October 24 to October 30, 2012
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SA Church aids the world’s newest state BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
The sounds of 27 choirs from Catholic schools in Johannesburg filled the Linder Auditorium for the annual Catholic Schools Office Choir Festival. The event was a joyful and well-supported celebration of music. The highlight of highlights was the singing of the massed items: World in Union and Amabhayisikili, conducted by Sue Cock.
Prisoner care now part of seminary’s curriculum BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
EMINARIANS from St John Vianney national seminary in Pretoria are now involved in prison ministry at Leeukop prison in the archdiocese of Johannesburg. Prison chaplain Fr Jordan Ngondo called prison ministry one of the most important apostolates and therefore those preparing for ministerial service in the Church have to familiarise themselves with pastoral care to inmates. “Seminarians are to take prison ministry as part of their expression of faith in Jesus, who declared that membership in the Kingdom of God is by involvement with the marginalised and those who are imprisoned,” Fr Ngondo said, referring to Matthew 25: “For I was in prison and you visited me.” The seminarians are working with the prisoners on practical theology. This is not the first time the seminary has been involved in prison ministry. In the 1980s, a number of students visited inmates regularly in Pretoria Maximum prison under the then rector of St John Vianney, William Slattery, now archbishop of Pretoria. That
was later discontinued. Fr Ngondo said the reintroduction is a “wonderful thing”. Prison ministry helps make a difference in society, said the prison chaplain. “When a person has undergone correctional measures and is released, that person needs to know and feel that people in his community are open to forgive and are willing to accept him or her.” Fr Ngondo said that acceptance and forgiveness becomes more important than anything else. “That person will begin to look at themselves positively, then transformation continues,” he said. “I also believe that as society, we feel alright when these people are incarcerated. It makes us forget about our own contribution to the structures which might have created these so called social ‘misfits’,” he said. “The Church must always be prophetic, proclaim the God in whose Kingdom, all are invited; ‘the blind, the lame, those who sinned, repented and found forgiveness’. Prison ministry reminds the Christian community of this clarion call.”
St John Vianney seminarians during a visit to Leeukop prison in Johannesburg. The seminary has recently reinstated the ministry to prisoners in its curriculum.
OR 15 years, South Africa’s Catholic Church has been active in assisting peace and development in the Sudanese region. The Pretoria-based Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI) has been working on the ground in South Sudan to ensure the process of establishing the country’s new constitution is a smooth and fair process. After a six year transition period, South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011. But along with independence comes the work to establish laws and guidelines for running the country. For the past two years the DHPI, usually involved in peace building and conflict resolution, has been breaking out to encourage proper foundational structures. Mike Pothier of the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO) has been conducting workshops for faith leaders, civil society and Church organisations on constitutional processes and how rights work. The workshops were intended to give participants “tools and information” as the country draws up a new constitution, said Mr Pothier. “These are people who have the capacity to reach out to the grassroots level and to encourage people put ideas forward in the process,” he said. Mr Pothier said constitutions can be “big and complex and written in complicated language”. With a high level of illiteracy in South Sudan, Mr Pothier said he hoped those he had worked with will help educate others on the new democracy. “The idea is to give power to the people and not all power to the government.”
outh Sudan is currently under a one-year constitutional review. It is at present governed by a temporary constitution, heavily influenced by the constitutions of South Africa and Namibia. The new constitution is expected to be finalised in 2015, but the country has experienced financial and logistical issues that may hamper the process. In addition, there has been less public participation than expected, said Mr Pothier. “On paper [the new constitution] is good. There is nothing insurmountable, but there are issues in the area of government structures with lots of power given to the president.” Mr Pothier said some problematic examples include the existence of an independent electoral commission whose leader would currently be appointed by the president. There is also no clear term limit as of yet. Whilst the ruling party, which has been compared to the African National Congress in South Africa, is likely to stay in power for many years, term limits are “still important, otherwise you might have a president for life situation,” said Mr Pothier. Fr Seán O’Leary M.Afr, director of the DHPI, said the workshops drew “large numbers of participants, including other Church and faith groups as well as local government officials; all of whom have shown a huge appetite for any form of training”. The DHPI involvement in South Sudan predates its official establishment in 2005. In 1997 the Sudanese Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) requested support from their Southern African counterparts in helping the Sudanese bishops to be more proactive in attempts at peace brokering between the North and South. Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg and Fr O’Leary, who was at the time the head of the bishops’ Justice & Peace Commission,
A man waves the flag of South Sudan during celebrations marking the country's first anniversary of its independence in July in the capital of Juba. South Africa’s Church has long been a key player in the country’s independence. (Photo: Adriane Ohanesian, Reuters/CNS) met the Sudanese bishops in Malawi where they outlined just how bad things were. Fr O’Leary visited Sudan’s capital Khartoum that year with the late Bishops Louis Ndlovu of Manzini and Mansuet Biyase of Eshowe as well as CPLO director Fr PeterJohn Pearson, “and thus began a long, close relationship between the SACBC and the SCBC that has lasted to this day”, he said. “The relationship is one of solidarity and support marked mainly by advocacy by lobbying the South African government and in particular the then-President Nelson Mandela, and after 1999 Thabo Mbeki to become more proactive as genuine and respected peace negotiators.” Fr O’Leary said the South African government rose to the occasion and a number of times over the years received bishops from Sudan who outlined their concerns. These encounters were first organised by Justice & Peace and later by DHPI. “These encounters led to South Africa playing a leading role in the build-up to and the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005 which effectively ended the civil war and eventually led to the January 9, 2011 referendum which brought independence for South Sudan in 2011.” Thabo Mbeki remains to this day the chief negotiator on behalf of the African Union in the disputes pertaining to Sudan and South Sudan.
s most of the region’s oil is in South Sudan, Sudan has seen economic turmoil, high rates of inflation and social unrest due to a sudden loss of resources. “Sudan’s dictator, Omar al-Bashir, has to find an external enemy to hide internal problems. He is trying to provoke the south back into war. But instead, the South has responded with Ghandi-like passive resistance,” said Mr Pothier. The DHPI continues to furnish Mr Mbeki with updated concerns coming from the bishops in both countries. Today the DHPI is concerned with assisting Church and civil society play a meaningful role in assisting the constitutional writing process in South Sudan. The DHPI also does training in democracy awareness, good governance, reconciliation processes, establishing sustainable Justice & Peace parish groups and conflict management across the country. While the region is tense and South Sudan is one of the least developed countries in the world, an “air of optimism and hope prevails in an atmosphere of détente and jubilation that the long years of war are finally over”, Fr O’Leary said. “It is essential that the peace talks continue in order to avoid at all cost a return to war.”
The Southern Cross, October 24 to October 30, 2012
Survey to find God during business hours BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
Bishop Peter Holiday, presiding with priests of Kroonstad diocese, celebrated a Mass at St Patrick’s cathedral to launch the Year of Faith. (Photo from Neil Mitchell)
Joint Aids Conference for January BY STAFF REPORTER
AINT Joseph’s Theological Institute in Cedara, KwaZulu-Natal, will host, in collaboration with the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) Aids Office, a conference on the theme “Catholic Responses to Aids in Southern Africa, 30 years after the discovery of HIV”. The conference will be held January 20-22, 2013 at St Joseph’s. Keynote addresses will be given by Mgr Robert Vitillo, head of delegation to the United Nations in Geneva and special advisor on HIV/Aids for Caritas Internationalis who will speak on the theme from the international context, and Fr Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator SJ of Hekima College in Nairobi who will address HIV/Aids from the perspective of the wider African context, said Sr Sue Rakoczy IHM. Other keynote papers will be presented by Sr Alison Munro OP, director of the SACBC Aids Office, on chal-
lenges and responses of the Aids Office; Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban on the response of the Church in an urban setting; and Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, on Church responses in a rural context. Sr Rakoczy said papers by staff members of St Joseph’s Theological Institute and others will address the theme from various perspectives including theological responses to criticisms of Catholic HIV and Aids teaching, spirituality, historical perspectives, ethical issues, inter-faith collaboration, feminism, HIV testing policies, the Church and partnerships, HIV in the theological curriculum and young people and HIV/Aids. The full conference costs R300 per person (includes teas, lunch and evening meal) or R200 for the partial conference (includes morning and afternoon teas). n For information on registration and accommodation call Shantel on 087 353 894 or visit www.sjti.ac.za/confer ence2013.html.
S God in the workplace? A group of marketplace Christians in Stellenbosch decided to conduct a survey to answer that very question. Launched in 2011, the Call42 survey was designed to identify the obstacles that Christians are facing in terms of living out God’s calling at work. “The heart of the project is to create an awareness of what God is doing in the South African Marketplace and to show every marketplace Christian what God can and wants to do in and through their lives,” said Steven van Tonder, project coordinator of Call42. “Our heart is to see the marketplace transformed.” The ecumenical project, which targeted Christians in full-time careers and included a number of Catholics, has to date received 1 300 surveys, and analysis of the results is ongoing. “Many Christians struggle to live purposefully at work. The past few years, however, show
substantial growth in this area.” Events such as the launch of the Year of Faith in the Catholic Church was proof of the desire to have God in all parts of life, said Mr van Tonder. “Call42 aims to unveil the challenges that churchgoers experience, especially the difficulty of applying traditional ministry paradigms in the 8-5 work window. Call42 intends to initiate relevant discussion and emphasise the growing concerns regarding the sacred and secular divide,” said Mr van Tonder. The survey will help mobilise fruitful interaction between equipping organisations, like churches, and people with career-orientated positions, he said. The survey aimed to identify various aspect of a Christian’s spiritual life in relation to their work life. “We investigated Christians’ understanding of ‘calling’; what hinders Christians from living their calling at work; marketplace ministry initiatives and
projects that are already running successfully; and what the need in the market was.” The survey has so far found that “the marketplace is in need of a shift towards a kingdom-focused mindset and revival, as Christians seem to struggle to find true purpose at work; a season of restoration is arising where people at work are focusing more on God and his Kingdom; and churches seem to struggle and are in need of specific training to equip business leaders and employees,” Mr van Tonder said. “We see our role as a catalyst. We want to start discussions in South Africa around the sacred and secular divide in terms of the difference between what is preached at church and the work week. We also want people to realise that God wants to use them where they are and they do not need to be a pastor or a priest to accomplish that,” he said. n To view the survey’s results and for more information visit www.call42.co.za.
Margherita Blaser celebrated her 108th birthday on October 14. A special Mass was celebrated for her at Nazareth House, Cape Town, and after that she went straight to St Ignatius church in Claremont for Sunday Mass with her old congregation. Fr Christopher Clohessy congratulated her, saying that it was she who should be blessing us after so many years of faithful service. After the Mass she was taken to her old house which has now been demolished. The mother of Radio Veritas station director Fr Emil Blaser OP said it was sad to see it after having lived there for 63 years. Her greatest sorrow was not in the demolition of the house, which she said she had expected, but in the destruction of her garden which had fed her all these years and which had produced persimmon, herbs, avocadoes and many other vegetables. Archbishop Stephen Brislin (left) visited Mrs Blaser to congratulate and bless her.
Guided prayer week a simple retreat STAFF REPORTER
WEEK of guided prayer—it’s “simply a way of being on retreat without going away”, said Holy Cross Sister Bernadette Duffy following the prayerfocused week at St Columba’s in Pretoria. The event, organised by the Jesuit Institute South Africa, drew much attention. “People who observed the retreatants come and go to the church every day at various times began to ask what was going on,” said Sr Duffy. “You carry on living your life as normal, but set aside time each day of the retreat to
pray and to meet with a prayer guide who will listen to you and give some suggestions for your prayer during the week.” Sr Duffy said the week is structured to accommodate those who make the retreat to be able to come to meet with their prayer guides daily and to share what has been happening in their prayer. “It is a week of great grace, soul-searching and befriending oneself positively,” she said. Sr Duffy said a prayer week affords individuals a comfortable space and the spiritual accompaniment necessary to
deepen their relationship with God; experience different ways of praying; journey with a companion in daily prayer; and make a retreat in the midst of daily life. “Retreat time is an invitation to take the time to see our life from a new or renewed perspective. We are called to challenge our own priorities and plan for our future with God as a more intimate presence in our daily life.” n For more information or to arrange a week of prayer in your parish contact the Jesuit Institute on 011 482 4237 or visit www.jesuitinstitute.org.za.
Justice for all needs courage
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The cross that was blessed and carried during the Gay Pride parade was covered in the names of victims of discrimination. in our Church community and in the structures of our society’.” “This will not always be easy but, it seems to me, is the path that the true disciple of Christ is urged to take,” the Jesuit priest said. A group of LGBTI Christians has been meeting for prayer and reflection every second week at Holy Trinity parish in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, for the past four years. The parish’s outreach is intended to offer pastoral care to the LGBTI community and their families, Fr Pollitt said. The group also participated in the annual Gay Pride event where a cross bearing the names of those violated or murdered on account of their sexuality was carried through the streets of Johannesburg. “Working for justice for LGBTI people—and indeed all those who are victims of injustice—can sometimes be a painstaking and demoralising process. But [the gospel of Matthew] reminds us that we should never lose hope, we should take consolation from Jesus himself as he is the image of God’s comfort, consolation and hope,” Fr Pollitt said during the ecumenical service.
St David’s Marist Inanda Grade 6 learners visited Christ the King parish in Mogwase, Rustenburg diocese.
School reaches out to parish STAFF REPORTER
OR the past eight years, the Grade 6 learners from St David’s Marist Inanda, Johannesburg, have been supporting a parish in Lerome, Rustenburg diocese. The St David’s boys, accompanied by teacher Beverley Geldenhuys, visited the parish of Christ the King, an outstation of St Theresa’s in Mogwase, where their “efforts have grown from strength to strength each year”, said the school’s Ashleigh Knowles. “Lerome is the smallest and poorest parish in its diocese and the boys were privileged to spend the morning with them,” said Ms Knowles. The learners attended Mass, celebrated by Fr Vincent Brennan SMA. The priest spoke about Pope Benedict’s three phases of faith: living your faith, celebrating your faith, and putting faith into action. “The boys witnessed a parish of believers celebrating their faith in a way that is life-affirming and infectious,” Ms Knowles said. The boys joined in the clapping and singing
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O one, despite what some claim, is outside of the circle of God’s love, care and compassion,” an ecumenical service for the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered and intersex (LGBTI) Christian community in Johannesburg was told. “This includes LGBTI people and their families—you have a place in the community of the Church and our society,” said Fr Russell Pollitt SJ during his homily. “In Matthew 25, Jesus is radically present in the least of our neighbours—the forsaken, the suffering and the oppressed. Sadly, in the Church, we have not always recognised the radical presence of Christ in LGBTI people,” Fr Pollitt said, noting that many have felt dehumanised and like outsiders. “LGBTI people have, at times, been defined and reduced to their sexuality—a dangerous position and certainly one that is not in line with the teaching of the Church, as the late Cardinal Basil Hume [of Westminster] reminded us so many times.” Fr Pollitt said there was a vast amount of work needed to ensure justice for the LGBTI community and that courage was needed. “Jesus himself is no stranger—right from the start of his life—to rejection and suffering and thus feels the pain of others and enters into deep solidarity with those who, for any reason, suffer. We take comfort in Jesus’ solidarity with those who suffer but also recognise the need for—as Pope Benedict puts it—‘a spirit of solidarity amongst us as we try to deconstruct the prejudice and injustice
The Southern Cross, October 24 to October 30, 2012
with enthusiasm. “The young men, representing the St David’s community, put their faith into action by visiting, sharing and celebrating with a parish less fortunate than theirs.” The St David’s learners presented monetary and consumable gifts to the leaders of the parish to be used in maintaining and growing the small Catholic community. “The boys then emptied the trailer with all the goodies the school had collected—food, toys, party packs, books, and plenty of clothing. It was a humbling experience to watch the community collect what they needed for their families with such respect, order and thankfulness,” said Ms Knowles. “It was even more rewarding to watch our very proud St David’s boys helping the people fill their bags and handing out toys and party packs to the many small children. The boys really felt the joy and reward of giving.” Each grade at St David’s chooses a charity to support and to give back to the community, an important part of their education, said Ms Knowles.
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The Development Studies Department through its two academic programmes: Higher Certiﬁcate in Human and Social Development and Advanced Certiﬁcate in Human and Social Development seeks to provide a service to the Church and Society in general through the formation and training of leaders guided by a Christian ethos. The Two Academic Programmes aim at: (a) Providing students with the basic understanding of the main concepts and theories of human and social development, (b) Empowering students with the basic understanding of how societies develop and function, and (c) Providing the basic knowledge to enable students to continue with further studies in the areas of human and social development. Two Key Areas of Focus (a) Formation: the Department helps train men and women capable of working in Religious and Priestly formation programmes, and (b) Leadership in Social development: the department provides training to men and women, religious and lay capable of working in organisations and agencies that deal with issues of social development and advocacy. Admission Criteria (a) Students registering for the Higher Certiﬁcate in Human and Social Development must have a National Senior Certiﬁcate (NSC) or its equivalent, (b) Students registering for the Advanced Certiﬁcate in Human and Social Development must have a minimum of a Higher Certiﬁcate in Human and Social Development or its equivalent, (c) Both programmes require proﬁciency in English as this is the language of instruction at the Institute. Registration Registration for the academic year 2013 is open from July to December 2012. For more information contact: Academic Dean, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Southern Cross, October 24 to October 30, 2012
Pope: Vatican II was about renewing the Church, not rupture with past BY CAROL GLATZ
HE Second Vatican Council’s call for “renewal” did not mark a break with tradition or a watering down of the faith, but reflected Christianity’s lasting vitality and God’s eternal presence, Pope Benedict has said. Christianity is always young and in “perpetual bloom”, he said during an audience with 15 bishops who participated in Vatican II between 1962-65. Pope Benedict fondly recalled the council, saying it was a time that was “so vivacious, rich and fruitful”. He praised Pope John XXIII’s usage of the term “aggiornamento”
(“renewal”) for the Church, even though, he said, it’s still a topic of heated and endless debate. “But I am convinced that the insight Bl John XXIII epitomised with this word was and still is accurate,” he said. “Christianity must never be seen as something from the past, nor lived with one’s gaze always looking back, because Jesus is yesterday, today and for all eternity,” Pope Benedict said. Renewal doesn’t mean watering down the faith, lowering it to fit modern fads or trends, or fashioning it to fit public opinion or one’s own desires, “rather it’s the contrary”, the pope said. “Exactly as the council fathers
did, we have to make the times in which we live fit the Christian event; we have to bring the ‘today’ of our time into the ‘today’ of God,” which is eternal, he said. Vatican II taught the Church that it always must speak to the people “of today”, he said. However, there is no easy way to do it; it has to be done by people whose lives are firmly rooted in God and who live their faith “with purity”. Remember, the past is important, he said, but the best way to honour Vatican II is to return to the living Gospel and bring Christ’s presence and love to today’s world, he said.—CNS
Pope Benedict greets pilgrims from the window of his apartment after briefly addressing a candlelit vigil in St Peter's Square to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. In an audience with bishops who were at the 1962-65 Council, the pope praised Pope John XXIII’s use of the term “aggiornomento”, or “renewal”. (Photo: Paul Haring, CNS)
Synod: Go on pilgrimage, learn from African Mass BY CINDY WOODEN
ILGRIMAGES, processions and other forms of popular piety, as well as the Catholic Church’s traditional works of charity and commitment to justice and peace all can promote the new evangelisation, members of the Synod of Bishops said. Several bishops cited pilgrimages and public celebrations of religious feast days as important moments to respond to people’s longing for real spirituality, even if those people think they are simply going on a trip or celebrating local culture. Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of
Jerusalem told the synod that a pilgrimage to the Holy Land “is an excellent method of reviving our faith and that of the pilgrim, knowing better the cultural, historic and geographical context” in which the mysteries of the Christian faith were born. To a large extent the small Christian community in the Holy Land relies materially on the jobs created by religious tourism, but they also are “the living stones” of the faith in the land where Jesus was born, ministered, died and rose again, he said. A prayerful pilgrimage to the sites associated with Jesus and an encounter with the local Christian
community, he said, “can strengthen believers of little faith and enable the rebirth of faith in those in whom it has died.” In the midst of the tensions in the Middle East and recent vandalism of Christian churches in Israel, “the presence of pilgrims is a true testimony to faith and communion with our Church,” he said. Archbishop José Martín Rábago of León, Mexico, said the work of purifying popular piety of festive excess and superstition continues, but the Church cannot ignore the thousands of people who turn out for the celebrations. When “left at the mercy of pure sentimentalism and folklore”, he
“Nobody knows what a boy is worth, and the world must wait and see; For every boy in an honoured place is a boy that used to be” - Phillip Brooks
said, the events do little to call people to faith and to a faith-based response to “the social inequalities, violence, justice and other manifestations that contradict human dignity and fraternal cohabitation”. On the other hand, he said, carefully prepared events change lives and lead to a greater faith commitment.
ishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo, Nigeria, told the synod that the solemn yet exuberant liturgies of African Catholic churches are a model for other Catholic communities seeking to invigorate their parishes and reach out to lapsed members. The celebrations of the Eucharist and other sacraments must be “more efficacious moments of faith impact”, he said. “This can be done if we continually update homiletics and sacramental procedure with engaging art, language, idioms and imagery, which can better communicate their power and meaning,” the bishop said. Church leaders need to leave the “catacombs of fear and selfconsciousness” and go where people spend their time, including “the streets, town squares, market places, nightclubs, shopping malls, even pubs and the slums”, Bishop Badejo said. “Priests and bishops may not get the ‘high table’ treatment in these places, but just a word or
gesture from us” could be the first encounter leading to a life of faith. The bishop also told synod members that the Catholic Church must establish a new relationship with today’s media-savvy youths. Other bishops emphasised the importance of Catholic social teaching and its work for justice and peace as being both a response to the Gospel and proclamation of it. Bishop François Lapierre of Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec, said there is an “intimate bond” between evangelisation and the Church’s activity on behalf of the poor and oppressed. When the Church’s outreach to the suffering is ignored, he said, New Evangelisation appears “to be more of an answer to internal problems of the Church” and less of a response to God’s call to minister to people’s needs, hopes and desires. Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, said that the family is “the first seminary”. “The family transmits the faith with its heart, life and practice,” the cardinal told the synod. “The New Evangelisation will succeed if it manages to restore the sanctity of marriage,” on which the family is founded and graced to become a “domestic church”. Strong Catholic families become “the strong drivers” of parishes that are alive and active in evangelisation, he said.—CNS
The Southern Cross, October 24 to October 30, 2012
Alternative farming policy will yield great harvests, says pope BY CINDY WOODEN
ARM co-ops can provide the world with an “alternative vision” to government or international agriculture policies that place too much emphasis on profits, protecting certain markets or employing new technology that could prove dangerous, Pope Benedict has said. The pope made his comments in a message marking the celebration of World Food Day, a commemoration sponsored by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to highlight the global fight against hunger and the need to help farmers and farm workers.
The theme of the 2012 celebration was: “Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to feeding the world.” The cooperatives, Pope Benedict said, are an alternative to policies that “seem to have as their sole objective profit, the defence of markets, the non-food use of agricultural products [and] the introduction of new production techniques without the necessary precaution”. The pope did not get specific about non-food uses, such as growing crops for bio-fuels, or whether the new techniques he referred to include genetically modified crops. He said agricultural cooperatives can be important ways for
local people to control their own work lives and respond to local needs for employment and food security. At the same time, he said, they are a means to bring people together, value the contributions
14 Franciscan martyrs beatified
OURTEEN Franciscan priests were beatified in the Czech Republic, four centuries after they were tortured to death by Protestant forces in a Catholic monastery. Presiding at the ceremony at historic St Vitus cathedral in Prague, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes, described the men as “heroic monks” whose actions in the face of violence can serve as an inspiration to modern-day people of faith to overcome evil with good. “Today, too, we need peaceful coexistence and understanding, so we must nurture this good seed until it becomes a mighty tree, bearing flowers and fruits of a humanity joined in reconciliation and brotherhood,” Cardinal Amato said. Ecumenical ties with Protes-
tants would be strengthened rather than weakened by the ceremony for Fr Frederick Bachstein and 13 companions from the Order of Friars Minor, he told the 250 priests, leaders of the Franciscan order and 6 000 Catholics in attendance. “Far from living in hatred, these blessed martyrs prayed, worked and acted for good, as penitent witnesses to Christ’s love,” Cardinal Amato said. The friars, mostly from France, Netherlands, Germany and Italy, were sent by their order to Protestant-ruled Prague in 1604 to learn the Czech language and rebuild Our Lady of the Snows monastery, which was destroyed in earlier religious wars. However, when Catholic forces under Austrian Archduke Leopold Habsburg sacked the city in early 1611, local residents accused the friars of collaborating
and brutally murdered them in the monastery. A movement to beatify the priests began later in the century and was relaunched in the 1930s only to be interrupted when then Czechoslovakia was under communist rule from 1948-89. Cardinal Dominik Duka of Prague said the “earthly tragedy and posthumous glory” of the friars was important for the whole of Europe because of the priests’ diverse nationalities. He added that their deaths, a decade before a Bohemian revolt against Habsburg rule sparked Europe’s Thirty Years’ War, occurred at a time of “moral crisis” across the continent, characterised by “uncertainties, malignments, fears and calls for atonement, as well as radicalism and the suppression of basic human responsibility towards others”.— CNS
of individuals and promote the common good of a group. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s goal of eradicating poverty, Pope Benedict said, requires a commitment from the international community, individual governments and men and women inspired by solidarity and a desire to increase people’s participation in decisions that have an impact on how food is grown and distributed. “Agricultural cooperatives are a concrete example because they are called to create not only adequate levels of production and distribution, but also a more general growth of rural areas and the peo-
ple who live there,” the pope said. Pope Benedict said cooperatives also are a practical example of what Catholic social teaching means when it encourages “subsidiarity”: making decisions at the simplest, most decentralised and most local level possible. The pope also used his message to offer a special greeting to those living in situations “where conflicts or natural disasters” have destroyed agricultural production and where, in many cases, “women are called to direct the activity of the cooperatives, maintain family ties and safeguard the precious elements of rural knowhow and methods”.—CNS
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Anger over opening of Irish abortion clinic
CATHOLIC bishop has expressed dismay that Marie Stopes International was opening a clinic in Belfast— the first abortion clinic on the island of Ireland. “The opening of this facility further undermines the sanctity and dignity of human life in our society where the most vulnerable and defenceless human beings are already under threat,”
said Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor, whose diocese includes Belfast “Not only must we show compassion for women who find themselves facing an unwanted pregnancy, but we should support them to explore avenues which provide care while respecting the life of their child in the womb. We should enable them to respond to such situations in a life-affirming and
positive way,” he said. The clinic will offer only medical, not surgical, abortions and will terminate pregnancies only up to the first nine weeks of pregnancy, as per Northern Irish law. Unlike the rest of Britain, where abortions can be performed up until the 24th week of pregnancy, the 1967 Abortion Act does not apply in Northern Ireland.—CNS
Hi-tech ideas for new popemobile BY CAROL GLATZ
EN teams of young international designers battled it out to produce an innovative eco-friendly popemobile that could guarantee high “pope visibility”, meet strict security standards and promise low emissions. Proposed features included sunroof panels that would open like flower petals to side windows that could “live tweet” messages to and from the pope. The winners, however, kept it simple. Eric Leong, 24, of Toronto, and Han Yong-fei, 23, of France, modified a hybrid Volkswagen Cross Coupé concept car into a white popemobile with an expandable solar roof and bulletproof wheels. Their design also featured socalled “spray-on battery” technology in which each element of a traditional lithium-ion battery is incorporated into a liquid that can be sprayed, in layers, on many kinds of surfaces. The spray-on technology provides “better efficiency” for rechargeable batteries by reducing the car’s weight, the designers said. One eco-popemobile design finalist was a team of students from Turin’s European Institute of Design. They used a BMW ActiveHybrid X6 vehicle and gave it a back roof made up of two dozen folding panels that
The popemobile in Rome. Young designers have submitted their ideas for an ideal popemobile. could open up like flower petals, allowing the pope to stand and greet the faithful. The car design also featured armoured side windows that double as monitors capable of displaying live “selected tweets for and from the Holy Father”, according to the young design makers. Italian car-parts manufacturer Berman sponsored the competition near Mantua, Italy, and invited select car design students from around the world to submit their drawings. It marked the first time the annual Autostyle Design Competition had a special category for a popemobile, according to L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. A panel of judges, including design directors from Alfa
Romeo, Audi, Bentley, Fiat, Ford, Ferrari, Toyota and the University of Florence, picked the winning designs “based on their consistency with [a major carmaker’s] brand, their originality and innovation, the comprehensiveness and elegance of the work and the feasibility of the projects,” according to cardesign news.com. The popemobile designs had to use a production hybrid car model or concept car design and keep the car model’s front features so as to maintain the brand image. Only the rear of the vehicle could be modified and it had to be done in such a way that it guaranteed comfort for five passengers and maximum visibility of the Holy Father. Projects needed to use alternative energy, cutting-edge materials and innovative technology that allowed for rapid and easy rear access to and from the vehicle. The Volkswagen Cross Coupé concept car uses two electric motors and a next-generation turbo diesel engine, according to manufacturers. The Vatican publishing house, LEV, will publish a volume of the competition’s best “green” popemobile projects and designs.— CNS n See also http://bit.ly/R9b5cX for a report on a Vatican exhibition of popemobiles.
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The Southern Cross, October 24 to October 30, 2012
LEADER PAGE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Editor: Günther Simmermacher
Responding to suicide
HIS week a priest describes how being confronted by the self-inflicted death of a friend led him to a new understanding of suicide. Suicide remains widely misunderstood, with perceptions still dominated by the awful cliché of it being an act of selfish cowardice and an out-dated perception that the victims of suicide are precluded from God’s mercy and salvation. We can draw from both psychology and Church teachings in challenging these notions. Most suicides are the culmination of despair to a point where one’s pain exceeds one’s means of dealing with it. Suicide very rarely is a question of free choice. Almost every suicide has its source in clinical depression—a mental condition often compared to cancer—or extreme topical anguish which denies all hope. Clinical depression can be triggered by events or may appear spontaneously as a result of neuro-chemical imbalances, or often an aggregation of both. It can be treated, but many suffering from depression do not seek treatment. Some are unaware that their melancholy may have a diagnosable and treatable cause; others are fearful of the stigma attached to mental conditions, and never seek help. As long as a stigma remains attached to mental conditions, society contributes to the incidence of suicide. It is therefore necessary that this prejudice be diminished and public awareness of mental conditions be expanded. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2280-3) teaches that objectively suicide is a sin in accordance with the fifth commandment: “We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for [God’s] honour and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of” (para 2280). Moreover, suicide has an effect on those left behind, and therefore “offends love of neighbour”. But the Catechism also provides a pastoral application when it proceeds to attach the necessary caveat: “Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one com-
mitting suicide.” The Church teaches that salvation is still possible for those who have committed suicide. “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance.” Indeed, a loving and merciful God surely would not exclude an anguished soul from his embrace. In that light, a priest should not refuse a funeral of a Catholic who has committed suicide, nor use the occasion of a funeral to pre-empt God’s judgment. The primary pastoral concern must be with the bereaved, who might already struggle not only with the natural grief that accompanies death, but also with a range of emotion that could include self-recrimination, a sense of betrayal, fear of stigmatisation and the severe distress of contemplating their loved one’s anguish. Their trauma requires a sensitive response. They must not be confronted with cruel—or theologically incomplete—statements about the state of the deceased’s soul. Indeed, making such pronouncements offends charity and pre-empts God’s mercy, and might therefore be an occasion of sin. When a suicide occurs, pastors and community must offer a prayerful response for the repose of the deceased’s soul and for the healing of those who have been left behind. And as we prepare to observe the feast of All Souls, we might include in our prayers especially all the departed who lost their lives to suicide, and in particular those who were denied a Christian funeral because of the biases of their time. The Church emphasises its opposition to assisted suicide by those suffering physical agony, but has few programmes in place to help those suffering mental anguish. More needs to be done to offer pastoral care to those who are suffering depression and their families, and to those who are affected when a suicide occurs. Some priests have already taken the initiative in doing so where they can. Their apostolate needs to be supported, formalised and extended to all of God’s People in need.
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.
Evolution: Soul is the big difference
HAVE been following the ongoing letters on evolution by Tony Sturges and Franko Sokolic with some interest, as I have recently acquired a 4-disc DVD set by Fr Robert J Spitzer SJ titled The Heavens Proclaim the Glory of God, which I first viewed on EWTN. Towards the end of the series Fr Spitzer deals with evolution and the existence of a soul in humans. Life forms cannot emerge from non-life physical constituents because biological systems, for
Heed visionary’s ‘The Warning’
REFER to recent Marian and other apparitions, such as at Garabandal, Medjugorje, Fatima, La Salette, Akita (Japan), to the Irish stigmatist Christina Gallagher and the interior locutions received by the Greek Orthodox visionary Vassula Ryden. In all of these, there has been mention of a mini-judgment called “The Warning”, or illumination in which all mankind (over the age of 7) will see the state of their soul before God, the good they have done in their lives, the grief they have inflicted on others, and all that which they failed to do. The visionaries affirm that “The Warning” will be preceded by two preparatory signs, two comets colliding in the sky, which will not harm us, and the appearance of a large cross in a sky turned red (as has been witnessed at the Marian shrine of Ngome in KwaZulu-Natal) Important divine messages have reportedly been received since November 2010 by a married Catholic visionary in Europe, with small children, known simply as Maria, Divine Mercy. Prior to this, she was a lapsed Catholic. These messages reinforce the Catholic teachings of faith and morals. The visionary has the support of a number of believers, including priests and volunteers from various countries to enable the messages to be revealed quickly to the world for its own good. A movement is now underway to have these private revelations examined by qualified theologians, and have been made available to the Catholic Church for full examination. The fruits are good: tens of thousands now turning to prayer as instructed, for the conversion
instance those that give rise to metabolism and reproduction, are not completely explicable according to the laws of physics, Fr Spitzer says. Evolution within a species is believable. Where good rational intellection of evolution stops is when you are talking about evolution from nonhumans to human beings. Here he cites the main difference between humans and nonhumans as beings as the presence of a soul, which is immaterial and can exist independently of our embodiment. It is not controlled by the conditions of
of souls, and very many returning to the sacraments, particularly confession. Our Lord stresses, as in Scripture, that only God the Father knows the actual date of the Second Coming. There is a website (www.the warningsecondcoming.com) in which these and other important related events contained in the Book of Revelation are clarified in detail. John Lee, Johannesburg n The visions of Maria Divine Mercy have not been submitted to ecclesiastical scrutiny and therefore are not approved by the Catholic Church. Of particular concern to a doctrinal review would be the anonymous visionary’s repeated challenge to papal primacy and to the Catholic Church’s teaching authority, besides several possible theological errors. Catholics are urged to read the visions of Maria Divine Mercy with great caution in the light of Church teachings.— Editor
Limitations in evangelisation
EADING St Paul’s letter to the Galatians recently and thinking about God’s plan and covenant beginning with Abraham, my thoughts went to this month’s Synod of Bishops in Rome. According to the media this synod was called in particular to be “a how-to” move forward with what is being termed the “New Evangelisation”. St Paul, as the greatest of all evangelisers, tells the Galatians that the purpose of the law had been served with the coming of the Christ. The notes in the African Bible help me understand that people must be set free from the previous reign of the Law for through Christ (as the cure, page 1958 3.10n.), the Spirit has been
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given. The promise of the Spirit is that in Christ we are being begotten as children of God. If that is the very foundation of our faith, do our bishops understand that they have been trapped by a law of the magisterium? In speaking about evangelisation, which is a sharing of our faith, women can only share in terms of claiming a priesthood of the faithful because in the eyes of a man-made law, we cannot even be ordained deacons. As such, in the eyes of the highest teaching authority, we are simply not equally children of God. In any event, the very diaconal charge is to carry the Gospel, to announce it in word and deed, to explain it, to teach it, to preach it. Evangelisation under such restrictive circumstances can only be talked about—because even the ordained cannot teach and share what they do not live. Evangelisation, termed “new” in our modern world, has to begin at home by releasing the Spirit, who seemingly does not sit well alongside laws. Rosemary Gravenor, Durban
IFE in this country has become one of constant struggling and battling; can we at least have stability and peace—and of course cleanliness—in our church? And why is it that we may no longer sing the hymns of Our Lady? Lord have mercy on us! Leonie Arries, George 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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physics. It is unified with the human body and interacts with it. It is not derived from an evolutionary process, which is a physical and natural process subject to the laws of biology, physics and sensitive psychology. The soul will survive bodily death and is capable of transcending physical acts. We are made in God’s image and we have something of God in us—God’s essence, God’s spirit. Sufficient to be creative, sufficient to survive bodily near-death experience, sufficient for the pursuit of truth, love, goodness, beauty and home. Andre Du Chenne, Johannesburg
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Courageous witness General Intention: That bishops, priests, and all ministers of the Gospel may bear the courageous witness of fidelity to the crucified and risen Lord.
N his recent book, Why Priests Are Happy, Mgr Stephen Rosetti paints an upbeat picture of the Roman Catholic clergy in the United States. Despite the shame that bishops and priests have been feeling because of the abuse scandals, Mgr Rosetti’s questionnaire-generated snapshot suggests that on the whole they remain happy in their priestly role. They show slightly better mental health than the male population of the US at large and those who do the basics such as developing a life of prayer, work hard, have a good relationship with their bishop or superior and look after themselves are a generally contented and fulfilled crew. This is a remarkable finding given the challenges facing the clergy in a deeply divided society and Church. Some critics have expressed some certain scepticism about Fr Rosetti’s findings, but he himself would be the first to point out that all is not perfect. He notes, for example, that like many American males, many American priests are obese— not a condition we normally associate with the Paschal mystery! He also says that his findings indicate that the younger generation of priests whose family backgrounds are likely to be more dysfunctional than their older confreres may have some struggles ahead of them as they move into middle age. They may be happy in their ministry, but supermen they are not, and have never been. However, as we begin the Year of Faith, we pray that the Church’s ministers may be given the strength and courage to lead the Church in this time of special witness in showing forth the power of the Lord’s death and resurrection in their lives.
Shine on, Church Missionary Intention: That the pilgrim Church on earth may shine as a light to the nations.
HERE was a notable media-moment when Pope Benedict visited Britain in 2010. The period before his arrival was accompanied by a great deal of anxiety because of the opposition to the visit on the part of groups like the National Secular Society. It was feared that their demonstrations would hijack the visit, obscure its pastoral agenda and embarrass both the hosts and the invited VIP. What happened in the end was that the National Secular Society, who tried to paint the Church as full of weirdly sinister people, ended up looking like bad-tempered cranks while the British Catholics looked perfectly ordinary, normal and unthreatening. In one TV report the journalist simply went around the people who had gathered in London’s Hyde Park to greet the pope and pray with him, and asked them where they came from and why they were there. What we saw was a cross section of British society today—a very multi-cultural mix of people of all colours and origins, everything from a Congolese choir to the Catholic Women’s League. They all looked and sounded so much saner, happier and down to earth (not to mention far more numerous) than the secularists who, frankly, came across as the weird ones, sounding shrill with an anger that one wordsmith has described as “designer rage”. I don’t wish to dwell on the bad impression the secularists gave; they are also within the infinite ambit of God’s love. However, the moment of sharp contrast between unbelief and faith reminded us that, even in the most unpromising of situations, the light of Christ can shine through the extraordinary ordinariness of the People of God and make of us the light of the world in our time. For these moments we give thanks.
The Southern Cross, October 24 to October 30, 2012
Newman aimed for bull’s eye
T is not unusual to hear that even when the preacher makes a good start, he covers so many subjects that listeners soon lose their train of thought. The counsel of Bl John Henry Newman (1801-90) can inject a new lease of life into what often appears to be rather scattergun preaching. No multi-thematic sermons for Newman: “Nothing is so fatal to the effect of a sermon as the habit of preaching on three or four subjects at once...I add that, even though we preach on only one at a time, finishing and dismissing the first before we go to the second, and the second before we go to the third, still, after all, a practice like this, though not open to the inconvenience which the confusing of one subject with another involves, is in matter of fact nothing short of the delivery of three sermons in succession without break between them” (Idea of a University). Newman’s central idea was that “as a marksman aims at the bull’s eye and at nothing else”, so the preacher must aim at a definite point, which he has to hit”. The bull’s eye was not a single verse but a theme based on that verse, and complemented by texts across the Bible. In a sermon from his Anglican days, “Promising without Doing”—based on Matthew 21:28-30, the parable of the two sons in their father’s vineyard—he refers to Proverbs 4:18 and James 2:26 in aiming at a definite point. In his Catholic sermons Newman usually confined himself to the gospel reading for the day, but in one example, “Stewards and also Sons of God”, on the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost in 1870, he switches halfway to the epistle, specifically Romans 8:12, but via Isaiah 40. While not consciously appealing to the proofs of logos, pathos and ethos, New-
man epitomised all three. “Talent, logic, learning, words, manner, voice, action, all are required for the perfection of a preacher”; but “one thing is necessary”—an intense perception and appreciation of the end for which he preaches, and that is, to be the minister of some definite spiritual good to those who hear him. It calls for earnestness, not thereby meaning that the preacher must aim at earnestness, but that by aiming at his object he will at once become earnest.
Pope Benedict raises the host during the beatification Mass for Cardinal John Henry Newman in Birmingham, England, in September 2010. (Photo: Andrew Winning, Reuters/CNS)
The fine art of listening
EMEMBER this, be quick to listen and slow to speak” (James 1:19). How much easier is this said than being done? I recently facilitated a couple of workshops on listening skills to six different groups of people. And what was common among all the groups was the fact that for them listening is difficult. Listening is difficult for a simple reason: we are not taught and trained how to listen in the same way as we are taught and trained how to read, write and speak. As we grow up we are always told to listen, or begged to listen, or even instructed to listen. You probably can still hear your parents saying: “You must listen when I speak to you”, or “Please listen! Those ears are meant for listening”, or “It’s because you never listen”, and so on. I’m sure this sounds familiar. But as we grew up, no one sat us down and taught us the skill of listening. That is why as adults we struggle so much to listen and we have to attend workshops and training courses to acquire this skill. Listening is different from hearing. That we can hear does not mean that we are listening. Hearing is just one of our senses, like tasting, smelling or seeing. We can hear sounds. But listening means that we understand the sounds that we hear. There are other things we have to do, such as being quiet and focus on the person speaking, as
well as other processes within us that help us to understand—our intellect, our memory, our experience, our heart and our faith. We do not use just our ears when we listen. Think of Samuel who first heard the sound of his name being called. He heard only his name being called; that is why he went to Eli because he thought Eli called him. He did not yet understand what this calling of his name meant. Eli told Samuel to answer next time he heard his name being called: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” And for Samuel to listen he then first had to be quiet and prepare himself to listen and to engage other processes within himself so that he could be able to understand why his name was being called. When we truly listen to other people, their stories, their ideas and their feelings, we come to understand their point of view. And the person being listened to can feel this. This is a great gift we can give to someone. It is life-giving and a blessing. Understanding is psychological oxygen. When we are understood we feel free. We can also listen to someone, attentively, not to truly understand but with the intention to store, recall and use the information against the person at a later stage. This is not true listening and it is not a blessing; rather it is a curse on someone and a very hurtful thing that can suf-
Point of Preaching
Although his motto was Cor ad cor loquitur (“Heart to Heart”), Newman was not given to visibly arousing the emotions of his listeners. He believed the preacher “must aim at imprinting on the heart what will never leave it, and this he cannot do unless he employ himself on some definite subject, which he has to handle and weigh, and then, as it were, to hand over from himself to others”. Contrary to St Augustine and Archbishop François Fénelon, whom we covered in the past two articles in this series, Newman held that the message must first reach the intellect, then the heart. In his ability to penetrate people’s consciences and lead them to repentance, conversion, and obedience he certainly was acting in the realm of pathos. His eyes were glued to his notes, his body motionless, yet it was said by one who was present on one occasion that when he spoke it was as if a stroke of electricity passed through the church. His impeccable diction interspersed with 30 second long pauses captured listeners; in a rather rough-and-ready simulation of a few of Newman’s sermons I estimate that they would have been at least between 15 to 20 minutes long. Although there have been changes in liturgy and shifts in biblical scholarship, what fledgling preachers can learn from Newman is how to produce homilies of substance and profundity and to deliver these with fitting reverence and earnestness—but not without a joyous countenance. Next month: Fulton Sheen, the “Microphone of God”.
On Faith and Life
focate someone’s spirit. Listen to give life, and not to break it down. To enable us to really understand someone, we must listen to more than just the words the person is speaking. Communication experts tell us that words account for only 7% of what is being communicated. Thirty eight percent of the message is communicated through our tone (how we say things) and 55% is communicated through body language. So to truly listen to someone, we should remember to listen not only to their words, but also to their tone and their body language. By doing this, we will get a real understanding of what they are trying to communicate to us. Many people would also say that we must also listen to what is not being said. When we have listened to someone we will know what the person is saying and how they feel about what they are saying; then we are in the best position to respond to them, and such a position would be a position of love. In this Year of Faith, let us remember that God listens to all of us every single day and he truly listens, as Rachel reminds us when she states with gladness: “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son” (Genesis 30:6).
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The Southern Cross, October 24 to October 30, 2012
The Southern Cross, October 24 to October 30, 2012
How we should respond to suicide Christian teaching condemns suicides, but a recent tragedy made Fr RAYMOND MWANGALA OMI rethink his attitude to it.
ECENTLY, I attended a memorial service for a man who had committed suicide. The occasion has challenged me to reconsider my attitude towards victims of suicide and the appropriate pastoral response to their families. I have no doubt that suicide is an evil that terminates life. Its effects on those left behind are complex and call for compassion, honesty and sensitivity. As I sat in the congregation, I couldn’t help but notice the different approaches taken by different people to deal with the situation. First, there were those who had decided to completely avoid any mention of subject. Somehow, it was felt, this was not the time to acknowledge that the man we were recalling had taken his own life. This was a time to celebrate a life well lived. But then, the way our friend had died was a part of how he had lived life. This had to be acknowledged. Running away from reality does not solve a problem. The first speaker at the service to hint at the suicide asked the congregation to remember that it is how life is lived and not how one dies which ultimately matters. This was meant as an invitation to focus on the positive aspects of the experience. To me, this too felt shallow and a form of escapism. It was only when an elderly, wise close colleague of the deceased directly mentioned the suicide that I felt a deep sense of liberation. Finally somebody had the courage to say what most of us were thinking but were afraid to name. The speaker described the tragic death of his friend in a way that I found extremely sensitive and compassionate. The victim of the self-inflicted death had been suffering from depression for several
Depression, like cancer, is an illness that causes deep and profound suffering and it is not a moral condition as some tend to think, writes Fr Raymond Mwangala. (Photo: Karen Callaway, Catholic New World/ CNS) months prior to the suicide. The speaker noted how so often people suffer immensely due to cancer. Cancer, he said, is sometimes present in a person’s body or organs and yet it remains undetected for a long time. It causes pain to the carrier, which progressively becomes unbearable, to such ends that all the person wants is to bring an end to the pain—permanently. Death, therefore, becomes a permanent solution to the pain. Depression is a cancer. It causes deep and profound suffering to the one in depression. It too is a sickness—and certainly not a moral condition, as some tend to think. For one in depression, death often presents itself as a permanent solution to the situation. Our friend
had given in to this perceived solution. Once this happens we often wonder about God’s judgment. My experience at the memorial service helped me realise that such wondering is usually done in moralistic terms. We forget that whenever a suicide occurs, something has gone terribly wrong long before the act. Like cancer, the depression has slowly been eating away at the person’s life. God’s love embraces both the process of suffering before and the final moment of giving in to the temptation to end it all. And so a self-inflicted death which is due to depression is a tragedy and cannot be a reason to condemn the deceased to eternal damnation. In fact, on this occasion, the man whose life we were celebrating had been a firm
Christian believer and theologian, one who had given his life in service of God and neighbour. He was recognised by many as an outstanding disciple and teacher. This must surely count for something, even in the sight of God. Unfortunately, with such a death the temptation to assign blame is great, even among Christians. People look for the cause of the depression. This too was present on this occasion. It was made explicit by the deceased’s son who sought to dispel the notion that the family had assigned responsibility for his father’s death to the church. Our friend, a minister of the church, had suffered immensely due to church politics. So it was easy for some to blame the church for the man’s death. But, as the son explained, in the eyes of the family it was not the church, but rather his father’s decision to love the church that had ultimately led to his tragic death. His father loved the church in such a way that he was willing to sacrifice comfort and an easy life to serve her. In the end, the burden had proved too heavy to bear. While it might be helpful to discover the root cause to a problem so as to find a lasting solution, in cases such as this the causes are manifold and complex—and, in the case of clinical depression, biological—so assigning blame to any one particular cause, person or group is not helpful. It is actually destructive. The compassionate approach is to stand with the bereaved in their grief and to mourn with them. To speak honestly about the reality of the death opens some cracks in the dark reality of the suicide. The cracks allow God’s light and love to break through. I am grateful that even in such a dark experience the love of God breaks through and we can once again hear the words of Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25). As communities of faith we need to develop a liberating sensitivity to those around us and to reach out to them with hope and love. n Fr Raymond Mwangala OMI is the dean of studies at St Joseph’s Theological Institute, Cedara, KwaZulu-Natal.
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The Southern Cross, October 24 to October 30, 2012
Our ancestor pilgrims Pilgrims have come to the Holy Land for almost two millennia. In this excerpt from his newly-published book The Holy Land Trek, GÜNTHER SIMMERMACHER looks at some of these early travellers into the footsteps of Christ
HE oldest extant travelogue of a Holy Land pilgrimage is that of the anonymous Bordeaux Pilgrim, who visited the Holy Land in 333 AD. The Itinerarium Burdigalense (or “Bordeaux Itinerary”), as it is known, does not make for inspiring reading, but it does provide a great account of routes, names and places. In fact, our Gallic friend even tells us the names of the horses he used on his travels, and where he changed them. So we learn that he travelled to the Holy Land by land from Burdigala (present-day Bordeaux) through northern Italy and the Danube valley to Constantinople, and from Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and Syria to Jerusalem. The Bordeaux Pilgrim is of importance not only to Christian but also to Jewish scholarship because he mentions synagogues and Jewish sites and traditions. He also visited the first church of the Holy Sepulchre, which he admiringly called “a church of wondrous beauty”, two years before its formal inauguration in 335. The Bordeaux Pilgrim provides the oldest existing itinerary, but many made a spiritual journey to the Holy Land—and especially to Jerusalem—long before him, as an inscription from around the third century found on Golgotha shows. If any of these travellers recorded their experiences, none of these writings have survived, nor are they referred to in ancient writings. Still, the historian and bishop Eusebius noted in 315 that pilgrims would gather for prayer on the Mount of Olives, symbolically facing the ruined Temple of the Jews.
Emperor Constantine himself is believed to have travelled to the Holy Land as a young man with his mentor (and frequent persecutor of Christians), Emperor Diocletian. Late in his life he planned to be baptised in the Jordan—it is said that he deferred receiving the sacrament for so long in the hope of being baptised in that river— but he died before he could launch the invasion of Persia which would have facilitated an opportune detour to the Holy Land. After Constantine, and particularly due to his mother Queen Helena’s journey in 326-328, the pilgrim industry rapidly mushroomed, bringing the region great wealth. Religious institutions catering for the needs of pilgrims sprung up all over the Holy Land, supplemented by a flourishing souvenir industry and support services. In return, wealthy pilgrims became benefactors, financing more development which in turn required improved infrastructure— roads, hospitals, accommodation and so on. Naturally all that accelerated economic growth.
n the Byzantine era, the time between Constantine and the Muslim conquest in the seventh century, the Holy Land thrived. It is noteworthy that most of the surviving pilgrim accounts of the Byzantine era come from European travellers, while most pilgrims probably came from outside Europe. Bethlehem-based St Jerome (c.347-420) mentioned pilgrims from India, Syria, Persia and so on. It may be that for pilgrims from the East, a journey to the Holy Land was not as exotic as it was for travellers from the West, with the result that the adventures of European pilgrims found a particularly eager audience that was
absent in the East. Perhaps the most important of all pilgrims, for our present purposes, arrived in the Holy Land just a little over 50 years after Helena, in the 380s. Egeria, also called Aetheria, is believed to have come from modern-day Spain. She spent three years in the Holy Land. During her travels she sent a long letter of her experiences to her “sisters” back home. She might have been a nun or a woman of independent means (with female siblings). She was also a practical woman with little patience for exceedingly pious legends. Instead she described the sites she saw and the liturgies she witnessed, at a time when the Church was still developing the liturgical year (even Christmas had not yet been formally set on December 25). Cyril of Jerusalem, writing in the 340s, is another excellent source of early liturgy. Egeria’s account shows that the local priests and monks were eager to show pilgrims around, and even to arrange for their protection. Inconveniently, a large portion of her account has been lost to time. Among the missing sections is her description of Jerusalem, though her accounts of some liturgical celebrations have survived. We can trust Egeria, and that is why her itinerary is so valuable. Reporting from Capernaum she wrote about a house-church which the locals told her was the house of St Peter. Almost 1 600 years later, archaeologists excavated just such a structure, and it corresponded perfectly with Egeria’s description.
lmost 200 years after Egeria, the Pilgrim of Piacenza turned up in the Holy Land. The year was 570, and so our friend from Italy, sometimes named as Antoninus,
Above: An inscription in the Armenian chapel of St Vartan the church of the Holy Sepulchre, dating from some time after 135 and before 325 AD. It is believed to be the oldest evidence of foreign Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. It seems to indicate that the site of the church was regarded as the authentic Golgotha even when a pagan temple stood there.
Right: A medieval depiction of the Spanish pilgrim Egeria, whose writings from her journey to the Holy Land in the 380s have in large part survived. describes a journey to a region that within the next century would fall victim first to a devastating invasion by the Persians, who razed almost all Christian churches, and then to the conquest by the Muslims, who would rule the Holy Land for most of the next 13 centuries. So he provides us with a snapshot of the Holy Land in its Christian pomp, before everything changed fundamentally and irrevocably, as the Crusaders would find half a millennium later. Antoninus is not a most dependable guide. He was either a raconteur who entertained his readers with fabulous but evidently tall tales, or he was a gullible dope who swallowed the pious legends he was fed on his journey. In Nazareth he reported seeing the very school bench upon which our Lord supposedly learned his ABC, and in Cana he reclined on a couch from the wedding feast, no less. He confessed to having left behind a graffito of his parents’ name, thereby demonstrating that even devout Byzantine pilgrims were not above performing random acts of vandalism. Embellishments aside, the Pia-
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cenza Pilgrim doubtless was sincere in his motives; indeed, his accounts are infused with piety, and when a place or the people he met there pleased him, he showed an uninhibited enthusiasm, which he probably shared with his fellow pilgrims of the time. To Antoninus, historical accuracy was very much secondary to the sensory experiences of the Holy Land. It didn’t matter if the couch from the Cana wedding on which the local guides invited him to recline was not the authentic article; what mattered was that by believing it to be so, he struck a physical connection with the Lord Jesus. Archaeology and literary sources have in recent centuries given us a better idea of what is authentic and what probably is not, and the modern pilgrim benefits from these insights. But sometimes it is not be a bad idea to emulate our correspondent from sixth-century Piacenza in suspending disbelief, so as to believe better. n Next week: Capernaum. To order The Holy Land Trek at R150 (plus R15 p&p) visit www.holy landtrek.com or contact The Southern Cross at email@example.com.
The Southern Cross, October 24 to October 30, 2012
Fr Bonginkosi Mkhize
O understand the death of a priest you must understand the life of a priest.” Fr Bonginkosi Aloysius Mkhize’s pastoral ministry was dominated by his devotion to the poor, the sick, prisoners, the bereaved, youth and uneducated adults. Fr Bongi, as he was affectionately known, served as a priest in the archdiocese of Pretoria for more than 19 years. He died on October 1, aged 48, after being in the Akasia Hospital intensive care unit for almost a month. He had struggled stoically with diabetes and hypertension for a number of years. Archbishop William Slattery was privileged to pray with him a few hours before he died. Fr Mkhize was born in Lower Loteni, KwaZuluNatal, on May 7, 1963, the son of the late Lawrence and Annacletta Mkhize. He was baptised at St Leo mission on March 25, 1964 and confirmed there in 1978. He passed his matric in 1984 with excellent marks from Georgetown High School. In 1984, he joined the Missionary Sons of Jesus (MSJ), founded by the late Fr Reginald Webber OMI. The charism of the MSJs was primarily to serve the sick, aged, youth, students, the poor, prisoners and migrants. Fr Mkhize started his pre-novitiate in Ofcolaco in
Sr Callista Speicher OP
HE Oakford Dominican Sister Callista Speicher died peacefully on August 28 at Villa Siena in Pietermaritzburg at the age of 84. She was 64 years professed. Sr Callista was born in Germany on September 7, 1928. She entered the Oakford Congregation in 1946 at the age of 17 in Germany. She came to South Africa in 1949 and ministered in Genazzano, Oakford, Bremersdorp (Swaziland), Walsingham, Rosary Lodge, Virginia and finally Osindisweni from where she retired in 1991. She was a very good cook and a conscientious supervisor and housekeeper. In the last years of her life at Villa Siena she suffered a stroke and was mainly confined to her room or wheelchair. She was however very interested in the events around her. She wrote many letters and was in contact with many people, both in South Africa and overseas. She loved to have visitors and welcomed each one with a smile. Sr Callista is survived by her only sibling, Sr Anaclete Mary, also an Oakford Dominican.
Word of the Week
the diocese of Tzaneen in 1985. From 1986-87 he studied philosophy at St Peter’s seminary in Hammanskraal. In 1988 he became a novice in Eldorado Park and the following year went to St Joseph’s Theological Institute in Cedara, near Pietermaritzburg. When the MSJ religious order ceased to exist he requested incardination in the archdiocese of Pretoria. He was ordained a priest on April 12, 1993. As priest he was pastor of Mamaneng, Marapyane, Tweefontein, Winterveldt, Soshanguve (St Clare, Naledi ya Meso, St Charles Lwanga), Fafung, Ekangala and Stinkwater (Tshepo pastoral district). Fr Mkhize loved books and studies and intellectual pursuits. They changed his life and he changed his world accordingly. He earned several certificates, diplomas and degrees. At the time of his death he was completing his PhD. He taught matric subjects in many schools and supported Adult Basic Training and Education (ABET) supervisors in the different satellites. He was also an external marker for the ABET certificate and diploma courses at UNISA. For many years Fr Mkhize also served as chaplain at Odi prison. At the time of his death he was the secretary of Specialised Ministries (police, prisons, army) in the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Fr Mkhize is survived by two brothers, Boy Vivian and Frans Lucky Mkhize, nieces, nephews, uncles and aunts. Fr Mathibela Sebothoma
Liturgical Calendar Year B Weekdays Year 2
Sunday, October 28, 30th Sunday Jeremiah 31:7-9, Psalm 126:1-6, Hebrews 5:1-6, Mark 10:46-52 Monday, October 29, feria Ephesians 4:32, 5:8, Psalm 1:1-4, 6, Luke 13:10-17 Tuesday, October 30, St Marcellus Ephesians 5:21-33, Psalm 128:1-5, Luke 13:18-21 Wednesday, October 31, feria Ephesians 6:1-9, Psalm 145:10-14, Luke 13:22-30 Thursday, November 1, feria Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14, Psalm 24:1-6, 1 John 3:1-3, Matthew 5:1-12 Friday, November 2, All Souls Wisdom 3:1-9, Psalm 27:1, 4, 7-9, 13-14, Romans 5:5-11, John 11:17-27 Saturday, November 3, St Martin de Porres Philippians 1:18-26, Psalm 42:2-3, 5, Luke 14:1, 7-11 Sunday, November 4, 31st Sunday, All Saints Deuteronomy 6:2-6, Psalm 18:2-4, 47, 51, Hebrews 7:23-28, Mark 12:28-34
Southern CrossWord solutions SOLUTIONS TO 521. ACROSS: 4 Scoffer, 8 Age-old, 9 Angelus, 10 Talmud, 11 Exceed, 12 Shepherd, 18 Eastward. 20 Career, 21 Buddha, 22 Worship, 23 Rustic, 24 Fridays. DOWN: 1 Baptism, 2 Replied, 3 Slouch, 5 Concedes, 6 Fierce, 7 Eludes, 13 Eternity, 14 Mandate, 15 Advance, 16 Savour, 17 Versed, 19 Taurus.
INCARDINATION: 1. The official acceptance by one diocese of a clergyman from another diocese. 2. The promotion of a clergyman to the status of a cardinal.
Friday 2 November, 2012
His Grace Archbishop Stephen Brislin will celebrate Holy Mass for the Souls in Purgatory at 10:00am on Friday 2 November 2012 at the All Souls Chapel, Woltemade Cemetary, Maitland, Gate 1.
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THELEN—Michelle: (06.10.2012) The Holy Cross Sisters, Staff, Children and School Community of Brooklyn and Rugby offer their prayer, sympathy and support to Mr Adolf Thelen, our colleague, educator and friend on the tragic and sudden death of his beloved wife, Michelle and our dear friend. For Michelle May the blessings of love be upon you, Michelle. May God’s peace and light surround you May its essence illuminate your whole being Now and forever more! Rest in God’s love. For Adolf May the peace that comes from the memories of love and great joy shared, enfold and comfort you now and in the days ahead. May your Faith be supported and enlivened by all in Heaven and Earth. Our prayers, sympathy and support are constantly with you, Adolf. Holy Masses will be celebrated for both Michelle and you, Adolf. Peace!
OLSEN—William (Bill). On the anniversary of my husband Bill, October 20. Please remember him in your prayers and joy to Bill and all those in need of God’s love. Merciful God please give him rest, peace and joy. Daily remembered by his wife Elaine (Charnie).
depth of my heart and humbly beg you to come to my assistance. Help me now in my urgent need and grant my petitions. In return I promise to make your name known and publish this prayer. AK. O MOST beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendour of Heaven, blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me where you are, Mother of God. Queen of heaven and earth I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succour me in my necessity. There is none who can withstand your power, O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Holy Mary, I place this cause in your hands. Say this prayer for 3 consecutive days and then publish. AK. O HOLY SPIRIT, divine Spirit of light and love, I consecrate to Thee my intellect, my heart, my will and my whole being for time and for eternity. May my intellect be ever docile to Thy heavenly inspirations and to the teaching of the Holy Catholic Church of which Thou art the infallible Guide. May my heart be ever inflamed
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HOLY ST JUDE, apostle and martyr, great in virtue and rich in miracles, kinsman of Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor of all who invoke you, special patron in time of need. To you I have recourse from the
with the love of God and my neighbour; may my will be ever in conformity with the divine will, and may my whole life be a faithful imitation of the life and virtues of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and thee, Holy Spirit, be honour and glory for ever. Amen. LORD JESUS, may everything I do begin with You, continue with Your help,and be done under Your guidance. May my sharing in the Mass free me from my sins, and make me worthy of Your healing. May I grow in Your Love and Your service, and become a pleasing offering to You; and with You to Your Father.
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31st Sunday: November 4 (All Saints) Readings: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14, Psalm 24:1-6, 1 John 3:1-3, Matthew 5:1-12
EXT Sunday is the feast of All Saints in this country; and the point about saints is that you and I do not know who they are, so when we arrive on the other side, we may find ourselves saying in astonishment, “What are you doing here?” Only God knows who the saints are, and it may help us to recall that St Paul addresses his contemporary Christians as “saints”, even though he was well aware that they did not always behave like it. The first reading for the feast strikes something of a chill in us, for it speaks of the four angels whose God-given task it is to “damage the earth and the sea”. We shiver at this, and then breathe a sigh of relief as they are told to wait “until we seal the slaves of our God on their foreheads”. The sigh of relief comes because we assume that those who are reading the book of Revelation are included in that number, which turns out to be 144 000, divided between the 12 tribes of Israel; in addition, however, there is “a great crowd, whom nobody can count”, from all cultures and nationalities (so that is the rest of us). They are dressed in white and are carrying palmbranches. And it is no good your saying “that must
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look nice”, for palm-branches are the emblems of martyrdom, and (we learn later in the reading) their garments are white only because “they have washed their garments white in the blood of the Lamb”, that is to say that they have joined in the sufferings of Jesus. So becoming a saint is not an easy thing. Nevertheless, we can take confidence, because we can hear the liturgical song that they are singing, on the other side of death: “Salvation to our God, who sits on the Throne, and to the Lamb”. Then we become aware of another liturgical hymn being sung in heaven, and clearly the saints are expected to join in with “all the angels around the Throne and the elders and the four living creatures”, who are flat on their faces worshipping God and singing
“Amen: blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might, to our God forever and ever. Amen.” The Apocalypse is well aware of the messiness of human life, but maintains that it is still possible to sing that song in the face of suffering and human failure, because God is in charge. The psalm for next Sunday is well aware of this: “To the Lord belongs the land, and all that fills it,” the poet sings, “the earth and those who live in it.” The reason is that God has created it all; but of course that means that not just anyone can join in (and this perhaps offers a correction to the previous reading) and “go up to the mountain of the Lord...and to his holy place”. Then comes a list of criteria for access to the sanctuary: “The clean of hands and pure of heart, who do not worship idols.” The main thing is that they are “the generation of those who love the Lord, who seek the face of the God of Jacob”. Is that you, this week? If so, then the “ancient gates” will open to you. In the end, it comes down to nothing else but love; that is what makes us into saints,
We aren’t as selfless as we think Fr Ron O Rolheiser OMI NE of the wonderful features of young children is their emotional honesty. They don’t hide their feeling or wants. They have no subtlety. When they want something they simply demand it. They scream. They cry. They snatch things from each other. And they aren’t ashamed of any of this. They offer no apologies for selfishness, no disguises. As we grow-up we become emotionally more-disciplined and leave most of this behind. But we also become much less emotionally honest. Our selfishness and our faults become less crass, but, this side of eternity, they never really disappear. They just become subtler. The Church has, classically, named something it calls the “seven deadly sins”: pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed, gluttony and lust. How these manifest themselves in their crassest forms is evident. But how do these manifest themselves in their subtler forms? How do they manifest themselves among the supposedly mature? Great spiritual writers have always had various treatises, some more astute than others, on what they call the religious faults of those who are beyond initial conversion. And it’s valuable sometimes to look at ourselves with naked honesty and ask ourselves how we have morphed the crasser faults of children into the subtler faults of adults. How, for instance, does pride manifest itself in our lives in more subtle ways? How pride lives in us during our more mature years is probably best
described by Jesus in the famous parable of the Pharisee and Publican. The Pharisee, vilified in this story, is proud precisely of his spiritual and human maturity. That’s a subtle pride of which it is almost impossible to rid ourselves. As we mature morally and religiously it becomes almost impossible not to compare ourselves with others who are struggling and to not feel both a certain smugness, that we are not like them, and a certain disdain for their condition. Spiritual writers often describe the fault in this way: Pride in the mature person takes the form of refusing to be small before God and refusing to recognise properly our interconnection with others. It is a refusal to accept our own poverty, namely, to recognise that we are standing before God and others with empty hands and that all we have and have achieved has come our way by grace more so than by our own efforts. During our adult years pride often disguises itself as a humility which is a strategy for further enhancement. It takes Jesus’ invitation to heart: whoever wants to be first must be last and be the servant of all! Then, as we are taking the last place and being of service, we cannot help but feel very good about ourselves and
nurse the secret knowledge that our humility is in fact a superiority and something for which we will later be recognised and admired. As well, as we mature, pride will take on this noble face. We will begin to do the right things for seemingly the right reasons, though often deceiving ourselves because, in the end, we will still be doing them in service to our own pride. Our motivation for generosity is often more inspired by the desire to feel good about ourselves than by real love of others. For example, a number of times during my years of ministry, I have been tempted to move to the inner-city to live among the poor as a sign of my commitment to social justice. It took a good spiritual director to point out to me that, at least in my case, such a move there would, no doubt, do a lot more for me than for the poor. My moving there would make me feel good, enhance my status among my colleagues, and be a wonderful inscription inside my curriculum vitae, but would not, unless I would more radically change my life and ministry, do much for the poor. Ultimately, it would serve my pride more than it would serve the poor. Carmelite Sister Ruth Burrows cautions that this same dynamic holds in terms of our motivation for prayer and generosity. Thus, she writes: “The way we worry about spiritual failure, the inability to pray, distractions, ugly thoughts and temptations we can’t get rid of...it’s not because God is defrauded, for he isn’t, it’s because we are not so beautiful as we would like to be.” And subtle pride, invariably, brings with it a condescending judgment about others. We see this most strongly perhaps in the period shortly after first conversion; when young lovers, recent religious converts, and neophytes in service and justice, still caught-up in the emotional fervour of the honeymoon, think they alone know how to relate to each other, to Jesus, and to the poor. The fervour is admirable, but the pride invariably spawns a couple of nasty children: arrogance and elitism. Pride is inextricably linked to our nature and partly it’s healthy, but it’s a life-long moral struggle to keep it healthy.
for love is the absolute identity of God, and love is what we human beings do when we are operating at our very best. That is the message of the second reading for the feast, about being “children of God”, accepting the love that God has given us and consequently being made “holy”. Love is however not a warm and fuzzy feeling, as it is so often represented, but something of a challenge; for love entails vulnerability rather than aggressively putting ourselves first. Look at next Sunday’s gospel, the electrifying beginning of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, which takes all the values of the world in which we live, and turns them systematically upside down. So the people whom Jesus congratulates are not those who grab power for themselves, nor those who are evidently “having a good time”, or dominating, or sending morality flying out of the window (you can make your own list of the “opposites” of the beatitudes). This astonishing picture, which some people regard as Matthew’s “portrait of Jesus”, should make us stop and think, but it has a profound sanity about it. Who do you know who looks like this?
Southern Crossword #521
4. One who mocks you is a greedy eater (7) 8. Ancient ale god (3-3) 9. Noon prayer (7) 10. Body of Jewish Law (6) 11. Go beyond the limit (6) 12. Good title for Jesus (8) 18. Direction for missionary to Asia (8) 20. Rush wildly to your profession (6) 21. The Asian holy man (6) 22. Mayor’s religious address? (7) 23. Is curt about country scene (6) 24. First Sacred Heart monthly devotion (7)
1. Number one sacrament (7) 2. Responded about red pile (7) 3. Drooping posture in the pew (6) 5. Admits defeat (8) 6. Ferocious (6) 7. Sue led to escapes (6) 13. It lasts for ever (8) 14. Male appointment gives authority (7) 15. Go ahead for a loan (7) 16. I am lost to Saviour, and sense it (6) 17. Thoroughly acquainted with biblical texts? (6) 19. The Latin Bull (6) Solutions on page 11
HOCOLATE is a vegetable. How, you ask? Chocolate is derived from cocoa beans. Bean equals vegetable. Sugar is derived from either sugar cane or sugar beets. Both are plants, which places them in the vegetable category. Thus, chocolate is a vegetable. To go one step further, chocolate bars also contain milk, which is dairy. So candy bars are a health food. Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange slices and strawberries all count as fruit, so eat as many as you want. Enjoy... Send us your favourite Catholic joke, preferably clean and brief, to The Southern Cross, Church Chuckle, PO Box 2372, Cape Town, 8000.
24 October - 30 October, 2012