In light of the fact that the school has taken up as theme for 2017 'What do you want from me', and considering that the Archbishop of Johannesburg - His Grace Buti Thlagale, OMI - has declared 2017 as the year of devotion to Mary in his Archdiocese, I thought it would be good for me to upload his pastoral letter for you to read. The letter talks about the spiritual motherhood of Mary and, as it were, highlights the role of Mary in our lives as Christians.
The link below will direct you to the pastoral letter.
The Spiritual Motherhood of Mary.
A note to Bennies' Boys.
Lent is a perfect time for us to turn towards Jesus.
Our days are filled with challenges and with a competitive spirit, we spend minute after minute focusing on winning and coming ahead of others. Competition is good when it encourages you to strive beyond your limitations and achieve better results in your field. However, it becomes bad when, while you strive beyond your limitations, you use others and harm them for the purpose of succeeding. It is through this bad side of competition that we break the hearts of others, and we too, in the long run, are broken as well.
We make acquaintances and friendship without discerning the value of these unions, and whether or not they will contribute to our growth. As human beings, we are intrinsically relational, and these relations are meant to benefit us and those with whom we share them. Unfortunately, not all these relations are aimed towards a positive end. That is why we have to always be vigilant whenever we make friends.
The negative sides of competition and friendship are examples of many other harsh realities that, when taken for granted, can cause us to fall into the temptation of engaging in things that we should rather not involve ourselves with. None of us wants to fail, none of us wish to grow up to be a drug addict, an abusive person, or a delinquent; and yet, along the path we tread, we stumble upon circumstances that encourage us to try what we know to be wrong, and by the time we realize it, it is often too late. We are in pain, lost, wounded – broken inside; and we wonder where it all went wrong and whether God is still on our side. Well, God remains with us. He is always by our side. Our task is to turn back to him and allow him to heal us.
Lent is the perfect time for us to turn towards Jesus. He understands and knows our pain more than we can imagine. He, like us, was tempted (Mt. 4:1-11), but he did not sin. He resisted all three temptations: temptation to worry only about oneself, temptation to test God, and temptation to want power, wealth, and status for oneself. Through Jesus’ desert encounter, we learn that temptation is sure to come our way – and that is fine – but we have to always be ready to resist it. The world may have wounded us already; however, this is not the time to give up, but to go back to Jesus who will remove our sins and free us for his service. That way we are always ready to be his co-workers, and others come to know and experience him through us.
May this Lenten season be life-giving to your spiritual life. May it be a phase of allowing Jesus to purify you , mold you, and fashion you into his image so that, when you are ready to ask him “Lord, what do you want from me?” you may be willing and able to take up the challenge that comes as his response.
The celebration of the approval of the Constitutions and Rules of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
It was on the 17th of February, 1826 when Pope Leo XII approved the Constitutions and Rules of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Ever since that time, Oblates, in one manner or another, remained creative - in their different ministries - to bring to life the values embedded in these Constitutions and Rules. For about two hundred years now, these men continue to leave nothing undared in their quest to evangelizing the poor and the most abandoned across the world.
Today, as we celebrate, once again, the same event; I sit and reflect on some of the writings of St Eugene found in the Rule book, and the one that comes across strongly to me is as follows: “What more sublime purpose than that of their Institute? Their founder is Jesus Christ, the very Son of God; their first fathers are the Apostles. They are called to be the Saviour’s co-workers, the co-redeemers of mankind…” From this text, we gather that, the founder of the Oblates, unequivocally calls his men to find inspiration, firstly in the person of Jesus Christ, and also in the example of the lives of the Apostles; as it is also through affiliation with these holy figures that they can go out to the ends of the earth to preach the Gospel and to be missionaries to the poor in their many faces.
As we pray for the Oblates today, we, the community of St Benedict’s think, in a special way, of those who work in difficult missions – those who are in parts of the world where there is persecution and political unrest. We pray that; when they are in pain and feel broken, God may heal them and restore their souls; that when they are overcome by fear, God may give them courage, and when they are in despair, may they experience in a profound way the presence of Christ in their lives.
To my brother Oblates, I use the words of the Holy Father when he addressed the members of the 36th General Chapter on October, 7th 2016: "Following the example of the Founder, may charity among you be your first rule of life, the premise of every apostolic action; and may zeal for the salvation of souls be a natural consequence of this fraternal charity.” Happy feast day to you all.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit help us to discern God’s Response
At the liturgical celebration of the closing of the Year of Mercy (20th November 2016), Pope Francis mentioned that even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy, which is the heart of Christ, always remains open for us. As a result, we continue, even after the closing of the doors, to reflect on the infinite mercy of God through Christ who mirrors His merciful face, and we never cease to show mercy to others the same way that God continues to show mercy to us.
Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, God continues to urge us to discern his response to our reflection “Lord, what do you want from me?” These gifts are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. The Catechism of the Catholic Church presents them as the ones that sustain the moral life of Christians, and as ones that are permanent dispositions which make a person docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Having received these gifts, we are brought closer to God who is the giver of the same gifts, and are moved by His mercy and love to communicate with Him through prayer and meditation, and as a result we open our hearts to receiving His grace so that, for His sake and that of our lives, we may be ready to do whatever He wants us to do. Through this grace, we will continue doing the corporal works of mercy, we will carefully observe the Ten Commandments as well as the six chief commandments of the church. We will also be able to identify areas where we can be charitable and be available to help those in need of what we can provide. In a nutshell - we will be able to put on Christ and radiate him in the world.
It therefore becomes clear that, through reflecting on and putting into practice all that which God wants of us through the guidance of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are sure that the whole community of St Benedict’s will enjoy fruits that come from the Holy Spirit, since, in its life, the community will see prosperity in its endeavours, and the presence of Christ will be evident.
I wish you all of the best in 2017, and hope that, as you begin to reflect on that which God wants from you, the gifts of the Holy Spirit will guide you so that, each day, you may look forward to making a difference in the lives of those around you.
Fr. Thabo Mothiba, OMI