Pastoral Letter: Year of Faith

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11 October 2012

My dear brothers and sisters

I often think back to those childhood days when my mother used to read stories of the saints to us around the winter-fire. Yes, what would I give to return to those scenes when we learned of the love of God from my mother’s simple faith.

In a similar way Mother Church has invited us to celebrate a jubilee year of thanksgiving for the great gift to the Church, the People of God, of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in which all the Catholic Bishops of the world together with the successor of Peter came together over four years.

In true scriptural tradition fifty years gives us an opportunity to offer thanks to God and to ask for the grace of renewal. This means that we pause to reflect on what God is doing in our lives and how we are being called anew.

Recall how Jesus began his own ministry: “Repent and believe the Good News.”

In his letter calling for this jubilee year of faith, Pope Benedict XVI writes:

“The ‘door of faith (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross the threshold when the word of God is proclaims and the heart allows itself to be shaped by its transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime.’ (Porta Fidei 1)

“The Year of Faith … is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Saviour of the world. In the mystery of his death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the Love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 5:31)” (Porta Fidei 6)

Renewed friendship with Christ and the poor

I, together with our priests, the Religious and with you, faithful of the diocese – young and old – we are called to a renewed friendship with Jesus Christ and a renewed commitment to the Church, People of God.

What characterises renewal in your Christian life?
• participation in the Mass and the sacramental life of the Church – in particular the sacrament of reconciliation (confession).
• daily prayer e.g. the rosary or the chaplet of divine mercy
• reaching out to others, especially the poor and those in need. “When I was hungry, you gave me to eat …” (Matthew 25:31 ff)

The Nicene Creed

Our times are characterised by a profound crisis of faith and this often results in us becoming lukewarm in our commitment to Christ and to the poor. We are invited to delve more deeply into the content of our faith and to grow in friendship with the Son of God who became one of us so as to share our human condition and to redeem us.

To this end we are asked to especially look at the content of the Creed. There will be plenty of opportunity for us to do so through the study guidelines that will be made available this year. During this year let us recite the Nicene Creed at all our church meetings so that we get used to its formulation and content.

The study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church with its wealth of scriptural reference is especially recommended. In particular I recommend to the faithful of the diocese the following:

• to purchase a personal copy of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
• to study the section on the creed
• re-read “The Joy of Being Catholic”
• pray each day the prayer of this jubilee year

Working for Christian Unity

The Second Vatican Council was an Ecumenical Council in which a number of delegates from other Christian churches also participated as observers. Working for the unity of the Church is one of the key characteristics of the recent history of the Church. The last fifty years have proved that we all have the will to reach this renewed unity for which Jesus himself prayed – that there be ONE Church, the New Israel. It must be something for which we work and which is reached by accepting the truth of faith.

My dear brothers and sisters, let us proceed with the prayer that each of us be renewed in our relationship with Jesus. Parents share with your young the love of God made visible in Jesus. Young people grow in your relationship with the Lord through catechism and the youth programmes offered to you. “Let us entrust this time of grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed ‘blessed because she believed’ (Luke 1:45)” (Porta Fidei 15)

I pray for each of you with appreciation,
Your Bishop,

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+Edward Risi OMI

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11 Oktober 2012

My Dierbare Broeders en Susters

Baie keer dink ek terug aan daardie wintersaande rondom die vuur wanneer my ma vir ons verhale van die heiliges gelees het. Wat sou ek prysgee om weer daardie belewenis deur te gaan toe ons van God en sy liefde geleer het deur my moeder se eenvoudige geloof.

Op gelyke manier word ons deur ons Moeder, die Kerk, uitgenooi om ʼn jaar van geloof te vier wat ook ʼn jubileum jaar is van die vyftigste herdenking van die Tweede Vatikaanse Konsilie. In die Bybelse tradisie word vyftig jaar gevier deur God te dank en om ons weereens beskikbaar te stel op God se nuwe uitnodiging.

In sy uitnodigingsbrief skryf Pous Benedictus soos volg: “Die ‘deur van geloof’ (Hand. 14:27) bly altyd vir ons oop, en lei tot ʼn lewe wat in kommunie met God is, en toegang na sy Kerk gee. Dit is moontlik om hierdie drumpel te tree wanneer die woord van die Here verkondig word en die hart dit aanvaar om omskep te word deur die genade van die Here.” (Porta Fidei, 1)

“Die Jaar van Geloof is ʼn oproep tot ʼn ware en hernude bekering tot die Here, die enigste verlosser van die wêreld. In die geheimenis van sy dood en opstanding, het God die volheid van Liefde wat ons red en ons roep om ons lewe te verander, deur die vergifnis van sondes.” (Porta Fidei, 6)

Ons almal – ek u Biskop, ons priesters, die kloosterlinge en u-almal gelowiges van ons Bisdom – jonk en oud – word uitgenooi tot ʼn hernude vriendskap met die Here Jesus Christus en ʼn hernude toewyding aan die Kerk, wat die Volk van God is.

Die eienskappe van die hernude Christelike lewe word soos volg sigbaar:
• in die deelname aan die Heilige Mis en die Sakramente, veral die Bieg;
• in daaglikse gebed bv. die rosekrans of die kapalet van die Goddelike Barmhartigheid
• deur die uitreik na die armes: “toe ek honger was het jy my gegee om te eet.” (Matt 25:31 ens)

Ons moderne tydperk word gekenmerk deur ʼn diepgaande geloofskrisis wat uitloop op ʼn afname van toewyding aan Christus en die uitreik na die armes. Om hierdie rede word ons uitgenooi om ons geloof dieper te ontgin sodat ons in ons verhouding met die Seun van God versterk word, Hy wat ʼn arm mens geword het om in ons menslikheid te deel.

In besonders word ons gevra om hierdie jaar die inhoud van die Niceense Geloofsbelydenis te bestudeer en om dit op te sê aan die begin van alle vergaderings en byeenkomste.

Ek stel die volgende voor:
• om u eie kopie van die Kompendium van die Kategismus aan te koop
• om die afdeling van die geloofsbelydenis stelselmatig te bestudeer
• om ‘Die Vreugde om Katoliek te Wees’ weer te lees
• om die jubileum gebed as gesin elke dag te bid
• om na iemand wat arm is, uit te reik

Die studie van die Kategismus van die Katolieke Kerk wat ryk is aan Skriftuurlike verwysings word aangemoedig.

Die Tweede Vatikaanse Konsilie was ʼn ekumeniese konsilie wat beperkte deelname aan afgevaardigdes van ander Christen kerke gebied het. Een van die hoof kenmerke van die hedendaagse geskiedenis van die Kerk is die toewyding tot samewerking en samestrewing na die eenheid waarvoor Jesus verlang het. In die laaste vyftig jaar het dit baie sterk voorgekom dat almal soek om EEN te word en ons moes dus streef en saamwerk om eenheid gedurende hierdie jubileum jaar van geloof.

My dierbare broeders en susters, laat ons voortgaan in hierdie jaar van geloof met die gebed dat elkeen hernu word in hul verhouding met die Here Jesus wat verdieping in geloof beteken. Ouers deel met u kinders die liefde van God wat in Jesus sigbaar gemaak is. Jong mense deur kategismus en jeug programme groei in jul liefde vir Jesus. “Laat ons hierdie tyd van genade aan die Moeder van God toevertrou, sy wat geseënd’ genoem word ‘want sy het geglo’. (Lukas 1:45 – Porta Fidei, 15)

Ek bid vir u-almal en groet u met waardering.
U Biskop

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+Eward Risi OMI