The International Monetary Fund sees no immediate prospect of helping to put the poverty-stricken island nation of Madagascar on the road to recovery because its government won't open up its finances to outside inspection. Its people face a further decline in their standard of living. Already Madagascar is one of the world's poorest countries, 75 per cent of its people surviving on less than a dollar a day, lucky to get one small meal as price rises take even the staple food of rice beyond their means. In the slums of the capital Antananarive, there is no clean water and no sewage system. Picking over refuse is often the only employment. Families are forced to live together - three to five families in a house - because they cannot afford to rent their own. Madagascar's economic decline since independence has seen average income cut in half in recent years. Corruption and government in-fighting makes the future look even bleaker.
I feel the need to communicate with you to make you partakers of the missionary work. With the help of God and the blessing of His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch Theodoros, the missionary and charity work progresses slowly but steadily. Our work is multidimensional due to the large number of needs in both fields, that of Mission and the philanthropic one. Everyday new things, needs and problems arise. Natives always look forward to our aid, thinking that we can solve all kinds of issues because they themselves have no access to the state or to persons holding a position or to economically well-off people. People with health problems come to us on a daily basis. In these cases we refer them to our own medical clinics, but when the problem is somewhat serious, we send them to a hospital under escort. In many villages that we visit we experience serious incidents that sooner or later lead the patient to premature death as the condition is at an advanced stage and is not reversible. Mission clinics prevent many such cases and save lives in the vast deserts where they operate.
Love for the salvation of both bodies and souls, leaves no room for opportunities to be lost, dispensing trouble, time and money in order to save even one soul. Our brother, whatever that may be, does not cease to be Christ himself, and we must place ourselves in the position of the good Samaritan. All of this is not easy to handle, because first and foremost the Mission is in need of capable, hard-working people, time and money. Half of the success of the whole project in the Mission depends on the persons involved. Unfortunately, such gifted laborers are absent from almost all Missions; as a result, the burden of the Mission falls on the shoulders of very few people.
The distances are very long and the roads are in an awful condition, which makes our short pastoral trips to many remote areas much harder. Our Christians are expecting us to go there so that they can hear God’s word and talk to us about their problems.
People cut off from our well-known civilized world are asking to share their love and everything that they are concerned about. Such areas lack not only electricity, which is non-existent even in large towns, but also water. In these barren and arid areas, when possible, the Mission builds cisterns in the center of the village and fills them from the water cart, so that people can have a little clean drinking water. In Toliara region, where it rarely rains, lack of water is a serious problem. You can see people transporting water from many kilometers away with the jerry cans on their heads or with improvised wheelbarrows or even with ox-carts. There are several villages along the road in rocky areas, without any other vegetation than wild shrubs.
Their only job is to make charcoal and sell it in Toliara. Their image is tragic. Their clothes are shabby, dirty, torn, almost ragged. Their primitive outdoor oven is a charcoal or wood-burning one. Their kitchen utensils are in an awful condition, without any basic hygiene rules. Little children do not go to school because there are not any; as a result, they play all day with dirt and makeshift toys. With a few pieces of candy that we give them, they are overjoyed and even lick the paper the candy is wrapped in. There is the pinnacle of poverty and deprivation. We promised to make them a small school and a small church. It would be gift a from heaven if the Fraternity could help us construct these two small buildings. Let us hope that God will send a warm-hearted donor to our assistance. Hope is never lost. It dies last. The Lord will provide.
‘n Nuwe opname van die Ortodokse Liturgie, getoonset met hoofsaaklik die bekende Psalmmelodieë van Goudimel, sal binnekort beskikbaar wees. Hieronder is die motivering vir hierdie opname soos wat dit voorlopig op die binneblad van die opname gaan verskyn:
Waarom hierdie toonsetting?
My inspirasie om die Ortodokse Liturgie te toonset met die Psalm-melodieë van veral Goudimel, asook ‘n melodie van die Heilige Notker, is te danke aan my kennismaking op YouTube met André Nieuwkoop in Nederland se zangavonden, waar skares mense, gewoonlik meer as ‘n duisend, byeenkom, om die Psalms te sing. Ek het hierdie melodieë ontroerend gevind en was getref deur die geestelike diepte daarvan. Ek het dit met ‘n half-Afrikaanse kollega in die VSA gedeel en na hy na heelwat van hierdie Psalms geluister het, was sy opmerking: “Profoundly prayerful genius!” Ek het toe begin kyk na die moontlikheid om van hierdie melodieë te gebruik vir die toonsetting van die Goddelike Liturgie van die Ortodokse Kerk in Afrikaans en was aangenaam verras om te vind dat dit nie net moontlik was nie, maar dat dié musiek ook die geestelike diepte van die Liturgie treffend beliggaam. Tot dusver was ons aangewese op meesal Russiese melodieë, maar nou het ons ‘n musiekskat tot ons beskikking wat gewortel is in en eie is aan die geskiedenis van die oorgrote meerderheid Afrikaanssprekendes en wat ewe goed ook die draer van die Ortodoksie in Afrikaans kan wees. Met die gebruik van hierdie melodieë kry die Ortodoksie in Afrikaans myns insiens nou die moontlikheid van ‘n eie unieke stem. Ek het met Leon Starker oor die moontlikheid gepraat om hierdie toonsetting met sy Oikos-sangers op te neem en hy was van meet af aan baie entoesiasties om dit te doen. Die doel van die opname is tweeledig: Om ‘n voorbeeld te hê vir Afrikaanse Ortodokse Christene van hoe die musiek gesing moet word, en om die skoonheid van die Liturgie met hierdie pragtige melodieë aan Afrikaanse mense in die algemeen bekend te stel, om so moontlik by te dra tot die geestelike en kulturele verryking van ons mense. Graag wil ek ook my dank uitspreek teenoor ons Aartsbiskop Sergios, Metropoliet van die Aartsbisdom Goeie Hoop, wat sy toestemming en seën vir hierdie projek gegee het. Mag hierdie opname vir vele van seën en tot stigting wees!
Vader Zacharias van Wyk, presbiter Kapel van die Heilige Maria die Egiptenaar “Keurkloof” Robertson Ortodokse Aartsbisdom Goeie Hoop Patriargaat Alexandrië
L.W.: DIE VOLLEDIGE TEKS VAN DIE GODDELIKE LITURGIE, MET DIE TOONSETTINGS, IS IN PDF-FORMAAT OP HIERDIE SKYF EN KAN OP ‘N REKENAAR AFGELAAI EN UITGEDRUK WORD.
Ons glo “in een Here Jesus Christus …… wat gely het en begrawe is opgestaan het”.
My liewe kinders, Ons vier met gejubel en geestelike vreugde die lewegewende Pasga! “Pasga van behae, Pasga, die Pasga van die Heer. ‘n Pasga al-eerbiedwaardig het vir ons opgegaan. Pasga! Laat ons mekaar met blydskap omhels. O Pasga, losprys van verdriet!”
Ons ontken egter nie die verskriklike werklikheid van ons alledaagse lewe nie; die pyn, die ongeregtigheid, die siekte. Pasga is ‘n unieke, dinamiese gebeurtenis. Verdriet en rou word verdryf deur die glans van die goddelike Lig en oorwinning van die lewegewende Opstanding.
Ons weet dat baie van ons broers en susters in hierdie tyd finansieel versmoor word en dat ander op die rand van armoede verkeer.
Onveiligheid en allerhande ander struikelblokke, met die katastrofiese gevolge daarvan op die lewenstandaarde van ons mense, is ‘n aangeleentheid vir die hele samelewing, waar die slagoffer nie langs die pad lê en die aanskouers van hierdie drama aan die ander kant van die pad verbygaan nie, maar waar ons almal as mede-reisigers die gevolge dra van dit wat ‘n uitwerking op almal gemeenskaplik het. In die heel eerste plek roep hierdie verskynsels, deur die bewuswording van tekortkominge om op liefdevolle en samewerkende wyse daarmee tred te hou, en die gebrek daaraan, almal tot self-ondersoek op. Om ons woed oorloë en kom rampe voor. Gebiede naby ons word oorweldig deur vlugtelinge en immigrante, wat die skaakmat van politieke en finansiële dienstigheid van die wêreldmagte ervaar.
Te midde van die donkerte wat deur menslike lyding veroorsaak word, straal die ewige lig van die Opstanding van die Heiland met heerlikheid. Volgens die Ortodoksie is elke mens ‘n unieke en onherhaalbare persoonlikheid, ‘n beeld van God, ongeag kleur, taal, godsdiens en kulturele agtergrond. Dit vra om opregte hulpverlening aan die mens, en sekerlik aan die behoeftiges, met volle verwysing na die verlossende gebooie van die Skepper. Die Kerk is die Liggaam van Christus. Binne haar, “as een lid ly, ly al die lede saam” en omdat God liefde is, “bly hy wat in liefde bly in God en God in hom.”
Geloof in die Here “wat gely het en begrawe is en opgestaan het”, en die eksistensiële verhouding met Hom, keer geduld en uithouvermoë , geestelike krag en innerlike vrede vir die siel af. Terselfdertyd moedig hierdie geloof ons aan om op liefdevolle wyse naas diegene wat ly te bly. Agting en versorging vir hulle wat gekwel word, gee op die mees wesenlike wyse uitdrukking aan ons aanbidding van Christus wat “vir ons verlossing” opgewek is. Ons begrip van die smarte van ons naaste en sorg vir hul verligting, bewys ons geloof in die Opstanding en ons praktiese liefde soveel meer.
My kinders “CHRISTUS HET OPGESTAAN! “Dit is ‘n dag van liefde. Die hel is oorwin (…..) Elke gesig straal, volgens die Griekse digter Dionisios Solomos, vanweë die heilige kers wat Christene in hul hande hou”. Mag die Verrese Heer, die Leier van die Lewe, ons hoop, liefde, krag en vreugde skenk in die ewige lig van sy Opstanding. Terwyl ek julle almal die seën van die Verrese Christus, die Oorwinnaar oor die dood, skenk, groet ek elkeen van julle persoonlik met die Opstandings-segelied: CHRISTUS HET OPGESTAAN! WAARLIK, HY HET OPGESTAAN! terwyl ek julle almal “van die Here” alles wat goed en aangenaam is toewens “vir alles wat ons vir Hom doen”.
Met die seëninge van die Opstanding,
(Geteken deur) +Theodoros ll Pous en Patriarg van Alexandrië en die Hele Afrika
Since all of us have tasted the sweetness and uniqueness of the Orthodox Church, it is only natural as well as our duty to want to pull into the Orthodox Church those who are currently out of it, regardless of whether they are idolaters or heretics! How then will we draw the heterodox into the Church of Christ? The answer is given by Christ Himself on the Cross with His sacrifice. The sacrifice of the leader of our faith is His only sermon against worldly logic/reason since the early Christian period. The sacrifice of the contemporary priest, who is duty bound to perform the bloodless sacrifice of Christ again and again in the history of the world, gives the opportunity for salvation to each one of our fellow human beings by enabling them to have a personal relationship with Christ, which makes him a beacon in the darkness of our time…
When we priests live a pure and holy life, when we know and respect the rules, teachings and doctrines of our Church as well as the commandments of God, when we shed tears of repentance and we humbly call for the mercy of God, when we are suffering for our brothers in other confessions that live in error, then holding the prayer rope, we fervently pray that all the people of the earth will know our Faith, which is the only true faith!Great and true missionary is not the one who conveys faith with words, but the one who lives it. The one who prays with tears in front of the icon of Christ and the Virgin Mary that God will enlighten all people to return to the Mother Church. The Orthodox Church is open to all people. It embraces and expects everyone to move forward and respond to the call of Christ Himself, thus becoming partakers of this heavenly calling: «Come and see!» If we pray to Christ this way every day, our churches will be full. It is through repentance and a mighty warm prayer that we will bring them all to Christ. If we live our life partaking of the Holy Mysteries, with sincere confession and Holy Communion, then we will achieve our purpose: to help all people know the true Church.
Unless we have a spiritual father, we will not be able to succeed pure prayer and repentance. We will lose the path that leads to Christ and salvation. It is absolutely necessary for us to go to our spiritual father quite often and honestly confess our sins, our mistakes and our queries. The spiritual father has a threefold role: to hear our sins, to solve our questions and to give advice, guidance and counsel as well as his blessing for what we do in our lives.Next I will refer to the priest’s duty to his parishioners. It is our big responsibility to keep those who have shown interest in Orthodoxy and to do everything in our power so that those who are inside the Church and are lukewarm, will acquire a living spiritual consciousness. How, then, can we win souls from the world’s tempest and lead them to the safe harbor of the Church? All the Orthodox priests in our parishes must be active. The morning and evening services (the Matins, the Vespers, the Supplication Canon) should be conducted every day if we want to attract the grace of God. Every night, if every one of us, each one according to their own penance, dedicates two hours praying the rope and making prostrations, this will draw the grace of God. It is this very Grace that will help us and provide solutions to our problems, not our mind or our actions!
Another very important thing is for the priest to have a strong interest in the parish. He should run to the sick, read Orthodox books and have a steady seminar attendance every month. He should neither improvise in his sermons, nor express divergent new opinions that sound good and modern. He should only preach what is confirmed in the conscience of the Orthodox Church and comes from the Holy Fathers; only this can be taught by the Orthodox priests.Finally, a priest should preach in catechetical schools, organize sports events, games with children as well as various activities, show love and affection to children, be close to the people, comfort and help his flock, and then, the miracle will come and our parish will be full of conscious Orthodox Christians! Amen.
Khanya (Orthodox Christian blog from South Africa)
An old friend, Danie Steyn, died earlier this week, after a long and painful illness.
Danie Steyn in October 1998
We first got to know Danie when he started coming to our church, the Orthodox Church of St Nicholas of Japan, in the early 1990s. At that time we ran a bookstall at the church for a mission society, the Society of St Nicholas of Japan, which had actually started the parish as a mission parish. The bookstall was open on Sunday mornings after the Divine Liturgy, and Danie became one of its most regular customers. Not only so, he also brought a lot of friends along, and urged them to buy Orthodox books from the bookstall. Many of those he brought were young Afrikaners from Potchefstroom University (now the University of the North-West). Danie became an evangelist for Orthodoxy, often with surprising results. One of the people he brought to St Nicholas Church was Andrei Kashinski, a young Russian immigrant to South Africa. It was the time when the Soviet Union was disintegrating and Andrei, a member of Komsomol, the Communist Party youth organisation, was a factory manager. His wife left him, however, and like many other Russians at the time he got baptised, not knowing quite what he was doing. Because of his broken marriage he wanted to go far away, as far from Russia as possible. He looked at a map, and South Africa seemed to be far away. So he came to South Africa.
One day Andrei was sitting in a bar in Aliwal North, and mentioned that he had been baptised in the Orthodox Church. One of the people there said ” I know someone from your church,” and drove Danie to the other end of the Free State, to introduce him to Danie Steyn, who was then living in Parys. Danie brought Andrei to St Nicholas Church in Brixton, where Andrei discovered what he had let himself in for when he was baptised. After 18 months Andrei returned to Russia, and helped with the restoration of the Danilov Monastery in Moscow. Now he is a priest in a village parish near Moscow, which he has been rebuilding after it was destroyed in the the Bolshevik era. Danie was able to visit him there, and was impressed with his simple lifestyle, and with his ministry in a small rural parish. So Danie influenced the lives of many people. One day, quite soon after I had first met him, a former colleague of mine from the Missiology Department at Unisa, who had moved to the University of Pretoria, brought some theological students to St Nicholas Church in Brixton for the Divine Liturgy. At that time there were two faculties of Theology at the University of Pretoria, one for the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (NGK) , and the other for the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk (NHK). Danie had studied theology with the latter, which was more theologically liberal, but more politically conservative than the NGK. So Danie spoke to the visiting students after the Liturgy, saying that Reformed Theology, especially that of the NHK, tended to be cold and intellectual and academic, and the experience of God in Orthodoxy was like dropping from head knowledge to heart knowledge.
Benjamin Elisa (Gustav) Prinsloo’s funeral at St Nicholas, Brixton, Danie Steyn made the cross.
One of those who came to Orthodoxy through Danie’s witness was Gustav Prinsloo, who was baptised on Holy Saturday 1997, which we think was the first Orthodox baptism in South Africa done in Afrikaans. Nine months later Gustav was in a car accident which claimed his life, and his funeral was held at St Nicholas Church in Brixton, and after the service most of the congregation drove in procession to Petrus Steyn, about 200 km away, where the burial took place. Danie had organised the funeral, and leading the funeral service was virtually the first pastoral task of the new priest, Fr Bertrand Olechnowicz, who had been in the parish for less than a week. The funeral made quite an impression on many of Gustav and Danie’s friends who attended, and the following Easter 11 people were baptised, most of whom had been present at the funeral.
Fr Iakovos Olechnowicz at the funeral of
Gustav Prinsloo in Petrus Steyn, January 1998.
Danie Steyn in red shirt.
Twenty-one years later we gathered at the same place to bury Danie next to his friend Gustav and his stepfather Stowell Kessler, and now there are three Orthodox graves in the cemetery at Petrus Steyn.
Burial of Danie Steyn, next to his friend
Benjamin Elisa (Gustav) Prinsloo, 27 Jun 2019.
I didn’t know Danie when he first became Orthodox, but I got the impression from talking to him in the early 1990s that he had an idea of an Afrikaner national Orthodox Church. I was reminded of a similar idea that had been held by George Alexander McGuire in the USA. McGuire was an Antiquan who went to the USA and became an Episcopalian (Anglican) priest, but wanted a black independent church. Being aware that the Orthodox Church had Russian, Greek, Bulgarian and similar national churches, he approached the Russian bishop in New York, but the bishop explained to him that it was not quite what he thought. There was no principle in Orthodoxy for establishing ethnically exclusive churches (this notion had been condemned some years earlier as “phyletism”). The Russian, Greek, Bulgarian etc Orthodox Churches were all in communion with each other and were not, as a matter of theological principle, ethnically exclusive. The Russian Revolution made it difficult to continue that conversation, and McGuire formed the African Orthodox Church, of which he became Primate, but since then several branches of the African Orthodox Church have joined the Orthodox Church, especially in East Africa. About ten years after I first met him, Danie attended a training course for church leaders held at the Cathedral of Saints Constantine and Helen in Johannesburg, with people from many different ethnic backgrouds, English, Afrikaans, Greek, Ndebele, Romanian, Pedi, Zulu and more. As much as ever, Danie saw his ministry as evangelising Afrikaners who had become disillusioned and dropped out of the Calvinist Afrikaans-speaking churches, but saw it as bringing people into an inclusive Orthodox fellowship in which people of all ethnicities would be welcome, though each could worship in their own language. In spite of what the Russian bishop had told George Alexander McGuire, though there was no theological basis for ethnic exclusivity, there is still sometimes in Orthodox Churches an attitude of ethnic exclusivity based on prejudice, which Danie himself had experienced when reading the Book of Acts in preparation for the Easter Vigil. He was reading in Afrikaans, and was treated very rudely by a member of that particular parish, as a result of which he, and most of the Afrikaans and Slavic members of that parish left and joined the new Russian parish which was being started in Midrand. We will miss Danie. May his memory be eternal.