A concise explanation of the year's pastoral resolutions on a personal level
1. READING/ STUDYING THE BIBLE
"You will be my true disciples if you keep my Word”
“Uba lihlala elizwini lami lingabafundi bami sibili”
It is not everyone who shouts and proclaims the name of the Lord from mountains and rooftops who shall see the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 7: 21)
Without the conscious effort and deliberate practice of reading the Bible and immersing ourselves in The Word of God and living according to its dictates, it is dangerous folly to claim a relationship with God. Learning the art of being focused and disciplined while reading, interpreting and understanding the Bible is no easy task. Imagination and hearsay cannot get us close to the Author of life except encountering Him in the Bible His WORD.The Bible should be read, mediated upon and contemplated (Lectio Divina is one exercise that supports this). This exercise can be done at personal, family and association level. What is encouraged is that before attending Holy Mass individuals should not only familiarize themselves with the Day`s scriptures but have an in-depth personal encounter with the WORD OF GOD. Thus reading the Bible is meant to help us realise and understand what God is communicating about us in our lives.
2. THE CREED
The Word of God implores us to pray. It says Pray without ceasing. (1 Thess 5:16 – 18) The Creed is the centerpiece of our faith, the core prayer and anchor of Catholicism and discipleship. Therefore, it is encouraged that we learn and internalize the Creed by heart.
KNOW IT, PRAY IT AND LIVE IT.
However, worst of sinners such as, thieves, liars and murders alike, have the same ability like anyone to learn, mimic and recite the CREED like you and me. The defining difference between a true believer’s prayer and the prayer of the sinner is the heart, the soul and one`s true place with God. We should not to pray the CREED in a hurry, with our minds all over the place, preoccupied by petty and trivial thoughts of the world. Let us not impress ourselves by repeating and merely reciting the CREED like babies. But with the earnest beseeching of your hearts, yield your whole selves in the word and exhortation of the prayer. And when you pray transport yourself into that GOD ZONE. Allow the eye of your heart to see Jesus toil in death, to feel Him die in your place and perceive Him rise and conquer death for you. Pray not with your mouth, but meditate upon the word in the prayer, and pray with your heart such that you move your soul.
3. FAITHFUL AND ACTIVE PARTICIPATION AT MASS
The work of the church, particularly in 2020, calls for individual and collective commitment of all, hands on deck. We are called upon to roll up our sleeves and to scale up our commitment during the celebration of Mass. The growth and development of the church depends mainly on our reverence observance of Holy Mass and actively participating in it. While it is important to contribute gifts and money to the church it is rather profound to commit your heart, time, skills and energies to the various tasks of the Church such as self-reliant projects. Proactive initiative coupled with joy and zeal should be the driving force of our myriad efforts of supporting the Church. Thus, let us be a leaders and heroes in every Church endeavour that we put our hands on. A point to note is that there`s no bench-warming or a substitutes bench in the cause of discipleship! The true essence and call of discipleship cannot be merely coming to church every Sunday, taking your usual seat on the benches, singing when others sing and heading home. Period! Rather you are invited to go an extra mile by inviting all those souls left at home, drag them, entice them and snare them into the church. Now it’s time to fill up our churches to the point of over spilling and such a feat is only possible if all of us become dedicated disciples of the Lord.
4. GO YE AND PREACH THE WORD OF GOD TO ALL NATIONS
Invite others to the Catholic Church (Go, Teach and Baptise)
Whoever imagines that the Christian mission is faithful and religious attendance of Holy Mass, immaculate dressing and crisp uniforms is perilously mistaken PEOPLE OF GOD! These peripheral sideshows may drain and take away our energies from true Christian faith and the substantive mission as people who are BAPTISED AND SENT.
We have been SENT as the disciples of Jesus to consummate our worship and complete the Creator's mission in the world, by dropping our nets, moving out of our usual comfort zones, unleashing the Word of God to receptive as well as to hostile ears and homes the world over. We cannot keep converting each other in the House of God. The people that need the Word most desperately are outside the walls of this building. Preach the Word to them, be a disciple. What is your value to the mission of God if you happen to have family member, a neighbour, a relative, a friend or a whatsApp contact that you relate to regularly on worldly matters but you have not deliberately brought them into the sphere of God and matters of Christian faith? Are you not more suitable as a disciple of worldliness?
In the very same way ordained ministers of your parish preach the word of God to you, You too PEOPLE OF GOD are disciples of Jesus enjoined by your divine covenant with the Lord to go and spread the Word of God at your workplaces, in your family gatherings, in your political parties, in your watering holes, clubs, hair salons and soccer matches. And even there where you think it is inappropriate. God doesn't need an invite anywhere, His name calms the nerves of wild horses.
5. ABSTAIN (alcohol/drugs/dishonesty/human trafficking)
You cannot serve the Lord with one hand and dip the other in the evils of this world. The Lord God who so loved and created you with meticulous care, lodged in you a powerful, intelligent, clear and fault-free brain. It sets you apart from all His creatures and gives you dominion thereover. God`s intention with the clarity and purity of your brain is that it is of service to His mission in the world 24/7. It is sinful arrogance to douse yours or another's brain in dangerous drugs and alcohol that reduce, detract and impair the capacity to serve the Creator`s purpose. The Lord hath anointed and sent you, to go forth and to give unto the thirsty world, His free, nourishing, life-giving Word that is everlasting than to drown yourself in expensive alcohol and destructive substances. Therefore, stand strong in the Light of God and fear not the violent tremors of world tribulation and consuming poverty. If, in fear, you shift your eyes from God, the world will tempt you to its wicked, corrupt and dishonest practices. God does not have moments of lapse, amnesia or blindness to our acts of wickedness? GOD IS OMNISCIENT (ALL KNOWING), not the smallest of our acts, that even remotely aid unethical conduct goes unnoticed by God. The Church is called upon moreover to stop the evil scourge of child abuse and human trafficking at every turn. It is now the time we should walk in the footsteps of Jesus and his disciples and desist as Christians from cutting corners and greasing the system.
6. PRE-MARITAL SEX/ EXTRA MARITAL SEX
To explain this resolution let us take note of the example of the tenant/ lodger and a landlord. Sometimes it does happen that having allowed occupation and possession of his house to a tenant/ lodger, the landlord goes away to the diaspora for years and years and years. It does happen that having had decades of uninterrupted occupation of the house, the tenant develops such a strong sense of entitlement that feels like ownership. The tenant/lodger may proceed to make major structural decisions without the knowledge or consent of the landlord, from repainting to renovating, to extending the building. This scenario of excessive familiarity and "confused ownership" often results in significant abuse of rights, lack of trust and irreparable damage of the house.
In a similar manner in the church today we have different individuals, some are tall, some short, some white, some black , some yellow and as much as we have kept these bodies we have for so many happy years, and we have not been chucked out nor the rent increased by our Creator. As much as we celebrate every anniversary of the year we received tenancy of our bodies. As much as we brag and believe we have absolute control and ownership of “our bodies”, we are all of us nothing but tenants/ lodgers to these bodies.
Your body or let me say, the body you occupy has a Landlord, a Landlord who never wants to interfere with your stay, but is very very jealous and particular about the way you maintain his property. The lease agreement we all got at birth requires a simple, consistent rental from the Landlord. OUR BODIES ARE TEMPLES OF GOD AND WE SHOULD AT ALL TIMES KEEP THEM HOLY - cf 1Cor 6:19-20.
How often, owing to our arrogant sense of ownership of this temple do we see and hear of people repainting the whole body into some demonic art gallery of tattoos!; How often do you see or hear of this temple of God , being stripped of all its barest of clothing and the embellishment that keep all its dignity and integrity, in this age of exhibitionism . How often do we hear of these temples of God involved, with such casual abandon, in premarital sex!; How many Baptised and Sent couples continue to abuse these rented temples of God in reckless extra-marital sex!?
As we enter 2020, a year in which all of you shall be celebrating a birthday one of the 365 days. Ask yourself how good and faithful a tenant you have been to God, the Graceful Landlord who has allowed you so many years of occupancy of HIS Temple.
Is it better to die young and return your body, the Holy Temple to its rightful owner in a state as pure, as holy as you first received it, than to keep celebrating dirty birthdays and soiling and ruining Gods property!? For, without fail, some day all of us will face the Landlord with His keys and what’s left of His Temple. However, do not count on your own strength to defy and defeat your carnal temptations, but pray and call on the Power of Jesus Christ to conquer for you. For the disciples cannot lead God's work and command the willing audience if they are routinely afflicted by worldly flaws.
Other Key Areas of focus for Year 2020 include:
a] Understanding Discipleship;
b] Unleashing Teams of Evangelism;
c] Baptised and Sent Couples;
d] Revival of Youth Ministry.
ARCHDIOCESE OF BULAWAYO YEAR 2020 LOGO EXPLANATION. BAPTSED AND SENT. WE ARE HIS DISCIPLES
Catholic symbolism in art provides a clear graphic illustration. Its function is to represent people, items, abstract ideas of religious, sacred, theological, moral and instructional importance.
As the Archdiocese of Bulawayo our colourful logo was designed as a model to attract our attention towards a better understanding and comprehension of the theme of the year: BAPTISED AND SENT WE ARE HIS DISCIPLES.
The symbolism in our current logo speaks volumes about our call as disciples of Christ, as it arouses individual appreciation and personal interpretation. However, as a canon a brief explanation is provided below.
The TWO OVAL SHAPES in the logo represent the world in which our missionary mandate as disciples of Christ locates its mode of operation.
The BLACK semi oval shape of the world on the left points to the pre-baptism state of an individual. The pre baptism state is a condition whereby one is vulnerable to the inclination of sin because of the absence of sanctifying grace which is an effect of the sacrament of Baptism. The colour BLACK points to death of active participation, which is a major effect of the Holy spirit received through baptism.
The symbolism of the PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE is predicated in two views. In as much as they point to individuals of different backgrounds responding to the call of discipleship through baptism by Jesus the Good Shepherd, they also depict individuals already partaking in the mission of discipleship as they follow in Jesus` footsteps.
The varied GREYISH and SOLID BLACK colours of the silhouettes point to the spiritual transition of an individual. This is seen in the journey of catechumens as they desire, receive, witness and testify to the power of the sacrament of baptism. The journey is similar to lapsed catholics after a rekindling of their faith. In the figure of Jesus, the SOLID BLACK colour represents ABSOLUTENESS that is attained through faithful discipleship.
The BLUE semi oval shape on the right portrays the transformation of the world once void of sanctifying grace to a world now existing in the merits of baptism as effected by the missionary disciples baptised and sent. In general the colour BLUE, represents the sky, water, life everlasting and heaven. In this instance it indicates the Kingdom of God which is the focus and object of discipleship.
Without the CROSS discipleship loses its meaning. The RED CROSS over-heading the silhouette imagery signifies a sense of sacrifice that comes with those who commit themselves to the mission. For the calling by Jesus may involve the loss of security, (Mt 19.16-30), family (Mt 10.34-39), comfort (Mt 8.18-22),social standing (0.24-25),leading to the final offering of self (Mt 16.24-28).This could also involve rejection (Mt 5.10-12)and loneliness (Mt 7.13-14). Therefore, the cross stands as source hope and strength in the sometimes trying mission of discipleship.
Fr. E. Nyathi
Archdiocese of Bulawayo
Social Communications Coordinator