Follow This Blog

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?’

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


BLOG-AUG. 12, 2014

 Aug. 10, 2014
What a delightful day. I was asked, at the last minute, to take another Mass at 8:30am last Sunday. I already was going to Savannah Park at 10am but, knowing that African time is very flexible, I agreed. But I didn't know how to get to the place so I asked for someone to show me the way. I would follow
    so that I wouldn't get lost. Holy Moses. We went up hill and down dale and around curves and just meandered all over the place till I thought we might just be on the outskirts of Detroit. We finally got there about 8:15 (in Africa that is still more than reasonable). And it was a huge crowd, and very animated and joyful, especially the primary school children. They must have been primed. The singing was marvelous. However, I was a bit nervous because it is the custom to sing all 50 verses of every song, and there are many songs, but I just let loose the reins and let it happen. We enjoyed each other. I would estimate that there were maybe 400 or more people as the church was packed and even some outside, mostly men. The men don't want to risk catching some terrible disease by stepping inside a church you know.
     Then, I was shown the way to Mass number two at SP. Maybe 20 people. The choir tried, but there was only a handful of choir members. There was something going on at the mother church and many went up there for that special service. Instead of shaking hands with the little kids at the greeting of peace I just grab a bunch of them and we have a great group hug. I hope that they get the message that they are really and truly loved, not just by me but by the one whom we are celebrating each Sunday, their great friend Jesus.
     After that we took communion to two sick members, one a real old gogo (granny) and the other just too sick to go out of the house. They were so grateful to know that the community hasn't forgotten them or written them off. Then we went to Mike's home for bite to eat and a slowing down. Mike's wife is one of those women who have at least 5 over-active thyroids, and she just slipped and banged her right foot against a mean, dirty old steel leg of another machine. And it did some serious damage so she has to wear a boot in the hope that it can heal on it's own. If now, it means an operation. We will wait and see. Her name is Net (short for, I believe, Annette)
    Then Mike Pillay, (the same Mike) the leader of this community asked to be dropped off at the mother church to be with those who went for the special service. When we got there and went to the priest's house, I was greeted with shouts and hugs " Fr.Cas, are you still alive!!!" I used to help out there when I was at the retreat house at Mariannhill and got to know them well. We love each other. It was nice.
     Then, there is another old gogo whose husband passed away a few years ago and who lives nearby. So I figured that as long as I am so close I may as well drop in and say hi, which I did, and, of course, she was very happy. Any good Zulu Catholic woman won't let you out of the house without food and a blessing. Since I had just come from a full meal, I managed to beg my way out of the food part, and the blessing was fine for me.



Dikonia Council of Churches—1) Diakonia lecture award to Rochard Trevor Dobson, architect, working for the city of Durban. Aug. 11, 2014

2) Speaker for the evening—Jim Wallis president of Sojourners—HOPE TO A DIVIDED WORLD


Here are some notes that I took at that lecture which was excellent for being applicable to us here in South Africa which, I believe, was his focus.

*One of the main issues that must be on evryones’ agenda is definitely gender justice.

*We approach everything through our Christian Faith which means that we believe in the Incarnation, so that the incarnation becomes contextual—bringing God to the streets (not up in the sky somewhere)

*When he asked some 14 yr. olds in Soweto about the challenges of rape, abuse, corruption, etc., seemingly hopeless, their response was “ we will see to it!” (e.g. full of hope)

* He received a letter from a prisoner in Sing Sing prison asking him to come to talk to them about hope in a pretty hopeless situation. He came. They discovered that most of them came from the same 5 neighborhoods. It was as though they all got on that same train that led straight to Sing Sing. After their conversion, they were determined to “ stop that train.”

* Love God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself. He said that he only realized the specialness of love when his two sons were born. He would do anything for them. To love your neighbor, then, was to love other kids as much as you love your own kids.

*Youth are not so interested in church these days but they are attracted (Pope Francis is living proof) by Christians doing what the youth think Christrians should be doing.

* The turning point for many is that text from Mt. 25 “ whatever you do to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do to me.” He said that the evangelicals are finally getting it together.

* Here in South Africa it is clear that after the elections in 1994, and Mandela as president, it is not “ mission accomplished”.

* The new generation asks lots of questions, and he says that is good, they should ask questions. Skepticism is not cynicism.

* Hope (hope for a divided world) in not a feeling, it is a decision that comes from our Faith. Believing in spite of the evidence to the contrary—and then watching the evidence slowly but surely change.
BLOG-AUG. 12, 2014

 I wrote more about last Sunday but, as often happens, it just disappeard into the ether never to be found again. I hope it is not the case for this one. 

Dikonia Council of Churches—1) Diakonia lecture award to Rochard Trevor Dobson, architect, working for the city of Durban.
2) Speaker for the evening—Jim Wallis president of Sojourners—HOPE TO A DIVIDED WORLD

Here are some notes that I took at that lecture which was excellent for being applicable to us here in South Africa which, I believe, was his focus.
*One of the main issues that must be on evryones’ agenda is definitely gender justice.
*We approach everything through our Christian Faith which means that we believe in the Incarnation, so that the incarnation becomes contextual—bringing God to the streets (not up in the sky somewhere)
*When he asked some 14 yr. olds in Soweto about the challenges of rape, abuse, corruption, etc., seemingly hopeless, their response was “ we will see to it!” (e.g. full of hope)
* He received a letter from a prisoner in Sing Sing prison asking him to come to talk to them about hope in a pretty hopeless situation. He came. They discovered that most of them came from the same 5 neighborhoods. It was as though they all got on that same train that led straight to Sing Sing. After their conversion, they were determined to “ stop that train.”
* Love God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself. He said that he only realized the specialness of love when his two sons were born. He would do anything for them. To love your neighbor, then, was to love other kids as much as you love your own kids.
*Youth are not so interested in church these days but they are attracted (Pope Francis is living proof) by Christians doing what the youth think Christrians should be doing.
* The turning point for many is that text from Mt. 25 “ whatever you do to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do to me.” He said that the evangelicals are finally getting it together.
* Here in South Africa it is clear that after the elections in 1994, and Mandela as president, it is not “ mission accomplished”.
* The new generation asks lots of questions, and he says that is good, they should ask questions. Skepticism is not cynicism.

* Hope (hope for a divided world) in not a feeling, it is a decision that comes from our Faith. Believing in spite of the evidence to the contrary—and then watching the evidence slowly but surely change. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


August 7, 2014

I think that I had better put something in this blog before I procrastinate some more.

Our two retired bishops, Bucher and Lobinger, returned from their home leave in Germany on the 29th of July and brought new life to our house. Table talk has been scarce while they were away but has come back with them here now.

     I had another appointment with the dentist and the optometrist. I am sure that God could haeeve done a better job on our teeth.

     I got a bug in my system and worked like crazy on Saturday, Aug. 1, cutting branches from a huge tree that came down to the ground and raked up about two tons of leaves. Slept like a baby that night.

     I celebrated Mass at the hospital on the 3rd and gave our some handouts for their reflection. (It is only the sisters who are not on duty who can come, about 10 of them).

    Then I visited a lady friend who damaged her foot and has to have it in a big shoe to encourage her a bit. She hates having to just sit there. And another family after that so the day was pretty full.

    On Monday I saw the Ophthalmologist who examined my eyes and he said that the drops are working well as the pressure in bothes was in the normal range, but, because of a cataract forming in the right eye, I don’t drive at night because when the lights from the oncoming cars hit that fogged up lens, it just diffuses the light and I go temporarily blind. We agreed to get that cataract out once I get back from the wedding in Milwaukee in September.

     But, yesterday  was a full, full and happy day. I got my eye drops, bought some broccoli for my special salad, visited a fashion designer in downtown Durban , a friend, and  we  plan to help Sinovuyo, my kid from Landsend who is a self-taught tailor, by her giving him some  training, but that will be in October, I think. She will be off to a fashion show in London in early September.

    Then I went off to Parklands Hospital to visit a young doctor who lost one of her twins when he came out unexpectedly, but the other stayed inside with the placenta so there is hope that, if she can just stay cool and calm, the other can survive and bring her and her husband joy. Her doctor admits that he has never seen this before and she is like a guinea pig as he tries to figure out what to do day by day. It is a learning curve for both of  them.  Then off to another hospital, Shifa, where a friend was supposed to have am amputation of his left  foot. He stepped on a nail back in Mach and it eventually got septic and led to this. However, when I went into his room, he told me that when they wheeled him in for his prepping they found that his leg and foot and toes were all warm so there must be circulation going on. So the doctor said, no amputation. Let’s see how it goes. The removed a vein from one place and put it in his leg and it seems that it is getting a blood supply to the foot. Prayer. It was a happy day. The day before I went to another hospital (R.K.Knan) at the request of a friend. A lady had had a stroke and was partly comatose. I had just come back from the doctor who had put drops in my eyes to dilate the pupils and I just couldn’t read the Zulu words in the ritual I was using so I just put it away and prayed  my own prayers. I hope it was acceptable to the Lord.

     That is the 4th time now that I have been asked to visit patients in the hospital because most priests are just too busy to be able to take the time unless it is a real emergency. And it helps to keep me out of mischief.