Every Wednesday, for the duration of the lockdown in South Africa, Archbishop Stephen Brislin will present a prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town (and beyond). In turn, Bishop Sylvester David will present a reflection on every Friday of the lockdown. Here is Archbishop Brislin’s reflection for today, Wednesday 25 March 2020.
By Bishop Sylvester David OMI, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cape Town.
A reflection as to why many Local Ordinaries in the SACBC region have lifted the obligation to attend Mass during such a sacred time in our liturgical year.
The Church exists not so much for herself as she does for the salvation of the world. The Latin word for salvation actually refers to safety and welfare. Salvation is not an otherworldly reality lived in a vacuum but it is lived out in the concrete circumstances of human vulnerability and brokenness. That fact that in Cape Town, for example, there is no public Mass does not mean that Mass has been stopped. On the contrary every priest is expected to celebrate Mass (in private) and the Mass being a priestly prayer rather than a devotional one, is naturally other-centred. In other words the priest offers sacrifice for others. Laity, know that you are prayed for at this time. Trust in the priestly prayer of the Church.
That Bishops have dispensed people from attending Mass at this time as permitted by the Canon Law of the Church is in keeping with the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 12:1-8 that the Sabbath is made for humanity and not the other way around. Using the example of King David, Jesus shows that human need is primary – and primary at this time is the need to love the neighbour by not opening him or her up to infections. St Paul reminds us that the whole of the law is summed up in “love of the neighbour” (Galatians 5:14). The word for “love” in this text means a self-sacrificial love.
South African dioceses are not the only ones where the obligation to attend Sunday Mass has been lifted. This is being done in many parts of the world. The call is for us to make a sacrifice for the good of the human community. Medical experts use the term social distancing. This refers to a physical distance. Spiritually we can say that rather than distance ourselves from human need, the Christian community is actually drawn together by showing solidarity with each other in a spirit of prayer, and indeed is doing it for the salus (latin word for “salvation”) of the world. When we embrace that motive, we show a oneness with Christ in his saving love for the world.
Of course, when the crisis is over, such measures will fall away – and then we will have the benefit of having discovered a new way of being Church – right where we live. This is the veritable body of Christ in our homes. If we look at it in the right way we will certainly be enriched and our Sunday worship will be an expression of togetherness with the wider family of God.
Archbishop Stephen Brislin, ably assisted by Fr Manuel Fernandes SAC, parish priest of Corpus Christi, Wynberg celebrated a live-streamed Sunday Mass (4th Sunday of Lent) in his home chapel at 17.00 on Saturday 21 March 2020. The Mass was live-streamed to the Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Town Facebook page HERE.
Further live-streamed Masses will be announced periodically on our website and our Facebook page.
Please see the attached video recording from Archbishop Stephen Brislin regarding the live streaming of Sunday Mass this coming Sunday.
Please see the following video message from Bishop Sylvester David concerning the Coronavirus
Please spread as widely as possible, especially on social media, that Archbishop Stephen Brislin’s pre-recorded Mass can be viewed on Sunday 22 March 2020 at 09h00.
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We are forwarding this appeal from the Southern Cross, who will be badly affected if parishioners can’t get their copy while Masses are cancelled.
18 March 2020
This is probably the last thing on your mind right now — but the survival of The Southern Cross depends on your support and help while the Covid-19 virus restrictions are in place.
We will carry on publishing, continuing our record of not having missed a single week’s publication in almost 100 years.
We would therefore please ask you to advise all your fellow Catholics through your email contacts, any social media, any parish newsletter etc. that they can subscribe to our digital version or to our printed edition which will be posted directly to them. They can do so by emailing email@example.com or going to www.scross.co.za/subscribe
We would welcome any other suggestion of how we can get The Southern Cross to our loyal readers.
This will become even more urgent in case all of our churches are forced to close altogether for the duration of the pandemic.
These are trying times for all of us, but our continued existence in our 100th year depends on your help.
Please pray for us as we pray for all our priests and collaborators in the social communications apostolate.
Rosanne Shields Gunther Simmermacher
Tel: 021 465 5007 – Fax: 021 465 3850 – Cell: 083 233 1956 (w)
Please see the embedded video message from Archbishop Stephen Brislin concerning the Coronavirus.