12 April 2017
The Message of Easter
Someone I know likes to say “it gets darkest before dawn” when she gives advice to others. My own interpretation of this phrase is that - Just when hope seems lost, because of the darkness of our realities, dawn is just a few moments away to renew that hope. The phrase also brings to mind the words of Psalm 30:5b: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”. My reason for looking at these two profound phrases is informed by my reflection on the life of St Benedict’s College throughout the first term of 2017.
From the beginning of the year, all the departments of the whole school strove to commit to the tasks in their respective lines of duty. Most, if not all, were successful, and we continue to thank the Lord for this special grace. However, we also have to acknowledge that the effort towards achieving was met with difficulties and a great amount of challenge – sometimes to the point of wishing to give up. This reality has taught us that, indeed, difficulties are a sure part of our lives. This is the case not only at work or at school, but also in our personal lives. We are all too aware that we live in a world that is full of brokenness - broken lives, broken marriages, broken families, broken relationships, broken spirits, broken hearts, broken trust, broken plans, broken dreams and so forth - and all of this brokenness causes such incredible pain.
This is the dark before the dawn – the weeping that endures for a night. It is also the time when we do not give up, but remain in hope that, while we do our best, soon morning will come and joy will fill our hearts. This is intrinsically the message of Easter. The message that darkness will soon be replaced by light, illness by healing, brokenness by wholeness, tears of sorrow by those of joy. The message of Easter assures us that, while the gruesome event of the crucifixion and death of Jesus is a reality, an even greater certainty is that the joy that comes as a result of his resurrection will follow.
You may be facing a lot of challenges in your life at this time, and there may seem to be no hope for you. Your circumstances may seem negative and unfixable and there may seem to be no point anymore. I write this to ask you not to give up, for just as the resurrection comes after the crucifixion; Joy will come in the morning, and yes, dawn will soon take the place of those darkest moments.
I pray that the resurrection of Christ during Easter may be a moment of renewal for you, and that you may find joy in striving to be a better person.
Happy Easter from Fr Thabo Mothiba OMI
31 March 2017
An Extract from Matthew Kelly’s ‘Rediscover Catholicism’.
You're driving home from work next Monday after a long day. You turn on your radio and you hear a brief report about a small village in India where some people have suddenly died, strangely, of a flu that has never been seen before. It's not influenza, but four people are dead, so the Centers for Disease Control is sending some doctors to India to investigate.
You don't think too much about it — people die every day — but coming home from church the following Sunday you hear another report on the radio, only now they say it's not four people who have died, but thirty thousand, in the back hills of India. Whole villages have been wiped out and experts confirm this flu is a strain that has never been seen before.
By the time you get up Monday morning, it's the lead story. The disease is spreading. It's not just India that is affected. Now it has spread to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and northern Africa, but it still seems far away. Before you know it, you're hearing this story everywhere. The media have now coined it "the mystery flu." The President has announced that he and his family are praying for the victims and their families, and are hoping for the situation to be resolved quickly. But everyone is wondering how we are ever going to contain it.
That's when the President of France makes an announcement that shocks Europe: He is closing the French borders. No one can enter the country, and that's why that night you're watching a little bit of CNN before going to bed. Your jaw hits your chest when a weeping woman's words are translated into English from a French news program: There's a man lying in a hospital in Paris dying of the mystery flu. It has come to Europe.
Panic strikes. As best they can tell, after contracting the disease, you have it for a week before you even know it, then you have four days of unbelievable symptoms, and then you die.
The British close their borders, but it's too late. The disease breaks out in Southampton, Liverpool, and London, and on Tuesday morning the President of the United States makes the following announcement: "Due to a national security risk, all flights to and from the United States have been canceled. If your loved ones are overseas, I'm sorry. They cannot come home until we find a cure for this horrific disease."
Within four days, America is plunged into an unbelievable fear. People are wondering, What if it comes to this country? Preachers on television are saying it's the scourge of God. Then on Tuesday night you are at church for Bible study, when somebody runs in from the parking lot and yells, "Turn on a radio!" And while everyone listens to a small radio, the announcement is made: Two women are lying in a hospital in New York City dying of the mystery flu. It has come to America.
Within hours the disease envelops the country. People are working around the clock, trying to find an antidote, but nothing is working. The disease breaks out in California, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts. It's as though it's just sweeping in from the borders.
Then suddenly the news comes out: The code has been broken. A cure has been found. A vaccine can be made. But it's going to take the blood of somebody who hasn't been infected. So you and I are asked to do just one thing: Go to the nearest hospital and have our blood tested. When we hear the sirens go off in our neighborhood, we are to make our way quickly, quietly, and safely to the hospital.
Sure enough, by the time you and your family get to the hospital it's late Friday night. There are long lines of people and a constant rush of doctors and nurses taking blood and putting labels on it. Finally, it is your turn. You go first, then your spouse and children follow, and once the doctors have taken your blood they say to you, "Wait here in the parking lot for your name to be called." You stand around with your family and neighbors, scared, waiting, wondering. Wondering quietly to yourself, What on earth is going on here? Is this the end of the world? How did it ever come to this?
Nobody seems to have had their name called; the doctors just keep taking people's blood. But then suddenly a young man comes running out of the hospital, screaming. He's yelling a name and waving a clipboard. You don't hear him at first. "What's he saying?" someone asks. The young man screams the name again as he and a team of medical staff run in your direction, but again you cannot hear him. But then your son tugs on your jacket and says, "Daddy, that's me. That's my name they're calling." Before you know it, they have grabbed your boy. "Wait a minute. Hold on!" you say, running after them. "That's my son."
"It's okay," they reply. "We think he has the right blood type. We just need to check one more time to make sure he doesn't have the disease."
Five tense minutes later, out come the doctors and nurses, crying and hugging each another; some of them are even laughing. It's the first time you have seen anybody laugh in a week. An old doctor walks up to you and your spouse and says, "Thank you. Your son's blood is perfect. It's clean, it's pure, he doesn't have the disease, and we can use it to make the vaccine."
As the news begins to spread across the parking lot, people scream and pray and laugh and cry. You can hear the crowd erupting in the background as the gray-haired doctor pulls you and your spouse aside to say, "I need to talk to you. We didn't realize that the donor would be a minor and we . . . we need you to sign a consent form."
The doctor presents the form and you quickly begin to sign it, but then your eye catches something. The box for the number of pints of blood to be taken is empty.
"How many pints?" you ask. That is when the old doctor's smile fades, and he says, "We had no idea it would be a child. We weren't prepared for that."
You ask him again, "How many pints?" The old doctor looks away and says regretfully, "We are going to need it all!"
"But I don't understand. What do you mean you need it all? He's my only son!"
The doctor grabs you by the shoulders, pulls you close, looks you straight in the eyes, and says, "We are talking about the whole world here. Do you understand? The whole world. Please, sign the form. We need to hurry!"
"But can't you give him a transfusion?" you plead.
"If we had clean blood we would, but we don't. Please, will you sign the form?"
I have spent hundreds of hours reflecting on where we are in our journey as a Church, and one thing that has become startlingly clear is that we have forgotten our story.
What would you do?
In numb silence you sign the form because you know it's the only thing to do. Then the doctor says to you, "Would you like to have a moment with your son before we get started?"
Could you walk into that hospital room where your son sits on a table saying, "Daddy? Mommy? What's going on?" Could you tell your son you love him? And when the doctors and nurses come back in and say, "I'm sorry, we've got to get started now; people all over the world are dying," could you leave? Could you walk out while your son is crying out to you, "Mom? Dad? What's going on? Where are you going? Why are you leaving? Why have you abandoned me?"
The following week, they hold a ceremony to honor your son for his phenomenal contribution to humanity … but some people sleep through it, others don't even bother to come because they have better things to do, and some people come with a pretentious smile and pretend to care, while others sit around and say, "This is boring!" Wouldn't you want to stand up and say, "Excuse me! I'm not sure if you are aware of it or not, but the amazing life you have, my son died so that you could have that life. My son died so that you could live. He died for you. Does it mean nothing to you?"
Perhaps that is what God wants to say.
Father, seeing it from your eyes should break our hearts. Maybe now we can begin to comprehend the great love you have for us
As we continue on our Lenten Journey, we begin to feel a need to experience the love of God. It is a time to transform ourselves, become better people, rebuild our relationship with our loving Lord.
The season of Lent is the perfect opportunity for us to renew our relationship with God. We can only do this through reconciling ourselves with Him, and the best way to do this is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It doesn't matter where you have been, or what you have done, come back to the Father; He is waiting for you to be reunited with Him. This is central to our transformation, and remember that it is never too late.
Just in the story of the Prodigal Son; as the father in the story is filled with happiness at the sight of his son returning to him; so our Father in heaven rejoices when we return to Him.
What the world has to offer, is not enough. We need a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. No one is excluded from God’s love, or building a personal relationship with Him. God’s love shines on ALL of us. Just as it is the nature of the sun to shine on everyone and give heat, as it is the nature of God to love. God is love, and loves us all, regardless of who we are and where come from.
God does not ban us from heaven, we ban ourselves. We have the choice.
It is imperative to realise that our relationship with one another is very important- the vertical relationship with God and the horizontal relationship with our brothers/sisters.
God does not give up on us, and will never give up on us. Come be reconciled with the Him this Lent. Fix your broken relationships with others, and with God. Our amazing Lord will never turn us away, and we should not turn others away when they ask us for forgiveness. The ripple effect of forgiveness ripples into other areas of our lives, and creates peace and happiness. Let us teach our children about reconciliation and restoring our broken relationships. Do this by leading by example.
The purpose of Lent is strengthen ourselves spiritually, become more Christ, become better people through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We often focus on our body and minds, and neglect our souls. Yet, it’s our spirit that lives for an eternity. Teach your children to look after their spirit, by nurturing them through: prayer, reconciliation , fasting, almsgiving…
Invite God into your lives this Lent. Open yourselves to experience His love.
Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other… Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-14
03 March 2017
This month sees us entering the season of Lent. Lent is a Christian period of preparation before Easter. In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count.)
For many, Lent is a time when Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ, His suffering and His Sacrifice, His life, death, burial and resurrection. The Bible does not mention the custom of Lent, however the practice of repentance and mourning in sackcloth and ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19 and Matthew 11:21. The question we must ask ourselves during this season of Lent is: “What in my life is something I can give up to the Lord that may be hindering my spiritual growth as a Christian? What adjustments do I need to make to my life that will enhance my relationship with Christ and build my faith?”
The key is to focus on repenting of sin and consecrating oneself to God. Lent should not be a time of boasting of one’s sacrifice or trying to earn favour with God, God’s love for us could not be any greater than it is already. Lent is like springtime for our Church and souls. It gets us ready for the new life and happiness of Easter. It is a quiet and prayerful time when we try to become better followers of Jesus.
May God bless you richly during this Lenten season.
BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS
The Gospel reading for this Sunday is taken from the book of Matthew. These scripture readings are often quoted when referring to justice and peace. The broad themes in Matthew (5:43-48) have a paradoxical emphasis, focusing on revenge and love (Eye for Eye and Love for Enemies).
The literal interpretation of this scripture reading should be contextualised when in conversation with our sons. Interestingly each verse focuses on justice with a restorative approach. It is central to Jesus’ teaching and speaks directly to our theme for the year: “What do you want from me?”.
Lots of teachable moments can be created from this scripture as it provides excellent material to start a conversation with our boys about social justice and our contribution to make the St Benedict’s community a place where we treat each person with fairness and love: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
We know that it is not easy to love those who harm and shame us. So, Jesus advocates praying for enemies (5:44). Praying beforehand and asking God to help us to do His will can only be beneficial for us when discerning right action in life.
A PRAYER FOR PEACE MAKING
Jesus, rightful Advocate of peace,
Elegant Champion of reconciliation,
Your victories echo harmoniously.
You taught me the way towards peace,
My assurance of friendly oneness.
Teach me to carry the torch of peace,
That it may reside within my heart
And radiate in my surroundings.
Through the Grace of Your power,
Transform the world into a Heaven.
You are the only hope of mankind:
You are the most gracious Peace Maker!
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 practise 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
What do you want from me?
It is nearly 100 years ago that the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, appeared six times to three shepherd children near the town of Fatima in Portugal between May 13 and October 12 1917. In commemoration of this centennial, we have adopted as our annual theme, the question What do you want from me?
Whenever Our Lady appeared, one of the children, Lucia Santos, always asked her: ‘What do you want from me?’ Lucia clearly understood that she herself was responsible for receiving Our Lady’s requests and for taking any action that was called for. Her question echoes Samuel’s response to being called “Speak, Lord; your servant is listening”
The theme is designed to prompt each of us to display the same unconditional commitment and willingness with regard to the important vocation to which we have been called. By displaying an active attitude of prompt willingness, let us each make St Benedict’s a great place for staff, a happy place for parents and the absolute best place for boys .
The question is also a proposal that this year we commit to giving God and the silence in which we can hear Him speak, more time. We live in a society and in an age that is so noisy and cluttered with information. The greatest irony of our technological advancement is that although more and more machines are able to do the work for us, we are increasingly using them to consume our time as we become busier and busier.
Let us use this year to display a generous attitude of being open to God’s will and - through the light of our example - act as lanterns illuminating the way for others.
Awaiting the Messiah
There is great anticipation amongst the boys as we lead up to the end of term. A yearlong wait for the Christmas Holidays!
Waiting calls for patience. A virtue that eludes most of us. Regrettably, waiting also takes away the focus on the now. So the events, whilst waiting, becomes a blur as we focus on the end goal.
Advent, the season leading up the coming of the Messiah, calls for an anticipated waiting with a focus on each day. Paul is his message to the Romans describes God as: “…the God of perseverance and encouragement” (Romans 2:5). Waiting is associated with these character traits. The everyday engagement with others, the relationships we forge, the hardships we overcome and the encouragement we give and receive makes meaning of the waiting period.
Awaiting the Messiah brings hope, an optimistic sense or feeling that events will turn out well. Anticipated hope is the knowing that by doing good, pulling through and motivating ourselves we will experience the joy and peace of the Season.
Let us make time during this Advent to talk about the period of waiting and give thought to the many ways in which we can make the wait more meaningful for our sons. The waiting should be as much fun as the celebration. Continue to give hope and share in the love of Christ during this season of Advent.
I wish you all a blessed Advent season and fun filled holiday. May the Grace of the Christmas Season surround you, may you have peace and joy, knowing that you are making a positive impact in the lives of many.
Lord, fill our hearts with your love, and as you revealed to us by an angel the coming of your Son as man, so lead us through his suffering and death to the glory of his resurrection, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Dr DO Oerson
The season of Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical year and is the four week period immediately before Christmas. The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus which means coming. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. It is a season of joyful expectation and preparation. The four weeks are marked by the candles of the Advent wreath symbolizing Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. The circle of the wreath reminds us that God is eternal, with no beginning and no end. The evergreen branches or leaves mean something, too. They stand for our hope that one day we will live with God forever.
The flames of the four candles remind us that Jesus is the light of the world. They are like the light of Jesus showing us the way to live. As we light a new candle each week, we see that the celebration of Jesus’ birth is getting closer. The liturgical colour for this season is purple, usually a deep purple as opposed to the lighter, red violet shade of purple associated with Lent.
The most important thing we should do in Advent is to get our hearts ready for the coming of the Lord. By our actions, thoughts and prayers, we show God we are thankful that His Son came to bring love and light into our world not only at Christmas but all year long.
Faith, Hope and Love
“Love and you will avoid waste, you will develop class and taste.”- Unknown
In my previous reflection, I spoke about Grace, and how Grace is a gift from God, which is freely given, and allows us to live righteous lives.
As human beings we are all given this precious gift from God. Grace transforms the way we relate and interact with others into theological (God-directed) virtues of faith hope and love-charity.
I would like to focus on the virtue of charity-love. You are loved and you are lovable!
In this life. Your love for God is bound with your love for others, and love of the self. Jesus showed us His unconditional, everlasting love when He died on the cross for our salvation. As people of Christ, we need to love God first before anything else in this world. We then need to love ourselves, before we are capable of loving others.
There is a major difference between like and love. We should become conscious of this difference, and aware that we are taught to love, and to be loved. Jesus tells us to love God with our entire beings, and to love each other, as we would love ourselves.
I know that it is difficult to love others, especially in times of hurt and anger, but it is important that we try, and that we keep on trying.
We need to teach our boys about love, to show love, to give love. To put God first, and to love and look after the self as well as each other. Love is the solution to many problems, and prevents us from purposely hurting one another. It is the key to peace.
To quote St. John “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love”-1 John 4: 7-8.
Let us pray: Lord teach me to love and care for others, the way that you love and care for me. Help me to become more Christ-like, in my words, actions, and thoughts. Amen
The Present Moment
Venerable Futon Sheen once said,
“The remedy for the ills that come to us from thinking about time is what might be called the sanctification of the moment — or the Now. Our Lord laid down the rule for us in these words: “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Mt 6:34). This means that each day has its own trials; we are not to borrow troubles from tomorrow, because that day too will have its cross. We are to leave the past to divine mercy and to trust the future, whatever its trials, to God’s loving providence.”
The only time we have to love God is the present moment. The devil wants us to spend all our time reliving past situations or worrying about the future. When we fall into this trap we are not capable of showing love to God by loving the people who are with us in the now.
When I was twelve I played soccer for the Wits U12C team. We had a good run in the plate that year and ended up making it to the final where we faced the U12B team from the same club. The final was played at Rand Stadium and we were highly motivated on the day to cause what we thought would be a major upset. We started well and the game was pretty evenly matched for the first ten minutes. Our right wing managed to beat his defender and made his way towards the corner. Their defense drifted and there was no-one marking the far post. I ran towards the gap and called for the ball. The cross came in, it was inch perfect. I leapt into the air to header the ball into the open goal but for some inexplicable reason stopped about a centimeter short of the ball, which ended up going out for a throw in. It was an open goal, we could have been 1-0 up but instead lost the momentum and ending up losing 2-0. I don’t know why I stopped, I have thought about all the possibilities…the post was too close and I thought I would hit it, the moment was too big and I choked. I suppose I will never know, but what I do know is that I have spent a lot of time playing it over and over in my head. Even as I am writing this reflection I remember it as if it was yesterday. If I had to add up all of the time I have spent thinking of that one second of my life, 27 years ago, I am sure it would add up to weeks, if not months and this is just one example of one event that I have let rob me of living in the present moment. How much more time have a wasted? How many people have I failed to love? How many times have I not allowed my loving Father in heaven to communicate with me? Thankfully our God is relentless and will never give up.
I wonder what would have happened if our Lady had been too distracted by her own thoughts to hear the angel Gabriel’s message. Thankfully she always lived in the present. Let us look to her as our model and ask her to ask her son to help us to live in the now.
I would like to end with this prayer from St Faustina
O My God,
When I look into the future, I am frightened,
But why plunge into the future?
Only the present moment is precious to me,
As the future may never enter my soul at all.
It is no longer in my power to change, correct or add to the past;
For neither sages nor prophets could do that.
And so what the past has embraced I must entrust to God.
O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire.
I desire to use you as best I can.
And although I am weak and small,
You grant me the grace of Your omnipotence.
And so, trusting in Your mercy,
I walk through life like a little child,
Offering You each day this heart
Burning with love for Your greater Glory.
— From her Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, Notebook 1 (1)
Mercy and Salvation
On Tuesday we celebrated the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed at a special Mass in the Chapel. This occasion marked the blessing of the plaques in the garden of remembrance. Fr Thabo in his homily reminded us that we receive salvation through grace when we receive the sacrament of reconciliation. And because we are saved through forgiveness, we have eternal life in Christ.
During this month we are reminded that our faithful departed are in constant need of our prayers. When thinking of those who have gone before us we are filled with feelings of sorrow, sadness and hope. We are hopeful because we know that our departed have received salvation through Jesus’ victory over death. Scripture is clear that salvation is the gracious, undeserved gift of God. Paul writes to the Ephesians reminding them that for it is by grace that they have been saved, through faith—and this is not from themselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).
We are saved by faith and that same faith allows us to be hopeful that our departed family and friends receive salvation and mercy from God. In our prayer we ask that our faithful departed may find eternal rest through the mercy of God.
“When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25
Don’t ask for something you aren’t willing to give. It is pointless to ask God to forgive your sins if you are not willing to forgive someone who has wronged you. No one goes through life without touching other lives. You have to work with others and usually live around others.
Once in a while, either on purpose or accidently, someone may wrong you. You can grab that wrong and hold on to it. You can nurse it until it grows to a big wrong in your mind, but if you are going to do that, how could you dare to ask God to forgive your sins? Be willing to show the same kind of grace to others that you want God to show you.
Always pray to have eyes that see the best in people,
A heart that forgives the worst,
A mind that forgets the bad,
And a soul that never loses faith in God.
“Grace is the help God gives us to respond to our vocation…” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2021
We need God’s Grace to help us do the right thing, take the right road, make the right choices, in life. It helps us live a new life in Christ and allows us to “share in the divine nature” (2Peter 1:4) of God, as His child.
Grace is the tool we need to live a life that is pleasing to God, it is His free gift of Himself to us. How blessed we are to have such a loving and merciful Father, who provides us with the tools we need to get closer to Him, and to eventually join Him in Heaven.
Grace helps us to believe in God (Faith), and it allows for us to commit ourselves to Him in our entirety. This Grace also gives us hope in our Father, and teaches us to love Him, ourselves and others. It is the love and mercy given to us by God, not because we deserve it, but because He wants us to have it.
We should pray for us and our children to be filled with God’s Grace, especially during this last term of the year.
Let us Pray
Make our minds and our hearts attentive to the words You speak to us. Give us the grace to deal with every season of life, to learn from it, to thrive in it, and to accept it. Help us learn to trust You and to rest in the knowledge of Your perfect peace and joy. Amen
A JOY THAT THE WORLD CANNOT GIVE
Imagine you won a prize from Discovery Medical Aid. They will pay R 250 000 for your heart surgery. Unless you need heart surgery that would be a meaningless prize and would be no prize at all. Jesus made this point to the Pharisees of his day. He said it is not the healthy that need the doctor but the sick. He had come to call the sinners and not the righteous. If we do not recognise our sinfulness and our need for a saviour then He has not come for us. We reject the medicine He offers, which is His Holy Spirit, because we do not see our need for it.
For those of us who do acknowledge our sinfulness and we do this every day in the words of the Confiteor if we say this prayer from our heart, we will receive from Jesus, the Divine Physician, a new heart and he will place a new spirit in us. St Peter wrote of such people when he said to the early Christians: “You did not see him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him, you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described…” Is this our experience? If not, then we have to ask why not? What is missing? Have we truly repented from the heart? Have we truly turned towards Jesus, letting go of our earthly idols? For some, this total conversion to Jesus happens suddenly. For most of us it is a process. We need to make some effort. A bare minimum would entail daily visits to our divine physician. Do we spend time with Jesus in quiet prayer in the chapel, allowing Him to do His work in His preferred surgery? As we do every Friday, today we will have adoration in the school chapel. I wonder how many will come.
A famous retreat master to nuns and monks across the US, named Fr Thomas Dubay, told the story of his surprising experience with a group of prisoners. The chaplain of the prison contacted him and asked him to run a retreat with these prisoners because they had become holy men in prison. Fr Dubay was surprised that this priest had used the word holy to describe them as he was not the type to use it lightly and so agreed to preach the retreat. He was later to describe this experience as utterly amazing and what was especially moving for him was the tremendous joy that these prisoners exuded during the course of his talks and that they hungered for more when it came to an end. These men, great sinners, had come to know their sins, repented, and allowed Jesus to give them that new heart and new spirit. They had come to experience that joy so glorious that it cannot be described…
How do we come to experience this joy? We need to listen to that deepest part of our selves. We need to echo the words of the psalmist in prayer to God: “Of you my heart has spoken: Seek His face”. It is there in the depths of the heart that we know our need for Him, for His loving healing touch which binds up the wounds caused by sin and selfishness. We need to tune in to this need in silence and say to Our Lord with the psalmist again: O God, you are my God, for you I long, for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you like a dry weary land without water… For your love is better than life”.
When we know this to be true and we allow Jesus in then we will be able to say with King David: There is one thing I ask of the Lord, for this I long, to live in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life, to savour the sweetness of the Lord… Truly it is in times of prayer, times of adoration, that we will begin to savour the sweetness of the Lord and learn that His love is indeed better than life. It is in spending time with Him that we will receive our spiritual heart transplant that will give us that “Joy so glorious that it cannot be described…”
WHAT WILL YOUR ANSWER BE?
The concept of our God as a God that was not created but rather the source of all creation often seems foreign to our human understanding. The beginning of the thought causes our intellect to go into a semi-panic and so our autopilot, or imagination kicks in, in a feeble attempt at trying and fill in the gaping holes we have in our understanding of just how infinite and great our God is.
In the book of Job, God asks Job things like: “Have you entered into the sources of the sea” or “have the gates of death been shown to you” or, even better, “have you comprehended the breadth of the earth”. The best for me is when the Lord asks him this “Tell me Job, if you know all: which is the way to the dwelling place of light, and where is the abode of darkness?”
If God presented me with most of these questions today, He would have me proudly stating that we, as a race, have explored great depths of the oceans, even if not all of it, and have flown to and seen every continent: the world from one side to the other, and yet still the last question remains: Which is the way to eternal life? Job acts so perfectly humble; he literally wants to cover his mouth with his hands at the thought that we could fathom Him completely.
God is then asking us:
Do you think you know more than me?
Do you even think about me and contemplate my greatness?
Do you know the way to heaven, and are you taking it?
The psalmist tells us that although we can never comprehend God fully. He knows us perfectly and completely. He knew who each of us was before the beginning of creation. He writes; “for you knit me in my mother’s womb“, and, “for you know when I sit and when I stand”. In every moment; He is there and He is with us.
God is also asking us:
Do you know that I see everything you do?
Do you believe I made you perfectly from the beginning?
Are you becoming what I made you to be?
In history, we now have God with us, as Jesus Christ. He came and showed us His loving mercy and many mighty works and miracles. He gave us more than enough to show that He truly is a mighty God.
He also explained, in MANY different ways, how we should use the gifts given to us as well as the talents we have all been blessed with abundantly.
And yet sometimes we forget, as Jesus points out so directly in the Gospel, that we have a God who continues to ask all the questions He did to Job and surrounding the psalm; and who will require an answer at the end of our lives. This answer must then be given not to men; but to our Creator.
God is further asking us:
Are you listening to those that I send you?
Do you care about using what I have given you?
And one day, when you meet your loving Saviour and He asks you all these questions face-to-face; what will your answer be?
SPRING A TIME OF RENEWAL
Spring is an ideal time to renew our spiritual connection with God and to reflect on God’s promise to always be there for us with grace and loving support. We should therefore ask ourselves the following questions. How often have I been there for God? Have I allowed myself enough time to daily nourish my spiritual connection with Him? How often have I remembered to give thanks for life, from the simplest gift of being able to breathe easily in each moment, to the more complex of completing a diversity of tasks that need to be accomplished each day? Have I consistently shared generously with an open heart, or have I held back from fear or doubt? Have I extended compassion at all times, no matter what behaviour people have exhibited?
Let our reflections this spring be to create a stronger determination to sow seeds, or intentions to stay on course joyously and freely, sharing the gift God has granted us in this life. Mother Teresa’s words: “Create something beautiful for God”. So in this mystery of the season’s rebirth begin anew to create something beautiful for God by planning focus and attention on the purity of God’s love and wisdom, by participating more fully in life with courage to live your faith even more deeply in every interaction with another person.
Let us take stock of our lives and commit to actively reigniting our faith. Let us cut the dead limbs and shake off the dormancy of winter, Allow spring to take hold of our spiritual lives. Mary is our role model. All we have to do is willingly say yes, step aside and let God handle the details.
Love your neighbour as yourself
God made us all so unique, and yet we were all made in His image. Therefore we are all different, but yet the same. Our Father, who made us so beautifully unique; wants us to love each whole heartedly, regardless of differences.
As we approach Heritage Day, I am reminded about all the multiple diverse and dynamic cultures living in our country. We often focus on the differences in our multicultural society; and we see these differences as a negative aspect, when in actual fact it is not. Difference is great! Difference is beautiful and it is through difference that we find ourselves, and our purpose. It is by seeing what/, who we are not, that we discover who/what we are. How incredibly boring would the world be if everyone were the same? It is important to embrace the similarities we have with others, but it’s more useful to tolerate, accept and embrace our uniqueness.
We need to teach our children about being tolerant, loving and accepting of all those who are different from ourselves, regardless of culture, gender, race, religion, linguistic, and economic backgrounds. Jesus teaches us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. He does not say: love those who we find comfortable loving or love only those who love us in return. Instead He encourages us to love EVERYONE. This is a huge challenge to us! How do we learn to love everyone, even those who are drastically different to us? This is where we turn to the most knowledgeable and wise book in the world, the Bible. The Bible is a manual that teaches us about love and compassion. Currently we live in such an aggressive world where tolerance is scarce, thus this best weapon we can arm ourselves during these hard times is the Bible. The Bible will help us and guide us on our journey. It motivates us to be the best we can be, and to love and to treat one another with respect and kindness.
I believe that we need to live by the golden rule: treat others the way we wish to be treated, and the best teacher to teach us how to do this is Jesus.
If you Love Me
In John 14 : 15 Jesus says,
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” And again in verse 23,
“Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
I have been told that my religion is based too much on commands and not enough on love, like Jesus intended it. I think there may be some truth in that. The reason that I sometimes hold on tightly to the rules is not because I have perfected them, or find them easy to follow but almost the exact opposite. For most of my life I thought I knew better. I thought if something felt good, it must be right. I let pleasure and desire be my moral compass.
My experience of these things, worldly pleasures, is that after a while the pleasure disappears but we tend to keep doing them anyway like an addiction. Living in this way, where I knew best and God knew little, or nothing, I made a mess of things. I ended up hurting the people that mattered most to me in my life, and hurting myself which was probably the only person I really cared about at the time. And in my misery I called on the Lord, who I had known but rejected, and He was there, merciful, loving, compassionate but yet still firm. His voice seemed to admonish me in the gentlest way, ‘Do you see now why I didn’t want you to do those things. It wasn’t because I wanted to ruin your fun, it was because I love you and wanted to spare you this pain. I love you, I am here for you, follow me.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments”.
I believe that Jesus’ way is the best way. He wants us to follow His commands not only because it will lead to eternal joy with Him in heaven but also because it will bring the most joy and peace in this world. He wants what is best for us. I now choose to treat His way as the right way. I am probably weaker willed than most people and I still do the wrong thing more often than I would like to admit but He never asked me to be perfect. He only asks that every time I fall I acknowledge my fault, say sorry to Him and anyone I may have hurt, and ask Him to help me to be better in the future.
Mary shows how much she loves God by always committing her yes to Him. Let us ask her to intercede for us so that we may be able to love Jesus more and more.
BE COURAGEOUS ENOUGH TO TAKE RISKS DURING THIS YEAR OF MERCY
The Gospel reading this Sunday speaks of God’s mercy and compassion. Luke’s account of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son brings a warm feeling to my heart when describing the reunion between father and son: “So he left the place and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him.”- Luke 15:20.
Many of us can identify with the son. Leaving the squalor in which he lived and going back to his father’s house must have been a very difficult decision for the young man. He had to humble himself after the bravado in which he bid his father farewell. Yet he took the risk! His return was met with pity and a warm embrace from a father whose love remained unconditional.
We are being called to be courageous and take risks during this Year of Mercy. Pope Francis expressed this in his homily on World Youth Day (KRAKOW, July 2016) when he warned the young people to guard against the urge to allow life's obstacles get in their way of encountering the true joy and life that the Gospel professes.
Regrets are part of life and repentance is part of living. We cannot allow regrets to become an obstacle that prevent us from living life to the fullest by responding to God’s call for goodness, mercy and compassion. It is a risk worth taking.
ACT OF CONTRITION
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance,
to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In his name, my God, have mercy.
Dr DO Oerson
GLORY AND MERCY
God’s mercy is for everyone. And His mercy is expressed in many different ways in our lives. We are surrounded by people from all walks of life as we engage with boys, parents and staff on various platforms. Being available to others contributes to their wellbeing. Matthew emphases’ this in Chapter 5:16 by reminding us to shine our light before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.
Our stories create a pattern of knowing and accepting the value and importance of living a meaningful life. Living meaningfully brings glory to God. Glory is the light that shines and gives hope to others as they watch us going about our day chores in a confident and zealous way. The Psalmist sings God’s praises in Psalm 138:5 when he exclaims: “Great is the glory of the Lord.” We are therefore implored to share our stories in such a way that it expresses our recognition of God’s glory and presence in our lives. Our reaction to our circumstances should be driven by the understanding that God is a merciful God and his mercy endures forever. David speaks about this mercy in Psalm 103:1-22 when he says: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.” Knowing that we receive mercy even though we have not asked for it, urges us to show mercy in return. Glory is expressed in thankfulness for who we are and what we have achieved through God’s mercy.
Merciful God, you opened the doors of eternal salvation to us because of your unceasing mercy. Grant us compassionate hearts that we can be loving and forgiving to others. Help those who have wandered from you to know that they will be welcomed back with joy.
THE PRIVILEGE OF PRAYER
A life of frustration and struggle, a life without peace, is the result of trying to do something about something you cannot do anything about. Once we realize we are struggling with something and feel upset, we need to start praying and immediately turn the situation over to God.
Sometimes people make prayer dry and difficult, sometimes our religious mindsets and systems present prayer in such a way that it seems out of reach for many of us. God desires our prayer lives to be natural and enjoyable. He wants our prayers to be honest and heartfelt, and He wants our communication with Him unencumbered by rules, regulations, legalism and obligation. He intends for prayer to be an integral part of our everyday lives, the easiest thing we do each day.
Prayer is the greatest privilege of our lives. It’s not something we have to do, it’s something we get to do. Prayer is the way we partner with God to see His plans and purposes come to pass in our lives and the lives of those we love. It is the means by which we human beings on earth can actually enter into the awesome presence of God. It will allow us to share our hearts with Him, to listen for His voice, and to know how to discover and enjoy all the great things He has for us.
Thank you Lord for the privilege of prayer.
When Jesus taught the disciples how to pray in the Gospel of Matthew and Luke 11:1-13, He refers to God as Father. This term Father translates to Abbá in Aramaic. Abbá is an affectionate term that children use for their parents, it’s a term of endearment and is the heart of this text.
By using the word Father, Jesus illustrates for us that intimacy and trust are the doorway of prayer, and when we pray we need to come before our God as His children. Jesus also stresses the point of how a parent would go out of their way for their children, providing for them everything they need to live, feel loved and be protected. “And if your child asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.” Jesus emphasizes that just as a parent loves his/her child, God loves us even more. And just as a parent will provide for his/her child, God will provide so much more for us.
Parents are a child’s first source of love and information, it is thus the parent’s responsibility to be the child’s moral compass, and direct their child in the right direction. Parents need to teach their children about God and encourage them to build meaningful and everlasting relationships with our Lord.
Remember to trust in God, and teach your children to trust in God. For He is our Father and He loves us unconditionally and wants the best for us. Turn to Him in times of trouble, but also in times of joy. Just like you want your child to come to you in any situation, God wants us to come to Him about everything. The question is, will you?
Let us pray: Our Father….
AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Asked Cain. He had just murdered his brother Abel and God had asked him where his brother was. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
I have heard it said in and out of class that our wealth is ours and we have no need to share it. “It’s my money and I will spend it on myself because I have earned it.”, “The poor are just lazy anyway, they should go find a job”. Modern language for: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Jesus told a parable about one such man. He was wealthy, well dressed and feasted sumptuously. There was a desperately poor man at his gate, named Lazarus. He used to long for the scraps that fell from table. He was covered in sores which the dogs used to come and lick. The plight of Lazarus was ignored while the rich man went about his business. He might have thought to himself, “Am I my brother’s keeper? He should look after himself or his family should. Not my responsibility. I can’t feed everyone so why should I feed him? I have earned what I have and I don’t need to share it with anyone, least of all this lazy guy.”
We might think this hard to believe but how easily we are hardened against the sufferings of others. The first person Mother Theresa of Calcutta took from the streets was a woman who was lying in the gutter being eaten by rats. The hospital she took her to didn’t want her there but after Theresa insisted they accepted her reluctantly.
To go on with the Gospel parable, both died. Lazarus went to heaven and the rich man went to hell. What did the rich man do that was so wrong? Abraham explained to the rich man that he had received so much during life and Lazarus received only suffering. Now he would suffer while Lazarus would rejoice.
The fact is that the rich man had received a great deal but he attributed it to his own efforts. It is inaccurate to attribute our success all to ourselves. Firstly, we receive our life. We inherit our genes, which determine so much of our natural talent. We do not choose the family we are born into. It is our parents and immediate community that will teach us our values, which includes that of work ethic, morals, ways of thinking, problem solving skills and successful ways of viewing the world. It determines the type of education we will receive, private or government, university or not. Our social circles influence our relationship building skills and the types of people we will network with, which might have a serious impact on our future careers.
Secondly, every human being is dependent on others for survival and at some point in our family history we have had the good fortune of being provided for by someone else, even if we have to back to our forefathers. Perhaps some teacher who decided to teach at an orphanage, or some employer who paid for his employees son’s education. Or a church run charity that provided for starving people. St Benedict’s itself was founded by a bunch of priests who had no interests other than to provide a solid Catholic education to the people of Bedfordview.
Thirdly, even at this very moment we are dependent on many others for our continued survival. “No man is an island” and we are continuously receiving so much, from the food we eat to the pat on the back our volunteer coach gives us after we have messed up and we need a little encouragement to continue on the road to success.
This does in no way mean that when we achieve well we should not celebrate. It does not mean that our efforts to succeed are not meaningful. Quite the contrary. Jesus commands us to use our talents well. He will reward those who use them well and develop them. There is a great merit in it and we must congratulate those who use well what they have received. But it is just as important that we keep our feet on the ground, that we acknowledge the truth that we have used well what has been given us and we need to give to those who have not received as much.
It is at this time that many of you will be starting to hurry to finish your community service hours. Use this time well. It is a strange thing that the poor and suffering actually give us a great deal that we don’t even realise. They provide us with the opportunity to become more human. We become more sensitive to the needs and experiences of others. In this way we receive more than we give when we meet these people with a warm and generous heart. Jesus even went to far as to say that when we do works of mercy we actually do them to Him. Based on the scene of judgment day described by Jesus, Mother Theresa said that the poor are hope of our salvation because it is in them that we meet Jesus in a most distressing disguise.
On another occasion Jesus told the parable of a wealthy landowner who had reaped a bumper crop that year. He decided to build a bigger barn in order to store up all the extra grain. He was rich and what was left for him to do but to “eat, drink and be merry”. Our Lord went on to call him a fool because he didn’t know that that very night he would be facing God empty-handed, leaving his worldly wealth to others. This is similar to Jesus’ words: What does it prophet a man to gain the whole world but suffer the loss of his soul?
Am I my brother’s keeper? YES you are!
Matthew Van Craeynest
GRACE AND MERCY
The English word grace comes from the Greek word charis meaning gift. We are all recipients of this gift through our baptism. This gift is called sanctifying grace. Scott Hahan in his book, LORD HAVE MERCY describes this gift as ‘habitual’, a steady state through which we are able to live with God and act by His love. He notes that we are free to accept this gift or reject it, by sin. We know that sin is thoughts, words and deeds that offend God. Allowing ourselves to grow in God is our way of allowing God to grow in us by the grace we receive from Him. This a choice we make and through this choice we are encouraged to live a life that is pleasing to Him.
Grace allow us to show mercy. This gift allows us to see the world and experience our neighbour through God’s eyes. Matthew 25:44 reminds us that by showing mercy to our neighbour we are expressing God’s grace in us. We ask the question: “Lord when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you?” In answering this question, God reminds us that whatever we do to the least of our brothers we do unto him. And by helping the indigent members of our community by feeding them, clothing them, visiting them and comforting them, we are truly practicing the corporal works of mercy. We are sharing the gift of grace by reminding our neighbours that we are one in Christ. We are therefore called to and reminded that grace and mercy are gifts that we are to share during the Year of Mercy and always.
PRAYER FOR GRACE
Lord, I know you are merciful. I've been taught that you provide grace and mercy in spite of my behaviour and in spite of my sins. You are a good God that comes to those that need You, no matter what. And Lord, I need you now in my life more than ever. I know that I'm not perfect. I know that my sins are not hidden from you. I know that, at times, I sin knowing it's a sin. I'm human, Lord, and while that's no excuse, I know you love me despite my human nature.
Lord, I need you today to provide for me. I need your grace in my life to provide strength, because I am weak. Please, Lord, I ask of you to come into my life and offer your grace. I am open to it and ready to accept it. Allow my heart to always be focused on You and make my desire to live for You.
Lord, I know from the scripture that your grace is bestowed no matter what, so I just ask for it today. I may not always be perfect, but I strive to be better. Lord, help me be better. In your name, Amen.
Dr DO Oerson
JOHN THE BAPTIST
This Friday 24 June commemorates the birth of John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a fascinating man. He ate locusts and honey in the desert. Crowds came to him, but he constantly told them that he was nothing, that the coming Messiah was everything. In the end, his life was cut short because he criticized a king for sinning. He was an unusual character for sure, but incredibly, Jesus Christ, called him the greatest of men. (Matthew 11:11)
There are many reasons the story of John the Baptist was recorded in the Bible. It still speaks to us 2000 years later. His life story and his messages point us to Jesus Christ, show God’s miraculous power and teach the importance of repentance from sin and baptism.
John the Baptist’s story also shows us an amazing example of humility. Throughout his life and ministry, John always directed people to Jesus. When talking about Jesus, he said, “He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.” (Matthew 3:11) The job of carrying sandals was the job of the lowliest slave. John didn’t deem himself worthy of even this lowest of jobs in serving Christ.
To John, everything was about the Messiah whom he had been commissioned to prepare for. John saw his own needs and status in life as unimportant. He was not jealous about the crowd going to see Jesus. Instead, he humbly said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
The work of John the Baptist also reminds us that God has a detailed plan that He is carrying out. Though we, like John the Baptist may not understand everything about the plan or our assigned part in it, we can know that God has a plan for us. Herod might have killed John physically, but John will be a king and priest reigning on the earth in the Kingdom of God. (Revelation 5:10) We too, can have a part of that plan if we respond to God’s calling, repent and humbly obey God.
How does anger impact your everyday life? Is ‘anger’ synonymous with ‘frustration,’ ‘irritation,’ or maybe something else? How often do you feel plagued with anger? What causes that corrosive tension within your being? Perhaps you are driving home from work in rush hour and everyone seems to be in a hurry so they drive erratically and dangerously. Perhaps you come home from a long and stressful day at work and your kids attach themselves to you with their woes and problems. Perhaps you planned a great day full of wonderful activities and nothing worked out like it should have. Maybe something unexpected happened and now you have to cover for it, make-up for it, or pay for it.
There are so many small moments that can trigger anger that will settle into your being and without addressing each moment will continue growing until you are full and cannot hold it in any longer. You are so busy in your day that you do not have time to reflect on this rage and it literally corrodes your emotional and physical health so much so that your shoulders are weighed down with this invisible weight. That weight gets very heavy very fast and when we throw it at someone, it hurts them too.
Anger is something that plagues everyone but it does not have to control your day, your week, or your life. Without that personal reflection, anger will subside and it will continue to torment you, even if you do not want it to.
Being aware of what angers you is the most important and first step. You cannot battle an enemy that you do not recognize. When you know what it is that angers you, give it immediately to the Lord. Reconcile yourself first with God and ask Him to be with you as you deal with each angering situation. If driving in rush hour traffic turns you into a foul person who ends up storming into the house with rain clouds over your head, change your route to avoid the congestion, even if it takes longer. Find a calming, comedic, or inspiring podcast, e-book, or CD to listen to in the car to distract you from the drive.
When you walk into your home and your kids and spouse attach themselves to you with their worries and problems, know that they are so relieved, happy, and excited for you to be home. You are one of their favorite people, they crave your attention, desire your love, and hunger for your presence. They do not flock to you because they want to burden you. They flock to you because they love you so much.
When you plan a day full of wonderful and exciting activities, know that God is walking by your side and directing you in the path that He wants you to take. You miss the bus and you have to walk because God wants you to see more, hear more, and interact more with the people in your community. Plans are not ruined; better plans have just been introduced to you.
When unexpected and unnecessary challenges disrupt your day, God is with you, asking you to help Him in some way that you cannot understand. God is asking you to grow stronger, be more patient, listen more, and maybe slow down. God is teaching you through this moment, even if it is irritating.
When that raging river of anger breaks through your patience, understanding, compassion, and selflessness, do not forget to reach out to Christ first. He knows what is best and how to handle each stressful moment.
~ Megan Tobin
CATHOLIC SCHOOLS IN THE YEAR OF MERCY
This Sunday marks the start of the 2016 Catholic Schools’ Week. The theme for this year’s celebration is: God of Mercy, People of Mercy. This theme is derived from the Pope’s call for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Catholic schools have a rich history in South Africa, marked by the arrival of the early Missionaries in the 1800’s. The founders of our sister school, the Assumption Sisters, were the first to establish a Catholic school in the Eastern Cape, Grahamstown in 1849. Our founders, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate started their mission in Africa in 1852.
Missionary Catholic schools were the first to open their doors to all races as centres of hope and mercy with the aim at creating environments for healing and reconciliation. These schools become communities serving humanity.
At St Benedict’s we aim to strengthen the understanding of the role of Catholic schooling in our current context. Our ethos is aimed at cultivating a deeper appreciation for the role of Catholic schools as agents of change and places of hope and mercy. This is expressed through our support to families, boys and staff within the St Benedict’s community and outreach programs across all communities. Our attempt is to strengthen interpersonal relationships as an answer to the call for mercy. We witness our boys’ generous spirit of giving and their willingness to actively participate in being agents of change for the greater good.
We are encouraged to remain faithful to our commitment to uphold our distinctive Catholic character as outlined in the GUIDELINES FOR REFLECTION AND RENEWAL CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION: "The Catholic school pursues cultural goals and the natural development of youth to the same degree as any other school. What makes the Catholic school distinctive is its attempt to generate a community climate in the school that is permeated by the Gospel spirit of freedom and love. It tries to guide the adolescents in such a way that personality development goes hand in hand with the development of the "new creature" that each one has become through baptism. It tries to relate all of human culture to the good news of salvation so that the light of faith will illumine everything that the students will gradually come to learn about the world, about life, and about the human person" (Second Vatican Council, October 28, 1965)
Let us continue to celebrate and appreciate the gift of Catholic schooling and enjoy the festivities around Catholic Schools’ Week. Encourage your boys to wear their uniform with pride to church this Sunday.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God.
You give us time for growing and learning
and you give us the gift of Catholic education.
May we, with your servant, St Benedict, thank you for our school.
Amen Dr DO Oerson
THE FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI
This weekend sees the feast of Corpus Christi, Latin for the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, as it is called today. It is also known as the Feast of the Most Holy Body of Christ. It goes back to the 13th century but it celebrates something far older, the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the Last Supper. This feast celebrates the tradition and belief in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and His Real Presence in the Eucharist.
The feast is liturgically celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday or where the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is not a holy day of obligation, it is assigned to the Sunday after the most Holy Trinity as its proper day.
Thomas Aquinas considered the Eucharist to be the greatest of all the Sacraments. Thus the Church has consistently viewed the Eucharist as unique, even among the Sacraments. Corpus Christi is primarily celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church, but is also included in the calendar of some of the Anglican Churches,
Symbols that portray the event may include an image of a host (consecrated bread), a chalice to depict the Holy Eucharist, an altar and a ciborium, which is a chalice-like container used to store consecrated hosts for the Sacrament of the Eucharist or Holy Communion.
CO-WORKERS OF CHRIST THE SAVIOUR
Constitution number five, of the OMI Book of Life, refers to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate as a missionary Congregation whose principle service in the Church is to proclaim Christ and his Kingdom to the most abandoned. The Oblates preach the Gospel among people who have not yet received it and help them see their own values in its light. Where the Church is already established, their commitment is to those groups it touches least. The constitution further states that, wherever Oblates work, their mission is especially to those people whose condition cries out for salvation and for the hope which only Jesus Christ can fully bring. These are the poor with their many faces.
That which inspired St Eugene to form a congregation is clear, and part of it is highlighted above. He had great affection for the poor of his time, including the youth, and those who were in prison. Through this affection, and other forms of inspiration, Eugene established a missionary congregation, and sent men all over the world so that they could go and be co-workers of the Saviour who, according to him, is their founder.
These men went out to put into effect Eugene’s Charism. They left no stone unturned in reaching to the poor and the most abandoned. Today, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate are estimated to about 4000, and are found in about 68 countries around the world – still continuing the missionary work that was started by their founder.
While this mission seems vast and continental, it is also a mission of love and affection that is found in ordinary lives of ordinary people who attempt, day by day, to do good for the sake of God. While we find inspiration through the life and work of most Oblates, we are also called to be open to their charism and also to become co-workers of Christ.
We do not have to work in ministry or at a church to make a difference. We can bring Jesus into whatever workplace we find ourselves in. Through his way of life and mission, Jesus gave us an example in this regard, and St Eugene realized this example and contributed in a small way by being an example to his Oblates. We too come to share, through our talents, in this vineyard where we become co-workers of Christ, and assist his sons to establish God’s kingdom on earth.
To the Missionary Oblates of Marry Immaculate, we the community of St Benedict’s College wish you well as you celebrate the feast of your founder, St Eugene. We also thank you for touching our life as a school, and for continuing to journey with us since the day we were established. May the Lord bless you with more vocations so that more lives, and more institutions like ours, may be touched with your special and vibrant charism.
Fr Thabo Mothiba
How does the cross of Jesus show us His glory? In the cross, many things are revealed to us if we take a moment to consider.
In the cross, God reveals the breadth of his great love for sinners and the power of redemption which cancels the debt of sin and reverses the curse of our condemnation. We too, need to spend time thinking about how we judge those in our own lives. We are forgiven through His immense suffering and yet we are so quick to pass judgement. We should consider all the things Christ overlooked in our own lives and that He still freely chose to still die for us. We should always remember that we never know the struggle or suffering of another.
Jesus gave his Father the supreme honor and glory through his obedience and willingness to go to the cross. The greatest honor, trust, and love any person can give one's leader is through his obedience even to the point of sacrificing his own life. All of us would love to be respected and honoured enough that our friends and family would either listen to our guidance or, perhaps, even ask for our help in a time of struggle that they are going through. This is the basis of our human desire, to be loved, to matter, to show one other what it is that they are worth to us, and to be shown the same in return. To be a great leader is to desire the good for those around us and to be a person willing to die to self. Encouraging others in their own lives and assisting in drawing the talents and gifts from them.
In war the greatest honour belongs not to those who survive but to those who give the supreme sacrifice of their own lives for their fellow countrymen. These are the type of men and woman that we are called to become. To give our lives for our friends and family. To lay down all that we have and own, to pour it out until the moment we can close our eyes for the last time, and open them to see our Loving Saviour smiling back at us saying “you good and faithful servant”. There is no greater proof of God's love for each and every person on the face of the earth than the Cross of Jesus Christ. In the cross we see a new way to love — a love that is unconditional, sacrificial and generous beyond comprehension
Mr R Braum
MAY IS THE MONTH OF MARY
During the Year of Mercy we are reminded that Mary is the “Mother of Mercy”. Her merciful intersession is expressed in the prayer devoted to her: “Hail holy Queen, Mother of Mercy. Hail our life, our sweetness and our hope…”
The title "Mother of Mercy" has been first given to the Blessed Virgin by St. Abbot of Cluny and is found to be a fitting title because she brought forth for us Jesus Christ, the visible manifestation of the mercy of the invisible God, and the spiritual mother of the faithful, full of grace and mercy.
Pope Francis describes the Blessed Virgin Mary as a faithful woman, who stood at the foot of the cross, utterly heartbroken, yet faithful and strong. It thus most appropriate for us to remind ourselves of Mary’s merciful intersession during May as it is the month devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also significant that we celebrate our own mothers during this month.
Mary is a perfect example of resilience and total confidence in God’s eternal love. She saw her son revered and persecute. She never claimed ownership over Him or acted boastfully, for she knew that God has called her for a more important role. She is the servant of the Lord and He entrusted her with His most precious gift. This we are reminded of when we pray the Angelus: “Be it done unto me according to thy word”.
We ask Mary to help us to be faithful to God and to praise and thank him, for He is our strength.
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm: He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He has sent empty away. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy; As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.
Dr D Oerson
MESSAGE FROM OUR CHAPLAIN
LET US TAKE A MOMENT AND LOOK AT OUR HANDS
During holy week break I worked with a fellow Oblate Priest, Fr Jonathan Petersen, who is the parish priest of St John’s Catholic Church – North Riding. The theme he had chosen for this year’s Easter Triduum was THE HANDS. When I enquired the reason for this, he responded by holding my hand and saying that, these are holy hands, their touch brings comfort and healing.
I must say that I was really moved by this theme, especially after reflecting on the fact that the hands of Jesus were the ones that, healed the sick, performed wonders, and most importantly, blessed the bread and wine which were to become his body and blood. The same hands, were the ones which carried the wood of the cross, the hands which endured pain and suffering – and nailed on the same wood they carried. Out of love and mercy, the same hands continue to touch our lives even after the resurrection.
After rising from the dead, he appeared to the eleven, the women and some of his other followers, but they failed to believe because they were holding on to the pain that they felt as a result of the death of their good shepherd. However, he said to them, “take courage, it is I, do not be afraid” (Matt: 14:27)
These words are indeed communicated to many of our brothers and sisters as well. While they are holding on to the hurt caused by the harsh realities of our time, they are called in a special way, to place their trust in the risen Saviour so that they may find healing. We are also called to turn to him and find courage to go out and make a difference in the lives of these people who are too fatigued to make a difference themselves. We see them all the time; and they are those who are wounded and fearful, those bearing scars of pain and uncertainty, those who have given up, and even those who are too weary to give a smile. Let us heed the call of Jesus who says “as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you”. (Jn 20:21) and go out to touch these lives. And in return, we too will experience, a moment of conversion where we will also identify with Jesus who, after rising from the dead, continues to touch lives and bring healing
Pope Francis, when giving his homily on Sunday 3rd (Mercy Sunday), refers to the gospel of John, and mentions that Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book. (Jn20:30). The Gospel is the book of God’s mercy, to be read and reread, because everything that Jesus said and did is an expression of the Father’s mercy. Not everything, however, was written down; the gospel of mercy remains an open book, in which the signs of Christ’s disciples – concrete acts of love and the best witness to mercy – continue to be written.
As we reach the end of the term, let us take a moment and look at our hands, and reflect on all the good things, as well as the bad ones, they have done during the previous term. Let us then resolve to do good deeds and avoid actions that will inflict pain on to others. This way, our actions too, like the ones of the Disciples of Christ, will be write in this gospel of mercy.
I wish you all a blessed Easter. I also pray that we may enjoy good rest during this break so that we may gain enough energy to come back in the new term and continue to use our hands in writing the gospel of mercy.
Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy
What is the year of Mercy?
Seeing the great need for mercy and healing in the world, Pope Francis called for the year of Mercy – a special period, also known as a Holy Year or Jubilee Year for the Catholic Church. It is a time for the Church across the world to take approximately a year to focus on forgiveness and healing in a special way. Pope Francis has asked us as individuals and as a Church “to be a witness of mercy” by reflecting on and practising the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. (Pope Francis’ announcement of the year of Mercy). Beginning on December 8 2015, the Holy Year of Mercy will focus on studying and reflecting on mercy, receiving mercy and being merciful towards others. It will end on the feast of Christ the King, November 20, 2016. This year’s motto is “Merciful like the Father”.
As we take time during this holiday period to rest and reflect on our lives, may our actions authentically show God’s mercy and may we explore different ways of living out that mercy in our everyday activities.
Jesus is alive, and has set us free!
The resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, is a public testimony that the Father has accepted the debt, which Jesus, Himself, paid for us; by dying on the cross for our sins. Jesus rising from the dead means victory over death for us all. On Easter Sunday He has set us free! Free from death.
The tomb, in which Jesus was laid, can be seen as a prison. We often imprison ourselves with our fears. Fears of not being good enough, not being worthy, not strong or clever enough. However, fear is not from God! In actual fact, He does not want us to be afraid. The phrase “Fear not!”/“Do not be afraid!”/“Have courage!” (and those that are similar) appear 365 times in the Bible. In the Gospels alone it is repeated 21 times.
In the Gospels, Jesus encourages us not to be fearful, for He knew that it is fear that holds too many people away from God’s love. Fear prevents us from loving deeply, living peacefully and being true to ourselves. It also keeps us from giving freely. Try not be fearful, for fear breeds fear, and we do not want to breed fear among our children. Try to be courageous as Jesus encourages us to do, because you set an example for your children. You want your children to be courageous so that they are free to love deeply, live peacefully and give freely. Let us teach our children to have faith and trust in God. For without God, we are helpless. He will help us overcome our fears, and become the person He created us to be. Allow Jesus to set you free so that you are true to yourself, and live a free life. “My chains are broken! I have been set free! My Lord and God, has ransomed me!”
I conclude by ending off with a question that ought to be pondered about: What personal prisons have I built out of fear?
Let us pray: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
Ms. C. Sham
Get behind me Satan
“Get behind me Satan”. These are the words Jesus addressed to St Peter. “Get behind me Satan!” Imagine what it must have been like for Peter to hear these words from his beloved master, who was normally so compassionate and tender when speaking to him. What must have made it worse for Peter was that he meant well.
Jesus had just told his apostles that he was going to go to Jerusalem where he would be delivered to the authorities and be put to death. Peter reacted against this and said that this must not be allowed to happen.
Why would Jesus react so sharply against his friend who was only trying to prevent Him from suffering? “Get behind me Satan” Jesus gives the explanation Himself. “You are a stumbling block to me”. He went on to say that Peter was thinking as human beings think and not as God thinks.
We know that Satan himself had tempted Jesus before but here perhaps Jesus faces his greatest tempter, a well-meaning friend. For a violent temptation an abrupt response was necessary. “Get behind me Satan”. What was satanic about the temptation? We learn from this passage the essential operation of the devil: distract humanity from their mission with the promise of ease, comfort and pleasure. Why take the narrow, rocky way up a mountain when you can take the broad highway filled with fun and amusements? Does this mean that pleasure is evil? Certainly not, but when it takes priority in our lives, when it becomes an idol in place of the one true God, then it becomes an evil which must be abruptly rooted out of each our lives one by one.
Peter had not yet understood Jesus’ mission. So few understand it today. Peter was on-board with Christ the conqueror who he hoped would establish an earthly Kingdom of God, a land of prosperity and power. He was not ready for the reality.
Peter was more familiar with the story of the Exodus. God sends plagues upon the people of Egypt in order to force Pharaoh to liberate the Israelites. In the story, each of the plagues is a direct assault on each of the gods of the Egyptians. In sending these plagues God is slaying each of the Egyptian gods demonstrating His dominion over all as the one true God. This is a glorious victory for God.
Jesus also comes to conquer but He conquers in another way. Jesus conquers rejection by being rejected; humiliation by being humiliated; persecution by being persecuted; injustice by being unjustly treated; pain by the suffering worst form of torture known to the Romans, and death by dying. In the cross Jesus takes on Himself all that we fear most and redeems them because they become the source of our redemption. Through the cross of Jesus, the victim becomes the victor. The sufferings endured by His followers become their badges of honour. We can therefore joyfully embrace our cross, pick it up and carry it up the narrow path to Calvary because we know that that is not the end, that Our Lord rose on the Third day and we will follow Him into Glory beyond all telling.
As we approach the last week of Lent, may we seek to slay the gods of our lives, may we demolish the idols that enslave us and truly become the free sons of God Jesus calls us to be.
Merciful like the Father
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. These words, taken from the Book of Luke (Chapter 6:36) are echoed by Pope Francis when referring to the Mercy of the Father.
The Father’s Mercy is bountiful and pure and is indeed "unstrained". Shakespeare describes mercy in The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1 in a soliloquy by Portia very eloquently: “The quality of mercy is not strained: it drops on to the world as the gentle rain does – from heaven. It’s doubly blessed. It blesses both the giver and the receiver. It’s most powerful when granted by those who hold power over others. It’s more important to a monarch than his crown. His sceptre shows the level of his temporal power – the symbol of awe and majesty in which lies the source of the dread and fear the kings command. But mercy is above that sceptered power. It’s enthroned in the hearts of kings. It is an attribute of God himself. And earthly power most closely resembles God’s power when justice is guided by mercy. Therefore Jew, although justice is your aim, think about this: none of us would be saved if we depended on justice alone. We pray for mercy and, in seeking it ourselves, we learn to be merciful. I’ve spoken about this to soften the justice of your plea. If you insist on pure justice, however, then this serious Venetian court has no alternative other than to pronounce sentence against the merchant there.”
The image of "unstrained" mercy, gentle and doubly blessed, evokes vivid images of Jesus’ words on the cross found in Luke: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
We are called to open ourselves to God’s love and the flow of His Grace which will allow us to be open to his healing. James reminds us in Chapter 2:13 that mercy triumphs over judgment. We should therefore not judge ourselves and others too harshly and take the opportunity to reflect on our lives and become the loving unique people that God wants us to be during this Lenten season.
PRAYER OF POPE FRANCIS
All loving Father
You sent Jesus your son to show us Your Mercy
And to teach us how to forgive one another
Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us.
Help us to remember that we are all sinners.
Let this Year of Mercy be a pilgrimage,
A journey back to You
Make us ambassadors of mercy,
Sharing your forgiveness with everyone,
Especially those who feel
That they are beyond Your love.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord.
Dr DO Oerson
Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving: The Three Pillars of Lent
Each year during the liturgical season of Lent the Church asks us to pray, fast and give alms.
We know the importance of prayer in our daily lives, as individuals, as families and as a community. Prayer is especially important during Lent. The Lenten season is a time for reflection, evaluation and repentance. Lent calls us to a personal conversion and renewal to a committed life in Christ, so that we might not just celebrate Easter forty days later, but also feel the risen Christ alive within us and in the world. During Lent we set aside time for prayer that is revealing and reflective in nature.
Fasting and abstinence are not sacrifices for the sake of pain or vain discomfort. Sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice is not a Christian value. We are asked by the Catholic Church to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and not to eat meat on Fridays of Lent. Fasting and abstinence helps us to ask ourselves the question: “What sustains me and gives me life?” We will find the answer not in the steak or chocolate bar, but at the end of those forty days of Lent, in the resurrection of Jesus. We fast and abstain because when we do, we are reminded of who we are, followers of the risen Christ, who loved us so much that He gave His own life so that we might share in eternal life.
Every day we witness situations of injustice, violence and hatred. The Church calls us during Lent to be especially conscious of the needs of others and to act accordingly. Giving materially to one another is an act of Christian charity known as almsgiving.
Love your Neighbour
Over the past couple of weeks I have been pondering the question: Who is my neighbour? The answer came to me in the most unexpected way. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of a shopping centre, waiting anxiously in traffic to exit. After waiting for about 10 minutes in the scorching heat on this beautiful Saturday afternoon, I curiously decided to look at was causing the traffic jam. I was pleasantly surprised to see a young gentleman get out his car (which had been parked behind the car that caused all the commotion) and helped the elderly lady in the car with her parking ticket. She had obviously had a moment of confusion, and did not know what to do. Instead of the man being rude and impatient (which is how most of us would have acted in the situation) he showed compassion towards this woman and helped her with the problem that she was faced with. It then dawned on me at that moment, that this is what Jesus meant when He told us to ‘love another’, He wants us to show compassion, mercy, patience and kindness to all those that we meet, even in frustrating situations as the one I have just described. In the Gospel reading for Sunday- Luke 13:1-9 (28/02) Jesus is indeed meek and humble of heart, He is not carried away by anger, teaching us not to be carried away by anger. This reading is about a fig-tree that is withering away, because it’s not getting enough nutrients from the soil, and thus not bearing any fruit. Just like the fig-tree needs nutrients to survive, and bear fruit, we need love to survive and to ‘bear-fruit’. This love comes from God (in whom we are all rooted), and participating in the Celebrations of the Church and from one another. We need to practise compassion, kindness, mercy and patience towards others, and love them just as Jesus teaches us too, and loves us. God is merciful, however we can suffer the same fate as the unproductive fig-tree, if we don’t practise the spiritual acts of mercy in our lives. Let us teach our boys about these spiritual acts of mercy, and to emphasise to them that they should practise love, compassion, kindness, mercy and patience towards all their friends, families, peers, coaches, teachers, and to all those that they meet.
Let us pray: Lord let us love as Your Son Jesus loves. Amen.
‘Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.’ – Matthew 7:12
In this time of Lenten fasting I sometimes forget that the whole point of separating myself from the love of worldly things is to increase in the love of God and other people. I tend to focus on my own will power instead of allowing the Lord to work in me, to break my heart of stone and give me His heart to love with. In the daily readings last week the church reminds us about our fraternal duty.
‘Is this not the fast I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover him.’ – Isaiah 58: 6-9
This lent let us try and make our fasting fruitful. Let us try and share any savings from our sacrifice with our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate.
‘It is good to remember frequently that following Christ closely and growing in Christian life does not consist in thinking much, but in loving much.’ – St Theresa
WE BEGIN ANEW, EVERY MORNING!
Lent is the Season of the year where we reflect on our lives to determine whether we are still “on track”. Have we done and are we doing what is pleasing to God? Ash Wednesday marks the first day of our Lenten reflection on the relationship we share with God and our neighbour; we fast, pray and give alms to those less fortunate as part of the renewal of our commitment to God’s mission: Loving our neighbour and sharing His goodness and mercy. Sunday’s Gospel points to Jesus’ reply to the temptations meted out to Him, in the dessert, by the Devil. Knowing that he was filled by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1-13), Jesus denounced this with the knowledge that his trust is in God alone. His commitment to God is strengthened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit: fear, love, resilience, knowledge, understanding, counsel, and wisdom. We too are filled with these gifts and should draw on its power as we attempt to move away from sinful habits to virtuous ones. We begin anew, every morning!
Lord, it feels like we are embarking on a Lenten journey together, you and I.
Your word talks about the, "quiet remembrance of our need for redemption."
That feels like what I am looking for - or what you are looking for in me.
I want to remember how much I need you in my life and how much my life needs improvement.
I want to remember it clearly and in the background of my day today and all through Lent.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a time of penance, reflection and prayer. It takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday is one of the most important holy days in the liturgical calendar. It is mainly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too. Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the forehead. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. Alternatively, the priest may speak the words, “Repent and believe in the gospel”. The ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God. Everyone is invited to accept the ashes as a visible symbol of penance. The ashes for Ash Wednesday normally are made from blessed palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday. The ashes are sprinkled with Holy water and incensed before distribution. May your Ash Wednesday be a time of reflection and promise.
29 January 2016
The Year of Mercy
Mercy: to have compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within ones power to punish or harm. Mercy is a virtue that influences one’s will to have compassion for another individual. Similarly to charity (however very different) mercy allows for one to alleviate the misfortune of another individual. The Catholic Church encourages us to fulfil the basic needs of others, whether it is physically or spiritually. The Catholic Church differentiates between acts of Corporal Works of Mercy (which addresses the material/physical needs of an individual) and Spiritual Works of Mercy (which addresses the spiritual needs of an individual). These works of mercy are important practises which Christians perform. For the Catholic Church it is an act of penance and charity. The Seven Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy illustrate the ways to show charity towards others by fulfilling their physical and/or spiritual needs.
Corporal Works of Mercy
• To feed the hungry.
• To give drink to the thirsty
• To clothe the naked.
• To harbour the harbourless.
• To visit the sick.
• To ransom the captive.
• To bury the dead.
Spiritual Works of Mercy
• To instruct the ignorant.
• To counsel the doubtful.
• To admonish sinners.
• To bear wrongs patiently.
• To forgive offences willingly.
• To comfort the afflicted.
• To pray for the living and the dead.
Pope John Paul II issued a papal encyclical “Dives in misericordia” on 30 November 1980 declaring that “Jesus Christ taught that man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but that he is also called to ‘practise mercy’ toward others”. Thus to conclude I encourage that we all think of ways in which we could show compassion and have mercy towards others, either by providing them with their basic needs, or alleviating their misfortune. We can use the Seven Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy as a guide. Can we encourage the boys to reflect about how they can show mercy and compassion towards one another, and talk to them about the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
Let us pray Pope Francis’ prayer for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy
Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him. Show us your face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman: “If you knew the gift of God!” You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God. Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind. We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
22 January 2016
The Year of Mercy
This year Pope Francis has declared a Jubilee year of mercy for the Catholic Church. I have taken the following extract from Misericordiae Vultus
‘The Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the heart and mind of every person. The Spouse of Christ must pattern her behaviour after the Son of God who went out to everyone without exception. In the present day, as the Church is charged with the task of the new evangelization, the theme of mercy needs to be proposed again and again with new enthusiasm and renewed pastoral action. It is absolutely essential for the Church that she live and testify to mercy. Her language and her gestures must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father.
The Church’s first truth is the love of Christ. The Church makes herself a servant of this love and mediates it to all people: a love that forgives and expresses itself in the gift of oneself. Consequently, wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident. In our parishes, communities, associations and movements, in a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.’
I used to think that the way to get to heaven was to go to church every Sunday, do more good than bad, pray every day and be kind to everyone. Obviously those things are important but even if you did them perfectly you could not merit heaven.
The only way to get to heaven is through Jesus. Through His goodness, through His love. Through His sacrifice on the cross and His divine mercy. It is only through Him we can enter. The problem is, if we don’t know Him we won’t call on his mercy when faced with the consequences of our many sins. We need to spend time with him daily, to reflect on the Gospels so we can come to understand how loving and merciful He is.
Our Lord always acts out of compassion. All of His miracles are done out of love for others and not His own glory. The blind receives sight, the leper gets healed, the five thousand are fed, the widow’s only son is raised from the dead because our Lord felt compassion and had mercy on them all.
In this year of mercy let us make a resolution to spend daily time getting to know Jesus the man on a personal level so that we can experience his mercy first hand.
15 January 2016
The word entitlement is entrenched in the South African lingua and bears a negative connotation. We often hear from the overzealous youth of their entitlement to what they believe the world owes or the disgruntled who believe that they did not get what they deserve. The boundaries are however blurred when it comes to the expectations in relationship between parent and child, married couples, family, close friends and God. In all of these relationships you would find that there is a hope of gaining something, whether spiritually, emotionally or materially. There is a strong sense of entitlement.
So too did the Pharisees argue when they saw Jesus sitting with the tax collectors. He was theirs and now he is tainting his image by sitting with the sinners (Matthew 9:11–13). Jesus replied to their concern by saying: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” We are therefore all entitled to God’s love as we all desire mercy.
I encourage you to start a conversation with your loved ones about God’s promise as we go into the New Year. These words are found in the Book of Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. We are entitled to this promise because God only wants what is best for us. A future of hope is built on our views and interaction with the world around us. Hope comes from being merciful and accepting the forgiveness of others.
There are many practical ways in which we can realize this hope and fulfill God’s promise. Let us offer this same hope to others.
Let us be reminded of our entitlement to mercy as we daily pray Pope France’s Pray for Mercy
Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman: “If you knew the gift of God!” You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind. We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
Have a blessed Year!
Dr DO Oerson
4 December 2015
Advent is a time when the Church traditionally prepares for the coming of the Lord, both in commemoration of the Nativity and His coming again at the end of time. It is a penitential season in which are encouraged to reflect on our lives in a supernatural light, focusing on that meeting which we will have with the Lord at the end of time. Advent marks the beginning of the Liturgical calendar and is the ideal time to make resolutions which flow from reflections on our Lord’s second coming. Let us take full advantage of this time of preparation so that so that we can experience the fullness of joy that the Father desires for us at the birth of His son.
I leave you with a quote from Pope Francis who encourages us to walk this path of preparation with Jesus’s Mother:
‘Mary serves as a model of this spiritual attitude, to this way of being and of journeying in life.
Although she was just a “simple girl,” she carried in her heart the hope of God.
In her womb, the hope of God took flesh, became man, and made history: Jesus Christ.
Mary’s song of praise in the Magnificat is the canticle of the People of God on the journey, and of all men and women who hope in God, in the power of his mercy.
Let us be guided by her, she who is mother, she is a ‘mama’ and knows how to lead us. Let us be guided by her in this time of waiting and active vigilance.’
26 November 2015
Advent is the beginning of the church year for most churches. It begins on the Sunday nearest to the 30 November (St Andrew’s Day.) It is a season in the Christian year that lasts for about four weeks and ends on Christmas Eve. During Advent we prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. We are reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Saviour. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival”. In the season with this name, we keep in mind both “advents” of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come.
The circle of the Advent wreath, reminds Christians of God, His eternity and His endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The four candles of the Advent wreath, three purple and one pink represent Hope, Peace, Love and Joy. The fifth candle, which is white, represents the birth of Christ. The flame of this candle reminds us that He is the light of the world and that if we follow Him, we will never walk in darkness but will have the true light of life.
Purple is the colour of Advent. This colour reminds us that we sin and need Jesus our Saviour. Jesus brings us love and light not just on Christmas but on each and every day. Advent is a time for opening our hearts for the coming of Jesus, at Christmas and all year long.
Wishing you every blessing, joy and happiness this Christmas season.
20 November 2015
The year of Mercy
Pope Frances announced that the next Liturgical year will be an extraordinary jubilee, a Holy Year of Mercy, starting Sunday, 8 December up to Sunday, 20 November 2016. This is an extraordinary jubilee as it was only announced on the on 13 March. Normally a jubilee year is planned well in advance and was originally meant to be called every 25 to 50 years. Holy Years date back to the beginning of the 14th century and comes from the Biblical reference to a Jubilee when all slaves were to be set free and all debts absolved. The last Great Jubilee was proclaimed by Pope John Paul II in the year 2000.
The Holy Year of Mercy highlights the church’s mission to be a witness of mercy and the biblical theme of the year will be "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Mercy refers both to a feeling of compassion for one who is in pain as well as voluntary acts of forgiveness for the wrongs we have committed. Pope Francis reminds us that no one can be excluded from God's mercy and compassion is a way of expressing mercy.
In his announcement of the Year of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus, Pope Francis reminds us that,” we are not brothers as long as we do not act as such; we are invited to become so, through the practice of mercy.” The church considers mercy to be a virtue and distinguishes between corporal and spiritual works of mercy and we are called to reflect on these as we seek forgiveness and reach out to those less fortunate then ourselves. The corporal works of mercy are echoed in Luke 4:18-19 where we are encouraged to go out and do good: “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour”.
Mercy is made practical in our daily lives when practicing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. We practice the spiritual works of mercy when we counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, reprimand sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear wrongs patiently and pray for the living and the dead. Corporal works are practiced by compassion through feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, healing the sick, visiting the imprisoned and burying the dead.
Pope Francis announced that this jubilee year excludes no one and encourages us to use this special opportunity to experience God's grace and experience spiritual growth.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O merciful, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!
Dr DO Oerson
13 November 2015
God is the Creator of the entire Universe, and the creation of the world points beyond themselves and towards God. God is and in everything that exists. God made human beings superior to all Creation, and in Psalm 8, the author states that humans are only inferior to God. Thus it is our responsibility to look after all creation, as it has been entrusted to us by God. “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28). To have dominion over creation, does not necessarily mean to do with it as we please, we are created in God’s image and thus should take care of His creation and not destroy it. “The Lord God took man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15). As human beings, we should live sustainably and be wise when using the gifts of the earth (such as water). In times of need as we are experiencing at the moment we should think sparingly before wasting water. Water is a precious gift from God, which gives life to all living things.
Pope Francis has spoken about ecology and believes strongly in looking after the Lord’s creation. His encyclical is based on Catholic values and ideas.
He addressed the General audience by stating:
“Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude. 21-May-2014 –General audience
Let us pray:
Lord, God of all Creation, through Your goodness you have given us the fruits of the earth to use for our nourishment. Heavenly Father we pray that we may more aware of the beauty that surrounds us. That all creatures, great and small are made by You. You have given us authority over these creatures. May you fill us with a desire to treat all creatures (plants and animals) with love and respect. May we use the gifts we have been given by You, sparingly and sustainably. Lord God, thank you for all these gifts that You have bestowed upon us and help us to be better stewards of Your creation. Amen.
All Saints Day
On Sunday, 1 November the Church celebrated all Saints day. On this great feast day we get the opportunity to celebrate the lives of the holy men and women who have gone before us. It is a reminder of the temporary nature of this world and that, as Christians, we all need to strive for heaven, where we will be in the presence of Almighty God for eternity. The stories of the Saint’s lives are an example to us, they come from all walks of life and show us that it is possible to become Christ-like, even in a world that seems to acknowledge Him less and less. It is God who gives everything that is needed to inherit eternal life. As long as we keep asking Him for help and turning to Him for forgiveness every time we fall, He will not fail us.
In Mark 12: 26-27 Our Lord says, “But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.” Again, in Matthew 17:1 - 4 we see the following, “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.”
Most of us have a friend or relative who we think of as close to God. In times of distress we never hesitate to ask them to pray for us, and rightly so. As members of Christ’s body we must support and pray for one another. The Saints are alive and part of Christ’s body. They are perpetually in the presence of God. They no longer have a need for faith, as they see God, or hope, as the heaven they hoped for is now their home. They are basking in the love or our Almighty God and Saviour. Let us therefore never hesitate to ask for their intercession. They are ready to plead for every spiritual blessing to be showered upon us.
Mary is the Queen of all Saints. Let us ask her to pray for each one of us to adopt a spirit of perseverance.
This weekend sees the feasts of two very important days, that of the All Saints’ and All Souls’.
ALL SAINTS’ DAY
All Saints’ Day is a solemn holy day in the Catholic Church celebrated annually on 1 November. The day is dedicated to the saints of the church. Saints are men and women from all ages and all walks of life, who were outstanding Christians. Some of them were martyrs who died for their faith. All of them are honoured by the church and have attained heaven. It should not be confused with All Souls’ Day, which is observed on 2 November and is dedicated to those who have died and not reached heaven. Although millions or even billions of people may already be saints, All Saints’ Day observers tend to focus on known saints that is those recognised in the canon of the saints, by the Catholic Church. All Saints’ Day is a Catholic, holy day of obligation, meaning all Catholics are required to attend Mass on that day.
ALL SOULS’ DAY
All Souls’ Day is a holy day set aside for honouring the dead. The day is primarily celebrated in the Catholic Church. According to Catholic belief, the soul of a person who dies can go to one of three places. The first is heaven, where a person who dies in a state of perfect grace and communion with God goes. The second is hell, where those who die in a state of mortal sin are naturally condemned by their choices. The intermediate option is purgatory, which is thought to be where most people, free of mortal sin, but still in a state of lesser (venial) sin, must go. Purgatory is necessary so that souls can be cleansed and perfected before they enter heaven. www.catholic.org/saints/all souls
Dear God we think of all the people who have died. We remember them and we pray for them in a special way. We pray for our family members and friends who have died. We also pray for those people whom we don’t know. God, please give them all a new life filled with love, light and happiness, a life with You that will never end!
LAUDATO SI’ - “PRAISE BE TO YOU”
The Holy Father Pope Francis published an encyclical letter on the care for our common home in May this year. This encyclical is widely discussed in church and other circles, emphasising various aspects of our interconnectedness with nature. The main theme of the encyclical highlights “our care for our common home”.
I find the comments made by Cardinal Peter Turkson on Laudato Si’ most relevant when trying to cultivate an appreciation for creation and all its beauty in our children.
An extract from Cardinal Peter’s address at the United Nations (UNICEF House) in New York gives a short glimpse of the relevance of this encyclical in our current context. Below is an abstract from Cardinal Peter’s speech and a full account can be read on: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/07/01/cardinal_turkson_on_laudato_si_and_children/1155223
THE ENCYCLICAL THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD
Commentators have already noticed a simple elegance in the style of Laudato si’ and even a child-like quality. For instance, there are similarities between important points in the encyclical and the insights of the popular 1988 book by American author Robert Fulghum called “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Their sage advice is that we should recover the lessons we all learn as children, lessons like “Share. Be kind. Clean up after yourself. All things in moderation. Make time for wonder.”
Care is central; it is part of the title, “Care for our Common Home.” It is repeated dozens of times. This is very important. Care goes further than “stewardship” (mentioned just twice in the English version). Good stewards take responsibility and fulfil their obligations to manage and to render an account. But one can be a good steward without feeling connected. If one cares, however, one is connected. To care is to allow oneself to be affected by another, so much so that one’s path and priorities change. Children understand these bonds:
We’re all connected. Plants and animals and human beings; strangers and friends and enemies; God and humanity and the world. Children’s faith in things like magic or the impossible comes directly from the belief that everything is connected. So does their sense of morality. It's not only that hurting people is bad. It's also, when your sister is sad, your parents are sad or even your dog is sad, you get sad, too. We’re all deeply connected.
With his integral ecology, the Pope emphasizes that we are completely connected, integrated, with everything and everyone. Thus he invokes care for our children to formulate his pivotal question about the environment: “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?”(§160).
This short extract is a good introduction to discussion and debate among all ages on our place in God’s creation and the importance of being inter-connected with the world around us.
“What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” - Pope Francis
Dr DO Oerson
How and why to pray
What is Christian Prayer?
We have different kinds of prayer. Prayers that take a meditation type of form (such as the Rosary). Petitions (in which we ask God to sort out a certain situation). Novenas (a nine day prayer, for a certain intention/s). We can even just talk to God and share our thoughts, hopes, fears, dreams, expectations…. And so on. As Christians, we should pray through Jesus, who gives us access to the Father, by one Spirit.
Prayer develops and strengthens your relationship with God. It opens up the lines of communication between you and God. There are many rewards that stem from praying:
• The experience of God’s love.
• The experience of joy through God.
• The peace of God fills us.
• Our spiritual thirst/hunger is met.
• Situations are changed for the better.
Does God always answer prayers?
YES! But not always in the way we want or expect. Sometimes His answer is no, however, this is still an answer. Before we pray we need to repent for our sins, and reconcile with God. The intentions and motives of our prayer need to be good, in order to be answered/met by God. God cannot go against His nature, thus He will only answer the prayers that are in accordance with His will.
How to pray?
Be HONEST, say what is in your heart.
Have an agenda.
When to pray?
• ANY TIME.
• Out loud, or in your heart.
• Pray on your own, or with others.
REMEMBER to keep on P.U.S.Hing, Pray Until Something Happens.
Let us Pray: Lord we thank You for welcoming us into a loving relationship with You. Help us to become closer to You and strengthen our relationship with You. Amen.
Ms. C. Sham
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
In other words: If I am captain of the first rugby team, if I have the highest marks in the grade, if I have the looks and the charm to be with the prettiest girls, and if I am a leader at the school but I have no love, I am nothing. If we have no love, whose glory do we seek? Whose kingdom do seek to build?
Fundamental to love is therefore humility. Just as much as pride is a close relative to selfishness.
When the apostles argued about who was the greatest Jesus told them that the greatest would the one who served the most.
Jesus Himself showed the example of humility when on the night he was betrayed He washed the filthy, stinking feet of His disciples, even that of Judas who He knew would betray Him later that very evening.
Does this mean that we cannot rejoice in our achievements? That we cannot recognize that we have done well? Not at all. Humility is truth. It is recognizing the truth of who we are. It is celebrating the successful outcome of hard work. It is also recognizing that we have received so much that we don't deserve. Our good looks, our sporting and academic talents. Our privileged background and education provided by our parents. This is truth and is therefore reality. Humble people are in touch with reality. Are we?
Do we put others down? Do we boast? Do we look down on those who achieve less or are different from us? Are we able to help others without looking for glory? Are we able to say sorry?
In this month of October, we remember Mary. After being praised by Elizabeth she immediately responded with the words: "My soul glorifies the Lord" ..."He looks on his servant in her lowliness, therefore all generations will call me blessed" Here lies the secret of true glory and we learn it from most glorious of all God’s children. God looked upon her in her lowliness, her humility, her willingness to empty herself so that God would fill her with His glory.
Mr M Van Craeynest
The month of Our Lady of the Rosary
On the 7th of October the Church celebrates the feast day of Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary. The feast day was established by Pope Saint Pius V on the anniversary of the victory at Lepanto on October 7, 1571. The naval victory was attributed to the Virgin Mary whose intercession was entreated through the recitation of the Holy Rosary.
The Church then proceeded to dedicate the entire month of October to the Holy Rosary so that individuals, families and communities would pray the Holy Rosary if possible, on a daily basis for peace in the world.
In this month of October, let us consider this beautiful prayer of the Rosary as a means that we too can use in order to draw closer to Jesus and Mary by meditating on the great mysteries of our salvation.
WHERE CHARITY AND LOVE ARE THERE IS GOD
One of our core values is Personal and Social Influence which is materialised through our expression of charity, service, respect, diversity, inclusivity and inter-connectedness.
St Benedict’s is a compassionate and caring community and we do things in a considered way. Our boys touch the lives of many people through the many outreach projects they engage in. This is an effortless effort for many of our boys and they give of themselves completely. I am proud of the good that we do and am aware that outreach is not our core business, however prioritised as a core value at St Benedict’s makes it evident that we intend living the gospel values in our school. We educate our boys and inspire them to involve themselves in charitable deeds.
Bill Maxwell believes that we should strive to achieve personal success through giving of ourselves in service to others. Service to others is not meant to be quid pro quo - doing a deed in return for an equal or similar deed. He refers to service as, “unselfish kindness and generosity, acts that validate your good fortune, that give meaning to your lives and, above all, that sustain and dignify the lives of others.”
This week we commemorate the death of St Vincent de Paul (September 27, 1660). St Vincent, through his many acts of unselfish kindness, founded many charitable organizations, including the Daughters of Charity. In each of our Parishes you will find a group of people, giving of their time to be of service to the St Vincent de Paul Society. St Vincent admitted that he was not always as charitable and not so by nature. He said that he would have been hard, rough and ill-tempered were it not for God's grace. We too are fortunate to share in the grace of God. And through the grace we are called to be charitable people.
Thank you for the work you do and the example you set for your sons, by the many charitable deeds you perform and the way in which you encourage them to strive towards achieving personal and social influence by allowing them to be of service to others.
St Vincent in encouraging the communities he worked in said, “However great the work that God may achieve by an individual, he must not indulge in self-satisfaction. He ought rather to be all the more humbled, seeing himself merely as a tool which God has made use of. “
Lord, help me to make time today to serve you in those who are most in need of encouragement or assistance - St. Vincent de Paul
Have a blessed Heritage weekend!
Dr D Oerson
18 September 2015
Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
The Feast of the exaltation of the Holy Cross celebrates three historical events.
• The finding of the True Cross by St. Helena.
• The dedication of churches built by Constantine (at the sites: of the Holy Sepulchre and Mount Calvary).
• The restoration of the True Cross to Jerusalem.
The symbolisms of wood in the Bible are undoubtedly powerful. When we think of the story of Adam and Eve, the first sin ever to be committed (original sin) was done by Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. This is the ‘wood’ of the tree that brought sin into the world. It is this same ‘wood’ (figuratively not literally) that was used to make the Cross of Jesus. Therefore it is by this ‘wood’ that sin was taken out of the world, by Jesus Christ. The cross, historically was an instrument of torture and a symbol of death, designed to punish the worst kind of criminal. This same cross has now become the instrument of salvation and symbol of life. The Cross is the life giving tree that reversed Adam’s original sin.
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23). The point of taking up our own cross is not simply self-sacrifice; in doing so, we unite ourselves to the sacrifice of Christ on His Cross. We need learn to carry our crosses in order to make ourselves stronger in our faith. If our cross becomes too heavy for us to bear, we should turn to Jesus and ask Him to help as carry our crosses (even Jesus needed help carrying His cross). Jesus will never forsake you and He will help you through any situation, all that is required from you is to ask Him and to trust in Him completely.
“When we participate in the Mass, the Cross is there, too. The ‘unbloody sacrifice’ offered on the altar is the re-presentation of Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross. When we receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion, we do not simply unite ourselves to Christ; we nail ourselves to the Cross, dying with Christ so that we might rise with Him. Only by uniting ourselves to Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross can we enter into eternal life” (Scott P. Richert. 2015. http://catholicism.about.com/od/holydaysandholidays/p/Exaltation-Of-The-Holy-Cross.htm).
11 September 2015
The beatification of Benedict Daswa will take place on Sunday 13 September 2015 at Benedict Daswa Shrine Site in Tshitanini in the Limpopo Province. It is a great day for the Catholic Church in South Africa as it is the first beatification of a South African citizen. The representative of Pope Francis at the celebration will be His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Amato SDB, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Our school shares a name with this great man and I thought it would be fitting share a brief summary of his life.
Tshimangadzo Samuel DASWA, was born on 16th June 1946 in Mbahe Village in Limpopo Province.
The Daswa family belonged to the black African tribe called the Lemba or Black Jews. They followed the Semitic traditions such as kosher-like dietary restrictions, male circumcision rites, strict rules against inter-marriage and Semitic sounding clan names. These beliefs and practices were instilled in the children of the Daswa family. Samuel’s parents were hardworking, enterprising and renowned for hospitality and kindness.
During school holidays he stayed with an uncle in Johannesburg where he took part-time work. At this time he became friendly with a young white man who was a Catholic. Several of his peers who were Shangaans were also Catholics.
When he returned to, Mbahe, Samuel joined a group of Catholics who met for instructions in the Catholic faith under a fig tree. The catechist was Benedict Risimati. He held the Sunday service and assisted the priest who came from Louis Trichardt once a month to celebrate Mass. He had a strong influence on Samuel.
After two years instruction Samuel was baptised on 21st April 1963. He chose the name ‘Benedict’ as he was inspired by the motto of St Benedict ‘Ora et labora’ – ‘Pray and work’.
Benedict continued to be involved in the Church assisting the catechists and the priest. He had a particular interest in youth, taking groups of boys and girls away for weekends where he would teach them traditional skills.
Building the first Catholic Church in the area at Nweli was a project dear to his heart. He worked tirelessly on the project encouraging others to do likewise.
In the general community, Benedict was highly respected. He was secretary of the Headman’s council and a confidante of the Headman. At social functions he was a popular Master of Ceremonies. He was known for his absolute honesty, truthfulness and integrity. He spoke his mind and was not swayed by popular opinion. He was a Principal by profession: an honest and fearless leader. He encouraged, supported and challenged his staff. The welfare of the students was his prime concern. In the case of absentees, he would visit the family to see if he could be of assistance. Students, who were unable to pay school fees, were given work in his garden to provide the necessary funds. Benedict would often help them in the garden when his duties as principal were finished for a day.
In November 1989, heavy rains and lightning strikes were prevalent in the Venda area. This was not seen as a natural phenomenon. Some members of the community became very concerned as to who was responsible for this. The Headman, his council and the community met to discuss their concerns. It was agreed that a traditional healer be consulted to identify the witch who was responsible for the burnings. For this purpose a contribution of R5 per person was agreed on.
Benedict arrived after the decision was taken. His explanation that lightning was a natural phenomenon was greeted with scepticism. He argued against following the old ways and for blaming witches for causing lightning strikes.
When the decision held, Benedict refused to pay the R5 contribution. He argued that his Catholic faith prevented him from taking part in anything connected with witchcraft. Many in the community saw him to be belittling the traditional beliefs and conspired to get rid of him. To them he was a stumbling block because of his Catholic faith and consistent stand against witchcraft.
On the way home on the 2 February 1990, Benedict found his way blocked by tree logs across the road. When he alighted, a mob of youths and adults came from behind trees and began throwing large stones at him. Bleeding and injured he left the car and ran across a soccer field hoping for assistance from nearby rondavels (round huts), one being a Shebeen.
He ran into a rondavel kitchen to hide. When the mob arrived they challenged the woman owner of the rondavel indicating that they would kill her if she did not reveal where Benedict was hiding.
Hearing their threat, Benedict came out. He asked them why they wanted to kill him. When Benedict saw one man from the mob coming towards him with a knobkerrie he added the prayer: “God, into your hands receive my spirit” as he was dealt a fatal blow from the knobkerrie which crushed his skull. Boiling water was then poured over his head.
Let us join the entire country this Sunday in prayer as we celebrate this momentous occasion.
The beatification will be televised on the SABC news channel, DSTV channel 404. DSTV’s audio channel 870 or audio-streaming will also carry the event live
7 August 2015
A Prayer for a Restful Holiday
Father I thank you for giving us this holiday which enables us
to have a complete break from the daily rounds and numerous responsibilities
and routines that govern our lives.
It is such a joy to have this break and I pray that it will be a time of rest
and refreshment, where I am enabled to go quietly through the day
without having to plan for the many work activities,
that have become the norm in our busy schedule.
I pray that during this holiday I will enjoy both spiritual and physical
renewal and find rejuvenating rest for my mind and spirit,
as well as enjoy relaxation and respite for my body as well.
I hope that happiness will be at your door,
may it knock early and stay late
and leave the gift of God’s peace
love, joy and good health behind.
Mrs H Esterhuizen
31 July 2015
Creating opportunities for change and allowing second chances is often frowned upon in the secular world. The common rule is that you only have one shot at it and that is that! There is no room for error in business, sport, academics and general daily living. We apply this rule mostly in the operational sphere of our daily task and this should rightfully be upheld however, I often wonder what would happen if we make allowance for second chances and should this rule be applied as rigidly in the relational sphere too?
The humanitarians refer to second chances as restorative justice, allowing the wrongdoers to change their behaviour for the better. St Paul in his letter to the Ephesians calls for an awareness of how Christ perceives giving second chances. He refers to living an “empty headed” life, which I interpret as a life without regard for others and the relationships formed through forgiveness:
“So this I say to you and attest to you in the Lord, do not go on living the empty-headed life that the gentiles live. Now that is hardly the way you have learnt Christ, unless you failed to hear him properly when you were taught what the truth is in Jesus. You were to put aside your old self, which belongs to your old way of life and is corrupted by following illusory desires. Your mind was to be renewed in spirit so that you could put on the New Man that has been created on God's principles, in the uprightness and holiness of the truth (Ephesians 4:17, 20-24).”
Giving second chances is about our own recognition of the need for others to learn, grow, change and become what Christ is expecting them to be. It is about finding ways to restore the relationships that are severed by the rules, just or unjust alike. And it is about allowing others to start over without being prejudiced by their past. It is about renewing our mind and spirit to look at the transgressors through God’s eyes.
"Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I ask for the willingness to forgive and the grace to forgive immediately all who have sinned against me. Mary, Mother of Forgiveness, may I forgive others as you forgave me in imitation of your Son. Jesus, thank You for forgiving me. Amen
Dr DO Oerson
24 July 2015
Walk by FAITH and not by SIGHT.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole stair case”- unknown. Faith needs to grow-not on its own but through prayer and meditation on the Word. Believe in your prayer, ask with an open heart, and your prayer shall be answered (Mark 11: 24-25). It is difficult at times to trust God completely and to put all our faith in Him. But it is important to remember that God will not let us down, He always answers us, and sometimes not in the way we want or expect. A Christian is someone who has a relationship with Jesus, and this relationship just like any other, can only be developed through having trust and faith in Him. God will never forsake us. He is love, and loves us so deeply and wants us to love Him in return: “Love is the measure of faith” Pope Francis. Just like a parent wants the best for their children, and for their children to trust them completely; God only wants the best for us and wants us to trust Him completely, for He will provide for us.
Three ways to grow in faith
• Prayer- meditate, adoration, pray, reading the Bible and talking to God.
• Growth- do things to get to know God. Build a relationship with Jesus. Get to know the Holy Spirit and live in/with/through the Spirit.
• Time- manage your time wisely, and trust in God’s timing (Mark 5: 21-43).
“Now faith is being SURE of what we HOPE for and CERTAIN of what we do not SEE”- Hebrew 11:1
Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, strengthen my faith in You and help me to trust You completely. Guide me on my journey through life, as I trust that You will lead me on the right path. Amen.
“With God ALL things are POSSIBLE”- Mark 10:27.
17 July 2015
In his homily, at our St Benedict’s day Mass, Father Tony encouraged us to pray for vocations to the priesthood. In a world that seems to encourage us to live for pleasure, power and material gain it is difficult for us to understand the beauty of the priesthood. In addition to this not every priest strives for the ideal, by denying himself and embracing the cross (as is evidenced by the various scandals that we sometimes read in the newspapers). The Christian ideal is often very different from the picture painted by the world.
Saint Pope John Paul II, in a homily addressed to the clergy of Brazil said, “Jesus identifies Himself with us in such a way in carrying out the powers he conferred upon us, that it is as if our personality disappears before His, since it is He Himself who acts through us. Jesus Himself who, in the sacrament of penance, utters the authoritative and fatherly words, ‘your sins are forgiven.’ It is He who speaks when the priest, carrying out his ministry in the name and in the spirit of the Church, announces the word of God. It is Christ Himself who cares for the sick, for children and for sinners, when he enfolds them with the love and pastoral care of the sacred ministries.”
Our Lord established the priesthood Himself out of love and compassion for us who were to follow. The ideal is to strive to become another Christ to every person you encounter. Let us join Father Tony in asking the Lord to give us more vocations to the priesthood.
10 Jul 2015
Saint Benedict was born into a distinguished family in the district of Nursia, central Italy in the year 480. As a young man, Benedict was sent to Rome for studies, but left after a short stay, desiring to dedicate his life to God. He went to live in an isolated place in a cave near Subiaco. He lived a life of solitude and prayer for about three years with the support from a monk named Romanus. Benedict’s time as a hermit was interrupted for a short period when he became the superior of a group of unruly monks. Ultimately unhappy with his guidance, they tried to poison him. He then withdrew to the cave at Subiaco once again. Eventually Benedict’s sanctity attracted disciples and in time, twelve small monasteries were established around Subiaco, with Benedict as the spiritual father of them all. Around the year 530 Benedict left for Monte Casino where he began to build what was to become one of the most famous monasteries in the world. He spent his last years there and died in 547. He was laid to rest in the oratory at Monte Casino. “Prayer and Work” as the holy Father Benedict taught in his rule and by his life is still being used today by those persons wishing to get closer to God. The 11th of July is the feast of Saint Benedict , who is the patron saint of our school. Wishing all our Saint Benedict ‘s families a happy an blessed feast day on Saturday. I leave you with the prayer of Saint Benedict:-
O Gracious and Holy Father,
Give us wisdom to perceive you,
Intelligence to understand you,
Diligence to seek you,
Patience to wait for you,
Eyes to behold you,
A heart to meditate upon you,
And a life to proclaim you;
Through the power of the Holy Spirit
Of Jesus Christ Our Lord.
26 June 2015
DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY
We have over the past few months experienced and have walked the journey with our boys and colleagues who have suffered loss through death. We share in their loss and identify with their desire to make meaning of their loss. We know that death and dying is part of living and yet it is one of life’s most painful experiences that we are called to endure.
A discussion with a group of boys on death and dying made me realise that we are not fully aware of the untapped strength and endurance that lies deep within us. The boys in their unphilosophical way expressed what we as adults often wonder about in the question: Are we ever going to overcome this deep sense of loss? They surmised that we will never come to terms with the loss of a loved one, but we do learn that it becomes part of our living.
St Paul writes in his letters to the Corinthians (Chapter 15) that when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die then scripture will be fulfilled. We are reminded too by the wise King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything, a season and a time for every matter under heaven.
There is no definitive answer when confronted with questions on death and dying when pointing to St Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54: Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
We keep in our prayers all members of our Bennies community who are morning the loss of a loved one. We are all called to be comforters whatever the source of our mourning in the second Beatitude "...for they will be comforted." (Matthew Chapter 5). Comforting others is a Spiritual works of mercy, and a way of showing the blessedness that is already ours because of our destiny in Christ.
God our Father,
Your power brings us to birth,
Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.
Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,
their lives change but do not end.
I pray in hope for my family,
relatives and friends,
and for all the dead known to You alone.
In company with Christ,
Who died and now lives,
may they rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.
Unite us together again in one family,
to sing Your praise forever and ever. Amen.
Dr DO Oerson
19 June 2015
The Power of Words
I love you; I am sorry; You are stupid, I forgive you;
Words are powerful. When used well; they are a force for good. When used badly; they can be very destructive indeed.
In my time at St Benedict’s, I have heard the way that Bennies Boys use their words. At times I have been impressed by the insight and brilliance of the well-crafted script or morning reflection. I have been moved by words of support and encouragement spoken to a friend suffering loss. I have laughed at spontaneous jokes and clever wit. I have however also been terribly saddened to learn that words are sometimes used by some boys to belittle and to mock other boys.
St Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, wrote: Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.
On Friday the Church will celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Jesus offers us His heart as an example of the kind of heart we should have. A heart that is truly human, a heart that is warm, gentle, kind and a source of comfort for others.
Jesus said that it was from the heart that all sins derive their origin. It is by looking at the manner in which we behave that we can see what kind of heart we have. Do we have loving hearts, out of which flow words of consolation, kindness, encouragement? Or do we have cold hearts out of which flow words that insult and humiliate others? Do we have forgiving hearts or are we resentful, or spiteful? Do we have courageous hearts that stand up for those who are mocked? Or do we not even recognise the hurt and damage that we cause others by treating them as outcasts? St Peter challenges us all with the following words: …have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart (1Pet 1:22). May this above all things, be the mark of a Bennies Boy!
In the Eucharist we receive Jesus’ Sacred Heart. Next time we receive Him, we should ask Him to give us His Heart to love with so that we might become both more human and more divine, more like Him.
12 June 2015
The Sacred Heart of Jesus
Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart. We take time out to reflect on Jesus’ love for us and how He sacrificed Himself that we may have eternal life with the Father. We should also think of how we can spread this love in our lives (this means even loving those we don’t like). Love conquers all, and God is love.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
Love is patient and kind, it is not jealous or conceited or proud;
love is not ill mannered or selfish or irritable;
love does not keep a record of wrongs;
love is not happy with evil, but is happy with truth.
Love never gives up;
And its faith, hope, and patience never fail.
Let us pray:
“Oh dear Sacred Heart of Jesus, I give You my whole heart. I see Your Heart on fire for love of me. I want to be in this fiery furnace and know the love of God. Take me, Jesus. Use me as Your little servant to spread Your love to this world. I give myself entirely to You and I ask the Holy Spirit to make me more like You. I want to be a little child of the Father. I give You my heart, keep me in Your Heart and teach me Your way of love.
Amen” Taken from: http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=2392
O’ most Sacred Heart of Jesus I place ALL my trust in YOU!
Wishing you all a safe and blessed long weekend,
29 May 2015
Preparation + Opportunity = Success
The period between Easter and Pentecost was a time of great distress for the disciples of Jesus. They were part of his life, shared in his stories, witnessed the miracles he performed and reassured they will not be left orphaned by their parting. Yet, when they were faced with an empty tomb at Easter, they experienced great sense abandonment. They hid themselves in a room, away from the crowds! There they reminded themselves of Jesus’ teaching and the promises he made when he was with them. For a moment they were unable to recognize the omniscient presence of God, as they were stricken with fear of an uncertain future. Little did they know that they were fully prepared for this moment through the demonstration of Jesus’ unwavering trust in the will of his Father, throughout his suffering and death.
A renewed revelation of Jesus’ teaching filled the disciples when the Holy Spirit descended upon them at Pentecost. They were filled with the gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, fortitude, piety, council and wonder and awe (fear of the Lord). Realising what is expected of them and the reason for their being was enough motivation to go out and face the crowd. They were transformed from being follower to becoming leaders of the Gospel proclamation. Their journey with Jesus was preparation for what presented as an opportunity at Pentecost to be missionaries for Christ. The success of their work is ongoing, strengthened by our willingness to open ourselves to the invocation of the Holy Spirit. Matthew reminds us that we will never be alone because we are filled with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:20).
Success is achieved when preparation meets opportunity! Through receiving the Sacraments, we are spurred on by Grace and the Holy Spirit to recognize the opportunities that are presented to us to express God’s love for us and our neighbours by our words, actions and deeds.
Let us pray. Almighty and everlasting God, Thou hast given to Thy servants grace for professing the true faith and acknowledging the glory of the eternal Trinity and in the power of Thy majesty to worship the Unity; grant that by steadfastness in the same faith we may evermore be defended from all adversities. Through Christ our Lord.
Dr DO Oerson
22 May 2015
St Eugene de Mazenod
In the Church we have these men and women called saints, they are each given their own feast day or day for us to remember them. But why should we remember them. Why should we care or why not rather celebrate world cultural diversity and dialogue which the UN has also placed on this day? Or Leon Shuster’s birthday? Why remember good old Eugene de Mazenod, the founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate who founded our school, whose feast day was yesterday?
Well these saints have shown us that it is possible to get through the drudgery of life. But they didn’t just get through life they conquered life and thus lived without the fear of their death because it would bring them to heaven.
Instead of looking at Eugene as a saint who is at the moment in heaven with no suffering let us dwell on times in his life where he did suffer. When he suffered with no retrospective knowledge of when or how it would end. Neither you nor I could fully appreciate the extent of someone’s sufferings as we automatically measure their sufferings in perspective to the rest of his life. But Let us try jump onto the roler coster of his life.
Being part of French nobility, Eugene knew only luxury and abundance until he was eight years old, however the French revolution change that.
Overnight St Eugene and his family became refugees in Italy. Many years of hardships perused, years of family instability, material scarcity and danger. His family was forced to flee successively to Turin, Venice, Naples and Palermo. Each time ripping Eugene from his environment and plunging him into poorer conditions.
Eugene's adolescence was impoverished. He was deprived of friends of his own age, unable to continue an orderly academic program, separated from his mother who divorced her husband in order to return and reclaim family property in France. For this reason he is patron of separated families.
For a boy of 19 years old he would have a lot of unanswered questions, such as, ‘Why me God? How can I continue? What could I possibly do with my life?
Eugene was 20 years old when he returned from exile. Upon arrival in France, his overriding desire was to live fully, to make up for lost time. Young, handsome, with a well-known family name he also inherited wealth recovered by his mother. Among his head-strong ambitions was his desire to marry as rich as possible so as to secure a prestigious position in society and access to the pleasures and amusements of the good life.
Yet it seemed like his life was taking a turn for the worse again. These dreams crumbled one by one starting with the unexpected death of his wealthy wife to be. Eugene now 25 years old was forced to make a new balance of his life and person. He was not the extraordinary man that he had imagined himself to be. Certainly he had some good qualities, a strong character and a generous heart. Yet it was also obvious that he had yet to accomplish anything truly important. Superficial friendships and the easy pleasures of high society living were found empty and wanting.
At this point of his life Eugene could have decided to become stubborn and try harder and harder to grab things of the world so that he could fulfil his desires, but in the depths of his confusion he followed the dim and obscure promise of true happiness that only God offers.
In his own words Eugene, “I found fulfilment in becoming a priest and servant of the poor.”
He produced results in his ministry that were not humanly possible, hearing confession for 30 hours at a time, starting a congregation that by his death was 400 men strong and active in 6 countries on three continents. He became Bishop and served his people in the wake of strong anti-religious post revolution France. During his time as Bishop his roller coaster once again plunged down to 9 years of depression and inner struggles. Did this stop him in his work? No he humbly called this his years of purification.
Saint Eugene died on Pentecost Sunday, which is this coming Sunday, to the prayer of the Salve Regina, It was his final salute on earth to the one he considered as the "Mother of the Mission".
Let us take his life as an example of how it is possible to overcome and concur hardships with the encouragement that when we die heaven will be waiting for us.
WE ARE A PROUDLY CATHOLIC SCHOOL
Catholic schooling in South Africa is once again being highlighted as we kick-off Catholic Schools’ Week this Sunday. All our boys are encouraged to attend Mass in their full winter uniform and be proud Bennie’s boys.
Catholic School’s Week is an international event with the aim to promote and showcase the contributions made by Catholic schools towards education. We know that Catholic schooling is not simply providing religious and academic education, but opens doors and guides young people of all backgrounds to appreciate fundamental human values that allow them to share the future with hope. Bishop Joe Sandri wrote in the Annual Report of the Catholic Institute of Education that: Since 1848 Catholic Education in South Africa has offered to children and young people valuable education, rooting them in strong intellectual, spiritual, Christian and social foundations, transforming them into valuable human shells (with reference to the CIE logo).
Our school is part of a bigger family and we share in the values upheld by the church and our founding members. This year we celebrate the Founders of our schools as our identity is embedded in the ethos and carism of our Founders. We are a proudly Oblates school! More can be read about the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, founded by St Eugene de Mazanod, on the schools web page.
We have a full programme lined up across all sections of the school for the week ahead and encourage you to joyfully participate.
CELEBRATING CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK
Sunday, 17 May – Friday, 22 May 2013
Sunday, 17 May
Our boys will participate in the readings at Mass at Church of the Blessed Sacrament – Malvern and read the Official Statement made by the Catholic Schools’ Office
Boys are encouraged to wear uniform to Parish Masses
A Collect a Can drive will run for the full duration of the week.
Monday, 18 May
Grade Notice Board Display Competition
Classroom Door Display Competition
Wednesday, 20 May
Tea with sister schools Assumption & HRS
Gr 10 Presentations of the Founders (DO)
Grade 11 Mass at the Cathedral
Thursday, 21 May
Mass: Feast of St Eugene de Mazenod
Mass: Feast of St Eugene de Mazenod
Have a blessed Catholic Schools’ Week and remember that we are called by our Founder, St Eugene de Mazenod to leave nothing undared for the Kingdom of Christ.
Dr D Oerson
PEACE BE WITH YOU
We find ourselves in the early stages of Christ revealing Himself to the Apostles during the Easter Season, leading up to Pentecost.
Luke in this Sunday’s Gospel (3rd Sunday of Easter) gives and account of a loving and reassuring Chris with the words spoken: “Peace be with you”. This reassurance is much needed in this time where we are witnessing the spade of xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in our country. This violent and inhumane behaviour causes anxiety and stress which translates into anger and bitterness in our hearts.
God, in His infinite wisdom, reminds us that He sent His son into the world to bring peace. The same peace he spoke of when addressing the Apostles is that which is shared with us. We are therefore charged to share this peace with the world around us.
There are various aspects in our society that drains our energy and sets us all over the place looking for answers. These answers can only come from examining our hearts, in the loving presence of Christ. Sharing our fears, aspirations and hopes with Christ brings us to a place where we allow ourselves to trust in his loving response. All will be better. Problems remained but they should not become insuperable obstacles that steers us away from God’s purpose for our lives; to live in love. When we share our thought and feelings with our loved ones and those who care for us, we feel much better. Someone else knows how I am feeling. The same is with Christ!
PRAYER FOR PEACE
Everywhere I go, love is with me,
understanding and peace surround me,
abundance envelopes and embraces me,
God’s grace and light are always present in my life,
in ever increasing amounts in so many ways.
I embrace and honour the infinite diversity of all.
I love each person with unconditional love in each moment of my life.
I am peace, I am love, and I am harmony.
I am full of gratitude in each moment for all.
WE LIVE IN HOPE- CHRIST IS FULLY ALIVE!
‘Where there is LIFE, there is HOPE!’ Yes, our existence today involves……………… a HOPE for a LIFE, a LIFE of ETERNITY with our RISEN LORD.
The beauty of the Easter season radiates the brilliance of Life and Hope. This is exactly what the disciples experienced when Jesus was crucified and rose again on the third day. Their Easter faith was hence filled with the zest for LIFE and HOPE.
In our daily challenges many questions may flash across our minds but like the disciples our Easter faith gives us strength, inspiration and courage as we embrace our trust in the Loving Risen Christ.
We give thanks with a grateful heart as our Easter faith is deepened. Be not afraid for we are not alone as we step onto solid ground because there is a guarantee that the Resurrected Christ holds our hands on our journey. His love for us is embedded in our lives and it will never fade.
‘Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ is our Hope, Christ is our Life!’
May we enjoy a Blessed and Holy Easter Season filled with cherished Hope, Love and Trust in The Risen Lord. Alleluia! Alleluia!
This weekend sees the start of Holy Week commencing with Palm Sunday, which commemorates the triumphal entrance of Christ into Jerusalem when palm branches were placed in His path before His arrest on Holy Thursday and His Crucifixion on Good Friday. On this feast we join in the words of praise sung by the people of Jerusalem many years ago: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blest is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!” The word “Hosanna” is a cry of praise to God. We say “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday and at every Mass. We thank Jesus for being our Saviour and our King.
Holy Week is the week preceding Easter and is the final week of Lent. During Holy Week Christians commemorate the Passion of Christ who died on Good Friday in reparation for the sins of mankind. He rose on Easter Sunday to give new life to all who believe. While Holy Week is solemn and sorrowful it also anticipates the joy of Easter through the recognition of God’s goodness in sending His Son to die for our salvation.
MRS H ESTERHUIZEN
THE ESSENCE OF MANHOOD
Today’s reading reflects on the virtues of an upright man. The writer of the book of Wisdom speaks in the person of the wise King Solomon. This scripture reading, a day after the Feast of St Joseph, the husband of Mary, highlights the essence of manhood. A theme that weaves through all sections of our school and which is expressed in our core values.
In the second book of Wisdom (12-22), we find a series of ways by which the true qualities of an upright man is expressed by Solomon. In the fifteenth verse the writer describes the life of an upright man to be unique. His ways are different than what is observed in the world around him. This difference in behaviour and thinking is guided by the laws of sacred scripture.
We are aware that our boys mirror the behaviour of the men that surround them. Their fathers, grandfathers, teachers and coaches set the example of manhood. Like Joseph, they want to be known as “just” and “righteous” and emulate these qualities in their daily lives. The test of true manhood lies therefore within the way we treat others and the precepts on which we base our decisions, justly and righteously.
When reading today’s scripture, we are called to reflect on our contribution in the nurturing of true Bennies Boys. Boys who will grow up to be men that embraces life in a simple and joyful manner and who aspire to be perfect examples of a just and righteous life.
Like St Joseph, we are encouraged to open ourselves to God’s call and express it in our daily interaction:
O glorious St. Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble and charitable mind, and perfect resignation in the Divine Will. Be my guide, father and model through life that I may merit to die as thou didst, in the arms of Jesus and Mary.
As we journey into the fifth week of Lent, let us be reminded of our Lenten observance.
Dr D Oerson
13 March 2015
THE RUSHING AND DASHING CLUB Opens its membership to the following:-
- There’s not enough hours in the day
- Rushing from one place to the next
- Dashing around on wheels not knowing how one arrived at the destination point
- Grabbing a meal and digesting it in speed mode
- Talking to each other at a turbo boost speed
THE SLOW DOWN CLUB Opens its membership to the following:-
- Be still and take each step gently at a time
- Drive carefully
- Sit down at a family meal and savour every morsel of a wholesome home cooked meal
- Talk to each other face to face about the eventful day
- Give thanks to God for the blessings in life, the gifts of nature, life and especially for the beauty of family life.
MEMBERSHIP PRAYER Almighty Father, help us take time to Be Still so we may feel Your Presence in all that we do for Your greater glory. Lord, hold us securely in the palm of Your hand. Your touch feels like the gentle rain, Your love for us glows like the rays of the sunbeam, Your peace flows like a river in us and Your Holy Word nourishes us like water to the seeds. May the germination of the seeds grow into plants that feed the World with the Fruits of The Holy Spirit. We ask this in Your Name Jesus Christ Our Lord and Saviour. Amen
love? - 6 March 2015
1 John 4:8 - He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.
That seems pretty straight forward, God is love. In fact it sounds nice: warm and fuzzy. God is love and love is warm and fuzzy, and it makes me feel good, so God must be like this too… right? In meditating on this bible verse we may come to realise that, if we really think about it, we live in a world that is a little confused by what love really is. And if we were confused about love, could that mean that we could be, somehow, confused about God?
I will often say things like “Wow, I love that song” or “I love this new book”… and then I will use this same word to describe how I feel about my parents, my sister, my girlfriend, God... can I cage the way that I relate to the people that I love into something as limited as a feeling, an emotion?
I often ask people what they think that love’s opposite is. The first response is almost always “hate”. If we don’t fully understand the absence of love, how can we truly understand what true love is?
It is almost too easy to trace this confusion about love in (many of) the songs that we hear on the radio, many of which profess love as something that lasts for a night or a weekend.
So if love is not just a warm and fuzzy feeling, not the opposite of hate and not what Beyonce is singing about on the radio, then what is it? A good place to start is to ask “what is not love?” My answer? I know that I feel least loved when I am marginalized, when people take me for granted and treat me well only when they want something (when someone feels what could be described as hate towards me I often don’t feel much at all). It turns out that Saint John Paul II, in his book “Love and Responsibility”, would agree with me. He says that to treat someone without love is to use them as an object for one’s own gain: to put your own good before the good of another.
So what is love then? Well it has to be the opposite of this: to put the good of another before oneself. There it is, plain and simple: to love is to want what is best for the other person, before wanting what is best for myself… always. That certainly isn’t the way I feel about the latest radio hit, and that isn’t always going to feel warm and fuzzy (I think of taxi drivers as a good example of when my loving nature to be most tested). This kind of love will not always be easy (sometimes what is truly best for someone is to speak the truth when they don’t want to hear it, something I struggle with). This love, though is what Jesus meant when he gave us the commandment to love one another and, if we believe 1 John 4:8, the only way to truly know God.
So what would John be trying to tell us here? Perhaps that if we thought love was just about feelings we may be tempted to think of God as absent when suffering comes. If we thought love was just what you feel when something is new and novel (like those songs or that book) then we may think of God as a kind of object, to be used when you are excited about Him. If we thought love was what people sang about on the radio then we may be tempted to just use long flowery words in our prayers to God in an attempt to try and “win” His favour when we want something from Him.
We know, though, that God is there through thick and thin, always on our side; He is constantly making a gift of Himself to us as He did on the cross and He loves us no matter how good or bad we think we are in our prayers and lives.
Loving isn’t always nice or warm or fuzzy (it can be) but it always has the good of the other in mind and if I want to understand more about God I need to love more and more often. It is likely that it will be quite tough at times but is anything that is really worth doing any different?
God is love and if you need any further convincing than John’s word you need look no further than the cross on which Jesus He died for us in love. “The essence of Love is sacrifice” – Saint John Paul
MAKE YOUR HEARTS FIRM
22 February 2015
We are in the season of Lent which started on Ash Wednesday. Crosses of ashes were place on our foreheads as a reminder of our mortality and served as a call for repentance. We are encouraged to grow in love for Christ and our fellow brothers and sisters during the season of Lent. This growth comes from sacrifice through fasting, prayer and almsgiving.
Pope Frances, in his 2015 Lenten message, chose the scripture form (James 5:8) “Make your hearts firm” as the theme for this season of Lent.
Emphasis is placed on our role as missionaries for Christ. We are called to look beyond our own needs and seek to help those who are less fortunate and destitute:
“As a way of overcoming indifference and our pretensions to self-sufficiency, I would invite everyone to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Benedict XVI called a formation of the heart (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 31). A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God. A heart which lets itself be pierced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that lead to our brothers and sisters. And, ultimately, a poor heart, one which realizes its own poverty and gives itself freely for others.”
Abstinence and almsgiving goes hand in hand with the will to become actively involved in restoring the dignity of the destitute. We are reminded that by opening our hearts for others, we allow God’s grace to enter. Lent is therefore a period of strengthening our relationship with God.
“We love because he first has loved us” (1 Jn 4:19).
Pope Frances reminds us in his Lenten message that we should reach out and be a beacon of hope. We encourage our boys to practice this by living the cardinal virtues of justice, wisdom, courage and moderation in their daily interaction with others. Our boys are called to be A LIGHT IN THE WORLD (Matthew 5:13-16), “You are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
What is the Christian trying to achieve?
13 February 2015
What are Christians trying to achieve anyway? Especially, with their harsh judgements of those who do not comply with their moral standards. They are just so prudish that they take all the fun out life. After all, we know that church-goers are actually just a bunch of hypocrites.
These are some pretty harsh judgments and yet I think they are pretty commonplace in our non-judgmental modern world. I do however think that these are relevant points and need to be considered seriously by we who are Christian. We certainly, do need to guard against self-righteousness. It is foolish to forget that we ourselves are far from perfect and have no right to judge others. We also do need to be more compassionate in our dealings with people who do not share all the Christian beliefs and morals, remembering to always love the sinner but hate the sin.
But to get back to the first question: What is the Christian trying to achieve? What is the Christian life all about? For some it is about having some vague sense that God exists and that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for our sins and because He loves us so much we can pretty much do what we like and we will get to Heaven. We might go to Mass on the odd occasion but on the whole we have more important things to do and God will understand.
For other Christians, Christianity is a strict moral code which we abide by. We aren’t like those sinners who commit all sorts of sins, especially sexual sins. We go to Mass every Sunday and are just so much better than those who don’t.
This happens to us Christians when we lose sight of our true purpose and what God really offers us. Our Lord, Our Teacher, tells us that He came in order to lift us out of the muddiness, loneliness, and dreariness of our lives and to draw us into the very life of God Himself. The early Christian writers spoke of this as divinization. God lives in us and acts in us to be like Him and therefore be His presence in the world. This is what Jesus means when He says that He will come and take up His abode within us, or when he says that those who eat his flesh and drink his blood will abide in Him. This Life of the Blessed Trinity is the Life that gives life to all living things. It is this Life that we yearn for every time we are alone and wonder if this is all life is. It is this Joy that we hunger for when nothing else satisfies. We are made for more than anything this world can offer. Our Christian life is the path to attaining what Jesus promised: Life in abundance. Jesus wants to give us a foretaste of Heaven, while we live. This is what the Christian life is about and it is this that compels the Christian to declare war on sin, which is the enemy of happiness. BUT the weapons that we must use in this battle are humility, love, prayer and sacrifice.
For many of us, it is difficult to see what God has planned for us. We are immersed in this world. This is all we know. It is like a child who cannot understand why adults enjoy the things they do. We wonder if this is this a pipe dream? Nice to say but who has actually ever experienced it? Well, we see it in the lives of the only ones who have ever really tried it, the saints. Saint Theresa of Avila was a nun for 20 years before she finally let go of her own selfish desires and allowed Our Lord free reign in her life. After this she would be caught up into tremendous flights of rapture in her union with God, which even manifested as levitation, and she is one of many. St Jean Vianney, St Louis de Montfort and St Philip Neri would be wrapped in God for hours and without noticing the time. God wants this for each of us, why settle for anything less?
Matthew Van Craeynest
God as a Loving Father
We are children of God. He is our loving Father. The same God who created the universe initiates a paternal relationship with each one of us and wants us to call him Father. The bible has many verses which help us reflect on this reality of our faith.
In 1 John 3:1, it says, ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are.’
And when Jesus teaches His apostles to pray in Matthew 6:9, He begins with, ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’
This was unheard of at the time, no one would have dared to be so intimate with God by calling Him father. The Church has always taught that Jesus was helping us to see how intimate the Father wants to be with us. Abetter translation would be dad, or even daddy.
In Matthew 5:48 when Jesus is encouraging sanctity he compares it to a child's relationship with his father when he says, ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
And again in Galatians 4: 5 – 7, St Paul says, ‘Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.’
The heavenly Father loves each one of us. He named us before we were born and has counted every hair on our heads. He knows what we are going through and has not abandoned us. This is not the love of a disinterested God but the love of a God who came down from heaven to show us how to live and ultimately dies on the cross for each one of us. He is always there when we turn to him.
St Josemaria Escriva shares a story of a young man who approached him after hearing him speak about divine filiation,
'Father, I was thinking of what you told me — that I'm a son of God! — and I found myself walking along the street, head up, chin out, and a proud feeling inside... a son of God!'
With sure conscience I advised him to encourage that 'pride.'