Monday, April 8, 2013

Holy Week and Papal Appointments

Holy Trinity Braamfontein
Now Holy Week is past and catching up with work is almost complete I can catch up with Pope Francis and  a number of other things. In Holy Week I alternated between Holy Trinity, Braamfontein - my normal church - and Blessed Sacrament, Malvern.  They are two very different churches.  Trinity is Jesuit, liturgically excellent, musically superb and our new organ makes a huge difference as it is much more versatile and has a much 'brighter' acoustic. Blessed Sacrament is more conservative theologically, chorus-type music, words flashed on a screen, electric organ and much more family orientated because of the nature of the parish.
Blessed Sacrament, Malvern
Both churches have big congregations and have to deal with the overflow at this time of year.  I find them both satisfying churches to attend but in different ways though the music at Malvern would probably drive me nuts if I went there every week!  When you look at the words of these chorus-type hymns they are so noticeably egocentric and all about "Jesus and me" where as the hymns we sing at Trinity are much more communally worship orientated and 'I' hardly ever figures in the wording..."Hail the day that sees Him rise..... "

Pope Francis  
Thank goodness we live in the developing world and have more things to worry about than Canon Law and who's feet should or should not be washed on Holy Thursday!  I am amazed and saddened by some bloggers, Rorate Caeli is just one example, and their "Horror" at the election of Pope Francis..though they
subsequently attempted to distance themselves from their 'correspondent' by saying it wasn't their opinion.  I really find our new Pope's approach very encouraging and his appointment on Saturday of Fr Jose Rodriguez Carballo OFM, the Minister General of the Franciscans, to head The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life & Societies of Apostolic Life as a step forward.  It makes sense to have a religious in that position.  Also it may ease the tension between the Congregation and the majority of Women's Orders in the USA.  Similarly he appointed his successor in Buenos Aires 15 days after his election as Pope.  That must be almost a record for appointments.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pray for Pope Francis, the Problem of Rape and Cardinal Napier puts his foot in it.

Pray for Pope Francis, he needs our prayers.
Massimo Franco, one of Italy's shrewdest political editorial writers, commented in the Corriere Della Sera, "the era of the Pope-King and of the Vatican court is over".  I'm delighted!

I have been horrified by the invective coming out of some of the so-called 'traditionalist' blogs accusing him of being opposed to the Extra-ordinary Form of the Mass, mixing with Jews, Heretics and Infidels and reducing the Faith to a form of spiritual relativism.  He didn't wear the stole through-out his first appearance on the balcony, spoke Italian and not short we will probably all end up as Quakers.  (Worse things could happen.) They were obviously hoping for a reincarnation of Pio Nono.

You expect the secular press to try and find something damaging in his past because that is there job but naively I didn't expect it from our co religionists...or are they?

 Rape and Abuse

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ
At Holy Trinity we had a meeting on Saturday to discuss the issue of rape and what we, as a church, could do about it.  This came to a head as a result of the suspension of a lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand for alleged sexual harassment and as we effectively house the University Chaplaincy our Paris Priest, Fr Russell Pollitt SJ, raised the matter in his sermon a couple of weeks ago and was inundated with women and students talking about  their experiences.  This has been on-going and many people felt that we had to do something.

I'm a bit cynical about the outcome as rape and women abuse as it is in many ways acceptable in South African society from the higher echelons of government to grass routes level.  Marches and T-shirts don't achieve anything beyond a feeling of self-satisfaction and a bit of money in the pockets of T-shirt manufacturers.  It's all very well saying that women should know their rights but it doesn't help much if they are not economically independent and cannot assert them as is the case with 99% of the female population.  We are not going to change this patriarchal attitude but we can help people who have been abused and can teach women how to react if they are in danger of being raped, are being raped or have been raped and provide support for them.

Cardinal Wilfred Napier
Cardinal Napier
I see our Cardinal has made headlines in the international press with an interview with the BBC where he said that paedophilia is an illness and paedophiles should be treated rather than punished.  I know what he is trying to say but why say it so badly and provide yet more ammunition for the anti-catholic lobby.  On the other hand it is a change from his usual obsession with condoms.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Back to the Blog, Sede Vacante, Stamps, Cardinals and Capsica

I'm amazed to discover that some people have missed this blog!  I had rather thought it would become boring and there was little interest in my opinions.  I know that I tend to be intimidated by those who consider themselves 'traditionalist', 'true to the Magisterium' or what-ever you like to call it and unchurch anyone who disagrees with them and that is why I have not written here for 10 months.  Sede Vacante seems to be a good reason to write again.  Apparently the stamps are going like hot cakes!

I've been busy reading all the possible papabilli comments ever since Benedict XVI abdicated but I am rather cynical about it as everyone was wrong about Cardinal Ratzinger.  He wasn't on any reporter's list probably up until John Paul II's funeral and his sermon before the Conclave.  Benedict XVI's abdication has certainly put a cat among the pigeons as this time there was no long visible dying process to allow the cardinals to think seriously about a successor long in advance.  I'm sure Benedict saw the results of an incapacitated Pope so close at hand and the problems it created that he was determined never to be in that position himself.  And, more to the point, how bad it was for the Church as a whole.

Everyone wants Super Pope, an able manager, a charismatic leader, a strong...but not too strong...personality, a multi linguist, a pastoral man, a brilliant theologian and above all a holy person, a man of prayer.  It seems impossible and so is the job.  Fortunately the Holy Spirit has a hand in this so such a man  may exist.

Adopt a Cardinal

What a brilliant idea and over 497 000 have responded so far.  Just click HERE to go to the site.  You have are given a cardinal at random to pray for during the conclave.  I imagine many people will keep him in their prayers afterwards as well.

I was given Péter Erdő, from Hungary, born 1952-6-25.
He's been a Cardinal since 2003-10-21 and he is Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary.  I had to look him up!

Incidentally I have these capsicums growing in my vegetable garden.  They are known as Bishop's Crowns.  They come from South America but grow well in the West Indies and also in Europe but aren't common in Africa. Is that a hint?  The 'wings' are sweet, there is little flesh and a very mild bite on the aftertaste.

I can also add that Cappuccino Coffee comes from the colour of a Capuchin's robes......

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Baring & The Mix

Maurice Baring
"Never, never, never talk theology or discuss the Church with those outside it. People simply do not understand what you are talking about and they merely (a) get angry and (b) come to the conclusion that one doesn't believe in the thing oneself and that one is simply doing it to annoy."  

This was Maurice Baring's advice to Hilaire Belloc...which he didn't take, of course.  I really think Maurice Baring has a point following an experience I had some time ago at a dinner I had organised in a Chinese Restaurant.  I can't remember how the topic came up about my religious affiliations but I do remember trying to point out to someone that what they said wasn't true and eventually saying that they were being insulting and rude.  The result was that he and his wife left!

Sadly Maurice Baring seems to be the forgotten man of the triumvirate of Chesterton, Belloc & Baring and he was an elegant writer.  He was in the Royal Flying Corps in World War l and became a Wing Commander in the RAF!

"But the pronunciation varies,
Some people call it Buenos Aires.
A line I stole with subtle daring
From Wing Commander Maurice Baring"  as Belloc says in his Cautionary Tales....though the last two lines are asterisked at the bottom of the page.

Radio Veritas 576 AM
I really must advertise my programme, The Mix, on Facebook...9,00am every Friday.... This week I had well-known political commentator Dr Steven Friedman, Director of the Institute for Democracy, discussing 'The Ruling Party & Religion' as well as Des Lindberg talking about Soirées and my weekly classical music spot with Richard Cock.  He and I talked about the University of Johannesburg Choir and how it has developed from the old Rand Afrikaans University Choir post 1994.  It gave me the excuse to play a couple of tracks from their new CD.  Bob Dillon & Joan Baez were the other musical offerings as they tied up with Des Lindberg to a degree.  You can listen to Des & Dawn in the Video Bar.
Fr Ralph Wright OSB

On a more Catholic note I interviewed Judy Stockill as she steps down as editor of the Archdiocesan News and I talked about a book, "Christ - Our Love for All Seasons.  A Liturgy of the Hours for Everyone" by Fr Ralph Wright OSB.  I think the poetry in the book is not only good, but also thought provoking so I was able to read a couple of his poems.  

Here is one of them:

The man who fell in with thieves 
on his way to Jericho 
may have been going there 
-for all we know- 
to murder his mother 
he may have come from robbing the Temple 
or sleeping with his next-door-neighbour's wife 
-we are not told- 
the man who finds him 
half dead 
clearly does not know 

and God seems to be hammering home 
blow by blow 
the thought 
that worthiness is irrelevant 

all we need 
is to recognize need 

Next week I will add my guests before the programme so you will have the opportunity of listening.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Radio Veritas & Hilaire Belloc

The family invasion is over and life has almost returned to normal!  The astonishing news is that I am presenting a programme on Radio Veritas now that it has it 576MW.  The Mix, 9,00 to 10,00am every Friday.  It's astonishing because of my criticism of the station when I was at the SABC and even on this blog in the past so I was convinced that I would never be approached to help them in any way.

I have presented two programmes so far.  The first had to be recorded as I was heading for Cape Town to join the family invasion of the city.  The second was live and there were a few mistakes which is to be expected.

The programme is part miscellany and part half-hour in depth interview.  The miscellany this week will include the local Fatima Pilgrimage, the 120th anniversary festival of St Joseph's Mayfair, Johannesburg's oldest Catholic Church, music with Richard Cock (that's a weekly fixture) and I always talk about a book.  The main interview will be with Fr Michael Van Heerden the Vice Chancellor of St Augustine's Catholic University.
We also talk about wine and food from time to time and there is a bottle of wine as a prize for a listener each week!......that reminds me of Belloc.

Heretics All

Hilaire Belloc
Heretics all, whoever you may be,
In Tarbes or Nimes, or over the sea,
You never shall have good words from me.
Caritas non conturbat me.

But Catholic men that live upon wine
Are deep in the water, and frank, and fine;
Wherever I travel I find it so,
Benedicamus Domino.

On childing women that are forelorn,
And men that sweat in nothing but scorn:
That is on all that ever were born,
Miserere Domine.

To my poor self on my deathbed,
And all my dear companions dead,
Because of the love that I bore them,
Dona Eis Requiem. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Lenten Gap...Mea Culpa.......

St Therese, Edenvale
I've missed a couple of posting days through an invasion of family and Telkom attempting to get the landline functioning and cutting off the ADSL line in the process.  The family are now rushing around nature reserves dying to see nature red in tooth and claw but hopefully not red enough to frighten the children!

This has also meant a change in Church and my normal Mass time on a Sunday to easily accommodate the children.....7,30 at St Therese, Edenvale, a huge modern Catholic Factory run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate with a school attached.  It's not to my taste but it is successful and they sing all the "Sing Hosanna" stuff that the girls obviously sing at their Catholic School in Surrey.

Easter Day we will all be going to Holy Trinity, Braamfontein at 9,30  as I am on duty then and I will be interested to see the reaction to the liturgy and the music.

Lent has been grinding on and my decision to give up alcohol has been interesting.  Up until Laudete Sunday I really felt that this was a nothing thing.  Somebody said that as it was Laudete we could have a glass of wine but I really didn't feel like one!  For the last couple of weeks it has suddenly become difficult.  I had to present a mystery wine to the Bacchanalian Society and have subsequently been entertaining family and friends with a ginger beer in my hand.  Now, in Holy Week, it is more difficult than ever.  I can remember, a few years ago, on a religious discussion programme that I hosted on the radio on Easter Day one of the panel arriving with a big bag of chocolates and slowly demolishing them...he had apparently given up chocolate for Lent and was making up for lost time!  At the time I thought it strange and certainly not in keeping with a Lenten fast and celebrating Christ's Resurrection.  I can now empathise!  Jean is having the same problem with a lack of computer games and now has severe withdrawal symptoms!

Halfway through my second assignment on Moral Theology at the moment.  It's a very long time since I did any theological study and I really battled to get started on the first assignment though everyone said I would find it easy as I had done it all before.  You need something to get the little grey cells to start working properly again and I'm finding the second one easier.  This easing yourself into systematic studying was the right approach.

A Blessed Holy Week to you all.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A New Papal Nuncio; Archbishop Mario Cassari

The Apostolic See (the Vatican) announces the appointment of Archbishop Mario Roberto CASSARI as the incoming Nuncio (Papal Ambassador) to South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland and Namibia.
H.E. Archbishop Mario Roberto CASSARI – Archbishop Titular of Tronto
27 August 1943: Born in Ghilarza (Sardinia – Italy).
27 December 1969: Ordained priest, after studies in Philosophy and Theology.
1969-1974: Parish Vicar at the Cathedral of Tempio Pausania (Sardinia), Teacher at
Secondary School and Bishop’s Secretary.
•  Doctor in Theology at Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.
•  Licence in Canon Law at Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.Graduated in Diplomatic Studies in 1977 at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy (also known as the “Vatican Diplomatic Academy”).
•  Archbishop Cassari speaks Italian, French, Spanish and English.
22 March 1977: Admitted into the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See. He served on the following Apostolic Nunciatures: Pakistan, Colombia, Ecuador, Sudan, Southern Africa (1985-1989, under Abp. Mees and Abp. De Paoli), Japan, Austria, Lithuania (Latvia/Estonia), Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia/Montenegro) and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
3 August 1999: Appointed by the Blessed John Paul II as Titular Archbishop of Tronto and
Apostolic Nuncio to Congo and Gabon.
16 October 1999: Consecrated Archbishop by H.E. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State.
31 July 2004: Appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger.
14 February 2008: Appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Apostolic Nuncio to Croatia.
10 March 2012: Appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Apostolic Nuncio to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland.

A new Nuncio to succeed the popular Archbishop Green.  If you read through the CV you will notice that Archbishop Cassari has been here before under Archbishops Mees and De Paoli.  Paddy Kearney refers to Archbishop Cassari, then a mere Monsignor,  in his biography of Archbishop Dennis Hurley, "Guardian of the Light:  Dennis Hurley : Renewing the Church: Opposing Apartheid".

Archbishop Jan Mees, the then Nuncio, was invited to give a message from Pope John Paul II at the last Plenary Session of the SACBC that was chaired by Archbishop Hurley in 1987.  Mees was close to the Paraguayan Dictator Alfredo Stroessner with whom the then SA government was also on good terms.  Mees basicly told the SA Bishops to keep their noses out of politics in a roundabout way quoting JPII.....President PW Botha had similarly quoted the Pope to the Bishops on an earlier occasion.  It was contrary to everything that Archbishop Hurley and the SACBC stood for.

Mees was transferred shortly afterwards leaving Mgr Cassari in charge of the delegation.  At the first possible opportunity he addressed the SACBC and said " You, more than others, know your people,  you live among them, you share their anxieties and their sorrows as a result of their everyday living conditions.  For all this you must shout, even from the roof tops - in the name of God - that the time has come that South Africa really becomes a New South Africa."  He was given a standing ovation...and that New South Africa seemed a very long way away in 1987!  

Don't be put off by the stern picture. He is obviously a good man.