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Call to seek new ways of elections STAFF REPORTER
Southern Cross news editor Claire Mathieson married Ross van der Pas at Nazareth House chapel in Cape Town. Fr Peter-John Pearson officiated, reportedly the only nuptials the vicargeneral of Cape Town archdiocese could fit into his schedule this year. (Photo: Sydney Duval)
Catholic Church’s grand old dame dies at 108 T STAFF REPORTER
HE mother of Radio Veritas director Fr Emil Blaser and reportedly Cape Town’s oldest resident has died two months short of her 109th birthday. Margherita Blaser, who was born in Cape Town on October 14, 1904 of Italian parents, never recovered from surgery after she broke a femur in a fall in the Nazareth House retirement home. She died at Christiaan Barnard hospital on August 11. Mrs Blaser grew up on a farm in Philippi. “She knew it before the days of tarred roads, telephones, electricity, radio, television, and cars—all the things we take for granted,” Fr Blaser said. “She used to come by ox wagon to Claremont for piano and singing lessons with Albina Bini. She lived through the Spanish plague and two world wars. She knew the old Cape Town that we never think of,” he said. She and her husband John, who had come from Switzerland in 1921 to help set up the Bally shoe factory, had four children: Gita, Inez, Emil and Walter. In 1947 the family moved to Claremont, where they ran the Swiss Café on Lansdowne Road. Mrs Blaser eventually opened a dress shop, specialising in wedding dresses, and then a restaurant, Capri.
“She was also an accomplished cook and many will testify to her cuisine, especially her pasta,” Fr Blaser recalled. Mrs Blaser always ate healthily and often said: “We dig our graves with our teeth!” She ate no beef or dairy, and never drank or smoked. When 40 years Margherita Blaser on her ago she was diag- 108th birthday last year. nosed with arthritis, she was introduced to a naturopath who put her on a diet. She never had arthritis again. Mrs Blaser’s great love was her garden and anything bio-degradable was buried there. A prize-winner for her gardening, she was a life member of the Cape Horticultural Society. She was loyal to the Church and a faithful member of the Catholic Women’s League, which she served especially through her cooking at functions. She faithfully attended Mass on Sundays Continued on page 11
CATHOLIC political analyst has described a recent call by a government minister for electoral changes as “significant”. Mike Pothier, project coordinator of the bishops’ Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO) commented on a call by Arts and Culture minister Paul Mashatile to propose a change in the way we elect MPs. Electoral reform in South Africa was suggested more than ten years ago; the report drawn up by the Slabbert Commission for President Thabo Mbeki was never published for debate. When the Democratic Alliance tabled a private members’ Bill on the issue earlier this year, the African National Congress chief whip rejected it. Mr Mashatile “has clearly identified the reasons why such a change is increasingly seen as necessary”, Mr Pothier said. The influential ANC minister said it is critical for parliament to be “in closer touch with the people”, and said there would be “more accountability once MPs are elected directly by constituencies”. Mr Mashatile is the first senior ANC leader to propose a change in the way we elect MPs. He is also the party’s Gauteng chairman and a former premier of the province. Mr Pothier said when the Constitution was first drafted, it was intended for the electoral system to be broadly proportional. “If Christians, or socialists, or environmentalists, want to get together as a block, launch a party and canvas support, the electoral system should be organised in such a way that these groups have a realistic chance of achieving representation in the legislature,” he said. This is achieved by the present propor-
tional representation system which awards parliamentary seats according to the percentage of votes parties receive in the general parliamentary election. Mr Pothier said this goal had been achieved and a number of small parties, including the African Christian Democratic Party, AZAPO and the Freedom Front + have maintained a presence in parliament due to the proportional representation system. Under a Westminster-style constituency system, in which voting precincts elect one candidate to represent them in parliament— these and most other parties would not make it to parliament at all. But, Mr Pothier said, proportional representation has several downsides: it separates MPs from the electorate and places them squarely under the control of party hierarchies; it diminishes accountability to the electorate; it potentially relegates parliament to a rubber-stamp for legislation and policy decided by the executive; and it blurs the separation of powers between executive and legislature. “The solution is a fairly obvious one: South Africa should adopt one of the many hybrid electoral systems that are used elsewhere in the world to combine the fairness and representativity of a proportional representative system with the better accountability and connectedness of a constituency system,” he said. “Whether a reduction in the present diversity of parliament, with fewer voices from sectoral minorities, would be a price worth paying for greater accountability and responsiveness on the part of MPs is the question that needs to be debated,” Mr Pothier said. “Mr Mashatile’s call hopefully signals that the governing party will soon be prepared to enter fully into that debate.”
Pope consoles murder victim’s brother
N Italian man who has struggled to forgive God after the murder of his brother recently received a personal phone call from Pope Francis, who offered him words of comfort. Michele Ferri, 51, was devastated when his brother, who owned several petroil stations in the city of Pesaro in northern Italy, was shot and killed by two employees last June. The employees are now serving prison sentences. After his brother’s death, he had written on his Facebook page: “I have always forgiven you for everything God, but not this time, this time I won't forgive you.” Overcome with grief and frustration, Mr Ferri wrote a letter to the pope, but never expected to receive a personal response.
This month, however, Mr Ferri “got an unexpected call”, according to the newspaper Il Messagero. After answering the phone, he heard the response: “Hi Michele, It's Pope Francis.” It was around that time that the 51 yearold Ferri wrote a letter to the Holy Father. He was shocked to receive a phone call from Pope Francis, and initially thought it was a prank. However, his disbelief turned into excitement as the caller began referencing the contents of the private letter, which no one else would have known. Fr Mario Amadeo, the pastor at Mr Ferri's parish, said the pope's phone call was “a very beautiful act that testifies to the kindness and greatness of this pontiff”.—CNA
HOLY LAND YOUTH PILGRIMAGE 5 - 14 July 2014 Led by Fr SAMMY MABUSELA (SA national youth chaplain) Accompanied by Claire Mathieson of The Southern Cross
A TIME OF FAITH, FELLOWSHIP, FRIENDSHIP AND FUN!
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For itinerary or to book phone Gail at 076 352 3809 or 021 551 3923 firstname.lastname@example.org www.fowlertours.co.za
The Southern Cross, August 21 to August 27, 2013
Career day helps altar servers BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
ORE than 680 altar servers attended a camp run by the archdiocese of Pretoria to bring together the diocese’s youth who were exposed to career guidance and life skills. Held at St Camillius primary school in Hammanskraal, the camp was led by Fr Herman Mole. Altar servers from the different deaneries attended including boys and girls ranging from age 10 to 25. The initiative was part of the skills development project of the national youth department of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference. National youth chaplain Fr Sammy Mabusela CSS said career guidance for the country’s youth was of paramount importance and starting within the Church’s structures—the altar servers—was a per-
HE Johannesburg archdiocesan Catholic Church Choirs Music Association will stage its annual music festival. It will showcase choirs from various Johannesburg parishes. The festival will be held on September 7 at 10:00h in Kagiso 2 Hall. The entrance fee is R40. n Contact Lerato Paseka at 083 895 0025.
fect place to start. Bobo Cecilia Mthembu said the camp was successfully run thanks to the committee council members and St John Vianney seminarians who helped the youth understand more about altar serving. She added the seminarians were helpful in all areas of security and other camp logistics. “The altar servers were given a brief explanation about what career is, and its meaning was given to attendants; and how they understood it themselves,” said Ms Mthembu. The youth were divided into groups where they were given a career guidance assessment which included a self-assessment of one’s own career aspirations, presentation skills exposed and talents identified. “Self-assessment was introduced to the attendants in a group so that they can apply it to themselves in
any daily decisions at school, home, play or in future decisions,” said Ms Mthembu, adding that the mixed age groups were beneficial as the altar servers shared experiences and advised each other. “The groups were coordinated by committee council for direction and supervision. Feedback was given by two to four group representatives accompanied by a chart,” explained Ms Mthembu. Ms Mthembu said the camp helped the altar servers understand the complicated method which is utilised in company management decisions. “Despite a large crowd, the message was delivered and age was not a stumbling block.” Ms Mthembu said this was the first of such career guidance workshops but many more intense workshops would be needed to really help the archdiocese’s youth in their journey to being employed.
Altar servers attended a youth camp run by the archdiocese of Pretoria.
New rules on banking
Opportunity for Lebanese youth BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
ARAH El Ataa, a non-profit Lebanese organisation, is offering 20 South African Lebanese the opportunity to participate in summer camp activities in Lebanon. The organisation, whose name means “giving joy”, will provide free accommodation, transport, food and beverage for 20 youth with Lebanese visas. Volunteers will only have to pay their travel tickets
and pocket money, said international liaison officer Fadi Khalaf. The youth will be involved in two kinds of activities: a work camp for the rehabilitation of eight buildings, in the village of Abra, Sidon, South Lebanon, or summer camps for children in the village of Kfifane, Batroun in North Lebanon. Mr Khalaf said applicants must be over the age of 18, should have pocket money, money for an air ticket to Beirut, and should not
have an Israeli-stamped passport. Mr Khalaf added that this was a great opportunity for those who love Lebanon and what it symbolises and for those who want to help Lebanon and its humanitarian projects. He said he hoped more South African Lebanese would consider volunteering at summer camps in the future. n For more information contact Fadi Khalaf on 021 930 0333 or 072 337 2106.
Poetry, music and dance light up stage
OMINICAN Convent Pre-Primary School in Belgravia, Johannesburg, paid a special tribute to the late Sr Natalie Kuhn, founder of Wings of Hope, and Nelson Mandela, with its second arts and culture festival. The adjudicators were Sue Thomas, Brenda Solomon and Ntsoaki Sithole. The participating schools were Dominican Convent School, Johannesburg Girls’ Preparatory School,
Wings of Hope Pre-School as well as Jeppe High Preparatory School. Almost 200 children participated in poetry, music and dance items. The children received certificates and trophies for their performances which were filled with energy, joy and love. Children had their own favourite moments, but Grade R pupil Leshae summed it up best: “I liked the look on my mommy’s face when she saw me dancing. She was proud of me.”
Children perform at Dominican Convent Belgravia’s arts and culture festival.
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UBSCRIBERS, advertisers and other clients based in Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries are advised that The Southern Cross can no longer accept cheques and drafts from those countries, even if they are made out in rands, according to new banking rules. This also affects residents of the Common Monetary Area: Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. The changes came into effect as of July 22, according to the Payments Association of South Africa (PASA). “Individuals and companies who wish to make payments from one country to another will have to use electronic transfer channels,” said Walter Volker, CEO of PASA. “Electronic payments are quicker and safer, and their increasing use shows that they have become the preferred payment channel,” he said. Southern Cross business manager Pamela Davids said that payments can be made by Internet transfers or by electronic transfers made by banks on behalf of their clients. n For more information contact Ms Davids at firstname.lastname@example.org or 021 465 5007.
Pilgrimage to Poland & Medjugorje led by Fr Victor Phalana 4-18 May 2014 Pilgrimage of Grace to Israel and Italy 30 Aug-12 Sep 2014 Pilgrimage to Poland led by Fr Stanislaw Jagodzinski 3-17 June 2014 Pilgrimage to Israel led by Fr Jerome Nyathi 29 June-9 July 2014 Pilgrimage to Italy & Medjugorje led by Fr Sammy Mabusela 31 Aug-13 Sep 2014 Pilgrimage of Thanksgiving to Italy & Medjugorje led by Fr Maselwane 7-20 Sep 2014 Pilgrimage to Medjugorje led by Fr Donovan Wheatley 21 Sep-9 Oct 2014 Pilgrimage to Fatima, Santiago Compostela and Lourdes, Paris & Nevers 28 Sep-11 Oct 2014 Pilgrimage of Healing to Lourdes for Disabled pilgrims and families led by Fr Emil Blaser 11-19 Oct 2014 Contact: Tel: 012 342 0179/072637 0508 (Michelle) E-Mail: email@example.com
The Southern Cross, August 21 to August 27, 2013
Catholic forces join for community project STAFF REPORTER
DMUND Rice Networks (ERN) and St Michael’s Catholic church in Cape Town have joined forces with the Sisters of Charity to launch a new community project in the township of Khayelitsha. “The Edmund Rice Network is a global movement of people who have been inspired by Blessed Edmund Rice and wish to be part of his dream for a more just and equitable world. For us in South Africa, we particularly want to commit ourselves to social justice, advocacy and volunteerism,” said Jessica Dewhurst, Southern African district youth coordinator of ERN. Ms Dewhurst said ERN in Cape Town was specifically dedicated to servant leadership. “We often coordinate multiple community projects around the Cape Town area. St Michael’s was looking for an opportunity to get involved in some sort of service orientated project, and together we launched this new project in Khayelitsha.” The project is run by young adult volunteers from the network and St Michael’s every second Saturday. “The overall aim of this project is to bring about positive change through the relationships built and work done at the Sisters of Charity over the duration of our time there,” Ms
Dewhurst told The Southern Cross. The Sisters of Charity home in Khayelitsha houses multiple physically and mentally challenged men and women, as well as many orphans and foster children. As this home never turns away anyone that needs a place to rest, the numbers are always in flux. Many men, women and children find themselves living in this home for large periods of time until the government is able to find them a suitable medical or foster home to live in. “Unfortunately, this is a lengthy and strenuous process that can often take several months. Despite the donations the home is accustomed to receiving, we noted that there was a serious lack of engagement given to those living in the home. With this in mind, the ERN and St Michael’s gathered multiple volunteers whose sole focus was to spend time engaging with those in the home,” said Ms Dewhurst. From working with children and adults to fixing and upgrading the physical premises, 30 volunteers have started making a big difference in the community. “We had volunteers cutting the lawns and fixing the playground area, pampering the adult females with manicures and pedicures, running a music workshop with the men and
women, as well as running other arts and craft activities with the children. Possibly the most important part of the day was watching volunteers engage and connect with those living in the home and vice versa,” said Ms Dewhurst. Future sessions activities will include empowerment dialogue sessions, taking the children to the beach and for hikes on Table Mountain, drama activities, DIY fashion shows, music lessons, movie days, inspirational speakers, physical activities, and environmental talks. And the project has been benefited more than just those at the home. “People always told me about the effect volunteering has on those you work with. What shocked me was the effect that volunteering had on me! Sure, we spent some time brightening up the day of those that needed it most, but in all honesty, they brightened up my life,” said one of the volunteers. Ms Dewhurst said the campus radio station, UCT Radio had helped to raise student interest for the project but the group is constantly looking for donations in resources to continue running workshops. n For more information or to assist contact Jessica Dewhurst on firstname.lastname@example.org
Jo’burg celebrates women’s Mass
HE vicar-general of the Johannesburg archdiocese, Fr Duncan Tsoke, with several priests from different deaneries and assisted by Deacon Neil Phillipson, celebrated a Women’s Day Mass in Johannesburg cathedral. The Mass, which was organised by Renew Africa and attended by several hundred women, commenced with a procession of a statue of Our Lady carried by four Children of Mary while the “Ave Maria” was sung by Emily Tuson, accompanied by organist Michael Burrell. A beautiful procession of the Word was displayed by the women of Randfontein parish. Fr Tsoke addressed the role of women with the focus on Our Lady, and the prayers of the faithful were in tribute to the part women play in the fight against drugs, abuse, human trafficking, abortion, and so on. Guest speaker was South-
Edmund Rice Networks and volunteers from St Michael’s church in Cape Town gathered for a project run by the Sisters of Charity in Khayelitsha.
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Former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was the guest speaker at a special women’s Mass. Africa’s former deputy-president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, a Catholic, who honoured the Blessed Mother Mary and all women of Africa and in the world. Earlier this year she was appointed executive director of the
FRANCISCAN NARDINI SISTERS
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women. Cathedral and Mohlakeng choirs delivered musical notes of praise and worship. The Mass concluded with the laying on of hands.
Bibliolog trainers to get boost
N advanced training programme in Bibliolog, the interactive tool to experience the Bible, will take place in September—which will help enrich coordinators of this unique course in the country. This will be the third time an advanced course has been run in the South Africa and the first with the theme “Working with Objects”. Since 2008 a rich development of Bibliolog in Southern Africa has taken place, said Bibliolog’s Andrea Schwarz. “Nineteen basic training courses have taken place in Mariannhill, Pietermaritzburg, Vryheid, Mthatha, Ixopo, Aliwal North and Cape Town, with two advanced training courses and a workshop about the future of Bibliolog in Southern Africa, the very first South African trainers —that is really impressive,” she said.
Bibliolog is a method of interacting with the Bible where everyone has something to contribute, regardless of expertise. Nothing is too simple, everything is significant, the coordinators said. “Through the sharing around a biblical text, new meaning is created that can impact on the faith journey of each participant. “It was already in February 2011 that Uta Pohl-Patalong, the ‘gogo’ of Bibliolog in Germany, came to South Africa to facilitate the very first advanced training course and supported us also with the strategic planning workshop about the future of Bibliolog. “Now Uta Pohl-Patalong will once more come to South Africa to facilitate the first ‘train the trainer’ course and the advanced training module ‘Working with Objects’,” said Ms Schwarz.
“So the success story of Bibliolog in South Africa can go on,” said Ms Schwarz who will also be training. The training will take place on September 12 and 13 at TreFontane Lodge in Mariannhill. A prerequisite for participation is the successful attendance of a basic Bibliolog training course. The attendance fee for the training itself is R450 including materials and refreshments. The number of the participants is limited to 14. “We are looking forward to this next step in the development of Bibliolog in South Africa, full of curiosity and confidence, and hope that you are as interested as we are!” Ms Schwarz said. n Interested participants can send written confirmation of participation until August 30, e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
I shall always strive for the one goal: For JESUS CHRIST to be my centre. Blessed Paul Joseph Nardini
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The Southern Cross, August 21 to August 27, 2013
Retired cardinal’s speech set tone for conclave BY CINDY WOODEN
HE last formal exhortation to the 115 cardinals who elected Pope Francis in March included reminders of the importance of presenting the Catholic faith in its entirety, the need to recognise the errors of Church members and the need for unity within the Catholic community. Maltese Cardinal Prosper Grech, 87, was too old to vote in the conclave, but the 115 cardinals under age 80 asked him to enter the Sistine Chapel with them on March 12 and offer a meditation before they began voting. The text of the cardinal’s remarks was not released at the time. The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published the meditation this month. Cardinal Grech, an Augustinian priest and expert on the fathers of the early Church who had been named a cardinal only a year earlier, had told the cardinal electors that he was not there to outline the characteristics needed in a new pope, but to use Scripture to reflect on “what Christ wants from his Church”. First, he said, the Church is called to proclaim the kingdom of God and the Good News of salvation through Christ. “The Church does this presenting the Gospel without shortcuts, without diluting the word,” he said. The cardinal warned that too many Catholics erroneously think that baptism and participation in the sacraments are not necessary because the Second Vatican Council
Cardinal Grech in March (Photo: CNS) recognised the possibility of “salvation even for those outside the Church”. Too many Catholics, he said, do not know the teachings of the Church; “not only does an ignorance and lack of care about Catholic doctrine reign”, but also an ignorance of the basics of Christianity itself.
ne of the biggest threats Cardinal Grech saw was a threat to the unity of the Catholic community. “Between ultra-traditionalist extremists and ultra-progressive extremists, between priests rebelling against obedience and those who don’t recognise the signs of the times, there always will be the risk of small schisms that not only damage the Church, but go against the will of God.” Many Catholics, he said, seem to think that “progress in the Church is based on the degree of freedom given in the area of sexuality”. As for mandatory celibacy for priests in the Latin-rite Church, he said it is true that some Church disciplines can change, “but not every
change means progress. One must discern if such changes work to increase the holiness of the Church or obscure it.” One thing that definitely obscures the holiness of the Church, he said, is the sinful behaviour of its members, particularly priests. Cardinal Grech said it is true that in many parts of the world the Church faces literal persecution, but it also suffers attacks by the media. Persecution is part of the life of the Church, he said. However, he said, the media also has publicised terribly true cases of clerical sexual abuse. In those cases, “the Church must humble itself before God and men and try to uproot the evil at any cost”. Only with firm action against abusive priests and on behalf of the victims, he said, can the Church regain its credibility. “Today many people are not able to come to believe in Christ because his face is obscured or hidden behind an institution that lacks transparency,” he told the cardinals. Still, Cardinal Grech said, the Church has suffered because of the sins of its members in the past and still managed to weather the storm and institute reforms. That, he said, is because the Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church, even if many people don’t actually seem to believe it. The spirit, the cardinal said, “overcomes the scandals, the internal politics, the careerism and social problems, which together obscure the face of Christ who must shine even through dense clouds”.—CNS
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Pope Francis receives a gift from Italy's goalkeeper and captain, Gianluigi Buffon, and Argentine captain Lionel Messi during a private audience before Argentina played Italy in a friendly football match in the pope’s honour. (Photo: L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters/CNS)
Football fan Francis asks players to be role models BY CINDY WOODEN
ITH admiration and big smiles all around, the lifelong football fan Pope Francis met the star players and coaches of the Argentine and Italian national teams hoping to compete for the World Cup in 2014. The teams were led to the Clementine Hall in the Apostolic Palace by Argentine captain and FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Italian captain Gianluigi Buffon, goalkeeper of Juventus Turin. The two teams were in Rome to play a friendly match in the pope’s honour. Argentina won 2-1. Pope Francis said he was relieved it was a friendly, but it would still be difficult to know for whom to cheer. Claudio Cesare Prandelli, the Italian coach, said he was about to ask the pope if he would attend the match, but Pope Francis anticipated the question and told him that the Vatican security already considers him “undisciplined”, leaving the impression that it would be asking too much to have them arrange a trip to Rome’s Olympic Stadium. In a brief speech to the players, coaches and referees, Pope Francis encouraged everyone involved in professional football to maintain the spirit and passion of it being a game, a team sport. “Even if the team wins” a game, he said, without beauty, graciousness and team work, both the team and the fans lose. “Before being champions, you are men, human beings with your talents and your defects, heart and ideas, aspirations and problems,” Pope Francis said. “Even if you are stars, remain men both in your
sport and in your life.” He asked the players to take responsibility for the fact that for millions of people, young and old, they are heroes and role models. “Be aware of this and set an example of loyalty, respect and altruism,” he said. “I have confidence in all the good you can do among the young.” The pope referred to incidents of players and fans making racist comments about black players. He told the players they must be models of inclusion, working to “permanently eliminate the danger of discrimination”. Pope Francis also asked the players to pray for him, “so that I too, on the ‘field’ where God has put me, can play an honest and courageous game for the good of all”. Speaking to reporters after their audience with the pope, Messi— who did not play in the Italy-Argentina match because of an injury—said the best way for the players to respond to what the pope said was to give fans a clean and exciting game, and to live upright lives. “Without a doubt, today was one of the most special days of my life,” he said. “We have to excel on and off the field.” Buffon, who gave the pope a ball signed by all the Italian players, said the pope asking for the players’ prayers was another sign of his “humility and humanity”. “With a pope like this, it’s easier to be better,” he said. “He shows us the way, he warms hearts, he moves people’s souls” in a way that all the good they’ve talked about doing they would actually start trying to live.—CNS
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St Angela Merici founded the Ursulines in the 16th century, naming them after St Ursula, leader of a company of 4th century virgin martyrs.
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The Southern Cross, August 21 to August 27, 2013
Pope sees Charismatic Renewal as ‘a gift’ D BY FRANCIS X ROCCA
URING World Youth Day celebrations in Rio de Janeiro last month, many worshippers in the crowds could be seen swaying from side to side, arms raised in the air, wearing rapt or joyous expressions on their faces. Such scenes, along with on-stage appearances by celebrities such as Fr Marcelo Rossi, a mega-church pastor whose records and movies regularly top the charts in his native Brazil, testified to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal’s strong influence on the Church in Latin America today. As the Church continues to lose members in the region with the world’s largest Catholic population, the charismatic movement stands out as a source of hope, not only for fending off the formidable competition of Pentecostal Protestantism but for raising morale among the faithful as a whole. Though not even half a century old, the movement claims that at least 120 million Catholics in 238 countries have been “baptised in the Holy Spirit”, according to a
2012 document published by International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services. The movement, which started in the US, reports fast growth in Asia and Africa. But the world’s largest concentration of charismatics today is in Latin America, where 16% of Catholics identify themselves as participants. One of the movement’s pioneers was Jesuit Father Edward Dougherty, founder of Brazil’s Seculo 21 Catholic TV channel. When the American moved to Brazil in 1966, he discovered a country where, as in most of Latin America, vocations and Mass attendance rates had languished. He also learned that a recent Catholic movement to promote social justice in the region had led, in some cases, to neglect of other-worldly values. “There was a need for spirituality.” Meanwhile, Pentecostal Protestants were spreading their message to great success among the traditionally Catholic population. Pentecostals “talk about the spiritual needs of the people,” Fr Dougherty said. “Often their churches, their temples, are more open than the Catholic churches,”
A statue of Mary is seen during a Catholic charismatic conference. and their pastors more willing to visit people in their homes than Catholic clergy are.
ome Pentecostal churches also preach the “prosperity gospel” of material well-being through faith in Jesus Christ. It was a message with obvious appeal in a country such as Brazil, where, despite recent economic growth, the per-capita gross national product is only R120 000. The Pentecostal movement has continued to rise, from 6% of Brazil’s population in 1991 to 13% in 2010. In the same period, the Catholic share of the country’s pop-
Crusader hospital that gave birth to charities restored BY JUDITH SUDILOVSKY
in Latin America, many of whom had initial reservations about its unfamiliar forms of worship and largely lay leadership. One early sceptic was Argentine Jesuit Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. “Back at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, I had no time for” charismatics, the pope told reporters on the plane returning from Rio. “Once, speaking about them, I said: ‘These people confuse a liturgical celebration with samba lessons!’” “Now I regret it,” he said. “Now I think that this movement does much good for the Church, overall. I don’t think that the Charismatic Renewal movement merely prevents people from passing over to Pentecostal denominations. No! It is also a service to the Church herself! It renews us.” “The movements are necessary, the movements are a grace of the Spirit,” the pope added, speaking of ecclesial movements in general. “Everyone seeks his own movement, according to his own charism, where the Holy Spirit draws him or her.”—CNS
Join South Africa’s national Catholic weekly and Catholic radio station on a pilgrimage to the ceremony of the
Canonisation of Bl Popes John Paul II & John XXIII
SRAELI archaeologists have restored part of a 2 000-bed Crusader-era hospital run by the St John of the Hospital order in the Old City of Jerusalem. Dating to the 1200s, the ancient structure was operated by members of the order, dedicated to St John the Baptist and also known as the Knights Hospitallers, precursors to the Romebased Knights of Malta, of whom St John Ambulance is a Protestant descendant. The Hospitallers treated pilgrims of all faiths making their way to Jerusalem, according to historical documents. Written mainly in Latin, the documents helped archaeologists piece together the history of the building, which more recently, until about 13 years ago, had been used as a fruit and vegetable market in the Christian Quarter. For more than a decade, the site had been left locked and unused until the Waqf Islamic Trust, the building’s owner, decided to move forward with construction of a restaurant there. As with all new construction in Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority was called in to carry out a salvage excavation prior to the work. Located near the church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, the structure had been known to archaeologists mainly because of the mapping of Crusader remains in the area in the 19th century, said Amit Re’em, excavation codirector for the antiquities authority. “This was where the members of the St John of the Hospital order lived. This is where it started. This was the first place where they used an ambulatory service to bring in sick and
ulation fell from 83% to 65%. A 2006 Pew survey of Pentecostals in Brazil found that 45% were converts from Catholicism. Although the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has strong ecumenical roots, and its members have often worshipped together with Pentecostals, it also functions as a vehicle for retaining or winning back Catholics tempted by the Protestant alternative. Like Pentecostalism, charismatic Catholicism emphasises the Holy Spirit, features faith healing and speaking in tongues and is spread door-to-door. But the important roles it gives to Mary and the Eucharist ensure that charismatic devotion has a clear Catholic identity. The movement also encourages social service, Fr Dougherty said, noting that it draws its inspiration from the Church’s foundational event, the first Pentecost, when Jesus’ disciples “went out to the streets” to preach and help the needy as soon as they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Strong Catholic identity has been crucial to the movement’s acceptance by the Church’s hierarchy
led by Fr Emil Blaser OP
The exciting programme will include the canonisation ceremony in St Peter’s Square, papal audience, sightseeing in Rome (incl. the Sistine Chapel), Castel Gandolfo and visits to Assisi and other sites associated with St Francis. Dates: TBA
Archaeologists have restored a Crusader-era hospital in the Old City of Jerusalem. Dating to the 11th century, the hospital was operated by the Knights Hospitallers, precursors to the Rome-based Knights of Malta. (Photo: Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority) wounded people to the hospital. They had riders on camels and horses,” Mr Re’em said. Archaeologists found bones of camels and horses and a large amount of metal used in shoeing the animals during the excavation, but Mr Re’em said he was unable to date the artifacts to either the Crusader era or to the later Byzantine era when part of the structure was used as a stable. The building collapsed in an earthquake in 1457 and remained buried throughout the Ottoman period. The excavation gave archaeologists the opportunity to clean the exposed section of the building, ridding it of garbage that had accumulated. Workers scraped away layers of paint and plaster on the walls, exposing the original walls for the first time in perhaps centuries, he said. Overall, the entire building covers about 15 000m2, Mr Re’em said. Its great hall consists of mas-
sive pillars, smaller halls, rooms and ribbed vaults and stands more than 6m tall. Crusader-era accounts describe the hospital as comprising various wings and departments where patients were sent for treatment according to the nature of their illness and condition, much like a modern-day hospital, Mr Re’em said. In an emergency the hospital could accommodate 2 000 patients. The hospital also functioned as an orphanage for abandoned newborns. Despite the Hospitallers’ seeming efficiency, their knowledge of medicine and sanitation was poor and the Arab Muslim population was instrumental in teaching them medical practices, Mr Re’em said. Building project manager Monser Shwieki said developers intend to incorporate the building into the planned restaurant. The site will be open to the public sometime in 2014.—CNS
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The Southern Cross, August 21 to August 27, 2013
LEADER PAGE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Editor: Günther Simmermacher
A question of rights
ANY South Africans, and Catholics worldwide, have been inspired by the courageous example of the South Africanborn Redemptorist Father Cyril Axelrod, who has not allowed his disabilities—he is deaf and blind—to master his life. Fr Axelrod’s way of turning a personal adversity—he became legally blind only in later life— into an opportunity to teach, evangelise and inspire marks him out as one of the most remarkable priests in the Catholic Church today. Instead of being embittered or intimidated by his disability, he has embraced it. The priest touches all whom he meets with his faith and with his personality which is gentle, humorous, warm, charming, humble and generous. And he amazes many with his astonishing independence. His work on behalf of deaf people—he was in the country this month to develop a training and services programme with the Deaf Federation of South Africa—has been noted by the British government: in November he will be awarded the Order of the British Empire medal. Although he cannot hear nor see, he habitually travels independently, even across continents. Those who know him well testify that on these flights, airline crews are invariably delighted to assist him. When necessary, he teaches them how to communicate with him. Like virtually anyone who meets him, they tend to be enriched by the experience. This has been so until this month, when the ground staff of Comair, which is owned by British Airways, refused to admit Fr Axelrod on their aircraft from Cape Town to Johannesburg unless he was accompanied by a qualified carer, the flight ticket for whom would, of course, be on Fr Axelrod’s account. It made no difference that Fr Axelrod produced a medical card which confirmed that he was able to fly alone. The card also verified that crew members could communicate with him easily by writing on his palm. Nonetheless, the flight’s captain reportedly stuck by the airline’s regulations which deny access to deaf-blind passengers unless they are accompanied by a qualified carer. Comair’s staff bear little
blame for following company rules. The responsibility resides with an airline which, unlike most other airlines, discriminates against people with disabilities such as Fr Axelrod’s. Fr Axelrod has described his experience as humiliating and hurtful, as he well should. He does not deserve to be treated like this. Indeed, nobody does. The callousness of a policy which penalises individuals for their disability is a moral matter. We may rightly feel outrage when a policy, or the actions of those who are asked to enforce it, serves to humiliate people, many of whom already exist on the margins of society. As Christians we must register our disgust with it, even if we feel tempted to find justifications for such a policy. Comair’s policy appears to be out of line with international aviation regulations. These place the onus on having trained staff to care for passengers with disabilities on the airline, not on the passenger. However, Comair’s rules adhere to those of the South African Civil Aviation Authority, which for a domestic carrier suffices. Nevertheless, having flown internationally without a carer for close on two decades, Fr Axelrod was entitled to expect admission on the short flight to Johannesburg. This incident touches not only on points of decency and industry regulations, but also on human rights. It may be questioned to what extent a blanket policy which excludes individuals from services on the basis of their disability is protected by the law. Surely the demand, made in Fr Axelrod’s case, that an assistant be employed at full cost to the passenger represents a tax on disability. This must be challenged, before the law and the Human Rights Commission, since the experience of Fr Axelrod also speaks of the rights of the broader community of disabled South Africans. South Africa’s Bill of Rights outlaws discrimination on any grounds, including disability, and therefore the regulations applied by Comair, and apparently tolerated by the South African Civil Aviation Authority, could well be unconstitutional. What will be done about this?
Laughing Christ a joy for all HAT a delight to read your ed- ing how often joy is mentioned in itorial “Mirrors of joy” (July the Bible, and particularly from the W 31) and then to see the drawing of lips of our Lord Jesus himself. a happy Jesus sent in by Cyril Shield (August 7). We all need the encouragement of joy, and indeed “the joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). God-given joy in the midst of sorrow is, I believe, a form of sacrifice, a sacrifice of praise which becomes a sweet-smelling savour offered up to our God (Hebrews 13:15). Besides being one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), it is amaz-
BORTION, legalised on demand in South Africa in 1997, is probably the greatest evil in the modern world, and our bishops’ Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO) has a serious duty to continually protest to the government against this law. In this regard the following quotations are relevant. 1. Peter Kreeft, a former lecturer in philosophy at Boston University in the US: “In opposing abortion we must become as unpleasant as is necessary, for abortion is a very unpleasant practice. There is a time to be ‘polite and scholarly’ and there is a time to tell the truth about abortion ‘plain and prickly’.” 2. Winston Churchill, possibly the greatest and most courageous orator: “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time with a great whack!” If the CPLO does regularly protest to the government, the faithful are never informed, and if they do protest do they persist with the “polite and scholarly” dialogue (hitherto totally ineffective) or do they courageously tell the truth about abortion, “plain and prickly”, as the situation now demands. Damian McLeish, Johannesburg
Fullness of love
ONSIDER for a moment what your life living in the fullness of love would be like. If you are filled with the love of God, it would be like overflowing with the presence of Jesus every day when you stepped out the door. What would it be like to live in the fullness of his power, his wisdom and his strength. That kind of living, however, exceeds anything most Christians would ask. In fact, many would argue that such a life is impossible. They would think anyone this side of heaven could never reach such spiritual heights.
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I love his promise and wish for us is being that “our joy may be full” (John 16:24). When praying for us, before his betrayal and death, he said to his Father: “I pray that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” This could very well be the victory we have over the evil one, when we refuse to be overcome by our circumstances. I am struck by the brave example But according to the New Testament, they would be mistaken thinking like this—it’s exactly the kind of life believers are called to live, it’s the kind of life the apostle Paul had in mind when under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he penned this prayer in Ephesians 3:20-21 Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Daniel Phiri, Roodepoort
O pilgrims ever connect Christ with Africa? In Jesus’ earliest years on earth, Africa gave the Holy Family refuge when they fled from Herod’s violence (Matthew 2:13-15, Hosea 11). At the end, Simon of Cyrene (Libya), a man from Africa, was forced to help Jesus carry his cross (Mark 15:21). Africa has great saints (Augustine and others), but pilgrims may not recognise the connection between their Holy Land travels, St Francis of Assisi, and Damietta (now Damyãt) near Port Said in northern Egypt. It was here, in 1219, that Francis pleaded in vain for the Crusaders to lift their siege and then risked his life to personally meet the Islamic leader, Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. They put aside religious convictions for the sake of “the common good” and, speaking of God and peace, changed history! Today, the Damietta Peace Initiative establishes pan-African conciliation teams on the continent. In 1985 our bishops used the St Francis peace prayer on cards for a “crusade of prayer for peace in 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. Letters can be sent to PO Box 2372, Cape Town 8000 or email@example.com or faxed to 021 465-3850
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of the brilliant young Jew Edith Stein, who, even though she had identified herself with Christianity and had became a Carmelite nun, went willingly with her sister to a detention camp in Holland, all the while caring for the children and comforting the distraught women. Then from a crack in the cattle truck, in which they were incarcerated on their journey to Auschwitz, she threw out a note saying they were singing joyfully as they went. For this and many other courageous acts she was canonised and is better known to us as St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Heather Withers, Johannesburg Southern Africa”. Another Francis, our new pope, declared the missionary intention for August is “that the local Church in Africa, faithfully proclaiming the Gospel, may promote peace and justice”. But Fr Chris Chatteris (“Pray with the pope”, July 24) asks “whether our evangelisation has achieved the desired depth of faith when, in some very Christian and even Catholic regions, tyranny, war, mass rape and even genocide seem to be endemic”. Do we need to say with St Francis, “Brothers, let us begin, for till now we have done nothing. We have much to pray for.” South Africa leads the African Union but, if we lack a moral compass, will we lead Africa and others downhill? Or will Africa help him again to carry the cross on the upward road to redemption? Let us ask Our Lady Mother of Africa to pray that Africa may draw closer to the heart of Christ. Athaly Jenkinson, East London
S a comparatively new Catholic, I have just read the book about God, sexuality and marriage offered to us by the metropolitan bishops. Among the many extraordinary and hardly credible statements they make, this one stands out: “For example, some studies of the human brain show that those who abstain from sex until marriage significantly increase their chances of avoiding problems and of finding happiness.” For this bizarre claim, I find only one obscure reference: a book entitled Hooked, New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children. I must ask, therefore, that one of the authors of the bishops’ book furnish us with the reference in the reputable medical journals in which these experiments and their results have been written up. I hope that somebody is able to respond to my question. Janice Thaysen, Cape Town
PERSPECTIVES Chris Chatteris SJ
Pray with the Pope
The sound of silence General Intention: That people today, often overwhelmed by noise, may rediscover the value of silence and listen to the voice of God and their brothers and sisters.
OISE can be torture, and indeed torturers can and do induce psychological breakdown with non-stop, sleep-depriving noise. But torturers also use the opposite extreme: so called “white noise” of extreme silence and sensory deprivation to break down their unfortunate prisoners. “The quietest place on earth” is said to be the Orfield Laboratory’s “anechoic chamber” in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The chamber comprises fibreglass acoustic wedges, double walls of insulated steel and 30cm-thick concrete, which enables it to be 99,99% sound absorbent with a decibel rating of −9.4 dBA. At such a low decibel level, according to a report, the environment becomes so disconcerting that people have actually started to hallucinate. The longest anyone has spent in the chamber is 45 minutes. Both extreme noise and extreme silence are psychologically disorientating. We require some sound, even for spatial orientation, but we cannot take extreme, debilitating noise. Hence, what we mean by the word “silence” is more complex than we first imagine. The refreshing “silence” that we seek is certainly the absence of the jarring, artificial sounds of our modern technology, but coupled with a gentle background of very low volume natural sounds—a breeze, birdsong, children’s distant laughter. Gentle rain or the sound of the sea, soothe and send us to sleep. Hence the paradoxical injunction of certain masters of the spiritual life to “listen to the silence”. For in the silence there are actually extremely subtle sounds that continually orientate us and nourish our souls, if we will stop and pay attention to them. Now, our ultimate orientation is towards God which is why the “sound of silence” is a chosen vehicle for God to speak to us and draw us on into God’s mystery and the mystery of our human life.
Persecuted faith Missionary Intention: That Christians suffering persecution in many parts of the world may by their witness be prophets of Christ’s love.
Y sense is that Christians are being persecuted today not just because of odium fidei (hatred of the faith) but because we are often caught in the crossfire between the ideological and political clash of secularism and Islamism. In some Muslim countries religious parties have won democratic elections, something which makes secular politicians tremble in their boots. They have a point: it doesn’t make much theological sense for a theocratic regime to step down, even if defeated at the polls. How can you vote God out? In other words religious states are perceived as less likely to foster democratic values than secular states which is bad for minorities, especially religious ones. Secular politicians also note of how religious states are not too impressive when it comes to religious toleration. The Norwegian government recently prevented Saudi money coming in for the building of mosques. The Norwegians argued that it would not make sense for a country holding dear the principle of the freedom of religion to accept money from a country in which religious freedom hardly exists. The problem is that the secular suspicion of fundamentalist religion can start to extend to all religions, including Christianity. There can be an undiscriminating attitude of “a plague on all your houses”. Such an attitude was well illustrated by the stance of the late Christopher Hitchens who believed that “religion poisons everything”. We’re all dismissed as irrational and potentially violent fundamentalists. In Muslim countries, even where there are ancient and well-established local Christian communities, the pressure the governments perceive themselves to be under from the so-called Christian West can make the local Christians very unpopular. In countries like Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan, Christians have become convenient scapegoats. There’s another element to all this, which is that for Muslim fundamentalists, Christians should be acknowledging the truth of Islam, but since they are not they must be in opposition to God’s will. For some secularists all religion ought to be giving way to secular humanism and if it isn’t then it’s being irrational, backward and contrarian. In both cases the temptation is to use force of some kind against Christians.
The Southern Cross, August 21 to August 27, 2013
A conversion of judgment T HE Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, known by the acronym EKD, recently published new guidelines on marriage which move away from the traditional definition of marriage as a “divine institution”. It now teaches that other committed lifestyles, such as homosexual partnerships and “patchwork” families, must be shown the same respect as traditional marriages. Unsurprisingly, this has caused deepseated divisions within the EKD. There are also speculations it could lead to the breakdown of ecumenical relations with the Catholic Church. If that is true or not remains to be seen. What is clear is that more and more pressure is being exerted on religious institutions to bend their moral ethics based on contemporary practices. Many “conservative” Christians are starting to seek and find shelter in the Catholic Church since it is regarded, for better or worse, as the last beacon of strict Christian morality. It’s an outdated thing to some, but certainly reassuring and orthodox to others. The German and the British churches in particular have seen the major brunt of the secular pressure to conform to the spirit of the times when their governments legalised and thereby institutionalised matters like same-sex marriages. The president and vice-president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Archbishops Vincent Nichols and Peter Smith, recently issued a co-signed statement which in a key section declared: “With this new legislation, marriage has now become an institution in which openness to children, with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, are no longer central.” Harsh words, and unfortunately true to reality since most surveys show that chil-
dren born of married parents have about 22% more chance of growing with both parents around until they’re 18 years of age. The Catholic Church, though not of this world, has always striven to influence this world towards the virtues of truth in Christ.
or instance, the recent papal encyclical, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), states that “love is an experience of truth”. Pope Francis encourages all those searching for truth to meditate on their experience of love, not simply as a fleeting emotion, but as a way of tasting the truth which always leads to faith. He says that as we meditate on the love God has shown us in our lives, and seeing with the eyes of our lights, we, like the Israelites, create our own history of conversion and come to belief. Lumen Fidei also says: “To the extent they [that is, you and me] are sincerely open to love and set out with whatever light they can find, they are already, even without knowing it, on the path leading to faith.” Most of us probably don’t really like to
The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is only for one man and one woman, but some other churches are beginning to apply a looser definition of matrimony.
Getting the picture A BOUT a year ago, a group of concerned Catholics in Durban struck upon the idea of starting a group called “Catholics Awake”. Their aim was to support the archdiocese with various projects, through which the Word is spread and put into practice. Above all, they were also keen to inform the Durban parishes about the life and activities of their cardinal. I welcomed this initiative enthusiastically, instinctively feeling that this group could play an important role in making the many archdiocesan projects known and supported. In the past year, Catholics Awake has held three very successful breakfasts, giving me the opportunity to meet a variety of people from most parishes in Durban in a relaxed and familial atmosphere. Their latest project is called “Friends of the Cardinal”. Those who wish to join are asked to offer daily prayers for my intentions as well as to offer their services, time, talents and donations wherever possible. In return the members receive certain regular information about the archdiocese as well as a “Getting to know the Cardinal” newsletter. How wonderful it is to know that so many people are offering prayers on my behalf daily. One of the fundraising ideas has been to make available a limited edition portrait. The skills of renowned South African photographer Matthew Willman, who is best known for his iconic photographs of Nelson Mandela, was engaged and after an interesting professional photo shoot, a photograph taken in Durban’s Emmanuel cathedral was chosen. The photograph measures 400x600 and
hear about the love history of our spouses or partners. Yet this is the history of conversion that led them exactly to us. In the same way, the Church too does not like our sins, but blesses and sanctifies (redeems and makes holy) them for us to live the sacramental life. Priests too are not born priests; they have their own specific histories of conversion, sometimes as radically as that of Saul who became Paul. Like all of us, they are blessed and sanctified through their conversion history. Lumen Fidei speaks of a “road which faith opens up before us”. In Rio de Janeiro last month, Pope Francis begged us, as “religious wayfarers”, to not be afraid to keep looking, to ready ourselves to be led out of ourselves and “to find the God of perpetual surprises”. Clearly the Church has a problem with a definition of marriage that excludes the clause of “openness to life”, the divine purpose of procreation. Hence it has a problem with homosexual acts. The Church also has a problem with pride, envy, gluttony, wrath, greed, sloth, lust, and so on. Still, the Church hates the sin, but loves the sinner. Let one without sin cast the first stone at homosexuals then; or let us all accept the invitation to come into the Light of Faith, the purifying fire of Love. Let us, with Pope Francis, all say: “If someone is gay and earnestly searches for the Lord, and has a good will, who am I to judge?” Pope Francis is shepherding us back to a Church big enough to accommodate humanity without being worldly; a Church that speaks in God’s language of mercy even as it judges without condemnation. May we, please God, not kick against the goad.
tures to raise much-needed funds for the many projects which will be identified and reported on later. It is heart-warming to see the initiative of this group and I enjoy working with them as they spread the works of the diocese. Hopefully similar groups will be formed throughout the country.
This photo of Cardinal Wilfrid Napier by renowned photographer Matthew Willman is available in a limited edition print of only 100 at the price of R5 000 each. The proceeds of the sale of these photos will go to support various projects of the archdiocese of Durban, which will be identified and reported on later.
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The Southern Cross, August 21 to August 27, 2013
Shadow over US race relations As the United States marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s great “I Have a Dream,” speech, the fallout of the Trayvon Martin case casts a shadow over the country’s race relations—and the Catholic Church is not as vocal about racism as some would wish, as PATRICIA ZAPOR reports.
HE news clipping files from August 1963 are full of articles about Catholic and interfaith organisations encouraging their members to take part in the August 28 civil rights march on Washington. The National Catholic Liturgical Conference, the archdiocese of New York and the Minnesota Committee on Religion and Race, for instance, urged their members to participate in the massive gathering at which the Rev Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech about racial harmony. One of the ten chairmen for the event was the director of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice. Some of the prominent photos from that day featured the Rev King sharing the stage with clergy of various faiths. The 50th anniversary of the march comes at a time when unease about race is again in the news, and more for the work that needs to be done than for the progress made over five decades. Since a Florida jury on July 13 acquitted white/Hispanic George Zimmerman of murder and manslaughter charges in the death of African-American Trayvon Martin, organised protests around the country have sought to shine a light on the pervasive sense of distrust that African-American men, in particular, face on a regular basis. In highly personal remarks after the verdict, President Barack Obama, Catholic theologian Fr Bryan Massingale, a professor of theology at Marquette University, and attorney-general Eric Holder spoke or wrote about their own ex-
contribution. But you have to work at it. It’s not just going to happen.” He said he wrote about the topic for his diocesan newspaper, the East Texas Catholic. And he regularly has to deal with racial hostility in parishes around the diocese, he said, typically when a parish predominantly made up of one race begins to get an influx of new parishioners from another race or culture.
periences of race-based bias. In a column for HNP Today, newsletter of the Holy Name Province of the Franciscans, Fr Paul Williams wrote of recently being carjacked at gunpoint outside a Delaware church by an AfricanAmerican young man. Though Fr Williams is himself African-American, he wrote that he struggled with fear when he was approached soon after the crime by another black young man. “Racial profiling of minorities dehumanises people who are basically good, and instead are seen as criminals or potential criminals,” wrote Fr Williams. “It makes a mockery of our belief in blind justice. As an African-American male, I don’t have the luxury of seeing all young black males in such a negative light. I know better.”
hat’s been harder to find amid the Trayvon-related reaction is strong public responses from the Catholic Church, observed Sr Barbara Moore, a Missouri-based member of the Sisters of St Joseph of Carondelet, who participated in another famous civil rights event, the March 10, 1965, voting rights march in Selma, Alabama. “I don’t hear anything, I don’t see anything from the hierarchy, and I’ve looked,” said Sr Moore, noting that other religious leaders, particularly African-Americans, have raised the issue as a challenge Christians must face. Even in her St Louis parish, where she said the pastor doesn’t typically shy away from controversial issues, the topic hasn’t come up from the pulpit. “It’s very disappointing.” Sr Moore said the subject was a prime topic of conversation among participants in a recent joint meeting of organisations representing black sisters, priests, deacons and seminarians. While she didn’t want to get into the specifics of a formal dialogue on the topic, she said, “the point was made that we haven’t heard from anyone in authority”. Deacon Royce Winters, director of African-American ministries for the archdiocese of Cincinnati, thinks that the United States has made great progress in combating racism since the late 1960s, but that the subject has faded from a posi-
Crowds surround the Reflecting Pool opposite the Lincoln Memorial during the August 28, 1963 civil rights march on Washington, during which the Rev Martin Luther King Jr made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. As the 50th anniversaries of key civil rights events approach, some observe that there’s still a long way to go towards eliminating racism in US society, and call on the Catholic Church to become outspoken about it. (Photo: Warren K Leffler, Library of Congress) tion of importance in the country and in the Church. “We in America seem to be pursuing our individual goals in life, but we have lost our sense of community, our sense of being connected to something greater than ourselves,” he said. “We have failed to consider our obligation to bring others along with us.” Bishop Curtis Guillory of Beaumont, Texas, one of about a dozen active African-American Catholic bishops in the US, said that the US hierarchy has been clear that racism is a sin—in a 1979 pastoral letter
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“Brothers and Sisters to Us”, in a statement marking the pastoral’s 25th anniversary, and recently in the context of supporting comprehensive immigration reform. But the topic is too easily avoided. “I don’t think race and ethnicity have been the subject of serious dialogue,” he said. “It’s like you have a two-storey house where the floor upstairs is weak in some spots and unstable, so you walk around those spots, or you go very lightly across them,” said Bishop Guillory. “This is where the Church can make a tremendous
ishop Guillory in his article and in the interview with Catholic News Service drew parallels to the current unease over race and St Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians to think of the diverse parts of the Church as the intrinsically connected pieces of the body of Christ. “Paul uses the image of the body with its many parts to show that the body of Christ—the Church—is one,” he wrote in his column. “Christ is the head of the body—the Church. Certainly that image can assist us in healing our own divisions.” In Cincinnati, Deacon Winters’ office has organised an observance of the march on Washington anniversary. It’s also hosting an October workshop on “intercultural competence” for archdiocesan ministers. He said one approach he’s trying to encourage is to stop thinking of programmes of ministry to various ethnic groups as only being for the people of those groups. Instead, he said, “we have recognised we need to minister to everyone”. Retired Bishop John McCarthy of Austin, Texas, was also at the Selma voting rights march in 1965 and was active throughout the era in working for equal rights for workers and other segments of society. “It pains me to say there’s been a very obvious and slow retreat by the Catholic Church in the United States from direct involvement in social justice,” he said. Bishop McCarthy said he believes part of the reason for the institutional Church’s lower profile on issues such as racism is that “the Church has been so badly wounded by its own internal problems”. “My hope is that as we come to grips with scandals, whether about sex or banks or butlers, we will regroup and remember our commitments to each other,” he said.—CNS
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St Joseph’s Catholic parish
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The Southern Cross, August 21 to August 27, 2013
The Southern Cross, August 21 to August 27, 2013
Read the Bible with purpose Catholics are encouraged to read the Bible, but how does one go about it and how much should one read at a time? MAGARET MOLLETT explains.
HE psalmist declares: “Your word, is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path” (119:105). The open Bible lies before you. You need this lamp—this light—to guide and sustain you along your sometimes shaky path of faith. The question is where should you start looking and how much should you be reading at a time? A sentence? A paragraph? A chapter? A book? A preacher at a parish mission once said that the Catholic way of reading the Bible is not to open it randomly “like Protestants do”—a generalisation that most Protestants would take exception to. It may happen once or twice in a lifetime, even for Catholics. While anguishing in a garden about his sinfulness, St Augustine (354-430) heard a child’s voice, “Tolle lege! Tolle lege!” (Take up and read!). Taking it as a divine command he opened the Bible, his eyes falling on Romans 13:13: “Let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies or drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” As Augustine recalled in his Confessions (8:12): “No further would I read, nor did I need to; for instantly, as the sentence ended, by a light as it were, of security infused into my heart, all the gloom of doubt passed away.” St Thérèse of Lisieux neither opened the Bible randomly nor did she hear a voice. When seeking guidance as to what vocation she should follow she decided to “consult” St Paul’s epistles in the hope of getting an answer. “It was the twelfth and thirteenth chapters [of 1 Corinthians] that
Margaret Mollet suggests that “in order to appreciate the textual landscapes in the Bible, lectionary reading should run parallel to the reading of whole books in the Bible”. caught my attention,” she wrote in her Autobiography. But note, she does not yet have the answer. “Reading on to the end of the chapter I met this comforting phrase: ‘Prize the best gifts of heaven. Meanwhile I can show you a way which is better than any other.’” Taking her search a step further she wrote: “So I looked in the Bible for a hint about the life I wanted, and I came across the passage where Eternal Wisdom says: ‘Is anyone as simple as a child?’” (Proverbs 9:4). She then read on and found, “I will console you like a mother caressing her son; you shall be like children” (Isaiah 66;12-13). So the Little Way was born. But how did she know what books to look for? She was able to do this because she knew her way around scripture—at least that which was available at the time. Few Catholics, including nuns, possessed a complete Bible, that is, a bound copy with all the books from Genesis to Revelation. Thérèse, compiled her own from various sources: the Breviary, the Divine Office and large sections of the Old Testament copied into a notebook by her sister Céline. Thérèse also had a copy of the gospels where she was always “finding fresh lights”. By choosing to consult St Paul’s epistles and Proverbs rather than say,
the Song of Songs—which she cites elsewhere in another context— Thérèse exhibits a keen instinct for the kinds of genre that the books belong to. As a child Thérèse liked the Catechism and Bible history the most. She admitted that she was not good at learning things but she did have an ‘’excellent memory”. She was to tell her father about her marks at school: “How splendid to be able to announce the success of the first paper I did, one about Bible history, in which I would have had full marks if I’d known the name of Moses’s father!”
esides those here-and-now moments of revelation from the Bible, we systematically go through a rotation of Sunday and daily readings in the lectionary that are also revelatory as they are preached and reflected upon. After going three cycles A, B and C, we have been presented with the Bible, cover to cover; in Bible-sharing groups we meditate on the Word of God. What more can one want? In a reflection on a survey, “Thirsting for the Word”, carried out by the Catholic Bible Federation on the occasion of the Bishops’ Synod on the Word of God in October 2008, the presider, Mgr (now Archbishop) Vincenzo Paglia stated: “The
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rhythm of the liturgical year turns into an itinerary that helps believers to turn their eyes towards Christ, to form ‘the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself’ (Eph 4:13).” He added, however, that it should not be forgotten that, although the passages of the Bible offered by the liturgy are lengthy, they cannot replace the reading of the Bible as a w h o l e . ( S e e w w w. c - b f.org/documents_interpretation.pdf) According to Mgr Paglia, Sunday lectionaries offer only 3,7% of the Old Testament and 40,7% of the New, and contain only 57,8% of the Gospels. Daily lectionaries reach 13,5% of the Old Testament and 71,4% of the New. But, as he says, “we cannot expect the liturgical cycle to complete the entire reading of the Bible, nor should we overlook the right and duty of Christians to live ‘on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Mt 4:4)”. Looking at the “generally scarce acquaintance with the Bible revealed by the data of the survey”, Mgr Paglia shows that in spite of the progress made, there is still a long way to go in order to accomplish what Paul wrote to Timothy: “All scripture is inspired by God and useful for refuting error, for guiding people's lives and teaching them to be upright. This is how someone who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). Referring to missalettes as “Bible baby food”, a blogger going by the handle LDS proposes a Bible in which all the lectionary readings for all Masses are colour coded: “I wish some publishing company would work with the bishops’ committee on the liturgy and create the Catholic Sunday Bible (Bible and all Sunday readings) in one. [...] We have marketed and chopped up the Bible into little bits for Sunday serv-
St Thérèse of Lisieux ices that Catholics in general no longer need the bible…we have converted God’s word into a marketplace. Bring the Bible back to Mass and get rid of all the other stuff. Just a thought!” Maybe this is a thought worth thinking about? Do the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa? In order to appreciate the textual landscapes in the Bible, lectionary reading should run parallel to the reading of whole books in the Bible and more in-depth study, whether these form one volume or not. Some people are known to have read the Bible from Genesis through to Revelation, often over quite a lengthy period of time, but few have the stamina to do this. More realistic and profitable is following a reading plan which groups books not in the order in which they are presented but in categories of books that form a thread with links to other threads. Most Bible-reading plans would suggest something like reading the first five of the books, the Prophets the Wisdom books and the Writings. In the New Testament the four gospels form a category with Luke extending into Acts of the Apostles which also links with Paul’s epistles The gospel of John, the letters of John and the book of Revelation form another category. The epistles of Peter and Jude are closely related. Some books in the categories in both testaments are short enough to read in one or two sittings. However, by continually delving into commentaries to find explanations for difficult passages you are bound to becoming discouraged. Put these aside and read on. Once you get the overall picture you will want to take the next step in harnessing all aids to help you understand texts better. Not only will your lectionary readings and biblical reflections be enhanced, but you will also be storing up insights from which you draw, even if the Bible at any given moment is not open before you.
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The Southern Cross, August 21 to August 27, 2013
Death of Mrs Blaser Continued from page 1 and in recent years attended Mass each day at Nazareth House. “The rosary was always at her side,” Fr Blaser said. In 1988 Pope John Paul II decorated her with one of the highest awards, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice. On her 100th birthday she received a telegram from President Thabo Mbeki—but the photo she was proudest of was that of her son Emil greeting Pope John Paul II. She described her slight heart attack in January 2011, at the age of 106, as “the beginning of her slide into old age”. She reluctantly agreed to leave her Claremont home, which she had maintained herself, for residence in Nazareth House.
Our bishops’ anniversaries
“The warmth and welcome of the sisters and staff shine like a bright star lighting up the sky. What a beautiful place to be in to prepare for the onward journey home,” Fr Blaser said. “Thanks to Sr Gladys who in the last days was often at her bedside. We are tremendously grateful and she was too. She longed, though, to get into the kitchen and teach the chef how to make pasta,” he said. The priest described his mother as “a great woman, a mother like no other and a loving friend to all.” Mrs Blaser is survived by her four children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Her funeral Mass was celebrated by Fr Blaser on August 14 at St Ignatius church in Claremont, concelebrated by Archbishop Lawrence Henry, parish priest Christopher Clohessy, vicar-general Mgr Clifford Stokes and Dominican provincial Fr Sikhosiphi Mgoza.
This week we congratulate: August 25: Archbishop Jabulani Nxumalo of Bloemfontein on the 11th anniversary of his episcopal ordination. August 26: Bishop Joe Sandri of Witbank on his 67th birthday.
Southern CrossWord solutions SOLUTIONS TO 564. ACROSS: 3 Swaddling, 8 Eton, 9 Holy water, 10 Ensued, 11 Freed, 14 Oiled, 15 Roof, 16 Ships, 18 Oath, 20 Hates, 21 Earth, 24 Bearer, 25 Rendition, 26 Stun, 27 Laundress. DOWN: 1 Heterodox, 2 Consulate, 4 Wood, 5 Dryer, 6 Leader, 7 Need, 9 Herds, 11 Faith, 12 Doctorate, 13 Offspring, 17 Sheen, 19 Harden, 22 Tutor, 23 Hera, 24 Boss.
To place your event, call Claire Allen at 021 465 5007 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (publication subject to space) CAPE TOWN: Helpers of God’s Precious Infants meet the last SaturMimosa Shrine, Bellville day of the month except in (Place of pilgrimage for the Year of Faith) Tel: 076 323 December, starting with 8043. September 12: Most Mass at 9:30 am at the SaHoly Name of Mary, 7:00pm cred Heart church in SomerRosary, 7:30pm Mass. Sepset Road, Cape Town. Mass tember 14: Exaltation of the is followed by a vigil and Holy Cross, 9:00-10:00am procession to Marie Stopes Holy hour and Benediction, abortion clinic in Bree confession available. SepStreet. For information contember 26: 7:30pm Rosary. tact Colette Thomas on 083 October 10: 7:00pm 412 4836 or 021 593 9875 Rosary, .7:30pm Holy Mass, or Br Daniel Manuel on 083 October 12: 9:00-10:00am 544 3375. Holy Hour and Benediction,
confessions available, October 24: 7:30pm Rosary Padre Pio: Holy Hour 15:30 pm every 3rd Sunday of the month at Holy Redeemer parish in Bergvliet.
St Paul’s in Somerset West are holding a music and flower festival on September 29 at 14:00. Proceeds go to Archbishop’s building fund.
REMEMBERING OUR DEAD
“It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins” (II Macc XII,46) Holy Mass will be celebrated on the first Sunday of each month in the All Souls’ chapel, Maitland, Cape Town at 2:30pm for all souls in purgatory and for all those buried in the Woltemade cemetery.
For further information, please contact St Jude Society, Box 22230, Fish Hoek, 7975 Telephone (021) 552-3850
Liturgical Calendar Year C Weekdays Cycle Year 1 Sunday, August 25, 21st Sunday Isaiah 66:18-21, Psalm 117:1-2, Hebrews 12:5-7, 1113, Luke 13:22-30 Monday, August 26 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 8-10, Psalm 149:1-6, 9, Matthew 23:13-22 Tuesday, August 27, St Monica 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8, Psalm 139:1-3, 4-6, Matthew 23:23-26 Wednesday, August 28, St Augustine 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13, Psalm 139:7-12, Matthew 23:27-32 Thursday, August 29, The Passion of St John the Baptist Jeremiah 1:17-19, Psalm 71:1-6, 15, 17, Mark 6:17-29 Friday, August 30 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 10-12, Matthew 25:1-13 Saturday, August 31, Memorial of the BVM 1 Thessalonians 4:9-11, Psalm 98:1, 7-9, Matthew 25:14-30 Sunday, September 1, 22nd Sunday Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29, Psalm 68:4-7, 10-11, Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24, Luke 14:1, 7-14
Word of the Week SANCTIFYING GRACE: The supernatural state of being infused by God, which permanently inheres in the soul. It is a vital principle of the supernatural life, as the rational soul is the vital principle of a human being’s natural life. It is not a substance but a real quality that becomes part of the soul substance. Although commonly associated with the possession of the virtue of charity, sanctifying grace is yet distinct from this virtue. Charity, rather, belongs to the will, whereas sanctifying grace belongs to the whole soul, mind, will, and affections. It is called sanctifying grace because it makes holy those who possess the gift by giving them a participation in the divine life. - Modern Catholic Dictionary, Fr John Hardon SJ
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BLASER—Margherita, died at the age of 108 on August 11. Condolences from all at The Southern Cross to Fr Emil, Gita, Inez, Walter and their families.
SETSUBI—Monica Maleshwane. Sunday morning August 14, 1994 is memorable when your youngest brother pledged his prayers at Holy Mass for your recovery, but God recalled you to eternity. Blessed be his Name. Always loved and prayerfully remembered till then. Your family.
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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 depth of my heart and humbly beg you to come to my assistance. Help me now in my urgent need and grant my petitions. In return I promise to make your name known and publish this prayer. Amen. Andre. HOLY ST JUDE, apostle and martyr, great in virtue and rich in miracles, kinsman of Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor of all who invoke you, special patron in time of need. To you I have recourse from the depth of my heart and humbly beg you to come to my assistance. Help me now in my urgent need and grant my petitions. In return I promise to make your name known and publish this prayer. Amen. MB. HOLY ST JUDE, apostle and martyr, great in virtue and rich in miracles, kinsman of Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor of all who invoke you, special patron in time of need. To you I have recourse from the depth of my heart and humbly beg you to come to my assistance. Help me now in my urgent need and grant my petitions. In return I promise to make your name known and publish this prayer. Amen. Blessed Mother, God the Father, Infant Jesus of Prague and St Michael the Archangel. In thanks giving for prayers answered. KL. ST MICHAEL the
HAVE MERCY on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:112.
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Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.
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Box 2372, Cape Town, 8000 • 10 Tuin Plein, Cape Town, 8001 Tel: (021) 465 5007 • Fax: (021) 465 3850
Website: www.scross.co.za 22nd Sunday: September 1 Readings: Sirach 3:19-21, 30-31, Psalm 68:4-7, 10-11, Luke 14:1, 7-14
E have no rights before God, no absolute claim on his goodness; this is a lesson that we have to learn again and again, and it is the message of this Sunday’s readings. If we recognise the important truth that there a greater-than-us, then we shall not be inclined to push ourselves too far forward. In the first reading, taken from Ecclesiasticus or the “Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira’”, which is a fascinating combination of plain common sense and etiquette, and insistence on the demands of God’s law, we are advised: “Child, conduct your affairs in meekness, and you will be loved by a person who is acceptable.” That is simply sensible policy, and good manners into the bargain. But ben Sira’ also brings God into it: “The greater your status, the more you should humble yourself—then you will find favour in the Lord’s presence.” And he demands that the reader stay with the mention of God: “For great is the Lord’s sovereignty, and glorified by the humble.” Then it is back to common sense: “There is no healing for the distress of the arrogant, for an evil plant has taken root in him. The mind of the intelligent will understand a parable, and the ear of a listener is the desire of the wise.” Humility, then, is the name of
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Be humble in all things Nicholas King SJ
the game. That is something that the poet who wrote the psalm for next Sunday would readily understand, though he is coming from a very different place: “The just shall rejoice and exult in the presence of the Lord,” and they are invited to express themselves musically: “Sing to God, play a tune to his name.” Then comes the all-important reminder that God is on the side of the marginalised and the unimportant: “Father of orphans, defender of widows in his holy dwelling-place, God makes the forsaken live in a home, brings out prisoners. You willingly sprinkle rain, O God, on your inheritance...in your goodness, O God, to the poor.” Once we get the message, then there is no room for arrogance of any sort. The second reading, our last glance for a while at the Letter to the Hebrews, also offers
a reminder that it is to God that we are drawing near: “You have not approached anything tangible, a burning fire and darkness, thick obscurity...” The reality is something quite different, but should leave us equally humble: “You have approached Mount Sion, and the City of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem...and the assembly of the first-born, those registered in heaven, and God, the Judge of all.” But there is more than that; what makes the difference is that we are also approaching “Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.” This is something to give us pause for thought. What God offers us in Jesus is nothing that we could possibly deserve, nothing on which we can begin to pride ourselves. Pride also takes a tumble in the gospel reading. We know that there is going to be a problem from the very beginning: “It happened when he entered the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees, on a Sabbath, to eat bread.” We know already that there is going to be trouble (there always is, in the gospels, when “Pharisees” and “Sabbath”) appear in the same sentence, even if they have apparently invited Jesus to join them. And then the evangelist reveals the under-
Do you envy the amoral? I
N a masterful book on grace, the theologian Piet Fransen suggests that we can test how well we understand grace by gauging our reaction to this story: Imagine a man who during his whole life is entirely careless about God and morality. He’s selfish, ignores the commandments, ignores all things religious, and is basically consumed with pursuing his own pleasure—wine, sex and song. Then, just hours before his death, he repents of his irresponsibility, makes a sincere confession, receives the sacraments of the Church, and dies inside that conversion. What’s our spontaneous reaction to that story? Isn’t it wonderful that he received the grace of conversion before he died? Or, more likely: the lucky beggar! He got away with it! He got to have all that pleasure and still gets to go to heaven! If we felt the latter emotion, even for a moment, we have never deeply understood the concept of grace. Rather, like the older brother of the prodigal son, we are still seeing life away from God’s house as fuller than life inside God’s house, are still doing the right things mostly out of bitter duty, and are secretly envying the amoral. But, if this is true, we must be gentle with ourselves. This is an occupational hazard for good, faithful persons. Jesus himself expresses this in the parable of the vineyard workers. This parable was addressed to Peter in answer to a question. Peter, on behalf of the other disci-
Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
ples, had just asked Jesus what reward they were going to receive for their fidelity to him. Jesus answers by telling him the story of a very rich and generous landowner who goes out one morning and hires workers to work in his vineyard. He hires some early in the morning, promises them a good wage, keeps hiring others as the day progresses, each new group having to work fewer hours than the group before them, and ends the day by hiring a group of workers just one hour before work is to end. Then he tells his foreman to pay everyone a full day’s wage. But this leaves the workers who toiled the whole day somewhat bitter. “This isn’t fair!” they protest. “We worked the whole day and bore the heat of the sun and this last group worked just one hour. It’s unfair that we all receive the same wage!” The generous landowner, obviously representing God, is gentle in his response: “Friend, didn’t you agree to this wage? And isn’t it a good wage? Are you envious and angry because I’m generous?”
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Remember to whom those words are being addressed: Jesus is addressing Peter... and, in effect, through this parable, he is addressing all good people who are morally and religiously bearing the heat of the day. And Jesus is assuring us that we will be rewarded richly for doing this. But, as the parable makes clear, there’s a catch. Simply put, we will be rewarded with heaven and it will be wonderful; but, and this is the catch, we can have everything and enjoy nothing because we are watching what everyone else is getting. I sometimes try to highlight this point rather graphically when I give retreats to priests and religious. I have them consider this scenario: Imagine you live out your life in fidelity to the your vow of celibacy, metaphorically and otherwise bearing the heat of the day and, when you get to heaven, the first person you meet there is Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy. In shock you protest to God: “How did he get in here? It’s not fair, given the life he lived and the life that I was asked to live!” And God, the over-generous landowner, gently replies: “Friend, didn’t you agree to a life of celibacy, and isn’t heaven a wonderful place? Are you envious and angry because I’m generous?” And, how different this reaction to that of a true saint who, upon meeting someone like this in heaven, would, like the father of the prodigal son, rush over in joy, embrace the person, and say: “I’m overwhelmed with joy that you made it!” Thomas Halik, a Czech writer, suggests that one of the reasons why so many people in the world reject the churches is that they see us as “embittered moralisers”, older brothers of the prodigal son, doing our religious and moral duties, but bitterly, and criticising those who don’t live like us out of hidden envy. The atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche made a similar accusation more than a hundred years ago. Sadly, there’s more than a little truth in that accusation. Too often, we are embittered moralisers, secretly envying the amoral and criticising our world out of bitterness. But that’s an occupational hazard for the good and the faithful. Peter and first apostles struggled with it. Why should we be immune? We needn’t be immune, but we do need to be honest in admitting that, despite our real goodness and fidelity, this indicates that we are still far from being full saints.
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lying attitude of Jesus’ opponents, which is not that of humility: “They were watching him.” And they get what they were looking for, although it is not in our reading, for Jesus heals someone on the Sabbath. Then he goes for them (he would not be a comfortable guest, one feels), lecturing the invited guests on their arrogance in going for the best places: “When you are invited to a wedding-feast, don’t go to the best seat—otherwise someone of greater social standing than you may have been invited...then you will start shamefacedly to go to the worst place.” This is, I suppose, just common sense, especially when he goes on to recommend choosing the worst places, in the hope that the host “will say, ‘My friend, go up higher’. Then your status will be clear to all those at table with you”. However, then he turns on the host, and submits his guest-list to a fairly searching scrutiny: “When you give a meal or a supper, don’t invite your friends, or your brothers and sisters or your family members or your affluent neighbours—otherwise they may invite you back, and give you a quid pro quo. No—when you give a party, invite the destitute, crippled, lame, blind. And well done, when they are unable to pay you back; you’ll get repaid in the resurrection of the just.” Our task, this week, is to let the Lord take charge, and graciously give way at all points.
Southern Crossword #564
ACROSS 3. Wrapping for baby Jesus (9) 8. Note the type of collar (4) 9. Whole tray that has been blessed (4,5) 10. Followed suede north (6) 11. Having been let loose (5) 14. Anointed smoothly (5) 15. The paralytic came in through it (Mk 2) (4) 16. I saw three ... (Christmas carol) (5) 18. Solemn promise (4) 20. Has a strong aversion to (5) 21. Come down to here and face reality (5) 24. One who carries the cheque? (6) 25. Intern I do a new translation for (9) 26. Nuts’ turn to astonish you (4) 27. The French will remove clothes for the washerwoman (9)
DOWN 1. Not conforming to Greek Church? (9) 2. Count ales where the foreign diplomat is (9) 4. Behold the ... of the cross (Liturgy) (4) 5. Moisture remover (5) 6. Usher-in-chief? (6) 7. Necessity of fine edition (4) 9. Groups on the hoof (5) 11. Strong belief (5) 12. Degree for St Thomas Aquinas? (9) 13. ... of a Virgin’s womb (Christmas carol) (9) 17. Famous TV Bishop Fulton ... (5) 19. ... not your hearts (Ps 95) (6) 22. Trout comes round to coach (5) 23. Wife of Zeus (4) 24. One in charge (4) Solutions on page 11
ttending a wedding for the first time, a little girl whispered to her mother: “Why is the bride dressed in white?” The mother replied: “Because white is the colour of purity and happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life.” The child thought about this for a moment, then said: “So why is the groom wearing black?” Send us your favourite Catholic joke, preferably clean and brief, to The Southern Cross, Church Chuckle, PO Box 2372, Cape Town, 8000.