The Holy Season of Advent is captured perfectly in one of the popular hymns: “O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appears. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel”.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes for us the Advent spiritually beautifully: “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Saviour’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease”.
If the Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, humbled himself so much as to assume fully our human nature, do we realize what it means to be human? Do we realize and truly believe that all of us were created in God’s image and likeness? When you and I look at the face of any human being – regardless of his race, gender, age, colour, religion, health, education, social or economic status et cetera – do we see the face of our brother and sister?
In a country that is still marred by the scourge of inequality, discrimination, rape, xenophobia, unemployment, poverty, corruption, crime, violence and lack of meaningful transformation in all sectors of society, it is good for us to be honest with God and ourselves as Catholics and a local Church.
In what way have I celebrated the Jubilee Year of Mercy?
Am I reconciled with God and others?
What graces have I received from God?
What were my resolutions for the past Liturgical Year?
Have I fulfilled anyone of them?
Advent and Christmas in this Liturgical Year A dedicated to the Gospel of St Mark calls for introspection, thorough examination of conscience as individuals and as a community followed by inner conversion of mind and heart to God and to the values of his Kingdom.
With those words, I wish all of you a joyful and fruitful celebration of Advent and Christmas season!
Bishop Vincent Mduduzi Zungu OFM
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our Holy Father has called on the universal Church to fast and pray for the healing and consolation of those who have been sexually abused. I, therefore request that our Diocese take part in the triduum from 2nd – 4th December 2016.
Please see Pastoral Letter from Archbishop Stephen Brislin (below) as well as the document prepared by the Liturgy Commission; “Suggestions for the Triduum Prayer for the Victims of Sexual Abuse prepared by the Liturgy Commission”. (Click here for Triduum Prayer document)
Yours Sincerely in Christ.
Bishop Vincent Zungu OFM
“When my people humble themselves—the ones who are called by my name—and pray, seek me, and turn away from their evil practices, I myself will listen from heaven, I will pardon their sins, and I will restore their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14)
To the Clergy, Religious and Faithful
Brothers and Sisters,
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, called on the universal Church to fast and pray for the healing and consolation of those who have been sexually abused, especially women, children and vulnerable people. In response to this call we ask you, brothers and sisters, to be part of the triduum arranged in our Conference area and join in prayer for this cause and for an end to abuse wherever it occurs, whether in the Church, in the family and elsewhere in society.
We have placed our response within the international sixteen days of activism to be in solidarity with many others who have the same concerns and to make our own contribution as the Church to the efforts made within society to end this scourge which brings so much pain and humiliation to so many vulnerable people and as a witness to our common desire to eradicate any form of abuse from our society.
We ask that we unite in observing three days of prayer, one of which will be a day of fasting. This will begin with Friday evening, 2 December, and conclude with the celebration of the Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent, 4 December.
We, your Bishops, acknowledge our own failures at times in adequately dealing with issues of sexual abuse especially when we have failed to listen to the cry of those abused within our own church structures and our failure to empathise with their pain.
We want to work with all structures in society and especially with our priests, church personnel and church workers in creating a safe environment for children and vulnerable people and in meeting the demands of justice in redressing the crimes and failures of the past regarding sexual abuse.
We ask forgiveness for ourselves and for our clergy for having not done enough in recognising the physical, emotional and psychological pain and trauma which many victims of sexual abuse have suffered at the hands of family members, members of society at large and within our own church structures.
We commit ourselves to following the provisions in our own church protocols for the investigation of sexual abuse within our church structures and adherence to the law of the land when crimes have been committed.
We call upon all the members of the Church, in whatever circumstance, to be part of this triduum of prayer and observe a day of fasting:
• Asking God for forgiveness whenever we have been complicit through silence in the abuse in any form of another;
• Seeking forgiveness from one another when we have neglected to defend and protect the vulnerable, especially women and children;
• Praying for the healing of victims and survivors of sexual abuse;
• Asking for forgiveness for those guilty of abuse and working together for a just response and remedy of these situations;
• Committing ourselves to work pro-actively for the safeguarding of children and the protection of women.
It is our prayer together with you, dearly Beloved, that God hear us and through the Holy Spirit, renew us in living the ways of Jesus Christ, heal the broken hearted, and send us out to sin no more.
Archbishop of Cape Town
President of the SACBC
Mary is honoured as the Chief Patron of our Diocese of Port Elizabeth. In accordance with the official liturgical Pastoral Guide it is therefore elevated to a solemnity (big feast) for the local church and celebrated on the Sunday that occurs on 4th February or between the 4th and 10th February each year.