St Francis of Assisi Parish Newsletter
Greetings all on the happy occasion of Fr Timothy's first Tidings (see letter following). After much anticipation (our children won't forget the word "interregnum" in a hurry) followed by lots of activity surrounding the installation (Q: How many Clergy does it take to make an installation? A: Quite a few judging by the attendance at Fr Timothy's), the Lowes family is finally with us. And we add our welcome to the many welcomes they have had in the last few weeks.
As with any change in leadership, we have been joyfully warned to expect new things. Fr Timothy has made a suggestion for our more immediate consideration relating to the naming of this newsletter. Given his emphasis on our roots, he has suggested changing it from "Tidings" to "The Franciscan".
Being fairly new in the Church myself I wasn't sure how long Tidings had been Tidings, nor exactly how the name came about. Maybe someone could fill us in on that one. I, for one, would be quite happy with a change in name, and I feel it would fit in nicely with the new Church logo which is being designed at the moment.
If anyone has strong feelings either way, please write to us at the address below, or fax 346 4226, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Although not a matter of eternal importance, the naming of the newsletter does say something about us. What do you think?
In the meantime, happy reading.
My dear people
I've always admired people who excel at Mathematics. Come to think of it, I admire people who can do Mathematics. If I were to bare my soul (which I will) I would have to admit that in my case, the "unknown factor x" remained decisively and well and truly UNKNOWN despite my gamely efforts and a king's ransom in extra lessons. Not for me the (evidently) delightful world of Calculus.
As I mused about this factor of the 'unknown', it struck me in a rather sobering way that for millions, God too remains decisively and well and truly UNKNOWN - despite the gamely efforts of Church and Christians alike. Jesus said: "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life", but in spite of the fact that humanity is continually searching for "truth", Christ seemingly remains largely UNKNOWN.
I don't think there are easy answers to this, but I'd like to suggest a few possibilities.
1. The fact remains, we Christians are not always the greatest advertisement for the Kingdom of God. All too often gossip, slander, arrogance, criticism, self-righteous judgements and a host of other "nasties" are the order of the day. And surprise, surprise, the world looks on and asks pertinently, "This is TRUTH?"
2. There are those whose lifestyles are challenged by the Gospel. They hunger ultimately for power and privilege, and they do not want to hear TRUTH, which calls the disciple to follow a path of humility and sacrifice. The cost is too much.
3. Others are so caught up in their hedonistic ways, they simply don't care about the TRUTH of what is right and wrong. TRUTH "gets in the way of fun". You get out of life whatever you can, however you can.
4. Who needs God? Too often the assumption that we need God seems to be "disproved" by the facts. Millions will tell you that they are self-made individuals, and got where they did through sheer hard work and determination. "I did it my way" is their theme song. And on the surface of it, it certainly looks like it. That their empires are repeatedly built on sand - well that's another story.
5. "If God is such an Almighty Being, why is there such suffering in the world?" Not an easy one to answer and the problem is exacerbated by the trite replies, which are all too easily and so glibly given. "Just have faith." "It's not for us to know," none of which are helpful (though perhaps they contain kernels of truth). These are real questions and the Church must have real answers - even if it's admitting that at times we are equally at a loss for the perfect answers to Ultimate questions. We must not be dishonest for fear of "losing face". TRUTH demands honesty.
6. "Jesus is the Answer", we proudly proclaim. "What's the question?" asks some bright spark. All too often the message the Church proclaims is irrelevant and boring. God is a God of Life, not a God of history. As a Chaplain it was practically impossible to get the pupils to respond with any enthusiasm to the themes of the Bible, UNLESS their relevancy for the world within which the pupils lived, moved and had their being, was discussed.
I offer these as some of the reasons why, for many, the path to God seems obscure. I do not proffer them as a form of criticism but merely to highlight, that we as the Church, fool ourselves if we assume we have the world flocking to our door to discover the Truth. He remains, in the experience of many, an unknown entity.
Some of the reasons (as we have seen) are self-inflicted. Many are not. The fact remains, it is incumbent upon us to remind the world that it does belong to God, that we belong to Him, that life without God is immeasurably poorer and that in Jesus, TRUTH no longer needs to remain the unknown factor.
And to conclude. Remember it is in what people see in our lives and not what they hear from our lips, that the real essence of our witness lies. Further, it is only as we rely on the Holy Spirit of God that we will be effective. God Himself has declared "Not by might .... But by My Spirit...". May the Spirit of God so fill you this Feast of Pentecost that others may see ... and believe.
May the unknown God become known through His Church at St Francis.
Go with God
June van der Merwe writes on behalf of the "Crafty Craft Group"
One Sunday, a few months ago, Rev Robin Heath announced in church that Mary-Ann Carpenter had opened a Haven for orphaned children in the Winterveld. This touched my heart.
Hazel Thomson, one of the members of the Craft Group had suggested that we make track suit tops as well as the jerseys we produce for Tumelong Mission, as they do not take as long to make. One morning Hazel arrived with a beautiful crocheted cot blanket. This spurred me to contact Mary-Ann to find out whether the Craft Group could help provide for some of the clothing needs of the children in the Haven. I volunteered the Craft Group's many and varied talents and promised we would provide as many tops, caps, blankets and toys as we could.
That night, I couldn't sleep, due to a crisis of conscience and confidence. After all, I had volunteered the Group's co-operation in this matter without consulting them first. My prayer to the Lord was a touch irrational - I prayed that He would make it possible for me to win the Lotto, as we would need a "Lotta money". Quite quietly, but with the unmistakable authority of the Almighty, He gently showed me that prayers of this nature do not fall within His area of interest. In His mercy, He pointed out that He was the Lord of all resources, and the He was the Lord of the hearts and minds of those who love Him. He reminded me that we had accomplished much with the bits and pieces we had been given, and gave the necessary assurance that we were not to worry, He would provide us with all we needed to fulfil my promise to Mary-Anne.
At the time, we had about R70 in the Craft Group's coffers, as we had just spent R200 on wool. Very sheepishly I confessed to the Group that I had volunteered their talents, and committed the Craft Group to help meet the needs of about 100 children, ranging in ages from infants to 7 year-olds. Those marvellous women gave me their wholehearted support. We received three donations of R100 each, and set about buying necessary materials. As the money was spent, we consistently received more donations of money and materials. To date we have used about R1,500 in materials. We have about R300 in hand. We have not yet fulfilled our commitment entirely.
Initially, we hoped to complete our work and hand it over on Pentecost Sunday. Due to the recent cold weather, we decided to hand over the items that had completed on Sunday 29th April 2001. We have received loyal support from family and friends, for which we are eternally grateful. Several ladies from the Church had come forward and helped with the sewing. We need ongoing help in this area, as we were given a large load of material by a friend's daughter-in-law from Durban, and have not yet been able to make the track suit pants that are the next part of our venture. Truly the Lord casts His net wide when we ask.
Our witness as a group is that we are continually surprised, joyfully so, by just how the Lord meets our needs, by the manner in which He moves people's hearts to compassion. What a miracle we have been privileged to witness! In our own case, He has opened our own eyes to the needs we did not see before, and we have become involved in challenging projects at the very time of our lives when most of us thought we were ready for retirement. God has a wonderful sense of humour!
Our grateful thanks to all those who have supported us, in prayer, financially and materially, in the literal sense! Each member of the Craft Group is grateful to God for a new revelation of His faithfulness and His many blessings, not least of which is the realisation that no-one is too old, too young, too busy, or too infirm to labour successfully in His vineyard. We have learnt the truth of Jesus' words when he said, "Inasmuch as you do this unto the least of my children, you do it unto Me."
The Anglican Bishops of Southern Africa have, despite a moral dilemma and deep concern at the level of private profiteering within the gaming industry, agreed to assist the Minister of Trade and Industry with the distribution of charity funds generated by the State lottery.
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane says: "On the one hand we observe the growing damage to our communities through the increasing deregulation of gambling, in casino complexes, through the Lottery and in other forms. For many people gambling is an addictive disease which is growing alarmingly in this 'liberalised' atmosphere. The money which families invest in Lotto tickets or slot machines does not fall from the sky: it comes at the cost of the family food budget, or granny's medication or the children's school uniforms. We suspect that a great deal of additional suffering is being caused to children by the gambling habits of their parents."
The bishops, he adds, remain unconvinced by the case for economic benefits flowing from either gambling in general or the Lotto in particular and we are perturbed by what appears to be their unexpectedly damaging economic consequences.
"Surely we cannot suddenly withdraw such huge sums from the economy without dislocation in other sectors. This is the context in which we face our dilemma. We would want to discourage our members from gambling in any form, with its social and financial effects on family life. We would want to discourage the extension of gambling opportunities in South Africa until we, as a society, can further assess the impact of what we have done already.
"The bishops are also deeply disturbed that the early promises of distributing 80c in the Rand to needy causes has been reduced to our present 17c in the Rand. Clearly, vast fortunes are being made by private persons and we protest this profiteering in the strongest terms. Moves must be made to increase the proportion of earnings both from the lottery and from gambling in general which go to the needy."
Because gambling is one means by which resources are transferred from the poor to the rich, the bishops believe that the essential framework for deciding about the distribution of proceeds must be restitutive - it must set about returning property to the needy from whom it has been removed.
"On the other hand, with all these reservations, we are concerned that the proceeds which are being made should be properly managed. In this context we offer our services to the Minister of Trade and Industry as requested by him, in helping decide upon the distribution itself. We do so on the understanding that we will use this engagement also to challenge the basis on which the Lotto operates, the damage it is doing, the proportion of proceeds being returned to the people, and any improper practices which we perceive to be taking place in the distribution process itself."
From the communications department of the
By Christopher Howse in The Daily Telegraph (19 May 2001)
There is a big row going on about the language to be used in Roman Catholic churches. Indeed there are two rows: one about new rules from Rome and another about the high-handed way in which the rules have been imposed. The rules come in a document called Liturgiam Authenticam, and they ban such innovations as non-sexist language ("gender-inclusive", as its supporters tend to call it).
The rules themselves seem good news for those who feel sacredness has been evaporating since the old Latin Mass was replaced. The fat instruction from Rome, almost as long as the Labour manifesto, is the fifth of its kind on the implementation of the Second Vatican Council's decrees on liturgy. The council had dealt with the subject in 1963, but, 40 years on, translations into English are still unresolved.
It is not as if no one could see firm action coming. "Gender-inclusive" language, embraced by liturgy committee-men, had been endorsed by the bishops with the weirdest effects. The sort of thing that happened was that instead of having the psalmist write: "The fool says in his heart 'There is no God' ", worshippers were told that "Fools say in their hearts . . ." - just to avoid the use of the dreaded word his. God was certainly no longer "He", and syntax went into contortions to avoid masculine pronouns.
The Vatican, though perfectly aware that God is not male, insists that He be called He. The sacred Hebrew tetragrammaton (YHWH) is to be rendered Lord, it insists, or at least the equivalent of Dominus. Even angels must be accorded the appropriate "grammatical gender". In fact, English does not specify a grammatical gender for the word angel, but traditionally angels have been called "he".
The most fundamental requirement of the new instruction is for reverence and dignity in translations. It is asking for sacral language. Here there has been a great divide. Even the learned Ronald Knox, in writing of the principles behind his translation of the Bible 50 years ago, leant towards the idiomatic. But in 1957, Christine Mohrmann, in her book Liturgical Latin, pointed out that unfamiliarity and elevation in liturgical language was a feature even in Latin texts composed 1,600 years ago.
The Vatican also insists that English texts should preserve Hebraic anthropomorphisms, referring to the "arm" or "face" of God, rather than using abstract periphrasis. Instead of saying that we want to know God as He really is, we should be allowed to say in phrases that strike the depths of the human soul: "It is your face, O Lord, that I seek."
The Angelus is the name of a Christian devotion, used in the Western Church at least from the 14th Century as a memorial of the incarnation, joined with invocation to the Virgin Mary. It consists of three couplets, each of which is followed by a "Hail, Mary". It ends with the collect for Annunciation. Those who do not wish to use the invocation to Mary, can still find the three couplets to be a summary of the Christian faith, stressing the revelation of God in his Word, Jesus Christ.
1. The Angel (Latin angelus) of the Lord declared to Mary:
2. Behold, the handmaid of the Lord:
3. The Word was made flesh;
The first couplet tells of God's initiative in his dealing with human beings; the second asserts the faithful response of the believer, where Mary can be regarded as the type, or image, of the church as whole; and the third describes the event of God's revelation in Jesus. The collect of the Annunciation (APB 295) is said at the end.
The older form of the collect (SAPB) is as follows:
We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts: that, as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by His cross and passion we may be brought to the glory of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Angelus has been traditionally said three times a day - early morning, noon and evening. The church bell is often rung - three times for each of the three couplets (with a pause after each three rings), and nine times for the collect at the end. It is a very useful discipline to use such a prayer regularly, reminding us of our faith - just as Jews and Moslems recite their set prayers at regular times.
The full form of the Ave Maria (Hail Mary) is as follows:
Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
The Angelus by kind permission of Professor Fr John Suggit
I gave you life, but I cannot live it for you.
From June van der Merwe
Holy Orders for a stress-free life
1. Thou shalt not try to be all things to all people
Here is a "thought piece" written from a north American perspective. Although you may spot one or two simplistic assumptions, it is perhaps interesting to consider some of the trends which it indicates. Ed.
In light of the recent shooting in Massachusetts, let's see, I think it started when Madeline Murray O'Hare complained she didn't want any prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school.... the Bible that says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbour as yourself. And we said, OK. Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem. And we said, an expert should know what he's talking about so we said OK, we won't spank them anymore. Then someone said teachers and principals better not discipline our children when they misbehave. And the school administrators said no faculty member in this school better touch a student when they misbehave because we don't want any bad publicity, and we surely don't want to be sued. (There's a big difference between disciplining and touching, beating, smacking, humiliating, kicking, etc.) And we accepted their reasoning. Then someone said, let's let our daughters have abortions if they want, and they won't even have to tell their parents. And we said, that's a grand idea.
Then some wise school board member said, since boys will be boys and they're going to do it anyway, let's give our sons all the condoms they want, so they can have all the fun they desire, and we won't have to tell their parents they got them at school. And we said, that's another great idea.
Then some of our top elected officials said it doesn't matter what we do in private as long as we do our jobs. And agreeing with them, we said it doesn't matter to me what anyone, including the President, Prime Minister etc. does in private as long as I have a job and the economy is good.
And then someone said let's print magazines with pictures of nude women and call it wholesome, down-to-earth appreciation for the beauty of the female body. And we said we have no problem with that.
And someone else took that appreciation a step further and published pictures of nude children and then stepped further still by making them available on the internet. And we said they're entitled to their free speech. And the entertainment industry said, let's make TV shows and movies that promote profanity, violence, and illicit sex. And let's record music that encourages rape, drugs, murder, suicide, and satanic themes. And we said it's just entertainment, it has no adverse effect, and nobody takes it seriously anyway, so go right ahead. Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."
AND THE REPLY
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how everyone wants to go to heaven provided they do not have to believe, think, say, or do anything the Bible says. Funny how someone can say "I believe in God" but still follow Satan who, by the way, also "believes" in God. Funny how we are quick to judge but not to be judged. Funny how the lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but the public discussion of Jesus is suppressed in the school and workplace.
Funny how when you think of passing this message on, you will not send it to many because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it to them. Pass it on if you think it has merit! If not then just discard it....no one will ever know what you did, for sure. But, if you discard this thought process, then don't sit back and complain about what a bad shape the world is in
From Rob Lewis