Father’s weekly message

The Year of the Jubilee 2025: Pilgrims of Hope

The Holy Father has announced that 2025 will be a Jubilee Year, something which happens every 25 years. The theme for Jubilee 2025 is “Pilgrims of Hope,” and it will be a year of hope for a world suffering the impacts of war, the ongoing effects of COVID-19 pandemic, and the climate crisis.

The Church has a 'Jubilee Year' coming up.

Jubilee” is the name given to a particular year. A time to re-establish a proper relationship with God, with one another, and with all of Creation A time to re-establish a proper relationship with God, with one another, and with all of Creation

The “Jubilee Year,” will have as its theme the phrase “Pilgrims of Hope.”

So what is a Jubilee

A Jubilee Year is a special celebration the Church holds at least once every 25 years. It’s a year of pilgrimages, of a focus on the spiritual life, of confession and special Masses, and of a general turn towards God in thanksgiving, and in repentance. It’s often said that Jubilee years are all about seeking and giving forgiveness - asking God and one another for forgiveness, and offering forgiveness to the people we need to forgive. Customarily, Catholics can receive a “Jubilee indulgence” during a Jubilee year, by going to confession, receiving the Eucharist, praying for the pope, and by making a pilgrimage — either to the basilicas of Rome, to the Holy Land, or the cathedral church of a local diocese. Those who could not make a pilgrimage could instead make a spiritual sacrifice or a work of mercy.

Where does the idea of a ‘Jubilee Year’ come from?

In ancient Israel, the Jewish people passed on from each generation a set of customs that placed their calendar on seven-year cycles. For six years, the fields of Israel would be plowed, planted, pruned, and harvested, like most agricultural societies. But in the seventh year, the land would lie fallow for a sabbath year — during which most agricultural labor came to a halt. After every seventh sabbath year, Israel celebrated a Jubilee, slaves would be set free, commercial debts would be canceled, and leased property would be returned to its original owners.

The customs of the Jubilee years were not entirely unlike similar customs in other ancient Near Eastern societies. But in Israel, they took on the theological significance of honoring God, and ordering Israel to the reality that all things belong to God, and that justice requires a recognition of that. “The Jubilee was a time dedicated in a special way to God,” Pope St. John Paul II wrote.

“The Jubilee year was meant to restore equality among all the children of Israel, offering new possibilities to families which had lost their property and even their

personal freedom. On the other hand, the Jubilee year was a reminder to the rich that a time would come when their Israelite slaves would once again become their equals and would be able to reclaim their rights.”

But while sabbath and Jubilee years were prescribed by Sacred Scripture, and by the customs and traditions of Israel, they were not always actually observed very much when the time came around.

Most scholars think they were regarded as really good ideas, but not ones that people actually practiced, at least not every time. Pope St. John Paul II wrote that was because the Jubilee year norms were really meant to point towards Christ. “The prescriptions for the Jubilee year largely remained ideals—more a hope than an actual fact. They thus became a prophecy for the future, insofar as they foretold the freedom which would be won by the coming Messiah.”

In the Gospel of Luke, Christ said that promise of the Jubilee year was fulfilled by his own Incarnation, that the promise of freedom for captive, and sight for the blind, and liberty for the oppressed would be most fulfilled in his own Messianic identity.

Pope Francis declared 2024 to be a Year of Prayer in preparation for the Jubilee Year in 2025. The Jubilee year will commemorate the convocation of the Council of Nicaea in 325 by Constantine. During this year of prayer, we are all called to strengthen our individual and communal prayer efforts. We shall do this by reflecting on the Pater Noster, that basic prayer which Christ taught His disciples

(Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4).

The Holy Father has from 2020 to 2021 offered 38 catechetical lessons on prayer during his Wednesday audiences. The lessons cover a wide range of teachings and forms of prayer.

The Department for the Formation, Life and Apostolate of the Laity has prepared some practical suggestions that individuals, families and parishes may find useful and develop further programs. Moreover, the department intends to provide these proposals as resources that can be used.

PRACTICAL IDEAS FOR INDIVIDUALS

Every Christian is expected to have a personal en-counter with Jesus Christ. The following proposals are not exhaustive but are meant to assist individuals to deepen their encounter with Jesus Christ.

Just as Jesus taught his disciples to pray, try to find one person that you can teach how to pray. Mary, the mother of Jesus, after her encounter with the angel Gabriel went out with haste to assist Elizabeth. Who is God calling you to assist?

Talk to someone about the power of prayer in your own life.

Remember that sharing is power.

  • Begin and conclude each day with a prayer.
  • Pray before and after a meal, even in a restaurant or in a celebration.
  • Learn other methods of prayer during this year of prayer.
  • Form or join a prayer group in your cell
  • Get a book which deals with the topic of prayer. Share the insights from the book with your friends and family members.
  • Attend parish talks on prayer that have been arranged.
  • Meditate on the readings of the Mass before-hand.
  • Raise your level of concentration when you are at Mass.
  • When you arrive at home after Holy Mass, write down one or two points that you heard from the homily and try to implement them.
  • Celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation frequently.
  • Read the Bible meditatively.

PRACTICAL IDEAS FOR FAMILIES

The Church teaches that the family is one of the most important social institutions because it is foundational. The family is the first Church. Therefore, parents are primary catechists. Strong families build a strong Church and a sound society. The first school of prayer is the family, and a family which prays together stays together.

  • Parents may give a reflection on the meaning, role and different forms of prayer.
  • Explaining the role of prayer in the life of the family may be a good catechetical lesson.
  • Unpack the different parts of the Lord’s prayer.
  • Fix time for daily family prayer times. During prayer time, family members may switch off their mobile phones and television.
  • Invite or visit a neighboring Catholic for a prayer session.
  • Attend parish/cell talks on prayer as a family.
  • Attend Holy Mass and other parish liturgical celebrations as a family.
  • Pray together for meals as a family.
  • Reflect on how you have been praying as a family. What prayer method have you been using and how do you feel about it?
  • Offer Mass intentions for your family.

Wishing you all a Blessed Sunday.

14th June 2024


 

TRIBUTE FOR FATHER IVANHOE ALLIES

FROM THE LITTLE COMPANY OF ANAWIM

“You have to be a live ember setting on fire everything that you touch. “These words from St Jose-Maria Escrivia could apply so well to Fr Ivanhoe, who once said to us that every funeral he held was preparation for his own. The brevity of life and the breadth of eternity were always present to him.

The little Company of Anawim has had the privilege of sharing intimately with Fr Ivanhoe for seven years as he shepherded us as Chaplain and Spiritual adviser to our little Company.

We render our service to the Church as part of its praying arm, providing opportunity to single women, especially senior women, to make an 11th hour consecration of their lives to God. Fr Ivanhoe helped us to expand with his own mixture of practical wisdom, propound knowledge and deep prayer. His Marian spirit and calm approach to daily challenges made a lasting impact on us. One of the highlights of Fr Ivanhoe was his liberal use of Holy Water when he blessed anyone, such bounty of sprinkled water usually raised a few laughs, as did his words to the parish children getting exam blessings: “It also helps if you have studied”, he would remark.

But perhaps, above all, we will remember him for his care of the sick. He was always joking with Rose of Table View and giving her an extra hug, visiting at home and in hospital and even venturing to bring the sacraments to Loretta when she was stricken with Covid. Fr never dwelt on his own health difficulties and didn’t spare himself where he could have. Our little company, as a work of God in progress, will be forever grateful to Fr Ivanhoe for his invaluable contributions to help us grow. His absence in death will be a presence in anticipated reunion in heaven.

Rest in peace, dear Fr Ivanhoe, you are truly one of God’s own Anawim.


My beloved parishioners of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Bothasig

I have been in great shock to learn about the sad news of Fr. Ivanhoe Allies' passing shortly after our meeting with the two PPC's on Sunday afternoon at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Nyanga. On the behalf of the St. Mary's Catholic Parish, Nyanga, and on my own behalf, I would like to convey my deepest and most sincere condolences to you all for the passing of our beloved priest, Rev. Fr. Ivanhoe Allies. Fr. Allies was not only a hard working person but he was also my best friend. Most of all, he will be fondly remembered for his personal initiative in establishing a partnership venture between our sister parishes of Good Shepherd and of St. Mary's. It is my hope that such a partnership will continue even after his passing as his legacy to us. May God's perpetual light shine on his face forever and ever. Amen.

Sincerely Yours, Fr. Gabriel Msoka, A.J.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Nyanga


Michelle Adriaanse

I'm still trying to deal with this, I just can't believe it ,I'm shattered too. . My first encounter with Fr Ivanhoe in Australia in 1994 and he played a big role in my and Max's life when he returned to South Africa.

Condolences to The Allies Family. Fr Ivanhoe you will be missed. RIP


Sharon Muller

Rest in well deserved peace and joy Fr Ivanhoe. Sincere condolences, strength, love and peace to your precious family and everyone whose lives you touched. Your light will burn forever ... a true legend of love, compassion, wisdom and deep faith! I am so blessed to have known and loved you


Sue Meldrum

How we will miss you Father. You were the light of our parish. RIP and thank you for all your wisdom and love to those whose lives you touched. Condolences to you family


Monica De Gouveia

Father Ivanhoe, you are so missed already.

Thank you for all your care and kindness, for your words of wisdom and for your heart in all you did.

Rest in peace in the arms of Jesus and may your family and friends be comforted and given strength


 

A TRIBUTE TO FATHER IVANHOE ALLIES – RIP

Fr Ivanhoe Allies hailed from a small fishing village on the West Coast. He was ordained a Priest over 36 years ago (12th December 1987). Fr Ivanhoe had an unwavering devotion to our Blessed Mother. He was called home on 13th May. The day on which we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

Fr Ivanhoe has, over the past 8 years, given so much to our Parish. For this, we are indeed grateful. He was a friend, confidante, comforter, counsellor and our Priest. Loved and respected by all, not only within the Parish, but outside of it as well.

During a conversation with Bishop Sylvester on Thursday, His Lordship expressed his condolences to the family and the Parish during this sad time and has assured us of his prayers. I’m certain that the Cardinal would echo the same sentiments. He is in Rome at the time of writing. His Lordship commented on the many messages of condolence received at the Chancery, including, but not limited to, that from the Bishop’s Conference and the Sisters of Schoenstatt.

Friends of Germany write, “We are a group of 7 friends of Fr Ivanhoe. Fr Ivanhoe has led our group, called LK7 (Lebenskreis No 7 – translation means Friends for Life) for over 35 years in Munster, Germany, as a student he has inspired us for a modern spiritual life – and accompanied us individually and collectively over decades. With him we are losing an exceptional leader, highly knowledgeable and competent personal coach, and a priest who never lost touch to the realities of life. We pray for him and wish he stays with us from his eternal destination”.

As I write this tribute, I think of some of the legacies left to us by Fr Ivanhoe. Far too many to mention as time and space would not allow. Each of us has their own. For me the important legacy is our Parish motto. This has evolved from ‘UNITY IN LOVE’ to ‘LOVE IN ACTION’ to our current version which is ‘FAITH ON FIRE, FAMILY IN CHRIST, LOVE IN ACTION. Through this Father managed to create a peaceful, calm, loving, unified and prayerful Parish for which we are so grateful.

Yes, we are all sad at this time and we will certainly miss him, each in our own way. During my time as a member of this Parish, we have been led by 5 Priests, each whom have left their own legacies behind. Each of these has marked a chapter in the life of the Parish. Let us remember that when one chapter closes, it makes way for a new one to open. We will mourn, but let us not be too sad. Let us, rather, when the time is right, look forward with hope and trust and support his successor as we’ve supported him. In the meanwhile, let’s remain a loving, caring and united Parish. Let us continue to support and pray for our Cardinal, Bishop, Dean, Deacon and both Parish Councils, certainly not forgetting each other. One day we will see

Fr Ivanhoe with his wry smile and hear those famous words “I KNOW YOU”.

We will remember you Father Ivanhoe and we will continue to pray for the repose of your eternal soul. `Hlamba gashli“ dear Father Ivanhoe. May you enjoy a well deserved rest in the arms of Jesus and in the company of our Blessed Mother.

Peter Cruywagen

Parish Pastoral Council Chairperson

_____________________________

Dear Family Allies and dear Parishioners,

We from the German-speaking Catholic Community wish to convey our sincere condolences for the great and sudden loss of Fr. Ivanhoe. It is with great sadness that we received the news and we fel with you in this time of sorrow. We remember Fr. Ivanhoe’s generous help and assistance when our community was without a priest and we remain grateful for his kind and joyous personality and his ability to communicate in German with us.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you in this challenging time and we pray that you are strengthened and find solace and comfort through your faith and one another.

Kind wishes and regards

In the name of our community

Petra

Charmaine Liang

MHDSRIP

Such shocking news.

Truly a Man of God.

A beautiful soul called Home to rest.

Condolences to Father Ivanhoe's family, his Bothasig Parish/Family, and the Archdiocese of Cape Town. Eternal Rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace. Amen.

Clinton Victor Bruton

RIP FATHER Ivanhoe

I will miss you Terribly

A really wonderful Man!

Very Humble & Loving, always remembered every one’s name. You are in a Great Place Father! Loads of Love

Blessings to your Family

Gengezi Mgidlana

Deepest and sincerest condolences to the family and faithful. We have lost a good servant of the Lord; our consolation lies in the living the good virtues and conviction he shared freely with us. May his soul rest in eternal peace.


 

ASCENSION: He sits at the right hand of the Father

In our Creed we profess: “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.” The Early Church does not know a special feast day for the Ascension of Jesus because it always saw the unity of Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension as one event. By the fourth and fifth century we find the separate feast day in many parts of the Church.

Only the Gospel of Luke 24: 50-53 and Acts 1:9ff report on the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. So does the much later insertion of Mark 16:19 into the Gospel. After his Ascension, the disciples returned to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ return to heaven signals the beginning of his Parousia, his second coming, as “judge of the living and of the dead”. The Ascension concludes the path of Jesus from the poor, totally self-emptied and self-surrendering Son (Phil 2:5-11), through his Crucifixion and Resurrection to the glory with the Father in heaven. Fellowship with Jesus is our path from our own sinfulness to the glory with the Risen Lord.

Heaven is often portrayed as the sacred space, in which only God lives. He lowers Himself to get involved with us, His people. In and through Jesus Christ, the gates of heaven are thrown open, and they remain open for us. We live in the new era, in which all time belongs to him who is the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 22:13), the beginning and the end. The victory over death, darkness and hatred is won, and Jesus went to claim his just reward at the right hand of the Father. He is the centre of the cosmos and the head of the universe. We live on earth, but our homeland is in heaven, as Paul writes (Philippians 3: 20). Earth is a colony of heaven (Phil 3: 13-21). Yes, while here on earth, we suffer pain and suffering.

However, whatever we live and go through, already bears the imprint of heaven through Jesus Christ. “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” (Romans 8:18) His Ascension into heaven is not to leave us alone but to be with us to the end of time. (Matth 28:20) He sends us the Holy Spirit, of whom Paul writes: “the Lord is the Spirit”. (2 Cor 3:17)

Our path in life is heavenwards to the Father. The purpose of Jesus is to gather us in a victorious pilgrimage back to the Father. While here on earth, we are sorrowful and mournful, but not without the knowledge that he is with us. (John 16:20-23) In him we are and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28) In the celebration of the Sacraments, we are in him and journey with him in and through time. Especially, the celebration of Holy Eucharist is every time the foretaste of the heavenly banquet. We pray during Holy Mass: “Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord.”

The Ascension of Jesus into heaven reminds us that we should not limit ourselves to material beings, in other words as people just concerned about material things. Nor should we be anxious although we have many reasons to be so. The world around us has become less safe and is the cause of so much fear. The desire for heaven is etched into our souls and will remain a major inner driving force to look for things “beyond”. True happiness and peace come from looking out for the things that make us better persons. And these are the things that point to heaven: kindness, generosity, service, care and peace.

Heaven represents everything we long for – harmony in life and peace among all people. That, however, will be only accomplished during and at the end of a journey with Christ in our lives. The Church is the space and instrument on our way to heaven where we find the encounter with Jesus.

Fr Ivanhoe Allies 08th May 2024 (Bothasig)


 

THE INTRIGUING SEVEN

The Gift of Understanding

How often have we gone through times of serious doubt?! It is in such times that we feel abandoned by God. We question Him, the One Whom we trust. It seems that all our prayers have fallen on deaf ears and our efforts are to no avail. This experience is not unique to us. We share them with many others in the Bible, such as Job, Peter, Thomas and the other disciples.

Sometimes we prevail in that condition for a very long time. Some people have even given up on God, especially after the loss to death of a dear one. The common insight is that our usual measure and quality of faith and trust do not suffice. There assembles in our souls the desperate cry for a way out of this state.

This is where the gift of understanding of the Holy Spirit comes in. When our faith resembles more the light of a candle, we find that it is not enough to handle the critical moments of life. Only the bright daylight can help us, and that is the gift of understanding. The gift of understanding grants us the steadfastness of faith to hold on to God with steadiness and warmth.

The gift of counsel

We have in our hearts the stirrings of nature. For example, we have the stirring to do good, to help someone or to simply pay attention to others. We also have negative stirrings in the form of wrong desires. These stirrings are common and natural. However, we don't always know if they are good, well-directed or even the right ones. Sometimes, we act very impulsively. Only afterwards, having acted upon them, do we see the results. This situation becomes more significant if our intention is to really do what God wants of us. In other words, we desire the stirrings that come from the voice of God. These are the stirrings of the Holy Spirit, which we acquire through the gift of counsel. The gift of counsel allows us to distinguish between wrong stirrings and right ones, between the stirrings of grace and our natural emotions or stirrings. Under the influence of the gift of counsel, we are guided by the Holy Spirit. Today, when our values and morals are very influenced by the dictates of society (something is allowed and true because society allows it), it is the gift of counsel that can make the difference. To use an image, a child will hear the voice of mother and father even above the noise that surrounds it. Spiritually speaking, we hear the voice of God above the innumerable other voices that surround us.

The gift of strength

Every new year begins with clear and firm resolutions. We are determined to effect change and set goals. It doesn't take too long to forget them, let alone act accordingly. This can lead to despair. Basically, we see the weakness of the will, in fact the weakness of our nature. The reason is our nature is deeply influenced by original sin, which leads to forgetfulness, instability and wrongfulness. We are embarrassed to see that we cannot even match our resolutions and plans with the simplest of loyalty and steadfastness. It becomes even more difficult when we must deal with serious matters and cannot cope.

The gift of strength gives us the persistence to be resilient. We don't give up the fight, we run the race to the end. The gift of strength braces the soul to resist temptations. This gift of the Holy Spirit enables us to see our own weakness and wretchedness without despairing. We can find the strength to persevere through trials and crisis. With Psalm 17, we can say, "With my God I can scale any barrier."

The gift of knowledge

This gift has a lot do to with discernment. In other words, when we weigh the pros and cons, do we judge what is good and right? Do we see what we should avoid and what we should flee from? Do we see what we should love and what we should despise? Do we value what we have, or do we think the grass is greener on the other side? The gift of knowledge makes us face the world and society for what they are. We can see and value true beauty, even the beauty of the Cross. The grace of knowledge orders the scale of values in the right way. We are not bamboozled by worldly values. Also, our will power, which is attached to worldly things, is re-directed to the values of Christ, which includes being rejected by the world. The soul is anchored in God.

(based on the reflections of Fr Joseph Kentenich, founder of the Schoenstatt
Movement)

Fr Ivanhoe Allies May 3 2024 (Bothasig)


 

THE INTRIGUING SEVEN

Seven is an intriguing number in our Catholic tradition. We have the seven sacraments, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven deadly sins, the seven heavenly virtues and the seven deeds of mercy. Some, like the sacraments, the seven gifts (initially six) gifts of mercy and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, have their foundation in Scripture. Others, like the seven deadly sins have their roots in tradition. For most of us, it is rather daunting to get the sevens together.

For a start, let us focus on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This will help us to shift the focus towards Pentecost, 50 days from Easter. A gift of the Holy Spirit is a habitual disposition by the Holy Spirit to receive the graces to follow a life of faith, hope and love. The biblical reference is Isaiah 11: 2f, which describes the constant disposition of the Messiah. Initially, only six gifts are mentioned but the Latin translation of the Bible (Vulgate) adds the gift of piety to make up the seven gifts. From the Early Church through to the Middle Ages, these gifts became a permanent feature in theology, spirituality and ethics. The gifts of the Holy Spirit personalise the gifts of grace for the sake of building up of the Church.

What are these seven gifts of the Holy Spirit? They are wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. The Holy Spirit works through each of these gifts. In the following description, I adhere to the teachings of Fr Joseph Kentenich, the founder of the Schoenstatt Movement.

The gift of wisdom

Through the gift of wisdom, the Holy Spirit grants three very specific qualities: 1) distinctly clear light; 2) exceptionally great love; 3) deep transformation.

  1. As clear light, though difficult to explain, one may use the analogy of someone who was born blind, but he does dwell in the light of faith. As such, the Holy Spirit is not yet predominantly active. When he receives the light of the Holy Spirit, he sees everything in a different, clear way, which he could not see before. Everything appears in radiance. Accompanying this ability, he also receives the passion for the truths of faith, for which he is prepared to die. In other words, the gift of wisdom perfects our faith. We then have a supernatural sensitivity for everything supernatural. Spiritual writers say that we also acquire the taste for everything pertaining to our faith. (Theoretically, I may have knowledge of the taste of honey; however, it is a totally different matter to actually taste the honey, according to St Bonaventure).
  2. The gift of wisdom grants us an exceptional love. In general, I possess love of God, but it remains under the influence of our will. However, the gift of wisdom gives this love a very fine intimacy and sensitivity. That means, that every fibre of my heart is attached to God. By implication, God becomes my first joy. It does not mean that I don’t have joy in other things; but it does mean that my soul has found its final aim, which is God. The gift of wisdom as the gift of love brings consistency and steadfastness of love. We realise how often our love has been up and down. Explained with an image, God has become the magnet of my love; it is the beginning of a constant dialogue of love with God.
  3. Then there is the grace of transformation. This is the tough treatment by the Holy Spirit to suppress our natural desires. All too often, our hearts are fixed on earthly desires. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we progress through a time of spiritual dryness. During this time, we experience the uselessness of clinging to earthly things. Once this experience is made, the Holy Spirit can enter my soul. The grace of transformation means that I am indifferent as far as earthly honour or rejection are concerned.

In other words, I am now free to be an instrument of God. I have moved from the level of “I act” to “I act with God”, to “God acts with me.”

Fr Ivanhoe Allies - April 11 2024 (Bothasig)


 

GOOD SHEPHERD OF OUR YOUNG FAMILIES

Our parish celebrates our patronal feast, Good Shepherd. We are familiar with the beautiful story of the Good Shepherd from the Gospel of John, Chapter 10. Jesus refers to himself directly as the good shepherd. He reveals the fullness of his identity and his purpose when he says: “I am the good shepherd.” In tender and loving motherly ways, he describes his role. At the same time, the Good Shepherd is forceful, powerful, strong and protective in a masculine, fatherly way. In the good shepherd, the loyalty and mercy of God the Father to us is fully expressed.

The Good Shepherd gathers us into his flock. If he had to look at us today, where would he apply himself as such a caring shepherd? According to Jesus, the Good Shepherd goes where there is an immediate need. And therefore, what comes to mind is that he will go to the sick, to their carers, to the unemployed, to the searching and vulnerable youth and children. Above all, the Good Shepherd will go to young families because they are the foundation of a strong flock. Jesus Chris, our Good Shepherd, shows special concern for our young families. So many of them need better and more profound knowledge of him. Some have drifted away; others must enter into a more personal relationship. The Good Shepherd knows that when all efforts have been made to build up the Church, it comes down to our young families to receive the baton from the previous generation and hand it over to their children.

Our young mothers and fathers need Jesus Christ in their lives. As their Good Shepherd, they can learn to have someone to lean on. Closeness to him brings comfort and imparts strength. A relationship with our Good Shepherd assures stability and confidence. We know from personal experience that alone we cannot face the huge challenges of life. Jesus Christ doesn’t promise an easy life; but he does promise to be with us in times of need. “Come to me you who labour and are over-burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11: 28-30) In the image of the Good Shepherd, he reaches out to us with his strength and power. He promises protection and gives us self-confidence.

In our parish, we have more than 200 children in our catechetical programme. Translate that into a number of young families, then we realise that we are blessed with many young families. However, we need their influence and contribution. They must set the tone for the life of the parish and become its compass for the journey into the future. This can happen if they are visible at Holy Mass. The celebration of Holy Mass is the expression of their closeness to the Good Shepherd. They can give direction to the life of the parish if they show interest in the diverse ministries and groups. They can impact the life of the parish if they make their interests known.

The equation is very simple: without the participation of young families, Church life will stagnate and eventually die. Young families ensure that life in the parish circulates and recycles. In other words, it can remain true to life and relevant both to Church and society. They are the closest we can get to life because they are in touch with the older generation who are their parents and grandparents. They nurture the future generation in their children. They touch base daily with the world of work and education. And there is so much more that indicates their central role. We need their presence and voice in the parish.

Good Shepherd Sunday, our parish feastday, calls for reflection on the significance of our young families. They are the backbone of parish life.

Fr Ivanhoe Allies - April 19 2024 (Bothasig)


 

LONELINESS

Loneliness has been a very common experience of the lockdown. Even for people with very busy schedules loneliness is a real problem. It is that feeling of emotional emptiness and of being totally alone that opens within such a person a deep, empty shaft. It is the experience of a huge abyss, of sadness and pain. Such moments can be very risky if they repeat themselves or last for a long time.

Loneliness is increasing, especially among the senior citizens. They feel abandoned by family and friends, and of being of useless since they no longer can be productive or of use to others. We find them everywhere: primarily in nursing homes, frail care centres and hospitals. Others are in their own homes where they hardly get a visit or a phone call. But they are not the only ones. Loneliness is a particularly painful and sad experience for those who have lost a loved one. For them it requires so much time for social adjustment as they seek to carve out their place in society again. Increasingly loneliness is an experience also of the younger generations. They have a deep desire to be connected, loved and valued. However, many of them don’t ever find their desire fulfilled.

Loneliness has become a symptom of our time and the kind of society we live in. The family gatherings of two or three generations were the best tonic against loneliness and the most effective way of experiencing the large social support system. The visits of friends without rush from one appointment to another have become rare. Spending time with a relative or friend, in fact “wasting” time is something of the past. We live in a world where everything is measured by “getting something done”. It has become the common sickness that we find it difficult to find time for ourselves. It’s a case of “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. ” Today the child with the cell phone around the clock and the TV is primed for loneliness one day.

What can we do about it? Firstly, we must remember that the way we care for life is on the line. We are social beings in need of contact, interaction and companionship. And the older we get, the more we feel the need to be secure and cared for. What was done spontaneously in the past, must be done purposefully today: the care for each other. The different generations must come together to share time and mutual appreciation.

In addition, we must be conscious of the fact that there are people in our own neighbourhood who want companionship. It is amazing to see how their eyes light up when someone visits. The real miracle of being loved and appreciated comes out when it is just about you, for the sake of you, and for nothing else. Life has become incredibly fast. We have to resist becoming small screws in the huge relentless machinery of time. In other words, we must learn to slow down. We must find the time to sit at table and enjoy each other’s company for the meal. We must find time again to play. We must learn again to live from within, to be in charge of our lives. Otherwise, we wake up one day and find ourselves with the feeling of being remote controlled by outward factors that make up our diaries for us. The most important thing in life is relationships. Relationships slow down life, prioritise our appointments and reset our true values.

Prayer is a wonderful way of combatting loneliness. Being in the presence of the Lord, and meditating on his loving presence, is to know that I am not alone. And let us not remember that he also experienced loneliness in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was sad to find his disciples asleep while he was undergoing the agony of the pain in his soul. And then that moment of extreme loneliness when he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. ” In prayer we discover the Lord Jesus who dwells in our souls.

Loneliness is challenging us. We must be aware that it is around us and we must learn to see it. Even in the happiest surroundings, people can be very lonely. We must learn again to share our time and love with others. The solutions are not alcohol, drugs and sexual relationships. The solution is the closeness of kind-hearted and generous people who make me feel wanted and valued. It begins with the fact that we see ourselves wanted and appreciated by the great and loving Triune God.

Fr Ivanhoe Allies - 12th April 2024 (Bothasig)



JESUS IS RISEN, JESUS IS RISEN, ALLELUIA

The message of Easter is peace and freedom. Peace enters us because we are receiving the most wonderful gift who is Christ, the Risen Lord. He dispels darkness and brings light. We are free as the children of God who cry out “Abba, Father”. Our freedom from sin comes through the Cross and Resurrection of Christ whose body still bears the marks of his wounds. We are free because through Jesus we have become children of the Father. This message is so appropriate for this time of uncertainty. Easter calls us back to the centre of our faith: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. He is alive, and among us!

In fact, we have become an Easter people, those set free to live in peace with one another and the whole of Creation. In our Easter hymns and prayers, the praise of the entire universe and of all humankind echoes: alleluia, Christ is risen as he said. In these words, we celebrate peace and freedom for all, and everything created.

Easter is God demonstrating that love is stronger than hatred, and that forgiveness brings healing whereas revenge poisons the mind and soul. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is here to stay with us, though seated at the right hand of the Father. Through the Resurrection the Cross of Jesus has been erected as the sign of redemption for everyone. It is the sign of his all-conquering love and the generator of hope in times of darkness, despair, gloom and death. In other words, there is and will always be a new sunrise that is the Risen Christ, the Sun that will never set on the world.

Easter, though repeated year after year, is never the same. It is not just the commemoration of an historic event. In and through the Scripture and the Sacraments, the Resurrection of Christ takes place in our midst and within the context of our living conditions, both personal and societal. We celebrate Easter within our time of social, economic and political chaos. We note the presence and actions of evil forces that have beset our nation, attempting to put a stranglehold on our hope, unity, social cohesion and national identity. There is the growing awareness that somehow, we are at the crossroads of our history yet again.

Easter casts light over the darkness of our country. It reassures us that there is hope in victory because Christ has overcome such evil and replaced it with the trust in his redeeming love that brings unity. As his followers, Easter is the time when we must close ranks as warriors of the Risen Lord in prayer and sacrifices.

Believing in the triumph of the forces of goodness over evil, it is the time to unite in prayer before the Lord of history, who has made himself part of our lives and destiny.

It is through prayer that we acknowledge him as King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, who has, as the Alpha and Omega, the first and final say over the events of our time. As Easter Christians we know we have a powerful God, Whose Son brought salvation to the whole world. We call on Christ to galvanise our small numbers and weak efforts to become a mighty source of intercession for our country and world.

Our Easter faith is that Christ, risen from the dead, unites us to be one nation. In him we have the foundation to believe that nothing can take away our unity, as long as we continue to maintain that in and through his Cross all barriers of division have been overcome. It is our belief that in him, through him and with him there is “neither Jew, nor Greek, nor gentile, nor slave nor man, nor woman, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3: 28-29). There is an equality among us, which Christ has given through his Resurrection from the dead to make us one people.

Our Easter hope gives us the confidence that Christ will take charge of current events in our country. The Risen Lord is our hope that confirms our trust in his power to change the course of events, no matter how destructive they may be.

Our Easter love shows itself as love for each and every one, and that when we look into the face of any person, it is the love of the Creator- and Redeemer-God that shows itself to us. Easter love, stronger than any form of prejudice, looks at the heart of woman and man. It is the form of love of the Good Samaritan who looks even after the one who is from a different place and social group.

Such Easter faith, hope and love are only possible as the work of the Holy Spirit, which the Risen Lord sends. It is the Holy Spirit, which makes us see the event of our time in a new light, which is the light of Christ, to make us united in hope and trust.

Easter is God’s amazing power over death to raise His Son to new life and manifest the love of the Father for the Son. As long as we believe in Easter, we shall take a keen interest in the social, economic and political events today. Easter turns our lives back to society to help change it in the light of the living Christ. Because the Risen Lord is the Son of God who took on flesh to come into the world to redeem.

Fr Ivanhoe Allies, April 5, 2024