St Francis of Assisi Parish Newsletter
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow charity;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light; and
Where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled,
as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying to ourselves that we are born
to eternal life. Amen.
You might notice that we have a new name this month: “The Franciscan”. The motion outlined in the last Tidings (literally the last) was carried unopposed and by default. In this edition, we have Fr Timothy’s letter, a conciliatory message from the Bishop of New York, coverage of the All-Africa Anglican Conference, and a variety of other short articles.
The celebration of St Francistide is timely given world events. The Prayer of St Francis on the front cover is a plea for peace. According to the Franciscan archive on the web, it is “…attributed to St. Francis of Assisi because it sums up the spirit of his love and service of Christ. It originated about the turn of this century, and its origin is still unknown” (see more below).
St Francis of Assisi Anglican Church, 373 Milner Street, Waterkloof, 0181
Tel. 012-346 1106/7, Fax: 346 4226. email@example.com
Clergy: Fr. Timothy Lowes, Robin Heath, June de Klerk, Ed Smith, Martzi Eidelberg, Liz Horne - Children's Chaplain.
Editor: Mark Napier. Typing: Christine Lawrie. Production: Anne Allison. Collation: Amy Macnamara
My dear people
“Prayer is not something we DO, it is something we ARE.”
It rather fascinates me when I hear people who worship faithfully in the Church of Christ – people who lead good Christian lives - readily acknowledge that they rarely give themselves to private prayer, for the simple reason that they “say all their necessary prayers on Sunday”.
With due respect, I must confess I am uncomfortable with this attitude. Prayer is the foundation of the Christian life. I would argue in fact, that the very essence of our vocation as Christians begins and ends in prayer, and that ultimately we can give no witness to the Gospel whatever unless we are continually “present” with Our Lord through prayer. It is an activity which involves our total response to God, as we consecrate not only our minds but our wills and emotions also to His will.
“…..and Prayer is more than an order of words, the conscious occupation of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.”
TS Eliot, Little Gidding
So, whilst I fully recognise the essential role the Mass on Sundays plays in terms of our spirituality, it cannot overtly replace the communion we have with God day by day. Rather, it needs to fit into the warp and woof of our daily encounter with Christ (in prayer) during the week.
I would like to offer FOUR reasons for my argument, and my own prayer is that we would take these to heart as we continually grow in our spirituality at St Francis and become increasingly, people who reflect His Kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven”.
Firstly, prayer ‘releases’ the SPIRIT of God both in our own lives and in our world. Through prayer, God’s power is unleashed and the world can and will be changed.
In the words of Father Thomas Merton “This age which by its very nature is a time of crisis …. calls for the special searching and questioning which is the work of the Christian in his silence, meditation, his prayer, for he who prays searches not only his own heart but he plunges deep into the heart of the world ….”
Through our prayers we are able to penetrate the darkness of sin, the inner depths of social, political and economic justice and allow the Living God to shed His own Marvellous Light on desperate humanity. Perhaps William Blake best sums up what I’m trying to say.
“Unless the eye catch fire, then God will not be seen,
Unless the ear catch fire, then God will not be heard,
Unless the tongue catch fire, then God will not be named
Unless the heart catch fire, then God will not be loved,
Unless the mind catch fire, then God will not be known.”
Secondly, prayer ENABLES us to live the Christian life. Many people are of the opinion that it is difficult to lead a good Christian life. This of course, is nonsense. The Christian life is impossible. It is impossible, that is, without prayer.
The Christian faith is a personal friendship with Jesus Christ and that is a friendship which calls us to emulate Christ’s life. It is not possible to live such a life by our own power. We need the grace, the help, of God. And to obtain this help we must first ask for it. A careful reading of the Church’s saints will reveal that they were very much in agreement with this. Saint Alphonsus puts it this succinctly: “If you pray, you will be saved; if you do not pray, you will be lost.” i.e. we will not manage to live the life of witness we are called to live through our baptism.
Thirdly, prayer is an essential means of getting to KNOW God and God’s will for our lives. In the words of St Augustine: “We shall rest and we shall see, we shall see and we shall love, we shall love and we shall praise…”
Surely if it is our desire to encounter God, we need to hear Him when He speaks – and it is mainly through prayer that we hear the Still, Small Voice. Sadly, for some people even two minutes a day (in prayer) is a foreign concept. But, if they were to start, it would be two minutes longer (in prayer) than they spend at present. Not a bad place to start.
Therefore, if our praying is to be more than mere spiritual self-indulgence, the need is for us to focus on a practice of prayer which is not only sacrificial but also reflects an openness to ‘listening out’ for God.
And finally, to pray is to be reminded of our NEED for God. We often rather presumptuously assume that it is God who ‘benefits’ from our prayers. The opposite is indeed true. Our prayers are not, in the truest sense, necessary to God who is wholly transcendent. He stands Supreme beyond our limited humanity, even though His love is such that it responds to our fragile attention.
Rather it is us who are totally dependant on His Goodness and Mercy. Prayer is absolutely necessary for US, his creation, and it is for OUR sake that God calls us to pray. “God seeks to be glorified not on His own account but upon ours”, wrote St Thomas Aquinas.
Let me conclude by going back to where we started.
Whilst it is true that the Sunday Eucharist lies at the heart of the Christian’s life – for it is there that our prayers and the prayers of all Christians find their fulfilment in Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice - we are nevertheless ultimately called to go out from there into the world “to live and work to (God’s) praise and glory”, as praying members of His Body, the Church, the Christian Community.
So may God bless the Community of St Francis as prayerfully we continue our journey of faith.
Statement from the Presiding Bishop on the World Trade Centre and related tragedies.
The events of this morning in New York and Washington D.C. make me keenly aware that violence knows no boundaries and that security is an illusion. To witness the collapse of the World Trade Center was to confront not only our vulnerability as a nation in spite of our power, but also the personal vulnerability of each of us to events and circumstances that overtake us. My heart goes out to those who have been killed or injured, and to their stunned and grieving families and friends.
Our President has vowed to hunt down and punish those who are responsible for these depraved and wicked acts. Many are speaking of revenge. Never has it been clearer to me than in this moment that people of faith, in virtue of the Gospel and the mission of the Church, are called to be about peace and transformation of the human heart, beginning with our own. I am not immune to emotions of rage and revenge, but I know that acting on them only perpetuates the very violence I pray will be dissipated and overcome.
Last week I was in Dublin where I found myself convicted by the photograph of a young girl in Northern Ireland being taken to school amid taunts and expressions of hatred because she was Roman Catholic. I know the situation in Northern Ireland is complex, and that religion is but a convenient way of ordering hatred and justifying violence. But the tears running down the little girl’s terrified face spoke to me of all the violence we commit in word and deed against one another – sometimes in the name of God whose passionate desire is for the wellbeing and flourishing of all.
Expressions of concern and prayer have poured into my office from many parts of the world, in some instances from people who themselves are deeply wounded by continuing violence and bloodshed. I pray that the events of today will invite us to see ourselves as a great nation not in terms of our power and wealth but measured by our ability to be in solidarity with others where violence has made its home and become a way of life.
Yes, those responsible must be found and punished for their evil and disregard for human life, but through the heart of this violence we are called to another way. May our response be to engage with all our hearts and minds and strength in God’s project of transforming the world into a garden, a place of peace where swords can become plowshares and spears are changed into pruning hooks.
From Don MacRobert
If you don’t speak your thoughts when all about you
Are voicing theirs and forcing them on you
If you don’t trust yourself to know what’s right,
But won’t take time to think things through,
If you think sincerity is a game to play,
And being lied about, you lie some too.
If you wear masks to suit the crowds
And hope they’ll think the masks are you.
If when you talk with crowds, you change your views
But shake the pastor’s hand with righteous face,
All through your life no one will really know you.
If honesty has no place.
If man’s opinions count with you so much
You try to please by giving in
You’ll waste your life, be unhappy and more
You’ll be a Phoney, my friend
Battle Against AIDS
As the Anglican Church works with other faith-based organisations, philanthropic, welfare and humanitarian societies together with structures of government, it can do so much more than many other sectors in doing away with the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, according to Deputy State President Jacob Zuma.
Speaking at the end of the first day of the All-Africa Anglican Conference in Boksburg, he said the stigma attached to AIDS had resulted in "horrific forms of discrimination and violence - even rejection, ridicule and death itself, for HIV infected individuals and people with AIDS related aliments."
In many instances families and relatives had suffered untold pain and discrimination. Zuma, who also heads the SA National Aids Council, said that, without the stigma, voluntary testing and disclosure would go a long way towards combating the pandemic. "We acknowledge the fact that the Anglican Church sees this as a top priority. The human and legal rights, as well as the human dignity of those living with HIV/AIDS ought also to be respected and upheld."
Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane said the deputy president's support was greatly reassuring, especially his offer to feed the outcome of the conference into the SADC region and the African Union. "Our initiative" Ndungane added, "is unique and a global first in that it draws together: faith-based communities; international agencies and the donor community.
"Most importantly, the programme is poised to become the critically needed catalyst that will ultimately bring governments, the private sector, civil society and faith communities into a synergistic and effective relationship as they join forces in this crucial battle for survival."
The main thrust of the "train-the-trainers" conference, which is actively supported by archbishops, representing some 73 million Anglicans worldwide, is the development of a basic "tool kit" that can be used to address core issues.
"If one considers the ability of churches to reach deep into communities and to adopt a hands-on approach to the pandemic, there is little doubt that our commitment can and must impact on all Africa and, indeed the whole world. We know this is not going to be an easy task. In many instances we are going to have to cut across tradition and culture in terms of issues such as sex education for our young people and burial customs that take up too much land and place poverty stricken families into a permanent debt cycle.
"We ask for the world's prayers as we embark on a prophetic challenge in which we dare not fail."
“Bonhoeffer was one of the very few men I have ever met to whom his God was real and close,” said an English officer who was imprisoned with him at Flossenburg in Bavaria. The son of a professor of psychiatry, Bonhoeffer grew up in an academic atmosphere. He studied theology at Berlin and in 1930 became a lecturer there. Within a few years Hitler had risen to power. As early as 1933, Bonhoeffer denounced the Nazi ideology in a radio broadcast. He spent two years in charge of German congregations in London, urging them not to compromise with Hitler as the German church had done. Inevitably, in 1936 he was forbidden to continue lecturing.
Concerned that Christianity should mean getting involved in society, he gradually moved from a pacifist position to the view that a dictator like Hitler could only be overthrown by force. In 1943 he was arrested, implicated with his brother-in-law in a plot to assassinate Hitler. Two years were spent in various prisons where he stood out by his cheerfulness and care for others. On 8 April 1945 he held a service for his fellow-prisoners, “finding just the right words” according to one of them. The following day he was hanged.. “This is the end,” he said as he was led out, “for me the beginning of life.”
by St. Francis of Assisi
Our Father: Most Holy, our Creator and Redeemer, our Saviour and our Comforter.
Who art in Heaven: in the angels and the saints. Who gives them light so that they may have knowledge, because Thou, Lord, are Light. Who inflames them so that they may love, because Thou, Lord, are Love. Who lives continually in them and who fills them so that they may be happy, because Thou, Lord, are the Supreme Good, the Eternal Good, and it is from Thee that all good comes, and without Thee there is no good.
Hallowed be Thy Name: May our knowledge of Thee become ever clearer, so that we may realize the extent of Thy benefits, the steadfastness of Thy promises, the sublimity of Thy Majesty and the depth of Thy judgments.
Thy Kingdom come: so that Thou may reign in us by Thy grace and bring us to Thy Kingdom, where we shall see Thee clearly, love Thee perfectly, be blessed in Thy company and enjoy Thee forever.
Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven: so that we may love Thee with our whole heart by always thinking of Thee; with our whole mind by directing our whole intention towards Thee and seeking Thy glory in everything; and with all our strength by spending all our powers and affections of soul and body in the service of Thy Love alone. And may we love our neighbours as ourselves, encouraging them all to love Thee as best we can, rejoicing at the good fortune of others, just as it were our own, and sympathizing with their misfortunes, while giving offence to no one.
Give us this day our daily bread: Thy own beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to remind us of the love He showed for us and to help us understand and appreciate it and everything that he did or said or suffered.
And forgive us our trespasses: in Thy infinite Mercy, and by the power of the Passion of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, together with the merits and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all your saints.
As we forgive those who trespass against us: and if we do not forgive perfectly, Lord, make us forgive perfectly, so that we may indeed love our enemies for love of Thee, and pray fervently to Thee for them, returning no one evil for evil, anxious only to serve everybody in Thee.
And lead us not into temptation: hidden or obvious, sudden or unforeseen.
But deliver us from evil: Present, past, or to come.
This translation is based on that of Benen Fahy, OFM, as it appeared in "The Writings of St. Francis of Assisi," Burnes & Oates, London, 1964. (http://www.franciscan-archive.org/patriarcha/)
In me there is darkness,
But with thee there is light,
I am lonely, but thou leavest me not
I am feeble in heart, but thou leavest me not.
I am restless, but with thee there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with thee there is patience;
Thy ways are past understanding, but
Thou knowest the way for me.
June van der Merwe received this letter and poems in response to an appeal we responded to after the fire at Marabastad. This appeal was made during the Week of Bounty.
Tirisano ya Tswelopepe
Homeless Service Centre
Appreciation letter for the donation issued over our disaster period of the fire.
The above stated office will like to thank you for helping us over the disaster time of fire to our homeless people in Marabastad. Also the committee of Marabastad Homeless chairperson Mama Lillian Songwane extend the word of appreciation to all people who were of great help during the time of problems.
We are grateful for the tremendous response over the homeless in Marabastad.
Thank you for your help
MA Ntithe (social worker)
L Songwane (chairperson)
Sorry for the late replay. May the Lord bless you More
sent with the letter
Sing glory sing sing homeless people
let every engel open his ears
let the Lord hear your song
let almighty take your struggle
you are in a lost city where nobody
can hear your voice. But God will be
your revenge. You are not lost you can
still make it, Try homeless people
let the shop stoep be your bed let the
people see you don’t be shy try try
hard hard will be your reward not
only on earth but also in heaven
where you will be called hard workers
of sorrys. Try harder. Glory will be
your daily songs of joy.
Oh. Marabastad you are
Alpha and Omega
you are worthy to be praised
you are a shiny city home for helpless
people you are Gold to those who can
work by selling what ever they can
sell from empty bottles to cardboxes
you make us proud by keeping us
alive and being next to our bread
‘Oh’ Lord see us through raining days
and keep our burning shacks safe
Oh shine lovely day shine
let all the window of shop shine
let every person feel free and safe
Oh Marabastad you are my home
if I had wing I will only fly up and
still land on you my lovely home
Marabastad wake-up people wake-up
the sun has rised every bird is sing
all the car hoot louder every hawker
sell what they can sell Lillian Songwane (1997)
From the Meiklejohns
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the school's students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question.
"Everything God does is done with perfection. Yet, my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is God's plan reflected in my son?"
The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. "I believe," the father answered, "that when God brings a child like Shay into the world, an opportunity to realize the Divine Plan presents itself. And it comes in the way people treat that child."
Then, he told the following story: Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, "Do you think they will let me play?"
Shay's father knew that most boys would not want him on their team. But the father understood that if his son were allowed to play it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging.
Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance from his team mates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, "We are losing by six runs, and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning."
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. At the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the outfield. Although no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base. Shay was scheduled to be the next at-bat. Would the team actually let Shay bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least be able to make contact.
The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shay.
As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have ended the game.
Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, "Shay, run to first. Run to first." Never in his life had Shay ever made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.
Everyone yelled "Run to second, run to second!" By the time Shay was rounding first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman for a tag. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher's intentions had been, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman's head. Shay ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home. As Shay reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base, and shouted, "Run to third!"
As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams were screaming, "Shay! Run home!" Shay ran home, stepped on home plate and was cheered as the hero, for hitting a "grand slam" and winning the game for his team. "That day," said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of the Divine Plan into this world."
18 June 2001
It is with dismay that I view the back page of the Pentecost Tidings (June 2001), for I see the picture of a semi-nude woman, revealing her breasts. I am used to seeing similar exhibitions of female attractiveness on the back page of the Sunday Times and other secular publications, but not on our official parish newsletter.
May I suggest that such pictures should be avoided, or explained and put into context, lest they lead our parishioners, young and old, into temptation, if not astray, or at best create a false impression of what our beloved St Francis parish is all about?
Concerned parishioner, Eckart.
By way of explanation, the Art Nouveau-style woodcut of the angel in the article about gender-inclusive language used in the Bible and liturgy to refer to God and to angels, was meant to illustrate that not even in art have angels always been portrayed as male - Ed.
So I was chilling out in the fields, grafting it away when my brother went to see the old man. He tuned pops, “Dad I want my share of your dough so I can get out of this dump.”
So Dad gave him the dough and no sooner did he have the cash when he skipped the country. I heard that he spent all the loot living it up with the chicks and the booze. Then he was in a spot of bother. He went to work for some oke who had these pigs. He was so hungry that he thought he could chow some of the pig food! Then he skeemed that Dad’s servants got better treatment than him so he decided to come back. I was out in the field, grafting again, when I heard this major commotion up at the house. I asked Johannes what was going on and he tuned me that Pietie had returned and that Dad was gooi-ing a huge bash for him. I was so ticked off that I went up and tuned Dad grief. All the old geyser had to say was that we should be happy coz Pietie was dead and is now alive. Come on old man get real!
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