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Passion Play: 135 000 hours and no stage BY ERIN CARELSE
T Fr Lawrence Mota CMM of Mariannhill, seen here in Pretoria, has released his tenth gospel CD, titled Siyaphi, which means “Where are we heading to?”—or, in Latin, “Quo vadis?”. (Photo: Werner Burkli)
Priest releases 11th gospel CD STAFF REPORTER
MARIANNHILL Missionary priest is releasing a new album of gospel songs, addressing a range of social issues. Fr Lawrence Mota CMM has released ten well-received gospel CDs. His 11th album is entitled Siyaphi, which means “Where are we heading to?”. “The message in the CD touches on the challenges the society is experiencing today, such as crimes in the form of the high rate of rape cases, marriage breakdown which leaves children without proper parental guidance, abuse of alcohol and drugs by our youths, abuse of women and children, killings, corruption and nepotism, the scourge of unemployment that leads to crime, frequent demonstrations on the streets emerging from the empty promises contributing to the limping of the country’s economy, and so on,” the priest said. “These are the realities which has left the society with a question, ‘Where we going?’,” Fr Mota said. But the album also “has a message of hope that despite all these societal challenges, there is still a ‘Light of Hope’”, he added.
His songs issue a challenge “to all of us that we need to take God seriously—as a country, as families and as individuals”. “It is during this time of Lent that we need to take stock of all that is happening in our society today, as a point of reflection, so that when we rise with Christ, we experience life anew as Easter People,” Fr Mota said. Fr Mota released his first gospel CD, Ngigowakho Baba, in 2011. Since then, titles have included Ngiyavuma Baba; Sisize Baba; Sihawukele Baba; Glory to God; and UkholoLwami. Fr Mota’s recording career has come a long way since he released his debut single, on the HIV/Aids pandemic, in 1997 back in his home country of Malawi. Fr Mota, who is affectionately known as Bambo (“father”) was born into a big family, with 11 siblings, who loved to sing before and after meals. Later, he and his older brothers joined the band of an uncle to perform at family feasts and wedding ceremonies in the community. n Siyaphi will be available from the Monastery Repository in Mariannhill at R70. Contact 078 462-8113 or 031 700-1031.
HE cast and crew of the put in a combined 135 000 hours of preparations for the Durban Passion Play and were devastated that on the day of the final rehearsals, the play was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic—and no new dates are available for a staging it at another time. It was “with a heavy heart” that the Durban Catholic Players’ Guild had to call off the 15th Durban Passion Play, which had been scheduled to be staged at the Playhouse Drama Theatre from March 25 to April 12, said director Dawn Haynes. Like Ms Haynes, co-director Derek Griffin felt a deep sense of loss. “Of course, we are disappointed, but naturally the health and well-being of the cast, crew, staff and audience are of paramount importance. We will meet soon to decide how to take the project forward,” he said. Dale Collings who was to play the role of Christus—his first involvement in the Durban Passion Play—said he felt “lost” after the decision to cancel the play had been made. “This experience has been life-changing for me. I have come to know the true meaning of the scriptures and have been deeply moved by seeing all these events through the eyes of Jesus,” Mr Collings said. “I am just so sad that I cannot share this and spread the message of the Passion through our performances.” Many of the cast testified to how their faith has been renewed, how their spirituality had deepened and how so many wonderful friendships had been made during the preparations for the play, said Ms Haynes. “They are all sad that this cannot be shared with the audience in order to proclaim the message of Easter—but there is something deeply humbling and perhaps hugely profound about preparing so hard for an opening night which won’t happen, at least not for now,” she said. She listed the loss: “The hard work without
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Cast members rehearse the Last Supper for the Durban Passion Play, which had to be called off due to Covid-19 restrictions. the spotlight; the rehearsal without the applause, without the accolades and ovations; no backstage banter and no adrenalin rush.” The preparation process started last August. The cast of 125 volunteers gave 24 Sundays, 25 Thursdays, two full weekends and endless hours in-between—probably in excess of 200 hours each, or combined around 135000 hours in total, Ms Haynes said. The management committee have probably put in twice the number of hours, and the directors have invested probably around 500 hours each—all for no financial reward. “We have done this for the greater glory of God,” Ms Haynes said. “It has been the most remarkable experience—friendships have been made, connections forged, skills learned, and great fellowship enjoyed,” she said. “It has also been a deeply prayerful time, most especially against the backdrop of the lead-up to Easter and having to make difficult decisions,” Ms Haynes added. “Perhaps Passion Play 2020 is about the journey, not the destination, about lessons in humility, humour and grace. It certainly has been a Lenten experience with a difference. She hopes that the Passion Play might be staged next year at Easter, “but this is uncertain”, Ms Haynes said.
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The Southern Cross, March 25 to 31, 2020
Sacrificium in Covid-19 Lent FR ZWELI NgWENYA of Manzini in Eswatini is currently studying in Rome. Here he reflects on Lent in the time of the coronavirus.
HE Latin word for sacrifice is Sacrificium. In Christian spirituality, sacrifice can be defined as that act that makes us to be what we truly are. As Christians we are the Body of Christ and we can never be such without doing some sacrifice. Sacrifice is not only an act of love but it is also a sign of love. The greatest sacrifice was on the cross when our Lord showed us how much he loved us; he gave up his life for our sake. Christians all over the world today proclaim this love. We know we are loved because Jesus showed us this love. At this moment I find myself in the city of Rome in Italy, a country that has been hit hard by the coronavirus. At present, we live our lives in the midst of this epidemic. We know we can be infected anytime, maybe we are already infected. How does it help one to think about all these negative things? I personally think that negativity and fear are the greatest killers of mankind. A positive attitude towards life is needed. I am really touched every time I watch the television here in Italy these days. Seeing politicians, organisations, and Church leaders, all united for a common purpose: to save lives. In fact, the Italian government has really demonstrated to the world that human life should come
A nun walks next to an empty St Peter's Square in Rome during the lockdown of Italy. But the coronavirus crisis offers us spiritual opportunities, writes Fr Zweli Ngwenya. (Photo: Alberto Lingria, Reuters/CNS) first more than anything else. Every day we receive some calls via the different media platforms to make some sacrifice. The total lock-down of the whole country is, in fact, a call to sacrifice. Everybody is called upon to deny themselves some movements, either within the same locality or within the country, for the sake of protecting others. People have been asked to stay at home for the sake of the good of one’s neighbour. I can testify that it is not easy and it is not comfortable, but it must be done both for one’s own good and for the good of society. The Church has cancelled all public religious gatherings, including the public celebration of the
Holy Eucharist. I think that from this decision everybody has to realise the seriousness both of the spread of the virus and of the value of human life. Some people, said that the last time the faithful were unable to attend Holy Mass here in Rome was during the Second World War. What I want to highlight is that both the government and the Church have acted in a way that shows some sacrifice and responsibility. As I am here, I cannot stop to think about the people back home who think about us on a daily basis. It is true that this virus is spreading all over the world, and it has already arrived in Southern Africa. In order to fight and conquer we
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need to do some sacrifice. It means that every person has to do or to stop doing something for the benefit of the other. During this time, unity is key. It is a time that the government, organisations, and Churches hold hands and move in the same direction. This time calls for true and responsible leadership both on the part of the government and of the Church. Certain key programmes of the government and of the Church have to be cancelled and the resources be directed towards the poor and the suffering—Sacrificium. This time calls us all to be truly a society and not just a collection of individuals. This is not something to be only proclaimed but is should be lived. Our leaders in society and elsewhere should lead us in this regard. Selfishness and greed should be far away from us if we truly want to win this battle. This worldwide situation presents to us not only fears but also opportunities. In the midst of pain and suffering God does not stop to speak to his people. He calls each and everyone of us to stop looking at ourselves but to look at our neighbour, and ask always how we can assist a neighbour. God is, therefore, presenting us with the opportunity of really being a society/family, spending time together in our small social units of life. With all public liturgical celebrations having been cancelled in some parts of the world, God is calling us to rediscover the value of the family as a domestic church.
Bishop Joseph Mary Kizito of Aliwal, priests, the diocesan pastoral council and congregations gathered at the Mount Carmel Youth Centre to launch the bishops’ new Pastoral Plan.
Aliwal Pastoral Plan launched
ISHOP Joseph Mary Kizito, priests, the Aliwal Diocesan Pastoral Council and the faithful gathered at the Mount Carmel Youth Centre to launch the new Pastoral Plan. The Pastoral Plan has been welcomed and eight commissions of the laity have been set up to make sure it is going to be implemented for the next ten years. A plan of action was also rolled out, and information on what structures will be used.
The Southern Cross, March 25 to March 31, 2020
Catholic organisations tackle coronavirus BY ERIN CARELSE
ATHOLIC organisations are putting decisive measures in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Given the prevailing uncertainty and rapidly changing global situation, organisations are monitoring the situation closely. The Jesuit Institute South Africa said it is taking precautionary measures for all involved in its activities, director Fr Russell Pollitt SJ said. All Jesuit Institute public events will be suspended or cancelled until May 15, after which the situation will be reassessed. Affected events include Hearts on Fire in Alexandria, a week of guided prayer in Bryanston, supervision of spiritual directors, supervi-
sion training, a roundtable on gender-based violence, the Easter Triduum retreat, Tsoseletsa at St Pius in Soweto, prayer-guide training, days of prayer/reflection and all meetings for course preparation. Courses that had already commenced, such as Hearts on Fire in Alexandria, will be resumed and completed when the current situation changes. “Social distancing is one of the most effective means of combating the virus. Nobody may work with any groups under the name of the institute at this time and until further notice,” said Fr Pollitt. Person-to-person spiritual direction is to also to stop immediately. All spiritual direction, for now, must be done through electronic
ACTS sanitary towel drive helps keep girls in school
HE Association of Tertiary Catholic Students (ACTS) is calling for donations for its sanitary towel drive, aimed at keeping young girls in school every day during their monthly cycles. Donations can be made to the different branches in the seven provinces where ACTS is based. They will then redistribute the sanitary towels to girls in the poorer communities of those provinces. Due to poverty, menstruating girls lack sanitary pads and as a result do not attend school until their cycles are over. This increased absenteeism and dropout rate affects the performance of young girls, which deprives them of getting a quality education. By providing sanitary pads, many girls will concentrate and complete school. “It is strongly believed that education is the key to success,” said Lerato Lehema, ACTS national project officer. “But that key is not handed to us on a silver platter—we have to wake up each morning, five days a week, and reach for that key. But for some girls out there, it is not possible simply because ‘it is that time of the month’,” she said.
“Their right to education is taken away from them every month because of circumstances beyond their control,” Ms Lehema said. She referred to the words of St Teresa of Kolkata: “If you cannot feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Said Ms Lehema: “We cannot help or change the whole world, but the little we do can make a difference in someone’s life and inspire someone else the same way we were inspired.” Contributions to ACTS’ drive can be made by contacting the leaders in the provinces: Gauteng: Phindile Ntshabeleng 078 796-1354; North West: Lebaka Tsotetsi 061 865-0697; KwaZulu-Natal: Snethemba Khawula 079 273-0365; Western Cape: Panashe Nyamaka 074 045-5797; Eastern Cape: Dominic Ntondini 082 086-4962; Limpopo: Khomo Mabeba 079 199-8446; Free State: Makgotso Mohale 060 525-2848.
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means only, he said. The institute will begin work on transitioning all major trainings into online courses. It will also offer a Triduum Retreat online. “These are extraordinary times and require extraordinary responses. We have responsibility for our own health but also for those around us. Some groups are more vulnerable than others,” Fr Pollitt said. At present, none of this year’s three visits by international speakers are affected. The Winter Living Theology series is to be delivered by Dominican Father Carlos Álvarez Mendoza, who is scheduled to arrive in South Africa on May 25. “As things stand, he is still willing to come. However, the travel bans
may mean he’ll be unable to. We just don’t know as the situation is so fluid,” Fr Pollitt explained. St John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria has closed all lectures until April 20 and instructed all resident students to return to their homes. When resident students return on April 17, they will be screened for Covid-19 before resettling in the seminary. All non-resident students returning to lectures on April 20 will need medical certificates declaring them free of Covid-19. To make up for lost lectures, the seminary’s June-July holiday will be reduced to about two weeks. Meanwhile, Little Eden Society in Gauteng, which provides life-long care to 300 children and adults with
profound intellectual disability, has suspended its volunteer and community service programmes. This means no local volunteers and community service students are allowed inside the homes until further notice. Tours of the Little Eden facilities are also suspended until further notice, and families of residents are asked to limit visits. Little Eden’s annual fundraising fête, scheduled for May 9, has been postponed. Little Eden is appealing for financial support to assist with the unexpected additional costs, such as sourcing additional hygiene and disinfectant products and paying additional cleaning staff. Contact Nichollette Muthige on 011 6097246 or email@example.com
SA Masses are livestreamed BY ERIN CARELSE
ITH dioceses restricting or suspending public Masses in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus, Catholics are encouraged to follow the Mass online—and in South Africa that option is available locally. According to the director of the Jesuit Institute, this is a matter of practical urgency. “The most effective way of slowing the spread of the coronavirus is social distancing. Good science must inform good theology and good theology must inform science. This is a time for our best theology to collaborate with our best science. The best of our theological tradition offers us an answer: Spiritual Communion”, Fr Russell Pollitt SJ said (see also page 4). Therefore the Jesuit Institute will be offering a livestreamed Mass on Sundays at 9:00 on its website, www. jesuitinstitute.org.za Likewise, the church of the Beatitudes in Zwavelpoort, Pretoria, will also be livestreaming Mass on the parish’s Facebook (@beautitudesZWP). “The great thing about livestreaming on Facebook is that we are able to broadcast live, and it will be available for viewing after as well,” said parish priest Fr Chris Townsend. For now, he will videostream Mass every Sunday at 7:30 and 9:30. Ultimately he hopes this will lead to daily Mass being livestreamed. They will also be broadcasting the
A Mass is being livestreamed. Local Catholics can now follow livestreamed Masses from the Jesuit Institute or Zwavelpoort parish in Pretoria. Radio Veritas is also broadcasting Masses in different languages. whole of Easter weekend, from the Chrism Mass on Wednesday right through till Easter Sunday, and possibly adoration as well. “We will publish a schedule on our Facebook page with the days and times for everyone to stay informed,” Fr Townsend said. Radio Veritas will keep broadcasting the daily weekday Mass at 12:30. They begin with the Angelus at 12:00, then take calls from listeners for their
prayer requests before the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at 12:30. On Saturday, Radio Veritas broadcasts Portuguese Mass at 12:00pm and English Mass at 18:00. Sunday Mass will be at 09:00 in Sesotho/Zulu, English Mass at 11:00, and Zulu/Sesotho Mass again at 18:00. Radio Veritas broadcasts on 576AM, DStv Channel 870, and is streamed on the Radio Veritas App or www.radioveritas.co.za (click on “Listen Live”).
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‘Spiritual Communion’ gives faithful comfort P BY CINDY WOODEN
UBLIC Masses are banned throughout Italy, but literally thousands of Masses are celebrated each day and, in addition to watching them on television or computer screens, the faithful can receive “spiritual Communion”. Pope Francis, after reciting a livestreamed Angelus prayer, told people: “United to Christ we are never alone, but instead form one body, of which he is the head. It is a union that is nourished with prayer and also with spiritual communion in the Eucharist, a practice that is recommended when it isn't possible to receive the sacrament.” Obviously, receiving Communion is the way to participate most fully in the Mass, but it is not always possible for everyone to receive at every Mass, nor do many Catholics in the world even have regular access to Mass. The idea of “spiritual Communion”—inviting Jesus into one’s heart and soul when receiving the actual sacrament isn’t possible—is part of Catholic tradition. In the 1700s, St Alphonsus Liguori wrote a special prayer for spiritual communion: “My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you. But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul at least spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you.” Auxiliary Bishop Paolo Ricciardi
Pope Francis celebrates Mass alone in the chapel of his residence. (Photo: Vatican Media/CNS) of Rome, writing in the Vatican newspaper said: “This month all priests will continue to celebrate Masses and even if they cannot participate, Christians will continue to carry into the world the grace of years of abundance to face these weeks of famine.” The bishop prayed that acts of only spiritual Communion would help people “joyfully rediscover all of the good that the Eucharist has given us from the day of our First Communion”. “Let us increase our desire to receive it again at Easter with a renewed awareness of encountering the living Christ with joy on our faces and in our hearts—and not with those faces we sometimes see at Mass,” he said, and “with a commitment to beginning again from the Eucharist to give life to the world.”
In countries where Catholics can and do receive the sacrament frequently, they do not hear the term “spiritual Communion” very often, but it has been mentioned even in recent Church documents. The Vatican’s preparatory document for the 2012 International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin said those who cannot receive the Eucharist can have spiritual Communion, declaring their desire to receiving the Eucharist and uniting “their suffering of that moment with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ”. The working document for the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist in 2005 said: “Spiritual Communion, for example, is always possible for elderly persons and the sick who cannot go to Church. In manifesting their love for the Eucharist, they participate in the communion of saints with great spiritual benefit for themselves and the Church.” In Sacramentum Caritatis, the document Pope Benedict XVI issued in 2007 reflecting on the synod, he cautioned people against thinking they had “a right or even an obligation” to receive the Eucharist every time they went to Mass. “Even in cases where it is not possible to receive sacramental Communion, participation at Mass remains necessary, important, meaningful and fruitful. In such circumstances it is beneficial to cultivate a desire for full union with Christ through the practice of spiritual Communion,” Pope Benedict wrote.—CNS
Pope prays families thrive while stuck at home
OPE Francis prayed for families who are cooped up in their homes and for all those who are ill with Covid-19. During a live broadcast of his daily morning Mass, the pope again prayed for the many people who have fallen ill and for families who, like all citizens, have been required to isolate themselves in their homes to slow the spread of the coronavirus. “I am thinking of the families under lockdown, children who aren’t going to school, parents who cannot leave the house, some who are in quarantine,” he said at the beginning of Mass. “May the Lord help them dis-
cover new ways, new expressions of love, of living together in this new situation,” he said. “It is a wonderful occasion for rediscovering true affection with creativity in the family. Let us pray for families so that relationships in the family at this time always thrive for the good,” he said. In his homily, the pope reflected on the tendency of people to think that God only acts in big, impressive ways, leading them to dismiss or even scorn the ways he manifests himself—always in simple ways. “Our God lets us understand that he always operates in simplicity, in the simplicity of the house of Nazareth, in the simplicity of every-
day work, in the simplicity of prayer,” Pope Francis said. “Instead, the worldly spirit leads us to vanity, to appearances,” and when people start to become indignant, their scorn leads to violence, the pope added. “Disdain is an attitude of the arrogant,” who are spiritually impoverished and live with “the illusion of being more than they are”, he said. “And this disdain always leads to violence, both physical violence and the violence of gossip,” he said, praying that people would reflect on what they do when they do not understand the simplicity of God. —CNS
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Deacon sees ordination of his son as bishop BY MICHAEL OTTO
N a first for New Zealand, a permanent deacon participated in the episcopal ordination Mass of his son. More than 3 000 people from throughout New Zealand attended the ordination Mass of Bishop Michael Gielen, 48, as an auxiliary bishop of Auckland. Deacon Henk Gielen participated in the Mass, which had strong Maori and Pasifika cultural elements. Before the Mass, NZ Catholic newspaper asked Deacon Gielen if he could ever have imagined when his son was growing up in the central North Island forestry town of Tokoroa that the pair of them would one day be flanking Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn, with one as a deacon and the other as a new bishop. “No father knows what will become of their children,” Deacon Gielen said. “But you love them and give them your best and hope they will flourish.” Deacon Gielen said he is very proud of his son—the oldest of six children in his family. He said the news that his son was to be a bishop came as something of a shock, and he is still getting used to the idea. But he thinks God called his son to this ministry because “Michael has a heart for the less privileged and a heart of compassion”. Deacon Gielen thinks there probably are other instances in the Church where a permanent deacon has a son who is a bishop, but
this is the first time it has happened in New Zealand. It was a busy weekend for the Gielen family, with 35 relatives travelling to Auckland for the ordination. Family members had various roles at the ordination Mass, including Deacon Gielen proclaiming the Gospel. In his words of thanksgiving at the end of the Mass, Bishop Gielen thanked his mother and his father, and all his “precious family” for “your unwavering love, your challenges and your encouragement”. Asked what final word of fatherly advice he might have for his son as a new bishop, Deacon Gielen said: “Be a man of prayer, be humble, be compassionate and learn from Bishop Pat.” Bishop Gielen, who has served as director of formation at Holy Cross Seminary in Auckland, spoke in his thanksgiving speech about when he was seven years old, a time when he was battling with asthma and struggling at school. “A year later, all that changed. We started going back to Mass as a family. It was like rivers, fresh springs of living water, flowing within us, slowly changing us. And as a little boy, I noticed it.” It was in Tokoroa that Bishop Gielen was ordained as a priest in 1997 by the late Bishop Max Mariu, who was the first Maori ordained as a Catholic bishop. Bishop Gielen recalled in Auckland that he was the only priest Bishop Mariu had ever ordained.— CNS
Public will not be admitted to papal Holy Week liturgies BY CINDY WOODEN
Bruni said Pope Francis would celebrate all the HE Vatican office that Holy Week and Easter distributes free tickets liturgies: Palm Sunday, to papal events has the chrism Mass, the posted a notice on its webMass of the Lord’s Supsite that “the liturgical celeper, the liturgy of the brations of Holy Week will Passion of the Lord, the take place without the Easter vigil Mass and physical presence of the Easter morning Mass. faithful”. However, he said, the While public gatherings, Vatican still is studying including Masses, have how those liturgies will been banned in Italy until take place and with April 3, Holy Week begins what kind of participawith the Palm Sunday tion “that respects the liturgy on April 5, so the security measures in notification from the Preplace to avoid the fecture of the Papal Housespread of the coronPope Francis greets the crowd after hold was read as a sign that avirus”. celebrating Palm Sunday Mass in St the ban would be extended, The decisions will be Peter’s Square at the Vatican last year. at least at the Vatican. communicated, “as (Photo: Paul Haring/CNS) Matteo Bruni, director of soon as they are deterthe Vatican press office, mined, in line with the said that arrangements for tributed as usual. evolving epidemiological situathe pope’s Holy Week and The prefecture’s notice said tion”, Mr Bruni said, adding Easter schedules were “still the decision was made “be- that whatever decisions are under study” and that the pre- cause of the current global pub- made about who can or cannot fecture’s note was meant only lic health emergency” posed by attend, the liturgies will be to inform people seeking tick- the spread of the coronavirus. transmitted and streamed ets that they would not be disIn a formal statement, Mr live.—CNS
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Auxiliary Bishop Michael gielen of Auckland, New Zealand, poses with his father, Deacon Henk gielen, after his episcopal ordination Mass. (Photo: Felicity Meijer, NZ Catholic/CNS)
The Southern Cross, March 25 to March 31, 2020
Psychologist: Faith can help us deal with Covid-19 crisis BY PERRY WEST
HILE the coronavirus has people scrambling for tinned foods, facemasks, and especially toilet paper, one Catholic psychologist has encouraged people to take deep breaths and remain calm. The World Health Organisation labelled the coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, a world-class pandemic this week. Since then, panic and anxiety have become common experiences. Dr Christina Lynch, a supervising psychologist for St John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado, said that fear of the pandemic is normal. But even in the global health crisis, she said, peace is not beyond our reach. “Being frightened about something that we don’t understand is normal. I think the first thing we have to do is normalise our emotions and realise it's okay. We all are uncertain. We don’t know what the future holds,” she said. “We fear the unknown. We want to be in control.” Amid the anxiety, people have rushed to local supermarkets to stock up on medicine, hand sanitiser, and, curiously, toilet paper, with even fights breaking out over rolls of two-ply. Dr Lynch said that the hoarding of toilet paper conveys a panicked
mob mentality taking root. But there are means to remain calm in the face of the upcoming storm. She offered a few techniques to help quell rising anxiety levels. Dr Lynch encouraged people prone to anxiety to pay close attention to expert advice on avoiding the virus, such as washing hands, wiping down surfaces, and limiting interactions with large crowds. She said that for most people, following substantiated advice will help diminish any sense of panic and worry. She also suggested Catholics can make the practice of handwashing an opportunity for prayer. For example, she said, washing hands while saying a Hail Mary takes about 20 seconds, the expert-recommended amount of time at the sink. (See also the infographic on page 2.) Dr Lynch said there are also plenty of spiritual practices to help Catholics handle anxiety. She suggested Catholics look up the devotional practices recommended by their local diocese. Even if churches have cancelled their Masses, she said, Catholics can also watch the Mass online, she said. “We’re so blessed to have our faith, the Catholic faith, because we have so many tools from a spiritual perspective. I think this is a great opportunity because we're so busy in our daily life that we can use this
to actually develop some spiritual habits, and incorporate them in this attempt to reduce anxiety,” she said. “Maybe develop a habit of just spending five to 15 minutes every morning when you first get up. Maybe get up a little bit earlier and just pray, whether it's silent”, reading scripture or praying a decade of the rosary, she said. Dr Lynch urged people to monitor their intake of media, especially news sources that have politicised the virus or promoted fear. “Some of the things that we know we can do to counteract fear is limit your media coverage from sources that want to instil fear. “Like, those that politicised the virus or those that only focus on the bad stuff that’s happening with the virus or what could happen rather than the facts,” she advised. Dr Lynch acknowledged that the virus is likely to spread and there is a chance that many people will be impacted. She emphasised the value of taking practical steps in being prepared for self-quarantine. And she encouraged Catholics to see the spiritual opportunity in the weeks ahead. “We’re so used to being in control. This is a great opportunity to know that God’s in control and to just give him more control and pray a prayer of trust to God every day.”—CNA
Scientists: Museum of the Bible’s Dead Sea Scroll collection fake
HE Museum of the Bible in Washington DC announced that its entire collection of “Dead Sea Scroll” fragments has been proven to be forged, according to tests conducted at its request. The museum housed a collection of 16 fragments it claimed to be part of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are considered to be some of the oldest extant Biblical manuscripts. However, in 2018 the museum announced that, according to an external analysis, five of the 16 scroll fragments were probably forgeries. National Geographic reported that tests concluded all 16 fragments were forgeries. A series of scientific tests of the fragments was conducted by Colette Loll, founder and director of Art Fraud Insights, and a team of researchers. “After an exhaustive review of all the imaging and scientific analysis results, it is evident that none of the textual fragments in the Museum of the Bible’s Dead Sea Scroll collection are authentic,” Ms Loll stated. Some of the fragments’ characteristics “suggest they are deliberate for-
One of the fake Dead Sea Scrolls from the Museum of the Bible at high magnification. (Photo: Art Fraud Insights) geries created in the 20th century”, she said. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by Bedouin shepherds in the 1940s, in caves in Qumran. The Museum of the Bible was opened in 2017 and claims to be the “world’s largest museum dedicated to the Bible”. Its chairman of the board is Steve Green, who is also the president of the craft chain Hobby Lobby. When the museum was under construction in 2015, Mr Green touted that the museum’s collection
of biblical items was one of the largest private collections in the world. On Friday, Ms Loll praised what she saw as “transparent” efforts by the museum to publicly announce the forgeries instead of simply removing them from display. The process can be copied elsewhere to identify other fake artifacts, she said. In 2017, the US Department of Justice filed a civil forfeiture complaint and a stipulation of settlement, in which Hobby Lobby agreed to send back around 3 500 artifacts to Iraq that it had purchased in 2010, despite warnings from experts that some of the items were probably stolen from archaeological sites in Iraq. Most of the artifacts were shipped into the US by foreign antiquities dealers who made false statements on shipping labels and gave fake provenances and invoices, according to the justice department.—CNS
UN: End Syria’s 10-year civil war
UMANITARIANS caring for displaced Syrians in and outside their country are calling for an end to Syria’s brutal civil war as it enters its 10th year. The magnitude of displacement, death and destruction in Syria marks one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises right now, the United Nations and human rights groups have said. Henrietta Fore, executive director of the UN children’s agency, said the situation “has never been more pressing”, in a statement issued in the Jordanian capital, Amman. “More than 9 000 children have been killed and injured in the conflict, while close to 5 000 have been recruited into the fighting,” she said. “Nearly 1 000 education and
medical facilities” have also been attacked and destroyed...while “more than 2,8 million children are out of school”, the statement said. “Stop hitting schools and hospitals. Stop killing and maiming children,” UNICEF urged, saying the agency needs access to reach those requiring humanitarian assistance. Juliette Toma, the UNICEF Middle East and North African regional communications chief based in Amman, said: “Every ten hours for the last six years, a child has been killed in Syria, a statistic that is pretty staggering.” More than half of Syria’s population of 23 million have been driven from their homes, while 80% of the population lives beneath the poverty line, according
to the United Nations. Half the country lies in ruins. Meanwhile, Fr Emanuel Youkhana, a priest, or archimandrite, of the Assyrian Church of the East, runs Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq. CAPNI helps Syrian Christians and Kurds who escaped to northern Iraq due to the recent Turkish military invasion in northeastern Syria, as well as Iraqi Christians and Yazidis uprooted by ISIS. “CAPNI is providing a nonfood distribution to these people, including bedding, kerosene heaters, and kerosene, especially during these bitter winter months,” Fr Youkhana said. “None of them returned to Syria,” following Turkey’s military offensive in the region last October, he said.—CNS
The statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in the grotto in the French shrine. (Photo: Alessio Di Cintio/CNA)
Lourdes closes for first time in history
HE sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes has closed for the first time following new restrictions in France to slow the spread of the coronavirus. “For the first time in its history, the sanctuary will close its doors for a while. Pray with us the novena to the Immaculate,” Mgr Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, rector of the Lourdes sanctuary, said. No public Masses will be offered in the sanctuary due to national measures announced to curb the spread of the virus. Following the closure of Lourdes, Auxiliary Bishop Antoine Hérouard of Lille called on Catholics to participate in a novena to Our Lady of Lourdes to pray for the sick who have been infected with the coronavirus. “The sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is a privileged place of prayer for and with the sick,” Bishop Hérouard said. The sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in southern France is built upon the site where the young Bernadette Soubirous witnessed Marian apparitions, beginning on February 11, 1858. The shrine also holds a spring of water which is said to have miraculous healing properties. While there have been more
than 7 000 miraculous recoveries attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes at the French shrine, only 70 cases have been officially recognised by the Catholic Church. A miraculous recovery must generally be a complete, spontaneous, and immediate healing from a documented medical condition. The last official miracle attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes was declared in 2018. “In these troubled times, where many…because of the coronavirus, look to the future with concern, let us ask the Lord through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes, to renew us in confidence, hope and peace of heart,” states the opening prayer of the Lourdes coronavirus novena. “Mary, because you are the smile of God, the reflection of the light of Christ, the abode of the Holy Spirit, because you chose Bernadette in her poverty, you are the morning star, the gate to heaven and the first resurrected creature, we pray to you and entrust our lives to you at a time when so many men and women fear for their health. Assist the sick and caregivers, welcome those who are dead, and be a comfort for families,” the prayer concludes.—CNA
The Southern Cross, March 25 to March 31, 2020
LEADER PAGE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Coronavirus and the real invisible danger
Editor: Günther Simmermacher
A question of survival
HE lockdown and restrictions placed on societies in efforts to arrest the spread of the Covid-19 virus will cause great economic hardships on many people. For many—companies, small businesses and individuals— these measures, necessary though they are, will be ruinous. Our parishes are going to suffer as well because they will have to do without the proceeds from Mass collections. These usually form part of the parish’s budget, along with the Planned Giving —which in many churches is handed to the parish during collections at Mass. The People of God, the parishioners, must now step up to help their parish to pay its monthly bills. The suspension of Masses will also have a potentially devastating effect on your national Catholic weekly. Sales at Sunday Mass are the main source of The Southern Cross’ income from circulation. As it is, that revenue barely covers printing, distribution and overheads. Without it, and even with the temporary suspension of printing, we will struggle to meet the costs of keeping The Southern Cross afloat. We will have to dig into our already depleted reserves just to tide us over the coronavirus crisis. We have asked parishes to reach out to The Southern Cross readers in their communities, to ensure that they will somehow have access to their weekly Catholic newspaper at this time. To those who have done so, we are grateful. The suspension of public Masses presents The Southern Cross with another crisis. Our mandate is to bring Catholic reading material to the faithful. Even and especially at a time when Catholics have more access to Catholic writings — some good, some bad—than ever before, there is a need for Catholic newspapers which curate reliable Catholic news and originate informative and edifying news and views. This social communications apostolate is compromised when our primary outlets by which the newspaper gets into the homes of Catholics are closed. But we will not let this virus silence us. In its almost 100 years of existence, The Southern Cross
has been published every week without fail — through the Great Depression, World War II, the upheaval of apartheid and the disruptions of loadshedding. We will go on until God decides otherwise. We know that many of our readers will grieve the absence of their weekly Southern Cross. So we have taken the radical decision to give away The Southern Cross in its digital version entirely for free, for the duration of the Mass suspensions. Since we will not charge the cover price or any fee for these free editions, we ask those who read it online, or download it as PDF files for consumption on mobile devices, to support us by voluntrary donations. This can be done via the various payment options on our website. We leave it up to the individual to decide by how much they would like to support The Southern Cross. We are aware that some people will not give anything — by choice or because the available methods of donating are unsuitable. That is the nature of the Internet. At the same time, we hope that there will be many who love what they are reading so much that they will make offerings to compensate for those who don’t. Of course, there is also the option to join our Associates Campaign. But this initiative is not all about raising funds to ensure our survival in this 100th year of existence. It is also an expression of the responsibility we have towards our loyal readers. And we hope that our offer to the whole Catholic community will attract people who have never read The Southern Cross. We hope that they come to love it as much as so many other Catholics do. And then, we hope, they will subscribe to the newspaper, or ask their parish to stock it for them in better times. When The Southern Cross was founded almost 100 years ago— also at a time of a global pandemic—its slogan was “A Catholic newspaper in every Catholic home”. The Covid-19 crisis is providing a digital opportunity to make that slogan a reality.
New thinking now for Covid-19
S outher o u t h e r n C ross rro s os ss
Renovating rocks for Durban Passion Play
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Bones of old saint found in wall
BY ERIN CARELSE
‘Cana miracle’ on Italian taps BY HANNAH BROCKHAUS
S Italy weathers the spread of coronavirus, residents of one village appeared to witness their own version of the miracle at the Wedding at Cana. Turning on their tap ps one morning, several Italians discovered their water had been changed to wine—specifically, the sparkling red wine Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC. “I was washing stuff in the kitchen. I turned off the tap. I turned it on again, and instead of water I saw wine,” 56-year-old Maurizio Volpi said. “I said, ‘Cheers’, and my father and I made a toast.” Mr Vo olpi was one of several residents living close to the Settecani Cantina, a wine cellar on the outskirts of Castelvetro di Modena, near Bologna, who found their water momentarily replaced by the fermented grape juice. In fact, the apparent miracle was the result of a broken valve. The manager of the wine cellar told Italian news agency AGI that it took about an hour to repair the valve, which was connected to the water system for cleaning the wine bottles in the bottling plant. The damaged valve caused the red wine to back up into the water main. “In an hour everything went back to normal,” Fabrizio Amorotti said. “Some loyal customers from the area called
us to notify us and share that they were bottling [the wine],” he added. Mr Vo olpi said his father wanted to tr y to catch the wine from the tap p in a bottle as well, “but I said that I buy the wine already bottled”. “It is clear there was a problem; no cellar exchanges water for wine,” Mr Volpi continued. “Perhaps it could have been given to the parish priest for Mass.” The hamlet of Settecani is known for its production of the red sparkling wine. The Settecani Cantina has been in operation since 1923. The city of Castelvetro di Modena confirmed on Facebook they had been notified of the problem and it had been resolved. “Wee apologise for the inconvenience which, in reality, many have much appreciated,” the city wrote.—CNA
HE president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference has condemned the reported forced sterilisation of women living with HIV/Aids in KwaZuluNatal and Gauteng. “Ever y woman has the right to bear children regardless of their status. Women should not be subjected to forced sterilisation because they are HIV-positive,” Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha said. “With the medication that we have now, HIV-positive mothers can give birth to HIVnegative children,” he noted. “To interfere with that process of childbearing, regardless of whether one is doing it voluntarily or not, is something I would not support. Wo orse still, when someone is forced or manipulated,” the bishop told ACI-Africa.. “It is wrong,” he said. “Wo omen are not animals!” Bishop Sipuka was responding to the findings of an investigation by the Commission for Gender Equality into the forced sterilisation of women living with HIV/Aids. This report and investigation followed a complaint lodged by the Wo omen’s Legal Centre five years ago on behalf of the Her Rights Initiative and International Community of Women Living with HIV organisations. The complaint was on behalf of 48 women living with HIV,, who had been violated when they were subjected to forced and/or coerced sterilisation at hospitals in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal between 2002 and 2005. Of the 48 complaints, the report noted occurrences from ten hospitals in KwaZuluNatal and five in Gauteng. In some instances, complainants were given the forms while they were in extreme labour pain and were told that they would not receive medical assistance until they had signed the forms, the report said. “When I asked the nurse what the forms were for, the nurse responded by saying: ‘You HIV people don’t ask questions when you
Church Ch Chu urch h Chuckl Ch C Chuckles klles l
make babies. Why are you asking questions now? Yo ou must be closed up because you HIV people like making babies and it just annoys us’,” the report quotes one complainant as saying. Fr Sakhi Mofokeng, the coordinating secretary for the SACBC’s Department of the Laity, said that he was saddened that these women were forced to be sterilised with false statements and effective death threats. The action of the nurses who were responsible should be condemned, he said. “The human dignity of those women was violated.” The purpose of direct sterilisation “is simply to destroy the normal functioning of a healthy organ to prevent the future conception of children”, Fr Mofokeng told The Southern Crooss. The procedure is condemned by the Catholic Church. In his 1968 encyclical Humanae Viitae, Pope Paul VI wrote: “Equally to be condemned…is direct sterilisation, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary” (#14). After investigating the Women’s Legal Centre’s complaints, the commission concluded that the forced sterilisation of women living with HIV in South Africa’s public hospitals amounted to “cruel, torturous or inhuman and degrading treatment”. It also accused the medical staff of breaching their “duty of care”. The commission has referred its report to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), the Nursing Council and the National Health Department. The CGE has also called for a revision of consent processes and filing systems across the board. The HPCSA is set to investigate the professional conduct of the implicated medical professionals, and the Department of Health has three months of receipt of the report to come up with concrete steps they will take to ensure the eradication of the practice of forced sterilisation.
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REFER to the interview with Dr Brian Robertson, “Ten years of fostering dialogue” (March 11). In early 2014 I read in The Southern Cross about the We Are All Church SA (WAACSA) movement, which promotes dialogue between the laity and clergy to foster the objects of the Second Vatican Council. I followed up on this article and in due course was asked by Dr Robertson to try to promote WAACSA in the Durban archdiocese. I was able to gather a small committee of six devout Catholics who, like me, believed the laity and clergy need to communicate on these matters. The committee decided as a first step to get the blessing of the hierarchy in the archdiocese. I was able to meet Bishop Barry Wood OMI, then auxiliary bishop of Durban. He was very supportive of the movement and undertook to raise promoting it with Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, archbishop of Durban, and to advise me further. Sadly, I received no further com-
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Durban needs We Are All Church
munication from Bishop Wood. When I met him at the Winter Theology series in 2015, I asked him why I had not heard from him regarding WAACSA in Durban. He said he had indeed raised the matter with the archbishop, but had got no response. As Cardinal Napier was also attending the Winter Theology lectures, I decided to raise the matter with him during the discussions. On the final day, I handed the cardinal a copy of WAACSA’s mission statement and asked him to read it, after which I would appreciate if he and I could discuss WAACSA. His response was to tell me he was aware of the movement and that Archbishop Stephen Brislin had forbidden the use of Catholic Church facilities in Cape Town. Cardinal Napier further said he wanted nothing to do with the movement, and advised that should I endeavour to grow WAACSA in the Durban archdiocese, I would be “disobeying my bishop”. In short, he forbade the movement in Durban. Since that unpleasant exchange, I have on occasion sent e-mails to the chancery enquiring whether there had been any change of heart by the cardinal. Sadly, these have been ignored. What was clear to me is that there is division among the hierarchy of South Africa as to how the teachings and movements from Vatican II are to be handled. In Johannesburg and Cape Town WAACSA is flourishing. Here in Durban we are forbidden to grow a movement whose objective is for laity to participate in dialogue with the clergy, a matter which is regularly encouraged by Pope Francis. Mervyn Pollitt, Waterfall, KZN
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The story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem
and would, I believe, understand that these measures are necessary. The bishops will need to “think out of the box” during these trying times when they provide guidance. Manny de Freitas, Johannesburg
in the centuries gone by, was not sophisticated reasoning but simply telling the truth about God, about our need for him and the salvation he offers, how desperately he is reaching out to us in love to ransom us and shield us from the clutches of the evil that surrounds us. We must take it seriously. The legions of the enemy camp take their work very seriously, have undivided hearts as they assault the world with their deceptions of abortion, gender ideology, atheism and a host of other ways to destroy souls; our response cannot be to offer a peace treaty of tolerance and fear but, on the contrary, to see it for what it is and push back with the full force of the truths of the Gospel. What will it take for people to even believe anymore? Does Satan have to have his own TV show before we become alert and aware? Stephen Clark, Manila, Philippines
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ISHOPS have implemented some precautions to counter any threats of the coronavirus which has left the world in panic, including restricting the numbers of congregations or, in some cases, suspending Mass altogether. From media reports, it appears that this virus may be around for a while yet. The difference with this pandemic and previous ones is that for the first time in history we are the most informed and the most connected internationally. We are also the more technologically advanced than ever before. All this assists and informs us on how to deal with and protect ourselves against the Covid-19 virus going forward. For most Catholics, not holding and attending Masses on our days of obligation and on Sundays is out of the question. However, the reality is that we also can’t be irresponsible and continue to attend Masses at our various parishes. I would like to propose that all parishes use technology. Each of us could “attend” Mass in our homes, using technology where people can log on to attend Mass virtually. The compromise is that we would not be able to receive the Eucharist. This would mean that we have to improvise by receiving a Spiritual Communion, for example, until we have the virus under control. I know that there’ll be many Catholics who will think my suggestions are ludicrous. However, desperate measures are called for during desperate times. God is allknowing and all-understanding,
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quired to have its own exorcist, for example, those in need of one might have to travel halfway around Europe to find one nowadays; we are no longer equipped for the times. Fr Gabriele Amorth in his book An Exorcist Tells his Story mentions what a bishop (who had not appointed an exorcist in his diocese) said that he “did not want to make an enemy of the devil”, perhaps forgetting his predecessors when they said: “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10: 17). He (Jesus) replied: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10: 18). But it goes beyond this. Wishywashy preaching turns the good news into the good advice, the demands of holiness and a fierce devotion to a baseline of mediocrity and complacency. There is a need to look back and see that what worked for the saints
HE local and global responses to the coronavirus are interesting; here we have an invisible but real threat seen by its effects. Large efforts and vast resources are now deployed to counter this. I believe Christians and the Church particularly can learn a great deal from this fervour and realisation of danger in our midst. For, we too, face an invisible enemy whose effects are more far-reaching than a flu virus. Can anything other than the full message and application of the authority Jesus extended to it, counter and protect humanity from such an enemy? At a time in history when humanity is being assaulted simultaneously on multiple frontlines, there seems to be a muted or bewildered response. Clauswitzian fog before the eyes of many leads to rationalising instead of bold action taken in faith. Whereas every diocese is re-
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The Southern Cross, March 25 to March 31, 2020
The Church in times of pandemic Mphuthumi T Ntabeni HERE is a saying that goes: “You must never allow a good crisis to go to waste.” Moments of crisis should be moments of reexamination and reevaluation. You probably have the best opportunity of reviewing our health system while the private sector is also paying maximum attention. If we can come out of this Covid-19 virus pandemic with a clear and wellfunded programme for our health system, then we would not have allowed the crisis to go to waste. The most difficult things to deal with during the time of pandemic are the conspiracy theories and the quacks who feed on the heightened emotional state of crisis, thereby worsening the panic within the population. A popular one making the rounds on social media is about pandemics being ordained to appear every hundred years: 1720: Plague; 1820: Cholera outbreak; 1920: Spanish ‘flu; 2020: Covid-19. The genius of conspiracy theories is that they must contain enough of a grain of truth to lure in the unsuspecting. Historians and scientists believe when in the 14th century the Black Death swept across Europe, Asia, and North Africa, killing up to 50% of the population in some cities, it never made it across the Sahara Desert. But it was, in fact, carried by fleas infesting rodents on the ships that came to the Cape in the 18th century. The Bubonic Plague was at its peak around 1665 and had almost disappeared in Europe by 1720 when it broke out again with renewed viciousness in Marseilles. Another outbreak of the Bubonic Plague reached the shores of Cape Town in 1901. African people and their residential areas were cited by the government as being responsible for the spread of the disease. It is the reason why the black dockworkers at the city’s foreshore were moved away from the city to Ndabeni, and eventually the peripheries of the present day Langa township. The disease then spread across the city, resulting in the establishment of segregated residential areas, with Africans being forced to move further to the pe-
riphery of the city. By mid-1901, the disease had spread to other towns, such as Port Elizabeth. As a consequence, black people there were forced to reside in designated areas such as New Brighton. One of the first detailed accounts of a cholera epidemic comes from Gaspar Correa, the Portuguese historian and author of Legendary India, who described an outbreak in the spring of 1543 of a disease in the Ganges delta.
andemic outbreaks come and go. Sometimes they kill a lot of people before they are curbed by the discovery of a vaccine or they just burn themselves out. What doesn’t seem to disappear is their tendency of causing unnecessary panic among people with unfounded theories and whacky cures. Daniel Defoe, who reported on the 17th-century pandemic in his book A Journal of the Plague Year, writes about “signs posted by quacks and physicians for prophylactics and cures; or the signs of God’s wrath or God’s will to be…” It is disappointing to see this in our age still, especially on social media, newspapers, graffiti or even talk within fly-bynight religious congregations (and the occasional Catholic bishop!). The presidential restriction of public gatherings has affected all congregations, including the Catholic Mass. The experience from other eras of pandemics is that churches and streets become deserted
A sign outside a church reminds people how to take care during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: Sam Lucero, The Compass)
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Point of Reflection
‘Love is the goal and ultimate end of all life, for whatever I do, whatever I say, is filled with my desire to love and to be loved. This desire drives me to inherent goodness, even as I may be deceived into evil,’ writes Lionel Fynn. (Photo: Jon Tyson) Love finds its fullest expression in God, who himself is totally and utterly love. It is only when I come to know love,
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anyway during the height of outbreaks. Defoe speaks of “the haunting eeriness of streets that thronged only a few weeks before…Windows stood shattering with the wind in empty houses, for want of people to shut them…” The Church, as the world’s oldest institution, has experience in dealing with pandemics, and it always rises stronger from them, because it is during times of crisis that the human spirit also soars. For instance, the obsession of the Catholic faithful for relics of saints once killed a lot of Christians with diseases. St Augustine, before he became the bishop of Hippo argued against the sect of Donatists he accused of “worshipping dust from Holy lands”. But having seen how the relics drew attention and grew the Latin Church when he became a bishop, he built a shrine for St Stephen, within earshot of the main church, now claiming: “There’s a wonderfully sweet picture there…where you see Stephen being stoned, where you see Saul watching over the garments of the ones doing the stoning.” Being St Augustine, the irony of the moment was not lost on him as he proclaimed: “A little dust has brought together such a crowd…The ash lies hidden, the benefits from it are well known. Think, dear ones, what things God holds for us in the land of the living, who has given us such great things from the dust of the dead…” He then blessed how the dust of the dead feeds the flesh of the living. By the way, St Augustine’s own body turned up, so we are assured, in Pavia, where it can still be seen in the same church as the body of Boethius. But today we care more for his teachings than his relics—that’s progress. The Church adapts and bears more fruit when, like a seed, she falls on the ground. This too shall pass and will germinate new understanding for our humanity.
Love is the answer! L IFE is full of challenges. From sunrise to sunset I find myself challenged by my friends and family, by my colleagues and even by my priest. In as much as thy will is not yet done on earth as it is in heaven, as a Christian I am challenged to continue striving to make it done. When I turn on the television or read the newspaper, when I go into town or even have a chat with my friends at home, the challenges of life present themselves, from poverty to depression to domestic violence. In fact, there is no area of life which is not challenging—and if there is, then maybe I do not know that area well enough. In a society dominated by Christians, I still find it challenging to live an authentic Christian life, still find it difficult to live up to true discipleship. And true discipleship means true love; of God and of neighbour and of self. Love is the goal and ultimate end of all life, for whatever I do, whatever I say, is filled with my desire to love and to be loved. This desire drives me to inherent goodness, even as I may be deceived into evil.
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in its purest and finest sense, and when this pure and fine love I know finds expression in words and deeds, that I begin to grasp certain knowledge about God, that I begin to live an authentic Christian life, that I begin to be a true disciple of Christ, whose love for me finds full expression in the Cross. Love, therefore, must be the answer to all life’s challenges, for in total and supreme love for God, love for neighbour and love for self is God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven. The challenges I face are either because of a distorted idea of love, or because of a blatant lack of it, for there can be no poverty with love, no depression with love, no domestic violence with love. While it is easy to fall into the temptation of distorted love or lack of love in an irreligious society, further perpetuating these challenges, it should not be so for a dominantly Christian society, where love should form the centre and driving force of everything since God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God and God in him.
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Addiction harms many young people, but one country managed to turn a crisis around, as Fr Chris Chatteris SJ explains.
Chris Chatteris SJ
Pray with the Pope
Pray for addicts General Intention: Freedom from Addiction. We pray that those suffering from addiction may be helped and accompanied. N anti-addiction programme for young people in Iceland is probably the greatest success story about drugs that most of us haven’t heard, and it’s a story of hope. In 1992, the Icelandic education department got 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds in every school in Iceland to fill out a questionnaire. The questions were blunt: Have you ever tried alcohol? If so, when did you last have a drink? Have you ever been drunk? Have you tried cigarettes? If so, how often do you smoke? How much time do you spend with your parents? Do you have a close relationship with your parents? What kind of activities do you take part in? The results were terrible. It turned out that Iceland’s youth were among the least sober in Europe. Almost 25% smoked every day, over 40% had got drunk in the past month. Information about drink and drugs hadn’t helped much. Something more was needed. A new plan was introduced. It aimed at intervening early to prevent children from starting to use alcohol and drugs. It was based on research which suggested that young people take drugs to cope with the stresses of their lives. Give them alternative ways of handling the stress, and most would avoid the drugs. US psychology researcher Harvey Milkman had tested these ideas in New York in a successful programme in the 1970s. The factors which made the difference between starting and not starting on alcohol and drugs were identified as: taking part in organised activities— particularly sport, three or four times a week; time with parents; feeling cared about at school; and not being out late in the evening. Research confirmed common sense. Resources were marshalled. The government built sports arenas with a high degree of accessibility, thanks to government subsidies and subsidised transport. Here the youth could enjoy regular physical activity, such as sport, dance and martial arts. Expensive? Yes, but probably cheaper than drug rehabilitation programmes.
he other bits of common sense were family support and keeping kids out of temptation’s way. Parents were encouraged to spend more time with their children and to take a pledge not to let their underage children go to unsupervised parties. Since this pledge was widely taken, it removed the excuse that the children would give for going to such parties: “Everyone else is doing it.” Laws were tightened up. No tobacco to be sold to anyone under 18 and alcohol under the age of 20. Tobacco and alcohol advertising was banned. The most controversial law was a children’s curfew. It became illegal for children under 12 to be out unsupervised after 20:00 and between the ages of 13 and 16 after 22:00 in winter and after midnight in summer. Adult neighbourhood groups were formed to patrol the streets in the evenings to escort underage children home. This movement echoes the African proverb that says it takes a whole village to raise a child. Since there are only 330 000 people in Iceland, this sense of village responsibility is obviously easier to foster than in a city of many millions. However, good results have been achieved in bigger countries by making the programme locally-based. Positive spinoffs included a reduction in teen suicides. Today, Iceland tops the European table for the “cleanest-living” teens. The percentage of 15- and 16- year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month dropped from 42% in 1998 to 5% in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17% to 7%. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23% to just 3%. (See the video at bit.ly/2TpN8q3 for more.) It can be done. So rather than throwing up our hands in despair in the face of social problems, it is salutary to look to places where solutions have been found. We can support smart, effective work like this with our prayers and make it more widely known.
The Southern Cross, March 25 to March 31, 2020
COMMUNITY Michael Storie, a grade 7 pupil at De La Salle Holy Cross College in Victory Park, Johannesburg, won the Novice Juvenile March Competition at the Sandy Mallen Piping Solo Competition at the Transvaal Scottish headquarters. This competition is open to players up to the age of 19. Archbishop Stephen Brislin consecrated the new altar at St Luke’s parish in Factreton, Cape Town, during Mass. (Submitted by Bernard Julius)
Marist Brothers Linmeyer in Johannesburg celebrated Ash Wednesday with liturgy readings, a talk by Fr Sean McEwan, and staff, students and parents receiving ashes on their foreheads.
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The Young Adults group of St Anthony’s parish in Pietermaritzburg held a Lenten Taizé evening. Parish priest Fr Terry Nash anointed each person. (Submitted by Lynette Noel) Table View parish in Cape Town celebrated 30 years of the St Vincent de Paul Society. Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Stephen Brislin, Fr Mark Pothier and parish priest Fr Carlo Adams OSFS. (Photo: Melanie Pisanello)
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The Catholic Women’s League at Our Lady of Fatima parish in Durban North delivered marshmallow eggs, hot cross buns, pyjamas and other baby clothing for children in the TB ward at King Dinizulu Hospital. Seen are (left) Mari van der Merwe, consultant at Umduduzi Hospice, and CWL member Anna Accolla.
Headgirl Dina Mivumbi and headboy David Pillay of Holy Family College in glenmore, Durban, received their blazers at the school’s 2020 opening Mass.
Men of St Anthony’s church in Sedgefield, greater Knysna parish, cooked breakfast for the congregation to show their appreciation to all who give of their time to the church. (Submitted by Bobbi Morgan-Smith)
Brescia House School in Bryanston, Johannesburg, joined the country’s Shavathon, with a number of girls cutting off a minimum of 25cm from their long ponytails to donate for the making of wigs for those with cancer. The Shavathon is held annually for the Cancer Association of South Africa.
Twenty-four young people were confirmed at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Rivonia, Johannesburg, by Auxiliary Bishop Duncan Tsoke. (Submitted by Cherryl Brooke)
The Southern Cross, March 25 to March 31, 2020
The bishop who serves a whole country An Agentinian who knows Pope Francis from Buenos Aires serves as the only bishop of Eswatini. Bishop José Luís Ponce de León was interviewed by MANDLA ZIBI.
ISHOP José Luís Ponce de León heads the diocese of Manzini, which serves all of the Kingdom of Eswatini (the former Swaziland). Born on May 8, 1961 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and ordained to the priesthood in 1985, he is a member of the Consolata Missionaries. He was serving at his congregation’s headquarters in Rome, having served for 11 years in South Africa, when he was appointed bishop of Ingwavuma in KwaZuluNatal in 2008. In 2013, he was appointed bishop of Manzini, and installed there on January 26, 2014.
You have been bishop of Bishop José Luís Ponce de León, who heads Eswatini’s only diocese, Manzini for six years. What have Manzini. In this interview, the Argentine-born bishop talks abut his been the highlights in that time? diocese, coming to South Africa in 1994, meeting a future pope, and The very first one has been the more. (Photo: Fr Paul Tatu CSS) faith of the people who welcomed “a kind of a stranger” as their dela as president. media” is not cheap and our social bishop. Though I had been part-time ad- You then spent 11 years in media is basically free, but still... I did my own personal journey. ministrator of the diocese while Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal, learnt being bishop of Ingwavuma [fol- isiZulu and became a South It took me a long time to decide to lowing the sudden death of Bishop African citizen. Are you very flu- get into Facebook. Initially I registered as “VicariLouis Ndlovu in 2012), I had never ent in the language? I’m having worked in this diocese before. I had difficulty imagining a South ate of Ingwavuma”, when I was American addressing me in the bishop there, but then I was never served in Eswatini before. made aware that people look for a Another highlight is the com- isiZulu. more personal approach. Then I mitment of our Catholics. I cannot Consolata Missionaries who arrecall a single event we had rive in South Africa or Eswatini are started my own account. Now I am present in most of planned together that did not ma- given some time to learn one of terialise. All our diocesan events the local languages. I was asked to our social media and also started my own blog, aware that we are generously supported. learn Zulu as, at that hardly share our stories. time, all Consolata Could you give a snapThe diocese of Manzini is were shot of your diocese, in- When we meet, missionaries blessed with a media team of serving in Zulu-speakcluding the character of priests and lay people that keeps Pope Francis ing parishes. its people and culture? on looking for ways to share our I was always grateaddresses me This is one of the few faith and service to the people of ful to the people who cases where we have one Eswatini on every possible media in Spanish welcomed me and diocese–one country, as space. made every effort to Manzini is the only diowith local You have also launched a weekly understand me! It recese in the Kingdom of mains a challenge, Scripture reflection video on InEswatini. expressions and much more now stagram. What brought that on? We are a small as I preside over our We always try new things in our from our Catholic presence but celebrations in Siswati diocese as we want to reach as well-known and rehometown. and preach in Zulu. many people as possible. spected as, together with Is it true that you our 17 parishes and over 100 outstations, we serve through know Pope Francis well person47 primary Catholic schools and ally? 13 high schools, a hospital and a The first time I met then-Cardinursing college, clinics, a hospice nal Jorge Bergoglio privately was which is one of its kind in this during my holidays in Buenos country... Aires in 2011. I had asked to see For many years Caritas Swazi- him because in my mind... he was land has been entrusted with run- retiring! ning the refugee centre with I wanted to thank him for his people mainly from the Great time as archbishop of Buenos Lakes. Aires, my hometown. Last year we launched the Desk We met at his office and we Against Human Trafficking, which spoke for half an hour as if we had raises awareness about this new known each other forever. slavery. He has a very good memory and You were born in Buenos Aires, every time we meet he addresses Argentina, and came to work in me in Spanish with very local exSouth Africa in 1994 at a time of pressions from our common great jubilation in this country. hometown. What had brought you to these We in the media know you as shores? very supportive of the media in After finishing my high school the Church, and as somebody I joined the Consolata Missionar- who uses social media to good ies, hoping to be sent one day to effect. What are your thoughts proclaim the Gospel in Africa or on the relationship between Asia. Church and media? At the end of my theological Media has always been a hobby studies in Colombia I was initially for me. When I was a teenager, I appointed to serve in Argentina. used to prepare a one- or two-page “Afraid” that time was passing newsletter for the small commuby and I was not appointed any- nity where we were celebrating where else, I asked the superior- Sunday Mass. general not to delay anymore an I’m not sure I am right, but I alappointment to another country. I ways feel that though the Church was offered to come to South always took advantage of every Africa. I arrived in January 1994. possible media to proclaim the What were your first impressions Gospel—radio, television newspaof South Africa? pers—there was a lot of fear with It was really a blessing as ini- the arrival of the Internet and sotially I experienced at the time un- cial media. certainty about the future of the It has taken us time to get into country, and later on, in April it and we still struggle to find our 1995, the election of Nelson Man- way, even though the “traditional
There are those who read and plan in Manzini? they receive an introduction to the When Pope Francis called the Sunday readings prepared by one Church to celebrate an Extraordiof our priests via WhatsApp. We nary Missionary Month, we destarted that two years ago. cided to extend it to the whole But we are aware some people year, aware that a month would do not really read but would enjoy not make any impact in our lives. a “one-minute reflection” in We launched it in October preparation for Sunday. 2019. The following It is not easy to give a month we celebrated message in just one I preside in our our first “Diocesan minute—which is what Missionary Congress” Instagram allows us—but celebrations in in the presence of the the number of views on nuncio, Siswati and apostolic Instagram and YouTube Archbishop Peter together with the num- preach in Zulu. Wells, as well as ber of shares on Facebook (SACBC secretary-gentells us that the idea has I’m grateful to eral) Sr Hermenegild been well received. the people who Makoro CPS, and It was initially Bishops Victor Phaplanned for the Advent make an eﬀort lana (of Klerksdorp) season, but I have not and Siegfried Jwara (of to understand Ingwavuma). stopped it...yet. It lasted three days: I imagine that Manzini me a day for priests, a day being wholly outside for religious, a day for the borders of South Africa must present special chal- the whole diocese, represented by lenges at least from the political 200 delegates. They addressed us in the mornperspective. Do you think Eswatini is ing while the afternoons were dedbeing well-served by being in the icated to group work reflecting on Southern African Catholic Bish- the way forward. During this year we will then ops Conference (SACBC), or would it be better if small South- bring the two documents together. The Pastoral Plan being the fruit ern African countries like Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and of consultations done at grassroots Namibia could form their own level with priests, religious and laity, and our congress based on a conference? Eswatini is well served by being similar experience, I believe both in the SACBC. All our sodalities documents will complement each and pastoral areas link to the so- other. dalities and SACBC offices in And lastly, what is your message South Africa. to the readers of The Southern For many years the president of Cross? St Anne’s Sodality in South AfricaMore and more media has beEswatini was a Swazi from this dio- come a two-way road. I wish more cese, and she now represents them and more people from different at an international body based in dioceses would contribute to The Rome. Southern Cross. Our seminarians study at St As I said, there is so much hapFrancis Xavier and St John Vian- pening in every diocese, but we ney, and therefore our priests feel hardly talk about it. very much supported by the As it was proclaimed to us not priests in South Africa. long ago: “In the same way your Though it is true that this is a light must shine in the sight of different country, I would not see men, so that, seeing your good any alternative to being part of the works, they may give the praise to SACBC. your Father in heaven.” Sharing our journey, sharing The new Pastoral Plan of the local Church was launched by our stories, makes us celebrate the SACBC a few weeks ago. God’s presence among us. Given the somewhat different n The bishop’s One-minute Gospel nature of the socio-cultural situ- videos now run weekly on The Southation in Eswatini, does that pose ern Cross’ website as they appear challenges in implementing the (www.scross.co.za)
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The Southern Cross, March 25 to March 31, 2020
PATH TO THE PASSION
Jesus’ last supper and arrest in the garden In the third of five articles on Jesus’ last days, gÜNTHER SIMMERMACHER follows the Lord and the disciples at the Last Supper and into the Garden of Gethsemane.
T is a busy day in Jerusalem. The city is packed with multitudes of pilgrims on their Passover pilgrimage to the Temple. People are rushing around to make their required preparations for the feast. These preparations involve more than just planning a supper. They also require rituals such as the slaughter of the sacrificial lamb, taking the ritual bath, and clearing every nook and cranny of the home of crumbs of unleavened bread, in remembrance of the Exodus. It is also a busy day for Jesus and the disciples (and scholars will argue over centuries exactly which day it is today). Tonight, they are having what will become the most famous and consequential supper in the history of mankind. Jesus puts Peter and John in charge of setting things up in a location he has arranged. We may note that he hasn’t appointed the treasurer of the group to be part of the organising team. Judas Iscariot stays behind in Bethany with the other nine disciples—so he will not be able to guide the high priest’s henchmen to the place where Jesus and his disciples will have their Seder supper. So Peter and John set out to find a man carrying a jar of water, whom they easily identify, for carrying water is usually women’s work. Maybe he is a celibate Essene monk (as the scholar Fr Bargil
Pixner OSB has suggested). The Essenes are a Jewish sect which also has a monastic presence in the desert. There they produce and store what would become known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The water carrier leads the disciples to a man at whose inn an upper room has been booked for the Seder. It’s possibly an Essene establishment, on Mount Zion in the south of Jerusalem. In our day, the Upper Room is a Crusader structure called the Cenacle. It stands on what might well have been the site of the original building. Having set up everything, Peter and John return to Bethany, and join Jesus and the other disciples. The group sets off together, taking a detour so as to avoid passing by the house of the high priest.
Inside the Upper Room The room is set out in the traditional manner, with a low, threesided table and cushions, and the food presented in the centre. The diners are going to recline on the pillows, resting on their left elbow and eating with the right hand. The group take their places. As the head of the dinner, Jesus reclines in the second position on the left-wing of the table. To his right is John (we know that, because he will lean against Jesus’ chest). Facing him on the opposite side is Peter. And to Jesus’ left is the position for the guest of honour. Tonight’s “guest of honour” is Judas Iscariot, ideally positioned to receive bread dipped in a dish from Jesus. Jesus knows what Judas is up to, and still, right to the end, he gives the man who will betray him the chance to abandon his wicked scheme. But before we continue, let’s have a look at what is being served.
Pilgrims pray at the Rock of the Agony in the church of All Nations in the garden of gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives.
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An olive woodcarving of the Last Supper, at the Nissan Bros. store in Bethlehem, Palestine. (All photos: günther Simmermacher) The meal must include four glasses of wine; unleavened bread; bitter herbs (such as chicory, eryngo or radishes) dipped in salted water; haroset (a dip made of fruits, nuts, grains, possible wine); the paschal lamb (even just a walnutsized portion of it, for its purpose is symbolic, not culinary); and a stew of maybe some meat with lentils and vegetables. The diners have had their ritual bath, but Jesus decides that their feet—and only their feet—need a new ritual cleaning. In a show of humility, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, one after another, finishing with a very reluctant and petulant Peter. He then instructs them, by way of metaphor, to keep washing each other’s feet. Feet washed, Jesus raises the first of the four glasses of wine, and recites the Kiddush blessing: “Blessed are you Lord, our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine…” They all drink. Suddenly, the mood changes. Jesus declares: “One of you is going to betray me.” This causes obvious consternation, and Simon Peter motions to John to ask Jesus who the traitor might be. Jesus answers John’s question: “It is the one to whom I give the piece of bread that I dip in the dish.” And then he passes the dipped bread to Judas. The moment Judas receives the bread, Jesus tells him: “What you are going to do, do quickly.” The disciples are confused: did Jesus just call Judas a traitor, or did he send him out on an errand? (Jn 13:21-30). Their inaction points to the latter conclusion. While Judas hotfoots unhindered to the high priest’s residence, the Seder in the Upper Room continues.
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The first Eucharist Now Jesus pours the second cup of wine, and says: “I have ardently longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; because, I tell you, I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then, taking a cup, he gives thanks and says: “Take this and share it among you, because from now on, I tell you, I shall never again drink wine until the kingdom of God comes.” Finally, they start to eat their meal. Jesus then pours the third cup of wine, takes a matzah from the middle of the table, again gives thanks, and says: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” After the supper has ended, Jesus pours the fourth cup, and says: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you.” The disciples don’t know it yet, but the Eucharist has been instituted. Then Jesus adds a new commandment to the ten existing ones: “I give you a new commandment: love one another; you must love one another just as I have loved you. It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognise you as my disciples.” The Seder meal is over, and Jesus’ party is leaving the Upper Room and Mount Zion. It’s too late to return to Bethany, so they make their way to a place they know at the foot of the Mount of Olives, going from the south to the east.
The way to Gethsemane As they did on the way to the Upper Room, they again take a detour, walking through the Valley of Gehenna (which means “Entrance to Hell”). Here Jesus tells the disciples: “You will all fall away, for the scripture says: ‘I shall strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.’ However, after my resurrection I shall go before you into Galilee.”
Peter focuses on the prediction of abandonment rather than the point of resurrection. “Even if all fall away, I will not.” But Jesus knows better: “I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will have disowned me three times.’ Peter and the others pledge their unstinting loyalty, unaware of how soon their fidelity shall be tested. Finally they arrive at the olive grove called Gat-Smane (the Aramaic word for oil press), a place we know better as Gethsemane, where there is a cave with an olive press in which the group can rest. In our day, a small Franciscan chapel is in that cave, next to the place known as Mary’s Tomb and cut off from the rest of the Garden of Gethsemane by a busy road. Jesus asks Peter and the brothers James and John to go with him, leaving the other eight at the cave. After a short walk, he tells the trio to stay awake while he goes off to pray. Sitting on a rock, Jesus starts to pray and is overcome by dread for his impending fate. He experiences hematidrosis, a condition that can occur in situations of extreme stress when blood vessels that feed the sweat glands tear, causing the afflicted person to “sweat blood”. The “Rock of Agony” on which Jesus prayed is now at the foot of the altar in the magnificent church of All Nations, a marvel of architecture located next to the remnants of the olive grove. In our times, there are only a few trees left in the garden. Nobody knows how old they are, but, given that olive trees regenerate themselves when cut down, some of them are almost certainly descendants from those trees that witnessed Jesus’ arrest.
The cowardly arrest Having asked the Father to release him from his dreadful fate but submitting to his will, Jesus returns to his three trusted followers—and finds them asleep. He reprimands them and then notes that his betrayer is on his way. They are at the cave where the other eight had been left when the high priest’s arresting party, armed with swords and clubs, arrives. In the torchlight, Judas steps forward, goes up to Jesus, and kisses him by way of a “greeting”. As the soldiers move to arrest their target, Peter is ready to resist, but Jesus tells him to let it be. He then heals the ear of the high priest’s servant Malchus, which Peter had severed. But Jesus also reminds the arresting party of their cowardice: “Am I a bandit, that you had to set out with swords and clubs? When I was among you in the Temple day after day you never made a move to lay hands on me. But this is your hour; this is the reign of darkness.” Jesus is bound and led away while the disciples take flight. Other than Peter and John, we won’t see them again until Sunday evening. Next week: The trials of Jesus
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Olive trees in the garden of gethsemane, on the foot of the Mount of Olives.
The Southern Cross, March 25 to March 31, 2020
FROM OUR VAULTS 60 Years Ago: March 30, 1960
Shock over apartheid massacre Archbishops Denis Hurley and Owen McCann have expressed their shock and concern at the shootings in Sharpeville near Vereeniging and Langa in Cape Town. Archbishop Hurley said there is little likelihood of diminishing violence because “there seems to be no hope of any transformation in white policy”. Archbishop McCann said that “the setting forth of legitimate grievances must be amply provided for”.
Oudtshoorn celebrates100 years
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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.”
The diocese of Oudtshoorn and its St Saviour’s cathedral have been celebrating their 100th birthday. The foundation stone of the cathedral was laid in February 1860 by Fr B McMahon of George.
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Catholics support religious freedom A study by the World Council of Churches has found that, contrary to Protestant opinion, religious freedom is “supported by very important members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy”.
Editorial: Why people revolt In his editorial, Fr Louis Stubbs writes that by linking the Sharpeville and Langa uprisings to low wages, Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd unintentionally paid a “welcome high-level recognition of a public scandal”. But it should also be remembered that “people are not only moved by economic considerations...it is only unnecessary suffering, and particularly suffering due to others’ free actions, which provokes revolt”.
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Pope Francis’ Coronavirus Prayer O Mary, you always shine on our path as a sign of salvation and of hope. We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick, who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm. You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need, and we are sure you will provide so that, as in Cana of Galilee, we may return to joy and to feasting after this time of trial. Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform to the will of the Father and to do as we are told by Jesus, who has taken upon himself our suﬀerings and carried our sorrows to lead us, through the cross, to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.
Liturgical Calendar Year A – Weekdays Cycle Year 2 Sunday March 29, 5th Sunday of Lent Ezekiel 37:12-14, Psalm 130:1-8, Romans 8:8-11, John 11:1-45 Monday March 30 Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62, Psalm 23, John 8:1-11 Tuesday March 31 Numbers 21:4-9, Psalm 102:2-3, 16-21, John 8:21-30 Wednesday April 1 Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95, Responsorial psalm Daniel 3:52-56, John 8:31-42 Thursday April 2, St Francis of Paola Genesis 17:3-9, Psalm105:4-9, John 8:51-59 Friday April 3 Jeremiah 20:10-13, Psalm 18:2-7, John 10:31-42 Saturday April 4, Ss Benedict and Isidore
Ezekiel 37:21-28, Responsorial psalm Jeremiah 31:10-13, John 11:45-56 Sunday April 5, Palm Sunday Isaiah 50:4-7, Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24, Philippians 2:6-11, Matthew 26:14--27:66
465-5007 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Our bishops’ anniversaries This week we congratulate: April 3: Bishop Victor Phalana of Klerksdorp on his 59th birthday
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. St Anthony’s rosary group. Every Wednesday at 18:00 at St Anthony’s church opposite greyville racecourse. All are welcome and lifts are available. Contact Keith Chetty on 083 372-9018. NELSPrUIT: Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at St Peter’s parish every Tuesday from 8:00 to 16:45, followed by Rosary, Divine Mercy prayers, then a Mass/Communion service at 17:30.
Southern CrossWord solutions SOLUTIONS TO 908. ACROSS: 5 Lewd, 7 Pallottine, 8 Wear, 10 Sacristy, 11 Dorcas, 12 Emboss, 14 Belloc, 16 At noon, 17 Statutes, 19 Awed, 21 Malaysians, 22 Scab. DOWN: 1 Spew, 2 Clerical, 3 Stasis, 4 Circle, 5 Levi, 6 White smoke, 9 Egocentric, 13 Benjamin, 15 Cattle, 16 Assays, 18 Tomb, 20 Disc.
There is indeed a St Corona who protects against plague
ES, there is a St Corona and, aged only 16, she gave her life to comfort a fellow Christian, St Victor, in 170 AD. And, right in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, in the city of Anzu, Italy, there is a basilica where the relics of Ss Victor and Corona have been preserved since the 9th century. The word corona is Latin for crown and the coronavirus sweeping the globe is also named for “crown”. The coronavirus family of viruses was first recognised by science in the 1960s and got its name because, under the electron microscopes of the period, their shape was reminiscent of a monarch’s crown. Little is known about St Corona, but she and St Victor are listed in the martyrology and the hagiography of the Catholic Church. There is ambiguity surrounding the dates and locations of their martyrdom. Most sources say it was in Syria, which was under Roman rule. Some say Damascus; others, Antioch. Most agree they were put to death in 170 AD. Most historians agree they died during the reign of Marcus Aurelius and were put to death by a Roman judge named Sebastian. Victor was a Christian Roman soldier brought before Sebastian, who despised Christians. He made an example of Victor, who was bound to a pillar and whipped until his skin hung from his body, and then Sebastian had his eyes gouged out. Through it all, Victor never denied Christ. Nearby was a 16-year-old girl named Corona. She was the wife of one of the soldiers, and also a Christian, but her husband did not know this.
St Corona by the Master of the Palazzo Venezia Madonna (National gallery of Denmark) As Victor was being brutalised, Corona announced her Christianity to all present and hurried over to Victor to help him, kneeling and praying for him. Sebastian was livid and immediately had Corona put in prison and tortured. Then he ordered her tied to the tops of two palm trees pulled down to the ground. When the ropes holding the bent trees were cut, the force was so great that Corona’s body was ripped apart. The remains of Ss Victor and Corona in the basilica in Anzu have been there since the 9th century. They are pre-congregation saints, meaning they were recognised as saints prior to Church canonisation processes being standardised. The first saint canonised by a pope was Ulrich, the bishop of Augsburg in Germany, who died in 973 AD. St Corona’s feast day, along with St Victor’s, is on May 14.—Aleteia
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Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion: April 5 Readings: Matthew 21:1-11, Isaiah 50:4-7, Psalm 22: 8-9, 17-20, 23-24, Philippians 2:611, Matthew 26:14-27:66
EXT Sunday we enter the solemn drama of Holy Week. During the procession reading we hear Matthew’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, with the crowds singing, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” Then, for the first reading of the Mass we hear the third of the “Songs of the Suffering Servant”. This is followed by Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, which has had such a powerful effect on the way the New Testament writers recounted the story of Jesus’ Passion. After that, the second reading is a meditation in the Letter to the Philippians on Jesus’ death and Resurrection. However, the most substantial portion of Scripture for next Sunday is Matthew’s majestic Gospel account of Jesus’ Passion. Notice it starts with treachery, Judas Iscariot, demanding money, “and I’ll hand him over to you”. So Judas and the high priests agree on the biblical sum of “thirty pieces of silver”. This grim tone continues in the Last Supper, with the sad prediction that “one of you is
S outher n C ross Nicholas King SJ
Entering Holy Week going to betray me”, followed by the reference to Jesus’ “body” and “blood”, meaning death. It gets no better when Peter boasts that “I’ll never be scandalised in you, even if all the rest are”. But, of course, Peter sleeps through Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemani, then runs away with the rest of them. After that, he turns up at a distance; so at least he is present in the courtyard of the High Priest, “sitting with the servants to see the end”. Then, however, his courage fails, and in the face of two women servants and someone who spots his funny accent, he tells terrible lies about whether or not he was “one of them”. And it all ends in tears, which may be a sign of forgiveness. Basically, Matthew follows Mark; but he makes one or two interesting changes. First, he has Judas repenting, and returning the “thirty pieces of silver to the High Priests and elders”, announcing: “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” This is a problem for the authorities, and they use the money to buy the “field of blood”, after Judas flings the money into the inner temple and hangs himself. Characteristically of Matthew, this is said to be a fulfilment of scripture.
When someone is angry at you M
agency or a church, it can be good to know this. Otherwise it’s too easy to misread some of the anger and recrimination that will come your way and take it too personally and not for what it really is. When someone whom you’ve loved is angry at you, it’s hard to recognise and accept that you’re probably the object of that anger even though you aren’t the cause of it. Rather, you are the one safe place where this person can lash out without fear of retaliation and have his or her bitterness absorbed. If you don’t grasp the peculiar dynamics of love that are at play here, you will inevitably take this too personally, be torn up inside, lament its injustice, and struggle to carry it with the love that’s unconsciously being asked for.
ut this can be very hard to accept, even when we understand why it’s happening. This kind of love demands an almost inhuman strength. For example, as Christians we have a special admiration for Jesus’ mother as we imagine what she must have felt as she stood beneath the cross, watching her Son—goodness and innocence itself—suffer a brute, violent injustice. Not to lessen in any way the pain that she would have been feeling then, standing helplessly as she did in that awful injustice, she did have the consolation of knowing that her son loved her deeply. Her pain would have been excruciating, as would be the pain of any mother in that
ORE tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it. The Prophet Jeremiah wrote those words more than 25 hundred years ago and anyone who struggles with the complexities of love and human relationships will soon enough know of what he speaks. Who indeed can understand the human heart, given some of the curious and cruel ways we sometimes have of expressing love. For instance, the Lutheran minister and theologian Nadia Bolz-Weber shares something we all have a propensity for: “Inevitably, when I can’t harm the people who harmed me, I just end up harming the people who love me.” How true. When we’ve been hurt almost every instinct in us screams for retaliation; but, most times, it’s not possible, nor safe, to retaliate against the persons who hurt us. Or, perhaps we aren’t even clear as to who hurt us. So, needing to lash out at someone, we lash out where it’s safe to do so, namely, at those whom we trust will absorb it, at those with whom we feel secure enough to do this. We lash out at them because we know they won’t retaliate. Simply put, sometimes we need to be really angry at someone, and since we are unable to vent that anger on the person or persons responsible for it, we vent it on someone whom we unconsciously trust will safely accept it. If you’re a loving parent, a faithful spouse, a trusted friend, a true counsellor, a good minister, or even just someone who with integrity officially represents a moral
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Then there is an interesting addition, in that Mrs Pilate sends the procurator a message: “Let there be nothing between you and that just man; for I have suffered many things today in a dream on his account.” At this point, we remember the five dreams back in the opening chapters of Matthew’s Gospel: and it means that God is in the story. Then, because the crowds insist on Jesus being crucified, Pilate performs an action prescribed in Deuteronomy for when elders of a city near where a corpse has been discovered want to assert their innocence of the murder: “He took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying ‘I am innocent of the blood of this man.’” To this his hearers respond, “His blood be upon us and upon our children”, used as a prop for dangerous anti-Semitism ever since. Matthew, a good Jew, would have been horrified at the terrible use of this phrase. Then Jesus is taken to the cross and mocked, with a scarlet cloak, and stripped of his clothes. Interestingly, only Matthew has the mockers say to him: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Recall that the devil said something very similar in Matthew’s version of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.
Then we have the extraordinary moment of Jesus’ death: “And the earth was shaken, and the rocks were torn and the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And they came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many.” One final addition only in Matthew is the posting of the guard. The high priests and Pharisees go to Pilate to secure the tomb, because of Jesus’ predictions that “I am being raised after three days”. They are anxious to avoid talk of resurrection, and fearful that his disciples might steal the body. So the tomb is made safe. But it did not quite work out, for on the Sunday morning the guards “became like corpses”, when Jesus was raised, and the religious authorities had to bribe them to spread the tale that Jesus’ disciples had stolen the body. Which means, of course, that the tomb was empty on that Sunday morning… What do you notice about the way that Matthew has told the story of Jesus’ passion?
Southern Crossword #908
Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
situation, but her pain had a certain (dare I use the phrase) “cleanliness” about it. She was free to fully and openly empathise with her son, knowing that his love was giving her permission to feel what she felt. But many is the loving mother, loving father, a faithful spouse, or trusted friend whose heart is breaking at the anger and accusation being directed at them by someone they’ve loved and to whom they’ve been faithful. How can they not feel accused, guilty, and responsible for the bitter crucifixion they’re experiencing? Their pain will not feel “clean”. In effect, what they’re feeling is more what Jesus felt as he was being crucified rather than what his mother felt as she witnessed it. They’re experiencing what St Paul refers to in his Second Letter to the Corinthians when he writes that, though innocent himself, Jesus became sin. That single expression, unless properly read, can be one of the most horrifying lines in scripture. Yet, understood within the dynamics of love, it powerfully highlights what love really means beyond fairytales. Real love is the capacity to absorb injustice with understanding, empathy, and with only the other’s good in mind. Of course, sometimes the anger directed at us from persons we love is justified and speaks of our betrayal, our sin, and our breaking of trust. Sometimes the angry accusations directed at us validly accuse us of our own sin. In that case, what we’re asked to absorb has a very different meaning. As well, we need to recognise that we also do this to others. When we’re hurt and unable to direct our anger and accusations against those who hurt us, then, as Nadia Bolz-Weber so honestly shares, we often end up harming the people who love us most. Love has many modalities, some warm, kind, and affectionate, some accusatory, bitter, and angry. Yes, sometimes we have strange, anomalous ways of expressing our love and trust. Who can understand our tortuous hearts?
5. Indecent way to weld (4) 7. Lent a pilot name of a religious congregation (10) 8. Put on the vestment (4) 10. Where priest prepares for Mass (8) 11. She lived in Jaﬀa (Ac 9) (6) 12. Take me back with broken sobs to carve out a design (6) 14. Catholic author with ﬁrst name Hilaire (6) 16. When the sun is high (2,4) 17. The rules of the diocese (8) 19. Had a feeling of reverence at start of a wedding (4) 21. Any salamis dished up in Kuala Lumpur (10) 22. Tom’s cabin hides dried blood (4)
1. Expel the lava (4) 2. In holy orders (8) 3. Sits as inactivity (6) 4. Ring for cleric (6) 5. Hebrew tribe (4) 6. Sign in the air that there’s a new pope (5,5) 9. E g concerti that are selfcentred (10) 13. St Paul’s tribe (Phil 3) (8) 15. Living creatures (Gn 1) (6) 16. Tests the metal, say, with animal around it (6) 18. Burial site (4) 20. Shape of the communion wafer (4) Solutions on page 11
VERY day Paddy came to the pub and ordered three beers at once. After a while the barman asked him why he always ordered three beers at once. “Well, you see, I have two brothers who have moved overseas. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we’re having a drink in the pub as a way of keeping up our tight family bond.” But one day Paddy ordered only two beers. “Please accept my condolences on the death of one of your brothers,” the barman said. “Oh, don’t worry,” Paddy replied. “Both brothers are alive and well. It’s just that I have given up drinking beer for Lent.”
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