflect on his behaviour over the past year and write a letter to God telling him why he deserved a bike for his birthday. Little Leroy stomped up the steps to his room and sat down to write God a letter. Letter 1: Dear God, I have been a very good boy this year and I would like a bike for my birthday. I want a red one. Your friend, Leroy. Leroy knew this wasn’t true. He had not been a very good boy this year, so he tore up the letter and started again. Letter 2: Dear God, This is your friend Leroy. I have been a pretty good boy this year, and I would like a red bike for my birthday. Thank you, Leroy. Leroy knew this wasn’t true either. He tore up the letter and had another shot at it. Letter 3: Dear God, I have been an OK boy this year and I would really like a red bike for my birthday. Leroy. Leroy knew he could not send this letter to God either. Leroy was very upset. He went downstairs and told his mother he wanted to go to church. Leroy’s mother thought her plan had worked because Leroy looked very sad. “Just be home in time for dinner,” she said. Leroy walked down the street to the church and up to the altar. He looked around to see if anyone was there. He picked up a small statue of the Virgin Mary, slipped it under his shirt and ran out of the church, down the street, into his house and up to his room. He shut the door to his room and sat down with a piece of paper and a pen. Leroy began to write his letter to God. Letter 4: I’ve got your mother. If you want to see her again, send the bike. Signed: you know who. Hopefully those of us who just can’t seem to manage short sentences, will learn something from young Leroy. I have. Look ! It’s easy. I think.
forth from God’s mouth.” That takes us back to the beginning of our first reading, and the discovery that “God fashioned humanity from the dust”. The second temptation (in Matthew, anyway; Luke has a different order) takes place on the pinnacle of the Temple: “Fling yourself down”; and this time the devil quotes scripture (a psalm, on this occasion) as back-up. Jesus responds by returning to Deuteronomy: “You are not to tempt the Lord your God.” Finally, and of course this would have been fatal to Jesus’ mission, Jesus is taken to a “very high mountain” and shown “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory thereof”. Then he is told: “I’m going to give you all of this. All you have to do is fall down and worship me.” Once again, Jesus knows who he is and what he is to do: “Go away, Satan. For it is written, ‘The Lord your God you shall worship, and God alone are you to adore’. ” That marks the end of the temptations for Jesus; “the devil left him, and look! The angels came and served him”. But what of you? How is your life at the moment involved in the mystery of sin? How will you listen to God over the next six weeks, in order to make your life what it could be, in the eyes of the one who created it?
Southern Crossword #434
ACROSS 3. One predestined to hell (9) 8. A method to be at a distance (4) 9. Sail angel to find Jesus’ countrymen (9) 10. Chemical element in salt of the earth (6) 11. They were scattered (Mt 13) (5) 14. Gold country (1 Kg 9) (5) 15. Pals come around to strike (4) 16. Widow’s share (5) 18. Garden tool (4) 20. Saul's army commander (1 Sam 14) (5) 21. Senior churchman? (5) 24. Repulse (6) 25. Church having bishops (9) 26. Her name is in silver and gold (4) 27. Like true doctrine, unchanging (9)
DOWN 1. They head for church on Sundays (4-5) 2. You may give and get it at Mass (9) 4. Short test (4) 5. In her conversion on a long river (5) 6. They are needed for the Consecration (6) 7. Hue (4) 9. Keeper who is watchful (5) 11. He went forth with the seed (5) 12. Defamed (9) 13. It’s not material (9) 17. Tangle with French composer (5) 19. He took Elijah’s cloak (2 Kg 2) (6) 22. A wood that’s heavy and dark (5) 23. Bridge pans out (4) 24. It came down on Noah’s ark (4) Answers on page 11
ttending a wedding for the first time, a little girl whispered to her mother: “Why is the bride dressed in white?” “Because white is the colour of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life,” her mother tried to explain, keeping it simple. The child thought for a moment, and then said, “So why is the groom wearing black?” Send us your favourite Catholic joke, preferably clean and brief, to The Southern Cross, Church Chuckle, PO Box 2372, Cape Town, 8000.