“Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24:12)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Once again, the Pasch of the Lord draws near! In our preparation for Easter, God in his providence offers us each year the season of Lent as a “sacramental sign of our conversion”.1 Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life.
With this message, I would like again this year to help the entire Church experience this time of grace anew, with joy and in truth. I will take my cue from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (24:12).
These words appear in Christ’s preaching about the end of time. They were spoken in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, where the Lord’s passion would begin. In reply to a question of the disciples, Jesus foretells a great tribulation and describes a situation in which the community of believers might well find itself: amid great trials, false prophets would lead people astray and the love that is the core of the Gospel would grow cold in the hearts of many.
Let us listen to the Gospel passage and try to understand the guise such false prophets can assume.
They can appear as “snake charmers”, who manipulate human emotions in order to enslave others and lead them where they would have them go. How many of God’s children are mesmerized by momentary pleasures, mistaking them for true happiness! How many men and women live entranced by the dream of wealth, which only makes them slaves to profit and petty interests! How many go through life believing that they are sufficient unto themselves, and end up entrapped by loneliness!
False prophets can also be “charlatans”, who offer easy and immediate solutions to suffering that soon prove utterly useless. How many young people are taken in by the panacea of drugs, of disposable relationships, of easy but dishonest gains! How many more are ensnared in a thoroughly “virtual” existence, in which relationships appear quick and straightforward, only to prove meaningless! These swindlers, in peddling things that have no real value, rob people of all that is most precious: dignity, freedom and the ability to love. They appeal to our vanity, our trust in appearances, but in the end they only make fools of us. Nor should we be surprised. In order to confound the human heart, the devil, who is “a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44), has always presented evil as good, falsehood as truth. That is why each of us is called to peer into our heart to see if we are falling prey to the lies of these false prophets. We must learn to look closely, beneath the surface, and to recognize what leaves a good and lasting mark on our hearts, because it comes from God and is truly for our benefit.
In his description of hell, Dante Alighieri pictures the devil seated on a throne of ice,2 in frozen and loveless isolation. We might well ask ourselves how it happens that charity can turn cold within us. What are the signs that indicate that our love is beginning to cool?
More than anything else, what destroys charity is greed for money, “the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). The rejection of God and his peace soon follows; we prefer our own desolation rather than the comfort found in his word and the sacraments.3 All this leads to violence against anyone we think is a threat to our own “certainties”: the unborn child, the elderly and infirm, the migrant, the alien among us, or our neighbour who does not live up to our expectations.
Creation itself becomes a silent witness to this cooling of charity. The earth is poisoned by refuse, discarded out of carelessness or for self-interest. The seas, themselves polluted, engulf the remains of countless shipwrecked victims of forced migration. The heavens, which in God’s plan, were created to sing his praises, are rent by engines raining down implements of death.
Love can also grow cold in our own communities. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I sought to describe the most evident signs of this lack of love:
selfishness and spiritual sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to self-absorption, constant warring among ourselves, and the worldly mentality that makes us concerned only for appearances, and thus lessens our missionary zeal.4
Perhaps we see, deep within ourselves and all about us, the signs I have just described. But the Church, our Mother and Teacher, along with the often bitter medicine of the truth, offers us in the Lenten season the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting.
By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception,5 and then to find the consolation God offers. He is our Father and he wants us to live life well.
Almsgiving sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbour as a brother or sister. What I possess is never mine alone. How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us! How I would like us, as Christians, to follow the example of the Apostles and see in the sharing of our possessions a tangible witness of the communion that is ours in the Church! For this reason, I echo Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to take up a collection for the community of Jerusalem as something from which they themselves would benefit (cf. 2 Cor 8:10). This is all the more fitting during the Lenten season, when many groups take up collections to assist Churches and peoples in need. Yet I would also hope that, even in our daily encounters with those who beg for our assistance, we would see such requests as coming from God himself. When we give alms, we share in God’s providential care for each of his children. If through me God helps someone today, will he not tomorrow provide for my own needs? For no one is more generous than God.6
Fasting weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth. On the one hand, it allows us to experience what the destitute and the starving have to endure. On the other hand, it expresses our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God. Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbour. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.
I would also like my invitation to extend beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church, and to reach all of you, men and women of good will, who are open to hearing God’s voice. Perhaps, like ourselves, you are disturbed by the spread of iniquity in the world, you are concerned about the chill that paralyzes hearts and actions, and you see a weakening in our sense of being members of the one human family. Join us, then, in raising our plea to God, in fasting, and in offering whatever you can to our brothers and sisters in need!
Above all, I urge the members of the Church to take up the Lenten journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer. If, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God! He constantly gives us a chance to begin loving anew.
One such moment of grace will be, again this year, the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative, which invites the entire Church community to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation in the context of Eucharistic adoration. In 2018, inspired by the words of Psalm 130:4, “With you is forgiveness”, this will take place from Friday, 9 March to Saturday, 10 March. In each diocese, at least one church will remain open for twenty-four consecutive hours, offering an opportunity for both Eucharistic adoration and sacramental confession.
During the Easter Vigil, we will celebrate once more the moving rite of the lighting of the Easter candle. Drawn from the “new fire”, this light will slowly overcome the darkness and illuminate the liturgical assembly. “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds”,7 and enable all of us to relive the experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. By listening to God’s word and drawing nourishment from the table of the Eucharist, may our hearts be ever more ardent in faith, hope and love.
With affection and the promise of my prayers for all of you, I send you my blessing. Please do not forget to pray for me.
1 Roman Missal, Collect for the First Sunday of Lent (Italian).
2 Inferno XXXIV, 28-29.
3 “It is curious, but many times we are afraid of consolation, of being comforted. Or rather, we feel more secure in sorrow and desolation. Do you know why? Because in sorrow we feel almost as protagonists. However, in consolation, the Holy Spirit is the protagonist!” (Angelus, 7 December 2014).
4 Evangelii Gaudium, 76-109.
5 Cf. BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi, 33.
6 Cf. PIUS XII, Encyclical Letter Fidei Donum, III.
7 Roman Missal (Third Edition), Easter Vigil, Lucernarium.
This week, at the request of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, parishes across South Africa will be celebrating a special Mass on February 4th for the Bi-Centenary of the Catholic Church in South Africa. Here in our Diocese, this is being combined with Our Patronal Feast - Our Lady - Flight into Egypt. This is extremely apt, as it is alos the Patronal Feasat of the Archdiocese of Cape Town, where the Catholic Church first became established in the early 1800s.
On 7 June 1818, Pope Pius Vll erected the Vicariate Apostolic of the Cape of Good Hope and adjacent territories. However, the fi rst Vicar Apostolic, Bishop Bede Slater OSB, lived in Mauritius. The first permanent Catholic priest, Fr Patrick Scully, arrived in 1820, and the first Bishop based in the Cape, Bishop Patrick Griffith OP, arrived in 1838.
The first Catholic Church in South Africa was built in Harrington Street in Cape Town in about 1830.
O God, sanctify us, your Church in Southern Africa and pour out the gifts of your Spirit upon us, who have been consecrated to you in baptism.
Increase our faith that we may never cease to give thanks for your infinite treasures of mercy and goodness.
Root us in your Son Jesus Christ, that with hearts burning with desire to fulfil your will, we may share the joy, peace and abundance of life he gives us.
Open our hearts to each other and remove our prejudices that the walls of injustice and division which your Son has destroyed may give way to the healing of the ethnic, racial and unjust divisions of our painful past.
Let the bright sun of hope never set on our communities of faith, as we endeavour to follow always the example of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, by consecrating our lives to the service of our brothers and sisters.
St Mary’s Cathedral in Cape Town in the late 19th century.
Next weekend, the 2nd and 3rd of December, we will celebrate the First Sunday of Advent.
This year the Bishop has chosen the Clergy Benevolent Fund as the beneficiary.
“The Clergy Benevolent Fund takes care of the various needs of the Clergy, especially those who are retired over a long period. It is compassionate and humanitarian in nature. This year, (2017) five of our priests retired gracefully, bringing the total number of retired Clergy in our Diocese to thirteen. Three of those are in Ireland.
“Due to the critical shortage of vocations to the priesthood, many of our retired priests continue to minister full time to the best of their ability and as far as their health permits.
“Some make themselves available for part-time supplies, they offer mentoring and share their valuable wealth of knowledge and experience with our recently ordained priests. Some also make themselves available for spiritual direction and assistance to individuals and different lay movements and sodalities, others offer special courses and retreats- the list is just endless.
“In fact the Catholic Diocese of Port Elizabeth would be greatly disadvantaged and impoverished without them. The Clergy Benevolent Fund also helps mitigate the expenses of poorer parish communities.
“The Directory for the Pastoral Care of Bishops says: ‘Assisted by his regional Vicars, the Bishop should seek to anticipate and to resolve any human or spiritual difficulties that priests might experience. He should come lovingly to the help of any priest who finds himself in a difficult situation, especially the sick, the elderly, and the poor, so that they all sense the joy of their vocation, with gratitude towards their Shepherd. When they are sick, the Bishop should comfort them with a visit or at least with a letter or a telephone call, and should ensure that they receive proper material and spiritual assistance. When they die, their funerals should be celebrated by the Bishop himself, if at all possible, or else by his representative.’
“Your valuable contribution to the Clergy Benevolent Fund will certainly go a long way towards empowering and assisting me to fulfil my daunting but joyful responsibility of looking after our Beloved priests who have distinguished themselves for many years at your service.
“May the Lord Jesus Christ, who came so that we may all have life to the full bless you abundantly and reward you a hundred fold for your generosity!”
+ Vincent Zungu OFM
A number of parishes have submitted their Christmas Schedules.
A link is provided with each one to that parish's Directory entry for contact details, maps etc. - click on the name of the church for these details.
Christmas Eve - Sunday 24th December: Carols 8.00pm followed by Mass 8.30pm
Christmas Day - Monday 25th December Mass 9.30am
Feast of Holy Family - Saturday 30th December Mass 5.30pm; Sunday 31st December Mass 9.30am
Mary, Mother of God - Monday 1st January Mass 9.30pm
Throughout the Year - Saturday Vigil Mass 5.30pm; Sunday Morning Mass 9.30am
Kouga Catholic Community (Humansdorp, Jeffreys Bay, St Francis Bay)
Sunday, 24th December – 4th Sunday of Advent - 8.00am
Christmas Eve; 8.30pm Carols - 9.00pm - Vigil Mass
Monday, 25th December - Nativity of Christ 9.00am
No Masses- 27th, 28th and 29th December 2017
Sunday, 31st December – Holy Family - 8.00am; 5.30pm
Monday, 1st January 2018 - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God - 9.00am
SUNDAY 24th, CHRISTMAS EVE:
Exposition and Benediction 17:30
Vigil Mass: 18:00
Carol Service: 22:30
MONDAY 35th: CHRISTMAS DAY
CHRISTMAS SEASON PROGRAM
Wed 20th 5.30pm Adoration & Benediction with confessions; 6.30pm Healing Mass
Thurs 21st 6.30am Mass
Fri 22nd 8.30am Mass
Sat 23rd 5.00pm Mass
Sun 24th 8.00am Mass
Sun 24th 8.00pm Night Mass of Christmas
Mon 25th 8.00am Mass of Christmas Day
Tues 26th 8.30am Mass
Wed 27th 8.30am Mass
Thurs 28th 8.30am Mass – Feast of the Holy Innocents
Fri 29th 8.30am NO MASS
Sat 30th 5.00pm Mass – Feast of the Holy Family
Sun 31st 8.00am Mass – Feast of the Holy Family
Mon 01st 10.00am Mass – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Tues 02nd 8.30am Mass
Saturday 23 December: 5pm Vigil Mass for Sunday at St Rita's & Sunday 24 December: 8am Mass for the 4th Sunday of Advent at St Joseph's
Christmas Eve: Vigil Mass Sun 24 Dec at St. Joseph’s @ 8pm
Christmas Day: Monday 25 December: 8am @ St Joseph’s, 10:30 @ St Rita’s
Saturday 30 December: 5pm Vigil Mass at St Rita's; Sunday 31 December 8am Mass of the Holy Family at St Joseph's
Old Year’s Eve Mass at St. Rita’s @ 7pm (Vigil of Mary, Mother of God)
Mon 1 Jan 2018: Mass at St. Joseph’s @ 9am (Mary, Mother of God)
Children’s Celebration of the Three Kings: Sat 6 Jan 9am: Waiting for the Kings;
Sun 7 Jan after Epiphany Mass: Celebration of the Three Kings. All children welcome!
Christmas Eve, 24 Dec. 2017 Midnite Mass at 10.30 pm;
St Stephen- 26 Dec. 9 am,
St John- 27 Dec. 5.30 pm;
Holy Innocents- 28 Dec. 9 am;
St Thomas Becket- 5.30 pm;
Holy Family- 31 Dec. 8 am & Mater Dei-1 Jan. 2018 at 9 am.
Christmas Day- 25 Dec, 8 am;
St John- 27 Dec. 9.30 am
Holy Family- 31 Dec. at 10.30 am.
24th Dec 6:00 pm
25th Dec 7:30 am
31st Dec 7:30 am
24th December: 7.30pm Carols; 8.00pm Holy Mass
25th December: Carol 8.30am; 9.00am Holy Mass
St. Peter's Church - Kei Mouth
24th December, Sunday. Holy Mass at 11.30am
24 December 2017 at 9.00am - fourth Sunday of Advent
24 December 2017 at 6.00pm - Christmas Vigil Mass starting with Carols
25 December 2017 at 9.00am - Christmas Day Mass
31 December 2017 at 9.00am - Holy Family Mass
31 December 2017 at 7.00pm - “Midnight Mass”
CHRISTMAS EVE: Christmas Carols will begin at 8.00pm followed with Mass at 8.30pm.
CHRISTMAS DAY: Christmas Day Mass will be at 9am.
NEW YEAR’S DAY: New Year’s Day Mass will be at 9am.
Sunday 24th December Christmas Eve, Christmas Carol Service starts at 8.00pm followed by Mass.
Monday 25th December Mass at 9.00am.
Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Arcadia, Port Elizabeth
Christmas Vigil Mass: 7.pm.
Christmas Day Mass: 8 am
24th: Christmas Carols 11:30pm and Midnight Mass 12 midnight
25th: Christmas Day - 9am Mass
1st January - 9am Mass
20th Dec 2017 Wednesday Evening Carols by Candle Light at 6:30pm
24th Dec 2017 Sunday Morning Mass at 9:30 am
24th Dec 2017 Christmas Eve Vigil starts with Carols at 8pm, Mass will follow from 9pm
25th Dec 2017 Christmas Morning Mass at 9:30 am
Sunday 24th: 7.30pm Carols; 8pm Mass
Monday 25th: 7.30am Carols; 8am Mass
No evening Mass.
31st December 2017: Mass Times as normal - 8.00am & 5.30pm
1st January 2018: Mass 9.00am.
Sunday 24th - Mass - 8.00am
Christmas Vigil - 7:00pm
Christmas Mass of the day - 8:00 am
The production of Fr Paul Fahy’s book began about nine months ago, joyously and full of excitement. Fr Paul was very excited about the project and deposited tons of material on me, for possible inclusion in the book. Sadly, it ended in a way none of us could have predicted. However, I feel that the book has even greater relevance now than ever before – hopefully it does his life justice.
It ended up on 126 pages, and I received the last bit of material from Fr Paul during his last weekend here in the Kouga. A final chapter about his last days and the funeral has been added. In all, the book contains just under 300 photographs, plus numerous tributes, and his own reflection on his ministry.
I have compiled a video preview of the book, which you can see below. As you will see from the preview, all the Fr Paul’s Pastoral assignments in the Diocese are covered, and there is quite an extensive chapter depicting his clerical colleagues and friends over the years.
The book is in full colour throughout, and is in softcover A4 format.
Should you like to have one, the book costs R250 (excluding postage) and I can either invoice you (email me at this address), or you can actually order and pay for the book online at http://www.kouga-catholic-church.co.za/.
Books will be available for collection at the Chancery, Sacred Heart Kabega. Or here in the Kouga. If you would like me to invoice you, please include a delivery address or indicate if you will be picking it up at one of those points.
I have to close orders for the book by October 15th in order to get it printed before the December Holidays, so your cooperation in getting your orders back to me is truly appreciated.
Thank you and God Bless