CCR Retreat Rediscovers the Eucharist and Warns against Prosperity Gospels
By Fr Denis Ekwerike MDP – A priest has warned against “Church tourism”, people whereby people go from one prayer centre to another seeking miracles.
Members of Catholic Charismatic Renewal at Sacred Heart cathedral parish in Bloemfontein focused on the theme “Growth in our Christian Life” during a retreat at the Regina Pacis Centre near Ladybrand. Catholics from Bethlehem diocese, and from Lesotho, also took part.
Retreat moderator Fr Thaddeus Mbayi noted that the Eucharist has been the strength of the Church for almost 2000 years, with many bishops, priests and faithful prepared to shed their blood as martyrs for it.
Affirming the Eucharist as the summit of Christian life, Fr Mbayi decried a loss of meaning in the Mass among many.
“I feel very worried when I see some people come to the Eucharist as though for a concert. You don’t know what happens at Mass; if you knew, you’d die of love.”
Shun Church Tourism
He called on participants to shun what he called “Church tourism”, jumping from one prayer centre to another looking for miracles, and noted that many doing so actually increased their troubles.
“It is worrisome that people go to places where they are asked to swallow snakes and eat grass to achieve healing,” Fr Mbayi said. “Do not go around placing prayer requests when you, yourself, are not ready to pray.”
He urged people to come to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. “In the Eucharist Jesus visits us to console us; in the Eucharist Jesus heals us. All you need do is talk it over with him, just the way you feel about things,” Fr Mbayi said.
Bloemfontein participant Geraldine Mutambala said retreats were one of the important traditions Christ left his disciples, adding that it was the only way “we are able to recharge, refill, and then go back to face life with a fresh perspective”.
Be Wary of Prosperity Gospels
She called on Christians to be wary of prosperity gospels that neglect the poor, and justice in society.
“We need to go back to the Gospel, remind ourselves of what Jesus actually said. As Catholics, we have a rich heritage in the saints who have concretised the Gospel message in practical terms,” she stated.
Another participant, Clementina Klein, noted that the retreat emphasised a deeper focus on the word of God. She encouraged other parishes to make retreats a crucial part of their programmes.
Malefu Khamane, also a participant, said she was worried that many Catholics are not clear about the place of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
She blamed it on some priests who have failed in guiding their flocks along the right path.
“Some priests say they do not want to upset their parishioners; they want to be thought of as nice people,” Ms Khamane said.
“They do not want to lose this from their congregations, and would rather turn a blind eye than teach the whole truth.”
Ms Khamane added that many are scared of surrendering to the Holy Spirit for “fear of loss of control over their lives and actions”.