Laudato Si’ presentation on Radio Veritas

In a broadcast that is of particular relevance to the Archdiocese of Cape Town, be sure to tune into Radio Veritas (DSTV 870 audio) Tuesday 7 June 2021 from 09.00-10.00 with Berni Crewe-Brown for the latest on Laudato Si’, Caring for our Common Home.

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 18 June 2021, 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.

Friday 18 June 2021. 2 Corinthians 11:18; 21-30. Please read the text.

We live in a world in which success is measured by what one has – by the brand names, by those we associate with, by what one drives, by where one lives, by one’s educational qualifications and a host of other external attributes. In sharp and striking contrast to all this, Paul claims to be a fool for Christ’s sake. He has all the attributes that his adversaries have in terms of breeding, learning and other associations but as he says elsewhere in scripture, he counts all this as rubbish compared to his life in Christ (Philippians 3:8). Somewhere along the line it became acceptable to use only polite language when speaking of religious matters and the English translation follows this unwritten rule. The language in the original is a lot more robust. Paul does not count all these external things as mere rubbish – the word he uses is far stronger.

In the today’s text Paul speaks of his sufferings as the qualifying marks for his claim to be a Christian and an Apostle. Far from the tendency today to complain if life is not easy, our heroes of the faith showed courage and tenacity when difficulties arose. They never gave up. We see this in the lives of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Job, Tobit, John the Baptist and Jesus. Jesus in fact encouraged his followers to choose the narrow path rather than the well trodden path of fortune and fame. Jesus lived a life of poverty, not even having had a stone on which to lay his head (cf. Matthew 8:20). He came into this world in a borrowed cradle and left in a borrowed tomb. He died a shameful death in all humiliation and degradation but because of this was raised by God and given the name which is above all other names (Philippians 2:5-11). God’s logic is vastly different to ours.

Paul outlines all the difficulties he experienced. Count all the instances of “un-easiness” in our first reading of today’s Mass – it makes a rather uncomfortable litany. It could only have been borne by someone who steadfastly trusted in God – and therein lies our challenge. How do we face our difficulties? Do we trust in God or do we act as if God did not matter at all. I suggest that we end this self scrutiny by reading what St Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans. Read in a prayerful fashion the text of Romans 8:28-39. Accept the text as God’s word to the children he loves and thank him for his accompaniment on our life’s journey.

Let us pray: Father you never leave us alone. When we feel abandoned help us to remember that you are still in the same place you were when Jesus was on the cross. Give us the grace to seek you and to trust in you even when we cannot feel your presence. We ask this through Christ, who himself showed this trust. Amen.

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 16 June 2021, 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.

In the month of June we focus our lives on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, remembering his love, mercy and forgiveness. In South Africa, we celebrate “Youth Day” today, helping us to reflect on our responsibility to young people and how we can guide and equip them to contribute to the community, the growth of human dignity and equality. The excerpt of Scripture is taken from today’s Gospel Reading (Matthew 6:1-6; 16-18):

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

Let us pray:

Loving Father, we pray that you will bless us with honesty, that we may live our life of discipleship with integrity and hope.  We make this prayer, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever, amen.

Last week, I spoke of Jesus’ “new commandment” – the commandment to love with the same love he has for us. The love we strive to have is a genuine love, a real concern for the good and well-being of others, without any pretence or falseness. Since we have undertaken to follow Jesus we wish our love to be sincere and this is a life-long task. The love that Jesus speaks of is not something that we have or don’t have. It is a journey of learning how to love, of being decisive in overcoming negative emotions in order to grow in sacrificial love and to persevere even though we make mistakes and have failures.

I also said last week that such love is impossible to achieve without God’s grace in us. While it is expressed in our daily activities – love in practice – it is also necessary to be in communion with the well-spring of God’s life, love and grace. In other words, it is necessary to take responsibility for our interior life, our spirituality and communion with God. The two go together, in the motto of the Benedictines it is “to work and to pray”. It is similar to the incident of Martha and Mary, where Mary sat at the feet of Jesus while Martha worked away in the kitchen preparing food (Luke 10: 38-42). Martha, who had opened her home to Jesus, was rather annoyed that she was left with the work while Mary relished simply being with Jesus. We are expected to be both Martha and Mary – to be with Christ while at the same time making our love practical and concrete. It s not a matter of “either or” but it is to be “both”.

In today’s Gospel, a reading that is read every year on Ash Wednesday, we are given ways of growing in our spiritual life. First and foremost, the warning Jesus gives us is that we are not to do this for show. It is not to impress people or to present a false and hypocritical image of ourselves. We undertake the journey to please God and to be of service to him. It is very much about our relationship with God and our desire to conform our lives to his will. 

Then Jesus speaks about giving alms. We are not to sound “a trumpet” when we do this, and we are not to let “the left hand know what the right hand is doing”. This is important, because our assistance to others is meant to arise from a genuine concern, a sense of solidarity with our neighbour who is suffering and the desire to share from what we have, no matter how little it may be.

Next, Jesus talks about prayer. We are to go into our rooms, shut the door and pray in secret. We understand his words to mean – not that we should not pray in the presence of others, such as Mass – but that we pray in the depths of our hearts, even if it is done during communal prayer. It is through prayer that we keep our relationship with God alive. It is an intimate moment when we express our deepest and most honest feelings and thoughts, stripping away all pretence and excuses!

Finally, Jesus talks about fasting, depriving ourselves of food or something else that we enjoy doing. Of course, fasting from food should not be done if it will affect our health, but we can find other ways to fast or to abstain. It is something we should practice regularly because fasting strengthens us and builds up an inner resolve so that we have control over our lives, that we do not follow every fancy and whim that might seem attractive to us. Our emotional life is important and it is essential to be “in touch with” and to understand our emotions. But, at the same time, we cannot be ruled by them, we must learn to master them. We can transform this time of Covid into a form of fasting, allowing it to change and soften our hearts to become more like the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

We are tired of Covid and wish it would go away. But we can still put this time to good use by working on ourselves and developing our inner life, with genuineness and through charity (alms giving), thinking of those who suffer more than we do, through prayer and through understanding this time as a type of fasting. The hardship of the restrictions can make us better people. For the many, many people who are struggling simply to survive and who are facing devastation, this may be a luxury, and that puts a greater onus on us who have greater blessings to reach out and make a difference in their lives.

Let us now pray for God’s blessing:

The Lord be with you R/ And with your Spirit

Bow down for the blessing:

Enlighten your people, O Lord, with the light of your truth, that they may rejoice joyfully in serving you in the daily activities of their lives and that, through them, your Kingdom may grow among people. Through Christ our Lord, amen

May Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (+), amen.

Youth Day Mass Celebration

Join our livestream of Youth Day Mass this Wednesday, celebrated by Archbishop Brislin. Like, follow and join the Catholic Youth Facebook page @catholicyouthct.

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 11 June 2021, 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 for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. Friday 11 June 2021 

Good morning and welcome once again to a brief faith reflection. At the outset it must be pointed out that no amount of preaching and commentary on the mystery of the Sacred Heart can ever take the place of our own prayer reflection on the reality of God’s unfathomable love and mercy. Meditate on the first and second readings for today’s Mass. See the description of the tender love of God in the reading from Hosea and bask in that love. Also take time to reflect on the depth of God’s love for us in the second reading from Ephesians 3. 

The pandemic is resurging in a serious way and we must do everything in our power to promote and protect life. I am alone here, having gotten used to setting up the cell phone in selfie mode so I do not need the face mask. But once I step outside the mask becomes essential as it serves to protect others. And that is what today’s feast is all about – bringing comfort to others and making life bearable for them. This year the Gospel reading for the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus comes from the 19th chapter of John’s Gospel. It is a familiar text calling to mind the piercing of the side of Christ. 

Whereas John 19:34 describes the piercing of the side of Jesus, we remember from elsewhere in the NT that when Jesus died, the veil in the temple was torn not from bottom to top but from top to bottom. That veil was approximately 20 metres high. A human being could never have torn it. God did it (cf. Mark 15:37-38; Matthew 27:51; Luke 23:45). Why is this significant? What was behind the veil? What was God destroying when he destroyed that curtain? The curtain screened what was known as the most holy place of the Temple – the holy of holies, a place which represented heaven itself. Only the high priest could enter that place once a year to make a sin offering – and this after he himself was purified. Leviticus 16 contains all the rubrics for the Day of Atonement. In the NT the book of Hebrews makes three references to the “veil” or curtain culminating in Hebrews 10:20 where the veil in the Temple and the veil of the flesh of Christ are brought together. The implication was that when the veil of his flesh was torn, the true holy of holies – i.e. the heart of Christ itself was made manifest.

At the death of Christ, the curtain which separated humanity from the Divine was dramatically done away with. Holiness is now achieved through the death of Christ. Atonement for sins is achieved through the death of Christ. Our accessibility to the divine presence is mediated through this saving death. The 9th chapter of Hebrews describes and interprets this for us. This might be a good chance to read it. The emphasis in all this is on the mercy of God. All this involves ritual because through ritual we participate in the healing process. Ritual opens up for us possibilities for ongoing dialogue with the Divine. The Sacred Heart is none other than the merciful heart of God.


Let us pray: Lord, during this time we carry many burdens. The Coronavirus pandemic has hurt the human community in many ways. There is uncertainty, fear, illness and economic hardship. The body of Christ, is affected, infected and inflicted but we know that where the body is the head is also there. Today’s feast tells us that through his sacrifice on Calvary we are saved. Thank you for the gift of so great a redeemer. Help us to realise that no matter how heavy the burden, he is right there with us. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Bishop S. David OMI
VG/Auxiliary Bishop of Cape Town

Bishops encourage all to take Covid 19 vaccine

There has been a certain amount of reluctance in certain quarters, mostly around safety and ethical concerns, to registering for or taking the Covid 19 vaccine. In a pastoral letter from our bishops, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, President of the SACBC addresses some of these concerns, encouraging all to take the vaccine.

SACBC-Statement-on-Vaccines

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 9 June 2021, 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.

Welcome to today’s reflection. I trust that you were able to celebrate the solemnity of Corpus Christi prayerfully and with gratitude, even if you were not able to attend Mass physically due to the restrictions. We continue to thank God for the Eucharist, which makes present to us Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. For today’s reflection I have taken an excerpt from the Gospel of today’s Mass (Matthew 5:17-19):

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.”

Let us pray:

Father, source of all love, fill our hearts with the same love, that we may love and honour you with all our heart, soul and mind, and that we may love our neighbour with the selfsame love that your Son Jesus has for us. We make this prayer, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever, amen.

Jesus did not come to abolish the laws given by God to Moses in the Old Testament. He came to fulfil them and not to change them. Indeed, he emphasises that the one who does these laws (that is, keeps them) and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of God. Crucially, he also emphasises that he has not come to abolish the Prophets. He not only fulfils the law, but also the prophecies of a new covenant, a new heaven and new earth, and the realm of the Kingdom of God – a kingdom that transcends all earthly kingdoms.

Hearing Jesus’s words to his disciples at the Last Supper may seem to contradict what he said to his disciples on this occasion. At the Last Supper, after washing his disciples’ feet, he said to them, I give you a new commandment: love one another; you must love one another just as I have loved you (John 13;34). The commandment to love God and to love one another was not a new commandment! It’s roots are in the Old Testament (e.g.Deuteronomy 6:4-7; Leviticus 19:18). Thus, when a scribe approached Jesus and asked him “What is the greatest commandment?”, Jesus replied that it is to love God with your whole heart, soul and mind – that is the first commandment, and the second is like it, to love your neighbour as yourself. The scribe recognized the truth of Jesus’ reply and said to him “well spoken, Master” (Mark 12:28-34). In the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus teaches us who our neighbour is.

In the light of this, how could Jesus say at the Last Supper that he was giving “a new commandment”? The crucial words of Jesus are that we are to love “as I have loved you”. We are to love with the same love Jesus has for us. It is appropriate that it was at the Last Supper that he spoke these words because the events that unfolded from that time show exactly how Jesus loves us. He loves us to such an extent that he abandons his own life and gives himself over to be tortured, humiliated, mocked, crucified and allowed his blood to drain from his Body in giving his life for our salvation. When he says that he is giving us a “new commandment” to “love one another, as I have loved you”, that is the love that he is calling us to have. Abandonment to self and the willingness to empty ourselves in fidelity to God and for the wellbeing and good of others. This type of love, while it makes us whole, blesses us with inner peace and unites us in love with God, is nonetheless a painful journey which we must not romanticize or else we shall never be able to endure it. It is choosing the “narrow gate” rather than to walk the broad and easy path. We have to ask ourselves, are we able to love as Jesus loves us? By ourselves it is impossible. With God we are given the strength and grace to learn to love as Jesus loves us. Our Lady, the saints and martyrs and many good men and women throughout history have shown us that it is possible – but only when we allow God’s grace into our hearts. Thank God for the Eucharist which allows his life to flow in our lives, for it is only through his life working within ours that we are able to embark on this arduous but joyful journey.

Jesus did not abolish the law and prophets. Throughout the Old Testament, love of God and love of neighbour are woven together. To keep the ten commandments means that we will show love to God and neighbour. What Jesus has done, is to call us to go beyond simply not doing that which harms our relationship with God and with others ,and learning to integrate the virtues of Jesus’ love into our lives. These are the virtues he showed throughout his life but which are starkly revealed to us in his passion and death – self-sacrifice, forgiveness, reconciliation, mercy, compassion, justice, peace and unity. To keep the Law and the Prophets is part of Christian life, but it must be accompanied by our willingness to grow in virtue and goodness, picking ourselves up after our many failures, and learning daily to love more and more as Jesus loves us.

Let us now pray for God’s blessing:

The Lord be with you R/ And with your Spirit

Bow down for the blessing:

Lift the burdens on the shoulders of your people, Lord, and lighten their yoke, that they may always rejoice in your love and cherish the peace that you alone can give. Through Christ our Lord, amen

May Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (+), amen.

Laudato Si’ presentation on Radio Veritas

Be sure to tune into Radio Veritas (Medium Wave 576 AM or DSTV 870 audio) Tuesday 7 June 2021 from 09.00-10.00 with Berni Crewe-Brown for the latest on Laudato Si’, Caring for our Common Home.

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 4 June 2021, 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.

Friday 4 June 2021. Blindness. Tobit 11:5-17 

The second chapter of Tobit gives us the rather humorous way in which Tobit became blinded. I will resist the temptation of describing it as that will rob you of the joy you will receive when you engage with the text. 

In the passage for today we see Tobit’s sight being restored. Raphael gives Tobias a guarantee that his father’s sight will be restored. This is significant because ‘Raphael” literally means “God heals”. Although cultural elements are used, it is God who restores Tobit’s sight. This is not unusual in the Bible. In 2 Kings 5, Naaman has to do a ritual of dipping seven times in the Jordan prior to being cured of leprosy, and in John 9 and Mark 8, Jesus uses spittle to make a paste and brings about healing of the blind.

Tobias, the son of Tobit, marries Sarah the daughter of Raguel. Raguel represents fairness, harmony and justice. Sarah is fittingly welcomed into her new home and family. The book was composed to encourage the Jews who were far away from their homeland not to give up on their traditions. It combines prayers, ethical teachings and Jewish folklore. This ancient text is particularly relevant to us during this pandemic as Covid-19 puts distance between us and our loved ones and also physically separates us from our faith communities.

It is also important to help us discover our own selective blindness. To use an analogy from our freeways – when changing lanes, one can at times not see a vehicle in the rearview mirror or the wing mirror simply because that vehicle is hidden in the so called “blind spot”. One has to glance over ones shoulder in order to see the danger. Similarly we can train ourselves not to see certain people and to keep them in our blind spots. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, this is precisely what the sin of the rich man was. He was indifferent to Lazarus. This is the only parable in the NT where the protagonist is named – Lazarus is the Greek and Latin version of Eleazar; a name which is very significant because it means “I have only God as my help”. These are often people who become invisible in plain sight.

In Mark 8:22-26, Jesus heals a blind man. This story is significant because it is the only miracle worked by Jesus that had to be repeated as it did not work the first time. After the first treatment the man could see people but they looked like trees. Jesus treated him again and this time he saw clearly. The word used to indicated “clearly” literally means that he saw in the way the Creator intended him to see. It is true that if we cannot see people as people, then we are blind and need further treatment by Jesus. The question still remains: in which ways do I not see clearly? We can so easily be blind to our own shortcomings and focus instead on the faults of others. We must remember that in the NT clear vision is synonymous with faith and to have the eyes opened is to come to faith.

Let us pray: Lord help us to see clearly what you intend us to see. Restore in us the vision of innocence, of truth and of beauty. Help us to recognise the neighbour who needs help and to see people as people. Help us to see ourselves in others so that we may share our blessings with them. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen [Blessing].