Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Benedict XVI in Benin, Black Tuesday and an attempt at keeping Advent

The Holy Father's visit to Benin has been a great success but it has hardly figured in the secular media, even ours and we are in Africa!  80 000 people attended his final Mass.  I was particularly taken by his address to young children so here it is:

God our Father has gathered us around his Son and our brother, Jesus Christ, who is present in the host consecrated during the Mass. This is a great mystery before which we worship and we believe. Jesus, who loves us very much, is truly present in the tabernacles of all the churches around the world, in the tabernacles of the churches in your neighbourhoods and in your parishes. I ask you to visit him often to tell him of your love for him.

Some of you have already made your First Holy Communion, and others are preparing for it. The day of my First Holy Communion was one of the most beautiful days of my life. It is the same for you, isn’t it? And why is that? It’s not only because of our nice clothes or the gifts we receive, nor even because of the parties! It is above all because, that day, we receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time! 

When I receive Communion, Jesus comes to live in me. I should welcome him with love and listen closely to him. In the depths of my heart, I can tell him, for example: “Jesus, I know that you love me. Give me your love so that I can love you in return and love others with your love. I give you all my joys, my troubles and my future.” 

Do not hesitate, dear children, to speak of Jesus to others. He is a treasure whom you should share generously. Throughout the history of the Church, the love of Jesus has filled countless Christians, and even young people like yourselves, with courage and strength. In this way, Saint Kizito, a Ugandan boy, was put to death because he wanted to live according to the baptism which he had just received. Kizito prayed. He realized that God is not only important, but that he is everything.

What, then, is prayer? It is a cry of love directed to God our Father, with the will to imitate Jesus our brother. Jesus often went off by himself to pray. Like Jesus, I too can find a calm place to pray where I can quietly stand before a Cross or a holy picture in order to speak to Jesus and to listen to him. I can also use the Gospels. That way, I keep within my heart a passage which has touched me and which will guide me throughout the day. To stay with Jesus like this for a little while lets him fill me with his love, light and life! This love, which I receive in prayer, calls me in turn to give it to my parents, to my friends, to everyone with whom I live, even with those who do not like me, and those whom I do not appreciate enough. Dear young people, Jesus loves you. Ask your parents to pray with you! Sometimes you may even have to push them a little. But do not hesitate to do so. God is that important!

May the Virgin Mary, his Mother, teach you to love more and more through prayer, forgiveness and charity. I entrust you to her, together with your families and teachers. Look! I have this rosary in my pocket. The rosary is like a tool that we can use to pray. It is easy to pray the rosary. Maybe you know how already; if not, ask your parents to help you to learn how. At the end of this meeting, each one of you will receive a rosary. When you hold it in your hands, you can pray for the Pope, for the Church and for every important intention. And now, before I bless you all with great affection, let us pray together a Hail Mary for children throughout the world, especially for those who are sick, who are hungry and in places of war.

Let us pray together: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Here are the highlights of the visit with wonderful music!

Today is Black Tuesday, particularly for those of us in the media as the SA Parliament has passed the Protection of State Information Bill that will seriously curtail investigative journalism and is widely thought to be a means of hiding corruption within government.  It is a step backward towards the days of Apartheid by the African National Congress who was most responsible for bringing the previous regime down and prides itself on transparency in government.  What a joke!  It's Animal Farm all over again.  I am sure that this bill, when signed into law, will be challenged in the Constitutional Court and if the Court finds it to be unconstitutional it will create a crisis as the government has already complained about matters be brought before the Court that hamper its policies.  I suppose the next step will be to change the Constitution as we trek away from the ANC Founding Father's democratic ideals.

Fr Chris Townshend, Information Officer of the SA Catholic Bishops. Conference has just passed this on:  "The Bells of St Marys Catholic Cathedral, Cape Town and (hopefully) St George's Anglican Cathedral will be rung in Funeral Peal to protest the Secrecy Bill."

Advent is upon us and as I said in my previous post I think we have a tendency to let it pass us by.  As a child the great 'O' antiphons had a great impact upon me and singing 'Come, O come Emmanuel' reinforced the antiphons and the build up to the Feast of the Nativity...it doesn't seem to happen now.  Part of the reason is that the holidays begin on the 16th December and in Johannesburg many people go away so that the congregation and the Schola Cantorum are depleted for Christmas....and to a lesser extent at Easter.

This year I am going to make an effort thanks to Fr Russell and Annemarie's little Advent Book.  I don't guarantee success as I am easily led astray! 

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