December 14 to December 20, 2011
Parish of the Month from Jo’burg
HE success behind Catholic education is the ethos and ideology behind the teaching—and that is what’s needed throughout schools in South Africa, according to the national director of the Catholic Institute of Education (CIE). With the 2012 school year approaching, the CIE will continue to support government and share education ideas to ensure the quality of education across the board is improved, said Mark Potterton, the institute’s director. Mr Potterton said the academic success of Catholic schools has been attributed to four characteristics: a common core of academic work for all students; a supportive, communal style of organisation; decentralised governance; and an inspirational ideology. “These are not hard attributes to reproduce in our schools, but they are dependent on clear leadership on all levels, beginning from the department of education and filtering down into learners via school principals, department heads and educators,” Mr Potterton said, adding that the situation could not be improved by money alone. A 2011 study conducted in the North West Province and in Botswana by Professor Martin Carnoy of Stanford University’s School of Education in California showed that despite government efforts, the situation does not seem to have improved— teachers did not teach 60% of the lessons they were scheduled to teach. “The bottom line is that in South Africa schools for African children are incredibly inefficient, at least in producing academic learning. We observed good teaching and teachers who assiduously met with their class regularly, but these were relative rarities,” Prof Carnoy reported in his study. “Even worse, on average, teachers and administrators accepted low performance levels of students and their own low levels of knowledge and low expectation as the norm—business as usual. This needs to
change and it can change if school and higher-level personnel begin taking responsibility for drastically different teacher and administrator capacity and drastically different behaviour.” Recent studies conducted by the CIE conMarkPotterton firmed that leadership is key, Mr Potterton said. “When emphasis is placed on the central tasks of schools, they can perform better. Schools where education is the central task cohere around the central task,” he said, adding that schools that have strong leadership, where the principal and staff are committed to education, produce good results. The CIE director said there is a need for a clear reference point for talking about things that pertain to all children in school. From behaviour, relationships to self-worth and other everyday issues, “an inspirational ideology should be egalitarian and have relevance to all children's lives; it is not set within a specific time frame and is relevant to children of all ages, ability, social class, culture and religion”. Mr Potterton said the teaching profession must be re-professionalised to improve the status of teachers in the community. “Teachers need to be energised to make a contribution to the growth of the nation. And to make this happen, the government urgently needs to give determined, positive leadership. The country needs to know that current conditions are not acceptable and that change will come sooner rather than later,” he said. And this, he added, will not happen unless all of civil society gets behind the effort. “Unless we prioritise education, and the development of our youth, we cannot look forward to a country where the doors of learning and culture are open to all,” Mr Potterton said.
CIE: Leadership the basis for success of Catholic education BYCLAIREMATHIESON
Cardinal at COP17: Greed is to blame
Advent: The promise of new life
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ZolaniMahola,leadsingerofpopbandFreshlygroundandapastpupilofStDominic’sPrioryin PortElizabeth,crownedtheyearbyvisitingtheschool.Shereunitedwithherpastprincipal,Sr Ann,whoisstillinvolvedattheschool,andwithDiCrowie,thesecretaryatthetimeMsMahola attendedStDominic’s.The30-year-oldsingerwasmetwithgreatexcitementasshewalkedinto theschool’samphitheatrewherethechildrenawaitedhervisit.Thechildrensangherasongthat theyhadlearnt,andMsMaholathenperformedherband’sbighit“DooBeDoo”,withthepupils joininginforthechorus.
Pope decries ‘frenetic Advent’
DVENT, which should be “a time of expectation and silence”, coincides instead with the “frenetic activity” of expenses and preparations. This is why religious Christmas traditions must retain all their meaning as “islands” that bring “a little bit of heaven on earth”. The pope made his comments in an address at a screening of German TV programme titled “Advent and Christmas in the Bavarian foothills of the Alps”, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. The pope also viewed a film of a “Christmas Oratorium” composed by Hans Berger and dedicated to the pope.
Pope Benedict thanked the producers from the Bavarian broadcaster BR for bringing “a piece of Bavarian traditions and lifestyle to the pope’s home”. The Bavarian-born pope acknowledged that the frenzied aspect to Advent even applies to activities in the Vatican. But he also recalled how in his home Advent is called the “silent time”. “Silence in the home becomes, for the believer, a time spent waiting for our Lord, the joy of his presence. And that is how all these melodies, all these traditions that bring a little bit of heaven to earth came about.”
Pope reported to police for not buckling up BYJOHNTHAvIS
PopeBenedictarrivesatBerlin’sOlympic StadiumonSeptember22—notwearinga seatbelt.(Photo:FabianBimmer,Reuters/CNS)
HE Vatican said Pope Benedict greeted with a smile the news that a German citizen had filed a complaint against him for not wearing a seat belt in his popemobile. Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ said that the complaint was not being taken seriously at the Vatican. “It continues to provoke curiosity and smiles of amusements, beginning with the pope himself,” Fr Lombardi said. The spokesman said it is well known that the popemobile does not travel long distances, moves at a very slow speed and doesn’t generally run the risk of encountering other vehicles in its path. “The pope turns continually to the right and to the left to greet and bless the faithful.
Often he gets up and takes in his arms babies to bless, to the joy of the parents and everyone present. All these gestures presume a certain freedom of movement,” he pointed out. Fr Lombardi added that the Vatican was “grateful for the affectionate concern for the pope’s safety,” but added that the complaint did not seem to reflect much flexibility in interpreting the meaning of the law. German news reports said the complaint against the pope was filed in the city of Dortmund following Pope Benedict’s September visit to his homeland. The pope travelled frequently in his popemobile during stops in Berlin, Erfurt, Etzelsbach and Freiburg. The complaint said that on all these occasions the pope had failed to use the seat belt as required by German law and that, as a
repeat offender, he should be fined the maximum of 2 500 euros (R26 800). According to the German reports, the lawyer who filed the complaint said his client, 47-year-old Uwe Hilsmann, was primarily concerned about the safety of the 84year-old pope, based on a harrowing personal experience. A spokeswoman for the city of Freiburg, were the charge was laid, said that the roads used by the popemobile where closed to traffic at the time, and the pope was therefore exempt from wearing a seatbelt. German news reports also speculated whether authorities could charge Pope Benedict, born in Bavaria as Joseph Ratzinger, as a German citizen, or whether he enjoys diplomatic immunity as a head of state on an official state visit.—CNS
Cardinal: Hunger for money ‘dehumanises’ people gious leaders on “What's God got to do with it?”, when it comes to the issue of climate change, Cardinal Rodriguez said: “Our economic system and its search for money above all have dehumanised human beings. Religious groups have a duty to humanise them again.” Panelists, who represented Christian, Jewish and other faiths, argued that climate change is a moral issue, not just an environmental concern. However, Cardinal Rodriguez said climate talks two years ago in Copenhagen failed even to focus on the environment and instead debated only economic issues, resulting in a failed bid to create a worldwide agreement that would bind major industrial nations to emissions reductions.
XCESSIVE focus on money is destroying the environment and dehumanising people, said Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas Internationalis, in Durban. In South Africa for the COP17 UN conference on climate change, the cardinal said that religious communities have a duty to call attention to the importance of the human person, who is “at the centre of creation”. The cardinal, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, led a 20-person Caritas delegation to Durban to press for a reduction of emissions by more than 40% by 2020 and for an agreement on behalf of poor countries that have been severely impacted by climate change. In a panel discussion with reli-
“Our tendency to search for money is destroying the environment,” he said. During a Mass celebrated at Durban’s Emmanuel cathedral, the cardinal said people need to understand that a materialist, consumerist lifestyle not only has a harmful impact on the environment, but also distances people from God. “We’re filling up our lives with things, but remain empty inside. We’re informed about everything, but have no idea where to direct our lives,” he said. People must shed “all the superfluous things in our excessive consumer society”, embrace only that which is necessary for life, and be guided by God’s peace and love in order to promote justice and solidarity in the world, he said.—CNS
Factory workers help children’s home BYCLAIREMATHIESON
HILDREN from St Joseph’s Home in Montana, outside Cape Town, took part in a historic football match with a group of local factory workers. St Joseph’s team made up of residents aged between 10 and 17 years, called Protea Football Club, took on the Epping Levi Strauss Factory Workers—a group of factory employees in the area. Chantal Cooper, resource development manager for St Joseph’s, said the workers had given donations from their weekly wages to help make a difference in the lives
of the St Joseph’s children. The match came about as a way to further interact with the home’s residents. The final score was 5-2 to the factory workers, but the boys were excited and “played with heart and soul”, despite having an average age of 13 and weighing an average of only 40kg, said Ms Cooper. She added that support from the sidelines, where all the home’s residents watched, encouraged the boys. “After a tough but exhilarating game, both supporters and players were fed by the Levi team of sup-
porters and the rest of the afternoon was filled with plenty of fun and laughter,” Ms Cooper said. St Joseph’s is a medical facility, founded by the Pallottine Sisters, for chronically ill children. The home provides free medical and rehabilitative care for children from birth to 17 years of age. The match, the first of its kind, was a great opportunity for the talented young residents to shine. Ms Cooper said the match also brought together adults and children who “not only spent a funfilled afternoon together, each person walked away from the game feeling joy and fulfillment.”
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South African author plans to publish poetry collection BYTHANDIBOSMAN
Nun changing youth through education BYCLAIREMATHIESON
NUN in Umzimkulu diocese, KwaZulu-Natal, has been described as a leader who is helping to build the diocese through the youth programme “Education for Life.” Precious Blood Sister Sizakele Mbeje has been featured on the diocese’s website (www.umz imkulu.org) where the programme is described as making a big difference to Umzimkulu youth. Born outside Ixopo to a family of 11, Sr Mbeje joined the congregation at Mariannhill in 1987. She studied at the University of Natal and then moved into education where she discovered her love for working with young people. After years of teaching, Sr Mbeje studied towards a further diploma in psycho-spiritual formation in England. “Only when we can work on ourselves we able to journey with others genuinely,” she said in an interview with Fr Michal Kurzynka of Centocow mission. Today, Sr Mbeje is based at Emaus mission where she works exclusively with the youth focusing on Education for Life—a programme which similarly leads participants through introspection, reflection and self-examination. The international programme was introduced to South Africa in the late 1990s as a youth-orientated project that might help address issues of Aids prevention. The programme has been endorsed by
the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC). Sr Mbeje trained with other facilitators and travelled to Assisi, Italy, in 2010 to train for the programme. Today she is the diocesan coordinator in Umzimkulu as well as the cluster coordinator of KwaZuluNatal. Since the programme has been running in the country, the Education for Life process has been incorporated into many different local programmes. Sr Bernadette Duffy HC, founder of the programme, said Education for Life has grown, spread and been greatly enriched. “It has been noticed over the years that the groups making the most consistent and effective use of the process have recognised and incorporated an element necessary for bringing about a sustainable change; the element of faith,” said Sr Duffy. Sr Mbeje said the programme was about “behaviour change and values. It deals with a young person holistically and it is also spiritual”. Education for Life is targeted at individuals who wish to change any affective area of their personality and ways of relating or communicating. The programme is aimed especially at youth because “we see them as potential leaders among the younger youth when they are sufficiently trained,” said Sr Duffy. Sr Duffy pointed out that the 16-25 age group is on aver-
age highly sexually active, and “we believe if they can change behaviours then their lives will be witness to others”. Since operating in Umzimkulu, Sr Mbeje said the programme has been wonderful and “I can already see the change and growth in the young people”. Education for Life teaches the participants that life is about the development of the whole person and not just the physical aspect, something which has been seen as successful in changing youths’ attitudes on pre-marital sex, alcohol and drug abuse. “My vision for the future is that the five-day programme of Education for Life is done in each parish so that many young people can be reached. Follow-ups after the programmes need to be done so that youth groups can be formed in each parish,” she said. Once the programme has finished, potential leaders are identified and continue to meet regularly. Together with their facilitator, they look at how they have managed to sustain the change, where they failed to sustain it, why they failed and possible other approaches to change. A central part of these meetings is prayer and the follow up groups act as a support system. “The entire programme is changing the lives of the young people and I am on fire to continue to empower them,” said Sr Mbeje.
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OUTH African poet and author, Kevin Butler has compiled a booklet of some of his poems and will have the volume published. The booklet, titled Peaceful, Playful, Profound Poetry consists of 23 poems, each accompanied by a description. Mr Butler said that he has been writing poems since he was at university. A few weeks ago one of his poems, “Ode to Table Mountain”, was published in The Southern Cross to promote Table Mountain for the Seven Wonders of the Natural World vote. Mr Butler said that his inspiration comes from “life and daily experiences”, adding that “every sight, sound, and conversation triggers thoughts and questions”. Now retired, Mr Butler said an injury had given him the time to gather his most loved works. “A recent shoulder operation had me strapped up and home-bound for six weeks, so I decide to put a collec-
tion of my poems together. It helped me focus and stay sane.” Mr Butler said that his family is one of the reasons he decided to publish a collection of his poems.“I'm intending to publish on a very small scale, and my family urged me to get my verse into print,” said Mr Butler. Earlier this year he published his novel Parley with the Devil. He said that whether he is an author or a poet “is in the eye of the beholder”. He added: “I guess I just enjoy expressing my thoughts.” No publication date has been set for the anthology of poems, he said. “I'm hoping it will be available in a few specialised stores, but this will be decided by the response from the trade”. He does not see himself as a commercial writer. “I write entirely for my own pleasure. I enjoy words and ideas, and attempting to weave the two into rhyme and some sort of easy-to-read metrical form. For me it is challenging and cheering. And if my verse pleases others that also gives me pleasure.”
ThecrècheatStJohn’smissionchurchinDeAarheldtheirprize-givingand ChristmaspartyforchildrenwhowillbegoingintoGrade1in2012.Thecrèche hasbeeninoperationsince1946whentheSistersoftheSacredHeartopened theschool.Todaythereare135children,allofwhomreceivedaspecialgiftparcelattheevent,donatedbyalocalsupermarket.
Pope laments brain drain BYCINDYWOODEN& KRISTINGOBBERG
TTENDING a university abroad can enrich a student’s life, but it should not promote the “brain drain” phenomenon that sees a country’s best and brightest young people enticed to emigrate, Pope Benedict has said. Foreign students need “a healthy and balanced intellectual, cultural and spiritual preparation so they do not fall prey to the ‘brain drain’, but form a socially and culturally relevant category in view of their return as future leaders in their country of origin”, the pope told international students and those who minister to them. Three dozen foreign students and about 100 representatives of bishops’ conferences and campus ministers participated in the Third World Congress on the Pastoral Care of International Students. The congress was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travellers. Pope Benedict said universities are called to educate “a new generation capable of dialogue and discernment, committed to promoting respect and collaboration for peace
and development”. “With their intellectual, cultural and spiritual formation, international students have the potential of becoming artisans and protagonists of a world with a more human face,” he said. To provide the students with the best preparation possible for making the world a better place, he said, the universities need to offer not only excellent professional preparation, but they also must help the students find a “response to the question about happiness, meaning and fullness that abides in the human heart”. Campus ministry programmes must bring international students together with their peers to help both of them discover the truth about God, human life and universal values, he said. The fact that all are welcome in the Catholic Church also can demonstrate to others the fact that “the Gospel is a word of hope and salvation of people of every nation and culture, every age and epoch”. Opening the conference, Archbishop Antonio Veglio, president of the pontifical council, said an estimated 3 million students study at universities outside their home-
land, “encouraged by globalisation or driven by precarious political and educational situations in their own countries”. The archbishop said the number of international students is expected to rise to more than 7 million by 2025. International students are important both to countries and to the Church, he said. “The mobility of international students is gaining great sociopolitical and economic importance in today’s world and thus, becoming a reality of great interest both for the country of origin and the host countries, for the Church and the whole of humanity,” the archbishop said. “Today, the Church is called more than ever to help discover, through works of spiritual support and material aid, the international students’ strategic role not only for the future of their nations but also for the good of the whole international community and the Church. “By becoming familiar with the host societies and cultures, an international student can become an author and a protagonist of the transmission of faith in Jesus and of human and cultural values,” Archbishop Antonio Veglio said.—CNS
‘Holiday tree’ needles Christians BYRICKSNIZEK& BRIANLOWNEY
FIVE-METRE high pine tree is standing tall at the centre of controversy in the rotunda of the Statehouse in the US state of Rhode Island. Governor Lincoln Chafee invited the public to attend a “Holiday Tree Lighting” ceremony at the Statehouse, leaving many, including Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, to question the governor’s choice of such secular terminology in referring to a symbol most commonly associated with the Christian celebration of Christmas. “Governor Chafee’s decision to avoid the word Christmas at the Statehouse ceremony is most disheartening and divisive,” said Bishop Tobin. “It is sad that such a secular
spirit has swept over our state. The governor’s decision...is an affront to the faith of many citizens,” the bishop said. Mr Chafee, a former Republican elected in January as an independent, said in a statement that he was only following in the footsteps of how previous governors have termed the event. “Use of the term ‘holiday tree’ is a continuation of past practice, and does not represent a change of course on my part,” he said. The governor, attempting to diffuse the controversy, then suggested that those with opinions on both sides of the tree issue instead refocus their energy on helping the less fortunate. Fr Timothy Reilly, chancellor of the diocese, reaffirmed the irony of Chafee’s message.
“In the governor’s attempts to unify, his decision has done quite the opposite,” Fr Reilly said. “The irony is that we see more confusion and lack of unity. Christmas is a precious and sacred word in our faith vocabulary.” The son of the donor of the tree said he was disappointed that the governor has “removed the word Christmas” in describing the tree. “We provide him with a Christmas tree,” said Timothy Leyden. “It came from Big John Leyden’s Christmas Tree Farm. It is not a holiday tree. We don’t sell holiday trees.” Noting that the farm has donated a Christmas tree to the Statehouse annually for about seven years, Mr Leyden said he has no intention of donating a tree next year.—CNS
AcrucifixisseenasvisitorstothevaticanviewanexhibitonSpanisharchitectAntoniGaudi’sbasilicaoftheSagradaFamiliainBarcelona.Theexhibit, whichrunsuntilJanuary15,exploreshowGaudi,aCatholicwhosebeatificationcauseisunderway,incorporatedart,scienceandspiritualityinthe designoftheBarcelonachurch.(Photo:PaulHaring,CNS)
Quake-hit NZ diocese to cull half its parishes BYKATHLEENCASEY
HE New Zealand diocese of Christchurch will reduce the number of parishes by more than half. Bishop Barry Jones announced that because of a diminishing number of clergy, the number of parishes will be reduced from 50 to 24. He said larger parishes formed from two or more consolidated parishes will have two resident priests, and a parish may have more than one church. “Sunday Mass is at the heart of the life of the Church. Its weekly celebration comes to us from the apostles themselves,” said Bishop Jones in a document. He made it clear that Sunday Mass and parish life require a priest: “No priest, no Mass.” A diocesan-wide consultation leading to the changes began before the magnitude 6.3 earthquakes in February. Bishop Jones visited all pastoral areas and invited submissions. Well-attended meetings were followed by large numbers of responses. With people from more than 6 000 Christchurch homes moving west and north and out of the city
Christchurch’sdamagedcathedral aftertheFebruary24earthquake. because of earthquakes, Bishop Jones said future needs for churches are not yet clear and figuring out the demographics will take time. Some quake-damaged churches may be rebuilt, depending on insurance demands, earthquake proneness and requirements of the diocesan earthquake strategy. In February, a staggered implementation plan will begin to set up ten new parishes over the following two years. Bishop Jones acknowledged a period of transition and the need for parishes to reflect change by sharing stories, grieving and celebrating.—CNS
Chinese bishop’s ordination ‘positive’
ITH police officers and dogs monitoring the crowd at St Mary’s church, Fr Peter Luo Xuegang was ordained coadjutor bishop of Yibin diocese in south-western China’s Sichuan province— with the approval of the Vatican and China’s government. No phones, cameras or liquids were allowed in the venue, reported the Asian Church news agency UCA News. Participants had to arrive three hours before the ordination began to go through security. Bishop Luo had the approval of the Holy See, but an excommunicated bishop attended his ordination, despite a Vatican spokesman conveying the wish
that “no illegitimate bishop will participate”. In recent years, many ordinations have followed the pattern of bishop candidates being elected by diocesan representatives, then being approved separately by the government-approved Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China and the Holy See. Bishop Luo, 47, is the third bishop ordained with both papal approval and government recognition this year. Bishop John Chen Shizhong of Yibin, 95, presided over the ceremony, attended by 61 priests, 35 nuns, 800 faithful, government officials and representatives of other religions. Excommunicated Fr Paul Lei
Shiyin of Leshan, wearing bishop’s garb despite his excommunication earlier this year when he was ordained without papal approval, was among the four other Vatican-approved consecrating bishops. Bishop Luo and Fr Lei were ordained priests together in Leshan 20 years ago. Bishop Luo was loaned to the Yibin diocese in 2009 and was elected the bishop candidate and received the papal mandate last year. Papal spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ called the ordination “positive”. He said Fr Lei’s presence at the ceremony and the “repeated nature of his disobedience to the norms of the Church unfortunately aggravates his canonical position”.—CNS
UDITS of six Irish Catholic dioceses reveal “a marked improvement” in how the Church is handling clerical abuse allegations. However, the reviews, carried out by the independent National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church and released, also show that, in the past, too much emphasis was put on the rights of accused priests and protecting the reputation of the Church. Each review found
evidence that insufficient attention was paid to the suffering of victims and the longterm consequences of abuse. Ian Elliott, chief executive of the safeguarding children board, said the audits—which cover the dioceses of Ardagh, Raphoe, Derry, Dromore, Tuam and Kilmore—show that “reporting allegations to the statutory authorities [now] occurs promptly and comprehensively.” He said that “represents a major development, as past practice did not always reflect this commitment”.
He also said that “the need to create and maintain a safe environment for children in the Church is comprehensively accepted and implemented”. The audits recommend that the practice of a priest acting as the designated person to whom abuse allegations are made be discontinued. “It would be our view that it is significantly more difficult for a member of the clergy to perform all of the tasks that are involved in the successful discharge of their responsibilities,” it said.—CNS
LEADER PAGE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Editor: Günther Simmermacher
‘You shall not kill’— being safe on the road
OPE Benedict reportedly was amused at being informed that a German citizen had reported him to the police for not wearing a seat belt while riding in the popemobile. Whatever the motives behind the complaint—the man claims to have the Holy Father’s safety at heart—it serves as an opportune reminder for road safety at a time when motorists are at a greater risk of being involved in an accident than at other times of the year. This is particularly true in South Africa, with its long roads carrying increased numbers of vehicles during the holiday season, many of them unroadworthy and subject to inconsistent enforcement of the law. Adding to the dangers faced by road users, South Africans are yet to arrive at a point when driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an absolute taboo. Road fatality statistics suggest that South Africans are particularly inept in traffic. Our drivers are given to irresponsible behaviour, and our pedestrians tend to be a danger to themselves and others. In traffic, road users must depend on one another for their safety. Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians share a co-responsibility to keep themselves and each other safe. In that way, participation in traffic places upon every road user a moral and ethical obligation. Cardinal Renato Martino, when he was president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerants, put it bluntly: “Cars tend to bring out the primitive side of human beings.” He noted that for some drivers, cars are not just modes of transport. “The pleasure of driving becomes a way of enjoying the freedom and independence that normally we do not have. The free availability of speed, being able to accelerate at will, setting out to conquer time and space, overtaking, and almost subjugating other drivers’ turn into sources of satisfaction that derive from domination.”
This is supplemented by feelings of aggression caused by inconsiderate, dangerous and incompetent drivers, and urban congestion. It is fair to say that South African roads are not always places of pleasure. In 2007, under the guidance of Cardinal Martino, the Vatican issued a 36-page document entitled “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road”. The guidance offered in that document, which included a Ten Commandments for Drivers, remains pertinent today. The document counselled against driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and rightly warned that driving while fatigued is a major cause of road fatalities—important advice indeed for drivers in a country with long roads. It emphasised the importance of cars being in a roadworthy condition (and the Vatican might have added a clause on the perils of overloading). On driving conduct, the Vatican said: “Unbalanced behaviour includes impoliteness, rude gestures, cursing, blasphemy, loss of sense of responsibility, or deliberate infringement of the highway code.” It provided the model of the desirable motorist: “Good drivers courteously give way to pedestrians, are not offended when overtaken, allow someone who wishes to drive faster to pass, and do not seek revenge.” The Vatican is right to petition for a modification of behaviour, but it is necessary that such appeals are supported by an enforcement of traffic law that places a priority on dangerous driving. A breakdown in discipline persists on South African roads as motorists claim for themselves the same levels of impunity they see in the anarchic conduct of taxi drivers. This culture of impunity must be resolutely challenged, through education and by increasing the visibility of traffic officers on the road. Motor vehicles are potentially lethal instruments, and all we do while in control of them should be based on the commandment, “You shall not kill”.
Meat Consumption at COP17 EWSPAPERS have reported that the reduction of biodiversity. It is a N 60 chefs would be serving major polluter, with the runoff of meals such as curries, lasagne, ham- fertiliser and animal waste contamiburgers, boerewors rolls and biltong snacks to the 15 000 delegates at the United Nations COP17 climate change conference in Durban. Serving meat-based meals at COP17 was heavily ironic and singularly inappropriate, given that the same United Nations, in the 2006 report of its Food and Agriculture Organisation, “Livestock’s Long Shadow: Livestock and Climate Change”, concluded that “the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale. ” The report found that livestock production accounts for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, including 9% of carbon dioxide and 37% of methane gas emissions worldwide. This is more than all cars, trucks, trains, boats and planes put together. The global meat industry may also well be the leading player in
nating water systems, creating dead zones in coastal areas and smothering coral reefs. Raising animals for meat requires massive amounts of land, food, energy and water. It takes more than 20 000 litres of water—a dwindling resource—to produce 1kg of beef, but only 227 litres to produce 1kg of wheat and 454 litres for 1kg of rice. Since 1960, some 25% of Central America’s rain forests have been burned and cleared to graze beef cattle. It has been estimated that every 120g hamburger made from rain forest beef destroys 16m2 of tropical rain forest. The meat-based diet is one of the structures whereby the rich dominate the poor. Though some 800 million people on the planet suffer from hunger or malnutrition, we feed three-quarters of the grain, soybeans and corn we grow to the cattle, pigs and chickens we raise for meat. If we stopped breeding all these billions of animals for slaughter and grew these crops to feed
The real meaning?
more faithful or holy—if anything, he will be seen as a parody of virtue! Tony Sturges, Johannesburg
CANNOT let the generalisation in Dr John Straughan’s letter “Bishops, let’s drop the pomp” (November 23) go unchallenged. To turn a statement made by the Holy Father into meaning something to suit one’s own point of view, no matter how noble, is misleading. First and foremost, it is important to contextualise the statement, understanding the direction and subject matter on which Pope Benedict was trying to expound. In a trip where one of his goals was to counteract the secularising trend that is apparent in German society, he continually alluded to a renewed faith and a rejection of worldliness (not specifically worldly goods!). In other words, as I see it, the Church needs to return to faith and reject the driving tenets of a secular world. She must become more transparent. Thus to tie this statement into meaning that the entire Church should walk around in “sack cloth and ashes”, is rather simplistic. Secondly, regarding church vestments which are tied to the liturgy, I would suggest that the writer refer to the “Instruction to the Roman Missal”, section IV 297-310. There is specific meaning in all priestly apparel. Does Dr Straughan believe that walking around in “sack cloth and ashes” is going to make a priest any
HE use of Dynamic Equivalence as opposed to Formal Equivalence is merely the use of big words to impress the masses. To explain the concept of the incarnation in a three-word phrase is simple and amazing. The word “consubstantial” means nothing to the vast majority of people, especially those whose first language is not English. To say that “enter under my roof” means a person is welcome in our home is nonsense. In this crime-ridden world that we live in, many times those coming under our roof are there to harm or persecute us, and the last thing we want is to welcome them in. If they had merely added “and my soul shall be healed” it would have done the trick. The changes are driven by a few old men who did not approve of OpinionsexpressedinThe Southern Cross,especiallyinLetterstotheEditor, donotnecessarilyreflecttheviewsofthe Editororstaffofthenewspaper,orofthe Catholichierarchy.Theletterspageinparticularisaforuminwhichreadersmay exchangeopinionsonmattersofdebate. Lettersmustnotbeunderstoodtonecessarilyreflecttheteachings,disciplinesor policiesoftheChurchaccurately.
humans, we could easily feed every single person on this planet with healthy and affordable plant foods. But instead, children in the developing world starve alongside fields of food destined for export as animal feed to the meat-hungry cultures of the rich world. Then, with our hunting spears, knives, rifles, gin traps, snares, factory farms, dairies, battery hen cages, fishing nets, abattoirs and butcher shops, there is also the horrendous cruelty and slavery meted out to the animals who become the food on our plates. The time for all of us to start eating more responsibly is overdue. “Meatless Mondays”, or even better, a vegetarian (or better still, a vegan) diet, could be considered as responsible and ethical responses to climate change and other urgent social justice issues. Rather than feeding on burgers, boerewors rolls and biltong snacks, the COP17 delegates could have been setting a wonderful example and doing much to raise awareness of climate change and world poverty, and to promote a less violent and more compassionate animalfriendly world, if the meals served at the conference were all vegan, or at least vegetarian. Neil Mitchell, Johannesburg Vatican II and are now empowered and using their position for revenge. All the changes take us back to preVatican II times. The Our Father has not been changed because it wasn’t changed by Vatican II. In this time of depression, where so many are starving and most of us are battling to make ends meet, where are we to find the R150 for a new missal when we have a perfectly good one that is being declared obsolete? BM Banckew, Anerley, KwaZulu-Natal
Makes you think!
HE articles by Dennis Sadowski and Fr Raymond Mwangala OMI (November 23), and the letter by JA Kearney in the same issue, gave an in-depth insight into the history of liturgical language. I found it enlightening and consoling. I grew up when Latin was the language of the Church. I could, however, never forget how we felt when, after Vatican II we were allowed to speak the language of the people. We were drawn into the liturgy and “full, conscious, and active participation” of all people was encouraged. Does the new translation encourage or alienate the people of our time? Maria Zimmermann, Cape Town
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What happened to limbo? Ever since the 1940s I have been made to believe that unbaptised babies, who have not attained the power of reason (such as a very early spontaneous miscarriage), can never reach the Beatific Vision. In the last few years I am made to believe by the hierarchy that they indeed can attain the Beatific Vision. This is disturbing to me. Which one is the true teaching of the Mystical Body of Christ? ANON 867 of the Code of Canon Law obliges parents to see that their infants are baptised within the first few weeks after birth. If the infant is in danger of death, it must be baptised without any delay. This follows the practice of the Church, based on our Lord’s words: “Unless a man is born through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:5). Because the Church knows of no way other than baptism that will assure entry into eternal happiness, it insists on the necessity of being baptised as soon as possible. Theologians speculated about the eternal fate of infants that died before baptism. This began around the fourth century when St Augustine proposed that, because the souls of these infants stained by Original Sin but not actual sin, could not see God in the beatific vision, they went into a state of eternal natural happiness known as the limbo of the infants. His view prevailed. In the 15th century, Dominican scholar Thomas Cajetan suggested that unbaptised infants dying in the womb might be saved through the mother’s wish for the baby to be baptised. In all this time, the Church had no official teaching, though it did not stop the theory of the limbo of the infants spreading. In the 1940s Catholics including yourself, had come to accept that limbo was a reality for unbaptised infants rather than theological speculation. It remains a valid theory. Deeper scholarly research led to the Catechism of the Catholic Church dropping any mention of limbo, and explaining that Jesus’ tenderness towards children allows us to hope that there is a way of salvation for unbaptised infants, but stressing the need for baptism (1261). The Church, therefore, does not know the fate of unbaptised infants, but in the words of the Vatican commission examining the issue in 2007: “We dare to hope that these infants will be saved by some extra-sacramental gift of Christ”.
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The promise of new life
T the dawning of each day, we anticipate new challenges, new experiences and new encounters. This often is a cause for excitement and requires some sort of preparation. In this season of Advent we eagerly await the coming of the Saviour. As Israel waited for the fulfilment of God’s promise to them, so we wait to celebrate that fulfilment every year. It is the prominence of this season in the Church’s year that brings to life the theological significance of Christ’s birth as the beginning of our salvation, the beginning of Life. It would be a missed opportunity if the experience of the Advent season should fail to bring about some kind of change in our lives. The coming of our Lord did not just bring some change, it caused a revolution. The era of knowledge was drawing to an end, and the age
Sihle Magubane PointofReflection
of wisdom was nearing, heralded by John the Baptist. Jesus lived, as the word of God, the will of God; for him, mere knowledge of the laws and prophets was insufficient for salvation. In Jesus, love becomes the guiding rule of life, material oblation is replaced by self-sacrifice, and finally, the hope that Israel had held on to for so long became reality—but what a pity that when the Messiah arrived, few realised it. Likewise, we have denied Christ the love and devotion that he, as the Redeemer deserves. We are thus unworthy of the gift that God has given us. In this, our waiting, let us be enlightened; for to see Christ, we need not to just know Jesus the historical man, but have the wisdom to understand that Christ, our God, is coming to us as the living bread—to give us life.
Making habits of love HE philosopher John Stuart Mill argued 150 years ago in On Liberty that “the human faculties of perception, judgment, discriminative feeling, mental activity, and even moral preference, are exercised only in making a choice. The mental and moral, like the muscular powers, are improved only by being used. He who lets the world, or his own portion of it, choose his plan of life for him, has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation.” In short, it is through freely choosing— through acting freely—that we exercise perception and judgment, and become truly moral and morally responsible beings. Mill was not necessarily concerned with the wisdom of God coming to assist our judgment, what is called phronesis. Phronesis is the mind of the man working with the assistance of God’s eternal wisdom. In fact the Bible refers to phronesis as the wisdom God granted Solomon. Phronesis promotes the habits of love which are acquired in solitude but have to be practised/tested in community with others. This is what Ecclesia and other faithbuilding programmes in the Southern African Church are trying to teach us: to live our faith not only privately, but also in communion with others, starting with our biological family and extending to
our spiritual family, which is the Church and the world at large. Habits of love teach us not to hate even those who hate us; and not to be dishonest, especially about our intentions. Sometimes people use truth to be dishonest. This is a very insincere way of lying. Phronesis, because it is informed by the spirit of discretion, teaches us not to use even truth, or what is termed “frankness”, to be dishonest. Those familiar with the concept of bad faith will know that it is not necessarily wilful deception. Bad faith is when people, under social or peer pressure, adopt the values and attitudes of the moment, and in the process disregard their own intuition. Hence it is when we disregard phronesis—the inner wisdom of the conscience—that we commit sins and grieve the Holy Spirit. Habits of love teach us not to be intolerant to others’ shortcoming, for as St Peter’s letter teaches us: Love hides a multitude of sins. This is what sometimes is referred to as “having a heart in the right place”. Habits of love put our hearts in a right place, teaching us not to seek gain in charity, not to impose our attitude (life belief) by always insisting on our own way. Ecclesia is about teaching us how to live our faith to its fullest potential, and avoiding the temptations of embracing
Mphuthumi Ntabeni PushingBoundaries what historian Christopher Lasch called a Culture of Narcissism, the retreat to purely personal preoccupations, most involving the maintenance of self-centredness. “The contemporary climate is therapeutic, not religious.” Lasch (1932–94) describes a typical person of our age as someone who “depends on others to validate his self-esteem” and who “cannot live without an admiring audience”. In the narcissist’s world, he argues, confession and self-absorption become “the moral climate”. And being authentic is to be outdated or out of sync with the times. To those imbued with the wisdom of phronesis, putting on the mentality of Christ is the gate to the power and wisdom of God. It is learning what real authenticity is and how to be truly in communion with others in a life of selfgiving friendship, which is a life of concern for their and our flourishing through growth in the virtues of love. Obviously the habits of love can be maintained only by grace, a life in which God shares his friendship with us. As Aquinas put it, in this way the charity we have been given becomes the form of all our virtues, and our whole life becomes a sharing in divinity.
ThechoirofSt Joseph'sPrimary Schooltookpartinthe productionJoseph whichwasdirectedby RichardMontezfrom CornerstoneProductionsinTexas.TogetherwithLighthouse FamilyChurchand actorsfromvarious otherchurchesinPort Elizabeth,theproductionwasstagedat LinksideHighSchool. Thecasthadonly threeweeksinwhich tolearntheirpartsand theStJoseph'slearnersonlyhadoneweek inwhichtolearnall theirwordsandmovements.Theshowwas agreatsuccessand touchedtheheartsof many.
IN FOCU S
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: firstname.lastname@example.org Edited by Lara Moses
BishopPeter Holidayof Kroonstad(left) ordainedPaul Hlonolatothe diaconateatSt JohnBosco parishinTikwana,Hoopstad. (SubmittedbyFr MichaelRasello) FivenewmembersofStAnne’sSdalitytooktheirvowsatHoly MartyrsofUgandachurch,DeAar,beforeFrBernardSompane. FrDouglasSumailiconcelebratedtheMass.Thenewmembers arejoinedbyMsMnqwaziandMsHermans,StAnne’sleaders.
ThefirstcommunicantsofStJohnBoscoparishinMitchellsPlain, CapeTown,withparishpriestFrEoinFarrelly,theircatechists vanessaAugustandBrettYoungandDeaconMervinSolomons. (SubmittedbyMsPugin)
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FOCUS OuR LADY OF MERCY, EMDENI, SOWETO
Parish responded to archbishop Our Lady of Mercy parish in Emdeni, Soweto, responded to a call by Archbishop Buti Tlhagale to promote TheSouthern Cross with the same great enthusiasm it invests in all its many activities, as THANDI BOSMANreports.
EDICATED to the upliftment of the youth, committed to the importance of family and marriage life, and blessed with a range of active sodalities, the parish of Our Lady of Mercy works to keep the Church strong and united. Situated in the archdiocese of Johannesburg, Our Lady of Mercy serves Kwa Xuma in Emdeni, Soweto. The parish was established in 1965 and is currently run by Fr Petrus Shiya. Our Lady of Mercy serves the people of Naledi and Emdeni townships and branches off from Holy Cross parish in Zola, Soweto. Fr Shiya said that in the past there used to be tension in the parish between parishioners because of the language difference. “As we know, during apartheid people were housed according to ethnicity. Zola was mainly Zulu-
speaking while Naledi was Sotho speaking,” he explained. “Mass was always said in Zulu, to the displeasure of Sotho-speaking parishioners.” Fr Shiya said that the problem was solved when the parish priest at the time decided to set up another parish in Naledi to “cater for the Sotho-speaking parishioners”. In the beginning “Mass was celebrated in the homes of parishioners. Eventually a site was bought in Emdeni, adjacent to Naledi,” said Fr Shiya. Parishioners raised money through stokvels—clubs serving as rotating credit unions—to build the church. Members of the unions contributed a fixed sum of money to a central fund, either on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. Originally, students from the technical college in Dube, Soweto helped build the church. The church is now being rebuilt, a project made possible through the efforts and help of the parishioners, Fr Shiya said. One of the biggest challenges Our Lady of Mercy faces today is unemployment. Fr Shiya said that many of the parishioners are unemployed, “especially the youth”. As a way of addressing this problem, the parish organised a career day for the youth in June. Because Emdeni is a poor area many young people who finish school move to more affluent
areas in the hope of better opportunities. Fr Shiya said this slows down the parish’s youth group development. “The youth keeps changing; as others outgrow the youth stage, the younger ones come in. It is mainly those who are unemployed who remain,” he explained. Two young parishioners attended World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain in August. “Coming back they made a presentation in the parish of their journey. This further inspired the youth. Next year one of the boys will be going to the seminary to study for the diocesan priesthood,” Fr Shiya said.
wo former parish priests are now bishops: Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg and Bishop Peter Holiday, who was installed in Kroonstad this year. “We are very proud of this record,” Fr Shiya said. Fr Shiya said that the parish is growing and the catechism classes are well managed and going steady under the dedicated engagement of the parishioners. Our Lady of Mercy parish has stable and strong sodalities, especially the Sodalities of St Anne and the Sacred Heart. The other sodalities at Our Lady of Mercy are the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Legion of Mary, Daughters of St Anne, the Catholic Women’s League and the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP).
ParishpriestFrPetrusShiyaleadsabaptismatOurLadyofMercyparishin Emdeni,Soweto. “St Vincent de Paul is doing a very good job in attending to the needs of the poor. What is more pleasing is that the youth are very active in the SVP. Every Sunday [the youth] do fundraising to buy food parcels for the poor,” said Fr Shiya. The parish has 12 Small Christian Communities (SCC), which the parish calls the “wards”. “Parishioners meet once during the week in wards for prayers and they support one another during funerals. We have dedicated funeral leaders who assist the priest by [overseeing] funerals and leading vigil prayers,” Fr Shiya said. The funeral ministry is based in the SCC wards. Fr Shiya said that the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was introduced recently in the parish and is gaining momentum among the parishioners. The parish’s
youth has also taken time to participate in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. “For two years we have had a week of prayer led by the Jesuit Institute to teach parishioners about the Ignatian way of praying,” said Fr Shiya. This has become popular among parishioners. Our Lady of Mercy has recently started selling The Southern Cross. Fr Shiya said that Archbishop Tlhagale encouraged the clergy of the archdiocese to promote The Southern Cross in their parishes, and he is keen to respond to the archbishop’s wish. Fr Shiya spoke to the parishioners about it during the notices at Mass to gauge interest. “Now I often highlight articles in The Southern Cross” at Mass he said. “We will keep promoting the Catholic newspaper.”
When Latin went out of the Mass, Vatican II restored old practices to the liturgy E
VERYBODY knows that after Vatican II the Mass was translated into the local languages (the vernacular) of Catholics. Some may know that the document that made this happen, Sacrosanctum Concilium, was the first one promulgated by the bishops, on December 4, 1963. What many may not know is that far from overturning an ancient tradition (the Latin Mass), the Council by its actions restored to us a practice that was rooted in the early Church. The Mass as Catholics knew it on the eve of the Council was in fact relatively new. Formulated at the Council of Trent in the 16th century, it replaced a number of different rites used in various parts of the Church—part of an attempt by the bishops to standardise and in some ways reform Catholicism in the face of the challenges of the Protestant Reformation. While partly an attempt to assert the Church’s power against the Reformer, it was also a genuine attempt to reform the liturgy and to standardise the formation and practice of the clergy. A thousand years before Trent, and about 500 years before the great split between the Western (Roman) and Eastern Orthodox churches, the liturgy was far more flexible and varied than we might imagine. In the second century, the Didache—a guide book on worship and spirituality—had little to say
Anthony Egan SJ AChurchof HopeandJoy about celebration of the Eucharist, except that a sign of a good bishop or priest was the ability to lead the assembly in the Eucharistic prayer. A really good presider could do this, under the Spirit’s guidance, spontaneously. There were, apparently, no fixed parts that had to be said, though clearly the rite would have been a memorial of the Last Supper that invoked the descent of the Holy Spirit to consecrate the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Gradually by the fifth century this had been transformed into a range of local rites (Ambrosian in Milan, Mozarabic in Spain, Celtic in Ireland, Sarum rite in England) in local languages. In the West the tendency towards local churches looking to Rome for guidance and leadership led to the translation of many of these rites into Latin. In the East, a number of common rites emerged—but always celebrated in the local language (Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic and later early Russian). Even after the institution of the Latin rite of Trent, many of these local rites persisted, albeit in limited areas. To this day the Ambrosian rite is celebrated in
Milan, Italy, and the Mozarabic rite can still be experienced in Toledo, Spain. Leaping forward to 1963, Sacrosanctum Concilium took a cautious step towards restoring such liturgical diversity. It started by emphasising that the Mass was not something celebrated by the priest and observed by the congregation, but was the celebration of the whole Christian people. Communal celebration had faded away over the centuries as fewer people understood Latin. For this reason the Council allowed for the translation of the liturgy (whether fully or in part) into the vernacular so that people could really “con-celebrate” (in its broadest sense) with the presider.
N this matter the Council left it up to local conferences of bishops to decide such matters as translation and how much of the liturgy they would translate. The local conferences responded to this quickly and thoroughly, choosing to translate the liturgy fully into the vernacular. Uneasy however with too elaborate innovations, the Council insisted that such liturgical development should be marked by a “noble simplicity” of style and the elimination of excessive repetitions. Elaborate and unfamiliar language was to be eliminated in favour of language that all could understand. The language of worship should be the common spoken language of the people. Once
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CatholicswaitforMasstobegin.InhisHope&Joyarticle,FrAnthonyEgan SJpointsoutthatbyallowingtheuseofthevernacular,vaticanIIreturnedto theoldliturgicalpracticeoftheChurch. again this was to emphasise full participation of the faithful. In addition the Council reopened the possibility for the Church to use new rites, subject to Roman approval. While the simplified form of the Roman Rite was the standard, some ancient rites— like those of Addo and Mari and of Hippolytus of Rome—were adapted into new Eucharistic Prayers, and new rites for special occasions (rites for Children, Reconciliation and Peace) were introduced.
Sacrosanctum Concilium has been called both progressive and conservative. While conservative in the sense of stressing the need for standard rites, with the Roman rite at the centre, it was progressive in that it opened up popular participation through the use of the vernacular in a manner understandable to ordinary people. In this it can be seen as truly traditional—rooted in the past yet open to change over time.
Hundred questions and answers about the Mass UNDERSTANDING THE MASS: 100 Questions, 100 Answers, by Mike Aquilina. Servant Books, Cincinnati, 2011. 116 pp. CATHOLIC UPDATE GUIDE TO THE MASS, edited by Mary Carol Kendzia. St Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, 2011. 48 pp.. Reviewed by Brian T Olszewski T could be that those charged with instructing Catholics about the new Roman Missal realise that in an age where messages are transmitted with a minimal amount of characters and as quickly as possible, instruction will need to be conveyed as succinctly as possible. Not only can they expect the Tweeters and text-messagers to want information as concisely as possible, but those who use neither of those media may also welcome “the short form”—to use a liturgical term—of instruction. Understanding The Mass is basic but thorough. In a question-andanswer format, Mike Aquilina provides information about which worshippers have wondered, but never knew who or how to ask, such as: What are rubrics? How does the Church pick the Bible readings for each Mass? Why does the priest mix water with wine? To liturgical scholars and planners, these might not be critical questions, but to the people who occupy the pews and who aren’t privileged to have advanced degrees in liturgy, they could be. And simply stated answers might help them understand what it is they are celebrating, and, in turn, living what they have celebrated. Aquilina’s questions and answers are substantive, drawing from Scripture, the writings of the Church Fathers and other sources. Individuals can certainly read and learn from it, but the greater value of Understanding the Mass might be found when used as a guide for
group instruction, led by someone with a background in theology and/or liturgy. While Aquilina uses the texts of Mass prayers from the new Roman Missal, the book is not specifically about that missal. Nonetheless, it will serve as a good general instruction for all who have been celebrating Mass for years, and who wish to grow in their understanding of it. As a newsletter in the United States, Catholic Update has proven an ability to present complicated material in a way that is easy to comprehend or which, at the very least, doesn’t appear so overwhelming that the reader doesn’t even try to comprehend it. Catholic Update Guide to the Mass makes that comprehension possible. If the instructions each writer contributes don’t spur the reader to reflection, the questions at the end of each chapter will, for example: “How has your understanding of the Mass changed since your first Communion?” Both volumes provide instruction in formats that are inviting, able to reach readers at their level of spiritual development, and at an affordable price. The investment is good catechesis and good stewardship. n Brian Olszewski is general manager of the Catholic Herald in the archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Community Calendar To place your event, call Claire Allen at 021 465 5007 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, (publicationsubjecttospace) BETHLEHEM: Shrine of Our Lady of BethlehematTsheseng, Malutimountains;Thursdays09:30,Mass,then expositionoftheBlessed Sacrament.058 721 0532. CAPE TOWN: Good Shepherd,Bothasig.PerpetualEucharisticAdorationinthe chapel.Allhours.Allwelcome. Day of Prayer heldat SpringfieldConventstartingat10:00ending15:30 lastSaturdayofevery month—allwelcome.For moreinformationcontact JaneHulley021790 1668or0827830331. DuRBAN: St Anthony’s, Durban
Central: Tuesday09:00 MasswithnovenatoSt Anthony.FirstFriday 17:30Mass—Divine Mercynovenaprayers. Tel:0313093496. JOHANNESBuRG: Exposition of the BlessedSacrament:first Fridayofthemonthat 09:20followedbyHoly Massat10:30.HolyHour: firstSaturdayofeach monthat15:00.AtOur LadyoftheAngels,Little Eden,Edenvale.Tel:011 6097246. PRETORIA: First Saturday:Devotion toDivineMercy.StMartin dePorres,Sunnyside, 16:30.TelShirley-Anne 012361 4545.
Liturgical Calendar Year B
Sunday, December 18, 4th Sunday of Advent 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16, Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29, Romans 16:25-27, Luke 1:26-38 Monday, December 19, 2011 Judges 13:2-7, 24-25, Psalm 71:3-6, 16-17, Luke 1:5-25 Tuesday, December 20, Bl Scubilion Isaiah 7:10-14, Psalm 24:1-6, Luke 1:26-38 Wednesday, December 21, St Peter Canisius Song of Solomon 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18, Psalm 33:23, 11-12, 20-21, Luke 1:39-45 Thursday, December 22, feria 1 Samuel 1:24-28, 1 Samuel 2:1, 4-8, Luke 1:46-56 Friday, December 23, St John of Kanty Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24, Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 14, Luke 1:57-66 Saturday, December 24, 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16, Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29, Luke 1:67-79 Sunday, December 25, The Nativity of the Lord Midnight Isaiah 9:1-6, Psalm 96:1-3, 11-13, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-14 Dawn Isaiah 62:11-12, Psalm 97:1, 6, 11-12, Titus 3:4-7, Luke 2:1520 During the Day Isaiah 52:7-10, Psalm 98:1-6, Hebrews 1:1-6, John 1:1-18 or 1:1-5, 9-14
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Family Reflections December theme: Peace on Earth Begins at Home. December 18 4th Sunday of Advent. Mary, the Ark of God’s Covenant. Mary is described as a new ark of the covenant and a covenant is a lovepact between God and his people. Covenants require commitment from all those involved. Marriage is a covenant relationship and the commitment to one another in family life can be so too. Invite Mary to be part of your family as you prepare for Christmas and the coming of the Prince of Peace.
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Christmas Day: December 25 Gospel readings: Midnight Mass: Luke 2:114, Dawn Mass: Luke 2:15-20, Mass during the day: John 1:1-18
EXT Sunday is Christmas Day, and it seems good this year to offer a reflection on the gospel that you will be hearing, whichever mass you attend (and perhaps you may hear all three!). At Midnight Mass you will hear the story of Jesus’ birth, in Luke’s lovely narrative. Notice the evangelist’s standard trick of first making us think that he is talking about the powerful of this world: Caesar Augustus and Quirinius, who have caused this world-wide movement of people travelling to be “registered”; but it is not at all these powerful people in whom he is interested, but “Joseph from Galilee”. Then there is a shock, as we watch Joseph journeying up to Bethlehem “to be registered, with Mary his fiancée—who was pregnant!”, not at all what would be expected in that world (or in ours). God is in charge of the story, however, and so we learn that “the days were fulfilled for her to give birth”. However there is a shock coming, for Jesus is going to “preach good news to the poor”, and so we discover to our astonishment that this divine child is placed not in five-star luxury, but “in a feeding-trough; for there was no room for them in the inn”. This is followed by another shock, in that the first witnesses to
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The beauty of Christmas celebrations Nicholas King SJ SundayReflections
this remarkable birth are not the upper classes, but a bunch of shepherds (think “cowboys”, people on the far edge of society). It is to these drop-outs that the angel addresses himself, “and the glory of the Lord shone about them”. They are told: “Do not be afraid,” which is a sure sign of the presence of God, and a sign that they are on the right side. Then the angel delivers the message, which is for us also, “Look! I am giving you good news, a great joy which shall be for all the people”. This utterly unexpected turn of events is followed by another: “For today (a very important word in Luke’s gospel) a Saviour has been born to you, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David”. Then they are given a sign; and confirmation of the message follows, in the shape of “a number of the heavenly army praising God, and saying,
‘Glory in the highest to God; and on earth peace to those of good will’.” We need to sit with this reading and notice how thoroughly startling it is. Equally startling is the gospel assigned to the Dawn Mass, which continues the shepherds’ story; they make the unexpected decision to investigate “what the Lord has told us”, by going to Bethlehem (presumably abandoning their flocks for the purpose), and discover precisely what they had been told they would find; then they start their career as witnesses: “They revealed about the word that had been spoken to them.” We should notice two points in particular, which we are invited to imitate: first, what Mary did, as she “kept all these words, comparing them in her heart”. We are all invited to contemplate the mystery in this way. Secondly, though, we are to be apostles, just like those shepherds, who “returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as they had been told”. That is our task, in the aftermath of Christmas. Mass during the day is celebrated with the awe-filled opening to John’s gospel, which breathes such a very different air. How to talk sensibly about this?
Praying so we don’t lose heart O NE of the reasons we need to pray is so that we don’t lose heart. We all do sometimes. We lose heart whenever frustration, tiredness, fear, and helplessness in the face of life's humiliations conspire together to paralyse our energies, deaden our resiliency, drain our courage, and leave us feeling weak in depression. Poet Jill Alexander Essbaum gives us a poignant example of this in her poem, “Easter”. Reflecting on the joy that Easter should bring into our lives, she shares that Easter can instead be a season of defeat for us because its celebration of joy can highlight the shortcomings of our own lives and leave us with the feeling that “everyone I’ve ever loved lives happily just past my able reach”. And this feeling can drive us to our knees, in bitterness or prayer; hopefully prayer. There are many examples in Scripture of men and women being driven to mountaintops or to their knees in prayer because they are paralysed by fear, discouragement, or loneliness. For our purposes, I will highlight two, highly illustrative, examples of this. We see an example of praying so as not to lose heart in the prophet Elijah, when he is being threatened because of his prophetic message. Elijah had been a true and a courageous prophet, but at one point in his ministry he became dangerously disconsolate. His own people had ceased listening to his message, he had witnessed some of his fellow prophets being martyred, and his message had deeply upset Jezebel, the most powerful woman in the kingdom, who had now sent out men to kill him. To flee Jezebel, Elijah climbed up Mount Horeb. However as he retreated into a cave, he was confronted by God’s
Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
voice, asking him what he was doing there. Elijah confessed his discouragement, his fear of losing his life, and his loss of heart. Having confessed his fears, Elijah retreated into the darkness of the cave, to sit paralysed in his own fear and depression. But God, through the sound of a gentle breeze, lured him out to the mouth of the cave where Elijah again confessed his depression and fear; but this time in the form of a prayer. And, through that prayer, he regained his strength of heart and came down the mountain ready to face his ministry and all its dangers with renewed energy and courage. When all of his own strength had dried up, Elijah approached God with his weaknesses and that movement renewed his heart. We see the same thing in Jesus when, facing his passion and death, he prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s the low-point of Jesus’ life and ministry: The people have stopped listening to him, the religious authorities are conspiring with the civil authorities to have him killed, those few—his inner circle of disciples—who are still listening to his message are not understanding it, and he feels utterly alone, “a stone’s throw away from everyone”. So as not to lose heart, he drops to his knees in prayer, a prayer so intense that he “sweats blood”, but that prayer eventually ends in consolation, with “an angel from heaven coming down to strengthen him”.
He brings his beaten-down, misunderstood, fearful, and painfully isolated heart to prayer, and he is strengthened, given all the sustenance he needs to regain his courage. And, in that, Jesus is contrasted with his apostles. At that very moment, they too are discouraged, lonely and fearful. But they are asleep while he prays, and their sleep, as the gospels hint, is something more than physical. They are, we are told, “asleep out of sheer sorrow”. In essence, they are too depressed to be awake to the full strength of their own lives. This loss of heart has them paralysed in fear and when they finally do act they act in ways contrary to what Jesus had taught them. They attempt violence and then flee. They couldn’t face impending suffering as Jesus did because they didn’t pray as he did. They lost heart. No matter who we are or how rich and blessed our lives may be, it is impossible to go through life without, at times, feeling bitterly misunderstood, becoming deeply disconsolate, succumbing to a paralysing tiredness, and simply losing heart. We are human and, like Jesus, we will have days when we feel “a stone’s throw away from everyone”. And what’s paralysed inside of us is what’s highest in us: our capacity to forgive, our capacity to radiate huge, generous hearts, our capacity for empathy and understanding, our capacity for joy, and our capacity for courage. Frightened and discouraged, like Elijah, we retreat into the inner darkness of a cave. But in moments like this, we might understand ourselves this way: Like Elijah, we are in the darkness of a cave, paralysed by loss of heart; but God is at the mouth of the cave, a gentle breeze, luring us back out where everyone we love will be back within our reach.
A former colleague of mine once said that it should be read in the darkness, by the light of a single candle; and it is an extraordinary piece of writing, with its alternation between poetry and prose. The heart of the matter is that the “Word” (which we somehow know to be Jesus, though it never exactly says so) is “in the beginning”, is “with God”, and, in ways we cannot begin to understand actually “was God”, that Word “became flesh, and pitched his tent among us—and we contemplated his glory, glory as of the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth”. It is an astonishing vision, and we need to stay with it during this Christmas season, recalling as we contemplate the mystery that “no one has ever seen God: only-begotten God, the one who is in the bosom of the Father, that one has explained him”. And it may be helpful to recall that the next time in John’s Gospel that we encounter that phrase about the “bosom”, it will refer to the beloved disciple’s relationship to Jesus, at the Last Supper, in the context of Jesus’ betrayal. We shall not understand the mystery of our Christmas celebration unless we recognise that the love that is at the heart of the feast is overshadowed by the cross.
Southern Crossword #475
ACROSS 1. The beloved disciple (4) 3. Feed fact to show of ostentation (8) 7. He’s not very bright (7) 9. Cloth found in Scottish river (5) 10. Kind of dish for TV reception (9) 12. Angrily hot (6) 14. Boneheads? (6) 16. Senates in a state of numbness (9) 19. Aquarius holds he was the heretic (5) 20. Their days as monarch are over (2-4) 21. Jesus cured this debility (8) 22. Temple mount (4)
DOWN 1 and 8. Do they see God at your doorstep? (8,9) 2 and 15. Demonic cyclists (5,6) 4. Ineffectual (6) 5. Pugilist’s salvation? (3,4) 6. Old bird to act twice (4) 8. See 1 dn 9. Recall your past sins for confession (5,4) 11. Murderer of two beasts at home (8) 13. Belief that all things have souls (7) 15. See 2 17. Boredom from men nuisances (5) 18. Jerusalem’s praying construction (4) Solutionsonpage11
CATECHISM teacher was testing the children to see if they understood the concept of getting to heaven. She asked them: “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the Church, would that get me into heaven?” “NO!” the children answered. “If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the lawn, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into heaven?” Again, the answer was: “NO!” Bursting with pride, she continued: “Then how can I get into heaven?” A five-year-old boy shouted out: “YOU GOTTA BE DEAD.” SendusyourfavouriteCatholicjoke,preferablycleanandbrief,to TheSouthernCross,ChurchChuckle,POBox2372,CapeTown,8000.