To See Our Good News
When The Southern Cross was still a weekly newspaper, we would invite guest editorialists for our Christmas and Easter editions, drawing from bishops and clergy, religious and laity. It never ceased to amaze me how every year, these writers would offer a fresh perspective on their subjects, about which so much had been written and preached already for two millennia.
One insight, from the 2011 Easter editorial, stays with me. Fr Russell Pollitt SJ wrote: “Our celebration of Easter is a proclamation of our triumph over the ash and the cross. It is an invitation to us to name experiences of victory over bad news in our lives and in our world. We are invited out of the tomb of bad news (death) and defeat into the glorious light of resurrection. It is a celebration in which we rejoice that Jesus has risen from the dead and that, in our own lives, some of our stories end in happy endings. Can we identify and name those stories?” (www.scross.co.za/2011/04/live-the-resurrection/)
Every issue of The Southern Cross tries to do that: to identify good news in people’s lives. Our interview with the former TV personality Thabile Mbhele on page 10 this month shows an example of that. Retrenched by the SABC after 20 years of service, Thabile has found her “happy ending” — and a new beginning — in what could have been a time of personal disaster. Her deep faith no doubt guided her to that personal victory over bad news. The good news stories needn’t be dramatic or worthy of banner headlines, but we must tell them. And first, we must be able to spot them!
Sometimes the graces we receive are obvious. When we read of the miracles presided over by Fr Colin Bowes of De Aar, whom we feature on page 9, there is no need for us to wonder about divine intervention. I witnessed something similar during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2010, when a young woman who was chronically on crutches, whom I had just helped to descend the Mount of Olives, experienced a cure in the Garden of Gethsemane. She cast away her crutches (a member of the group took them, just in case), and for the rest of the tour — which also took us to Oberammergau, which we are visiting this month on pages 14-16 — she never used them again.
Pilgrimages have a way of working miracles. On the Southern Cross youth pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2000, the group prayed in Cana that an apparently infertile couple might conceive. Within a year, they had a baby daughter, who now is a beautiful young woman.
And an unspectacular but personal story: In October 2019 our group of pilgrims visited Lourdes (whose St Bernadette is this issue’s Saint of the Month). While there, I let water from the Virgin’s spring run over my arthritic thumb joint. Nothing happened. A few months later, I noticed that the joint was not hurting anymore, even though I had stopped taking my anti-inflammatory tablets for quite a while. Two years later, the joint is still swollen, but it is entirely pain-free, without any medication or dietary changes. No doctor I’ve asked has been able to explain it. This may not be a miracle by the Catholic Church’s strict definitions — it was not instantaneous and perhaps not permanent — but I see the intervention of God through Our Lady in my ability to wiggle my thumb at will.
We all have experiences graces and perhaps even miracles in our lives, but we need to be open to seeing them and to discern God working in our lives. It can be the difference between the stone sealing the dark tomb and seeing the stone rolled away.
A wonderful example of that can be observed in the witness of Fr Cyril Axelrod CSsR, whose new book we review on page 22. Born deaf, he gradually lost his sight until he went totally blind in 2000. At the age of 58, this personal calamity naturally scared him intensely. He experienced the tomb, but with God’s grace he rolled away the stone, and now regards his deaf-blindness as a gift. And, we may add, Fr Cyril is indeed a gift to us.
Christ’s resurrection always gives us hope, in our temporal lives and for our lives everlasting. Thanks be to God!
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We at The Southern Cross wish all our readers, associates, advertisers, sellers, contributors, supporters and friends a blessed and holy Easter season!