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Friday, August 29, 2014

Aug. 9, 2014
A lot of water over the dam as usual. I am even too lazy to have a look at where I left off in my blog. I have been keeping busy visiting the sick in various hospitals , doing garden work, preparing homilies for Sundays and taking on morning masses with the sisters at Jacob’s Well, Augustinian Sisters, who celebrated their feast day last Thursday. I had a Mass with a group of 9th graders and was delighted to be with them. When I see these kids I think of the tremendous potential with all their talents and energies that could turn this world of ours into something much better than we have now. In many cases, God is gone, faith is gone, church is an anachronism, people don’t bother to pray any more, and you can see how much the world has improved. (That is sarcastic). But the faithless will also attack us, who are trying to practice our faith by saying, have a look at these bloody “faithful” people, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, whoever, see how they invoke God when they want to kill people and raise hell in general. Yes, we have our fanatics, but I hope that those few don’t represent the main body of faithful, or any faith, who, I think, I hope, abhor violence as a way of settling problems, or even, as the will of God somehow.

One of the patients I had been visiting, a good Presbyterian, had an operation to remove her Ovaries, because of ovarian cancer. They couldn’t get it all and it continued to grow. The doctor said that it would eventually kill her and warned her to get her affairs in order, in as gentle a way as he could tell her. I tried to follow his lead and suggested that she should just join her sufferings with those of the Jesus whom she loves, and who loves her, and be open to whatever his will is for her. It may be that it is time for her to come home to the Father, so just get things in order and don’t be afraid. As it turned out, Last Wednesday (Tuesdays with Morrie, Wednesdays with Parklands hospital) I visited her and prayed with her but because she was having difficutly breathing because of the accumulation of water in her chest, (she was on oxygen) I sang her a bunch of songs from the Xhosa hymnal, some of which she recognized and tried to join in with, with great difficulty. That was about 11:30 on Wed. morn. I got an SMS from the doctor that she passed away just before 5am on Thursday. Talk about timing. She was prepared to go home and I was happy that we had those few times together to help her to prepare for her final journey home. I don’t think that God will mind that a Catholic priest prepared the way home for one of his Presbyterian daughters, do you? It was my privilege and blessing (thanks to the doctor who invited me to visit his patient) that I was able to accompany her on the last days of her journey here on this earth. I am blessed.
    As for the situation in the whole world, IS (beheading has become the fashion again, after the French Revolution), mass killings, the intransigence of Hama and Netanyahu costing the lives of more than 2000 Palestinians, (and still going) and untold damage to the homes and schools and hospitals and even UN compounds, the onward movement of the IS in Iraq and in Syria, the racism that raises its ugly head, openly, in the States (it has always been there and I felt that the churches had their heads in the sand in that regard, doing little or nothing to counteract it), etc. etc. etc. (Afghanistan, Ukraine and Russia, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, …..) One feels so helpless as it seems that the whole world is going down the tubes. What can one person or even a group of persons do to help. No answer. But I just receved this today, Friday, Aug. 29. Can you think of something better. Stay well, you all. Love and Peace, Cas.

Have you tried praying?
by Frances Correia
The last couple of months have been marked by more than ordinarily distressing news headlines. On the international front there is the slow creep of Ebola through western Africa. Further abroad there are the deteriorating situations in Gaza, Syria, Ukraine and the race riots in the United States. Here at home we have our familiar news stories of corruption, the ongoing strikes and service delivery protests in the public sphere and in the private sphere the stories of murder and rape continue unabated.
In the midst of all this darkness it is easy to understand how people may despair, and especially to find it hard to believe in a loving God. We see footage of children killed in missile strikes, or lying waiting to die in isolation from a terrifying disease and it offends our innate sense of what is right.
For myself, although I am not directly affected by these terrifying situations, still knowing of them and reading about them has a profound impact on my life of faith. I am easily cast into a desolate sense of there being no hope, when I look at the enormity of these problems.
This reminds me of when I was a student at the time of the Rwandan Genocide, and feeling then also a terrible sense of helplessness. I knew that in truth there was very little I could do, as I had no useful skills to offer, I did not speak any of the local languages and I was a student living many miles away.
Some years later, when I was slightly more skilled, I encountered in my ministry of spiritual direction some Rwandan refugees. At this time I noticed in myself a far greater sense of God’s loving presence. All those whom I encountered had suffered horrifically, yet they had been sustained by a sense of hope and now they were rebuilding their lives. Central to my conversations with them was the passion of Jesus. Although I was supposed to be the one listening, I remember this as a time of deep growth for me. I came to trust God’s love in a new way, by seeing how Jesus knows from his own experience the depths of our human ability to suffer. I came to more deeply believe in the redemption that Jesus offers us in his own suffering and death.

There is no easy answer for what we should do to aid our fellow brothers and sisters who are in need, but there is a biblical injunction that we should do something. At the very least we should be aware of the pain in the world. We should know what is happening. Finally I am reminded of a story told of Archbishop Tutu during one of his trips to the United States, he was asked what people there could do to help end Apartheid and his reply was to ask a question in return; ‘Have you tried praying?’

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