ST BENEDICT’S DAY - 2013
I would like to begin by saying thank you to Bishop Buti, Fr Terry, Fr Tony and Fr Vitalis for joining us to celebrate Holy Mass on this special day: our fifty-fifth anniversary. We are both privileged and humbled by your willingness to be with us.
I would also like to acknowledge all those who in small and big ways have contributed to the success of this morning’s mass. In particular, we must thank our RE Departments, our altar servers, the musicians, the technical team and our ground staff. Well done!
It’s hard to believe that a full year has passed since we unveiled the statue of our patron saint at last year’s celebrations.
I had an opportunity then to share with you the symbolism of the statue and a small peak into the life of St Benedict. Today, I want to share with you another story about St Benedict. It is the story of the first miracle he performed and I read to you from the narrative of Pope Gregory the Great who documented St Benedict’s life. He writes as follows:
“When Benedict abandoned his studies to go into solitude, he was accompanied by his nurse, who loved him dearly. As they were passing through Affile, a number of devout men invited them to stay there and provided them with lodging near the Church of St Peter. One day, after asking her neighbours to lend her a tray for cleaning wheat, the nurse happened to leave it on the edge of the table and when she came back she found it had slipped off and broken in two. The poor woman burst into tears, she had just borrowed this tray and now it was ruined.”
We need to remember that in those days a broken tray was a matter to be taken seriously. Neither mass production nor money was common.
Pope Gregory continues as follows:
“Benedict, who had always been a devout and thoughtful boy, felt sorry for his nurse when he saw her weeping. Quietly picking up both the pieces, he knelt down by himself and prayed earnestly to God, even to the point of tears. No sooner had he finished his prayer than he noticed that the two pieces were joined together, without even a mark to show where the tray had been broken. Hurrying back at once, he cheerfully reassured his nurse and handed her the tray in perfect condition.”
It’s a simple little story, almost laughable to the scientific and rationalist types amongst us. It speaks of things too long lost, of things covered over and made cloudy by our modern lives but what can we learn from it?
It tells us that there is nothing so small that it does not deserve our attention.
It tells us that we must weep with those who weep.
It tells us that every living being has a right to dignity and a right to our protection and our help.
Most importantly, it tells us that we must be menders of what is broken in society, not its judges, nor its mocking observers.
And that gentlemen is the example from the life of our patron saint that I would encourage you to make the focus of your lives, both while you walk the corridors of this school and also once you venture into the wide world that lies beyond the safety of our gates: it is easy to stand on the side lines of society and to judge and mock what we see; it is a far more difficult venture but also a far more worthy and honourable one to bend, pick up the pieces and mend that which is broken.
And the next time you see a tray, broken or whole, remember that!
On a lighter note, I will share another story with you. In 2008, when we celebrated our fiftieth anniversary I had a conversation with one of my matric classes about what they thought would be the best way for us to celebrate our golden anniversary. One of the boys at the back chirped that Mr Dobson would celebrate as everything is celebrated at St Benedict’s – with a mass. As I recall we celebrated with not one but three masses that year: one on the 25 January, one on the 11th
of July and one on the 12 September. In retrospect, it was all as it should have been.
However, for fear of being predictable, I am pleased to inform you that in addition to today’s mass, we will also celebrate our 55th
anniversary on Friday, 13 September by staging the Big Bennies Bash. B-cubed is a open air music concert with performances by some of South Africa’s up an coming artists: Daniel Baron, ChianoSky featuring Ross Jack, The Graeme Watkins Project, Lonehill Estate and DJ Lady Leah! The evening’s entertainment will include a fleamarket, lots of foodstalls and a beer tent!
Entrance is free if you are 6 or younger. Tickets are R100 for teenagers and adults and R50 for children under 12. Golden circle tickets cost R200 per person and there are only 300 those. Tickets will go on sale from the finance office tomorrow morning and Golden Circle tickets will be available from Monday morning on a first come first served basis.
We are hoping that that concert will be such a success that we will be able to repeat it every year and that it will come to rival similar events. While other schools may think that on the night its “hip to be squared”, at Bennies we know it’s hip to be cubed
! I want to appeal to you all to support this event and help us grow it into an annual, exciting feature on our calendar!
In closing, I want to pay tribute to those present here today and all those who have precede us over the last fifty five years – boys, parents and staff - I commend you on making ours the best school in town and I wish each and every one of you a very blessed feast day!