Wednesday June 20th 2018

A WORD FROM YOUR PARISH PRIEST June 17th, 2018

As members of the Redemptorist Congregation, our community life at the Monastery is largely shaped by the inspiration of St Alphonsus, our founder. In particular, we are constantly aware of his profound teaching on prayer, which shaped his whole life and ours too. It is our pastoral duty to help those in our parishes to also come to recognise the need for daily prayer, in order to achieve the holiness that is God’s will for us.

In his writings St. Alphonsus coined a famous, very elementary maxim, which states: “He who prays is saved. He who prays not is damned. To save one’s soul without prayer is most difficult, and even impossible, but by praying our salvation is made secure, and very easy.” And he goes on to say: “If we do not pray, we have no excuse, for the grace of prayer is given to everyone … if we are not saved, the whole fault will be ours, because we did not pray”.

In saying that prayer is a necessary means, St. Alphonsus wanted us to understand that in every situation in life, we cannot manage without praying, especially in times of trial and difficulty. We must always knock at the Lord’s door with trust, knowing that in all things He takes care of His children, of us. We are invited, therefore, not to be afraid of turning to Him and of presenting our requests to Him with trust, in the certainty of obtaining what we need.

More than anything else, we need His liberating presence, which truly makes our lives fully human and therefore full of joy. And it is only through prayer that we are able to welcome Him and His grace, which by enlightening us in each situation, enables us to discern the true good, and by strengthening us, makes our will effective; that is, it enables it to do the good that is known. Often, we recognize the good, but we are unable to do it. Through prayer, we arrive at the point of being able to carry it out.

In another passage, St. Alphonsus says: “We are so poor that we have nothing; but if we pray we are no longer poor” (II, 4). And he invites every Christian to not be afraid of obtaining from God, through prayer, the strength he does not possess and that he needs to do the good, in the certainty that the Lord does not withhold His help from whoever prays with humility.

St. Alphonsus reminds us that our relationship with God is essential for our lives. Without a relationship with God, our fundamental relationship is missing. And a relationship with God develops by talking with God in daily personal prayer, and by participating in the Sacraments; and so it is that this relationship can grow in us, and that the divine presence that directs our path, enlightens it and makes it secure and serene can also grow in us, even amid difficulty and danger.

Let us consider these wise words of St Alphonsus and ask for the grace to make prayer a more central reality in our daily lives.

Fr Gerard, CSsR

A WORD FROM YOUR PARISH PRIEST June 10th, 2018

Throughout South Africa, and particularly here in Cape Town, the Catholic Church has been celebrating, over the past year, the 200th anniversary of the existence of the Catholic Church in South Africa. During those years society and the Church has undergone many changes; times of major crisis and times of manifest injustice, as well as times where the Catholic faith has continued to deepen and develop in our land.

Reflecting on some of these changes, Fr Anthony Egan, SJ, offered a snapshot of some of the major events of the life of the Church over these years: “In 2018 the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the 200th anniversary of its official foundation in South Africa. As such it has participated – acted and been acted upon – in two centuries of our history, from the colonial to what we might probably call the post-colonial period. It has played a major role in primary and secondary education through elite colleges and mission schools, working within ‘Bantu Education’ while trying (ultimately successfully) to subvert it. It has made a significant contribution to health care from mission hospitals to antiretroviral drug roll-outs, engaging in the process in the development – and controversies – of medicine and public health. Catholic scholars and public intellectuals have engaged with fellow South Africans on every manner of issue – from philosophy, theology, history and literature to areas as varied as Jan Smuts’ theory of holism and the politics of race, revolution and reconciliation.

Inevitably too, and perhaps most importantly, the church has, alone and in co-operation with other churches, faith communities and civil society, been a voice for justice, democracy and human rights. It has also at times lived comfortably within colonial, segregationist, apartheid and democratic ideologies, turning a blind eye to injustice. Indeed, it might more rightly be suggested that it often found itself on both sides of the divide because of its demographics – increasingly a mirror of South African society.”

His words express something of the complexity of the history of the Church, while at the same time helps us to be aware of the positive contributions the Catholic Church has offered towards building a more equal and peaceful society. As we continue our own history today, let us pray that the Catholic faith will continue to inspire each of us to participate in making South Africa a place where everyone feels at home.

The closing Mass to celebrate the Bicentenary will take place on Sunday 24th June, at the Bellville Velodrome. It is expected that almost all the Bishops of South Africa will be in attendance for the celebration of Holy Mass which begins at 2.p.m. Also, all religious orders will be represented, including the Redemptorists.

Entrance to the Closing Mass is strictly by ticket only. I have ordered 50 tickets for our parish. These will be available to you by getting in touch with Theresa, our receptionist. Please get in touch with her if you would like to attend this important time of celebration and prayer.

Fr Gerard, CSsR

A WORD FROM YOUR PARISH PRIEST June 3rd, 2018

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you God’s blessings as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, otherwise known to many of us as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. As we know, our belief in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is at the very heart of our Catholic faith. We believe that whenever we receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion we are truly receiving the gift of Jesus in His Body and Blood. This is the faith that has sustained our Church for the last 2,000 years, and continues to inspire us today.

Our faith in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist was reflected over the last few days here at Holy Redeemer as we celebrated the 40 hours of Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. I am sure that all those who took the time for silent prayer will be enriched by the experience and I pray that our 40 hours of Adoration will bring blessings to all the members of our parish.

Today I would like once again to turn to Pope Francis and offer a few quotes from the homily he preached for this feast last year. We always do well to reflect on his wise words:

“Today, to each of us, the word of God says, Remember! Remember. Memory is important, because it allows us to dwell in love, to be mindful, never forgetting who it is who loves us and whom we are called to love in return. Yet nowadays, this singular ability that the Lord has given us is considerably weakened. Amid so much frantic activity, many people and events seem to pass in a whirl. We quickly turn the page, looking for novelty while unable to retain memories. Leaving our memories behind and living only for the moment, we risk remaining ever on the surface of things, constantly in flux, without going deeper, without the broader vision that reminds us who we are and where we are going. In this way, our life grows fragmented, and dulled within.

Yet today’s Solemnity reminds us that in our fragmented lives, the Lord comes to meet us with a loving “fragility”, which is the Eucharist. In the Bread of Life, the Lord comes to us, making himself a humble meal that lovingly heals our memory, wounded by life’s frantic pace of life. The Eucharist is the memorial of God’s love. There, Christ’s sufferings are remembered” and we recall God’s love for us, which gives us strength and support on our journey. This is why the Eucharistic commemoration does us so much good: it is not an abstract, cold and superficial memory, but a living remembrance that comforts us with God’s love. The Eucharist is flavoured with Jesus’ words and deeds, the taste of his Passion, the fragrance of his Spirit. When we receive it, our hearts are overcome with the certainty of Jesus’ love. In saying this, I think in particular of you boys and girls, who recently received First Holy Communion, and are here today in great numbers.

The Eucharist gives us a grateful memory, because it makes us see that we are the Father’s children, whom he loves and nourishes. It gives us a free memory, because Jesus’ love and forgiveness heal the wounds of the past, soothe our remembrance of wrongs experienced and inflicted. It gives us a patient memory, because amid all our troubles we know that the Spirit of Jesus remains in us. The Eucharist encourages us: even on the roughest road, we are not alone; the Lord does not forget us and whenever we turn to him, he restores us with his love.

Now, in experiencing this Eucharist, let us adore and thank the Lord for this greatest of gifts: the living memorial of his love, that makes us one body and leads us to unity.”

 Fr Gerard, CSsR

A WORD FROM YOUR PARISH PRIEST May 27th, 2018

As you know, last Sunday we celebrated the great Solemnity of Pentecost. What is perhaps less well known is that Pope Francis recently inaugurated a new celebration of the Church, to take place on the day following Pentecost Sunday, namely the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church. This is such a beautiful and fitting feast, and this week I would like us to reflect on some of the homily preached by Pope Francis on this new feast day:

“The Church is feminine,” Pope Francis said in his homily on Monday, “she is a mother.”

When this trait is lacking, the Pope continued, the Church resembles merely “a charitable organization, or a football team”; when it is “a masculine Church,” it sadly becomes “a church of old bachelors,” “incapable of love, incapable of fruitfulness.”

That was the reflection offered by Pope Francis during the Mass celebrated in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta for the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. The feast is being celebrated this year for the first time, after the publication in March of the decree Ecclesia Mater (“Mother Church”) by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Pope Francis himself decided the feast should be celebrated on the Monday immediately following Pentecost, in order “to encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety.”

The “motherliness” of Mary

In his homily, Pope Francis said that in the Gospel, Mary is always described as “the Mother of Jesus,” instead of “the Lady” or “the widow of Joseph”: her motherliness is emphasized throughout the Gospels, beginning with the Annunciation. This is a quality that was noted immediately by the Fathers of the Church, a quality that applies also to the Church.

The Church is feminine, because it is “church” and “bride” [both grammatically feminine]: it is feminine. And she is mother; she gives life. Bride and Mother. And the Fathers go further and say that even your soul is the bride of Christ and mother.” And it is with this attitude that comes from Mary, who is Mother of the Church, with this attitude we can understand this feminine dimension of the Church, which, when it is not there, the Church loses its identity and becomes a charitable organization or a football team, or whatever, but not the Church.

No to a Church of old bachelors

Only a feminine Church will be able to have “fruitful attitudes,” in accordance with the intention of God, who chose “to be born of a woman in order to teach us the path of woman.”

The important thing is that the Church be a woman, that has this attitude of a bride and of a mother. When we forget this, it is a masculine Church. Without this dimension, it sadly becomes a church of old bachelors, who live in this isolation, incapable of love, incapable of fecundity. Without the woman, the Church does not advance—because she is a woman. And this attitude of woman comes from Mary, because Jesus willed it so.

The tenderness of a Mum

The virtue that primarily distinguishes a woman, Pope Francis said, is tenderness, like the tenderness of Mary, when she “gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger.” She cared for Him, with meekness and humility, which are the great virtues of mothers.

A Church that is a mother goes along the path of tenderness. It knows the language of such wisdom of caresses, of silence, of the gaze that knows compassion, that knows silence. It is, too, a soul, a person who lives out this way of being a member of the Church, knowing that he or she is like a mother and must go along the same path: a person who is gentle, tender, smiling, full of love”

Fr Gerard, CSsR

A WORD FROM YOUR PARISH PRIEST May 20th, 2018

I am writing this letter to you in the midst of our Redemptorist meetings, but would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a fresh outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as we celebrate the feast of Pentecost. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are a call to serve one another, using the gifts that we have received. If we do this, then the quality of our life here at Holy Redeemer parish will continue to deepen.  I again turn to the words of Pope Francis and offer some of his reflections on the feast of Pentecost.

“On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came down from heaven, in the form of “divided tongues, as of fire… [that] rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages” (Acts 2:3-4). This is how the word of God describes the working of the Spirit: first he rests on each and then brings all of them together in fellowship. To each he gives a gift, and then gathers them all into unity. In other words, the same Spirit creates diversity and unity, and in this way forms a new, diverse and unified people: the universal Church. First, in a way both creative and unexpected, he generates diversity, for in every age he causes new and varied charisms to blossom. Then he brings about unity: he joins together, gathers and restores harmony:

For this to happen, we need to avoid two recurrent temptations. The first temptation seeks diversity without unity. This happens when we want to separate, when we take sides and form parties, when we adopt rigid and airtight positions, when we become locked into our own ideas and ways of doing things, perhaps even thinking that we are better than others, or always in the right. When this happens, we choose the part over the whole, belonging to this or that group before belonging to the Church. We become avid supporters for one side, rather than brothers and sisters in the one Spirit. We become Christians of the “right” or the “left”, before being on the side of Jesus, unbending guardians of the past or the avant-garde of the future before being humble and grateful children of the Church. The result is diversity without unity. The opposite temptation is that of seeking unity without diversity. Here, unity becomes uniformity, where everyone has to do everything together and in the same way, always thinking alike. Unity ends up being homogeneity and no longer freedom. But, as Saint Paul says, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17).

So the prayer we make to the Holy Spirit is for the grace to receive his unity, a glance that, leaving personal preferences aside, embraces and loves his Church, our Church. It is to accept responsibility for unity among all, to wipe out the gossip that sows the darnel of discord and the poison of envy, since to be men and women of the Church means being men and women of communion. It is also to ask for a heart that feels that the Church is our Mother and our home, an open and welcoming home where the manifold joy of the Holy Spirit is shared.

The Holy Spirit is the fire of love burning in the Church and in our hearts, even though we often cover him with the ash of our sins. Let us ask him: “Spirit of God, Lord, who dwell in my heart and in the heart of the Church, guiding and shaping her in diversity, come! Like water, we need you to live. Come down upon us anew, teach us unity, renew our hearts and teach us to love as you love us, to forgive as you forgive us. Amen”.

  Fr Gerard, CSsR

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