September 5 to September 11, 2012
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Protest violence due to ‘failure of leadership’ BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
S Matric pupils of St Dominic’s Priory in Port Elizabeth marked their 40 Days by dressing up in inventive costumes, from Mr Bean and Spiderman to Mario and Luigi. The Southern Cross wishes the Class of 2012 throughout Southern Africa all the best for the upcoming matric exams. (Photo from St Dominic’s Priory)
Bishop, ex-SACBC president, dies suddenly at 67 BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
FORMER president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Swaziland’s only bishop died suddenly on August 27 at the age of 67. Bishop Louis Ncamiso Ndlovu of Manzini died following a suspected heart attack. His death was a shock to many, including Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban who turned to social network platform Twitter to share the news. “While it was clear during the bishops’ meeting at Mariannhill that Bishop Ndlovu was not well, no one imagined he would leave us so soon.” Manzini diocese’s secretary and financial administrator Fr Peter Ndwandwe said the bishop had been admitted to hospital on Friday, August 24, “but by Saturday he was already showing an improvement. On Sunday he was making jokes,” said Fr Ndwandwe. But the situation changed on Monday morning and the bishop was placed on a ventilator. Fr Ndwandwe applied for a medical visa for the bishop to travel to Johannesburg for medical attention, but it was too late: the bishop died that afternoon. “This is a great loss for the people of Manzini and the whole country. We need him more now as Swaziland is troubled,” the priest said. Bishop Ndlovu was appointed apostolic administrator of Manzini, Swaziland’s only diocese, on February 20, 1981 shortly after the death of his predecessor, Bishop Mandlenkhosi Zwane, in a car accident. Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Ndlovu to head the diocese of Manzini on July 1, 1985. His episcopal ordination took place on October 12, with Bishop Mansuet Dela Biyase of Eshowe as principal consecrator. Born on March 15, 1945 in Enkaba, Swaziland, the future bishop joined the Order of Friar Servants of Mary, making his profession in April 1975. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 4, 1978. Seven years later he was appointed bishop of Manzini, which he
served for 27 years. Bishop Ndlovu also served as president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference—which comprises South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland—from 1994 to 2003. In that capacity he headed the bishops’ delegation that met with President Nelson Mandela in Cape Town in 1998. “He was a warm-hearted, hospitable man with the unique gift to make friends and make others feel at home. Despite the power that came with his position, he never threw his weight around,” Fr Ndwandwe said. The bishop was an advocate for human rights and would be remembered for his role in the call for meaningful change in Swaziland, a country considered by many in the Church to be a police state. “He never compromised on his priestly duties, even when these were at loggerheads with the state. He was a remarkable man and always expressed his views on social justice loudly and clearly.” Bishop Ndlovu often attracted criticism from Swaziland’s government for his actions to protect others. He will be remembered for the part he played in the hunger strike led by the University of Swaziland’s Student Representative Council members in the early 1990s. The students, who were then weak from hunger, were given shelter at the bishop’s house in Manzini where police were prevented from arresting the students. “He enjoyed life and enjoyed enhancing the life of others—especially the disadvantaged. He preferred spending his time with family, friends and the underprivileged, and not with those in high places,” said Fr Nkwandwe. He added: “We have lost a great man.”
PEAKERS at a Catholic event discussing public action have condemned the political exploitation of people’s discontent. “There is nothing wrong with protests, but there is something wrong with society when protest action turns to violence, and when this is so easily met with more violence,” said Mike Pothier of the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO), an office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, during a round table discussion. The meeting came in the aftermath of the Lonmin Mines shootings at Marikana and public delivery protests in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, during which a bus driver died after his vehicle was stoned. Mr Pothier stressed that violence at protests is still an aberration. “Not all protest action is violent. The majority of it is peaceful,” said Mr Pothier. “But the message is now that violence works on a certain level.” When people get violent, their concerns are listened to and attention is drawn to their cause. “We need politicians who are going to stand by their communities and make sure they are heard without being violent.” Mr Pothier said the public needs to be educated on how to get the kind of leadership it wants. “We need proactive leadership that is there before there is violence.” Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg said for many the only way forward is violence as they feel they are not being listened to. The fact that each of the sites of violent protest was visited by local politicians shows that violence seems to be the only way for many to get the attention of the elected. The bishop of the diocese which includes Marikana said South Africa is becoming accustomed to violence and is forgetting the uniqueness of individual loss. “People are not simply killed,” he said. “They are murdered.” Yet, instead of focusing on impact of the deaths on the victims’ families and communities, political parties use these events as an opportunity to “score cheap political points”. “Why does protest action and violence consume such a big part of our lives?” the bishop asked at the round table, which was hosted by the CPLO and Goedgedacht Forum for Social Reflection.
qabayomza Kwankwa, deputy secretarygeneral of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), said if the situation is to be rectified, “we need all hands on deck to pull the country from the tipping point. This is what political parties must do if we are to move from violent protest to dialogue.” Mr Kwankwa pointed to the widening income gap between the rich and the poor. “This is a direct result of policy. This comes from development,” he said, adding that it is usually those who were politically connected who are getting richer and benefit from the policy. “The elected have deserted the electorate,” said Mr Kwanka. “Has South Africa become a violent society or have politicians
Bishop Kevin Dowling, seen in a file photo, has warned that South Africa is becoming accustomed to violence. not helped people using the right means? We have failed,” he said. Mr Kwanka said politicians must stop exploiting their power during protests. He recalled asking a demonstrator in Cape Town what she was protesting for. “She did not know. Either she was a part of a ‘rent-a-crowd’ or there was a political agenda behind the protest. This is a failure of political leadership,” he said. He also spoke of the Limpopo text book scandal where political parties failed to notice a problem despite having people on the ground. Mr Kwanka said there is a need to educate the public on their avenues and options available long before violence becomes an option. “We have excellent labour resources,” said Bishop Dowling. He said South Africa has solid procedures in place for labour disputes and for dealing with issues, but most South Africans are unaware of their constitutional right to use these facilities, or of how to access these channels. While elected officials should be listening to the concerns of the electorate, there seems to be a disconnect immediately after voting day, Bishop Dowling said. “We must be principled, proactive leaders at every level,” said Bishop Dowling. “We need skilled negotiators, people who are able to begin the process of dialogue.” Dialogue is the process missing from the current discourse of protest, he said. In this, he added, “church leaders can play a critical role”. Speaking of his diocese, he said those in Marikana did not trust police, government or mine managers and this was an opportunity for church leaders to step in, much like in many other places in the country. “We need to play principled roles, uphold values and not act for personal gain,” the bishop said, commenting on the use of tragedy for political platforms. The UDM’s Mr Kwanka called on political parties to work together to bridge the disconnect between politicians and the electorate . “There is a growing impatience. Fighting fire with fire will not work. Violence breeds more violence.”
The Southern Cross, September 5 to September 11, 2012
St Francis alumni step in to help ailing school T BY MAURICIO LANGA
HE shortage of facilities such as sufficient classrooms and the school transportation at St Francis College in Mariannhill could soon be a thing of the past. Some of the school’s alumni have pledged to help the school as a way of ploughing back their skills into the community which nurtured and formed them. The pledges were made during a breakfast fundraising function held at the school recently. The pledges are seen as a critical step in addressing the school’s shortcomings. The school’s principal, Jabulani Nzama, said the pledges will address some of the essential needs, such as the construction of additional classrooms and the procurement of a 23seater school bus.
“We keep inviting [the alumni] every year to motivate our learners, which they do exceptionally well,” said Mr Nzama. They help guide the learners to remain focused and give them direction in their future carreers. The next challenge was to get the alumni to assist the school in bigger projects. Alumni who participated at the fundraising breakfast gathering pledged to assist the school in different ways. One pledged to provide the school with books for a period of four years, while another one promised to provide the school with laptops, also for a period of four years. Another pledged oneyear free airtime on Durban’s Gagase FM Radio Station, and others promised to help the school by introducing new sporting codes as
well as sponsoring the school with sporting kits. Xolile Mtwa, KwaZulu-Natal’s director of the Department of Energy and a former pupil of the school, said that to realise the planned projects, it is important that all alumni meet and discuss project plans. “We envisage breaking the projects down in terms of different classes,” said Ms Mtwa. She said, for instance, the class of 1979 had established a trust which is aimed at helping the school in one way or the other. Br Crispin Graham, former rector of St Francis’ College, said that when one considers the number of learners that have passed through St Francis College over the years, one can imagine the tremendous ongoing support the college could enjoy if each alumnus pledged a
Nelspruit Catholic writes WWII memoir BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
MEMBER of St Peter’s parish in Nelspruit, Witbank diocese, has shared her recollections of the Second World War and journey to South Africa in an autobiography. The book has been a project 48 years in the making for 88-year-old Katja Kowalec. Ms Kowalec was born in Silesia, Poland, in 1924. Her account, Those Miraculous Sunflower Seeds, includes the stories of her experiences in the Second World War and Poland’s occupation by Nazi Germany. Co-author Colleen Hartley became involved in the book after hearing what she described as “tales that were humorous and appealing”. “Accounts regarding the war were only touched on briefly, but there was no doubt about their sorrowful misery,” Ms Harley said of her friend’s life story—one that she has been recording over the span of their friendship. Sharon Cronjé, a friend from St Peter’s, was involved in the editing of the book. “Katja's faith and tenacity is an inspiration to many” when they learn about her early years in Poland, “and the inner peace she receives as she approaches the threshold of her twilight years”, said Ms Cronjé.
Ms Kowalec now lives in a flat at her granddaughter’s house, still drives and keeps busy with the Divine Mercy apostolate, which she spearheads throughout the diocese of Witbank. Those Miraculous Sunflower Seeds is a story about “several miracles, friendships, how she managed to escape going to Siberia, promises made, prayers answered and why the sunflower would remain a symbol of freedom throughout her life,” Ms Cronjé said. n For more information on Those Miraculous Sunflower Seeds visit www.thosemiraculoussunflow erseeds.weebly.com
A group of former learners with the St Francis College’s principal Jabulani Nzama and Precious Blood Sisters, Mariannhill superior Sr Paula Maine. The group made pledges aimed at assisting the school in various ways. (Photo: Mauricio Langa) modest amount annually towards general maintenance, necessary improvements and worthwhile developments projects. “Obviously, it is primarily a mat-
50 years of grace for parish STAFF REPORTER
of those who laid the foundations of the parish, recognising those currently involved in keeping the faith alive and preparing to ensure the survival of the Church in Bridgetown,”said Basil Snayer, chairman of the parish pastoral
spread the Gospel by building on the foundations of our predecesHE parish of Our Lady of sors and expanding God’s kingGood Counsel in dom. Bridgetown, Athlone, Cape Also in attendance was the first Town, is celebrating its golden resident priest at Our Lady of jubilee this year. Good Counsel, Fr Basil Hendricks, Celebrations for the who recalled the solid jubilee started in late values and principles May as the parishwhich guided those who ioners, under the spirifounded this parish. He tual guidance of parish complimented parishpriest, Fr John Malayil, ioners for their unselfish marked the golden sacrifices, determination jubilee with numerous and solidarity, often in devotions, including a the face of strife and mission run by hardship, said Mr Snayer. Redemptorist Father “The church was Cecil Dowling with the adorned with 16 magnifitheme “Jesus, our cent banners depicting source of Hope”. the vision and mission of This was followed each of the active minby Holy Mass on the istries in the parish. From first Sunday of each of the paschal candle the the following three four consecration candles months—celebrated by were lit in remembrance Golden jubilee celebrations at Our Lady of Good Counformer parish priests. A of the church’s consecranovena of Holy Hours sel in Bridgetown, Athlone, Cape Town. The church was tion and three special opened and blessed 50 years ago by Cardinal Owen and Benediction was candles were lit in also held each McCann. remembrance of deceased Wednesday and a clergy and parishioners chain prayer was started in prepa- council. who served the parish over the ration for this important mileThe celebrations reached a years,” Mr Snayer said, adding stone. highlight when Archbishop that the names of these parishFifty years after the church was Stephen Brislin of Cape Town ioners were engraved on a plaque blessed and opened by Cardinal concelebrated Mass with five that was unveiled and blessed by Owen McCann, the parishioners other priests. the archbishop. went on a pilgrimage to the In his homily, Archbishop Bris“Fired up by the outpouring of Schoenstatt Conference Centre lin congratulated the parish on the Holy Spirit over the past under the theme “Capturing the reaching the landmark and weeks, the parishioners are ready Faith” in a “final gather- reminded the congregation about to tackle the task of ensuring that ing of their thoughts of the mandate that all baptised the faith is kept alive and relegratitude for the values Catholics are charged with—to vant,” Mr Snayer said.
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The Southern Cross, September 5 to September 11, 2012
Joy, friendship and memories BY SYDNEY DUVAL
Bishops Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha, Abel Gabuza of Kimberley, Dabula Mpako of Queenstown and Emmanuel Lafont of French Guyana reunited. (Inset) The colleagues worked together in St Peter’s seminary in Pretoria 18 years ago.
Old friends reunite STAFF REPORTER
BISHOP who as a priest worked in South Africa and taught many seminarians in Pretoria had an opportunity to reunite with old friends and colleagues during a visit to the country. For the past eight years, Bishop Emmanuel Lafont has headed the diocese of Cayenne in French Guyana, north of Brazil. Addressing the bishops during their plenary session, he explained that of Guyana’s 500 0000 people, a third are refugees from Brazil, Vietnam, Asia and Africa. They dig gold both in the Amazon river and the forest, in a country of high unemployment and few roads— transport is by river and air. Two thirds of the country’s population is Catholic. He said there is no job creation, but the birthrates are high; a quarter of the population is below the age of 25. Consequently education is a
challenge. It is based on the French system, but has not been adapted to the local culture. There is a potential for vocation, he said, but the problem is a culture that is not yet open to Christian values and celibacy. Bishop Lafont is a member of two bishops’ conferences— France and the Antilles in the West Indies—but, he explained, it is difficult to connect with either because of lack of road infrastructure. The bishop has just completed writing a book on the prophet Jeremiah. While he was in South Africa, Bishop Lafont was able to reconnect with three former colleagues from St Peter’s Seminary in Pretoria, where he served as vice-rector, who are now bishops: Bishops Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha, Abel Gabuza of Kimberley and Dabula Mpako of Queenstown.
RCHBISHOP emeritus Lawrence Henry of Cape Town concelebrated two major jubilees with Archbishop Stephen Brislin and three other jubilarians at a Mass of Thanksgiving at Our Lady Help of Christians in Lansdowne, Cape Town. Described as “a night of deep joy, old friendships and memories”, Archbishop Henry’s golden jubilee of priesthood and 25 years of episcopacy were shared with Bishop Reginald Cawcutt (50 years of priesthood), Fr Peter-John Pearson and Fr Ivanhoe Allies (both 25 years of priesthood). Father Werner Stafflinger, who was celebrating 50 years of priesthood, was away at the time of the Mass. At the end of the Mass Archbishop Brislin read out a special message to Archbishop Henry from Pope Benedict and a jubilee message from the Carmelite Sisters at Retreat. Archbishop Brislin’s homily explored the priesthood as a special gift from God that was to be shared in a ministry of service, love and compassion that inspires people to prepare for and build up the Kingdom of God. He said the gift of priesthood was not only a gift for priests: “We are ordained not for ourselves but for people to strengthen the body of Christ, to work together with all members of the body of Christ for justice, peace and mercy.” Archbishop Brislin spoke of the gift and its empowering message of hope “through Christ’s victory over death on the Cross”, adding: “We have only deep thanks in our hearts this evening for the many gifts and graces God has bestowed on each of us…helping us to persevere in what God wants us to do… as his spirit works in us and enables us to touch the lives of
In his message from Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence near Rome, Pope Benedict said of Archbishop Henry and his double jubilee: “We, moved with a sense of gratitude on both of these occasions for the considerable care and dedication with which he discharged these offices, wish him joy and bestow upon him the Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of graces from above and a sign of our fraternal affection.” In thanking Archbishop Henry for his support and friendship over Archbishop Lawrence Henry embraces many years, the Carmelites in their his successor Archbishop Stephen Bris- message to the jubilarians quoted German Cardinal Walter Kasper: lin. (Photo: Sydney Duval) “Mary is the woman of blessed hope. She remained till the end the woman of hope for the final coming of the Kingdom of God. She others.” He reminded the congregation knew not the powers of evil, of of the Gospel call “to empty our- injustice, hatred and falsehood. selves the better to serve…in grow- God alone will speak the last word ing in understanding of the Christ- and then justice will prevail over ian life, we see that we need to give injustice, love prevail over hatred, and truth prevail over falsehood.” in order to receive”. The large congregation joined The archbishop described parishioners as “giving us more the jubilarians for a buffet supper after Mass. than we can ever give them”.
(From left) Fr Peter-John Pearson, Archbishop Lawrence Henry, Archbishop Stephen Brislin, Bishop Reginald Cawcutt and Fr Ivanhoe Allies concelebrated a jubilee Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians in Lansdowne, Cape Town. (Photo: Sydney Duval)
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The Southern Cross, September 5 to September 11, 2012
On pilgrimage, turn off the smartphones BY CINDY WOODEN
ATHER Caesar Atuire is not naive enough to ask his pilgrims to leave their smartphones at home. However, the CEO of a Vaticanrelated pilgrimage agency does ask his pilgrims to at least look at the holy sites—perhaps even say a prayer—before clicking and capturing the moment in a photo, text message, Tweet or Facebook post. Fr Atuire, a Ghanaian-born priest of the diocese of Rome, personally leads at least three of the pilgrimages he oversees each year for Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, which organises spiritual travel from Rome for 40 000-50 000 people each year and assists about 700 000 pilgrims visiting the Eternal City annually. More and more, he said, helping travellers become pilgrims means overcoming a fixation with images that completely overshadows experiencing the reality of setting off on a journey, meeting new people, exploring different cultures and entering into prayer. People at audiences and Masses with Pope Benedict see the pope through their camera lens, cellphones and iPads. The same thing happens at Christian holy sites around the world, he said. “What I insist with our pilgrims is live the experience and, if the experience is so powerful, then try to immortalise it with an image, but don’t start off with the image,” he said. A second, similar modern obsta-
cle to an authentic pilgrim experience is Facebook or other social networks and the general ease of communicating with others anywhere in the world. Fr Atuire talks about “being present, but absent”. He said: “I can be here with you, but all that I’m doing is geared towards telling people elsewhere what I’m doing right now. That’s a kind of absenteeism that’s becoming very pronounced even in our pilgrimages.” The third big risk is speed, he said. “It takes 90 minutes to fly from Rome to Lourdes,” and as soon as the plane lands, he said, people are calling home, “asking the kids to take the laundry out of the machine. And I say, ‘Wait a minute, you still aren’t here.’” People’s minds, hearts and souls need time to move from thoughts of work, home or school, Fr Atuire said, so his agency offers catechesis on the planes. In addition, each morning guides conduct a brief meeting to remind people of where they are and what they’re about to do. All people need a break from the daily grind now and then, he said. They need to get in touch again with their families, with nature, with themselves and with God. If a person isn’t travelling for work, they usually either are “running away from something or searching for something”. The key difference between leisure travel and a pilgrimage is the search for a spiritual encounter, he said, and throughout history certain shrines and
The sun rises over the Sea of Galilee, one of the three top pilgrimage spots listed by Fr Caesar Aguire (left) of the Vatican’s pilgrimage agency. (Main photo: Günther Simmermacher; Inset: Robert Duncan, CNS) sites have become known as places with “a density of God’s presence”, he said.
or the priest, who travels often, the three places that top his list for “spiritual density” are the chapel of Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem’s church of the Holy Sepulchre; the grotto where Mary appeared to St Bernadette in Lourdes, France; and the Sea of Galilee in the silence of the early morning or late evening. “I don’t think you can do anything but pray” in those places, he said.
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“Religious experience has a corporal dimension,” Fr Atuire said. “When people are in search of a deep religious experience, the body somehow needs to be involved,” so setting off from home and going on a pilgrimage is quite natural, not only for Christians, but also for members of most other major religions. “Christian pilgrimage is all about encounters,” beginning with encountering other seekers and believers, but also being encouraged by them or learning from them how to move closer to the encounter with God.
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Unfortunately though, he said, too many people today focus so much on getting to the holy places that they lose sight of the fact that a pilgrimage is a journey: “The road is the pilgrimage and it prepares you for the encounter.” While a pilgrimage is a purposeful break from one’s normal routine, it’s not a break from rules and good manners, he said. “A pilgrimage is putting order into your life, going back to put real order in your life—order in terms of your relationships with other persons, order in terms of your relationship with God,” he said. “Sin is disorder, and a pilgrimage is an opportunity to recover that harmony that has been lost through everyday life. That’s why it’s a deeply religious experience.” Although often immersed in the nitty-gritty of chartering planes and buses, booking hotels and writing homilies for his pilgrims, Fr Atuire does have a dream file, and it already includes a detailed itinerary. He just needs to find the time, the resources and the pilgrims. One day, he said, he’d love to take a group to the Marian shrine at Kibeho, Rwanda, where young people reported apparitions of Mary in the 1980s; the local bishop has recognised the apparitions as authentic. “It’s a region of Africa that is struggling to find peace, stability and growth” following the genocide of the 1990s, Fr Atuire said. He would like to bring a group of pilgrims with him, “look into Our Lady’s message and see what signs of hope we can find there”.—CNS
S Catholics prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, all Church members need to make a renewed effort to ensure laypeople are aware of their responsibility for the Church and are allowed to exercise it, Pope Benedict has said. “Co-responsibility requires a change of mentality, particularly regarding the role in the Church of the laity, who should not be considered ‘collaborators’ of the clergy, but people who truly are co-responsible for the being and action of the Church,” the pope wrote in a message to the assembly of the International Forum of Catholic Action. The assembly in Iasi, Romania, brought together representatives of Catholic Action
groups from around the world. The international forum promotes lay involvement in parish and community life, particularly through studying and acting on the principles of Catholic social teaching. Pope Benedict’s message said the Church needs a “mature and committed laity, able to make its specific contribution to the mission of the Church” in a way that respects the different roles and ministries of its members. The Vatican II dogmatic constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, described the style of relationships within the Church as “familial”, the pope said. Viewing the Church as a family emphasises shared responsibility, mutual support and joint action while, at the same time, recognising the special role of guidance belonging to the
Church’s pastors, he said. The pope asked Catholic Action members to work with and for the Church through their “prayer, study, active participation in ecclesial life, [and] with an attentive and positive gaze upon the world in a continuous search for the signs of the times”. He asked the members to help with the new evangelisation, proclaiming salvation in Christ “with language and methods understandable in our age”. In addition, he encouraged them to continue studying and applying Catholic social teaching, particularly with the aim of bringing about a “globalisation of solidarity and charity,” which will further the Church’s mission of bringing hope to the world.—CNS
Bishops reject ‘Christian nation’ clause
HE Zambian bishops’ conference has opposed a proposal to identify Zambia as “a Christian nation” in the preamble to a new national constitution. A statement from the bishops’ conference submitted to the Constitutional Review Commission said that “a country cannot practise the values and
precepts of Christianity by a mere declaration”. The bishops that said the principle of church-state separation must not be lost, adding that Zambia is a multireligious country. The conference also commented on proposed regulations on citizenship and exploitation of natural resources of the country. It also
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The Southern Cross, September 5 to September 11, 2012
DRC bishops helped collect 10 million signatures for peace
An image of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata is seen on a candle on her tomb in Kolkata, India. Mother Teresa, the 1979 Nobel Peace laureate who would have turned 102 in late August, died 15 years ago, on September 5, 1997. The ethnic Albanian nun, born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje in modernday Macedonia, was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003 at the Vatican. Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, which today consists of over 4 500 sisters and is active in 133 countries, including South Africa. Apart from the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, the Missionaries of Charity make a fourth vow: to give “wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor”. (Photo: Rupak De Chowdhuri, Reuters/CNS)
HE Catholic bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo helped other religious leaders circulate a petition asking United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and the international community to end the continuing conflict in the eastern DRC. The UN-run Radio Okapi reported that the petition had about 10 million signatures; Congo has a population of 65 million. At a late-August ecumenical service in the Protestant Centenary cathedral, the petition, launched July 12, was formally closed. Church leaders announced that the next stage will be to take it to New York to present to the UN. It has already been presented to the DRC’s foreign minister, Raymond Tshibanda. Fr Donatien Shole, deputy secretary-general of the Congolese bishops’ conference and spokesman for the heads of religious groups represented, said the churches are demanding that the Rwandan government stop “once and for all the invasion of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the looting of its wealth, and rapes of Congolese women”.
Archbishops’ residences, Christian museum ransacked by Syrian rebels
IGHTING in Aleppo, Syria, has not spared the residences of the local Melkite and Maronite Catholic archbishops, according to the Vatican’s Fides news agency. The residence of Melkite Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart was ransacked. The archbishop and several priests who live in the building had fled a few hours earlier to a Franciscan residence in a safer neighbourhood. Franciscan Father George Abu Khazen, who cares for the city’s Latin-rite Catholics and offered shelter to the Melkites, told Fides that Archbishop Jeanbart was very worried and shaken. “He kept repeating one word: ‘Why?’” The archbishop has gone to Lebanon, but one of his assistants was able to return to the house once the Syrian military regained control of the area. He said the house had been broken into and a variety of objects, including computers and a pro-
Melkite Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo, who fled Syria after his offices were ransacked. (Photo: John Thavis, CNS) jector, were missing, Fr Khazen said. The Maronite archbishop’s residence and a museum of Byzantine Christian art in the same suburb were both ransacked as well, Fides said. Fr Khazen said it still seems like there is no solution to the Syrian conflict in sight because no one, nationally or interna-
tionally, seems able to pressure either side into beginning a real dialogue. The tensions began in March 2011 as part of the pro-democracy Arab Spring movement that swept across North Africa and the Middle East. Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, said it spoke to another member of “the local hierarchy, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons”. He told Fides that “groups of jihadists”—militant Islamic fighters—from Chechnya, Pakistan, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Libya have joined the fighting in an attempt to increase “hatred and sectarian conflict”. The groups, he said, “have the sole aim of bringing chaos, destruction, atrocities and paralysing social life. The Syrian civilian population is the victim, but they won’t fall for this trap.”—CNS
Drink-drving bishop apologises
US bishop, who is to be installed in October as archbishop of San Francisco, has apologised after he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, currently of Oaklands, California, reportedly spent the night in jail, and was released shortly before noon once he posted bail. He is scheduled to appear in court on October 9—five days after his scheduled installation as San Francisco’s archbishop.
The archbishop had his mother in the car. In a statement Archbishop Cordileone apologised “for my error in judgment” and said he felt “shame for the disgrace I have brought upon the Church and myself”. According to the archbishop’s statement, he was driving his mother to her home after dinner at the home of some friends in San Diego. He admitted that he was found to be over California’s legal blood alcohol level, which
is 0,08% (in South Afrca it is 0,05%). “I pray that God, in his inscrutable wisdom, will bring some good out of this.” Mark McCullough, the police officer making the arrest, told the San Francisco Chronicle that Archbishop Cordileone appeared intoxicated but was amiable. “He was very calm, somewhat apologetic at the time,” the police officer said. “He said he’d been drinking. But he wasn’t a stumbling, fallingdown drunk.”—CNS
Pope donates for basilica in St Augustine’s city BY CINDY WOODEN
ITH a personal donation, Pope Benedict—a longtime scholar of the works of St Augustine—has contributed to the restoration of the basilica of St Augustine in Annaba, Algeria, near the site where
the fourth-century saint served as bishop of Hippo. The basilica of St Augustine, completed in 1900, stands a few hundred metres from the archaeological site of the ancient town of Hippo Regius. The ruins include the remains of the ancient basilica where St
Augustine served as bishop from 395 to 430. The basilica is staffed by three Augustinian priests. They would like to have more priests there for pastoral work and welcoming pilgrims and tourists, but getting visas for priests and religious is a challenge.—CNS
Echoing the Catholic bishops’ call in July against the “balkanisation” of the DRC, Imam Cheikh Abdallah Mangala Luaba said: “All we want is an end to divisions in the country and for the Congolese people to remain united.” The petition also calls on the international community not to negotiate with the “eternal criminals” in the DRC, including M23, a group of soldiers who rebelled and broke off from the army in May this year and are responsible for continuing conflict in the eastern provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu. A UN report has pointed a finger at Rwanda for allegedly funding and supporting this group, and several countries—including the United States—have suspended military aid to Rwanda over this charge. The petition said the DRC’s other neighbours—Central African Republic, Uganda, Rwanda, Angola and Zambia—should also stop interfering in Congolese affairs and end all acts of aggression. It also asks for justice for all war criminals sought by the International Criminal Court and other international bodies.
The church leaders noted that more than 6 million people had been killed in 20 years of conflict. The Kivu provinces are not the only regions in Congo where violence continues. Parts of Orientale province are still plagued by violence from the Uganda-based Lord’s Resistance Army, known for its tactics of terrorising and mutilating civilian victims. In mid-August, the lobby group Human Rights Watch awarded one of its Alison Des Forges Awards for Extraordinary Activism to Fr Benoit Kinalegu, who works with the Justice and Peace Commission of the Doruma-Dungu diocese, in Orientale province. On several occasions, Fr Kinalegu has urged the international community to take all measures possible to ensure the arrest of LRA leader Joseph Kony. The priest’s work in remote areas has involved setting up an early warning system to alert the Congolese army of the presence of LRA rebels. The priest also has led the Justice and Peace Commission in a rehabilitation project designed for those abducted or maimed by the Lord’s Resistance Army.—CNS
ST. KIZITO CHILDREN’S PROGRAMME
St. Kizito Children’s Programme (SKCP) is a community-based response to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children. SKCP was established through the Good Hope Development Fund in 2004 in response to the Church’s call to reach out to those in need. Operating as a movement within the Archdiocese of Cape Town, SKCP empowers volunteers from the target communities to respond to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) living in their areas. The SKCP volunteers belong to Parish Groups that are established at Parishes in target communities. Through the St. Kizito Movement, the physical, intellectual, emotional and psychosocial needs of OVCs are met in an holistic way. Parish Groups provide children and families with a variety of essential services, while the SKCP office provides the groups with comprehensive training and on-going support. In order to continue its work, SKCP requires on-going support from generous donors. Funds are needed to cover costs such as volunteer training and support, emergency relief, school uniforms and children’s excursions. Grants and donations of any size are always appreciated. SKCP is also grateful to receive donations of toys, clothes and blankets that can be distributed to needy children and families. If you would like to find out more about St. Kizito Children’s Programme, or if you would like to make a donation, please contact Shirley Dunn on (021) 782 2792. Email email@example.com. Donations can also be deposited into our bank account: Bank: ABSA; Branch: Claremont, 632005; Account Name: Good Hope Development Fund; Account Number: 4059820320
The Southern Cross, September 5 to September 11, 2012
LEADER PAGE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Editor: Günther Simmermacher
Drinking and driving
HE reaction in the United States and elsewhere to the news of the arrest of an archbishop for driving under the influence of alcohol has been instructive about attitudes towards drink-driving. For many people, Archbishop Salvadore Cordileone made a mistake which is not a big deal. While he should face the legal consequences of his actions, the reasoning goes, he had a misfortune in being caught while driving above the limit, while others “get away with it”. Conversely, those who have lost family members, friends or colleagues to accidents involving drink-driving have strongly criticised Archbishop Cordileone’s conduct. To many of them, he has lost his moral authority by knowingly and recklessly endangering the lives of innocent people. One need not have experienced the traumatic grief of losing a loved one in a traffic accident to regard Archbishop Cordileone’s offence as dangerous and imprudent, much more so since it was committed by a prelate whose mission it is to impart responsible moral and social values. Driving in a state of inebriation puts others at risk, even when the driver does not appear to be incapacitated. Whole families are wiped out because a stranger did not know when to stop drinking before taking charge of a vehicle. There can be no justification for this, and there can be no excuse for producing such a risk in the first place. According to statistics, 55% of all drivers involved in car accidents in South Africa in 2003 were under the influence of alcohol. In the United States, Archbishop Cordileone’s country, 40% of total traffic deaths in 2006 were alcohol related. Archbishop Cordileone was not “unlucky” to be caught; he was lucky to be caught before a situation could arise in which he might have contributed to such alarming statistics. The Fifth Commandment instructs us not to kill. Inebriated drivers frequently kill (including themselves), and every drunk driver takes the risk of killing somebody, be it total strangers or their passengers. Drink-driving—never mind drunk-driving—is in conflict with the Fifth Commandment
by virtue of creating the avoidable potential of others being killed. Even those who encourage or tolerate drink-driving are complicit in the commandment’s violation. Few people would consent to other forms of behaviour that put at risk the lives of others. There is no good reason why drink-driving should be tolerated. It is a social convention which requires correction to such an effect that it becomes a taboo, with people who drive under the influence of alcohol being held accountable for their recklessness not only by the law, but also by society. Those dimwits who regale their audiences with tales of how they were “so wasted” that they could not remember how they managed to drive home safely can still count on receiving appreciative guffaws and backslapping for their supposedly intrepid antics. A more compelling response to such stories would include a severe reprimand and perhaps a withdrawal of future offers of alcohol. Alas, in most sectors of our society, those who might advocate such an approach still risk being patronised as killjoys. Nonetheless, even at the risk of compromising good social relations, Christians have an obligation to take a strong stand against drink-driving— even when the offender is an archbishop. Archbishop Cordileone, by all accounts a compassionate and considerate man, has apologised for his error in judgment and acknowledged his “shame for the disgrace I have brought upon the Church and myself”. Time will tell whether his flock will accept his apology and how this incident might impact on his ability to lead the archdiocese of San Francisco. These are questions that relate to his capacity as a leader. However, as a man and as a fellow Christian, he should be regarded as a fellow sinner on our pilgrim road in need of redemption, as we all are. This should not be a time to denounce the archbishop, but one for a teaching moment about the perils of drink-driving. May Archbishop Cordil eone’s experience help to attach a stigma to the legal and moral offence of driving under influence of alcohol.
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. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace be with you, I’m Steve
HAVE been very hesitant to write an article or respond to any topical issue published in The Southern Cross. Some of us simply need a kick start. Cecil Roberts has done that for me with his letter “Peace be with who?” (August 22). I share his sentiments in totality and I think many are in the same school of thought. In our parish, we celebrate the Holy Mass with brothers and sisters from all over the world. We see almost the same faces every Sunday and yet we do not know the names of our fellow Catholic parishioners. When we share the sign of peace, we proudly pronounce the words, “Peace be with you”. Although in certain instances, with a few people that we know, an
God is in a hurry!
ATHER Ron Rolheiser (August 1) suggests that God is never in a hurry, unlike us mortals who often require immediate help, and that this makes us feel cross with God seemingly not understanding us. To put it Fr Rolheiser’s way, we are plagued “by a nagging feeling of life's inadequacy”. On the contrary, I believe God is in a hurry. His Spirit moves through those in ICU wards tending children; seconds matter to save lives here. His Spirit moves through ambulance workers: two minutes make a difference to a car accident victim or a child burnt in a domestic accident. God is in a hurry! His Spirit is ever looking to save life and it pulses through us like a lifeline. He is not a bored ringmaster restraining favours from the sinful circus here below. How he loves us, how he is in a hurry to help us! Lucy Rubin, Pretoria
N the article “Vatican newspaper slams Gates over contraception” (August 8), a journalist states that natural family planning is “98% effective”. Judging by the number of educated people I know who have conceived children while using natural family planning, I do not believe her. If educated women cannot get it right, how does the Church expect illiterate women to do so, especially in African patriarchal society where men decide when to have sex, not women? Unless natural family planning
occasional “Peace be with you, Bernard or Francis” is heard, we
hardly know the names of other members of our Church. That is the reason why when we meet each other downtown, we simply say “Hi!” and offer a smile has become very much more accurate in the last decade it is very wrong to state that it is safe when it is not. It could result in not only nonCatholics distrusting the Church, but the Catholic laity as well. A Haylett, Howick, KwaZulu-Natal
ATRICK Dacey(August 22) introduces heliocentrism and Giordano Bruno, a Dominican friar, into the evolution/creation debate and states that the Church’s dogmatic teaching led to Bruno’s condemnation because he supported heliocentric theory. The facts are that Bruno left the Dominican order and was condemned by the Church for his heresy that Christ was not God, but merely an unusually skilful magician. Mr Dacey’s blaming dogmatic teaching for Bruno’s fate is to be rejected because heresy was regarded as the worst of crimes, leading to “the ruin of souls” (St Augustine). The heliocentrist Galileo also was condemned for heresy for stating that, because the sun has no motion whatsoever, Scripture (Joshua) was in error in recording that the sun became motionless. Galileo was wrong. The sun does have motion. It is, at least, revolving rapidly on its axis. Galileo should not have been rehabilitated. The Fathers of the Church have always taught geocentrism. Einstein and Hubble (reluctantly) admit that the geocentric model is just as plausible as the heliocentric one. Scientists have simply chosen the heliocentric option, perhaps because it seems more logical. We read, with amusement, the
instead of greeting people by their names. How genuine that smile was is another topic. I have deeply reflected on Mr Roberts’ letter and tried to count the people whom I know by name. I could only come up with a handful of them. It is said that “the sweetest music to any person’s ears is the sound of his or her name”. My response to Cecil’s question is: “Peace be with Cecil, I am Steve.” Thus, the greeting is even accorded more meaning. I will strive to just slightly prolong my greeting by introducing myself to the person that I am offering the sign of peace to. “Peace be with you Cecil, my name is Steve.” This sounds melodious! Steve Madue, Pretoria comments of alarm by some scientists, as evidence gathers about the importance of our planet, on which God himself lived. Prominent scientist Lawrence Krauss states: “With galaxies all around us, we seem to be in the centre of the universe.” In the meantime, the Church’s dogmatic teaching against evolution theory remains intact. Franko Sokolic, Cape town
We are all God’s creation
HE whole of our human race must know that dignity unites the colour of our skins! To Frank Bompas’ letter “Evolution, a part of God’s power” (August 29) I would add: Anyone who refuses to accept that the human race are spiritual beings with a soul and body in the image of the creator spirit God, has no right to call upon himself dignity. Anyone who refuses to believe that he or she has the freedom of mind, conscience and heart, the spiritual elements of God, transfers himself to the animal world of creation. Any scientist who denies this spiritual value is crazy! Jesus wants to live within man as his heavenly Father lives within him (John 17:21). Fr Ludwig Brunner SAC, Queenstown Opinions expressed in The Southern Cross, especially in Letters to the Editor, do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editor or staff of the newspaper, or of the Catholic hierarchy. The letters page in particular is a forum in which readers may exchange opinions on matters of debate. Letters must not be understood to necessarily reflect the teachings, disciplines or policies of the Church accurately.
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Marikana: The family angle
NSTEAD of reporting back on my fairly traumatic move over the last month, about which a number of readers of this column had been asking, much more momentous events overtook us last month. Maybe the tragic events of August 16 have already become past history for many—but not for the families of the deceased, or many other members of the media or public who have compared the Marikana shootings to those in Sharpeville in 1960. The events at Marikana do have enormous family implications. In the days after, wives and mothers and children of those killed, hospitalised or jailed after the strike spent anxious hours trying to locate their men, alive or dead. Women held a protest the following day, reportedly singing the national anthem, which is a prayer but also a political rallying song. Ironically the incident happened on the day after the national patronal feast of South Africa, the feast of the Assumption. Like many dioceses, that of Rustenburg holds an annual pilgrimage to Vleeschfontein, the site of the first church in the area and now part of the peaceful Madikwe game reserve. Some people, mainly youth, walk for many kilometres, while others came to the site early on Sunday before the feast to celebrate Mass together. Could they have foreseen what would happen not very far away? Did they already feel the rising tension and pray for peace? National police commissioner Riah Phiyega said she was “saddened by the events”. She defended the shooting, of course, but also added that “this should not be a time for pointing fingers, but to mourn”.
Mourning is grieving, weeping, feeling the pain of loss, reflecting on what was, without even, at that particular moment, being able to face the future. But that must be done and the Church has added its voice to the call for a comprehensive inquiry into causes and actions and finding a positive way forward.
inancial offers have been made for families affected, but that will not bring back the father, son or brother. Will the event teach the rest of us anything of value about effective family communication? In these settlements of mainly migrant workers family life is severely disrupted, with wives most often left behind in a rural village. Local women partner with the men but there is little stability. Nevertheless were any of the issues and actions that led up to the tragic events, reflected upon and discussed in
Women protest outside the Lonmin platinum mine, the day after police opened fire on striking miners outside the facility in Marikana. (Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters)
Golden rules of silence
T is better for a man to be silent and be a Christian, than to talk and not be one.” So wrote Bishop Ignatius of Antioch around 107 AD. He also indicated that it was a Christian characteristic, soon after the New Testament, that believers should act as they speak and be recognised by their silence in appropriate circumstances. Thus Ignatius summed up the role of silence in the Christian life, which is evidenced in both Scripture and in actual Church practice prior to the mass falling-away from the faith in 249-251. Christian ethics in its first 250 years decreed silence in some situations and forbade it in others. The first situation, where it was commanded, should be obvious but a lot of people forget it: silence is mandatory on topics that a person does not know about, counsels The Sentences of Sextus, a collection of instructions for the Christian life dating from the first half of the second century which enjoyed widespread circulation and translation into many languages. Sextus also recommended silence in preference to reckless words about God. A Christian in the next century even suggested the extreme of holding one’s hand over one’s mouth to avoid talking without understanding the subject-matter. In his multi-volume guide to the Christian life, Clement of Alexandria in the 190s opined: “It is better to be silent than to contradict, and thereby add sin to ignorance.” At the time of writing, Clement was dean of Christendom’s foremost educational institution. In an address to new
Christians, he gave guidelines for speech and silence: “Be thoughtful in all your talk, and give back a useful answer, adapting the utterance to the hearer’s need, just so loud that it may be distinctly audible, neither escaping the ears of the company by reason of feebleness nor going to excess with too much noise. “Take care never to speak what you have not weighed and pondered beforehand; nor interject your own words on the spur of the moment and in the midst of another’s; for you must listen and converse in turn, with set times for speech and for silence.” Sextus advocated speaking when it would be wrong to remain silent. This only begs the question, but it is answered elsewhere in ancient Christian literature. Silence is forbidden when the Christian religion is verbally attacked, but enjoined by Origen when the same happens to the private person and reputation of a Christian individual.
prominent lawyer before conversion and ordination, Tertullian warned around 200 that silence constitutes apostasy from the faith in circumstances where silence would be acquiescence in statements by other people that a person is not a Christian, for example administration of an oath in the name of a pagan god or idol. To refute pagan allegations that believers perform atrocities and crimes at their assemblies, Tertullian denied that there was any wall of silence about what went on during Christian public worship.
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The Southern Cross, September 5 to September 11, 2012
homes and shacks; was that even possible? Would women have counselled restraint or a more peaceful demonstration? Pope Benedict in his apostolic exhortation Africae Munus speaks to women and repeats the earlier words of Pope John Paul II in his letter to women in 1994: “The Church counts on you to create a ‘human ecology’ through your sympathetic love, your friendly and thoughtful demeanour, and finally through mercy, values that you know how to instil in your children, values that the world so badly needs. In this way, by the wealth of your specifically feminine gifts, you will foster the reconciliation of individuals and communities.” Are these the qualities of the women of today? Do women have an influence on their partners, and could marriage be or ever become a humanising relationship at the heart of a family? From August’s family theme, “Gender Matters”, we pick up September’s theme: “Marriage and Culture”. Strengthening gender relationships and combating a culture of violence could be the basis of a prayer to our patroness during the current marriage awareness campaign, “Marriage and You”. Mary, Queen assumed into heaven, Queen of peace, patroness of South Africa, pray for us, for us as families, for us Church as Family.
n For more on the SACBC Family Life Desk’s “Marriage and You” awareness campaign visit www.marfam.org.za/blog or call me on 082 552-1275 to order resource and reflection materials—or for a fuller account of my “historic move”.
Learning from the Church Fathers
Clement’s was succeeded as dean by his student Origen, who, in his own right, became the most prominent Bible scholar, preacher, and expositor of the first half of the third century. Origen wrote more on Christian topics than anyone before Martin Luther nearly 13 centuries later. One of the reasons he wrote was so that his silence would not nourish the assertions of heretics. He interpreted the noise of the bells on the high priest’s robe in Exodus 28:33-35 as symbolising that believers must not be silent about the last days and end of the world. Jesus taught “resist not evil”, “bless them that curse you”, and “turn the other cheek” to a physical or verbal assailant. Origen distinguished between (1) attacks on an individual Christian personally, for which there must be no words in retaliation or repaying in kind, and (2) attacks on orthodox Christianity, which must be countered by an exception to the rule of Christian silence. In three places his Sermons on Psalm 38 commands remaining silent when a Christian is personally assailed with insults, slander or curses, or is verbally disgraced or disparaged, reproached, harassed, or provoked to reply in kind. Christian leaders even have a duty to urge silence on other people, such as insubordinate talkers, deceivers, speakers of empty things, and those who teach heresies, especially for money (Titus 1.10f).
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Point of Reflection
We are fools when we deny forgiveness
HE phrase, “as we forgive those who trespass against us” in the Lord’s Prayer is really a difficult part of the prayer, especially when it comes to its implementation. I always feel guilty when praying that line because I know I usually fail meeting this simple request which God asks from me as I ask him to grant me pardon and forgiveness for my sins. Sometimes I have cold feet about sacramental confession. A voice in me will ask why I think that I should deserve forgiveness when I have not sincerely forgiven others. Christ knows that many of the major troubles in the world today have their roots in unforgiving hearts—in our attitude and in our inability to tolerate others, especially those who go against us or those who are simply different from us in one way or the other. Our mindsets are by default conditioned by our selfish nature, so we find faults in others and thereby acquire “excuses” for our own faults. It’s not surprising that the phrase “as we forgive those who trespass against us” should appear in the Lord’s Prayer because Christ spent much of his earthly life and ministry teaching us the importance of forgiveness. As followers of Christ it should then be our attitude to offer forgiveness to those who trespass against us at all times, and to do so unconditionally. Since we invariably also offend God, and then run to him for forgiveness, we should be able to show God that we really know the meaning of the forgiveness which we are requesting from him, by offering the same to people who offend us. We should always meditate on the words of the Our Father, this wonderful prayer, and act accordingly. When we freely forgive, we obtain forgiveness, from others and, most importantly, from God. But if we close our hearts and minds to others whom we are called to forgive, then are we not making fools of ourselves when we asks God to grant us pardon?
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The Southern Cross, September 5 to September 11, 2012
The women students and staff of St Joseph’s Theological Institute in Cedara, KwaZulu-Natal, celebrated a special liturgy in honour of National Women’s Day, which included a collection for the poor. The Bothasig Good Shepherd parish in Cape Town class of 2012 who were confirmed by Archbishop Stephen Brislin.
Christ the King parish in Wentworth, Durban, held its Corpus Christi celebration where four altars were set up at K1 park, Collingwood Primary school, Sunbeam avenue park and Wentworth high school. The procession culminated at Christ The King church for Mass. The main celebrant was parish priest Fr Mxolisi Ngcobo OMI. Rachel Rogers from Mafikeng, affectionately known as Aunty Lime, celebrated her 100th birthday. She is seen here with her godchild Patrick Hutton and stepdaughter Yvonne, who cares for her. A thanksgiving Mass was celebrated for the stalwart parishioner at St Anthony's church, followed by a lunch at the St Martin de Porres hall. Mrs Rogers still cooks, bakes and sews, and has a remarkable memory.(Submitted by Imelda Hutton)
Four little ‘seers’ pray before Our Lady of Fatima at celebrations held at Sacred Heart church in Camperdown, KwaZulu-Natal. From left to right: Keila Do Vale, Gabriela Do Vale (Fransisco), her cousin, Megan Newlands (Lucia) and Nadia Do Vale (Jacinta). (Photo: Jenny Schlebusch)
Fr José M Fernandes IMC baptised 13 babies at Regina Coeli parish in Madadeni, near Newcastle, Dundee. Pictured are (from right) Isaac Nke, Lihle Khumalo, Fr Fernandes with Omphile Luthando Nke and sponsor Slindile Khumalo.
Johannesburg’s vicar-general Fr Duncan Tsoke with fellow priests and parishioners of the Near East deanery, Johannesburg.
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The “Children of Benedict Daswa” in Holy Rosary parish, Ivory Park in Midrand, Johannesburg, collected, prepared and distributed food to 250 children at the Baghdad informal settlement.
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The board of directors of the Knights of da Gama honoured Deacon Noel Pistorius (left) with a certificate marking his 50 years of dedicated service at their quarterly meeting at St Dominic’s in Durban.
The senior confirmation group of Shirley Billett, who, after 24 years of preparing the confirmation classes of Assumption parish in Somerset East, Port Elizabeth, retired from teaching catechesis. Pictured (centre row left) are Shirley Billett, Mgr Brendan Deenihan (centre back row) and parish priest Fr Trymos Munyaka (right).
The Southern Cross, September 5 to September 11, 2012
Remodelling the Church I N the song “A New Argentina” from the Lloyd Webber/Rice musical Evita, the generals sing: “We face the world together with no dissent from within.” For many, sympathisers and critics, this may seem the position of the Catholic Church past, present and future. Vatican II, I believe, views this as a mistaken “model” of Church. Cardinal Avery Dulles, in his classic book Models of the Church, presents a number of historical and contemporary images of the Catholic Church: perfect society, servant, herald and so on. I am not going to use this work, though it is highly recommendable. Rather I would like to tease out from its documents what Vatican II said about the Church. The two key documents that modelled the Church of Vatican II were Lumen Gentium (1964) and Gaudium et Spes (1965). That some in the Church emphasise one over the other is also instructive. The former is ad intra, the Church looking in on itself at its structure and function as an institution. It is frequently used by conservatives to defend tight hierarchy and authority in the face of attempts to “modernise” Catholicism. The latter is ad extra, looking outwards to the world and asking how we can proclaim the Gospel in our particular times and contexts. It is frequently cited as a proof text for a more liberal Church. Both texts are misused in the process. The fact that these two docu-
Anthony Egan SJ
A Church of Hope and Joy
ments exist says a lot about the tensions that were played out at the Council. As all the best historians of the Council (Rynne, O’Malley, Alberigo et al) report, it was not the case of a liberal coup d’état; nor was it simply business as usual, a continuation from the First Vatican Council. What was distinctive was that the Council Fathers took on board the discipline that informed the thinking of its originator, John XXIII: history. They took the history of the Church, and therefore tradition in its deepest sense, more fully. Too often history is confused with antiquarianism, a nostalgia for a past (all too often non-existent) Golden Age. The proper study of the past, including the realisation that it is studied through the lenses of present biases and interests, reveals a more complex picture—and one that can never be replicated. History, as opposed to antiquarianism, pervades both documents. Lumen Gentium, though it did not overturn the centralism of Vatican I, corrected its excesses by taking note of a more collegial model of Church governance of an earlier era. It did not move the Church back to conciliarism—the notion that the supreme Church authority was a council of the Church
that could overrule or even unseat a pope. Rather by affirming the authority of a council with the pope and never without him, it opted for a middle way, a kind of collegial monarchy. It also emphasised the need for dialogue and consultation at every level within this hierarchal system.
ith Gaudium et Spes the Council revised drastically its attitude to the world. Where before the primary attitude was often suspicion and mistrust, even hostility, the emphasis moved towards positive engagement. As Pope John himself had noted, there was much goodness in the world, much to be praised. The Church could not withdraw, not least because its members were as much part of the world as anybody else. Through engagement and through sharing its spiritual insights, the Council Fathers believed the Church could cooperate in making the world a better place. Two images of Church—the Mystical Body and the Pilgrim People of God—pervade the Council texts. While the Mystical Body might be seen as ad intra and People of God as ad extra, this interpretation undermines the central point: the Church as both the Mystical Body of Christ and the Pilgrim People of God. The Mystical Body is the Pilgrim People, and vice versa. In a sense the Council affirmed that the Church was simul justus et peccator, both justified by faith yet sinful and in need of redemption. What did come under fire were models of the Church that were
Bishops fill St Peter’s basilica as Pope Paul VI presides over a meeting of the Second Vatican Council. (Catholic Press Photo) clericalist and triumphalist. By emphasising the role and vocation of the laity (indeed the priesthood of all baptised) and the need for consultation, and by recognising that the Church was both teacher and learner, the Perfect Society model had to be abandoned. By seeing good in other churches and other religions, the notion of an exclusive elect was broken down. Most of all, the Church came to see itself as a people on the move, a work in process, moving through prayer and service towards the original reason the Church came into existence: cooperation with God in bringing about God’s reign. A closed-in society of the Elect, in short a cult, cannot do this. As Fr Karl Rahner observed in 1967, shortly after the Council ended: “God addresses to the Church the question whether it
has the courage to undertake an apostolic offensive into [the] future and consequently the necessary courage to show itself to the world sincerely, in such a form that no one can have the impression that the Church only exists as a mere survival from earlier times because it has not yet had time to die. But even if it has the courage to change, time is needed and time must be taken. “For the Church cannot change into something or other at will, arbitrarily, but only into a new presence of its old reality, into the present and future of its past, of the Gospel, of the grace and truth of God.” A Church ancient yet modern, conserving yet renewing, prayerful yet activist—this is the essence of tradition. This is the Church of Vatican II. n This concludes our year-long series on Hope&Joy.
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KEYS TO THE COUNCIL: Unlocking the Teaching of Vatican II, by Richard R Gaillardetz and Catherine E Clifford. Liturgical Press, 2012. 198pp. ISBN: 978-0-8146-3368-7 Reviewed by Jeffrey Gros FSC HE 50th anniversary of one of the great religious events of the 20th century, the Second Vatican Council, gives Catholics and all interested in religion an opportunity to review and reflect on the most influential moment in our pilgrim journey. We are now at a stage where most will read the history as they would that of World War II, the fall of European colonialism or the American civil rights movement. For those who did not live through Vatican II or who have not read its 16 documents, Keys to the Council is an engaging and readable introduction. For those who have been nourished on the Council resources, it is a marvellous synthesis and review. For those outside the Catholic communion, it is a privileged, brief enumeration of keys to interpreting this most productive council in Catholic history. While deeply grounded in solid research in Scripture, the Catholic tradition and the history of the Council, this is not an academic book. Rather it is a selective exposition of themes embodied in 20 texts representing eight of the Council’s 16 documents. Each chapter gives the biblical and historical background of the theme, and the background of the debates and decisions of the Council. This background is followed by the pastoral and theological content of the theme and its implication for Catholic life. The authors use the organisation of the Council’s work, grounded in the constitutions on revelation and the liturgy, centred on those on the Church
and the Church in the modern world. Related to these core documents are those that refer to the internal life of the Church, its mission and its relationships with Catholics of the Eastern churches, fellow Christians, Jews and other non-Christian religions, and freedom in civil society. A useful diagram gives a view of the documents and their relationship to each other at a glance. The themes selected are divided according to the Council’s programme. Internal themes are: the Christian’s baptismal incorporation into the death and resurrection of Christ; Christ’s sacramental presence in the Church; the centrality of liturgical worship for Christian piety and the full participation of all the faithful; a theology of revelation centred in Christ and a dynamic view of tradition; the Church understood as sacramental; the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church; the centrality of the Eucharist in the theology of the Church; the renewed role of the bishop, the collegial relationship among the bishops with the pope among them; and the relationship of the priesthood of all the baptised
and the ordained ministry. The next set of themes treats of external relations to others and the world: the Church’s mission in the world; the role of the laity in this mission; marriage and family; global cultural character of the Church’s catholicity; religious freedom; Catholic communion with fellow Christians; the hierarchy of truths in Catholic interpretation of the faith; and relations with Judaism and the world’s religions. To assist readers, terms that are used from theology and history are defined in boxes throughout the text when they first appear. The book could easily be a guide to parish or ecumenical study, and to the reading of the Council texts themselves. They help the first-time reader focus on the specific important ideas and issues introduced into current Catholic faith and practice by the Council. At each stage in Christian history the Church develops by reaching back into its rich history for resources to renew its life. It also looks to what God is doing in history of each era to determine how to update to meet the signs of the time with ever fresh expressions of the perennial Gospel. This volume presents a useful balance, in assessing the Council, between the old and the new, between continuity and renewal, between the competing values alive in the one Church blessed by the direction of the Holy Spirit. As with any brief text, the authors have had to be selective. One unfortunate omission, given the worldwide scope of Catholicism and the transitions we are facing in the globalised future, is the minimal attention to the decree on mission. However, the overall view of the Church articulated here is hopeful, accurate and a great resource for mission and renewal for years to come.—CNS
The Southern Cross, September 5 to September 11, 2012
Good tips for bringing up Catholic kids There are creative ways of bringing up children with faith. Over two articles, ALICIA VON STAMWITZ shares seven good parenting tips.
N art class one day, a first-grade teacher noticed that one child was particularly engrossed in his drawing. She eventually wandered over and asked the child: “What are you drawing?” “God,” he said, without looking up from his paper. The teacher said carefully, “But no one really knows what God looks like.” “They will in a second!” he said. I love this story because it captures something we all appreciate but few of us think to nurture: the spiritual vitality and imagination of young children. Most parents are keenly aware of their children’s social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development. We record our children’s height with pencil marks on the kitchen wall and note milestones in photo albums and scrap books. We monitor their health and celebrate their achievements. As they grow older, we track their academic progress. But how many of us track our children’s spiritual health and development? When we talk about spirituality, we are talking about a wide, deep reality that transcends dogma and denominational boundaries. No single definition is perfect (even theologians struggle to define it), but here are some descriptions: l our innate wonder and longing for God l a relationship with God that gives our lives meaning and direction l a journey that leads to union with God, with one another, and with creation. How can parents, grandparents, teachers and other caring adults stir the embers glowing inside our generation’s children? Here are some ideas gleaned from my own experience as a teacher and a parent, braided with the experiences of a dozen other teachers and parents who shared their stories.
1. Secure your own oxygen mask
It’s just as they say in the aeroplane safety speech: first, secure your own oxygen mask. The word “spiritual” derives from the Latin spiritus, meaning “wind” or “breath”. If you want your child to breathe in deeply the spirit of God, you too must breathe deeply. You must explore the values and cultivate the practices that help you live out your own dignity, goodness and creativity. It surprised me that only a few of the parents and teachers I interviewed thought of themselves as deeply spiritual people. I asked them to rate themselves on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being as spiritual as you can get. Most rated themselves somewhere in the middle. But then they told me wonderful stories and shared fantastic ideas that raised the question: How can you teach so well something you claim not to know? I wonder sometimes if we’ve been trained, falsely, to associate traditional religious practices like confession, Mass attendance, and catechetical knowledge with our spiritual “grade”. As good as these things are, they are not God. They are ways and practices to help us connect with God. A healthy relationship with God and each other is the goal. You are God’s messenger. As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta put it, “I am a pencil in God’s hand.” Sharpen your pencil and get ready to draw your own unique portrait of God for the children in your life.
2. Establish rituals
Rituals—we all have them. We all love them—children, parents, grandparents, and God. Rituals are the glue that keeps families, friends and communities together. We have elaborate, public rituals for milestones like graduations and weddings, and we have simple, private ones like sending holiday cards or lighting candles when we meditate. Many of us associate the word ritual with religious practice. Religious rituals are indeed powerful markers in many people’s lives, but we must not forget the
child, reading books at bedtime did not work. Instead, one clever mother decided to institute bedtime one-act plays. Family members took turns acting out or miming a favourite children’s story, Bible story, or event from that day.
3. Use your talents
Children at play on the beach. In the first of two articles, Alicia von Stamwitz offers seven good tips for raising children in a heathy Catholic environment. delights and benefits of ordinary rituals and traditions: singing “Happy Birthday” and blowing out candles on a cake; watching rented movies on Friday nights in our pyjamas; waking up early on summer weekends to hike or bike a favourite trail. Studies show that the ordinary, daily rituals, like eating meals together and bedtime stories, make the greatest impact in most children’s lives. Not too long ago, a television talk show host in the US sponsored a “Family Dinner Experiment”. Five families accepted the host’s challenge to eat dinner together every night for a month. At first, it was excruciating for the children to sit at the table for the required half hour. They were bored and restless. But by the end of the month, the children said they wanted to continue this practice. They had grown to appreciate the regular attention from their parents and time with their siblings. I bet you can remember some of your own childhood rituals. Did your family eat together most nights? Pray together? Take a moment to think about which rituals or traditions were most exciting, comforting, or personally meaningful to you. Your own experience is golden:
don’t ever forget that. Trust your experience, trust your best stories and instincts, and bring those nuggets to the children in your life. The best rituals are comforting or create an atmosphere that facilitates interpersonal connection. Here are a few ideas: l Scheduled family time. Once a week, or at least once a month, set aside an afternoon or an evening for a planned activity. Turn off the cellphones, computers, and even the television. Movie night is fine once in a while, but playing a board game or a going out for ice cream or miniature golf are more interactive and memorable for everyone. Family members can take turns choosing the activity to keep things interesting and fun for all. l Pancake parties. One single father of three boys told me it was nearly impossible for the family to enjoy leisurely dinners once his boys started playing sports. So he instituted Sunday morning pancake parties and asked the boys to help plan and prepare the meal. Grocery shopping the day before was part of the fun as the boys got to select special toppings like chocolate sauce and whipped cream. l Bedtime plays. For a family with a hyperactive preschool
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Parents interpret and explain things to their children every day. But some of us think we can’t “safely” interpret spiritual things or Scripture. That is not true. We are our children’s first teachers, and often we do know best. Charlie told me that he enjoys reading a short passage from the Bible to his children at bedtime. One evening, he started to read the story about Jesus’ first miracle, when Jesus turns water into wine. The children were snuggled up to him, listening, but he could tell they were bored. So he switched it up. Instead of a wedding, Jesus and his disciples went to a birthday party. Instead of wine, they ran out of cake. The children sat up. Suddenly, they got it. One cried out: “Oh no! They have to have cake!” His substitution was brilliant. The children could relate their own experience to the gospel story and learned some wonderful things about God and Jesus that day. Like: Jesus enjoys parties; and Jesus obeys his mother even when he doesn’t really want to. Best of all: Jesus cares about what we care about. Charlie is a writer and a great storyteller, so that’s what he uses to teach his children about God. My friend Sarah loves to sing, so every night she sings to her children at bedtime. My own father was an engineer. He was great at math and knew I liked numbers too, so sometimes when he tucked me in he’d show me an interesting math trick. What are you good at? What gets you excited and makes your eyes light up when you talk about it or do it? Whatever springs naturally from your heart will generally communicate something wonderful and true about God. n The second part of Alicia von Stamwitz’s tips for raising Christian children will run next week.
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The Southern Cross, September 5 to September 11, 2012
Fr Ignatius Heer CMM
TRUE shepherd and leader who made an impact on the lives of many people in different parts of the world”—that is how the mourners described Fr Ignatius Anton Heer CMM during the Requiem Mass. Fr Heer died on August 14 in Würzburg, Germany, after battling with a malignant brain tumour. He was 79. Members of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill, the faithful and friends converged on the Mariannhill monastery church to bid farewell to the priest who for many years served the community and the Church with distinction. In his homily, Mariannhill regional superior Fr Bheki Shabalal said Fr Heer had embraced the mission of Christ with no boundaries, and that he was a “rolling stone” so that he could experience this notion of Kingdom of God without boundaries. “He also reached out to the minority groups, going beyond the boundaries, and did all this with honesty in relation with the principles of the congregation and the Church that he dearly served,” said Fr Shabalala. German-born Fr Heer was ordained a priest in 1960. The following year he arrived in South Africa, where he became actively involved as missionary in different areas of pastoral work in the Mariannhill and Mthatha dioceses until his death.
Apart from serving as priest in various stations, Fr Ignatius Heer also served as editor of Umafrika newspaper, director of the retreat house in Mariannhill, as well as in the administration of Mariannhill monastery, tasks that he undertook with great zeal and commitment. Fr Henry Ratering CMM described Fr Heer as a great traveller. He said that during his many years of missionary work Fr Heer had visited many places. The places that attracted him the most were the Holy Land and India, where he went on study leave. “Typical of his pastoral attitude was his desire to reach out and to explore areas beyond defined boundaries both geographical and religious”, said Fr Ratering. He added that Fr Heer’s interest lay in bringing together people of different cultures through organising Bible study circles, pilgrimages, charismatic meetings and celebrating Mass in small groups, particularly with the Indian community which he cherished. Mauricio Langa
Fr Vincent Kupiso SAC
ALLOTTINE Father Vincent Kupiso died on August 13, aged 58, in St Mary’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. Fr Kupiso was born on June 26, 1954, the second child of his parents in Matyantya, in the Glen Grey District of Transkei. From an early age he knew that God was calling him into his service, and was accepted by the late Bishop John Rosner of Queenstown as a student for the diocesan priesthood. He completed his philosophical and theological studies in the St Augustine Seminary in Lesotho, and was ordained a priest by Bishop Rosner on December
Liturgical Calendar Year B Weekdays Year 2
Sunday, September 9, 23rd Sunday Isaiah 35:4-7, Psalm 146: 7-10, James 2:1-5, Mark 7:31-37 Monday, September 10, feria 1 Corinthians 5:1-8, Psalm 5: 5-7, Luke 6:6-11 Tuesday, September 11, feria 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, Psalm 149: 1-6,9, Luke 6:12-19 Wednesday, September 12, Holy name of Mary 45: 11-12,14-17, Luke 6:20-26 Thursday, September 13, St John Chrysostom 1 Corinthians 8:1-7,11-13, Psalm 139: 1-3, 1314,23-24, Luke 6:27-38 Friday, September 14, Triumph of the Cross Numbers 21:4-9 or Philippians 2:6-11, Psalm 78: 1-2, 34-38, John 3:13-17 Saturday, September 15, Our Lady of Sorrows Hebrews 5: 7-9, Psalm 31: 2-6, 15-16,20, John 19:25-27 or Luke 2: 33-35 Sunday, September 16, 23rd Sunday Isaiah 50:5-9, Psalm 116: 1-6,8-9, James 2:14-18, Mark 8:27-35
16, 1981. Even when he was studying for the diocesan priesthood, he knew that God was calling him to something more. His love for St Vincent Pallotti and his charism grew ever stronger and more convinced, and he applied to the Pallottine superior to be accepted as a member of the society. After ordination he undertook pastoral work in Whittlesea and then Butterworth before being sent to undergo his novitiate in the Pallotine society in Germany. After his first consecration as a Pallottine, his superiors sent him to study spirituality at the Gregorian University in Rome. He concluded these studies with a licentiate in spiritual theology. On his return to South Africa he was put in charge of the Butterworth parish by Bishop Herbert Lenhof. His superiors, however, accepted his desire to become involved in Pallottine formation and he was sent to the Pallottine formation house in Merrivale, KwaZulu- Natal. In 2006 he was appointed parish priest of St Vincent de Paul church in Pietermaritzburg. Sadly, his health, which had never been strong and robust, became an ever-increasing problem and he was finally forced to resign as parish priest and returned to Merrivale. A requiem Mass was celebrated by Bishop Dabula Mpako of Queenstown, and concelebrated by Bishops Sithembele Sipuka of Mtatha and Michael Wüstenberg of Aliwal North, the clergy of the diocese of Queenstown and the Pallottine priests from the Western and Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu-Natal in Queenstown’s packed cathedral of Christ the King, prior to internment in the old Queenstown cemetery, alongside his Pallottine confreres. Fr Barry Reabow SAC
Southern CrossWord solutions SOLUTIONS TO 514. ACROSS: 2 Container, 6 Trio, 8 A man of faith, 10 Launder, 11 Stung, 13 Trick, 14 Heretic, 16 Down the list, 18 Laic, 19 Colosseum. DOWN: 1 Stipulated, 2 Communicant, 3 Nuanced, 4 Aloft, 5 Riot, 7 Say the psalm, 9 High Church, 12 Declare, 15 Shoes, 17 Otic.
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NYEKA—Sr Emmanuel. Holy Cross Sister, Sr Emmanuel, aged 62, passed away at Pretoria East Hospital on August 26, 2012. Lovingly remembered by her family circle, the Holy Cross Sisters and the staff of Holy Cross Home. May she rest in peace!
BARTUS—Edward 10/09/2009. In loving memory of my husband and Dad. What he suffered he told but few, he did not deserve what he went through, tired and weary he made no fuss, but he tried so hard to stay with us. Thanks for teaching us the lesson of hard work and perseverance and through it anything can be achieved. Will always be remembered by your loving wife Doreen, Vivienne and Neil. BARTUS—Edward 10/09/2009. In loving memory of our father, grandfather and greatgrandfather. Deep in our hearts you will always stay. Fold him Oh Jesus in thy arms and let him henceforth be a messenger of love between our human hearts and Thee. We shall carry you in our hearts forever Dad, from Charmaine, Robert, Melissa, Gavin, Danielle, Clinton, Nicole, Brandon, Pamela and Kristen. EDWARD BARTUS who passed away 10/09/2009. I know a smile I would love to see, a loving face so dear. I know a hand I would love to hold, a voice I would long to hear. I know a heart thoughtful and true, I know them all because we love you. We miss you Dad. From Brenda, Benedict, Jillian and Fagin, Carmelitta, Oswin, Keenah and Cloê. BARTUS—Edward. In loving memory of our Dad who passed away 10/09/2009. Our deepest wish would be today, to have you back the same old way, to hear your voice, to see your smile, to talk to you just a little while. May your dear soul rest in peace Dad, till we meet again. Sadly missed and lovingly remembered by Charlotte and Brian.
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HOLY SPIRIT you who makes me see everything. You showed me the way to reach my ideal. You who give me the divine gift to forgive and forget all that is done to me and you are in all the instincts of my life with me. I want to thank you for everything and confirm once more that I never want to be separated from you no matter how great the desires may be. I want to be with you and my loved ones in your perpetual glory. This prayer should be said on 3 consecutive days, after the 3rd day, the request will be granted, no matter how difficult it may be. Promise to publish the entire dialogue with the condition of having your request granted. RM. HOLY SPIRIT beloved of my soul, you who solves all problems, lights all roads so that I can obtain my goal. You who gave me the divine gift to forgive and forget all evil against me and that in all instances of my life, you are with me. I want this prayer to thank you for all things as you confirm once and again that I never want to be separated from you ever in spite of all material illusion. I wish to be with you in eternity. Thank you for your mercy towards me and mine. Amen. VC (name request) then 3 Our fathers, 3 Hail Mary’s, 3 Glory be’s. Say this prayer for three consecutive days after which the prayer will be granted, even if it may be difficult. Publication promised, without mentioning the favour. DF. MY HOLY angel guardian,
ask the Lord to bless the journey which I undertake, that it may profit the health of my soul and body; that I may reach its end; and that, returning safe and sound, I may find all at home in good health. Do thou guard, guide, and preserve us. Amen.
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PLETTENBERG BAY: Sat Chit Anand Interfaith Spiritual Retreat Centre. Make space in your life for Spirit. Enjoy a peaceful holiday with optional meditation, Mass, theology classes, yoga. Interfaith chapel, library, and healing centre. Self-catering cottages. Priests stay free. See www.satchitanand.co. za for more info, Phone 044 533 0453 or email email@example.com The Southern Cross is a member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations of South Africa. Printed by Paarl Coldset (Pty) Ltd, 10 Freedom Way, Milnerton. Published by the proprietors, The Catholic Newspaper & Publishing Co Ltd, at the company’s registered office, 10 Tuin Plein, Cape Town, 8001.
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24th Sunday: September 16 Readings: Isaiah 50:5-9, Psalm 116:1-9, James 2:14-18, Mark 8:27-35
T is an uncomfortable calling, this invitation of ours to discipleship. The first reading for next Sunday is part of the third “Song of the Suffering Servant” from Isaiah; the starting-point is that the singer has been called, not that he has invited himself on board, “The Lord God opened my ear”, he sings, “and I did not rebel, I did not run away”. And well might he have been tempted to escape, since his vocation included receiving corporal punishment, plucking of his beard, and spitting in his face. Why did he bother? Because “the Lord God is my help, therefore I shall not be disgraced...the One who justifies me is near to me; who will mount a prosecution against me?” And he ends, confidently: “Look! The Lord God will help me; who is going to put me in the wrong?” The secret here is the poet’s strong sense of the presence and unfailing fidelity of God; and that is the only way that you and I can live out the discomforts of our calling. The psalm is likewise focused on God; “I love the Lord for he heard my voice” is how the song (probably—the Hebrew is not all that clear) begins: “He turned his ear to me on the day when I called”.
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Invitation to discipleship
Nicholas King SJ
God’s sacred name is mentioned no fewer than six times in our excerpt from the Psalm, which tells us a good deal; but there is more, for the psalmist tells us what kind of God we are dealing with: “Gracious and just...our God is merciful”, and it ends with a cry of confidence, “I shall walk in the presence of the Lord, in the lands of the living”. The se c o nd re ading , continuing our encounter with the Letter of James, considers the uncomfortable fact that it is simply not enough for us to allege that “I have faith”; our faith is nothing unless it has implications for the real world, and the author gives a humorous example that is uncomfortably close to the bone for us in this country with its terrible extremes of wealth and poverty: “If a brother or sister
has no clothes, or lacks food to get them through the day, and you tell them, ‘Off you go in peace; get warmed up and have a good meal’, and you fail to give them their physical necessities, what’s the use of that?” James dismisses such empty talk as “corpse-like faith”. What are you going to do, this week, for those who do not have enough to eat? The g ospel for this Sunday is the very middle (you might almost call it the turning-point) of Mark’s gospel, which we have been following this year. Mark’s gospel aims to answer two questions: first, who is Jesus, and, second, what must Jesus’ disciples be like? It presents us with Jesus and his disciples at the top end of the Holy Land, and Jesus asks them what the crowds are saying about him. They offer some conventional religious verdicts, ‘John the Baptist...Elijah...one of the prophets’, but have to spring sharply to attention when he tells them to get off the fence: “What about you lot? Who do you say I am?” Peter speaks up, in the name of all of us, and says, with no messing around: “You are
Surrender to free obedience T HERE’S a well-known axiom that I will phrase more delicately than its usual expression. It goes this way: Every time you tell yourself that you should do something, you pay a bad price. The insinuation is that we are forever mistaking the voice of neurosis for the voice of conscience and putting ourselves under false obligations that rob us of both freedom and maturity. Is that true? Yes and no. The axiom sounds cleverer than it is. It says that there should not be any “should” in our lives; but that statement is self-contradictory. Still it needs to be given its due. There’s wisdom in its instinct, even if it is expressed with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. It has this positive challenge: Many times when we feel a nagging obligation inside (“I must do this! I should do that!”); the imperative is not coming from God or truth but from some other voice that is being falsely heard as the voice of God. Put more technically, most of the voices we hear inside that demand that we do something are psychological and emotional rather than moral or religious. They don’t tell us what’s right or wrong, or what God wants of us; they tell us only
Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
how we feel about certain things. For example: a feeling of guilt does not indicate that we did something wrong; it only tells how we feel about what we did, and that feeling can be healthy or unhealthy. Perhaps we didn’t do anything wrong at all, but are only wounded and neurotic. Sorrow and contrition are better indicators of morality than any feeling of guilt. So where do these feelings of obligation and guilt come from? They come from nature and nurture, from genetics and socialisation, from our unconscious and from our wounds. Freudians, Jungians and Hillmanians offer different explanations, but they all agree on the main thing—many of the voices inside of us that speak of right and wrong and demand that we do this or that are not moral or religious voices at all. They may well have important things to teach us, but if we take them as the voice of God and morality, we will end up acting out of something other than God and conscience. Many of the “should” we feel inside of us are not the voice of conscience at all. With that being said, some important qualifications need to be added. Simply put, sometimes the voice of obligation that we feel inside is profoundly moral and religious, God’s voice. False voices speak inside but so too do true ones. CS Lewis, for example, in describing his own conversion, shares how he didn’t want to become a Christian but some-
thing inside of him told him that he had to become one. Despite being “the most reluctant convert in the history of Christendom”, at a point in his life, he came to realise “that God’s compulsion” was his liberation. He became a Christian because, paradoxically, in a moment of genuine freedom, he came to know he had no other choice existentially except to surrender himself to something, God’s compulsion, which presented itself to him as an obligation. “God’s compulsion” is precisely a deep and authentic “should” inside us, and the great paradox is that when we submit to it we become freer and more mature. It’s also what brings joy into our lives. It’s no accident that the book in which Lewis describes this experience is called Surprised by Joy. There is a great paradox at the heart of life that’s hard to accept, namely, that freedom lies in obedience, maturity lies in surrender, and joy lies in accepting duty and obligation. Jesus clearly taught and embodied this paradox: he was the freest human person to ever walk this planet, yet he insisted constantly that he did nothing on his own, that everything he did was in obedience to his Father. He was the paradigm of human maturity, even as his life was one within which he habitually surrendered his own will. And he was free of all false religion, false morality, and false guilt, even as he constantly drew upon moral and religious imperatives deep inside of his own soul and inside of his own religious tradition. Simone Weil—that extraordinary philosopher and mystic who guarded her freedom so deeply that, despite her belief in the truth of Christ, resisted baptism because she wasn’t sure that the visible church on earth merited this kind of trust—was, despite fierce instinctual resistance, clear that what she ultimately wanted and needed was to be obedient. We spend our whole lives, she once stated, searching for someone or something to be obedient to because unless we give ourselves over in obedience to something greater than ourselves, we inflate and grow silly—even to ourselves. She’s right. We need to stop obeying false voices inside of us. Neurosis is not to be confused with conscience. But, that being admitted, there are some “shoulds” that we should do!
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the Messiah”. Now we know that this is true, for Mark has already told us so; but oddly Jesus “scolded them, not to say anything about him”. Why he should silence them now becomes clear, for he goes on to tell them what kind of Messiah he is: “The Son of Man is bound to suffer many things and be rejected by the religious authorities, and be killed, and after three days be raised up.” Peter cannot handle this frank discourse, and, in his turn, “began to scold him”. For that, he gets “scolded” in return, as Jesus “saw his disciples” (so it is to be understood as a message for all of us); and, in terrible words, Jesus tells him: “Get behind me, Satan, because you’re not thinking Godthoughts but human thoughts”. Then he tells, not just Peter and the disciples, but the entire crowd, what the story is, and we shiver uncomfortably as we listen: “If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, let them deny themselves and pick up their cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to preserve their life is going to lose it; but anyone who will lose their life for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel, is going to preserve it”. We can hardly understand this, but at least we know that a choice lies before us; are we going to accept this uncomfortable invitation to follow Jesus or not?
Southern Crossword #514
2. I recant on Mass wine holder (9) 6. Choir of three (4) 8. He has no religious doubts (1,3,2,5) 10. Wash and iron (7) 11. Past sting (5) 13. Conjuror does it magically (5) 14. One who may be unorthodox (7) 16. Alphabetical search for your name in the register (4,3,4) 18. Of the laity (4) 19. Roman amphitheatre (9)
1. Paused tilt of leaning tower, as specified (10) 2. One who receives the Body of Christ (11) 3. Subtle difference in being uncanned (7) 4. Up in the air, where the choir sings from (5) 5. Violent change in 6 across (4) 7. Recite biblical verse after first reading at Mass (3,3,5) 9. Place of worship for elevated Anglican? (4,6) 12. Announce solemnly (7) 15. Hoses made into footwear (5) 17. Relating to the ear in antibiotic (4)
Solutions on page 11
N Englishman, a Frenchman and a Russian were viewing a painting of Adam and Eve frolicking nude in the Garden of Eden. “Look at their reserve, their calm,” mused the Englishman. “They must be British.” “Nonsense,” the Frenchman disagreed. “They’re naked, and so beautiful. Clearly, they are French.” “No clothes, no shelter,” the Russian pointed out, “they have only an apple to eat, and they’re being told this is paradise. They are definitely Russian.” Send us your favourite Catholic joke, preferably clean and brief, to The Southern Cross, Church Chuckle, PO Box 2372, Cape Town, 8000.