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May 7 to May 13, 2014
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SACBC bishops’ on their meeting with the pope STAFF RePoRTeR
EETING Pope Francis in the Vatican, the bishops of South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland had the opportunity to tell the pontiff about their concerns as shepherds of the Church in the region. The bishops, making their ad limina visit to the Vatican, raised such issues as human trafficking, the need for pastoral role models and the process of beatification of martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero, the process of beatification of Benedict Daswa, the inculturation of the faith, the need to make sure that the pope’s apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium is not forgotten, and the pastoral concern for those who hunger for the Eucharist and cannot receive it because of the lack of ministers available or for other reasons. Bishop Frank Nubuasah of Francistown, one of Botswana’s two dioceses, told Pope Francis that as far as he knew, there is no other Francistown in the world—and people were asking when the pope named Francis would be visiting his hometown. “It was a very deep and fraternal experience” during which the bishops and Pope Francis, who met in groups, “could share and support each other in our service to the people of God”, said Bishop José Ponce de León of Manzini, Swaziland. The bishop said he was pleased that Precious Blood Sister Hermenegild Makoro, secretary-general of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, also had the opportunity to meet the pope, adding that she was speechless in her joy. The bishops met with various Vatican departments to discuss the local Church. They were also present at the canonisation of Ss John XXIII and John Paul II. In his address to the bishops of Southern Africa, Pope Francis said that bishops and priests must continue, “always with great compassion”, to teach men and women how to live moral lives according to the Gospel. Declining birth rates, abortion, leaving the Catholic Church for “other groups who seem to promise something better”, divorce and “violence against women and children” all “threaten the sanctity of marriage, the stability of life in the home and consequently the life of society as a whole”, the pope said. Pope Francis praised the missionaries who had brought the Gospel to southern Africa and built churches, clinics and schools there.
He encouraged the bishops, priests, religious and laypeople to keep that heritage alive in “flourishing parishes, thriving often against very great odds”. In countries where most people “can identify at once with Jesus who was poor and marginalised”, the pope said, Catholics provide loving service to “God’s most vulnerable sons and daughters: widows, single mothers, the divorced, children at risk and especially the several million Aids orphans, many of whom head households in rural areas”.
ope Francis urged the bishops to encourage Catholics to rediscover the sacrament of reconciliation “as a fundamental dimension of the life of grace”, and he praised the local Church’s marriage preparation programmes, which draw on St John Paul II’s teaching about love and sexuality as self-giving. The bishops were delighted with their first encounter with Pope Francis. Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, who had met the pope already earlier in April, described the meeting as “moving and touching”. “He is a humble, gentle and listening pontiff. Pray for him,” the archbishop, who is also the SACBC president, tweeted. “He leaves you feeling that you are the celebrity,” Bishop Edward Risi of KeimoesUpington wrote on Twitter.
The Southern Cross/Radio Veritas Canonisation Pilgrimage group is pictured in Rome on the day on which Popes John XXiii and John Paul ii were declared saints. The South African group were among more than a million who packed the eternal city on the historic day. in front, draped in a South African flag on the nation’s Freedom day, is Southern Cross news editor Claire Mathieson. Radio Veritas’ Fr emil Blaser oP is second from right at the back. See page 5 for more canonisation coverage. Look out next week for our photo spread of the Canonisation Pilgrimage, which also went to Assisi and Castel Gandolfo. Bishop Barry Wood, auxiliary of Durban, wrote on Facebook: “We all wanted to stay longer as he was so unassuming and real. I thank my God when I think of him, and when I pray for him I pray with joy.” The bishops closed their ad limina visit on May 1 with a Mass in the basilica of Mary Major, attended by many South Africans living in Rome. These included several seminarians, some of whom were introduced to the pope during the bishops’ meetings with him. The day before, the bishops celebrated a Mass at the basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, which was attended by the Southern Cross/Radio Veritas Canonisation Pilgrimage group.
Pope Francis with some of the bishops of Southern Africa during their ad limina visit. (Photo courtesy of the diocese of Umzimkulu)
Paul VI beatification tipped for October By Cindy Wooden
OPE Paul VI, who led the Church from 1963-78, may be beatified in October, an Italian Catholic magazine reported. Credere, a magazine run by the Pauline Fathers, reported that the alleged miracle needed for Pope Paul’s beatification would be considered by the cardinal members of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. The magazine said the beatification Mass likely would be celebrated in October, probably on October 19, the final day of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family. The miracle being considered involves the birth of a baby in California in the 1990s, although to protect the family’s privacy, the child’s name and city have not been released. Credere said the mother’s pregnancy was at risk, and with it the life and health of the baby. Doctors advised her to terminate the pregnancy, but instead she sought prayers from an Italian nun who was a family friend. Praying, the nun placed on the woman’s belly a holy card with Pope Paul’s photograph and a piece of his vestment. The baby was born healthy. For Pope Paul’s sainthood cause, physicians continued monitoring the child’s health up to the age of 12 and everything was normal, Credere reported.—CNS
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The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
Bishops join ancient knights of Malta STAFF RePoRTeR
ISHOP Xolelo Kumalo of Eshowe and Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban have been invested into the Order of Malta, along with four other South Africans, in a special ceremony in KwaZulu-Natal by the grandmaster of the international order. The order—officially known as the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta—is the oldest hospital order of the Church, founded in Jerusalem in 1099 by Blessed Gérard as a hospital brotherhood. It was acknowledged by Pope Paschal II in 1113 as an independent religious order. The order soon spread all over Europe through the foundation of branch hospitals with their attached religious communities. As a consequence of the political changes in the Middle Ages, the seat of the order was moved from Jerusalem to Akko, later to Cyprus, then to Rhodes, later to Malta and finally since 1835 to Rome. The order lost its territory through the conquest of Napoleon, but not its sovereignty. The grandmaster of the Order of Malta is considered a head of state and
Bishop Xolelo Kumalo of eshowe (left) and Cardinal Wilfrid napier of durban are invested into the order of Malta at a ceremony in KwaZulu-natal. maintains diplomatic relations with 104 countries. After the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem, the Knights Hospitaller, as they were known then “had to defend their patients and got in-
volved in military operations since many knights who had come to the Holy Land joined the Order”, said Fr Gérard Lagleder, who founded the relief organisation of the order in South Africa.
“The military tasks are part of history now, and the ‘military’ in the name of the order refers to the knighthood of a good number of its members,” he said. “The Order of Malta renders its hospitality work by running a multitude of relief organisations and medical and humanitarian activities,” the Benedictine missionary told The Southern Cross. The relief organisation in South Africa is the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard, founded in 1992 by Fr Lagleder, headquartered in Mandeni. The order’s grandmaster, Frà Matthew Festing, travelled to South Africa to visit Blessed Gérard’s care centre in Mandeni on the 20th anniversary of the commencement of its Aids relief work and the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the centre’s Aids treatment programme. The grandmaster has the rank of a cardinal and the dignity of a prince, said Fr Lagleder, adding that the visit was “an incredible honour and privilege”. To acknowledge his support, Fr Lagleder said the centre bestowed the greatest honour it can confer on Frà Festing, honorary dedicated membership, during a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Kumalo. The celebration was continued at
Blessed Gérard’s community centre where Dr Sikhumbuzo Khayelihle Nzimande, as the manager of Blessed Gérard’s Hospice, delivered the keynote speech. Blessed Gérard’s Hospice since opening its doors in 1996 until the end of 2013, had looked after 502 terminally ill children, admitted 4 078 palliative care patients, looked after 4 064 palliative home care patients and treated 1 501 Aids patients though its Aids treatment programme. The visit culminated the following day when six members of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard were invested as members of the Order of Malta, namely Cardinal Napier, Bishop Kumalo, Paul Thabethe, Nokuthula Thabethe, Yvonne Renaud and Dr Nzimande. The grandmaster emphasised that becoming a member of the Order of Malta means committing oneself to strive towards the perfection of Christian life according to the spirit of the order, which is summarised in its motto Tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum—protection of faith and service to the poor. He then conferred the cross of the Order of Malta on the newly invested members. Its eight points symbolise the eight beatitudes of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.
Priest uses creative talents to raise funds By CLAiRe MATHieSon
MISSIONARY priest from Sri Lanka has been using his creative talents to help raise funds for a much-needed church in Mpophomeni, KwaZulu-Natal. Fr Jude Fernando TOR has been based at St Ann’s mission for 11 years. A former outstation of Howick, the church has grown in numbers, but Mass still takes place in a hall. “It’s not a church. That’s what we’re hoping to build,” the priest told The Southern Cross. The parish is aiming to raise R1,2 million towards the building of a church. When working as a supply priest at St Joseph parish in Louisiana in
the United States, Fr Fernando decided to use the opportunity to share his talents and gain support for the building of a church in the Mpophomeni community. With only a month available, Fr Fernando got straight to work and with the help of the American staff, put on an exhibition called “Parish Delights”. The exhibition comprised flower arrangements, wood paintings, greeting cards, pottery and African clothing. The priest said he worked late into the night and early in the morning for three weeks to put on the exhibition, which was greeted with “great enthusiasm and support” by the American parish.
The exhibition was just part of the priest’s inventive fundraising efforts. Fr Fernando has also designed T-shirts in celebration of the canonisation of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII, as well as T-shirts to promote the Year of the Family. St Ann’s currently serves more than 400 families. “It is a vibrant community and all work done in the church is done voluntarily,” said Fr Fernando. The parish is working hard to raise the necessary funds so as to build a church the community can “finally be proud of”. n For more information on the projects or to find out how to assist, contact Fr Jude Fernando on 033 343 1599, or 082 598 1691, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr Jude Fernando has used his creative talents to raise funds for the building of a church in Mpophomeni, KwaZulu-natal.
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The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
Interfaith leaders call for transparency By CLAiRe MATHieSon
Wits Acts members have been promoting healthy living through their ABCd campaign.
SA Catholic students go for healthy living By CLAiRe MATHieSon
HE Association of Tertiary Students (Acts) has this year embarked on a national drive to promote healthier student living on campuses countrywide through its ABCD Lifestyle campaign. While the secular notion of ABC usually refers to the mantra “abstain, be faithful and condomise”, the Catholic student organisation—an official branch of the youth department of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC)—encourages students to Abstain, Be faithful, Change their lifestyles, and stay clear of Danger. And the campaign encompasses more than just relationship advice. According to national media spokesman Sphe Phungula, it also creates awareness regarding woman and child abuse, looks at issues of HIV/Aids, and educates students on visiting clinics, hospitals and health
centres to check up on their health status. Mr Phungula said this goes beyond Aids, and students are educated on tuberculosis, cancer, and their body mass index, and women are encouraged to have regular pap smears. The campaign also promotes blood donation as a means of giving back to students’ local communities. Mr Phungula said the campaign had been a great success over the past three months. “It was part of our vision and policy. We wanted to offer students more information about how to live healthy lives in general,” he said. “We wanted to change the mindset of people around us. Students need to be aware of common health issues that can be prevented or detected early.” The national campaign has been met with great support from the SACBC and is likely to be repeated.
N an interfaith Procession of Witness, faith leaders have called on their followers to “turn themselves inside out and expose their sense of moral consciousness to the sun”—to bring it out into the open. The leaders of Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities joined together in a procession from District Six in Cape Town to parliament in a united stand of concern over the issues affecting South African communities and in support of the Chapter 9 institutions, including the Public Protector. Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, representing the Catholic Church, called on people of goodwill to make every effort to press the government to ensure a better life for all of God’s people. The procession was faith-led but saw the involvement of likeminded secular organisations such as the Right 2 Know campaign. No party political banners were allowed. The strong interfaith community leaders said the procession was in-
tended to see a change in the practice and behaviour of all parliamentarians, and captains of industry and commerce. The procession also recognised the country’s 20 years of democracy. In his call, Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said the group is asking for governance that is not threatened by healthy social discourse; governance that is always mindful of the plight of the poor and the marginalised; and governance that takes seriously its responsibility to all people who have given leaders their trust. In his address, the Anglican primate said the country needs to be “morally disinfected so we can recapture the dream of South Africa”. Archbishop Makgoba took President Jacob Zuma to task for his response to criticism of expensive renovations to his Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal, about which the president opted for silence. The message reflected the statement made by Archbishop Brislin, who said it was “unacceptable for the president to expect the country
Faith leaders from Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities joined in a Cape Town march for transparency in government. Among the marchers was Archbishop Stephen Brislin (in white).
to wait for an explanation until the Special Investigating Unit has completed its investigation”. While met with some criticism, the bishops made it clear that their statements were not in support of any political party, but were of an ethical nature, issuing a call for the president of the country to act appropriately and swiftly on any acts relating to corruption. Archbishop Makgoba said the country has become victim to the collapse of standards and values. “What started as a trickle is now a flood. The wave of distrust is wiping out the incremental progress we have made on accountability, democratic choice and the rule of law,” he said. “This is not what our country wants from our president. It is not what our country needs from our president. And it is not what we voted for when we asked our president to take responsibility for our country’s navigation.” The religious leaders said the country deserves better. “You [President Zuma] were elected to provide a moral compass for our nation. You were elected to be a model leader who makes values-based decisions. You were our hope. That’s a huge responsibility. We need to hear the voice of responsibility speak,” Archbishop Makgoba said on behalf of the religious leaders. They said their faith communities want a president who sets an example by taking responsibility. “A leader who is transparent, a leader who acknowledges imperfection, and who in acknowledging imperfection, commits to a life as a values-based leader,” the archbishop said. He said the procession was an opportunity to “establish God’s shalom, his salaam, his peace”. “May we now courageously look inwards, disinfect ourselves of all that is not values-based and proclaim a vision of the resurrected Christ who has overcome death. Let us pursue all that leads to trust, accountability and transparency.”
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The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
Bishops to southern Africa: Let us help STAFF RePoRTeR
HE Catholic bishops of southern Africa have called on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to act on armed conflict and failed economy in some of the region’s countries.
“Prevention is better than cure,” the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (Imbisa) said. “Act now on a possible armed conflict escalation and failed economy in some southern African countries. Why wait for the distur-
Pilgrimage of Healing to Fatima, Santiago Compostela and Lourdes led by Fr emil Blaser 10-23 october 2014
bances such as in the Central African Republic, Nigeria and South Sudan?” a letter signed by Archbishop Robert Ndlovu of Harare said. Imbisa comprises the bishops of South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique,
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Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Zimbabwe “We regard the misery of our people crossing the border into Malawi because of military operations in northern Mozambique or Zimbabweans crossing the Limpopo into South Africa or entering Botswana as economic refugees as alarming,” the bishops said. They noted that “two forces clash”. While economic pressures drive people south, administrative pressure drive them back. “This is a transnational problem for which there are no national solutions. The whole region has to get together and tackle this enormous human problem. The countries that send migrants and the countries that receive them must talk to each other,” the bishops said. They called on the region’s governments to put people first. “The protection of human life is the first duty of any government which respects people and their families. The main causes for these movements of migrants are armed conflict and economic failure.” They said that the flow of refugees can be stopped only when people are able to build a life in the country of their origin.
They warned of increases in xenophobic violence, noting that “ethnic hostility as a result of migration is not worthy of the people of Africa and their great Pan-African dream of a united continent”. “African leaders must not wait until the situation gets out of hand when foreign powers will come and act as policemen, so humiliating for Africa,” the bishops said. “We appeal to our leaders to give work to all our people so they need not go into exile.” In order to address the region’s problems, the Catholic bishops offered to “enter into dialogue with all parties concerned”. “In the eyes of the Church no one is excluded. No solution offered should be dismissed for merely ideological or party-political reasons,” they said. The bishops appealed for an end to violence and the initiation of dialogue in Mozambique, which until recently was listed among the world’s more peaceful countries. They also voiced their support for a call by the bishops of Zimbabwe to put in place a new inclusive economic model that “transcends political and other boundaries”.
God might be calling you to do the same!
if you wish to know more about them, contact: the vocations Directress at Po box 2912, Middelburg, Mpumalanga, 1050. tel 072 213 4671 or 013 243 3410 The bishops of the inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa
Africa’s bishops: We must become more self-reliant By BRonWen dACHS
LTHOUGH the Church in Africa still faces many challenges linked to poverty, it is becoming less dependent on funding from developed countries, say African Church leaders. In response to Church funding cutbacks that started after the 2008 global financial crisis, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (Secam) has urged its member churches to become self-reliant. Fr Nicholas Afriyie, general secretary of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, suggested that African Churches set up a fundraising committee to identify and tap resources and opportunities on the continent. He told fellow Church leaders at a Secam meeting in Johannesburg earlier this year that the African Church should work harder at selfreliance and not be too dependent on financial resources from foreign partners. Many parts of the Church in Africa “recognise this reality” and are raising funds locally to support their own socio-economic and pastoral programs, said Fr Joseph Komakoma, the Zambian generalsecretary of Secam. Africans give a lot to the Church in terms of time, Fr Komakoma said. “Women, especially, work hard. They do many tasks that in other parts of the world would require fees for a consultant to do.” Fr Komakoma said that “this work needs to be recognised for its enormous contribution to making the Church at different levels selfsufficient”. While Malawi is a “very poor country, parishioners are very generous,” said Fr George Buleya, general secretary of the Episcopal
Conference of Malawi. “We certainly can’t do it all ourselves and do ask for overseas support” for projects initiated by Malawian parishes and Church organisations, such as building new churches and other infrastructure, he said. “When projects are home-bred and draw mostly on our own resources, they are more often successful than when they are brought in from outside,” Fr Buleya said. Daniela Frank, executive director of the Germany-based Catholic media council CAMECO, said that almost all Catholic funding agencies give priority to Africa. Subsidies for Catholic programmes on the continent amount to many millions of dollars per year, Ms Frank said, noting that in 2012 “Missio Aachen, the biggest pastoral agency in Germany, alone granted... more than 28 million euros for Africa.” Fr Komakoma said the “tremendous growth of the Church in Africa, along with multiplied needs, means that while the support from overseas has, in many cases, stayed the same, it has to be spread further.” For example, overseas Catholic funding that 30 years ago would have helped support 200 dioceses in Africa now needs to be divided among 600 dioceses, he said. Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, vice-chairman of the Southern African bishops’ Justice and Peace department, said it is difficult to spread the message among South African Catholics that “we are the Church and we are responsible for the Church.” Until apartheid ended 20 years ago, the Church and its projects in Continued on page 19
The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
The historic day of four popes in one place By FRAnCiS X RoCCA
ALF a million people gathered in St Peter’s Square and the broad Via della Conciliazione leading up to it, many of whom had been standing for hours before the start of the canonisation Mass for Popes Jiohn XXIII and John Paul II. Among the many national flags on display, the majority were from Poland, the native land of St John Paul. The Vatican estimated that aniother 300 000 attended the ceremony in other places in Rome, with overflow crowds watching on giant-screen TVs set up at various locations around the city. The 2011 beatification of Pope John Paul drew more than 1 million people, according to Italian police estimates at the time. The Vatican said 93 countries sent official delegations to the Mass, and more than 30 of the delegations were led by a president or prime minister. Pope Francis spent half an hour personally greeting the delegations following the Mass. He then rode in his popemobile through the square and adjacent avenue, drawing cheers and applause from the crowds, for about 20 minutes until disappearing at the end of the street. Pope Francis’ concelebrants included some 150 cardinals and 700 bishops.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI made only his third public appearance since he resigned in February 2013. Pope Benedict did not join the procession of bishops at the start of Mass, but arrived half an hour earlier, wearing white vestments and a bishop’s mitre and walking with a cane; he sat in a section of the square designated for cardinals. Pope Francis greeted his predecessor with an embrace at the start of the Mass, drawing applause from the crowd, and approached him again at the end.
uring the canonisation ceremony, which took place at the beginning of the Mass, devotees carried up relics of the new saints in matching silver reliquaries, which Pope Francis kissed before they were placed on a small table for veneration by the congregation. St John’s relic was a piece of the late pope’s skin, removed when his body was transferred to its present tomb in the main sanctuary of St Peter’s basilica. Floribeth Mora Diaz, a Costa Rican woman whose recovery from a brain aneurysm was recognised by the Church as a miracle attributable to the intercession of St John Paul, brought up a silver reliquary containing some of the saint’s blood, taken from him for medical testing shortly before his death in 2005.
Poland’s flag is seen as pilgrims wait on Via della Conciliazione outside St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on the eve of the canoniation of Ss John XXiii and John Paul ii. (Photo: Paul Haring/CnS)
The Mass took place under cloudy skies with temperatures around 19°C, and only a sprinkle of rain fell just before the 10:00 start of the liturgy. Huge tapestries bearing portraits of the two saints hung from the facade of the basilica, and the square was decorated with 30 000 roses and other flowers donated by the nation of Ecuador. During the ceremony, Pope Francis praised the new Ss John XXIII and John Paul II as men of courage and mercy, who responded to challenges of their time by modernising the Catholic Church in fidelity to its ancient traditions. “They were priests, bishops and popes of the 20th century,” the pope said in his homily. “They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful,” he said “John XXIII and John Paul II cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church in keeping with her original features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries,” he said.
OUTH AFRICAN pilgrims to the canonisation of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II could not conceal their excitement at having been witness to a historic event in the Church’s history. “This has been the spiritual highlight of my life,” said Natalie Mataboge of St Charles Lwanga parish in Soshanguve, Pretoria archdiocese. Ms Mataboge was one of 44 participants in the Southern Cross/Radio Veritas pilgrimage which travelled to Rome especially for the event. The group also visited Assisi, Greccio, Fonte Colombo and the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. Other special highlights were their attendance at a Mass with all the bishops of the Southern African pastoral region in the basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, and seeing Pope Francis at the general audience in St Peter’s Square. Francis de Souza of St Francis parish in Vereeninging said being among a million Catholics was “one of the best feelings ever”. As a fan of St John Paul II, Mr De Souza said he would have given anything to be there and was overjoyed that his non-Catholic wife also joined him.
“The spirit of the people was amazing. It was wonderful to see how devoted so many Catholics are,” he said. A particularly touching moment for many was the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI and the moment the Pope Francis greeted the retired pontiff. Pauline Gaskell of St Paul’s in Benoni, Johannesburg archdiocese, said the moment brought many to tears. Fellow parishioner Margaret Webber said it was an emotional scene. Mrs Webber said the build-up to the day, with big screens displaying snippets of the lives of the new saints, started the buildup of emotion. “Deep down, we began to become aware of the strong lifeline we have to the pope.” The journey to the canonisation was not an easy one. The pilgrims put up with long flights, missing group members, heavy traffic and a 3am wakeup call in order to make it into the eternal city in time to secure a good spot. “It was worth it,” said Phyliss Tshivase of Holy Trinity, Midrand. Her husband, Tony, agreed: “It was more than anything we had expected. I was completely overwhelmed. I will never experience that again.” The South African contingent,
it always loves.” Pope Francis has said the agenda for the family synods will include Church teaching and practice on marriage, areas he has said exemplify a particular need for mercy in the Church today.—CNS
Salesians of Don Bosco
ope Francis praised St John XXIII for his bestknown accomplishment, calling the Second Vatican Council, which he said “showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit”. “He let himself be led, and he was for the Church a pastor, a servant-leader,” the pope said of St John. Pope Francis characterised St John Paul II as the “pope of the family”, a title he said the late pope himself had hoped to be remembered by. Pope Francis said he was sure St John Paul was guiding the Church on its path to two upcoming synods of bishops on the family, to be held at the Vatican this October and in October 2015. The pope invoked the help of the two new papal
SA Catholics: We were there! By CLAiRe MATHieSon
saints for the synods’ success, and he prayed, “May both of them teach us not to be scandalised by the wounds of Christ and to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because
which was placed just outside the Vatican, joined the throngs of devotees in the early hours of the morning. They sat on the ground and shared prayer cards and stories with neighbours from around the world while waiting for the ceremony to begin. There were 800 000 people lining the streets. The result was a good deal of pushing, shoving and the occasional passionate argument that was quickly silenced by an international shushing—a canonisation is no place for a petty fight. “There were parts where we didn’t see what was happening and we were distracted,” said Colleen Sass of St Bernadette’s parish in Port Elizabeth. “But I wouldn’t have not gone for the world.” Maleho Mosimane of Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Welkom agreed: “We were there! We were a part of Catholic and world history,” she said. “Just hearing the words ‘let us pray’ was a highlight.” Sipho Nyalunga of Good Shepherd in Hartebeespoort said he might not have seen as much as those who watched the ceremony at home on television, “but we had the atmosphere and we had the blessings of the pope. That was amazing!”
Maybe you are called by God to help realise Don Bosco’s dreamof helping teens grow happier, healthier and holier! If so, contact: Fr Alberto firstname.lastname@example.org 076-9359442 www.salesians.org.za
The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
LEADER PAGE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
We must support bishops on ethics
Editor: Günther Simmermacher
The vineyards of God
N his message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis describes the vocation to the truly Christian life—consecrated and lay—as “a fruit that ripens in a well-cultivated field of mutual love that becomes mutual service, in the context of an authentic ecclesial life”. The pope designates Vocations Sunday—this year on May 11—to all Catholics. We all are called to service. Of course, vocations to the priesthood and religious life remain essential. Vocations to the consecrated life must be strongly promoted and supported. The many options by which a young person can live the consecrated life must be made known. This week’s miscellaneous advertisements in which religious orders, for both men and women, showcase their charism, provides a helpful overview of many different ways in which a young man or woman may answer God’s call to the consecrated life. In his message, Pope Francis also identifies married life as a valid vocation. But married men may also discern the call to the altar, which they can answer through the office of the permanent diaconate, a vocation which sometimes receives less recognition than it merits. It, too, must be promoted, especially in areas where access to the sacraments is restricted by the scarcity of priests. Our prayers for good vocations to the priesthood, the religious life and the permanent diaconate must be intensified. Many Catholic observers see a crisis in the vocation figures in the West. The prospect of fewer Masses and more churches closing down certainly is cheerless. However, a shortage of priests and religious also provides an opportunity for the laity to follow Jesus’ call to work in his vineyards. Indeed, perhaps the vocations crisis is a sign from the Holy Spirit that the laity now is called to perform many of the functions hitherto left to priests and religious. Pope St John Paul II defined the Church’s demand on the faithful in his 1988 apostolic exhortation Christifidelis laici. The call to an apostolic voca-
The Editor reserves the right to shorten or edit published letters. Letters below 300 words receive preference. Pseudonyms are acceptable only under special circumstances and at the Editor’s discretion. Name and address of the writer must be supplied. No anonymous letter will be considered.
tion, he said, is not for those in the consecrated life alone. “Lay people as well are personally called by the Lord, from whom they receive a mission on behalf of the Church and the world.” He singled out areas in modern life where lay ministries can be fruitfully exercised: in confronting growing secularism, atheism and religious indifference, and in acting against the degradation of the human person through poverty, discrimination, violence, war and what St John Paul has famously termed “the culture of death”. The ministries are many: to the sick, the poor, prisoners, the youth, the aged, families, abused women, pregnant women, men, refugees, and so on. Ministries can be exercised in the secular world or in the parish (or, of course, both). For example, thousands of Catholics are involved in the crucial apostolate of catechetics. Others share their talents by serving on the parish pastoral council—not for prestige, but for the good of the Church—or by cleaning the church after Mass. Promoters of Catholic media and literature in the parish and beyond are part of the important social communications apostolate. Those who take part in these activities and others like them all answer the call to the vocation of service. The opportunities for lay engagement are varied and abundant. In Christifidelis laici, St John Paul said: “It is not permissible for anyone to remain idle [because] the work that awaits everyone in the vineyard of the Lord is so great, there is no place for idleness.” But greater lay involvement in the Church’s ministries must be accompanied by greater lay influence in how the Church is run. The discussion of how this is to be accomplished must be amplified. When we pray for vocations to the consecrated life this Sunday—and, hopefully, every day— let us ask not only that men and women will join the priesthood, permanent diaconate and religious life in rising numbers, but also that lay people will hear the call to ministry, to exercise and give thanks for the gifts that God has given them.
HE Southern African bishops have always raised their concerns on matters of political ethics, such as apartheid’s inhumane acts against humanity. More recently, they issued a statement on the Nkandla Report. When unethical, immoral and unjust acts are directed against humanity, and are in opposition to justice and peace, the bishops need to act. South Africa is a constitutional
Inner city Easter
HIS year I attended Easter Sunday Mass at an inner city church, hoping for a more vibrant experience than the rather subdued ones of previous years in the suburbs, and I was not disappointed, albeit somewhat disillusioned as to the “centrepiece” of the service. The first thing that became apparent is that the demographics of the congregation were quite different: most were teenagers and young adults. To emphasise the message of new beginnings, the sermon was followed by a baptism of dozens of babies and toddlers, with a professional photographer on hand to record the happy event, which—we were assured—would in an instant wipe away the stain of original sin and mark a new beginning for the child as a member of the Christian family. Each parent was presented with a red candle to be lit when celebrating other milestones in the child’s life (and specifically not to be used when the next Eskom power outage occurs). It was all educational and inspiring. The organ music was stirring, as was the singing—both solo and choir. To my surprise and delight, many of the hymns and parts of the liturgy were in Latin (with many in the congregation joining in with gusto), and by the time the Gregorian chants began, I was in seventh heaven. There is no comparison between the gravitas of a succinct Dominus vobiscum and the more verbose vernacular of “May the Lord be with you”. The stirring music and singing continued as the “offerings” were made, with a difference: instead of the collection baskets being circulated through the pews, each pew emptied (no one remained behind) and a procession was formed to the front of the altar, where a large basket at each side soon filled to overflowing. As the offerings were taken to be blessed, new baskets appeared…for “thanksgiving”, and the procession started all over again, but this time by country of origin. Finally, one
PUBLIC LECTURE “BEYOND NKANDLA: HOW CAN WE HALT THE TIDE OF CORRUPTION?” SPEAKERS: ADV MIKE POTHIER & MATSEPANE MORARE SJ of the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office, Cape Town
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democracy born out of the need to liberate the suffering of the majority of its people, living in difficult and often very challenging circumstances under the apartheid regime. Many of these challenging circumstance still affect many ordinary, struggling South Africans. The bishops must act in defence of the poor, who have not enjoyed the freedoms which democracy promised. The bishops, as spiritual teachers more procession was formed for “any other from the continent”, to cater for anyone who may not have wanted to be identified with a specific country. While I was duly enlightened and inspired by the proceedings up to that point, and my own contribution to the “offering” was given with a happy heart, by the end of the three hours’ proceedings I wondered whether the “centrepiece” of the service was not so much the liturgy and the message, but rather the money. Be that as it may, I could not help feeling that there was more soul throughout this Mass than in more perfunctory proceedings at some suburban churches. So, if any other suburbanites—especially those hankering for some pre-Vatican II Latin solemnity—wish to experience a more energised Mass, they may want to join their fellow Catholics outside the comfort of the suburbs. I have no doubt that the clergy from the suburbs will profit from understanding the secret to attracting young people in their numbers. Mario Compagnoni, Johannesburg
WAS enjoying a holiday at Gordon’s Bay when I heard the early morning news on the radio: Belgium would become the second country after Holland to pass a law legalising euthanasia for children. As I sat on my bed, the faces of all the babies and children who had died in my care suddenly crowded into my mind. I recalled my numerous encounters with doctors and their varied prognoses for many of the children: “This child will never walk or talk”; “Just give terminal care, she won’t last more than a month”; “The tumour is inoperable, no point in sending her back to school”. After several years many of these children are still alive, enjoying a good quality of life, and have defied all the predictions of the medical experts. Had these children been living today in Holland or Belgium instead of South Africa, would they still be alive? Would they be allowed to live? No matter how difficult some of the deaths have been of those children whom I have had the privilege of caring for, never once have I felt that I had the right or the duty or the desire to end that life before the time that only God had measured for them. Who are we to judge, to decide? What of the most profound cases of deformity caused by genetic birth defects and rare syndromes? Because the child cannot communicate his or her feelings in the usual manner, may require more time to feed, more special care and more patience on the caregiver’s part, who are we to say they are beyond all feeling or worth? Those of us who have dealt with such children have been blessed by their response to a tender touch, a gentle word, and their own determination to cling to life. In turn, they themselves are the channels through which we learn to become more compassionate, caring and gentle. As Pope Francis has told us: “Those who help the needy touch the flesh of Christ.”
and leaders, need to act decisively and unequivocally in favour of democratic South Africa and its people. Failing to do so would be tantamount to supporting acts of injustice and unethical behaviour against ordinary South Africans, especially the poor and vulnerable, who often do not have a voice. Our bishops must continue highlighting matters of an unethical and immoral nature, and as Catholics we should support and pray for them when they take such stands. Allan Sauls, Johannesburg According to Belgian law, children as young as three years old can give their consent to die “if capable of discernment”, while a 17-yearold could be refused if psychiatrists disagreed. This in itself is a huge contradiction. In my experience no child of three or even up to eight, at the terminal stage of illness, can fully comprehend or discern the meaning and consequences of physical death. I am neither a medical person nor a theologian—I can only describe what I “have seen, and touched, and felt with my own hands” (1 John 1), and felt in my mind and heart. I will not forget the impact that the 6am news on my little radio in Gordon’s Bay had on me. Sr Margaret Craig, Nazareth House, Johannesburg
Fix Easter date
HE inconvenience caused this year by the late date of Easter, adding to our overload of public holidays between mid-March and May 1, brings me to think again about the date of Easter. It is fixed at present, as it has been from the beginning of the Church, according to the norms of the ancient Jewish calendar. So the present formula for calculating Easter is: the first Sunday after the full moon following the equinox. This means that Easter can fall any time between late March and late April. For one of the focal points of the Church this is absurd. Jesus never gave any instructions about Christian celebrations being tied to the moon or to the Jewish calendar. In fact, he freed his followers from the yoke of Jewish ritual and liturgical rules. This was even more strongly carried through by St Paul. It is reported that at Vatican II many of the bishops were in favour of a fixed time for Easter. The most popular suggestion was the first weekend in April. The Catholic Church, however, was not prepared to go it alone, and further complicate ecumenical relations. The Orthodox churches, always the priority in our ecumenical policy, refused to move from the tradition of the Church fathers. So the issue was shelved. There is no question of God’s revelation or Catholic doctrine or a foundational truth of the Gospel at stake. It is merely an age-old human custom made holy by repeated celebration; but sometimes we need to be adaptable about such traditions, as the Council of Trent indicated. It seems to me high time to reopen discussion and negotiations with the aim of fixing Easter at the first weekend of April. Fr Bonaventure Hinwood OFM, Pretoria 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
The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
PERSPECTIVES Judith Turner
A season for everything A S we grow older it is so beautiful to recognise the different stages of our lives—not merely by looking at our age and what each new decade brings, but also by looking at the different experiences we have had throughout our lives. And we can clearly see that there has been a cycle of phases in our lives that resembles the different seasons as we know them in nature. The longer we have lived, the more beautiful it is to see how our lives have gone through winter, spring, summer and autumn. Our lives continue to move through these seasons, it is not as if we complete one season and then move on to the next. During our lifetime we experience the seasons more than once, with different lengths of time and in no particular order. While we all have our different preferences for the seasons, what we have in common is that some seasons give us life and the others not. In Ecclesiastes 3 we read that “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing”. We should make the best of the seasons of our lives, because just as the seasons of nature, our own life seasons come with various degrees of value. For example, we can find deep meaning and value in an experience of hardship and maybe less meaning and value in an experience of carefree silliness. Whatever is your favourite season, I
leave you with this beautiful poem called “I Arise Today” by Macrina Wiederkehr. I arise today with spring in my eyes: Clear circling air, shining inspiration, wings of hope, unfolding buds, happy roots, blossoms of joy, necessary storms. This is my inheritance in this vibrant new season. I arise today in the wings of spring. I arise today with summer in my heart: Fire of enthusiasm, burning sun, abundant life, playful spirit, nesting birds, lush meadows, growing gardens. This is my inheritance in this vibrant new season. I arise today in the arms of summer. I arise today with autumn in my soul: Waters of wisdom, graceful ageing, trans-
Faith and Life
forming colours, crunching leaves, fruitful harvest, sweet surrender, life-giving death. This is my inheritance in this vibrant new season I arise today in the breath of autumn. I arise today with winter in my being: Resting earth, gracious darkness, dreaming seeds, barren trees, frosty breath, glowing fireplaces, empty spaces. This is my inheritance in this vibrant new season. I arise today in the heart of winter.
Enjoy the rest of autumn and make the best of the winter to come. There is a season for everything.
Life is a cycle of ever-changing seasons. (Photo: Brian Snyder, Reuters/CnS)
Why we need social teachings A S we near the end of this series, one may pose the question: What is the place of the social teaching in Church’s pastoral action? What does the Church intend to achieve? In its social doctrine, the Church gives a basic and holistic perspective of the human person so that work, economics and politics are organised around promoting the dignity of a human person as revealed by Christian anthropology. This dimension of evangelisation is credited to Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum. “The Church exists and is at work within history. She interacts with the society and culture of her time in order to fulfil her mission of announcing the newness of the Christian message to all people in the concrete circumstances of their difficulties, struggles and challenges,” says the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (CSDC). The social doctrine should be a source of inspiration especially to the lay faithful who have responsibilities in public life. Yet, regrettably, the social teaching of the Church is little known, and many Catholics do not know what step to take on a particular social question. This demands that we revise how we look at catechesis, which no longer should be the mere acquisition of knowledge in the matters of doctrine, but be a guide and inspiration for Christian living. Unfortunately, catechesis can be impov-
erished by both those who teach and those receive it. When it is presented as a requirement for receiving sacraments, no wonder then, once one receives the sacraments, catechesis also ends there. Catechists should help people have Christian reflexes in dealing with questions in their daily life, especially those in public office often confronted with multiple and complex questions. This should be a point for self-evaluation for any learning institution that considers itself Catholic. The lay faithful, by baptism through which they share the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ, are called to work as leaven in influencing family, work, culture and political spheres with the spirit of Christ (Lumen Gentium 31). And here is the Church’s prescription for the laity: “To cultivate an authentic lay spirituality by which they are reborn as new men and women, both sanctified and sanctifiers, immersed in the mystery of God and inserted in society” (CSDC 545). Their role is to let the face of Christ shine in the world. There is no double standard between spiritual and secular life since for a mature and integrated Christian is guided only by one standard: faith (John Paul II, Christifidelis Laici, 1989). But how do the lay people go about in their witness and infusing temporal institutions with the Gospel? It begins with the conversion of their
Evans K Chama M.Afr
Catholic Social Teachings
proper lives. Their witness demands a serious discernment so as to avoid the trap of falling into the popular way of seeing things, such as thinking of truth as something determined by the majority or to be conditioned by political expediency. Hence, the social doctrine should not be understood as an intrusion of the Church in political life, but rather as “to instruct and illuminate the conscience of the faithful” (CSDC 571) so as to build an authentic human community. As the US Catholic bishops regret, “far too many Catholics are not familiar with the basic content of the Catholic social teaching. More fundamentally, many Catholics do not adequately understand that the social teaching of the Church is an essential part of the Catholic faith. This...weakens our capacity to be a Church that is true to the demands of the Gospel....” That is why I hope that this series has provided a taste of such a rich mine of social teachings and encouraged you to embrace the “Civilisation of Love”—which is the matter for the next, and last, article in this series.
Missionary Sisters of The Holy Rosary sent to bring the Good News to all people
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Fr Stuart Bate OMI
Point of View
Africa needs culture of higher learning
N his apostolic exhortation after the second African Synod, Pope Benedict XVI linked development in Africa with a culture of higher learning. “Given the great ferment of peoples, cultures and religions which marks our age, Catholic universities and academic institutions play an essential role in the patient, rigorous and humble search for the light which comes from Truth,” he wrote in Africae Munus. “Dear brothers and sisters in Catholic universities and academic institutions, it falls to you… to help African societies better to understand the challenges confronting them today by providing Africa, through your research and analyses, with the light she needs.” Catholic universities and higher institutes in Africa must do research. The concern of the Synod Fathers in both the first African Synod (1994) and the second (2009) was the need to create indigenous African theological knowledge systems. This is because one of the ongoing manifestations of neo-colonialism is the fact that knowledge continues to be exported into the country from the intellectual and commercial centres of Europe and North America in all fields, including theology. So African Christians are reduced to being consumers of knowledge but not producers. As Pope John Paul II put it in Ecclesia in Africa in 1995: “The Catholic universities and higher institutes in Africa…serve the Church by providing trained personnel, by studying important theological and social questions for the benefit of the Church, by developing an African theology, by promoting the work of inculturation, by publishing books and publicising Catholic truth, by undertaking assignments given by the bishops and by contributing to the scientific study of cultures.” In 2012 St Joseph’s Theological Institute in Cedara, KwaZulu-Natal, decided to respond to this challenge by setting up a collaborative research group amongst its academic staff to study important questions affecting our context. During that year we examined questions around HIV and Aids in Southern Africa and in collaboration with the Aids Office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, we held a very successful conference at Cedara in January 2013. Papers from this conference were recently published as a book, Catholic Responses to AIDS in Southern Africa, which is available from Catholic bookshops and from the SACBC Aids Office. Last year we chose a second theme: “The Response of the Church to Globalisation in Africa”. And during 2013 we worked on this theme to produce a number of papers. We also invited three speakers from different backgrounds to present keynote addresses. All of this was presented in our second academic conference at the end of April. Conference papers will be published in the November issue of Grace and Truth. SJTI is looking for local sponsors to help fund this new initiative as we intend to continue with a new theme this year. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 082 712 1047. n Fr Stuart Bate OMI is research and development officer at St Joseph’s Theological Institute.
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The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
Sr Benignus Ahearne AMJ celebrated her 90th birthday and feast day at Jacob's Well in Botha’s Hill, durban, with (from left) ita o'dwyer, Bishop Barry Wood, Maura dutton and evelyn Gallagher—her two nieces and a friend from ireland.
Parishioners from Christ the King parish in Wentworth, durban, are pictured with Fr nkululeko Meyiwa (centre left) and Fr Andrew Knott (centre right) on pilgrimage at ngome Marian Shrine.
Learners at St Ursula’s High School in Johannesburg held a para-liturgy on Holy Thursday. Pupils presented the scripture readings while symbols of the passion were brought to the altar.
St Augustine’s cathedral in Port elizabeth held a Chrism Mass for clergy in the diocese.
St Margaret Mary's parish in Green Point, Cape Town, held a paschal supper. (From left) Theresa Theron, Gina Sangiorgio, parish priest Fr Andrew Cox, Laura ireland, Sandrine Theron and Franca Falanga.
Khanya “The Piano Maestro” Litabe is pictured during the celebration of the Good Friday service at St Peter Claver parish in Pimville, Soweto. Mr Litabe is also a radio presenter and producer at Radio Veritas.
Three parish communities of oudtshoorn celebrated the easter Vigil together at St Saviours cathedral, where 30 adults received confirmation from Bishop Frank de Gouveia.
Benedictine Sisters of St Alban “Listen my daughter… with the ear of your heart”
(Rule of St Benedict, Prologue)
Do you feel called?
to glorify God in prayer and work? to be a witness of God’s presence in the world of today?
The Salesian youth Movement in Cape Town organised a vocations camp at the Salesian institute for the parishes of Lansdowne, Hanover Park and Westridge. The programme for the camp included several talks on different types of vocations, Taizé prayer, Mass and question-and-answer time.
To know more about us please contact: St Benedict’s Convent, Box 2424, Elukwatini, 1192, Mpumalanga. Tel./Fax: 017 883 2379, Mobile: 076 592 3120 or 082 535 5625 email@example.com or stbenedict@lantic.
The diocese of Kimberley held its Palm Sunday celebration at the Arena, where parishes from all over the diocese formed processions and assembled for a joint Passion Sunday liturgy.
The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
The youth of St Peter Claver parish in Pimville, Soweto, presented a passion play on Good Friday.
Holy Cross Primary School in Aliwal north re-enacted the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday with Mgr Joe Kizito and pupils and teachers of each class representing the 12 apostles.
Founder, St eugene de Mazenod
“Come and lear n w h o yo u are in the e ye s o f God.”
Oblates choose to live in community, sharing their life in faith and prayer, working in solidarity with those who are poor, excluded or searching for meaning. Like Eugene, every Oblate desires to lead people to recognise their human dignity and come to know the life that is offered in Jesus Christ, life to the full, free of injustice, alienation, and lack of opportunity.
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
northern Province of South Africa Po Box 44029 Linden 2104 GAUTenG
Fr Joseph Leathem oMi from St Therese parish in edenvale, Johannesburg, blessed Holy Rosary High School’s newly renovated consumer studies kitchen.
Christian Brothers College in Parklands, Cape Town, held a Passover meal for students.
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Twelve candidates from St Theresa's parish in Queenstown, eastern Cape, were confirmed by Bishop dabula Anthony Mpako (centre).
Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood (Mthatha Eastern Cape)
“Are you called to make the Precious Blood fruitful”?
Our Mission Field is God’s Kingdom which has no boundaries; we are Missionaries everywhere.
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Sr. Patricia Mary Ndongeni CPS bizana Convent P.o. box 23, bizana 4800 039 251 0042 / 072 934 0886
Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary WISH TO SHINE YOUR LIGHT FOR GOD’S CHILDREN! Then as a Daughter of the Immacualte Heart of Mary this is your chance to rekindle the light of LOVE and of the GOOD NEWS to the:
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The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
MONTH OF MARY
Mary, the great liberator Mary was not only the mother of Jesus, but a great woman in all she did. As such, she is a perfect model for modern women, argues CoLLeen ConSTABLe.
AY is “Mary’s month”. This challenges us to reflect on the role of this holy woman through a different lense: Mary as Liberator? There is always great eagerness to ponder the Holy Mother in the context of purity, piety, humility and virtues. Somehow I felt the urge to connect with her in a different context that speaks to women’s experiences in the 21st century. It requires an understanding that Mary’s Assumption into Heaven and her Queenship of Heaven and Earth are not merely spiritual titles. It is an acknowledgement and recognition of her holiness, impeccable life and the various roles she has played on earth. These roles are inclusive of her being virgin and mother of Jesus Christ, but goes beyond virginity and motherhood. Could it be that
in her role as liberator she may speak more profoundly to modern day women of all ages, from teenagers to senior citizens? What makes Mary a liberator? What does her role as liberator hold for contemporary women? Today women live in a changing world. For centuries women had no decision-making power over their own destiny, an aspect very prevalent when parents or elders arranged marriages, and women simply had to abide with the decision. Today the tendency towards forced arranged marriages has not disappeared and under the banner of culture many women still face this fate in some countries. And women have not been able to escape the scourge of oppression. Women are global victims of horrendous domestic violence, femicide and rape, with our beloved country taking the lead in genderbased violence. Although the empowerment and emancipation of women in a contemporary world has erased much of the past discrimination, some negative cultural practices, traditionalist attitudes about gender, conservative mindsets and patriarchal attitudes have obstructed the progress. Today women still feel unsafe in public and private spaces. And traditional exclusions of women from some roles in society still exist.
It is against this background that Mary’s Queenship speaks a different language today. It resembles a woman of liberation: a woman of great faith, a woman of freedom, a woman of earth and heaven in touch with humanity and the divine, a woman in touch with herself and her inner soul, a woman of courage, confidence and dedication, a woman of action and bravery.
irst, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with the divine message, she was disturbed. A teenage girl worried about the content of the message. Yet she wholeheartedly subjected herself to the divine plan. She had a split second opportunity to choose whether she wanted to be part of this higher plan. She knew that this announcement had the potential to change her life. Mary knew what pregnancy to an unmarried girl meant at the time. The Mosaic law prescribed death by stoning in such circumstances. In the face of all this, not knowing how her life would turn out, she gave her “Yes” with great courage. She accepted God’s will for her life without hesitation. It is in the acceptance of this message that Mary’s faith and confidence in God, her sense of freedom to choose and her great courage came through: all that from a teenager at the age of about 14. She was a well-balanced youth destined to become a great woman: a woman who cooperated with God and participated in the liberation of humankind. Second, Mary encountered pain in her lifetime: it connects her deeply with all the women who have endured hardships, physical, psychological and emotional pain. She was also a Jewish woman who knew poverty, discrimination and marginalisation. She suffered rejection as a poor pregnant woman desperate for accommodation, when there was no room in the inn: she experienced the lack of human compassion in a very sensitive situation. She had to flee into a foreign country to protect the life of her child: she shared the pain and hardships that goes with
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immigration. She felt the pain of a missing child when her son got lost and she could not hide her anxiety when she finally found him in the Temple. She stood by her son throughout his suffering till the end, accepting her role to support him who was prophesied by Simeon to be “a sign of contradiction”. This suggests that Mary embraced that prophetic role and knew that his journey ultimately becomes hers too. While his fearful disciples abandoned him at the most crucial period of his earthly life, she stood at the foot of the Cross, with the other women, watching while her son died a painful and humiliating death. She became a woman of great strength and an activist of the Church: a brave woman. As a Jewish widow, having lost her son, she did not isolate herself. She stood by the frightened and disheartened disciples: a true pillar of support at a time when the disciples were disillusioned. She was present at Bethany when her son ascended into heaven. And she was in the midst of the apostles as the “Mother” praying with them and being present when the Church was formed on Pentecost. She was a woman of action: she did not allow stereotypes to keep her away from the role she was destined to fulfil.
hird, she facilitated her son’s first miracle, at the wedding in Cana, as she understood his role and was clear about her own. She had a healthy level of emotional intelligence. Her awareness of other’s humiliation—the hosts had run out of wine—and their need for support was high. She was a woman who took initiative: not only to get water changed into wine and thereby protect a family from embarrassment, but also to visit the elderly, pregnant Elizabeth. The three-month visit paved the way for unconditional charity as an act of love based on dignity and equality. She most probably calmed an anxious elderly pregnant woman. Her actions and joyous “Magnificat” is proof of her maturity at a young age, breaking the barriers that existed in society between the youth and the aged. She was in touch with her inner soul, her neighbour and her God. Fourth, Mary’s sense of dedication to Jesus, to her neighbour, to the apostles and her faithfulness to God is an inspiration. As a teenager she exercised
leadership in accepting a huge responsibility with a clear conscience and great faith. As a young woman in her twenties, when she experienced the pain that only a mother of a missing child can testify to, she held steady when Jesus said, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know I must be about my Father’s business?”(Lk 2:49). And as a young widow in her forties, when Jesus died, she exemplified perseverance as she endured the pain of his sufferings and death and embraced her new life with her “adopted” son, John, whom Jesus gave her on the Cross when he said, “Woman, behold thy Son” and “Behold, thy mother” (Jn 19:26-27). Mary serves as a symbol of the holiness of women and a celebration of their freedom. Mary is a woman of great faith, free will, love and compassion: a courageous woman, an inspirational woman, a woman of great strength, a brave woman. She offers contemporary women an opportunity to imitate her: change your lifestyle to be in touch with your inner soul, your neighbour and God. Be resilient in difficult times, never give up! Be courageous. Whatever you start, complete it. Take decisions that will set you free and allow you to live God’s purpose for your life. Live in the present moment: be an activist from the heart. Seek God’s will for your life. Never hesitate to fight against prejudice, discrimination or injustice. Embrace equality and treat others with dignity. Follow Jesus and become a true supporter of the poor, the destitute, the marginalised and the outcasts of society. Do not be afraid to be “the contradiction”. Have joy in your heart: follow the way of the “Magnificat”. Mary sets contemporary women free from the chains of gender inequality in their spiritual life. It is an acknowledgement of women’s status in the eyes of God and their holiness. Through Mary all women can claim their rightful place as they have been liberated. Women have been vindicated by Mary. Her lifestyle on earth has set the tone for a well-balanced teenager who developed into a powerful woman going about her role with simplicity and dignity. Mary is the model of servant leadership for women in various roles. She was not only a virgin, mother, wife and home executive. She was a liberator, a true supporter, an activist, caretaker, facilitator, intercessor and widow.
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The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
Our Lady and the bishop in white Our Lady of Fatima, whose feast we celebrate on May 13, has influenced the three most recent papacies, but none more than that of St John Paul ii, as MiCHAeL SHACKLeTon explains.
T Fatima in Portugal, three shepherd children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, reported that the Blessed Virgin had appeared to them on May 13, 1917. She said she would return again on the 13th day of each successive month until October. She revealed, among other things, that Christ desired repentance and sacrifices for sin, and devotion to the rosary and to her Immaculate Heart in order to bring an end to World War I, which was still raging. She also warned that if her requests were not taken seriously, a greater world war would erupt and “the Holy Father would suffer much”. This prediction was magnified by another vision. The children saw a bishop dressed in white, whom they understood to be “the Holy Father who would suffer much”, shot and killed among scenes of frightening destruction. Seventy-four years later to the day, on May 13, 1981 in St Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II took four bullets fired at close range by a professional assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca. When he had recovered after surgery, the pope called on Agca in jail and forgave him for the attempted killing. Agca, we are told, stared at his intended victim in utter disbelief and asked him why he was not dead. This question was one that St John Paul must have turned over in his mind time and again as he grew in the conviction that he had sidestepped death because of divine intervention. His confidence sprang from his complete trust in the prayers of the Virgin Mary. This was already evident in the motto on his papal coat of arms: Totus tuus, which is the Latin for “All Yours”. The motto is directed not to Christ but to Mary to whom the pope had dedicated his priestly ministry. Its basis is the “True Devotion” promulgated by the French priest St Louis Marie de Montfort in the 17th century, which involves consecration to Christ through the hands of Mary. Those who make the dedication give themselves entirely to Jesus Christ and ask Mary to intercede for them as they entrust themselves to her motherly prayers to be more faithful to her son. The evident coincidence of the date, May 13, must have troubled St John Paul’s soul: was this revelation real or imagined, true or false? And did it point unambiguously to him? Could he identify himself with the bishop dressed in white?
he Church takes the official stance that even if they are approved as not contradicting doctrine, all alleged revelations to private individuals are accepted only on human faith and no more. As pope, St John Paul could not require that all the faithful must henceforth believe the message of Fatima. As the head of the Church’s teaching authority, the bishop of Rome may teach only what has been received in the public revelation of Scripture and Tradition. The revelations at Fatima were, in comparison, allegations made by children, and, like all such claimed revelations, they were open to doubt. The pope had not even seen or heard the Virgin. Like any other Catholic, Pope John Paul was entitled to have a particular devotion to Our Lady of
Fatima and her message. Unlike any other Catholic, he was the head of the Church, and when he gave outward and practical expression to his devotion, he did so as head of the Church. In this way, he boosted the general acceptance of Mary’s appearances and words to the children. Aware of the theological strictures and yet sure that the message of Fatima was genuine, Pope John Paul’s later speeches and writings took on a noticeably more Marian emphasis. In March 1987 he issued his apostolic letter Redemptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer), in which he announced the Marian Year with the purpose of promoting a new and more careful reading of what the Vatican Council said about the Blessed Virgin in the mystery of Christ and the Church. He told the Italian bishops in 1994 that it was the hand of a mother that guided Agca’s bullets, ensuring that his wounds would not be fatal. On May 13, 2000, he visited Fatima to beatify two of the three young shepherds, Jacinta and Francisco—the third, Sr Lucia, was still alive; she died less than two months before St John Paul in 2005—and gave public thanks to Our Lady for sparing his life at the hands of Agca. On October 16, 2002 he issued his encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae (the Rosary of the Virgin Mary) in which he stressed the spiritual richness of devotion to Mary and the rosary, and introduced the Mysteries of Light in addition to the traditional Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries. In pointing up this renewed consciousness of Mary’s role in the history of salvation, the pope referred to “Marian spirituality” and recalled St Louis Marie de Montfort’s consecration to Christ through the hands of Mary.
ardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the time, adopted a conservative attitude to the alleged apparitions. In the sober tones of a theologian, he commented that no great mystery was disclosed at Fatima nor was the future unveiled. He expressed the view that “the bishop dressed in white” could be any or all of the modern popes. Then, on May 13, 2010, the tenth anniversary of John Paul’s visit to Fatima, the same Cardinal Ratzinger, now as Pope Benedict XVI, offered Mass at the Fatima shrine and revealed a more reflective appreciation of the import of Mary’s apparitions to the children. In his homily he said: “We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete... Mankind has succeeded in unleashing a cycle of death and terror, but failed in bringing it to an end… In sacred Scripture we often find that God seeks righteous men and women in order to save the city of man and he does the same here, in Fatima”. He recalled that Our Lady asked the three children: “Do you want to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings which he will send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?” These words, Pope Benedict explained, were not addressed to the three children only. Mary offers the love of God burning in her own heart to all who trust in her. This requires personal acts of reparation for sin and prayer. Possibly, Benedict had St John Paul in mind here, who had visibly endured severe ill health up to the end, and who accepted this added affliction in union with Christ’s suffering for sinners. Pope John Paul had assessed all these signs in his own way. He might have felt that, although Fatima clearly added nothing new to
Pope Francis uses incense as he venerates the original statue of our Lady of Fatima at the end of a Mass in honour of Mary in St Peter’s Square last octber. The pope entrusted the world to Mary while the statue, which has in its crown the bullet which hit St John Paul ii during an assassination attempt in 1981, was in Rome. (Photo: Paul Haring/CnS) the Church’s teaching that conversion and penance are essential to attain salvation, Our Lady had a specific message for him. He was to promote and live out the Church’s call for acts of reparation for sin, and he was to revive the Church’s appreciation of Mary’s role in draw-
ing souls to her son. Why else was there a call for devotion to the rosary and Mary’s immaculate heart in order to bring about peace?
hen Pope Francis was elected to follow Benedict, he displayed an immediate sensitivity to
the role of “the bishop dressed in white” by asking the bishops of Portugal to join him in dedicating his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima. On October 13, 2013, Pope Francis, in the presence of more than 100 000 people in St Peter’s Square, entrusted the world to Mary’s protection. Facing the pilgrim statue of our Lady of Fatima, he prayed that Mary would “help us to be open to God’s surprises, to be faithful to him each and every day, and to praise and thank him, for he is our strength”. Following the trend set by John Paul, Popes Benedict and Francis have openly expressed a clear consciousness of the need to heed the call of Mary at Fatima. They have given the impression that the “bishop dressed in white” will act on Our Lady’s requests, play a fresh role in guiding the Church’s life in the years to come, and promote a renewed reading and understanding of the place of Marian spirituality in the Church. In the last chapter of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), we are given this reminder of Mary’s importance: “We implore her maternal intercession that the Church may become a home for many peoples, a mother for all peoples, and that the way may be opened to the birth of a new world. “With Mary,” Pope Francis wrote, “we advance confidently towards the fulfilment of this promise.”
The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
The monastic Christian life lived seriously Like most religious communities, the Benedictines face continuous struggles to place the focus on the essentials. BROTHER JOHN FORBIS OHC explains.
HE monastic life is nothing other than the Christian life lived seriously. It is the very renewal of our baptismal covenant “which ties us up with Christ” and seals us as God’s own through Christ’s teaching. Christ becomes our model, the litmus test for what we do and what we say. And so Jesus’ question gets asked of me and each of us: “Do you love me?” (Jn 21:16). This was part of a reflection commissioned by the Benedictine Communities of Southern Africa (BECOSA)—a confederation of Benedictine communities from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia—from the Monastic Formators Programme (MFP). The MFP alumni met in July 2012 in Benoni, with Fr Mark Butlin OSB as facilitator. We prayed together, engaged in lectio divina—a particularly monastic way of reading scripture in a reflective and meditative way—and then searched our hearts as to what was at the very core of our Benedictine identity “with the Rule and the Gospel as our guides”. The chief conclusion we arrived
Monks at inkamana Abbey, a Benedictine monastary in Vryheid, KwaZulu-natal, tend the land and animals while following their rule: “Prefer nothing whatever to Christ”. (Photo: Mike Scanlan) at was perhaps quite obvious, but it is good to be reminded again of what the impetus to our life is. To live the monastic life is to “prefer nothing whatever to Christ”, as the Rule of Benedict (RB) states. If we are to communicate the essentials of the monastic life to those who come to join us or to the wider public, then this principle would hopefully become obvious in what we say, in how we live and in how we model those essentials for others. And in our communities, we fos-
ter an environment which facilitates this preference. Our communities are places in which “the perfect love of God, which casts out all fear” is palpable, (RB 7:67, 1 John 4:18). “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Jesus’ question first penetrated into my morass of doubts while praying in the haven of one of the many magnificent churches in Italy during the 2005 Monastic Formators Programme in Rome. One could almost say that it was Jesus’ prayer to me.
In the gospel of John, Jesus puts the question to Peter. However, one name change made a crucial shift: “John, do you love me?” It is the one continuous thread from MFP through my monastic journey to the last Benedictine Communities of Southern Africa meetings region until now. How the question gets answered is through our encounters with the Word, prayer, liturgy and sacraments, the Rule, the community and work. Our conversion of heart is the flowing stream which energises all of these aspects. Monastic life is not the externals so much as it is the internal movements within us. How are we meeting Christ in all our activities? Where do I meet him in the monastic life and even where do I think I will meet him in the monastic life? Are we living with Christ and in Christ? Who is Christ for us? All that we do should be a reflection of this inner movement. Hopefully, others would see Christ in us.
he Benedictines in Southern Africa have a second concern: the problem of tribalism in our communities. Since tribalism is not just an African phenomenon, as the abbot primate pointed out to BECOSA, it has developed into a broader definition for us than one might expect. At the BECOSA gathering in 2013, we drew from Africae Munus, the post-synodal apostolic exhortation by Pope Benedict XVI, and from the wisdom and experiences of one another to come to the following agreement about the definition.
Tribalism has been loosely defined as the need of one group to dominate and control another group within the same community by various means and methods. A two-page statement was drawn from our discussions, both in small groups and in plenary, to help our communities begin to both expose the issue as well as to trust and begin to build tolerance within our community lives. In other words, we were calling ourselves to live in community as if it truly were “a school for the Lord’s service” (RB 45) As the statement makes clear, the call was also to always refer to the scriptures, the Rule of Benedict and the Church teachings as our guides. “We are called to love and respect each other and we must, as part of conversatio morum, be open to compromise. In all of this, Christ is the model,” as the Rule says. As BECOSA has scrutinised both of these topics, we become gradually aware of the remarkable link between the two subjects—monastic life and tribalism—and that they can never be exhausted. Again in both cases, what we are saying strikes at the very core of our identity as monastics. In my monastic journey at present, I am coming to a place where I can comfortably answer Jesus’ question in the affirmative: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” And so I hear the response to my answer: “Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep.” The paths that BECOSA has traversed in the past two years have joined my own, from the first asking of the question to the work to fulfil Christ’s call to all of us. The aim of our being guided and led by the monastic tradition is to be genuinely reflective and responsive to God’s presence in us. Monastic life then becomes an authentic witness to Christian life (The Essentials of the Monastic Life). Being part of the MFP and the Benedictine Communities of Southern Africa, while also being the only Anglicans in the group, we were reminded yet again that we have a lifeline to a tradition that goes back over more than 1 500 years of learning how to love Christ. Especially in the work we have done in the past two years, we returned to what is the very meaning of our vocations, to the very core of who we truly are. Yes, I am an Anglican but first and foremost I can say that I am proud of our monastic heritage. I can come to the full recognition that I am a Benedictine, and Benedictines can always recognise another Benedictine. How we answer Jesus’ question will always hold us to this tradition.
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The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
Monks move into high-tech age to survive With external funding drying up, many religious communities have to sustain themselves. A group of monks in the Californian desert do so by selling printer toner online, as PAULA DOYLE reports.
HROUGHOUT history, monks have been linked to ink, penning beautiful calligraphy in books and illuminating manuscripts. The Benedictine monks at St Andrew’s abbey in Valyermo, located in California’s Mojave desert 90 minutes north of Los Angeles, have updated the ink connection for today’s digital age with their new venture, MonksInk, an online ink and toner business. Since it launched in 2011, MonksInk.com, an online store offering brand name and remanufactured ink and toner cartridges, has tripled the number of its customers, who hail from corporations, dioceses and schools throughout the United States. This year, it has more than tripled its sales revenue, with sales doubling in just the last six months. Fr Joseph Brennan OSB, prior of St Andrew’s abbey, credited the surge to recently targeted marketing efforts to Catholic dioceses and schools as well as customer interest in ordering ink and toner cartridges from a monastery instead of an impersonal big box office supply store. “People are intrigued when they hear about it,” Fr Brennan told The Tidings, newspaper of the Los Ange-
les archdiocese. “They want to support the abbey and the monastery. So many people across the country have been educated by Benedictines.” Out of MonksInk’s more than 1000 customers, about 220 regularly purchase their ink and toner supplies through MonksInk, either calling the toll-free customer service line or placing orders on the website, which features pictures of the monks engaging in their life of prayer and outreach. The monastic community was founded in China in 1929 by Benedictines from the Abbey of Sint Andries Zevenkerken in Bruges, Belgium. The monks prayed, taught and worked in China until they were expelled by the communists in 1952. In 1955 the community relocated to Valyermo. Br Peter Zhou Bangjiu is the oldest of the abbey’s 20 monks, who range in age from 38 to 87. Br Bangjiu is the only surviving monk from the Benedictine community in China. He was imprisoned for his faith and then reunited with his fellow brothers 25 years later in Valyermo. The monks pray five times a day for the needs of the world and work in various ministries that include hosting onsite retreats, providing spiritual counselling and direction, producing their signature saint and angel ceramics, managing the abbey’s bookstore, and assisting at local parishes and chaplaincies. Guests from all walks of life and denominations have visited the abbey for more than 50 years, making directed or private retreats, sharing meals with the monks and joining the monks in the monastery chapel—a converted stable on the former turkey ranch—for chanting of the Divine Office.
Br Peter Zhou Bangjiu, 87, the Californian Benedictine abbey’s sole surviving monk from the Benedictine community in China, is pictured at breakfast with a guest at St Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, California. The 20 monks who live at the abbey hope that Monksink, their new online ink and toner business, will help finance construction of new housing desperately needed by the monks. (Photo: Paula doyle, Tidings/CnS) “What happens here is a kind of seedbed for inner renewal, and we share the fruits of that with people who come,” explained Fr Brennan, who was an archdiocesan priest for 20 years before receiving permission to join the Benedictines 19 years ago. Along with his duties at the abbey, the priest also is a spiritual director at a retreat house for priests in Los Angeles. “It’s really like the old days with the desert fathers and mothers and the people who come out seeking. We have a lot of people who have been in the corporate world for years and they come here to find a sense of peace and redirection,” said Fr Brennan, adding that the monks also
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extend their Benedictine charism of hospitality to their customers. “The Benedictine motto is Nihil amori Christi praeponere [Prefer nothing to the love of Christ],” noted the prior. “St Benedict insists in his rule that we monks welcome each person, each visitor, as Christ himself. Hospitality, service and personal attention are very important to us, and they are echoed in how [monks and lay Benedictine Oblates] run MonksInk,” he said. “I think the first thing that people tangibly experience is something very different when they call and inquire, that they’re not just a client,” said Fr Brennan.
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“What we hope to do eventually in responding to orders is include a prayer card that captures something of our Benedictine community that assures them of our prayers for them and asks their prayers for our endeavour,” he said. “We strive for excellent customer service, and we try to find cartridges that are hard to locate,” explained Chris McDowell, customer service supervisor. MonksInk works with several suppliers who have ink and toner cartridges for most printers, fax and copy machines in a wide range of brands. Customers get an e-mail confirming their order has been placed with MonksInk, and delivery is swift, sometimes the next day, noted Ms McDowell. She added that customers have saved up to 60% by ordering remanufactured cartridges or generics. Occasionally, Fr Carlos Lopez OSB, who works in the ceramics customer service down the hall in the monastery’s arts and crafts building, has pitched in to help with MonksInk phone orders. Information about the monastery on the MonksInk website, he said, has helped reverse a long-running deficit for the ceramics, which are now turning a profit for the first time in at least 20 years. “It’s been really good riding on the coattails of MonksInk,” said the monk. “I hope MonksInk will be a great help for the overall ministries of the abbey,” added Fr Brennan. “Our next big project is to build monastic housing, which we desperately need. If this could help us launch that programme, it would be wonderful.”— CNS
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Labour can make or break SA peace To what extent does labour legislation and unrest affect South Africa? Fr MATSePAne MoRARe SJ takes a closer look.
tential disagreement were solved using methods other than strikes. Over the past three decades, the number of annual strikes has declined greatly. Strike numbers increased from 101 strikes in 1979 to 1148 in 1987. By 1990 the number stood at 948. In 2009 the number of strikes had dropped down to 51. Having said all this, all the labour law in the land amounts to very little if the parties involved decide to ignore or break the law when it suits them. The worrying factor about recent labour disputes is the rise in unprotected strikes where workers simply ignore the law, the unions, and any agreements reached in bargaining councils, and go on strike.
MPLOYMENT legislation might look as though it is concerned only with employer-employee relations and really has nothing to do with wider society. But in reality every single act or piece of legislation, directly or indirectly, affects society. In May 1891, Pope Leo XIII released his momentous encyclical Rerum Novarum, addressing the conditions of work during the industrialisation of the world, and considering the rights and duties of labour and capital. What necessitated the pope’s intervention was the escalating conflict between workers and business that was manifesting itself not just as labour unrest and social instability, but also as class warfare and even social and political revolution. Similarly, over the past few months, new labour legislation has been going through the South African parliament, with amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 20 of 2013 recently signed into law. Though most legislation is directed to employers and employees, these latest amendments also directly affect individuals and groups that might not realise they are acting within the ambit of the new law. The rise of the trade union movements in this country was a reaction to exploitation, especially in the mining sector, which had the worst record of injustice. Now, after decades of labour activism, it seems that as a society we are trying hard to create a more normal, more just, and more equitable employment environment where, because the law protects the employees, there is no need for perpetual strikes and conflict over conditions of employment. Today, most strikes are about levels of pay rather than conditions of employment. Where there used to be strikes over unfair dismissal, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration now provides a forum for resolution. Where one group felt they were disadvantaged in some way, the labour courts and equality courts have stopped those conflicts spilling out into the streets. These are the conditions conducive to reconciliation. However, as Marikana has
Strikes have declined in South Africa, with the annual number of strikes in 2009 being only 51, compared to 948 in 1990. But all labour disputes have an impact on society, Fr Matsepane Morare SJ writes. (Photo: Mike Hutchings, Reuters/CnS) shown, progress does not mean success; there is still much to be done. It seems as if history has shown that there can be no workplace peace without just employment conditions. There will never be reconciliation if one group always feels victimised by another. There can never be social cohesion if one group feels exploited by another.
t is in this context that labour legislation is located. One does not often associate employment legislation with reconciliation or peace-building in society, but as history shows, labour conflict has been the spark of much greater conflict and violence. In a country like South Africa, where conflict seems to rear its head almost everywhere, any structures or measures that help to bring calm and a just resolution of disagreements, without anyone feeling they have to resort to violence, should always be welcome. But how can we talk of reconcil-
iation and a peaceful society when sectors of our society appear to be in perpetual conflict with each other? It is worth remembering that labour unrest is not simply a matter of workers and employers losing income, it has a huge impact on the rest of society: services are not supplied or are interrupted; transport is often disrupted; police resources have to be moved from crime to deal with labour matters which can lead to great tragedy and loss of life; emergency services and the costs involved have to be mobilised; families struggle because of loss of income with resultant deepening poverty; businesses lose income or even close; and general social unrest and instability ensues. Had there been a way of resolving the Marikana labour dispute other than by a strike, at least one of the conditions that led to that tragedy would have been neutralised. It seems that the need to
strike— and the brinkmanship that goes with strikes, especially to achieve higher pay—needs to be looked at very seriously. If the only point at which any side can back down during labour negotiations is if the very existence of the business or the industry is threatened, then we are encouraging conflict. What is indisputable is that it does not matter if business claims that labour law is restrictive. If people are seriously unhappy, there will be conflict. And the statistics give us an indication of the satisfaction levels. In 1999, 74,2 % of strikes in South Africa were about wages and related compensation matters. In 2010 this figure had increased to 98,8%. This means that all other issues of social grievances, disciplinary matters, organisational rights, retrenchments, working conditions and so on had all but disappeared. This suggests that substantial progress had been made in making sure that these other areas of po-
ccording to the Department of Labour, in 2012, 44% of strikes were unprotected. This is a sign either that workers believe that they can do what they like, breaking agreements and ignoring procedures, without facing any consequences, or there is a systemic breakdown in the labour relations framework and a loss of faith in the procedures set up to resolve and manage disputes. What is worth recognising is that South Africa has come a very long way from the days where labour conflict and violence was the norm, to the point where the 99 strikes in 2012 are seen as a crisis. The fact that there was a time when the country had over 1000 strikes in a single year should not be forgotten. Importantly, it is unacceptable that those who, though they have the right to strike, which is protected by law, decide that they will engage in intimidatory and criminal bullying and destruction. For them it is not enough to withhold labour, they then move to violent and destructive behaviour, especially against other workers seen as “scab labour”. The failure of law enforcement in these conditions contributes further to the breakdown in society. If there is a choice to be made between violence and conflict, and a more tedious and inefficient labour relations framework, choosing tedium over violence would be better. Then maybe society can still have another day to discuss differences, rather than be burying people. That is what reconciliation and healthy social relations are all about. n Fr Morare is a Jesuit priest currently working as a researcher for the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office, an office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference.This is an edited version of a research paper he produced for the CPLO.
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The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
Do we get the leaders we deserve? South Africans have voted, now they have to exercise their democratic right to hold those whom they elected accountable, Professor AL GINI says in an interview with The Southern Cross.
ROFESSOR Al Gini from Loyola, the Jesuit University in Chicago, has been preparing for his forthcoming tour of South Africa when he will present the Jesuit Institute’s 2014 Winter Living Theology programme. He has thus been watching with interest the build-up to our elections and to the way in which our 20-year-old democracy takes seriously its rights and responsibilities. The title taken for the three-day course he is giving is “The Leaders We Deserve?”. This comes from an oft-quoted principle of democracy—that if democracy really is the rule of the people by the people, then the leaders we get as a nation are the leaders we deserve. Prof Gini points out that democracy in the United States is a “year-round sport”. With elections for the president, senate, congress, state governors, state assemblies, town mayors, sheriffs and even school boards, there are constant opportunities for Americans to exercise their right to vote. With two reasonably evenly sized parties, elections are often occasions when power will shift from one side to another. Of course, elections are the
Supporters of the African national Congress cheer at an election rally addressed by President Jacob Zuma in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. (Photo: Mike Hutchings, Reuters/CnS) most visible way in which we can keep our leaders accountable. But, as Prof Gini points out, this is only one way of putting democracy into action. “Leaders, by definition, have followers. So now that South Africans have elected their leaders—a president, provincial premiers, members of national and provincial parliaments—they can decide in what way they choose to follow them,” he says. In a democracy, he explains, “we can be meek and complacent followers. We can be violent and disruptive followers. Or we can be insistent and demanding followers who continually hold our leaders to account.” Prof Gini suggests that simply to vote once every five years and then sit back is a bit like
being an “Easter duty Catholic”— just doing the bare minimum to qualify as democrats. But in politics, as in our faith, we have an opportunity and a duty to be genuinely engaged all the time. This is, of course, a lot more demanding than just voting every five years, just as being a real Christian all year round is more demanding than going to church for Christmas and Good Friday. But this is what Pope Francis is pointing to when in The Joy of the Gospel he refers to the need to be “committed and responsible citizens”. It is by acting in that way that we “enhance the social dimension of our lives”. The alternative is just to be, as the pope puts it, “a mob swayed by the powers that be”.
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There are, Prof Gini explains, plenty of reasons why we might just sit back and do very little between elections. “But just because it’s hard to be good,” he says, “doesn’t mean we should not aspire to be good.” One of the dangers is that we become complacent followers because too many other people around us are. “But just because it’s normal does not necessarily make it right. Normality is a mathematical concept, not a moral justification. Being good requires us to risk challenging the status quo,” Prof Gini says. “What is more, it’s hard to be good because it requires us to be involved, to risk, to extend ourselves for others. We are too concerned with self and forget the
needs of others. It is not just about me and my concerns, but also about recognising that if I have the ability to complain or the ability to get my voice heard I should use that to fight for those who may not get heard.” Prof Gini stresses the importance of the media—but also our response to the media. Freedom of the press is necessary to help us to exercise this democratic mandate: but it will only affect the quality of our leaders if we take the trouble to become aware of what the press is saying, if we allow it to inform our judgments, and if we then show that we are (or are not) happy with the conduct of our leaders. “Knowledge is necessary but not sufficient until you add in reflection, analysis and discernment. We need to ‘critique’—to take apart and analyse in order to understand better,” he says. That, in the end, means that we make greater demands on our politicians—but also that we make greater demands on ourselves: we who have elected our leaders but we who also can be leaders in our own communities. Pope Francis talks about “politicians with soul”, but he also talks about “nurses with soul and teachers with soul”. These are all, as he says in The Joy of the Gospel, “people who have chosen deep down to be with others and for others”. That is certainly a challenge to South Africa’s newly elected political leaders—but it is also a challenge to each one of us in our role as “committed and responsible citizens”, Prof Gini says.
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The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
Noah film has Christian reviewers in a spin The film Noah, currently on circuit in South Africa, has had Christian reviewers in a spin, as KURT JENSEN observes.
IME was when hidden messages and obscure references within a big-budget Hollywood film about a religious figure could be treated as lighthearted insider jokes. Take, for example, the beloved 1945 classic The Bells of St Mary’s which follows the interactions of Father Chuck O’Malley (Bing Crosby, reprising his Oscar-winning role from Going My Way) with a parochial school led by Sister Mary Benedict (Ingrid Bergman). The script makes mention of the thoroughly modern “St Victor’s School”. That was a nod to Mgr John Devlin, at that time the Hollywood representative of the Legion of Decency, which kept its censorious eye on Hollywood films; he was also the pastor of St Victor parish in West Hollywood. Similarly, a secondary character, grumpy businessman Mr Bogardus (Henry Travers), complains that the architects of his new office building are “a couple of thieves, Butler and Dean”. That’s a dual allusion to director David Butler—who had recently helmed Crosby’s The Road to Morocco with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour—and gagman Barney Dean, who contributed material to that and other Crosby pictures. A Road movie gag in a reverent Catholic story? Few were in the know, and no one was much flustered.
Contrast that with the controversy that has swirled around director Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, beginning well before the movie’s release. Aronofsky is an easy target for those on the lookout for anti-Christian messages in his work. Raised as a Jew, he now self-identifies as an atheist, and has often discussed his appreciation of Kabbalah, a mystical offshoot of Judaism. Yet, since the story of Noah’s covenant with God takes up fewer than 100 verses in the Book of Genesis, and contains almost no dialogue, filmmakers seeking to recount it in a feature-length movie have inevitably had to pad the tale. To do so, they’ve had to rely either on those parts of Scripture that do not concern the Ark builder himself or on non-biblical writings or on their own imaginations. Aronofsky has chosen to draw from all three of these sources. The result has been a potentially confusing experience for those filmgoers who are less than fully conversant with the literature to which he turned, whether within the canon of the Bible or outside it. Even among presumably wellinformed critics, moreover, interpretations of Aronofsky’s viewpoint and intent have varied widely. Theologian Brian Mattson, who works at the Center for Cultural Leadership in California, was among the first to weigh in when he posted a lengthy analysis of Noah on his website. In it he called the film “a thoroughly pagan retelling of the Noah story direct from Kabbalist and gnostic sources”. He went on to identify Kabbalah as a form of Jewish gnosticism. Among the primary tenets of gnosticism—a philosophy which,
in ancient times, gained adherents among pagans, Jews and Christians alike—is the idea that salvation comes through secret knowledge rather than, in the Christian context, through the redeeming power of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Gnosticism also holds that an evil deity called the Demiurge created the material world. Focusing on the latter point, Peter T Chattaway, a long-time film critic for Christian publications in the US, has taken issue with Mattson’s critique. Writing on his blog on Patheos.com, he observed: “Instead of condemning the created world as an illusion imposed on us by an evil Creator, Aronofsky’s film celebrates the created world and, through its protagonist, suggests that the animals are ‘innocent’ in a way that humans are not. “Gnosticism hates Creation. Aronofsky’s Noah loves Creation. So whatever else you might say about Aronofsky’s film, it is not gnostic.”
he volume ramped up again when Mimmo Muolo, an author who contributes to the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire, wrote a critical column. Muolo is not the publication’s regular film reviewer. But because Avvenire is owned by the Italian bishops’ conference—and, as The Hollywood Reporter, a trade journal, concluded, “is aligned with the Vatican”—his comments were portrayed as a form of official rebuke. If so, it was an especially stinging one since both Aronofsky and Russell Crowe, who plays the title character, had aggressively sought a Vatican endorsement of Noah. Muolo accused Aronofsky and screenwriter Ari Handel of being
Jennifer Connelly and Russell Crowe in a scene from the movie Noah. (Photo: Paramount) “so anxious to give the biblical event an ecological and vaguely New-Age tone that they turn it into a lost opportunity”. He concluded: “If the film does not meet expectations it is because it uses Noah only to sound a loud ecological alarm.” In short, like Mattson, he thought Noah other than biblical. Muolo ignored one of the movie’s most intriguing symbols: the snakeskin Noah occasionally wraps around his arm. Both Mattson and Chattaway mention the unusual adornment, but stumble on its interpretation. The skin, given to Noah by his father, Lamech, was shed by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Mattson was scornful of its supposed benefit and Chattaway concluded: “The snakeskin is an odd element in the film, I admit.” Yet at least one aspect of this relic’s significance—its affinity with a widespread Jewish practice—can easily be explained.
The skin is Aronofksy’s version of tefillin, the leather straps with Torah scrolls attached to them that many observant Jews wrap up their left arm for daily prayers. (There’s also one worn on the forehead.) Deuteronomy, in chapter 6, instructs Jews to bind the words of God “on your arm as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead”. The tefillin are a literal means of obeying that command. The hide is seemingly passed down to remind Noah’s family that they are in a direct line from the inhabitants of Eden. Because the descendants of Seth respect what God has made, the skin glows when they wrap it; for Tubal-Cain, the villain of the piece, there’s no glow. If nothing else, as an example of what might be called divine repurposing, this ambiguous item is certainly in line with the film’s ecological theme. n Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.
Take time for prayer and discernment and let God lead you
The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
Ten great movies about holiness Often one hears complaints about movies being immoral. As an antidote, JoHn MULdeRiG picks his Top 10 movies on the subject of personal holiness.
formances are brilliant. It includes some crass expressions and (by today’s standards) tame sexuality.
A Man for All Seasons (1966)
IFE holds only one tragedy, ultimately: not to have been a saint.” So wrote the French man of letters Charles Péguy (18731914). Yet, while its attainment may be every human being’s vocation, sanctity can be a difficult quality to capture in the dramatic arts. Thus the stage and screen alike have seen a procession of hollow holy ones and canonised cardboard. Here in chronological order are capsule reviews of 10 movies that have avoided that parade of the forgettable. Instead, these pictures have successfully risen to the challenge of depicting personal holiness in a way that’s both credible and engaging.
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) A silent-screen masterpiece portraying the heresy trial, confession, recantation and execution of the Maid of Orleans (Maria Falconetti) in a performance of such emotional power that it still stands as the most convincing portrayal of spirituality on celluloid. Directed by Carl Dreyer, the work is essentially the interior epic of a soul, consisting largely of closeups of Joan’s face and those of her interrogators accomplished in a fashion which is never static as the camera explores the inner struggle between human frailties and spiritual strength.
The Song of Bernadette (1943) Durable adaptation of the Franz Werfel novel about Bernadette Soubirous (Jennifer Jones), the French schoolgirl who in 1858 saw apparitions of the Virgin Mary at a grotto near Lourdes but news of this is initially discredited by her stern pastor (Charles Bickford), the town prosecutor (Vincent Price) and an envious teacher (Gladys Cooper). Directed by Henry King, the story of a young girl’s faith withstanding the disbelief of her elders is made dramatically convincing by a fine cast, evocative photography and largely unsentimental treatment.
Monsieur Vincent (1947) Lucid, moving account of St Vincent de Paul’s work among the poor and the oppressed in 17th-century
Paul Scofield (right) as St Thomas More and Robert Shaw as King Henry Viii in 1966’s A Man For All Seasons. France, from his first labours in a plague-ravaged village and his appeals to the conscience of the aristocracy to the founding of an order devoted to charitable works and his death in 1660. Director Maurice Cloche portrays the poverty of the times and the cruelty of the regime in starkly convincing fashion, providing a solid historical framework within which Pierre Fresnay’s performance in the title role shines with a warm compassion and spiritual intensity which most viewers will find irresistibly compelling. High on the list of great religious movies.
The Flowers of St Francis (1950) This remarkable Italian production follows the beginnings of the Franciscan order as its founder sets the example of humility, simplicity and obedience for his first followers at Portiuncula, a little chapel near Assisi, from which they depart into the world to preach peace. Directed by Roberto Rossellini from a script co-written with Federico Fellini, the movie’s form is as simple and sincere as the subject of the narrative which relates a series of little incidents realistically, yet marvellously conveyed with an infectious sense of joy by an anonymous cast of monks from a Roman monastery.
The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952) In The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, when a young girl reports seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary in 1917 Portugal, she is harassed, then arrested by atheistic government officials but nothing can stop the
crowds of faithful from coming to the site in expectation of a miracle. Directed by John Brahm, the religious story is treated with reverence yet is dramatically interesting with such characters as the goodhearted thief (Gilbert Roland) who helps her. Inspirational fare.
The Miracle of Saint Thérèse (1959) Engrossing French production dramatising the life of the saint known as the Little Flower who entered the Carmelite cloister in Lisieux at the age of 14, died of tuberculosis in 1897 at age 24 and was canonised in 1925. Director André Haguet makes a serious, largely successful attempt to picture the saint’s life within her religious community and the meaning of her “little way” to spiritual perfection, with a winning performance by France Descaut in the title role and fine use of the visuals to convey the period and the interior life of a young woman who became a saint.
Becket (1964) Superb adaptation of Jean Anouilh’s classic play about the deep friendship and later conflict between England’s King Henry II (Peter O’Toole) and his friend, Sir Thomas Becket (Richard Burton), later a saint, and how their days of drinking and womanising came to an end when the monarch appointed Becket archbishop of Canterbury, leading to Becket’s spiritual transformation and ultimate martyrdom. Director Peter Glenville’s film is rather stagy and leisurely paced, but the Oscar-winning dialogue is uncommonly literate, and the per-
Engrossing drama of the last seven years in the life of Sir Thomas More, Henry VIII’s chancellor, who met a martyr’s death rather than compromise his conscience during a period of religious turmoil. Robert Bolt’s script is masterfully directed by Fred Zinnemann, with a standout performance by Paul Scofield in the title role, among other notable performances from a uniformly fine cast. The historical dramatisation achieves an authentic human dimension that makes its 16th-century events more accessible and its issues more universal. It’s profoundly entertaining but heavy going for children.
Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story (1996) Entertaining Angels is a compelling dramatisation of the early life of Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day (Moira Kelly) as a young journalist whose agonising over failed love affairs leads her to reflect on her life and, in doing so, discovers God, then meets Peter Maurin (Martin Sheen) and puts his ideas of social justice into practice during the Depression. Directed by Michael Ray Rhodes, the biographical movie depicts a woman’s spiritual journey in convincing dramatic fashion, though it is largely interior, deeply religious and specifically Catholic in its sensibilities.
Of Gods and Men (2011) Brilliant dramatisation of real events, recounting the fate of a small community of French Trappists (led by Lambert Wilson and including Michael Lonsdale) living in Algeria during that nation’s civil war in the 1990s. Targeted by violent Muslim extremists, the monks must decide whether to continue their medical and social work for the local population or abandon them by fleeing to safety. Using the tools of the monastic life itself, director Xavier Beauvois finds a path to the heart of the Gospel through simplicity, a compassionate sense of brotherhood and an atmosphere of prayer enriched by sacred music and potent silence. The result, a profound meditation on the cost of discipleship, is a viewing experience from which every adult as well as many mature teens can expect to profit.
Read Catholic reviews of latest movie releases on the South African circuit, every Friday at www.scross.co.za/category/reviews/movies/
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From top: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), Becket (1964), Monsieur Vincent (1947), The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952), The Flowers of St Francis (1950), Entertaining Angels (1996), The Miracle of St Thérèse (1959), The Song of Bernadette (1943), and Of Gods and Men (2011)
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The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
Luther ‘wanted to reform Church he loved’ As the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation approaches, Lutherans and Catholics find they have a lot in common—including respect for Martin Luther. PETER FINNEY Jr reports.
T was the seminal event of Western Christianity over the past 500 years. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, a German Catholic monk, sent his “95 Theses, or Disputation on the Efficacy and Power of Indulgences”, to the local archbishop. And with that he set into motion the Protestant Reformation that four years later prompted his excommunication by the Catholic Church and laid the groundwork for denominational splintering that over the centuries has led to the formation of thousands of Christian churches. Over the past 50 years, especially with the impetus provided by the Second Vatican Council, those divisions between Catholics and Lutherans have begun to heal and J18 the pace of concrete efforts towards restoring unity has quickened, Archbishop Alfred Hughes, retired of New Orleans, told a recent ecumenical gathering. The dialogues between Lutherans and Catholics in the last 50 years “have yielded significant truth”, Archbishop Hughes said. It prompted Catholics “to revisit the person and motivation of Martin Luther” in advance of the 500th anniversary in 2017 of the publication of Luther’s theses. “His genuine desire to promote renewal in the church cannot be denied,” Archbishop Hughes said. “The personal struggle that marked
his life was severely complicated by the way in which authorities in Rome, during the papacy of Pope Leo X, treated him. A helpful place to begin is to note the need for both faith and repentance.” Bishop Michael Rinehart, head of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, said there was “a spirit of ecumenical hospitality right now that we need to enjoy while it is happening”. “Luther did not want to leave,” Bishop Rinehart said. “He was bold, he was blunt, he was vulgar, and mistakes were made—but he really didn’t want schism. He wanted to reform the Church he loved.” Bishop Rinehart said the 2017 anniversary naturally will elicit media coverage that may attempt to distill the reasons for the split and ask questions with a false premise: Why do Lutherans and Catholics hate each other? “They don’t,” Bishop Rinehart said. Rather than “drive a wedge in Christendom”, he said, the commemoration could be “an opportunity to have conversation and bury the proverbial hatchet”. Two of the concrete signposts of the fruitfulness of international dialogue, Archbishop Hughes said, are the 1999 joint statement by Catholic and Lutheran leaders on the doctrine of justification, and another landmark statement, issued last July, called “From Conflict to Communion”.
uther had railed against the Church’s practice of selling indulgences as a way of doing good works that would lead to salvation. The 1999 declaration on the doctrine of justification, which explains how people are justified in God’s eyes and saved by Jesus Christ, expressed a consensus that this is not an issue that divides Catholics and Lutherans.
Martin Luther is depicted in this painting by Lukas Cranach the elder (14721553). Luther called for reform in the Catholic Church, which set off a series of debates and led to his excommunication and the start of the Reformation about four years later. (Photo: Crosiers, CnS) Bishop Rinehart quoted the key phrase: “Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.” “We are created for good works,” Bishop Rinehart said. “We’re not saying ‘by’ good works but ‘for’ good works. We can say this together as one.” Last year’s document, released by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation, offered five “ecumenical imperatives” for
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jointly commemorating the 500th anniversary in 2017 of the publication of Luther’s theses: • Begin from the perspective of unity and not from the point of view of division. • Be transformed by the encounter with each other and by the mutual witness of faith. • Commit ourselves to seek visible unity, to elaborate together what this means in concrete steps. • Jointly rediscover the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. • Witness together to the mercy of God in proclamation and service to the world. Bishop Rinehart recited the
Creed, which he said Catholics and Lutheran can say together. He said Lutherans and Catholics “believe in the real presence of Christ” and “have a responsibility to witness to the transforming love of Christ”. He added: “It’s okay to disagree, but what the world needs to hear is the message of Christ.” Archbishop Hughes said it was important to note that Pope Hadrian, who succeeded Pope Leo X, acknowledged in 1522 that “abuses, sins and errors” were made by Church authorities in dealing with Luther. In the past 50 years, Archbishop Hughes said, progress has been made “in our mutual understanding of the sacrament of the Eucharist. Lutherans refer to this as the Lord’s Supper. We have come to acknowledge that both Lutherans and Catholics believe in the real presence of Christ in this sacrament, even though each explains that presence in a significantly different way.” There still are obvious doctrinal disagreements: the ordination of women, married priests and the sacramentality of holy orders. The Lutheran Church approved a resolution in 2009 to allow gays in “publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships” to serve as pastors. It also permits pastors to preside over same-sex marriages in states where they are allowed by civil law. About those differences, Archbishop Hughes said: “Authentic ecumenism is always rooted in addressing truth with charity. We need not only to be explicit about what we have been able to recognise we believe in common, but also what it is we still need to address if we are going to realise the Lord’s priestly prayer at the Last Supper that we all be ‘one in him even as I am one with the Father’.”—CNS
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The Southern Cross, May 7 to May 13, 2014
CLASSIFIEDS Africa’s Church looks more self-reliant Continued from page 4 South Africa “were heavily funded by all the big Catholic aid agencies,” and this has steadily dwindled with the perception that other African countries have greater needs, Bishop Dowling said. “We are considered able to take care of ourselves because we are a middle-income country,” he said. A South African “mindset that funding comes from Europe” can be linked to the history of Church hierarchy and religious orders being of European origin, Bishop
Dowling said, noting that the increasing number of local appointments has changed the funding situation. Without personal links overseas, African Church leaders are unable to get the funding found by their predecessors, yet the “perception that there is plenty of funding to be found overseas” remains in the minds of many Catholics, Bishop Dowling said. Rural dioceses in South Africa “struggle more than their urban counterparts in being self-sustain-
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CAPE TOWN: Padre Pio Holy Hour 15:30 every 3rd Sunday of the month at Holy Redeemer parish in Bergvliet. Helpers of God’s Precious Infants meet the last Saturday of the month except in december, starting with Mass at 9:30 am at the Sacred Heart church in Somerset Road, Cape Town. Mass is followed by a vigil and procession to Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Bree Street. For information contact Colette Thomas on 083 412 4836 or 021 593 9875 or Br daniel Manuel on 083 544 3375.
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NELSPRUIT: Adoration of the blessed sacrament at St Peter’s parish. every Tuesday from 8am to 4:45pm followed by Rosary, divine Mercy prayers, then a Mass/Communion service at 5:30pm. PIETERMARITZBURG Couples for Christ “Behold and Ponder” Couples retreat on May 23, 24 and 25 at FeT College, northdale, cnr Balambra Way and olympia Way, Pietermaritzburg. Registration fee: R220 per head. Phone 031 302 1217 or e-mail admin@cfc southafrica.co.za
Word of the Week ASPERGILLUM: A vessel or device used for sprinkling holy water. The ordinary type is a metallic rod with a bulbous tip which absorbs the water and discharges it at the motion of the user's hand. FOCOLARE: A lay movement started in Trent, Italy, by Chiara Lubich in 1943, now claiming more than a million followers. Its aim is world unity though the living witness of Christian love and holiness in the family and small communities.
ing, largely because young people move to cities to try to earn a living as soon as they can,” Bishop Dowling said. In his diocese, this migration to cities is largely into townships around Rustenburg’s platinum mines, he said. “It’s difficult to persuade donors that we have such a poverty problem,” Bishop Dowling said, noting that “the influx of economic migrants into South Africa has exacerbated our poverty crisis.” —CNS
Liturgical Calendar Year A Weekdays Cycle Year 2 Sunday, May 11 Acts 2:14, 36-41, Psalm 23:1-6, 1 Peter 2:20-25, John 10:1-10 Monday, May 12, St Leopold Mandic Acts 11:1-18, Psalms 42:2-3; 43:3-4, John 10:1-10 or John 10:11-18 Tuesday, May 13, Our Lady of Fatima Acts 11:19-26, Psalm 87:1-7, John 10:22-30 Wednesday, May 14, St Matthias Acts 1:15-17, 20-26, Psalm 113:1-8, John 15:9-17 Thursday, May 15, St Isidore the Farmer Acts 13:13-25, Psalm 89:2-3, 21-22, 25, 27, John 13:16-20 Friday, May 16, St Margaret of Cortona Acts 13:26-33, Psalm 2:6-11, John 14:1-6 Saturday, May 17, St Paschal Baylon Acts 13:44-52, Psalm 98:1-4, John 14:7-14 Sunday, May 18, Fifth Sunday of Easter Acts 6:1-7, Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19, 1 Peter 2:49, John 14:1-12
Our bishops’ anniversaries This week we congratulate: May 8: Bishop José Ponce de León of Ingwavuma on his 53rd birthday. May 9: Bishop Adam Musialek of De Aar on his 57th birthday.
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HOUGHTON—Agnes dympna (née Janvrin-Vincent). 1923.01.232014.04.23 HOUGHTON, Agnes dympna, wife of the late Bill, passed away on 23 April. A beautiful and loving mom, mom-in-law, gran and great-gran to her four daughters, Mary, Margaret, Bridget, Barbara, sons-in-law, Walter, derick, Ben, grandchildren, Stephen, Jeannine, Ryan, Lauren, Catherine, elizabeth, Susan, their spouses, Meryam, Bruce, Richard, Michael, Sean, great-grandchildren, yasmin, Gabriella, Luke and Amelia. Fortified by Rites of Holy Church. May her dear Soul Rest in Peace. “We loved her in Life, we will not forget her in death” (St Ambrose) HOUGHTON—Agnes. died on April 23. A longstanding and good friend of The Southern Cross, and widow of former Catholic newspaper & Publishing Company chairman Bill Houghton. Condolences to the family from the board of directors, editor and staff. MATTHAEI—Goswin. 26/10/1925-25/4/2014. it is with great sadness that our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather passed away peacefully. He will be remembered at the funeral service held at the Roman Catholic Church, All Saints Brackenfell. From Bauer/Matthaei family.
LINDSELL—Patricia. died May 5, 2012. My dear wife and our mother will always be remembered in our prayers. Rest in peace. John and family.
ABORTION is murder – Silence on this issue is not golden, it’s yellow! Avoid ‘Pro-abortion’ politicians. ASIAN lady, sixties seeks mature gentleman for friendship. Write to P o Box 52108, Berea Road, 4007, KZn or SMS 079 488 2865. CAN YOU be silent on abortion and walk with God? Matthew 7:21 See www.180movie.com CATHOLIC TELEVISION: To receive eWTn Global Catholic networks via satellite in the PTA/JHB region, please contact Frans on 082 698 1096. GENTLEMAN seeks Catholic lady for friendship/relationship (age 55) Cape Town. 078 942 4969. www.abortioninstru ments.com is the graphic truth that will set you free.
HAVE mercy on me, o God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For i know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you alone,
have i sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. indeed, i was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. you desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and i shall be clean; wash me, and i shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, o God, and put a new and right spirit within me. do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Psalm 511
HAIL, HOLY Queen, Mother of Mercy! our life, our sweetness, and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley, of tears. Turn, then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus; o clement, o loving, o sweet Virgin Mary. ALMIGHTY eternal God, source of all compassion, the promise of your mercy and saving help fills our hearts with hope. Hear the cries of the people of Syria; bring healing to those suffering from the violence, and comfort to those mourning the dead. empower and encourage Syria’s neighbours in their care and welcome for refugees. Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms, and strengthen the resolve of those committed to peace. o God of hope and Father of mercy, your Holy Spirit inspires us to look beyond ourselves and our own needs. inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with enemies. inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria, and fill us with hope for a future of peace built on justice for all. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace and Light of the World, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. Prayer courtesy of the USCCB. YOU, o eternal Trinity, are a deep sea into which, the more i enter, the more i find. And the more i find, the more i seek. o abyss, o eternal Godhead, o sea profound, what more could you give me than yourself? Prayer of Awe—St Catherine of Siena. THANKS be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, For all
the benefits thou hast won for me, For all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me. o most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, May i know thee more clearly, Love thee more dearly, And follow thee more nearly, For ever and ever ST MICHAEL the 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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5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER Readings: Acts 6:1-7, Psalm 33: 1-2, 4-5, 1819, 1 Peter 2:4-9, John 14:1-12
HAT can you absolutely rely on in life? The message of the readings for next Sunday seems to be that it is God (and Jesus) in whom alone we can place our trust. In the first reading there is a crack in the picture that we have been building up of the early Church as a nest of happy unity. Now, as you know, this is not entirely an accurate picture of the Church at any stage in its history; and what we have to bear in mind is the absolute importance of concentrating on the things that really matter. As Luke describes it, the “muttering” that goes on in the first reading is a consequence of the Church’s growth, and it is a racial and cultural matter, familiar enough in the South African experience. The immediate problem is that the non-Jewish widows were getting “overlooked in the daily distribution of food”. Evidently there has been an appeal to the Twelve to sort this out, but they feel that they have better things to do (they should be concentrating on “the Word of God”) than wait at the table. So they make the intelligent suggestion of appointing “seven men, full of the spirit and of wisdom, whom we shall set over this need”, while the Twelve stick with “prayer and the ministry of the word”.
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See Jesus as a ‘living stone’ Nicholas King SJ
So that is decided upon, and we learn that they appoint seven Greek-speakers, each of whom is named. Then they are placed before the apostles, who “prayed and laid hands on them”. The moral is clear: when there is a problem, our task is to pray, and concentrate on God’s word. It is not surprising that “the Word of God grew, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem was filled up”. That word is where we too must focus our gaze. The psalm for next Sunday is quite clear where we are to put our trust: “Rejoice, you just in the Lord”, it begins, a very cheerful hymn of praise to God: “Sing to the Lord on the harp; on the ten-stringed lyre sing praise to him, for the word of the Lord is upright, and all his deeds are with integrity…the Lord’s steadfast love fills the earth.” And it is clear whom the psalmist looks
out for: “The Lord’s eye is on those who fear him, on those who hope for his love, to deliver their souls from death, to give them life in famine.” This is a God to rely on. The second reading makes the same point by way of a multi-layered meditation on the idea of “stone”, with its connotation, once more, of reliability. So Jesus is “a living stone, rejected by human beings, but choice and precious for God”. From which it follows that Peter’s readers are to be “built up like living stones as a spiritual house”. This is then linked to another kind of stone, using another Old Testament text: “Look I am laying in Sion a cornerstone that is choice and precious.” Not all stones, though, have this quality of reliability: there is “a stone of stumbling” and a “rock of offence [or ‘scandal’]”. Our task, once we have been built up into this building, is “that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”. The gospel, in the sad setting of the Last Supper, again raises the question of what we can rely on. “Don’t let your hearts be disturbed”, says Jesus, on the night before he dies, “trust in God, and trust in me”.
Accept truth, whatever its cloak W HEN I was a student in the seminary, I had two kinds of teachers. One type, precisely because they were fiercely loyal to all that is Christian and Catholic, would have us read great secular thinkers, but always with the intent of wanting to help show where these thinkers were wrong. Our intellectual task as a Catholic seminarian, they would tell us, was to be able to defend Catholicism against the kinds of criticisms found in the writings of these secular, sometimes anti-Christian thinkers, and to keep our own faith and teaching free of their influence. The second set of professors approached things differently. They would have us read great secular thinkers, even if they were bitterly critical of Christianity and Catholicism, but with the intent of seeing what we could positively learn from them. These are great minds, they told us, and, whether sympathetic to Christianity or not, we had something to learn from them. Do not read uncritically, was their challenge, but still read with the intent of being instructed. Early on as a seminary student, because I was still insecure intellectually, I leaned more towards the self-protective approach of the first set of professors and read most secular thinkers defensively. I have to smile now as I look back on the idealistic, but naïve and intellectually frightened young man I was then, a 19-old
Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
undergraduate trying to poke holes in the likes of thinkers like Nietzsche, Feuerbach, Marx, Freud, Durkheim, and Lenin. I imagined myself as David fighting Goliath. It seems misguided and grandiose now, but I still have a fondness for that 19year-old who was engaged in this battle. Later on, because some of the valuable insights in a number of great secular thinkers began to break through—despite my resistance—I began to lean towards the approach of the second set of professors who had invited us to learn from others’ insights, no matter the cloak of the author.
ow as I age, both chronologically and in ministry, I find that I am richer and more compassionate to the exact extent that I can do that, namely, remain faithful to the truth wherever I find it, no matter its source. Hence, today I find myself drinking from intellectual wells of every sort, particularly from secular novelists and essayists; my critical faculties are still patrolling like soldiers on duty, but now with a thirst for the insights these writers have into life and
the soul. I no longer read with the intent of proving someone wrong, even if that author is anti-Christian. I have too much to learn. Sometimes in our fear of being tainted in our orthodoxy we forget that many of the great theologians in Christian tradition were unafraid to pick up pagan thinkers, mine their insights for truth, and then blend these with their faith. St Augustine did this with Platonism. Thomas Aquinas—in the face of considerable ecclesial criticism—did the same with Aristotle. Ironically, centuries later, we now take many of their intellectual categories, which they originally took from pagan thought, as our very criteria for orthodoxy. More recently, liberation theology, at its best, has done this with Marxist theory; just as, feminism, at its best, has done the same with secular social theory. But much of these efforts have been, in the name of orthodoxy, viewed with either suspicion or positive rejection. Dare one say that Jesus did the same thing? He picked up parables and stories that were current in his culture and tailored them to further his own religious and moral teachings. Moreover, he taught, and with precious little equivocation, that we are to honour truth wherever we see it, irrespective of who’s carrying it. But isn’t this syncretism? If one picks up truths from diverse pagan and secular sources and harmonises them with one’s Christian faith, how does one avoid the accusation of being syncretistic? Picking up truth from a variety of sources is not syncretism. Syncretism is combining insights gleaned from everywhere in a way that is uncritical of internal contradiction. But we must not confuse tension with contradiction. Tension is not necessarily a sign of contradiction; it’s often the opposite: true faith is humble enough to accept truth, wherever it sees it, irrespective of the tension it causes and irrespective of the religion or ideology of whoever is speaking it. True worshippers of God accept God’s goodness and truth wherever these are manifest, no matter how religiously or morally inconvenient that manifestation might be. God is the author of all that is good and all that is true! So, since no one religion, one Church, one culture, one philosophy, or one ideology contains all of the truth, we must be open to perceive and receive goodness and truth in many, many different places—and we must be open to the tensions and ambiguity this brings into our lives.
Then we are given the comforting message that “in my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places”, and so he can paint the happy picture that “where I am you too may be”. He then tells them, “you know the way”, and Thomas, gloomy as ever, is provoked to retort, in the first of several “dumb questions” raised by the disciples at the meal, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going—how can we know the way?” This anxious query is greeted with the unforgettable response that “I am the way, and the truth and the life”; and suddenly we know that there is something that we can rely on here. Philip then gets in on the act, with another dumb question, in response to Jesus’ claim that “from now on, you have seen the Father, and you know him”: “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus responds with a reproach: “Am I with you so long, and you don’t know me? The one who has seen me has seen the Father!” They can rely on him because “the Father, who remains in me, is performing his works”. And then, finally, on a note of confidence, he concludes: “I am going to the Father.” That is where we are invited to put our faith, this week.
Southern Crossword #601
ACROSS 1. Repeat the creed from memory (6) 4. Restrained your tongue (6) 9. Expression of compassion (13) 10. Be anxious yet cautious (7) 11. Brooch retaining pigment inside (5) 12. Self-disgust in sinning (5) 14. Is prolific like the rain (5) 18. Ann returns to Ma, providing heavenly food (5) 19. Revenues (7) 21. Gone to a margin to see purpose of Vatican II (13) 22. They went away beginning with the ... (Jn 8) (6) 23. A spree for the Zoroastrian (6)
DOWN 1. Ornate baroque style or Coco (6) 2. Understand your Maker? No one can do it (10,3) 3. One of the crucified (5) 5. Don’t make amends (7) 6. Luminous instants of clear thinking (6,7) 7. Peril in the garden (6) 8. The devil picks up the phone to say it? (5) 13. Grasslands (7) 15. Transfix (6) 16. Apt description of Goliath (5) 17. A horse moves to dry land (6) 20.Pause for punctuation (5) Solutions on page 19
ATHER, what are the causes of arthritis?” the dissolute parishioner asked the straightlaced priest. Knowing a teaching moment when he sees it, Father replied: “Arthritis is caused by too much food, too much drink, too many women and all sorts of shameful sin. Why do you ask?” “Well,” said the man, “it’s just that I read in the newspaper that the archbishop suffers from arthritis.”