Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Radio Veritas and other Electronic Means of Communication.

Strange things are happening in the South African Catholic World!  The Catholic Radio Station, Radio Veritas, has been granted a medium wave frequency after years of trying.  Fr Emil Blaser OP has really personified the station since its inception and this is the culmination of years of his personal dedication to the Catholic broadcasting cause.

This is what he has to say about it:


Today, 13 September 2011, Radio Veritas received its long awaited broadcast license. It's like a dream come true and constantly unfolding.
After much negotiating with ICASA the Authority granted an openended broadcast license to Radio Veritas on 576 MW here in Gauteng.  This is the culmination of years of patience and perseverance.  There were often times when we felt like throwing in the towel, feeling that the authorities were against us.  However, now, it has all come together.  We hoped for 50kW of power and got 10kW.  We will start with this and see how things develop and hopefully be granted more power in the future. We will now have to negotiate with Sentech.  Also, medium wave is expensive and we will need not only prayer and moral support but also financial support.  We will also need a new transmitter as the old one at Meyerton runs on valves and is out of fashion and expensive.
We would like to go on air as soon as possible but need to prepare well so that we can deliver a quality product on this new medium. A mass of thanksgiving will be celebrated on September 14 at 12h30 and all are invited to share this time with us.
We are grateful to many for their personal interventions - our hierarchy and some of the authorities at ICASA who have been keen to see us licensed. We have long been complimented on our broadcasts and its now so good to see all this coming together at last.  Please spread the word and give people "THE GOOD NEWS. FOR A CHANGE".

I may be a little too cynical about this but Veritas is very much an amateur station and it always comes across as lowest common denominator Catholic with lot's of  "Father you are so wonderful" phone-ins and very little critical discussion.  Quite surprising for a something that is Dominican run!
Let's hope that the new license will enable Veritas to become more professional and then generate advertising revenue so that it can have more appeal, not only to the Catholic Community but also as an evangelism tool to those outside it.  I am sure that it is possible.

The SACBC New Website is a great improvement.  It's clear, eye-catching and everything you would hope for but it is always out of date.  There is an SACBC Blog link that was last updated in November 2009!

The same degree of urgency applies to our Diocesan website as well which really does need a face-lift.

I have a feeling that the basic reason for this is too much clerical control with the traditional distrust of the laity and the clerics being too stretched to run things properly.

If we look at Hope & Joy and the Jesuit Institute the reason that everything has got off the ground so quickly and so professionally is because the Jesuits have seen the value of having skilled lay people in positions of authority and who are allowed to make decisions.

The Church at large could learn a lot from that!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thoughts on Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

I attended a workshop at Holy Trinity, Braamfontein for what we all call "Eucharistic Ministers" following the Anglican usage though technically we should use the term "Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion".

Some people get very uptight about this as a priest or bishop is an Ordinary Eucharistic Minister and maybe laypeople are extraordinary in both senses!

The Church is its usual irritating, slightly condescending, self when it comes to using laypeople to distribute Holy Communion.  We as laypeople consider it a privilege but no, we are just stop gaps.  If there are sufficient priests, deacons or acolytes (usually seminarians) then laypeople may not be appointed or if already appointed must not be used.

In other words we are not in a privileged position, we are just being used  because the Church has no choice and will do without lay participation when-ever possible!  In the United States EMHC's were allowed to cleanse the vessels after Holy Communion for a period of 3 years from 2002 but it was never renewed.  I'm not sure what the rule is in South Africa.

My understanding of the use of EMHC's is that if a university chaplain wanted to use students as EMHC's because he felt that this would create more involvement and participation in the Mass his intention would be a misuse of the position.

To get back to the workshop.  I have to admit to having low expectations of these things but how wrong I was!   The workshop was run by two young people, a prospective Jesuit and the new Parish Pastoral Development Person.....and she was the one who ran the workshop.  It was based on St John's Gospel Chapter 6 and it aimed to heighten our understanding of the Eucharist.  She also sought to raise the theological level of understanding of where the Gospel came from and the audience to which it was addressed.

After small-group discussion there was a period of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Church followed by practical training for those who might require it.  It was a thought provoking and yet prayerful time for all of us.

A very important aspect of the ministry of EMHC's is that there is no need for any one to have a specific skill.  There is no need to be articulate or to be able to read well.  Just an awareness of the power of Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament and an awareness of the honour of distributing Communion to the faithful.