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LOVE YOUR ENEMIES
(For that is probably the only way in which you will express your love for God)
Canticle of Love
What is love? We take our cue from St. Paul’s famous “hymn to love” in chapter 13 of First Letter to the Corinthians. The context that provoked the showering of praise on the theme of love was the deep conflict that had erupted at Corinth. The Corinthian church was ripped apart ostensibly because some members claimed to possess charisms of glossolalia, speaking in tongues and esoteric knowledge. In the eyes of the Corinthians those who possessed such spiritual gifts were seen to enjoy a higher status in the church. Paul the Apostle of Christ, took it upon himself to mend the rift that had torn the church, the Body of Christ, asunder. He was at pains to reverse the status indicators, to turn the tables so that greater honour might be given to those who are considered as having a lower status. Using the body analogy, he says that “God has formed the body together, giving all the more honour to the least members so that there is no bodily rupture and members are mutually concerned about one another” (1Cor.12.24-25). The eyes, ears, hands, are just as important as the head and heart. The metaphor of the body highlights the diversity and collaboration of the various members of the body. Paul expects the Corinthians to appreciate that the Church, the Body of Christ, should function like the human body and overcome its divisions and treat each member with the dignity he or she deserves.
Love, the Highest Value
Even though Paul claims that he himself enjoys the charismatic gifts of speaking in tongues, of prophecy, of esoteric knowledge and faith, he strongly maintains that these count for nothing if one does not have love. Giving up one’s possessions or even sacrificing one’s body, in the absence of love, all these efforts would be meaningless. Paul then goes on to state categorically that love (agape) is the cornerstone, the essential quality of Christian life. It is a gift beyond compare, (sans pareil) a gift ‘par excellence’, a ‘sine qua non’ of Christian living. (Collins, Sacra Pagina, 474).
Attributes of God
The essence or qualities of this love are selflessness, benevolence, readiness to forgive, patience and kindness (13.4). But these qualities are attributed to God:
“turn to Yahweh your God again,
for He is all tenderness and compassion
slow to anger and of great kindness
and ready to relent” (Joel: 2.3, Ex.34:6).
For Paul, love is not just one of the many virtues or spiritual gifts of God. It is not just an ethical or religious value; it is the very “power” of God poured into our hearts ‘by the Holy Spirit’ (Rom.5.5). (Collins,481,484). Read more
Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, aged ten, nine and seven respectively, were favoured with a series of apparitions of Mary, Mother of God during the year of 1917 at Cova da Iria not far from Fatima. The supernatural had irrupted into the temporal order. This caused a lot of consternation. The first apparition in 1916 was that of an angel “who was more brilliant than crystal,” who introduced himself as “the Angel of Peace,” He told the children that Jesus and Mary had plans for them and that they should pray and make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners, for the ingratitude and indifference of people. These prayers he said, would bring peace to Portugal.
Now Portugal was in turmoil. King Carlos had been assassinated in 1908. Portugal was declared an anti-Christian Republic in 1910. The government of the day seized church property, persecuted church personnel and even drove many religious into exile, including the Patriarch of Lisbon
The Republican State was intensely hostile to the church and its rituals. Catholic processions were forbidden. Apparitions at Fatima were considered a “ridiculous comedy” (Walsh 153). The sarcastic anti-clerical press offered an explanation of the apparitions as “psychosis, epilepsy and collective suggestion.” It claimed that this whole Fatima spectacle was an invention of the clergy (Walsh 84). The entire situation was exacerbated by the fact that Portugal was involved in the World War in 1916. The country was in disarray. The entire Europe was in the throes of war. This prompted Pope Benedict XV to urge all the people of goodwill to repent and direct their prayers to Mary, the Queen of Peace.
In 1917 Our Lady appeared in six consecutive months from May to October, on the 13th of each month. She appeared to Lucia dos Santos, Francisco and Jacinta Marto. The appearances of Our Lady were generally heralded by some celestial signs. A lightening-like brilliant flash of light would appear in the sky. Then a globe of fire would descend on top of a small evergreen tree (azinheira). Our Lady is said to have been draped in a white light more brilliant than the sun and her face was indescribably beautiful. She emanated light and was surrounded by light (Walsh 50, 69) Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were startled, fascinated, swept off their feet. The curious crowd was intensely overwhelmed but did not see Our Lady. But they sensed that something extraordinary had occurred (Walsh 69).
On the occasions of the appearances of Our Lady, the sun was considered the forerunner of the apparitions. Some say the sun detached itself from the clouds, that it trembled and “danced” and like a globe of snow, that it revolved on itself and even appeared to threaten to fall on the earth (Walsh 147, 149). It was amidst this flood of light that Our Lady made her appearance. Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were favoured with this remarkable encounter. The curious crowds on the other hand, could only imagine that something extraordinary was afoot. Read more
The following is a list of baptisms which are considered valid, as both water (pouring, sprinkling, or immersing the one baptized) and the Trinitarian formula (“I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”) are used. Also, the minister must intend to do what the Church does when baptizing. Read more
On Human Rights’ Day, the Department of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees, Bienvenu Shelter and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa initiated a public discourse on the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit (ZSP) at the Cathedral.
Pastoral Care’s head of department, Sr Maria de Lurdes mscs welcomed everybody. She introduced and thanked the panel for their presence. Fr Sergio Durigon cs invited participants to call to mind how Human Rights Day came into existence and to pray the prayer for migrants and refugees. Read more
The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) collaborated with the Department of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees, Bienvenu Shelter and Jesuit Refugee Service to present a workshop on child protection. It was held on 4 April at the Cathedral. The workshop focussed on vulnerable, unaccompanied, separated, migrant children and youth.28
Pastoral Care head of department Sr Maria de Lurdes, mscs, welcomed all the participants and the department’s episcopal vicar, Fr Ivaldo Bettin cs invited attendees to join him in saying a prayer for children. Read more
The Mother of Mercy Marian Shrine project Committee invites all Catholics in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg to take part in the 2017 Mother of Mercy Marian Shrine Slogan, Logo and Statue design contest.
Submit original drawing or logo design in accordance with the Theme “Mary Mother of Mercy”.
The Mother of Mercy Logo:
Mother of Mercy Statue:
From time immemorial, pilgrimages to the Marian Shrine have always been associated with penance. Pilgrims acknowledge human brokenness and a deep desire to be made whole again. Undertaking a journey to go on pilgrimage is in itself considered an act of penance. For example, pilgrims walk from their villages and towns to go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima yearly on May 13th.
Penitent pilgrims within the precinct of the Shrine make their way to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe on their knees. Where Stations of the Cross are erected on the hillside, as the pilgrims climb the hill, they call to mind the Way of the Cross of Christ Himself (via crucis). It is customary for pilgrims who go to the Basilica of St. James in Compostela, Spain, to walk the last part of their journey on foot. Pilgrimage means a break-away from the familiar in order to insert ourselves into a different spiritual environment. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an integral part of the different spiritual exercises. A penitent with a broken heart seeks God’s mercy and a cure: “in your tenderness wipe away my faults” (Ps. 50.1). Read more
At the Annunciation, Mary generously and joyously agreed to bid God’s will, to become the Mother of Jesus, the Son of God (Jn. 1.38). Hers was a magnanimous response to God’s invitation, an unconditional yes (fiat) to collaborate with God in His plan to save humankind. Her open willingness to God remains a perennially rich model for us believers to emulate and draw inspiration from. Mary is a constant reminder of what joyful obedience and respect to God’s word should really mean for us Christian believers. We are invited, encouraged, spurred on to be like her, to “keep the Word”, to ponder it and by our lifestyle, to accomplish it (Mother of the Redeemer, 20.7).
Now in the wedding scene at Cana, Mary, having noticed that there was no more wine, with a mother’s confidence she said to the servants: “Do whatever He tells you (Jn. 2.5). The words: “Do whatever He tells you,” reveals Mary’s maternal care. She intervenes between Jesus and the servants, thereby becoming the mediator. She invites the servants to obedience. She encourages them to keep a “true attitude of the covenant”. Israel has entered into a covenant with God: “I will be your God and you will be my people”. True disciples take the Word of God to heart. John Paul II says, Mary points out those things which must be done so that the salvific power of the Messiah may be manifested” (Mother of the Redeemer, 21.4). It was Mary who evoked the first “sign” of Jesus as Cana, that is, the change of water into wine. Cana then became the “beginning” of the self-revelation of the Messiah. The “choice wine” hitherto held back, symbolized the Good News of the Gospel.
At the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus addresses Mary, not as mother, but as “Woman”; “Woman why turn to me, my hour has not yet come” (Jn. 2.4). This appellation suggests that there is now a new relationship between Jesus and Mary, a relationship that goes beyond the blood bond of Mother and Son. In this context Jesus reveals Himself as Messiah. Mary’s role assumes a universal dimension. She becomes involved in the saving mission of Jesus. She is now a close collaborator of Jesus in the work of redemption.
Her spiritual motherhood embraces all human beings. It is on the basis of this new maternal role of Mary that Christians feel privileged to approach her as their spokesperson, their intercessor when they face daunting challenges and a multitude of needs and wants.
The use of the title “woman” by Jesus when He referred to His Mother at Cana, echoes the Old Testament use of the title of “Woman Zion”, “Daughter of Zion”, “Mother Zion”. It was Zion, the Mother of Israel who “called her children back from exile”.
Psalm 86 says:
“And of Mother Zion they shall say: One and all were born in her”. The Israelites of the Old Testament pinned their hope of salvation on the Messianic Daughter of Zion. This symbolic figure of a woman became embodied in Mary as the Mother of the Messianic people, the Mother of the new people of God.
Another text that speaks to the spiritual Motherhood of Mary is in the Calvary narration where Jesus once again addresses His Mother as Woman. “Woman behold your son!” and, to the disciple: “Behold your mother!” (Jn. 19.25). Mary, the woman at the foot of the cross of Jesus, fulfils the promise of the prophets. She is the “new Zion”. She represents the messianic community. She gives birth to the new People of God. Her spiritual Motherhood comes to definitive maturity in her at the foot of the cross, through her sharing in the redemptive love of her son” (Rom. 23.2).
The beloved disciple who welcomes Mary as his own mother, is a symbolic representative of the other disciples of Jesus. But he also personifies fidelity to the Lord Jesus. Christians by their profession of faith, have become the disciples of Jesus Christ. He has shown His love for us definitively by His death on the Cross. Discipleship entails an on-going effort on our part to be faithful to the one who has been so nobly generous in His embrace for all humankind. It is effectively this Jesus who has declared His own Mother to be the Spiritual Mother of the disciple John, and by extension, the Mother of the Human Race. Mary’s Motherhood continues in the Church, the New People of God.
As Mother, Mary summons and directs her children in faith towards Jesus Christ the Supreme Mediator. Her maternal instinct makes her protective of her children. She seeks to bring them closer and closer to Christ the Redeemer. She is exceptionally suited for this role by virtue of being the Mother of Jesus and the “generous companion” in His work of salvation. As Christians we “take refuge under her protection” (Lumen Gentium, 66). We seek in her faith – “she who believed”, a strengthening of our own struggling faith that is caught up in the ever-changing circumstances of life.
The Mother of Mercy Shrine in Magaliesburg is a special place, a fine place, a dedicated place where many who go there will seek to meet the Mother of the Lord and solicit her maternal help, or simply, her maternal company.
+Buti Tlhagale o.m.i.
March 4th, 2017,
Many wish to associate a Shrine of Mary with the apparitions of Mary. Historically and traditionally, her apparitions have been, and still is the engine that powers many who go on pilgrimages. Apparitions are at the heart of Marian devotions. Devotees to this day continue to flock to some of the more well-known shrines, namely, Paris: Our Lady appeared to Catherine Labouré in 1830; Lourdes: She appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858; Knock, (Ireland): She appeared to Margaret Beirne in 1879; Fatima: She appeared to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco in 1917. Then there is Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexico) where She appeared to Juan Diego in 1531.
It is this long and widespread tradition of devotion to Our Lady by Catholics of different generations and Catholics from all walks of life, that we seek to draw inspirations from. Our faith is rooted in their faith. These pilgrims are “witnesses to faith around us like a cloud” (Heb. 12.1). Anecdotes of miraculous cures attributed to the intercessory role of Our Lady abound. This is a rich source of encouragement and hope to the many believers who pray to be freed from their day to day predicaments who wish to be “lifted from the dust and to be raised from the ash heap” (1 Sam. 2.5). People draw inspiration not only from the great world shrines, but also, closer home, from Ngome, Kevelaer and Ntshongweni and from the many parish grottos where parishioners ever so often gather to venerate Mary, the Mother of God.
The Mother of Mercy Shrine, here in Magaliesburg, should be seen, as it were, as the coming together of the parish grottos of the Archdiocese. It is a destination site for the pilgrims of the Archdiocese and for all those who wish to be fellow-pilgrims. Magaliesburg Shrine is a special place where solidarity with the pilgrims of the world is shared.