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December 4 to December 10, 2019
Priest has a handle on ‘The Messiah’
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SA Catholic to advise pope on the youth P
OPE Francis has appointed a South African youth leader to serve on his newly-formed international youth advisory body. When the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life announced the list of 20 young people whom the pope had appointed, it included Dominique Yon of Cape Town. “My nomination came as a big surprise and I am honoured to have been selected,” Ms Yon said. The 27-year-old has been actively involved in her parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Durbanville since she was nine years old. She served as an altar server, and at 15 became the altar server coordinator. Once confirmed, Ms Yon assisted the confirmation and Youth Alpha programmes as a group leader. When the parish started Life Teen, she headed the marketing portfolio while leading a small group. She was later made the coordinator. Most recently, she started a young adults group called Encounter at her parish. In January 2015 Ms Yon was invited to join the Cape Town youth chaplaincy team as the event coordinator. In that position, she has helped organise several archdiocesan and national events aimed at equipping and empowering the youth, young adults and youth leaders. In January 2019 she was appointed the official youth chaplaincy coordinator and assistant to the archdiocesan youth chaplain, Fr Charles Prince. Her term on the Youth Advisory Body will run for three years. The newly formed group will have an important consultative and proposal-making role to play. Members will assist the dicastery with issues related to youth ministry as well as other general topics. Their first meeting is scheduled for April 2020 in Rome.
Fr Bernd Biberger, director-general of the Schoenstatt Sisters worldwide, and Fr Ludwe Jayiya celebrate Mass at the Schoenstatt shrine in Cathcart, Queenstown diocese, which was consecrated in December 1949.
Dominique Yon and Pope Francis, who has appointed the Capetonian to his newlyformed youth advisory board. The advisory body comprises 20 young Catholic leaders from different regions of the world and some international movements, associations and communities. These young people were involved in different phases of the process around the 2018 Synod of Bishops on the Youth. This included the International Youth Forum organised in June this year by the dicastery to encourage the implementation of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Christus vivit. The synod’s final document asked that “the active participation of the young become effective and ordinary in places of coresponsibility in the particular churches”, in national bishops’ episcopal conferences and the universal Church “By the grace of God, I look forward to adding value to this committee as I proudly represent Southern Africa,” Ms Yon said. “I hope to ensure the voices and challenges of our young people are recognised at this level.”
Movement’s ‘Mother of Africa’ shrine turns 70 T HE first Schoenstatt shrine in Africa is celebrating its 70th anniversary later this month. The shrine in Cathcart, Queenstown diocese—affectionately known as the “Mother Shrine of Africa”—was consecrated on December 28, 1949. To mark the jubilee, the local community together with the Schoenstatt Sisters held a celebration, with a Mass celebrated by Fr Bernd Biberger, director-general of the international Schoenstatt Sisters. Fr Ludwe Jayiya of Port Elizabeth, who is originally from Cathcart, concelebrated. Eleven Sisters travelled from Cape Town to be there. Fr Biberger was in South Africa for three weeks to visit the Sisters and the family movement which is active in Cape Town, Johannesburg and the Eastern Cape. In his sermon, Fr Biberger highlighted some of the blessings that have spread from the Cathcart shrine over the past 70 years, pointing especially to vocations and the spread of Schoenstatt in Africa and the English-speaking world. Schoenstatt is an international move-
ment founded in Germany by Fr Joseph Kentenich in 1914. It spread to South Africa in January 1934, when the first Schoenstatt Sisters arrived in the country. The movement is based on four pillars: families, women, men and priests. Sr Joanne Petersen, provincial of the Schoenstatt Sisters in South Africa, welcomed pilgrims who had travelled from East London, Port Elizabeth, Stutterheim, Queenstown and Cape Town for the jubilee celebrations. The pilgrims visited the "Father Room", the room where Fr Kentenich stayed during his visit to Cathcart in 1948. It was Fr Kentenich who encouraged the Sisters and the people of Cathcart to build the shrine. Choir members from Kati Kati together with local children contributed to the music during Mass, while children from the local Inchopo music project prepared a piece for the communion meditation. The Cathcart shrine, one of five Schoenstatt shrines in the country, is open daily from 7:30 until 18:00. Everyone is welcome to join the daily Communion service.
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The Southern Cross, December 4 to December 10, 2019
LOCAL Hurley Centre calls for books
Bishops: This Advent, work to end gender-based violence A STAFF REPORTER
HE bishops of Southern Africa have issued a pastoral letter on gender-based violence at a “sad and tragic moment in our land when women and young girls are murdered and subjected to all forms of violence, physical and emotional”. The “Pastoral Letter On Violence Against Women, Girls And Children” calls on people to “heed the call addressed to all of us to bring the gift of God’s life to the women of South Africa, especially those who are living in abusive relationships and those who are victims of violence and rape”. Issued to coincide with Advent, the letter notes that the season is “a period of renewal which calls us
to conversion of heart as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ”. “In this context of fear and trauma for women, Advent offers all of us an opportunity to aspire anew to imitate Jesus Christ who in his incarnation made himself vulnerable and indeed suffered violence at the hands of those who refused to follow him.” During the season leading up to Christmas, the bishops recommended actions “which affirm and promote the unique dignity of every woman and girl; in fact, each person created by God”. l Make positive efforts to renew and strengthen our own families through prayer and the reading of the Scriptures in which we cele-
brate the birth of God’s Son as a human being. l Support others who are looking for help with overcoming particular problems in their families like divisions and the need for reconciliation. l Work together to eradicate any mentality, norm or language that portrays women and girls in negative stereotypes and does not accord them dignity as persons, life-bearers and children of God. l A particular call to all men to actively promote attitudes of respect for women and stand up for their dignity. l The promotion of community police forums and other structures which guarantee women and girls justice when they are abused, vio-
CT musical youngsters set to star at Advent BY ERiN CARELSE
Ben Khoza (pictured) sells The Southern Cross to parishioners at Sacred Heart cathedral in Pretoria. We love receiving your photos of parishioners selling The Southern Cross—please keep them coming! Send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Submitted by Busisiwe Mphuthi)
HE sound of St Mary’s cathedral in Cape Town’s magnificent organ—with highly-talented young Catholics taking the lead—will ring out this Advent. The cathedral will host a “Festival of Lessons and Carols”, a reflective way to ring in the spirit of the Christmas season, on December 22. This meditative service—not a musical play or concert—is an intimate way to retell the Christmas story through nine short Bible readings, or “lessons”, interspersed with Christmas hymns and carols. Dale de Windt, the gifted 18-year-old resident organist, will conduct the St Mary’s Cathedral Choir with guests, mainly from Sacred Heart church in Green Point. The organ will be played by 21-year-old Mikyle Adams from Sacred Heart church, and Steven Siljeur. Compositions by John Rutter, Phillip Stopford, David Willcocks and many others will be played. The Festival of Lessons and Carols will take place at the cathedral on Sunday December 22 at 18:30. Entrance is free. n For details, e-mail email@example.com
lated, raped and murdered. “We encourage men to speak out and condemn the violence that is happening in families and communities,” the bishops said. “We call on men to strive to be positive role models for our boys,” they said. The bishops asked “everybody— men, women and young people— to portray the face of God’s love”. They called on people to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ—“born of a woman”(Gal 4:4)—by “committing ourselves to homes and families and a society where we live the love, joy, peace, faith and hope that the angels proclaimed in the birth of the Saviour, ‘Peace on earth’”.
PROJECT to help homeless people in Durban by giving them the chance to sell second-hand books has proved so successful that organisers are appealing to the public to drop off unwanted books for resale. The “Street Lit” project of the Denis Hurley Centre has set up 12 drop-off points throughout Durban, and offers to collect larger donations. The project hopes to get permission to sell on the beachfront over the festive season. “We have no doubt that there are plenty of people who would be willing to donate books. In fact now is a good time to clear some space before Christmas,” the DHC said. “If you give us the books we can transform lives; the alternative is books pulped for waste paper.” n For more information about drop-off points and donations, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Mphuthumi Ntabeni, a Southern Cross columnist, was awarded the University of Johannesburg’s Debut Prize for South African writing in English for his first novel, The Broken River Tent. The book chronicles the story of Maqoma, the Xhosa chief who was at the forefront of fighting British colonialism in the Eastern Cape during the 19th century.
SC columnist wins major literary prize STAFF REPORTER
SOUTHERN CROSS columnist has won a prestigious literary prize awarded by the University of Johannesburg for South African writing in English. Mphuthumi Ntabeni was awarded the Debut Prize for his first novel, The Broken
River Tent. Gabeba Baderoon won the Main Prize for her book of poems The History of Intimacy. This year more than 60 works of fiction, poetry, short stories, essays and biography were under consideration for the prize. The Broken River Tent, pub-
lished by Blackbird Books (an imprint of Jacana Books), is a work of historical fiction about Maqoma, the Xhosa chief who was at the forefront of fighting British colonialism in the Eastern Cape during the 19th century. Mr Ntabeni is a parishioner in Constantia, Cape Town.
Buckets of Love to be filled again BY ERiN CARELSE
ATHOLIC Welfare and Development (CWD) will continue its annual “Buckets of Love” campaign this year, despite not being operational and in the process of closure—and an East London parish has picked up the concept again to serve the poor in its area. Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town has assured that the appeal is genuine, and commended it. “Several donors and volunteers asked whether it would possible to run the campaign in spite of CWD closing, and given the popularity of the campaign, the generosity of donors and volunteers, and the fact that every cent raised will be used to feed a family in need, I have given my consent,” he said. CWD currently has a skeleton staff of three people who are dealing with a small but important number of outstanding legal and financial matters, which are taking longer than anticipated. The remaining staff and volunteers, under the oversight of the archdiocese of Cape Town, will run the campaign. CWD had been running Buckets of Love for the past 22 years. The objective of the campaign is to raise funds to distribute a bucket filled with enough food to feed a family of four for one week and provide much-needed practical food items to those who otherwise would find them difficult to afford. Each donation of R250 funds one bucket for a family. Last year a total of 4 606 buckets were filled by retrenched CWD staff and volunteers. The goal this year is to exceed 5 000. “We thought last year would be the final year the CWD would run the cam-
Parishioners of St Patrick’s in East London are launching their Buckets of Love campaign. (From left) Sandy Willmers, Jess Taylor, Joan Hempel, Sandy and Jeff Tidbury. paign but—since it is possible to do so again this year—we should use the opportunity to reach out to those in need to make this Christmas more special for them, “ Archbishop Brislin said. He assured the public that all funds raised will be used to buy food for the campaign and not for any other purpose. The buckets will be packed by volunteers at the Lawrence Road offices in Athlone early in December and distributed shortly thereafter. Buckets of Love will survive. In future, the campaign will be adopted by a successor charity organisation. The Buckets of Love campaign has also
been introduced at St Patrick’s church in East London. It will be running the campaign for the third time this year. Parishioner Janet Johnson introduced the parish to the campaign. Last year St Patrick’s handed out 40 buckets to needy parishioners and members of the community. Their aim this year is to reach at least 60. To contribute to CWD’s Buckets of Love, deposits can be made into Standard Bank account “CWD Grapevine”, number 070868913, Thibault Square Branch (020909). St Patrick’s Buckets of Love can be supported through the parish (043 726-6791).
The Southern Cross, December 4 to December 10, 2019
Priest shines as ‘Messiah’ soloist BY ERiN CARELSE
CATHOLIC priest was once again the tenor soloist at the annual performance of Handel’s “The Messiah” by the Pietermaritzburg Amateur Music Society. The performance of “The Messiah” is a tradition in the city dating back 155 years. It was performed at St Mary’s Catholic church. Fr Sibonelo Mbanjwa OMI sang his first “Messiah” as a tenor soloist in 2007. Then he was still quite new in vocal training, singing only the first two pieces of the tenor repertoire in the work. Since then his voice has developed and he now sings all the tenor solos. “This year’s performance was
amazing, it went well and I was very happy,” Fr Mbanjwa told The Southern Cross. “I’m really grateful to still have this chance to perform and that the Pietermaritzburg Amateur Music Society has afforded me this opportunity over the years.” Fr Mbanjwa grew up in Clermont township in Durban. He studied philosophy and theology at St Joseph’s Theological Institute, Cedara, and is the assistant rector at Ngome Marian shrine. The priest sings at the shrine mainly at Adoration. Growing up, he always enjoyed singing choral music. Fr Mbanjwa recalled that he was always fascinated by solo singing, especially operatic singing.
“I sang in school choirs, but I was exposed to vocal training when I joined the Oblates, with one of my Oblate brothers who had studied opera. He then introduced me to his first singing teacher in Pietermaritzburg—and I’ve never looked back,” he explained. While a student at Cedara, Fr Mbanjwa conducted the Institute Choir and Oblate Schola. After his ordination, he was sent to Cape Town and worked at St Stephen’s in Rocklands, Mitchell’s Plain. There he was part of the small group of priests that led singing at archdiocesan liturgies. He has also sung several other works, which include Stainer’s “Crucifixion” and Rossini’s “Petite Messe Solennelle”, and in concerts
and recitals around Durban and Pietermaritzburg. Fr Mbanjwa has sung with the Durban Symphonic Choir and the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra at St Joseph’s cathedral in Mariannhill—but he is always grateful to be back in Pietermaritzburg. Apart from Fr Mbanjwa on tenor, this year’s soloists were Emma Farquharson (soprano), Sondra-Marié Sitz (alto) and Andrew Butler (bass). The instrumentalists were Christopher Cockburn (organ), Jacques Heyns (harpsichord), Jitzke Brien (leader), Annel Niebuhr (cello), Malcolm McKinlay (trumpet) and members of the Pietermaritzburg City Orchestra.
Fr Sibonelo Mbanjwa, assistant rector at Ngome Marian shrine, was the tenor soloist at the annual performance of Handel’s “The Messiah” by the Pietermaritzburg Amateur Music Society.
Catholic businesses: Host a trainee! Shock as thieves steal vestments and chalices A N educational project in Johannesburg is appealing to Catholic business owners to provide a temporary workplace for learners needing practical training as part of their programme. Don Bosco Educational Projects (DBE), based in Ennerdale, is one of 22 centres across the country supported by the Thabiso Skills Institute, a division of the Catholic Institute of Education. These centres, all with a Catholic ethos and supported by members of various religious orders, offer further education and training courses to learners within their communities. These short courses and skills programmes provide them with portable skills, which they can then take into the workplace. The 12 learners, mostly female, require practical training as part of their New Venture Creation Learnership, a 12-month practical and theoretical training programme: 70% practical and 30% theoretical. The students have recently completed the theory portion and now need to be placed in workplaces for three months between December and February, so that they can get some exposure to a workplace and practice what they have learnt. Businesses can take learners at any
Don Bosco Educational Projects in Johannesburg is calling for Catholic businesses to provide temporary workplaces for students doing the practical part of their skills learning courses. time during that period, and even use them as temps for a day or two. The purpose of the learnership is to provide entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs in the small, medium and micro-enterprise sector with the technical, business, managerial and personal skills to create and sustain a business. Students receive a small stipend to assist them with travelling costs; so they don’t need to be paid a salary,
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but the project works best when host companies assist them too. The appeal is for Catholic business owners to try to take a learner or two into their businesses to provide such students with the support necessary to become employable. n To take part in this programme and provide a learner with an opportunity for employment, contact Janine Scottdos Santos on janine@popcorn people.co.za
HE priest of a Catholic parish in Itsoseng in Klerksdorp diocese is calling for prayers after thieves broke in and stole items from the church. Unknown persons broke into the church of the Holy Spirit in Itsoseng near Lichtenburg. The criminals had accessed the parish by breaking a small window, and once inside took the parish sound system, altar server vestments, and two chalices. “I was away at a diocesan retreat when parishioners phoned me to tell me what had happened. I was both saddened and disappointed to hear the news,” said Comboni Father Thulani Manana, the parish’s priest-in-charge. According to Fr Manana, the thieves used church keys which they found inside to unlock the doors, and then remove the stolen goods. This is the second break-in in Klerksdorp diocese in the past two years. The previous burglary was at St Peter’s Parish in Jouberton. Fr Manana said he has little faith that the South African Police
Service will apprehend the burglars. Police had promised to come to the church to investigate, he said, but “we are still waiting”. According to Fr Manana, parishioners who are now doing their own investigation suspect people from within the church might have been involved in the breakin, and are following up on leads. “We are carrying on as normal, but we do need to do some repairs as the break-in resulted in minor property damage to the window and external doors,”he said. “Updating our security is also of the utmost importance at the moment, and we are looking at installing burglar bars on all the window, and safety gates to the doors,” Fr Manana added. Bishop Victor Phalana of Klerksdorp had just visited the parish a few days before and had had a meeting with the parish pastoral council. “I was devastated to hear that such an incident had taken place so soon after my visit,” the bishop said.
The Southern Cross, December 4 to December 10, 2019
Pope Francis in Asia BY CiNDY WOODEN
T the end of his trip to Thailand and Japan, Pope Francis said he found truth in the saying: “Lux ex oriente, ex occidente luxus”, or, as he roughly translated it: “The light comes from the East, and luxury, consumerism from the West.” Not wanting to be too harsh on the West, Pope Francis told reporters that he did sense in the two Asian countries a different concept of time and a greater sensitivity to contemplation than he found in the West. “I think we Westerners need to slow down a bit,” he said. The “culture of hurrying” often means losing the ability to contemplate and that, in turn, means losing sight of beauty and poetry. Pope Francis’ own trip to Japan was delayed by decades. Several times he spoke about how, as a young Jesuit, he had hoped to be sent as a missionary to Japan. His superiors thought that with his history of lung problems, he was not healthy enough. So, he did not make the trip until he was pope, almost 83 years old and about to celebrate his 50th anniversary as a Jesuit priest. With his visit to Thailand before going on to Japan, Pope Francis flew 26 000km and gave close to 20 speeches. He celebrated a small Mass with his Jesuit confreres in
Japan and Masses with tens of thousands of people in stadiums in Bangkok and Tokyo. He met the Thai king and the Japanese emperor and used as his official translator a nun who was his cousin and a Jesuit who was a former student. The formal and the personal came together in a special way when he visited Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the two cities destroyed by the US atomic bombings in August 1945. In Hiroshima, the pope heard the testimonies of an elderly woman and an elderly man who were teenagers when the bombs fell. On the flight back to Rome, he told reporters that it was “a real human catechesis on cruelty, cruelty”.
fter the sun had set at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and after the pope had laid a bouquet of white orchids and prayed in silence, he said: “With deep conviction I wish once more to declare that the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is today, more than ever, a crime not only against the dignity of human beings but against any possible future for our common home.” He added: “The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral.” On the flight back to Rome, Pope Francis signalled that he considered
the speech to be a formal part of Church teaching, often called “the magisterium”. Care for one another and care for the environment were recurring themes in both Thailand and Japan, where the Catholic communities make up less than 1% of the populations, but where they exercise significant influence, especially in the field of education. While Pope Francis described himself as a “missionary pilgrim” and encouraged Catholics in both countries to be “missionary disciples”, he made it clear that he was not talking about preaching on street corners or passing out pamphlets. Missionary disciples are experts at dialogue and witness—both done with immense respect for the other’s religion and culture, he said repeatedly throughout the trip. In Thailand to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the apostolic vicariate of Siam Mission, Pope Francis said the first missionaries to the country discovered that they were not among strangers, but among brothers and sisters they hadn’t realised they had. “A missionary disciple is not a mercenary of the faith or a producer of proselytes, but rather a humble mendicant who feels the absence of brothers, sisters and mothers with whom to share the irrevocable gift of reconciliation that Jesus grants to all,” the pope said.—CNS
Left: People attend Pope Francis’ celebration of Mass at the baseball stadium in Nagasaki, Japan. Right: Pope Francis visits Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong, supreme patriarch of Buddhists, at the Wat Ratchabophit temple.
Children dressed in traditional attire welcome Pope Francis on his arrival in Thailand. (All photos: Paul Haring/CNS)
Left: Pope Francis accepts flowers to place at the martyrs’ monument on Nishizaka Hill in Nagasaki. Right: Pope Francis arrives for a welcoming ceremony in the courtyard of Government House in Bangkok. Also pictured is the pope’s second cousin, Salesian Sister Ana Rosa Sivori, who acted as translator on the trip in Thailand.
Left: Pope Francis wears a traditional Japanese shirt he received as a gift during a meeting with young people at St Mary’s cathedral in Tokyo. Right: Pope Francis lights a candle as he leads a meeting for peace at the Hiroshima peace memorial in Hiroshima.
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Left: A Marian statue that survived the 1945 atomic bombing is pictured on the altar before the pope’s celebration of Mass at the baseball stadium in Nagasaki. Right: Pope Francis speaks as he meets with Christian leaders and the leaders of other religions at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
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Left: People wait for Pope Francis’ arrival for a meeting with priests, religious, seminarians and catechists at St Peter’s parish in Tha Kham, Thailand. Right: Pope Francis embraces a young man as he meets victims of the 2011 “triple disaster” (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown) at Bellesalle Hanzomon, Tokyo.
The Southern Cross, December 4 to December 10, 2019
Catholic politician sacked over his religious beliefs A
FORMER member of Bitish parliament has spoken out after being deselected as a candidate for the Liberal Democrat Party because of his Catholic faith and views on same-sex marriage and abortion. Robert Flello sat as a Labour Party MP in the House of Commons for over a decade, representing Stoke-on-Trent from 2005-17. In 2019, he switched parties to the Liberal Democrats and was selected as their candidate for his former constituency. Mr Flello, a practising Catholic, was informed just 36 hours after his selection as a candidate that he had been deselected and would not be permitted to represent the Lib Dems in the election. Mr Flello is now calling for the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom to â€œstart speaking outâ€? and defend its social teaching, and for Catholic voters to question their local candidates about their thoughts on religious freedom. â€œHowever they try to dress it up, the simple fact is that you canâ€™t be a practising Catholic and a Lib Dem candidate,â€? wrote Mr Flello in an opinion article published in the Catholic Herald newspaper. He said that â€œsomeone, somewhereâ€? within the party objected to him and officials â€œgot worried and pulled the plugâ€?. â€œWe need Catholics to start contacting political parties to challenge discrimination and anti-reli-
Robert Flello, who says he was deselected as a Liberal Democrat candidate for his views on samesex marriage and abortion. gious prejudice,â€? said Mr Flello. â€œIâ€™m not going to keep quiet on this and nor, I hope, will others.â€? Mr Flello said that he has always been transparent about his opposition to same-sex marriage and aborting children after a diagnosis with Down syndrome, and that this had previously not been an issue. â€œDuring the candidate vetting progress I made clear my views on same-sex marriage during the interview, in the part helpfully titled â€˜Having the courage to make and defend unpopular decisions and seeking out opportunities to publicise and defend beliefsâ€™,â€? said Mr Flello, adding that â€œmaybe I should have written instead about
the Lib Dem opposition to state interference and closing down of free speechâ€?. Another issue the Lib Dems raised with Mr Flello were his tweets critical of â€œbuffer zonesâ€? which local authorites and courts have placed around abortion clinics, preventing prayer vigils and pro-life demonstrations. Mr Flello rejected the Lib Demsâ€™ claim that they were unaware of his political views, noting his parliamentary voting record and tweets about the issues. In 2013, Flello defied the Labour Party whip by voting against same-sex marriage. In that same vote, Mr Flello noted, the Lib Dems did not instruct their candidates to vote either for or against the bill. â€œHow times change,â€? he said. â€œThe Lib Dems are, of course, claiming they have no issue with my religious views and very helpfully they have told me I am free to have some of my views,â€? said Mr Flello. Mr Flello said that, despite the de-selection, he was happy to place his religious beliefs above his political aspirations, citing St Thomas Moreâ€”a former MP who was martyred by King Henry VIII for refusing to break with the Catholic Church. â€œTo paraphrase one of my favourite quotations, I am politicsâ€™ good servant, but Godâ€™s first,â€? said Mr Flello.â€”CNA
People queue to enter the hospital ship named after Pope Francis, the Barco Hospital Papa Francisco. it has treated more than 11 000 sick people along the Amazon in Brazil since its launch in August.
Communist-era cardinal to be beatified in Poland
HEN plans were announced in October for the beatification of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, fresh tributes poured in for the man who steered Polandâ€™s Catholic Church through dark years of communist rule. The former primate will be declared blessed on June 7 at an openair Mass in Warsaw. While supporters are recalling his personal strength in defending the Church against relentless opponents, they also are stressing his sanctity as a figure of prayer and devotion. Born on August 3, 1901, in Zuzela, Poland, Stefan Wyszynski was ordained in 1924, serving as a chaplain to Polandâ€™s underground Home Army, the AK, under wartime German occupation. He was named bishop of Lublin
by Pope Pius XII in 1946, becoming the countryâ€™s youngest prelate, and was elevated to archbishop of Warsaw-Gniezno two years later. Raised to cardinal in 1953, three years after signing a controversial â€œunderstandingâ€? with the communist regime, he was forcibly prevented from receiving his red hat until 1957. Cardinal Wyszynski died on May 28, 1981, during strikes by the Solidarity movement, and his Warsaw funeral was attended by tens of thousands of Catholics in a show of anti-communist defiance.â€”CNS
Pope: Finance reforms are working BY CiNDY WOODEN
UESTIONS about Vatican finances, especially those involving a real estate deal in London, are serious, but they also are a sign that reforms begun by Pope Benedict XVI are working, Pope Francis said. â€œThis is the first time the lids have been taken off the pots by someone inside and not outsideâ€? the Vatican, the pope told reporters on his return flight from Tokyo to Rome. Pope Francis said no one should be bothered by the fact that the Vatican invests the money it collects from Catholics around the world. â€œThe sum of Peterâ€™s Pence arrives and what do I do? Put it in a drawer? No, thatâ€™s bad administration. I try to make an investment.â€? Peterâ€™s Pence is a papal fund used for charity, but also to sup-
port the running of the Roman Curia and Vatican embassies around the world. The collection for the fund occurs each year around June 29, the feast of Ss Peter and Paul. â€œIf you make an investment with Peterâ€™s Pence in a weapons factory, the offering is no longer an offering,â€? he said. â€œAnd, yes, you can buy a building and rent it and then sell it,â€? but only when the investment is sound and one is certain that the people who will benefit from it are those Peterâ€™s Pence is intended to help, the pope said. The London deal, though, seems to have involved â€œthings that donâ€™t seem â€˜cleanâ€™, but the report did not come from outsideâ€?. Instead, under finance reform procedures begun by Pope Benedict XVI and continuing
under Pope Francis, â€œit was the internal auditor general, who said, â€˜Look, here is something that doesn't add upâ€™. He came to meâ€?. When the auditor asked the pope what he should do, the pope said that he told him to go to the Vatican prosecutor with the information. â€œFor that, I am content, because it shows the Vatican administration has the resourcesâ€? to report and investigate suspicious activity. The Vatican prosecutor, the pope continued, did a preliminary study and thought some form of â€œcorruptionâ€? might be involved, so he asked permission to search several Vatican offices, including in the Vatican Secretariat of State. â€œI signed the authorisations myself,â€?Pope Francis told reporters.â€”CNS
Popeâ€™s personal secretary moves
HE personal secretary to Pope Francis will leave his position in December, after nearly seven years of service to the pope. Mgr Fabian Pedacchio, an Argentine priest, will return to duties at the Vaticanâ€™s Congregation for Bishops, where he had been working at the time of Pope Francisâ€™ election. Mgr Pedacchio, a canon
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lawyer, had continued part-time duties at the Congregation for Bishops even while serving as an assistant to the pope. Mr Bruni said that Mgr Pedacchioâ€™s departure from the popeâ€™s office is an ordinary administrative decision, and not personal, according to Argentine newspaper La Nacion. Mgr Pedacchio, 55, a priest of Buenos Aires archdiocese, was
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asked by the pope to serve as his personal secretary shortly after his 2013 election. In recent pontificates, popes have maintained personal secretaries for longer periods of time: Cardinal Stanislaus Dziwisz was secretary to Pope John Paul II for 40 years, and Archbishop Georg GĂ¤nswein to Pope Benedict XVI for the entirety of the retired popeâ€™s tenure in office.â€”CNA
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The Southern Cross, December 4 to December 10, 2019
LEADER PAGE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Editor: GĂźnther Simmermacher
Teaching about sex
HE two areas where the teachings of the Church are most at odds with mainstream secular society are those of sexual ethics and reproduction. While the Church is unyielding in its firm opposition to abortion, artificial contraception and in vitro fertilisation, access to all of these are enshrined in law. Likewise, the law allows for consensual sexual relations between those of the age of consent, regardless of marital status. The Churchâ€™s teachings hold that all sexual relations outside marriage between a man and a woman are impermissible. This goes against secular society, which has shelved the old social stigmas attached to premarital sex. Even adulterous sex is increasingly tolerated. Clearly, there is a tension between what secular society regards as acceptable, and what the Church rejects as impermissible. It is within this context that recent social media posts claiming to present the governmentâ€™s new sex education curriculum caused something close to moral panic. As we reported last week, much of what was circulated failed to correspond with reality. For whatever purpose, false information was fed into the mainstream. The material of the scripted lesson plan for Grade 4, the focus of so much outrage, does not include the graphics spread on social media depicting parents in the coital act, nor other explicit sexual material allegedly being taught to that age group. The lesson plan, which is publicly available, does have a section which properly names the genital partsâ€”something any ten-yearold should know. This is framed within the necessary message that nobody may touch these parts, other than a doctor in the presence of parents. This is an important lesson in a country where sexual abuse of children is rampant. Whatever the reasons for spreading fake news on the sexuality education curriculum, concern for the wellbeing of our vulnerable children was not high on the list. Of course, Catholic parents and the Church must be vigilant that the stateâ€™s sexuality education does not promote what goes against the Churchâ€™s teachings. In private Catholic schools, this is not a great concern, since these can shape their curriculum according to Church teachings. However, Catholic schools that are state-fundedâ€”the vast
majority of the Churchâ€™s education systemâ€”will have to navigate between the primacy of the Churchâ€™s teachings and the stateâ€™s secular curriculum. According to the Catholic Institute of Education (CIE), Church schools could opt out of sexuality education should that curriculum be in direct conflict with their â€œdistinctive Catholic characterâ€?. The government has also assured parents that they can remove their children from comprehensive sexuality education classes on ethical grounds, provided they can show that the pupils are receiving equivalent sexuality education elsewhere. This is a practical solution to address conflicts of ethics on matters such as premarital sex, masturbation, homosexuality or abortion, should these arise in sexuality education. However, the government rightly places an emphasis on providing sexuality education in a country with high levels of sexual abuse and violence, teenage pregnancy and risky sexual behaviour. Knowledge empowers more than it may tempt. Indeed, teenage pregnancy and unsafe sexual behaviour too often are the result of a deficient understanding of sexuality. Sexuality education must emphasise abstention, but linked to that must be the empowerment of young people, especially girls, to exercise sexual autonomyâ€”to be able to say â€œnoâ€?. Moreover, in an age when every pupil, even prepubescent, has easy access to pornography on smartphones and social mediaâ€”with many parents unaware of the ease with which pornography can be procured by their childrenâ€”the ethics of sex must be discussed openly. Teenagers must understand that the representation of sexual acts in pornographic material does not reflect true sexuality. Boys must be taught that girls are not sexual objects who enjoy being mistreated, and girls must be taught that they must not accept being treated in the way pornography suggests they should. The availability of pornography may distort sexuality for those who consume it, but it also provides a teaching opportunity to, first, counteract these distortions and, second, to offer the Catholic sexuality model as an alternative. Sensible sexuality education is preferable to uncomfortable silence or the moral outrage created by fake news.
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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 Editorâ€™s discretion. Name and address of the writer must be supplied. No anonymous letter will be considered.
What chance exists for an â€˜ethical capitalismâ€™? W HAT a delight to read all three references, Carol Glatz (with direct reference to Pope Francis), Patrick Dacey and Fr Pierre Goldieâ€™s articles regarding â€œethical capitalismâ€? in your November 20 issue. While I am total agreement with the sentiments expressed, unfortunately our stand on this matter amounts to a collection of tiny voices â€œcrying in the wildernessâ€?, and perhaps expresses an undying and misguided faith in humankind in the hope that capitalism might
Joe Biden and Communion
HE incident where US presidential candidate Joe Biden was denied Communion shows up the clergyâ€™s inadequacy in dealing with crises within the Church. When asked to comment, Cardinal Dolan of New York said he â€œwould not have denied Biden Communionâ€?, but added that the priest in question, Fr Morey, had a â€œgood pointâ€?. Surely as a senior clergy member of the Catholic Church, which is fully anti-abortion, Cardinal Dolan should be aware of Church canon law, which states that â€œif a member is in continuous grave sin, he or she should not be receiving Holy Communionâ€?. There really is no in-between explanation, and the cardinalâ€™s response highlights the dilemma various bishops were faced with in dealing with sex abuse incidents perpetrated by priests. However, this particular incident highlights the complex nature of the Churchâ€™s policy in dealing with â€œsinâ€? and the institution of confession. Who decides the gravity of a sin? Surely a grave sin was the priest in the Philadelphia diocese who, after perpetrating sexual deeds with a young boy, then told the boy he had to â€œgo and confess his sinsâ€?â€”to him! Whether Mr Biden is right or wrong in supporting laws that facilitate the availability of abortion, he is open and honest about it. There are many sins various people are committing secretly on a daily basis, such as being involved in organised crime syndicates whose illgained profits unsuspectingly end up in Church coffers. Money is the root of all evil, they say, and one can speculate on the reason why the hierarchy in the Vatican turned a blind eye to the double life of Legion of Christ founder and fundraiser extraordinaire Marcial Maciel for decades. Pope Francis needs our support in his efforts to take the Church back to where it should be, that being a â€œpoor placeâ€?. Patrick Dacey, Johannesburg
change its ways. Capitalism in its essence is indeed unethical and, as such, the â€œethical capitalismâ€? which Pope Francis is referring to is an oxymoron, as broadly explained below: The basic rule of capitalism is simply this: â€œMaximise profit.â€? The first principle applied to achieve this is to â€œminimise input costsâ€?, which translates into paying your labour the absolute minimum wage! The second principle applied to
Christmas call to visit retired priests
OFTEN voice my opinion but seldom put pen to paper. This time I feel strongly that I must do so. Recently I went to visit a friend at the Archbishop Henry Retirement Centre apartments in the grounds of Nazareth House in Cape Town. This is where retired priests go to live out the rest of their lives. I was there just on lunchtime and was very sad to find my friend eating all alone at a large table. I wondered where the others were, and he said some had gone out, and some ate in their rooms. Then he said something that truly got to me: â€œWe have become the forgotten few.â€? It is heartbreaking that after 50 or 60 years, even more for some of them, of service to the archdiocese and the parishes, they are forgotten. Do you think of your parish priest once he retires? Where does he go to? Most priests no longer have family left. Christmas is family time and I would like to request that you visit these great men who have given so much for their faith and the parishes. Please take along a little Christmas cheer for them too at this special time of year. Name withheld
Experiencing God is critical
ANY in the past few generations align to tradition without knowing why and maintain a skin-deep relationship with the Church, and often no relationship at all with their God. When I was taught about religion, it was by religious Sisters, who could talk about hell with such clarity and detail that we all thought they had been born and raised there! I could probably pass a test on the Catechism then but didnâ€™t have a clue who God really was, or how
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achieve this is to â€œcharge the price the market will bearâ€?. There is no such thing as an ethical, or for that matter reasonable, margin! I have perhaps oversimplified the debate, but the ongoing widening of the gap between the haves and the have-nots worldwide bears witness to the truth of my basic understanding of capitalism. Thank you for your wonderfully open publication. Neal Cochran, Germiston 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. Letters can be sent to POâ€ˆBox 2372, Cape Town 8000 or email@example.com or faxed to 021 465-3850
this could be a part of life beyond having to go to Mass on Sunday; and this unimpressive start was before sin entered the picture much. Who God is and what he can be for a follower of his, is probably the best-kept secret in the Church. Strangely, religion often stands in the way of this discovery, distracting from the goal rather than leading to it. Grace has its own timing, of course, but itâ€™s seldom entirely independent. The catalyst is generally a witness, someone who does know God, who has experienced that touch of grace in a way which brought about a transformation in their lives and can then do the same for the listener. God is experiential; a theoretical one wonâ€™t captivate anyone. He is living and acts mightily in the here and now, not merely historically. When someone opens their heart to God, in all sincerity, then itâ€™s like being unplugged from the matrix...to suddenly see the world as it really is, who we are, and who God is. And then the journey begins together and we realise all he can be for us. The most beautiful thing to realise is that we are not alone. There is a good Father on whom we can rely entirely for everything we need; there is no need to be afraid of life anymore, you are in safe hands. But we must be intentional about seeking him out, trusting him and being aligned with his Spirit through prayer. How can the current or next generations ever know God unless there are authentic witnesses to tell them the Churchâ€™s best kept secret? Stephen Clark, Manila, Philippines
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The Southern Cross, December 4 to December 10, 2019
St Francis showed path to peace Fr Paddy I Noonan OFM HAVE been following the peace initiative of St Francis 800 years ago because it might have something to say to us today. Related to that, I’m interested in the motivation behind Pope Francis’ Islamic travels following the lead of St Francis. Pope Francis confounded many this year when he visited the United Arab Emirates in February and Morocco the following month. Clearly he is inspired by St Francis, his namesake. In 1219, a time of the Crusades, St Francis travelled to Damietta in Egypt to talk peace with Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. Fr Michael Perry, minister-general of the Franciscans, issued a reflection this year on how St Francis arrived at “the camp of the crusading army, among Latin Christians who through years of preaching and the rhetoric of holy war had been taught to scorn Muslims. T “Those same Muslims had every reason to scorn Francis, assuming that he, like most in the crusader camp, was an enemy and not a bearer of peace.” But the unexpected happened: “That a Spirit-filled man with nothing of his own crossed the battle lines unarmed to request a meeting with the sultan, was received with grace by that sultan, enjoyed an extended period of hospitality with the Muslim leader and emerged from the visit to reflect anew on the mission of the Friars Minor.” The Islamic world that is open to dialogue today tends to be that which follows the Sufi mystic stream of Islam. A great inspiration here is Rumi, an amazing medieval Islamic poet and philosopher who lived from 1207-73. The US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulan’s movement on tolerance, which is outlawed by the present Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is inspired by Rumi.
Rumi, who is buried in Turkey, greatly admired St Francis even though they did not actually meet because Francis was in North Africa in negotiations with the renowned Muslim leader Malik al-Kamil.
or 800 years the Franciscan Order has been in dialogue with Islam, and the driving force behind this is the Franciscan presence in most Arab countries. It’s called the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. Pilgrims to the Holy Land will know this. Top level meetings for prayer and reflection are at present taking place worldwide initiated by the Church. The friars are in there too paving the way.
A banner in Jericho, West Bank, marks the 800th anniversary of St Francis crossing battle lines to meet a sultan.
Point of Reflection
Is calling priests ‘Father’ out now?
A while back this year, the South African Catholic Church inter-faith contact person, Fr Christopher Boyer M.Afr, invited me to one of these meetings in Johannesburg where the Muslim organisers showed the new Jeremy Irons film, The Sultan and the Saint. After the showing we had a lively discussion. I told the 60 invited Muslim guests, tongue-in-cheek, that the producers who were advised by Franciscans seemed to have read my book dealing with the same subject, St Francis Uncensored. Muslims can take a joke. I also drew their attention to the similarity of the habit of St Francis in the film and the one I was wearing. There was amazement from the ladies in hijabs and chadors. Afterwards I was happy to make a presentation of my books on racism and St Francis to the Muslim leaders. They in turn presented me with the six-volume complete works of Rumi. I felt at that moment very scholarly! Three days later over Sunday lunch in Boksburg, ex-industrialist turned friar hermit and Rumi enthusiast Fr John-Allen Green OFM (whose reflections on the Sunday Mass readings appear weekly on The Southern Cross’ website), and Dominican writer and theologian Fr Albert Nolan OP nearly tore me apart to get their hands on these apparently rare works. “Your task is not to seek for love,” Rumi wrote, “but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
A priest I know encourages his parishioners not to call him “Father” but to address him by his first name instead. I find this awkward because I respect him as a priest and pastor more than as an acquaintance. Is the title “Father” beginning to lose its special priestly character?
EMBERS of the clergy have always been shown respect for their sacred calling, and the first way to do this is to address them and refer to them appropriately. In earlier ages, persons of high status in the community were given rather grand titles. At one stage, it was thought that God willed that some people were destined to be important and influential, while others were relegated by God to the peasantry and the subservient. That famous hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful” (1848) contains these lines: “The rich man in his castle/The poor man at his gate/God made them high or lowly/And ordered their estate.” We do not believe now that God ordered who should be high or lowly, but the history of this strong opinion lives on in titles given to important persons to distinguish them very categorically from the rest. In the Middle Ages various sovereigns were addressed pompously, such as “His Most Christian Majesty” for the king of France, and “His Most Religious Majesty” for the king of England. The bishop of Rome is addressed as Your Holiness, and cardinals and bishops variously as Your Eminence, Your Grace, My Lord, Your Excellency. These titles are less daunting. Bishops today in this country and others tend to prefer to be called simply Bishop, as in “Good morning, Bishop”, and not “Good morning, My Lord”. Yet, there is among us that sense of respect for the clergy which causes us to stick to their conventional and organisational titles and addresses. In formal circumstances it is always correct to do so. In other circumstances, we must use our sense of the occasion. Probably as a reaction to the superlative names and labels given to VIPs and those who behaved as if they really were magnificent human beings, the early friars in the Church, such as the Franciscans, moved among the simple faithful and were treated as fathers in God. St Paul provided a precedent for this when he wrote to his converts: “You may have had ten thousand tutors in Christ, but not all that many fathers. For, in Christ Jesus, through the Gospel, it is I who fathered you” (1 Cor 4:14). Catholic priests in this sense father us, feeding us with the Word of God and the sacraments that Christ willed to give us at their hands. Call your parish priest by his first name, if he wants it, but he will still be known as the Reverend Father So-and-So by other Catholics.
Where the streets have new names T Raymond Perrier HE streets of a city carry the names of heroes much in the way that the calendar of the Church carries the names of saints: to remind and inspire us, and to keep us connected with the past. It is hardly surprising that the renaming of the streets of South African cities a few years ago was not without controversy. In cities and in the Church we see similar reactions to change. There are those who are opposed to any form of change because “we can’t improve on the past”; those who are (of course) “open to change” but just not these particular changes; those who delight in any form of change because its disrupts the status quo; and a few who consider each change on its merits, supporting some and questioning others. Inevitably, with change there can be short-term confusion. I arrived in Durban soon after they renamed the streets. It used to amuse me that when I got lost people tried to help me by replacing the new name of the street (which I didn’t know) with the old name of the same street (which I also didn’t know)! The street renaming has been a way of honouring those who have contributed to modern South Africa. Of course, we all have our opinions about who should be included, but hopefully the changes are more often right than wrong. I take some local pride in the renaming of Queen Street in central Durban to Denis Hurley Street. This is the very place where the activist archbishop led other religious leaders in the Freedom March defying the State of Emergency in 1989—just a few months before the release of Nelson Mandela. It is a great honour. However, it doesn’t help people looking for the Denis Hurley Centre if I say that it is on Denis Hurley Street (and add that it is next door to the cathedral which is on Cathedral Road!). We have recently added to that honour with the naming of Paddy Kearney Way. It is a small pedestrianised walkway: modest as Paddy was modest; alongside Denis Hurley Street as Paddy was always alongside the archbishop; linking the main mosque and the cathedral, as Paddy brought together people of different faiths; and providing a safe shelter for homeless people waiting for lunch at the Denis Hurley Centre, as Paddy always reached out and welcomed the most marginalised in the city.
Faith and Society
eThekwini deputy-mayor Belinda Scott formally unveils the new street sign for Paddy Kearney Way. (Photo: Rev Andrew Warmback) This street was originally called Cemetery Lane, the route that coffins took from the places of worship to the graveyard. But that name had long since lapsed so, in the end, we were naming a street that was technically nameless. But in most cases to create new street names, we have to lose older ones. Sometimes the old names are neutral and rather pointless, such as West Street or Pine Street. But more often, we have said goodbye to names associated with parts of South African history to which we should have already bade farewell. Is anyone really going to defend the continued existence of Verwoerd Laan? And doesn’t Victoria (Queen and Empress) get enough name checks already?
he renaming of streets should be an ideal opportunity to familiarise our fellow citizens with names of people who have made such a contribution to the life of the new nation. The problem is that most people have no idea who these people actually were and the knowledge of them fades with each year. We want our current activists, unionists, journalists, doctors and teachers to be inspired—to look up, literally, to heroes from the past. In Durban, for example, we have the perfect opportunity to inspire the young (and the old) with the stories of Yusuf Dadoo, Margaret Mncadi, Pixley kaSeme, Langalilebele Dube, David Webster or Sandile Thusi. Now, at least, people know those names; but they are as meaningless to most of them as Argyll or Brickhill or Grey. There are some honourable exceptions. One property firm, Urban Lime (ironically a British company) has, for example, in-
vested in showing Durbanites who Anton Lembede was. They installed a 600m2 canvas on Anton Lembede Street which features, naturally, the eponymous founder of the ANC Youth League. A hugely talented and modest young Zulu artist, Sakhile Mhlongo, created an inspiring image of this remarkable figure, and it has been expanded to dominate the street. It is appropriate not just because of the street name but because of its location between the Durban High Court and the city-centre offices of law firms. This young lawyer from the 1930s (who, incidentally, was a practising Catholic) can act as a role model to the young lawyers heading past him today as they go to the same High Court, even if they are now defending laws based on a very different constitution. He is, literally, someone for them to look up to. These secular heroes enable us (as religions should) to look above ourselves and beyond ourselves. Pope John Paul II, and now Pope Francis, have gone out of their way to make sure that we also have new religious heroes to look up to. They are entered into the canon, not of street names but of religious feast days, and are offered to us as saints with whom we can find some relevant connection. But that means that we also have the same obligation as a Church to make sure that these new names have not just familiarity but meaning. St John Henry Newman’s feast day is now October 9. But if we do not take the trouble to find out about him, we might as well carry on just celebrating the feasts of St Andronicus (or even Bl Gunther) on that same day. St Oscar Romero shares his feast day with Saints Domangard and Hildelitba— but let’s hope that we know enough about him that his life can inspire us more than those long-forgotten saints. And maybe one day we will be celebrating Saint Denis Hurley while standing on Denis Hurley Street—right by the Denis Hurley Centre! n Raymond Perrier is the director of the Denis Hurley Centre in Durban.
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Members of the CBC Pretoria matric class of 1959 had a 60-year reunion at the Pretoria Country Club. Of the “lads” who attended, one came from Canada and one from the United Kingdom. (Submitted by Mervyn Pollitt)
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The 2020 head prefects at Marist Brothers Linmeyer in Johannesburg were awarded blue blazers. The four Grade 11 students—Nikiesha Jose (headgirl), Adam Leicher (headboy), Carina Lopes (deputy headgirl) and Ronan Kalil (deputy headboy)—were honoured with parents and staff present. (Front from left) Carina Lopes, Nikiesha Jose, Adam Leicher and Ronan Kalil, and (back) Christina Lopes, Dr Teena Thomas, Sandy Leicher and Gisele Kalil.
St Vincent de Paul members of immaculate Conception church in Pinetown, Durban archdiocese, provided eats and tea for parishioners in appreciation for support given to the SVP throughout the year. (Submitted by Leo van der Sandt)
The children of Blessed Edmund Preschool at Mahobe mission near Harding in KwaZulu-Natal were visited by Father Christmas, who gave them sweets and toys. The preschool is run by the Sisters of the Congregation of the Little Servants of Mary immaculate. (Submitted by Sr Zithobile Zondi LSMi)
Members of St Martin de Porres parish in Bishop Lavis, Cape Town, attended the 10th Annual Catholic Men’s Weekend Retreat at the Bergkroon Centre in Wellington. (Submitted by Martin Keith Julie) Catholic educators and non-teaching staff with more than 15 years’ service were presented with long-service awards by Bishop Vincent Mduduzi Zungu of Port Elizabeth in Makhanda (Grahamstown). The 166 recipients had notched up a total of 4 044 years of service to the Catholic school communities of Port Elizabeth diocese. Mass in St Patrick’s church was concelebrated by the bishop with Fr Lubabalo Mguda (vicar for education) and Fr Selwyn Francis of Fort Beaufort. Pictured are (from left) Fr Francis, Bishop Zungu, longtime teacher Marlene McKenzie, St Mary’s Primary School principal Gerard Jacobs and Fr Mguda. (Submitted by Sr Ann Genevieve MSA)
ST ANTHONYS CHILD and YOUTH CARE CENTRE Keeping Children safe within families
Pictured are the administrative staff of the Catholic Women‘s League in Johannesburg archdiocese. (Back from left) treasurer Eleanor, social worker Leena and general worker Londi. (Middle) diocesan secretary Gail and social worker Mercia. (Front) auxiliary social worker Gladys, regional secretary Elsie, social worker Sr Clementine and Leena’s visiting daughter Thandi.
The Southern Cross, December 4 to December 10, 2019
Why we must wait for the Lord In the age of the selfie and instant gratification, we may lose the patience to discover God within us — but there is a remedy, as FR RALPH DE HAHN explains in his Advent reflection
waited 70 years before their return to holy Jerusalem. And a consecrated virgin waited for God to declare his will for her—then Gabriel spoke! Simeon and Anna prayed daily in the Temple, yearning for his coming. Elizabeth, once barren, waited for her miracle baby— ”What will this child turn out to be” (Lk 1:66)—and Zechariah waited for the release of his tongue. And all the world waited for the proclamation of John the Baptist that the Lamb of God had come. He was already there! In the parable, a loving, most forgiving father waited for the return of his prodigal son. And in Jesus’ life there is the beautiful story of the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, who sat day and night on the pavement, waiting for that Light of the world to pass by and remove his darkness (Mk 10:46). Mary and the apostles waited for God’s extraordinary response to the empty tomb. And so we also wait!
N this age of acceleration we boast of progress and our enormous strides in the fields of technology and space travel. It would appear that we are not prepared to wait for the Lord for something, or somebody, greater. We are beginning to trust mankind and its brainpower more than an invisible god. All the while, we are already in hot waters by slowly losing our individuality and personal dignity by becoming mere numbers and statistics. In truth, we are failing to appreciate the inestimable value of the In search of ourselves human soul, that inner sanctuary where we can actually meet God, For here we are searching the since we are created by him and mystery of our unique selves. for him. Being seduced by this fast-moving Consider Psalm 139: “It was you world, we create (and are content who created my inmost self, put with) a false image of self, never me together in my mother’s the true self—not realising that I womb…I thank you for all these am far greater than the person I mysteries and for the have created. wonder of myself.” St Francis of Assisi Indeed, we may ‘We have a lot knew the truth: “What I deeply wonder over the am in the eyes of God, uniqueness of this soul. to unlearn, that I am—and nothing But that demands waitmore, nothing less!” ing! We are so conditioned and to start Furthermore, it is only by outside influences, in this inner sanctuary afresh. What and not prepared to listhat we will ever discover ten to the crying needs our true selves—not the really stands of the soul—”My God I person I firmly believe I am seeking you, my soul am, but the person God in our way is is thirsting for you” (Ps created me to be. 63). the ego’ This process of becomWhat we must expect ing, of moving from fanfrom this period of waittasy into reality, this ing is that necessary honest seeking for our full human transformation. maturity—the real me—is no quick Yes, the soul is waiting for our overnight solution. There’s no attention, so to speak, waiting for shortcut; it will demand of us to us to cast out and leave behind all allow God time and space to do for the baggage that hinders our beus, individually, what only he is coming fully human, fully Chrisable to accomplish. tian and our true self. We call that waiting for the “We are building up the body of Lord. St Paul put it like this: “If we Christ until we become the perfect hope for what we do not see, we man, fully mature with the fullmust wait for it with patience” ness of Christ himself,” St Paul (Rom 8:25). told the Ephesians (4:13). And Proverbs counsels: “WaitIt is necessary to humbly coning produces new life and whole- fess to our clinging to the old self, ness” (8:35). that fear of change, that fear of being “different” to this fast-movA history of waiting ing express train we dare to board! All holy Scripture—Old and We will fail dismally if we allow New Testament—records a multi- ourselves to live the illusion. tude of stories that testify to the Waiting is not a waste of time; fruitfulness of waiting. it is doing something positive and The great Jewish prophets like creative—and that is the work of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah and all God’s Holy Spirit, when we allow the people of Israel waited for cen- him time and space. turies to witness the coming of “I waited and waited for the their promised Messiah. Lord,” says Psalm 40, “and at last Noah waited patiently for the he heard my cry for help!” flood to recede. Daniel waited The Power within us, and ever through the night in the Lion’s behind us, is far greater than the den. The Israelites waited for a task before us. We need to wait. Moses to free them from the Give God a chance. Egyptian slavery. Jacob waited for The Spirit life is never static. Rebecca’s love. The Israelites “The Spirit blows wherever it
pleases; you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going,” (Jn 3:8). The evangelist Matthew advises: “We need to believe and trust God’s wisdom and merciful providence” (6:25).
Get rid of dead matter There is a lot of dead matter to be expelled before the coast is clear. Quite suddenly the Bible story comes to mind when an enthusiastic believer cried: “I will follow you, Lord, but I must first go home to bury the dead.” Jesus’ response is shattering yet meaningful: “Leave the dead to bury the dead— come, follow me”(Mt 8:21). We have a lot to unlearn, and to start afresh. What really stands in our way is the ego. The Book of Proverbs speaks on this subject: “I hate pride and arrogance, wickedness and a lying mouth (8:13). And later: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18). The egocentric person will ever live with a false image of self and never permit that waiting time to root out the garbage, so as to express the beauty of God’s image in the soul. “As the deer yearns for running waters so my soul yearns for you my God...the God of life” (Ps 42). We are off-centre when we are self-centred. We need to be in touch with Reality and not paint an unreal and colourful world which will ultimately bring deep disillusionment. Time is such a precious commodity, yet we need to wait. Faith is that fearless search for Truth;
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“Time is a precious commodity, yet we need to wait. Faith is the fearless search for Truth; and to know the real self is supreme wisdom,” writes Fr Ralph de Hahn and to know the real self is supreme wisdom. But even wisdom will demand faith, trust and waiting! Paul, the courageous apostle and proud Pharisee, had his ego crushed by his wonderful conversion on the road to Damascus. Having discovered the truth, he boldly declared: “It is not I who lives...it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). He suddenly came to understand the beauty of his soul wrapped in God’s love and mercy. Later he would declare: “Noth-
ing can separate us from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus my Lord” (Rom 8:38). That is the experience of one who waits on the Lord and permits God’s divine power to make us the person he created us to be. “Are your minds closed? Have you eyes that do not see, and ears that do not hear. Are you still without perception?”(Mk 8:18-21) To wait for the Lord, believing—that is all he asks of us. The rest he will do. n Fr Ralph de Hahn is a priest of the archdiocese of Cape Town.
Souther n Cros s Pilgrimage
MEDJUGORJE • ROME ASSISI • LORETO
18-27 May 2020 With Archbishop Stephen Brislin
Pray in Medjugorje and visit Rome, with papal audience, Assisi, the town of St Francis, Loreto with Mary’s House. Plus a tour of historic Split in Croatia. ThREE CounTRIES In onE TouR!
For more information or to book contact Gail at
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 076 352-3809
The Southern Cross, December 4 to December 10, 2019
10 ways to put Christ into Christmas During Advent and at Christmas, our kids focus on Santa Claus and jingling bells. ERiN CARELSE suggests ten ways of turning their focus to Christ.
HE speakers in the malls are piping jingle bell songs, trolleys are filled to the brim with delicious foods for Christmas celebrations, and the magazines and media are enticing you with musthave items to buy as gifts. This is all part of what makes the build-up to Christmas exciting. But are we doing enough to teach our children the importance of having Christ in Christmas? For parents, it can be difficult to find the right balance when it comes to the seasons of Advent and Christmas. As a child, what I looked forward to most on Christmas was the traditions. Family traditions connect us to the ones we love in a special way. Some of my favourites were placing the crackers on the table when setting up for lunch, wearing those silly, colourful Christmas hats that we would find inside them, and of course, decorating the Christmas tree. But this year, I want to start some new traditions with my family, especially my children, that are still fun, but faith-based. Our children—and adults—need to know that emphasising the element of Christ doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Here are some ways to create your own Christmas traditions:
1. Get back to the source! One of the simplest things we can do to put the true meaning of Christmas at the centre of all our activities is to read and reflect on the Christmas narrative in the Bible, which we find in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Reading together as a family is a
great way of opening up discussions or answering any questions your children might have.
some Christ-centred treats or snacks. These can be cupcakes bearing the word “Christ” or “Saviour”, or biscuits in the shape of angels or stars.
2. Read Christmas stories Read a different Christmas story each year and build up a collection of books. Be sure that the Christmas story reflects the Christian spirit. Here we want the focus on Christ, even if only indirectly, rather than snowmen and reindeer. For older children and adults, you will find several Christmas stories on the website of The Southern Cross. Depending on the age of your children, they could take turns to read it, or read it together. But be sure to capture your child’s imagination in the way that you deliver the narrative. The story and its delivery should inspire a sense of wonder that appeals to your children.
3. Decorate with Christ
9. Give religious gifts
During Advent, our focus is easily turned towards the jingling bells and bright lights of the secular Christmas season. The yearly challenge—for ourselves and our children—is to keep our eyes on the reason for the season: the coming of the Lord in Bethlehem on Christmas Day. (Photo: Peggy Choucair)
Many of us decorate our homes to make it more festive, but it may not always be easy to find Christcentred decorations. So use this opportunity as a family to spend some quality time together and do some bonding by being creative and making Christcentred decorations yourselves. They don’t have to be elaborate. It can be a simple bible verse, or saying such as, “Glory to the newborn king”, or “O come let us adore him”. They can be handpainted or designed on a computer and printed. Other fun crafts are handmade ornaments to hang on the Christmas tree of Christian imagery. Think of cutouts of angels, the Star of Bethlehem, Nativity scenes and so on. Let the children help decorate the Christmas tree and use this as a time to explain the meaning of these symbols.
way out for the day as a family, why not throw a little birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Day? This is a perfect way to get young children excited and help them remember the real reason behind it all. You can sing “Happy Birthday” and have a cake to celebrate this special day.
But children are endlessly inventive. Let them put together their own Nativity scene, using things around the house. A shoebox can be a great starting point. And to build a Nativity scene, they need to know the Nativity story!
5. Make time for devotions
Often when it comes to Nativity scenes, children are used to seeing figurines in a manger and often miss the message in the story. There’s something about seeing real people acting out the Christmas story that makes it come alive for them, so it’s a great idea to see a live Nativity play. It is also good to attend a carols service. At home, study the lyrics of carols with children: what do these hymns tell us, and what do we learn from them?
4. Birthday party for Jesus
A Christian home can’t have enough Nativity scenes. You might have one already, displayed prominently.
Before having everyone over for Christmas lunch, or making your
Set aside some time on Christmas Eve to sit and do simple devotions with your children. Gather together as a family and read a few Bible verses and discuss as a family the meaning of Christmas. Ask questions like: “Why do we celebrate Christmas?” or “Why was Jesus born?” Finish with prayers for Christmas intentions and thanksgiving.
6. Make a Nativity scene
7. Carols and Nativity plays
8. Treats with Christ While preparing those delicious four-course meals for Christmas lunch, why not try to incorporate
Gift-giving is a common tradition during Christmas, so use this opportunity to share the faith through presents. For younger family members, colouring books based on Bible stories are a fun way to help encourage them to read the Bible. For family and friends, consider giving Catholic devotional books to help them grow in their spiritual journey. Or buy Church Chuckles: The Big Book of Catholic Jokes, for family members and friends who enjoy a good laugh.
10. Share your blessings Our children need to realise that there is so much more to Christmas than the presents. A simple way of introducing sharing is by explaining that this year for every gift your kids receive, they should give something away to a child in need. This could be a book or toy that is still in a good condition. They could also choose to take, say, R50 from their pocket money and buy something small from a shop to be given to a less fortunate child. The most important thing is to lead by example and to do it together. Remember to talk to your children about why you’re doing both, before and after Christmas Day.
t’s important that we—as parents and grandparents, and as uncles and aunts—teach our children values which may be our legacy to them. Through these values, and by putting Jesus at the centre of everything we do, may our children experience a deep understanding of the true meaning of Christmas. n Erin Carelse is a mother of three.
The 24-day countdown BY CAROL ZiMMERMANN
HE Advent calendar with one tab or box to open each day for 24 or 25 days taps into something people really like: countdowns. It also highlights the anticipation that is at the heart of the four-week liturgical season of Advent. These calendars, which are religious in nature—hence always with the name Advent— also at times can take the religious theme and run with it, sometimes leaving the biblical manger scene in the dust with daily surprises of anything from whiskey, cosmetics, toys, chocolates, books, coffee, and for pets, daily treats. But not all Advent calendars are alike. Some simply display, when each window is opened, either Christmas symbols, Bible passages or inspirational daily motivations. Most contain a chocolate, perhaps with a moulded image with some Christmassy connection. Some are online, some are traditional paper and others are way more elaborate with daily gifts in drawers or boxes. No matter what their size or design, Advent calendars all count down to Christmas. Since they start with the number 1, for December 1, they technically do not begin at the start of Advent; the first Sunday of Advent varies each year and often comes at the end of November. Some calendars come with
An Advent calendar. The concept dates back to Germany in 1908 25 windows, end after Advent with the biggest prize, or image, on the 25th window, or Christmas, but most end at 24. Whether they come from a secular or religious supplier, these calendars are based on the practice of counting down the days until Christmas that once was done with chalk marks on doors or straw placed in Nativity mangers.
he ancient tradition of counting down to Christmas eventually made its way into calendars initially called “Nicholas calendars” because they were distributed on December 6, the feast of St Nicholas, but then the name changed to “Christmas calendars” and even “Advent calen-
dars” as some initial calendars appeared with the annual number of Advent days. The first official Advent calendar as we now know it is attributed to Gerhard Lang from Germany who produced a cardboard Advent calendar in 1908 with coloured pictures that could be attached to each day in December. He replicated the calendar his mother had made when he was a child, with 24 sweets to stick on cardboard. Lang, who worked for a printing company, further developed this paper calendar to have tabs to open each day of December. Today, Advent calendars run a gamut of themes, and range from simple to expensive. The world’s most expensive Advent calendar reportedly was filled with 24 diamonds and gold, along with diamondshaped fairies. Made by a Belgian company, it weighed 81 carats and cost R30 million. The world’s largest Advent calendar, according to the Guinness World Records, was in London in 2007 at the St Pancras train station to celebrate the station’s reopening. It stood 70m high and 23m wide. A benefit of current paper Advent calendars is that they can be reused each year—albeit without surprises under each flap. Alternatively, there are plenty of annually updated online Advent calendars. —CNS
The Southern Cross, December 4 to December 10, 2019
Sr Ferdinand Robecke OP
AKFORD Dominican Sister Ferdinand Robecke died on November 7 at the age
of 90. Born on August 29, 1929, in Sassenburg in the diocese of Münster, Germany, and baptised Irmgard Sofia, she was the fifth of nine children, the first girl after four boys. Her younger sister, Sr Josephine, would also enter the religious life as a Dominican in South Africa. She had eight years of primary schooling, part of it disturbed by World War II. She spent two years at vocational school, training in cooking and sewing, and then did housekeeping for a family. She entered the Dominican convent in Neustadt in August 1955, a day after her 26th birthday. Her father’s advice was to come back home if convent life was not for her, but her mother’s advice was to give herself time. Sr Ferdinand made her first profession in Neustadt in 1957 and soon after that received the news that she was to leave for South Africa. She spent some time in Oakford in KwaZulu-Natal learning English and Afrikaans before starting her nurse’s training; general nursing at St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban, and midwifery at Mater Dei Hospital in East London.
Sr Ferdinand was assigned to Marifont, Pretoria; Marymount, Johannesburg, to Osindisweni as assistant matron, to Ekukhanyeni as superior, to Oakford and to Villa Assumpta. She used her nursing skills not only to care for the physical health of her patients, but also took the opportunity to share God’s love and compassion with the poor and the helpless. Sometimes she gave “tough love” and she demanded the best from her nursing staff. People knew exactly where they stood with her. Ferdi, as she was known, made
many lasting friendships and kept up contact with them right to the end of her life. She was always honest and sincere. When she turned 70, Sr Ferdinand decided she had had enough of nursing and spent five years at the Bluff working in the kitchen at St Dominic’s House of Prayer. It was obvious that she enjoyed putting into practice what she had learnt in her youth and having a little more time for prayer and quiet. She then moved to her congregation’s generalate in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, where she did housekeeping and cooking. When she felt her energy failing in 2017, she asked to come to Pietermaritzburg. This was a difficult decision to make. She lost Sr Josephine, her youngest sister, earlier this year which was a very painful experience for her but she took it as an opportunity to “embrace the Lord in everything”. She had taken this practice from one of her retreats and tried to do this in the midst of her suffering, even when she felt that God had forgotten her. It is now her turn to be embraced by her God, whom she loved and served so generously all her life. May she enjoy the peace she longed for. Sr Helen Veronica Wagner OP
FROM OUR VAULTS 80 Years Ago: December 13, 1939
very week for the duration of our 100th year, we dig out an old issue of The Southern Cross from our vaults, and highlight a few stories from that edition, as well as reproducing its front-page.
Four new Jo’burg priests Bishop David O’Leary of Johannesburg ordained Frs Plesters, Hughes, Mason and Williams in the packed Kerk Street pro-cathedral. The new priests had studied for the priesthood under the guidance of Bishop O’Leary at the seminary in Aliwal North. Fr Frederic Mason is a former editorial staff member of The Southern Cross.
Anniversaries • Milestones • Prayers • Accommodation • Holiday accommodation Personal • Services • Employment • Property • Parish notices • Thanks • Others Please include payment (R1,90 a word) with small advertisements for promptest publication.
ARTIST Carmen Bonhomme-Parfitt, a parishioner of St Francis of Assisi church in Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng, paints and sells framed oils on canvas. Prices dependant on size. For queries or to place an order, please contact 064 508-0523.
ABORTION WARNING: The truth will convict a silent Church. See www.valuelifeabortionisevil.co.za ABORTION: Monthly Sunday Mass bidding prayer: ‘That Almighty God guide our nation to cease our murders of our unborn infants.’
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Granny Dimple is dead Cecilia Coker, better known to young Southern Cross readers as the Children’s Corner’s “Granny Dimple”, died suddenly of a stroke as she was going to confession at Wittebome parish in Cape Town. She is survived by her husband and two sons.
The big difference In his editorial, Mgr John Colgan writes that “when the Catholic faith dies, or seems to die, and then springs into life again, it is always the same Catholic faith. It does not die in one shape and come to life in another. With Protestantism it is different. It has a way of running to seed. It trails off into something quite new—Christian Science, Spritualism, New Thought etc.”
Year A – Weekdays Cycle Year 2 Thursday December 12, Our Lady of Guadalupe: Isaiah 41:13-20, Psalm 145:1, 9-13, Matthew 11:11-15 Friday December 13, St Lucy: Isaiah 48:17-19, Psalm 1:1-4, 6, Matthew 11:16-19 Saturday December 14, St John of the Cross: Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11, Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19, Matthew 17:1013 Sunday December 15, 3rd Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 35:1-6, 10, Psalm 146:610, James 5:7-10, Matthew 11:2-11
CAPE TOWN: Looking for reasonable priced accommodation over the December/January holiday period? Come to Kolbe House, set in beautiful, spacious gardens in Rondebosch, nes-
Liturgical Calendar Sunday December 8, 2nd Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 11:1-10, Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17, Romans 15:4-9, Matthew 3:1-12 Monday December 9, Immaculate Conception of Our Lady: Genesis 3:915, 20, Psalm 98:1-4, Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12, Luke 1:26-38 Tuesday December 10: Isaiah 40:1-11, Psalm 96:1-3, 10-13, Matthew 18:12-14 Wednesday December 11, St Damasus: Isaiah 40:25-31, Psalm 103:1-4, 8, 10, Matthew 11:28-30
Our Lady of Guadalupe
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NEW PARISH NOTICES MOST WELCOME: if any parish notices listed are no longer valid, call us on 021 465-5007 or e-mail us at email@example.com so that we can remove them. Also, we’d welcome new notices from parishes across Southern Africa to run free in the classifieds. CAPE TOWN: A Holy Hour Prayer for Priests is held on the second Saturday of every month at the Villa Maria shrine from 16:00 to 17:00. The shrine is at 1 Kloof Nek Road in Tamboerskloof. The group prays for priests in the archdiocese, and elsewhere by request. Retreat day/quiet prayer last Saturday of each month except December, at Springfield Convent in Wynberg, Cape Town. Hosted by CLC, 10.0015.30. Contact Jill on 083 282-6763 or Jane on 082 783-0331. Perpetual Adoration Chapel at Good Shepherd parish, 1 Goede Hoop St, Bothasig, welcomes all visitors. Open 24 hours a day. Phone 021 558-1412.
Helpers of God’s Precious infants. Mass on last Saturday of every month at 9:30 at Sacred Heart church in Somerset Road, Cape Town. Followed by vigil at abortion clinic. Contact Colette Thomas on 083 4124836 or 021 593 9875 or Br Daniel SCP on 078 7392988. DURBAN: Holy Mass and Novena to St Anthony at St Anthony’s parish every Tuesday at 9:00. Holy Mass and Divine Mercy Devotion at 17:30 on first Friday of every month. Sunday Mass at 9:00. Phone 0313093496 or 031 209-2536.
LORD, inspire those men and women who bear the titles “husband” and “wife”. Help them to look to You, to themselves, to one another to rediscover the fullness and mystery they once felt in their union. Let them be honest enough to ask: “Where have we been together and where are we going?” Let them be brave enough to question: “How have we failed?” Let each be foolhardy enough to say: “For me, we come first.” Help them, together, to reexamine their commitment in the light of Your love, willingly, openly, compassionately.
O VIRGIN Mother, in the depths of your heart you pondered the life of the Son you brought into the world. Give us your vision of Jesus and ask the Father to open our hearts, that we may always see His presence in our lives, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, bring us into the joy and peace of the kingdom, where Jesus is Lord forever and ever. Amen
Southern CrossWord solutions SOLUTIONS TO 892. ACROSS: 1 Rule, 3 Homilies, 9 Serpent, 10 Topic, 11 Gospel verses, 13 Elapse, 15 Lessee, 17 Oppositional, 20 Curia, 21 Foresee, 22 Resisted, 23 Flat. DOWN: 1 Resigned, 2 Lords, 4 Octave, 5 Intermediary, 6 Impress, 7 Sack, 8 Recessionals, 12 Hell-bent, 14 Aspires, 16 Riffle, 18 Nasal, 19 Scar.
Pray that AFRICA and THE WORLD may draw closer to the HEART OF CHRIST
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The Southern Cross is a member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations of South Africa. Printed by Paarl Coldset (Pty) Ltd, 10 Freedom Way, Milnerton. Published by the proprietors, The Catholic Newspaper & Publishing Co Ltd, at the company’s registered office, 10 Tuin Plein, Cape Town, 8001.
3rd Sunday of Advent: December 15 Readings: Isaiah 35:1-6, 10, Psalm 146:6-10, James 5:7-10, Matthew 11:2-11
T this stage of Advent (next Sunday is Gaudete, when you may briefly relax your seasonal austerities before plunging back into the deeper time of fasting), you may be inclined to ask how you can possibly get through to the end. One answer is (as so often) to patiently wait for the Lord. The first reading for next Sunday has the prophet encouraging the Israelite exiles in Babylon by way of a vision of what it is going to be like when they finally undertake the journey back home to Jerusalem across several thousand kilometres of daunting desert. The picture is that “the desert and parched land shall rejoice and bloom...rejoice with abundant song”. But the poet-prophet realises that it will not be easy, and they have to be encouraged: “Strengthen hands that are feeble and make strong knees that are weak. Say to the fearful of heart: ‘Be strong, do not be afraid. Look! Your God comes in vengeance…he will come and save you.’” Next is a wonderful vision of what it will all mean: “The eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall be cleared.” Then it gets brighter and better: “The lame
S outher n C ross
shall leap like a stag, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing…the Lord’s ransomed ones will come back and come to Zion with song, rejoicing and joy on their heads.” Allow this vision to keep you going for the rest of Advent. In the psalm, the vision gives us a glimpse of what God is like, with a series of phrases: “the One who keeps faith forever, the One who does justice for the oppressed, who gives bread to the hungry, the Lord who sets prisoners free, who gives sight to the blind, the One who raises up those who are bowed down, the Lord who loves the just, the Lord who protects the immigrant, who sustains the orphan and widow”. Then he cheerfully concludes: “The Lord will reign for ever, your God, O Zion, from age to age. Praise God.” This should keep you going for a while. The need for patience is quite explicit in the second reading, from the Letter of James: “Be patient, brothers and sisters until the coming of the Lord”, and backs up this exhortation with an image from farming: “Look—the farmer waits for the precious fruit
of the land, waiting patiently over it until he gets the early and the late fruit. You too are to be patient, strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s Coming has drawn near.” And he tells us to take “the prophets as an example, those who spoke in the name of the Lord”. Try to imitate that patience, this week. In the Gospel for next Sunday we are invited to contemplate the plight of John the Baptist, in prison, and uncertain whether Jesus is “The Coming One—or are we to wait for another?” The answer, it seems, is that he has to be patient; and Jesus points to the evidence: “Tell John what you are seeing and hearing: blind people are recovering their sight, lame are walking, lepers are being made clean and deaf are hearing, corpses are being raised—and the poor are being gospelled. So, the signs are there, and John must wait in patience: “Happy is the one who is not scandalised at me.” As the emissaries carry this message back to the prisoner, the crowds are invited to think about John, and why they went out to
The great gift of fidelity I
“What do I do?” The elder replied: “Well, don’t make an appointment, just show up and talk to them! They’ll be nice to you. More importantly though, this is what you need to do: Stay here for a long time and then they will trust you. They want to see whether you’re a missionary or a tourist. Why should they trust you? They’ve been betrayed and lied to by almost everyone who’s come through here. Stay for a long time and then they’ll trust you.” Stay for a long time and then they’ll trust you. What does it mean to stay for a long time? We can hang around and not necessarily inspire trust, just as we can move on to other places and still inspire trust. In its essence, staying around for the duration, being faithful, has less to do with never moving from a given location than it has to do with staying worthy of trust, with staying faithful to who we are, to the creed we profess, to the commitments and promises we have made, and to what’s truest inside us so that our private lives do not belie our public persona.
he gift of fidelity is the gift of a life lived honestly. Our private honesty blesses the whole community, just as our private dishonesty hurts the whole community. “If you are here faithfully,” writes the American educator Parker Palmer, “you bring great blessing.” Conversely, writes the medieval Muslim mystic Rumi: “If you are here unfaithfully,
T’S becoming increasing difficult in today’s world to trust anything or anybody, for good reason. There’s little that’s stable, safe to lean on, trustworthy. We live in a world where everything is in flux, is flux, where everywhere we see is distrust, abandoned values, debunked creeds, people moving on from where they used to be, contradictory information, and dishonesty and lying as socially and morally acceptable. There is little left of trust in our world. What does this call us to? We’re called to many things, but perhaps nothing more important than fidelity, to be honest and persevering in who we are and what we stand for. Here’s an illustration. One of our Oblate missionaries shares this story. He was sent to minister to a cluster of small indigenous communities in northern Canada. The people were very nice to him but it didn’t take him long to notice something. Basically every time he scheduled an appointment, the person wouldn’t show up. At first he attributed this to miscommunication, but eventually he realised the pattern was too consistent for this to be an accident, and so he approached an elder in the community for some counsel. “Every time a make an appointment with someone,” he told the elder, “they don’t show up.” The elder smiled, knowingly, and replied: “Of course, they won’t show up. The last thing they need is to have an outsider like you organising their lives for them!” So the missionary asked:
Nicholas King SJ
It gets lighter and better
‘I think we forgot to tell the acolyte to light only the Advent candle—not the entire wreath...’
see him in the desert: “What did you go out to see? A reed shaken by the wind? A man clothed in soft clothing?...A prophet? Yes indeed—and more than a prophet.” Nevertheless, John, it turns out, is not the full revelation of God: “No one has arisen among the children of women who is greater than John the Baptist. But the one who is of least significance in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than him.” This is not an easy passage to grasp; but our job is to take it as a way of getting through the last days of Advent, to wait patiently for what the Lord will reveal when the festival arrives. And as we read the Gospel we have to acknowledge, humbly, that we have no idea who is “greatest (or littlest, for that matter) in the Kingdom of the Heavens”. And it does not matter, for if we are going to make sense of this season, our attention must not be on games of jostling for power, but on God and on the Jesus whose arrival we shall shortly be celebrating.
Southern Crossword #892
Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
you bring great harm.” To the degree that we are true to the creed we profess, the family, friends and communities we’ve committed to, and the deepest moral imperatives within our private soul, to that degree we are faithfully with others, and to that degree we are “staying with them for a long time”. The reverse is also true, to the degree that we are not true to the creed we profess, to the promises we’ve made to others, and to the honesty innate in our own soul, we are being unfaithful, moving away from others, being the tourist and not the missionary. In his Epistle to the Galatians, St Paul tells us what it means to be with each other, to live with each other, beyond geographical distance and other contingencies in life that separate us. We are with each faithfully as brothers and sisters when we are living in charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, mildness, perseverance and chastity. When we are living inside these, then we are “staying with each other” and not moving away, no matter any geographical distance between us. Conversely, when we are living outside these, we are not “staying with each other”, even when there is no geographical distance between us. Home, as poets have always told us, is a place inside the heart, not a place on a map. And home, as St Paul tells us, is living inside the Spirit. And it is this, I believe, that ultimately defines fidelity and perseverance, separates a moral missionary from a moral tourist, and indicates who’s staying and who’s moving away. For each of us to stay faithful, we need each other. It takes more than a village, it takes all of us. One person’s fidelity makes everyone’s fidelity easier, just as one person’s infidelity makes everyone’s fidelity more difficult. So, inside a world that’s so highly individualistic and bewilderingly transient, when it can feel as if everyone is forever moving away from you, perhaps the greatest gift we can give each other is the gift of our own fidelity, to stay for a long time.
S outhern C ross Pilgrimage
Led by Archbishop William Slattery www.fowlertours.co.za/passion
Solutions on page 11
DoWn 1. Autographed a second time, then left work (8) 2. There are bishops among the noblemen (5) 4. The seventh day after the feast day (6) 5. A mediator, like Christ is (12) 6. Make someone admire you (7) 7. Plunder the dry white wine (4) 8. They are sung during the procession out (12) 12. Heading for the underworld at all costs? (4-4) 14. Is ambitious and praises wildly (7) 16. Look through the pages of the book (6) 18. Alan’s upset and nosey (5) 19. Mark of the wound (4)
T the Pearly Gates, a man appears before St Peter, who asks: “Before I can admit you, I have to ask if you’ve ever done anything of outstanding merit.” “Oh yes, I can give a good example,” the man says. “There was this gang of bikers who were threatening a young woman. So I went up to the leader of the gang and kicked over his motorbike. I then punched him in the face, tore off his earring, and as I threw it on the ground, I yelled, ‘Now leave that young lady alone or you’ll have to deal with me!’” St Peter is impressed: “Wow. When did that happen?” The man says: “Oh, just a couple of minutes ago.”
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ACRoSS 1. He shall … them with a rod of iron (Rv 2) (4) 3. Deliveries from the pulpit at Mass (8) 9. Moses’ staﬀ turned into this creature (Ex 4) (7) 10. Subject of conversation (5) 11. Evangelical poetry? (6,6) 13. Please let the time pass (6) 15. One holding the lease (6) 17. Poison a pilot about his resistant attitude (12) 20. Vatican bureaucracy (5) 21. Have a vision of the future (7) 23. Struggled against temptation (8) 24. Why the singer is not so sharp? (4)
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