I LOOK FORWARD TO THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
AND THE LIFE OF THE WORLD TO COME. AMEN
(FROM THE NICENO-CONSTANTINOPOLITAN CREED)
During the year of faith, we also get confronted with the mystery of death and every funeral is for all of us a challenge to manifest our faith into the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. The ritual of an average funeral in South Africa is so well known to all of us. How many times did we already hear: “Oh what a beautiful funeral… So many people who attended, so many cars in the cortege, so many speakers, so many reeds and flowers and such a fine food afterwards.”?
How often is still in our rural areas a funeral the main excuse for not being in church on a Sunday? Some pastors who can’t change the situation speak with resignation about this calling it the “eighth sacrament”.
Nothing against our respect towards our deceased people expressed in a dignified funeral, but there are a couple of things which should be given a little bit more attention, and that can become manifest during this year of faith.
It must be a point of faith that to die means to pass into life everlasting by meeting Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth, the resurrection and the life.
The presence of the coffin during the Requiem is the opportunity given to our deceased to give following message: “Even in death I believe in the resurrection”. This changes our liturgy from a mourning ceremony into a celebration of life, into a vivid manifestation of our faith which overcomes death and proclaims the message of life in all eternity.
In this spirit we announce the passing away of Deacon Victor Tozamile Lujabe (25 September 1934 – 28 November 2012) at the East London Private Life Hospital. This man had an impressive Curriculum Vitae and got in occasion of his funeral all the customary praises related to the different diplomas, positions, achievements and talents he had, but here I want to expose him as a practising, deeply believing Catholic, who, in his third age became a deacon and who, in this capacity consecrated his whole life in commitment to the life of the Church which proclaims the faith in an inviting Jesus Christ to follow him as the destroyer of death and restorer of life everlasting. May he now enjoy that life he believed so strongly in.
One day later we heard the news of the passing away of Mrs Nozibele Elizabeth Mpongwana Mpako (19 October 1925 – 29 November 2012), the mother of our Bishop, Dabula Anthony Mpako. Born in the Anglican tradition, she became a teacher till the day she became the wife of a teacher, who later became an Anglican minister and the mother of her first child. 26 years, she lived in the shadow of her husband, fully occupied with her domestic tasks, complemented with some occasional professions to keep the family alive.
After the death of her husband she learnt to know the Catholic Church, fell in love with it and finally joined it. She had the advantages of a serious convert: she became a staunch Catholic and felt extremely happy in her new committed faith. One of her biggest joys in the last years of her life was without doubt the consecration of one of her sons as a catholic bishop. On the 29th of November 2012, she entered peacefully into God’s heaven where life is everlasting.
And finally I have to mention the young, enthusiastic and for sure spontaneous Mrs Gazelle Jelena Bernadette Williams (19 July 1970 – 18 December 2012)
It was just impossible to overlook Gazelle! Academically schooled at the University of the Western Cape, she developed herself into a charismatic teacher, who not only taught some subjects at local high schools, but also showed her environment, her husband and children and everybody who came in contact with her, how to live and to live a life well. In occasion of the visit of the relics of St. Theresa in Queenstown, she and her husband translated an English version of an illustrated biography of St. Theresa of Lisieux into Afrikaans, and that the way she was: quickly, non-stop and wanting no financial compensation for it because it was for the Church! In her enthusiasm she could push other people quite seriously because she wanted to see progress in everybody and everything. Everybody was Gods image and likeness and she was deeply impressed by the idea that Jesus Christ restored that image and likeness to the full by giving us back that life everlasting in God. Her transition to that life everlasting happened the same way she lived here on earth: spontaneous, quick and joyful. During a holiday together with her family in Port Elizabeth, she got a central stroke and went off without the slightest symptom of pain. I can only imagine her in heaven, pulling St. Peter’s sleeve saying: “Look there, Look there!!!”
With a smile we placed her ashes into the columbarium of our garden of remembrance where on a granite plate following text is engraved: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11: 25-26)
Yes, during the year of faith, as the Church of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer, it should be for all of us, a point of honour to express proudly that we believe unconditionally into the Resurrection of the Dead and in the life of the world to come.
Fr. Edward Tratsaert SAC