Prayer and Reflection by Bishop Sylvester David OMI

Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Friday 29th May 2020, during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. 

It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please also see below the text of his reflection, primarily for the deaf.

29th May 2020. Friday before Pentecost. Reflection on John 21:15-19.

This gospel passage shows Jesus asking Peter about his love. The original language of the NT has several words for love. There is a word for the love shared by family members, another word for the exclusive love between husband and wife, a word for brotherly/sisterly love shared in the Christian community, and another word for the total self giving love on the cross – yes indeed! We can have no greater love than to lay down our lives for others.

In the passage for today’s Mass Jesus asks Peter if he loves him with a total selfsacrificial love and Peter responds that he loves Jesus but only with a brotherly love. This is very clear in the original text. This happens a second time. Then the third time Jesus asks: “Peter do you only love me with a brotherly love?” That is why Peter was sad – his love for Christ had not yet become total. This however does not stop Jesus from giving him the commission to care for the flock. This is motivation for those of us with pastoral duties: that Jesus trusted Peter with caring for the flock even in his imperfection should move us to rise above our incompleteness and serve others to the best of our abilities.

Looking at our own lives we might well ask: who can love totally? Surely this is impossible. Well the lives of the saints tell us differently. Maximillian Kolbe was a case in point as were Benedict Daswa and Joseph Gerard OMI – the saint we celebrate today. These people show us that when the Spirit of God is in us then we will be capable of such love. The declaration of the angel Gabriel in the first chapter of Luke is clear: “Nothing is impossible to God” (Luke 1:37). This is the type of love that forgets self. It can happen in each of us even if we do not die in martyrdom.

A simple and practical way in which we can love like Christ did is when we forgive. When we forgive we actually renounce our right to hurt back because we have been hurt. When we fail to forgive it is a sign that God’s Spirit is not driving us. When we fail to forgive we harbour resentment. This is a useless emotion akin to plunging a dagger into our own hearts and expecting others to bleed. At times people hurt us and were not aware of it. At other times we could have been hurt through misunderstandings. There are times when the persons who hurt us may even be dead or have moved to other countries but we allow them to live rent free in our tortured memories. 

Archbishop Hurley OMI had as his motto: “where the Spirit is there is freedom”. I wish you a Spirit filled reflection as we prepare to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Let us pray: Father, we thank you for Jesus and for the way in which he loved. He was clear in his message to us that we ought to love one another as he loved us. Send the Holy Spirit to empower us to love as he did – so that when you look upon us you will be able to say what you said about Jesus: “these are my beloved sons and daughters in whom my heart delights”. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Bishop Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town

Prayer and Reflection by Archbishop Stephen Brislin

Archbishop Stephen Brislin offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Wednesday 27th May 2020, during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. 

It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please also see below the text of his reflection, primarily for the deaf. 

Thank you once again for joining me for this reflection and welcome to all of you. We are overjoyed and delighted that our President has agreed to the gradual re-opening of Churches. In this reflection, I will start with a verse from the Gospel of today’s Mass, from St John

Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth.       (John 17:17)

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, you consecrate us in your truth. As we continue to live in this world, help us always to have the courage and fortitude to speak the truth without fear. May we counter-act the lies and deception of this world through the power of your Holy Spirit, so that all may come to the joy and happiness that is found only in you.  We make this prayer through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, amen.

What is truth, Pilate asked Jesus. Truth can be an elusive reality especially as we receive so many contradictory messages. It can be difficult to know what to believe and who to trust. The truth about life and its meaning, about who we are called to be and how we should live our lives is found in Jesus Christ. There is no lie or deceit in God, there is no intention to trick us or mislead us. Thus, our way to truth is through Jesus Christ and we grow in truth by contemplating his life and teachings, and seeking to follow him with sincere hearts, uniting ourselves to him in that deep relationship for which he prayed – that we may be in him and he in us.

Truth always involves responsibility –  we are responsible to seek the truth but also to live the truth. We are responsible for being truthful in all we do. Responsibility is key during the present crisis of Covid 19, especially as the President has agreed to the re-opening of Churches. The purpose behind the lockdown was, firstly, to ensure that the health services would be able to cope with the greater number of people who will need hospitalization and, secondly, to change behaviour. The first has been achieved, at least to a large extent, but it is the second which we need to concentrate on and to ensure that it becomes embedded in our daily lives. I was watching a news broadcast on television recently. An elderly gentleman (in another country) was asked why he was out and about but not wearing a face mask. He simply replied that if he gets infected and it is his time to go, then so be it. What was wrong with this answer? He was only thinking about himself and giving no consideration that he could pass on the infection to others without even realizing it. There are others who say that if you go to Church, then Jesus will protect you. I do not doubt that Jesus protects us, but such an answer is simply bad theology, a false understanding of God. Who would walk across the N1 freeway at rush hour, blindfolded, and say “Jesus will protect me”.  Jesus expects us to use our intellect and not to put the Lord our God to the test (Dt 6:16; Luke 4:12).

Churches have been places of spreading the Covid 19 infection. In countries where Churches have been allowed to re-open, some have had to close again because they have become places of infection. We want our Churches to re-open. We asked our President to allow that and he has agreed. He was sympathetic to our request and has given the answer we hoped for. It will be a phased-in re-opening and we have to be responsible. We have to take precautions to protect others through social-distancing, hygiene, wearing masks, limiting movement, and so on. It may be a nuisance at times, for example, to wear a mask. But we don’t do it for our own comfort we do it to protect others. Ultimately, it is a choice between selfishness and taking responsibility. Let us all be responsible in all circumstances and work together to limit the spread of this disease and to save lives. As we return to public worship let us be scrupulous in respecting the protocols that we will have to follow and to change our behaviour. It is the true and responsible thing to do.

Just before closing I would like to express my deep gratitude to all those who have opened their hearts to those who face economic hardship and starvation by contributing to the Archdiocesan Covid 19 food parcel campaign. This campaign must continue as many people, are in desperate need. By the end of this week we will have distributed 8,025 food parcels and 563 food vouchers (the vouchers are for people who live in areas outside of Cape Town). We have spent more than R1,371,000 – R801,000 was contributed by parishioners and even people from outside the Archdiocese. R571,000 has come from the Archdiocese itself. People continue to battle against poverty and hunger and so we must continue to give relief to them – it is the Christian and the right thing to do. If you are able, please do contribute. We appreciate every gift and we are grateful to you. If you have the means, please be as generous as you possibly can – the need is really great and we are all aware that the numbers of malnourished children are increasing. In the First Reading of today’s Mass we hear the words of St Paul: “I have never asked anyone for money or clothes…. I did this to show you that this is how we must exert ourselves to support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, who himself said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”’ (Acts 20:33-35). I am not asking for money for myself, for the Archdiocese, or for the Church – I am asking for contributions on behalf of those who go to bed wracked with the pangs of hunger.  If you are able to help please do so. The banking details are on the Archdiocesan website. Let us now pray for God’s blessing;

The Lord be with you                                                  R/ And with your spirit

Merciful and compassionate Father, we thank you for the many gifts you have bestowed on us, most especially the gifts given by the Holy Spirit. May we be filled with the Truth that your Spirit gives, so that we may be responsible in all our behaviour and protect the lives of others, even if it means discomfort for ourselves. Set our hearts ablaze Lord, that we may be conduits of the light  and life that the Spirit gives, and may always be faithful in living our Christianity to the full. We ask this through Christ our Lord, amen.

May Almighty God bless you, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit                        R/Amen

I wish you all a blessed feast of Pentecost – may the Holy Spirit guide us in all we do. 

Prayer and Reflection by Bishop Sylvester David OMI

Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Friday 22 May 2020, during this time of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please also see below the text of his reflection, primarily for the deaf.

Bishop Sylvester David OMI. The Ascension. Acts 1:1-11. Please read the text.

The feast of St Eugene de Mazenod the founder of the OMI congregation occurred on Thursday and being an Oblate I exercised the option of celebrating the Ascension on the Sunday following. No matter on which day we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension, it is hoped that this reflection will nourish our faith.

Our first reading for the Solemnity of the Ascension gives us the true meaning of the Ascension. This is not a departure – it is the presence of Jesus in a new way – a way that is mediated through you and me. The words of the angels in the text make it clear that Christianity is not a star gazing activity. It is a lot more practical than that. Remember the message of the angels “Why are you Galileans standing here looking into the sky?” (Acts 1:11). In other words Jesus gave them a commission and if they were to take his word and his presence into the world they had to stop their stargazing. The message on Easter day, initially from the angel (Matthew 28:7) and then from Jesus himself was: “tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; there they will see me” (Matthew 28:10). What did Galilee represent? Galilee was where they lived and where they worked. The message is that we encounter the risen Lord right where we live and work. We have trained ourselves to see him in unusual circumstances but here the message is different.

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus smashed the false assumptions we like to base our lives on. Jesus walked around doing wonderful things and teaching the truth about God. It must have been wonderful to encounter him. Then Good Friday came and his disciples were shattered. They had to accept that life as we know it is not absolute. It will end in death. And then they were sorrowful.

But Easter happened and they were amazed. Jesus appeared regularly to the believers and they realized that if life was not absolute, neither was death. They thought they had found a new absolute viz. the Resurrection. But even there Jesus shattered their false belief system. When his female disciple wanted to cling to him he instructed her not to touch him as he had not yet ascended to the Father (John 20:17). What this means is that nothing is absolute – neither life nor death. There is only one absolute and that is our union with God. The goal of the life of Jesus was union with God and that is what he achieved in the Ascension – and the good news is that we too can achieve that union with God if we follow the teachings of Jesus. In all this we have to realize that Jesus did not want a fan club. He wanted disciples. In order to achieve union with God we simply have to do what he did.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, you desire a deep union with us. And Jesus himself indicated that where he is he wants us to be. Give us the grace to respond with all our hearts to the Gospel message so that we may indeed share in a deep and intimate union with you. Send your Holy Spirit into our hearts to empower us Lord. We make our prayer through your son Jesus who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen!

Bishop Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town

The End of Times

Join us this evening at 8pm via Facebook Live with Fr Zane Godwin as he talks about eschatology – dealing with death, judgement, heaven and hell, purgatory, resurrection of the dead, and answers any questions you may have! Follow @CATHOLICYOUTHCT. We hope to see you there.

Prayer and Reflection by Archbishop Stephen Brislin

Archbishop Stephen Brislin offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Wednesday 20th May 2020, during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. 

It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please also see below the text of his reflection, primarily for the deaf.

Blessings on you and thank you for joining me for this reflection. As usual, we will start with a reading from Scripture. It is from the First Reading of today’s Mass.

“Men of Athens, I have seen for myself how extremely scrupulous you are in all religious matters, because I strolled around looking at your sacred monuments. I noticed among other things an altar inscribed: To an unknown God. In fact, the unknown God you revere is the one I proclaim to you. ‘Since the God who made the world and everything in it is himself Lord of heaven and earth, he does not make his home in shrines made by human hands. Nor is he in need of anything, that he should be served by human hands; on the contrary it is he who gives everything – including life and breath – to everyone.” (Acts 17: 22b-25)

LET US PRAY:

Almighty Father, we pray that you will open our hearts and minds to listen to and to live by your Word. May we, your family, experience the joy that you have called us to, and may we always be willing to share that joy and hope with those we meet.  We make this our prayer through Our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who live and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever, amen.

As we approach the celebration of the Ascension of the Lord it is beneficial to remind ourselves that the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, is Lord of all creation. “In the beginning was the Word…Through him all things came into being” (Jn 1:1-3) we hear in St John’s Gospel. It is by the Word that the world and all it contains was made. In our humanness and uncertainty of truth, we may sometimes think how much better it would have been if Christ had not ascended into heaven – we may even question why he did so. Would it not be lovely if he were still with us to teach us and guide us – and to put the world right! But we trust his words: It is for your own good that I am going, because unless I go, the Paraclete will not come to you (Jn 16:7). The Ascension is the celebration of the Universal Christ, the Cosmic Christ – he is Lord of all that exists, and no world can hold him. Thus,  St Paul said to the “men of Athens” “since the God who made the world and everything in it is himself Lord of heaven and earth, he does not make his home in shrines made by human hands”.

Christ is the Lord of all nations, peoples, languages and countries. He is the Christ of every age.  We, who are confined by time and geography cannot possess Christ for ourselves, the cosmos itself cannot contain or confine him. As St Paul says in his letter to the Colossians:  “He exists before all things and in him all things hold together, and he is the Head of the Body, that is, the Church. He is the beginning, the first born from the dead, so that he should be supreme in every way” (1:17-18). In celebrating his cosmic nature, we rejoice in our unity – with God and with each other. As St Paul says in today’s first Reading: “since it is in him that we live, and move, and exist, as indeed some of your own writers have said: we are all his children”  (Acts 17:28).

Not only does the Ascension celebrate the Lord of the Cosmos, it is also a celebration of hope. Because we know that where he, the Head, has gone so we, the body, shall follow. He descended to earth taking on our humanity, in order that we may rise with him and share in his divine nature. Our true home is with the Lord and that is why we understand ourselves as being the pilgrim people, that this life is a journey which leads us to God. We are transient, on our way to something much greater. We may be in the world, but we are not of the world (cf Jn 17:16). We do not cling to worldly things because we know they pass away – rather we cling to those things that do not pass away.

So as we near this great solemnity of the Ascension we anticipate what it holds out to us and the hope we have. What we anticipate is not foreign to us, because we already experience it here and now, although not perfectly. But we have a foretaste of what life in Christ means, we have a foretaste of the joy of being united with him and the knowledge that all pain and suffering will pass away when “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev 21:4)

During this most difficult time may we celebrate the Ascension in a fitting away, glorifying and praising the God who is supreme, above all and to whom all should bow. May we be filled with hope and anticipation of that day when we shall be fully united with him, knowing that where he has gone we too shall follow. In the meantime, as we journey on our way, let us reach out to each other, giving each other the support and the strength we need, knowing that we are united with them by the One who is above all. The hardships of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to come (Rom 8:18) and so let us not despair nor become discouraged.

LET US PRAY FOR GOD’S BLESSING:

The Lord be with you                                                                  R/ And with your spirit

Bow down for the blessing:

Father of all that exists, we thank and praise you for your glory and power. We thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, into the world for our salvation, to reconcile us to you so that where the Head has gone, the body will follow. We ask you Lord, that as we continue on this journey, anticipating the day when we shall be fully united with you, that you will be gracious in bestowing your blessing upon us so that we may courageous in the face of adversity, compassionate when we encounter the needs of others and filled with hope as we face the future with confidence. We make this through Our Lord Jesus Christ                R/ Amen

May almighty God bless you, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit                       R/ Amen 

Stay in the peace of Christ, and I wish you joy and happiness in celebrating the Ascension of the Lord.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You…

When you are used to having very little, anything more makes you feel like you have won the lottery. That is how we felt when the Archdiocese of Cape Town donated another 75 food parcels, besides the 80 that they have donated a few weeks ago, to help feed rural farm families on Middelpos and surrounding farms. The joy, gratitude and much appreciation were visible in the eyes of the families who received it. The families clung onto the bags as if it was the most precious possession and the children could not wait to take out the food! Their smiles broadened each time they showed others a can of food or a packet from the food parcel. We drove home knowing that amongst all the sadness and suffering, this precious gift of a food parcel may be an answer to many prayers. A million thank yous to Archbishop Stephen Brislin, Bishop Sylvester David, Eugene Jackson and everyone else involved in working so hard to raise the funds and pack the bags and donate it to our rural farm families in an effort to help fight the spread of coronavirus, restore human dignity and give hope. 

To date, with all the donations that we have received in our bank account and via our givengain facebook campaign, we have distributed a total of 251 food parcels to help 1 305 vulnerable children, women and elderly people on Middelpos and surrounding farms. 

In addition to this, the children and their mothers donated 900kgs of fresh vegetables, more than 100 self-made cloth masks, jam and pickled vegetables worth nearly R80 000 to the farm families. They hope to continue to grow food and make masks to have surplus to start selling to the public in the near future. If you would like to order cloth masks or donate a fresh veggie bag to a farm family, please let us know. 

A million thank yous to everyone who has so far supported our food campaign. 

The struggle is far from over! We are still 8 food parcels short to finish the first round, then we start again, till such time that things are easier for the families. Please send us a donation to help support our food campaign on rural farms by clicking on the link below or requesting our bank details. Thank you so much.

Link

Prayer and Reflection by Bishop Sylvester David OMI

Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Friday 15th May 2020, during this time of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please also see below the text of his reflection, primarily for the deaf.

Reflection during lockdown: Friday 15th May 2020.
Why is it important to adopt protective measures against the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic? There are a few considerations. 
First and foremost it makes sense to do so. Suppose notice was given that there was a deadly snake on the loose in a certain park – apart from professional snake handlers, which of us will go near that park, let alone venture into it? Considering the nature of snakes, there is more chance of the snake disappearing than our being bitten. With the Coronavirus, there is a far greater chance of becoming infected if we do not take precautions such as hand washing, social distancing, and the other measures recommended for this time. 
Sadly, looking around us, some are foolish enough to ignore the recommendations. In places where there is hardly any space between dwellings, where there is no clean water, etc. like in some informal settlements one can understand this, but what about our shopping malls which according to our health ministry is where most infections take place? Perhaps it is the fact that we cannot see a microbe which is only a fraction of the size of a hair follicle that makes us careless. A deadly snake we can see – sometimes a bit too late I agree, but Covid-19 we cannot see until it is too late. 
In all this we must remember that we take precautions for two reasons – the first is to protect our own lives and well being; and the second is to protect those with whom we come into contact. In nthis regard we will do well to bear in mind that although we may be symptom free, we could still be carriers. Just going out whenever we feel like it can bring the virus into our homes. This is particularly serious where senior citizens and vulnerable persons such as diabetics are involved. The command by God: “Thou shall not to kill” has never been revoked – it is still valid. That we should not kill means that we ought to promote life. The Church is pro-life. This has always been the case. Being pro-life is far more that protesting against abortions. Apart from our anti-abortion stance which is absolutely necessary, we have to commit to promoting life all through the life span – we must exist so that people with whom we associate have life and have it to the full (cf. John 10:10). In that way we imitate Jesus.
In the book of Genesis the first question to fly into the face of the Creator comes from the murderous Cain: “Am I my brother’s guardian?” (Genesis 4:9). Throughout the rest of the bible, the answer is a resounding “YES” – we are our brother’s keep and our sister’s keeper.
In the Gospel reading for today’s Mass taken from John 15, Jesus reminds us that we are meant to love the neighbour. Using the example of his own life he says that no one can have greater love than to lay down his or her life for the other (cf. John 15:13). This is the love we are meant to imitate. The word used for love indicates a love that is self sacrificial. It is more than a nice feeling and certainly does not ask: “what’s in it for me?”. This love is for the good of the other and for the benefit of the other. It is meant to protect them from infections even if it that makes me uncomfortable and restless. This is the high calling of the followers of Jesus – to love as he himself loved.
Let us pray: Father, your Son gave us an example of what love is all about. His love was the opposite of selfishness and personal gain. Help us to imitate him in such a way the good news may be lived out through each of us. We make this prayer through Him who gave his life so that we could live. Amen.