Father Gérard's Circulars

Father Gérard T Lagleder O.S.B.
Benedictine Mission
P O Box 440
Mandini 4490
Republic of South Africa

Advent 1993

My dear friends, acquaintances and relatives,

xmasneed.jpg (72171 bytes)is that supposed to be a Christmas scene? Unheard of! A naked woman, an old man, a man with a child on his arm who starved to death, a chained man, a flute- and a guitar player, a relaxed and a gazing somebody and in the centre a young girl with an infant on her arms. Tasteless? impious? a horror picture? and that as a Christmas greeting!? Yes, my dear ones, and I wished , I could make it even clearer, that Christmas brought a redeemer into a world, which shouts for justice, peace and love. That is the kind of world, we are all living in, no matter if we stay in South Africa, Yugoslavia, India or Germany. This is the kind of world which I am experiencing in Zululand: A world of the chained, chained through the strive for political influence and recklessness; a world of the hungry, hungry for bread and peace; a world of the aged, of outdated ideologies, tribalism and superstition; a world of uncovered desires, looking for security and love; a world of actors, filling emptiness with worldly sounds;

though right on this awful stage of the world, there is also the relaxed, sustained by closeness and the gazing, silent and smiling looking at the child. The child sustained by his mother's love, tenderly protected, held and holding. They both look out into the distance of the ages, in happy security of the beginning of redemption.

"Christ, the saviour, is here! Christ, the saviour, is here!" This is the Good News of Christmas. It is my Christmas wish for all of you, that this Good News may turn into a personal experience for the big world of the news broadcasts and for the little world of our own hearts. May you really become happy and seeing, relaxed and secure people gazing at the child, the Emanuel, the revelation of God's nature!

With these wishes I want to greet all of you very heartily , especially those, for whom my greeting is a response and a thanks for mail and calls, for material and financial contributions. You will surely understand, that because of the volume of my work which is increasing steadily, I really have not had a chance to thank you earlier. Though this is painful for me, there was no other way out. But I would like to utilise the opportunity of this circular letter, to share the ups and downs of my own life and work with you. You surely know through the media, that the political situation in South Africa is terrible at the moment. Especially in the last few weeks, the Mandini area has changed from a barrel full of gunpowder into fireworks. There are people murdered in my parishes every day, houses and vehicles set alight; yesterday a bomb went off at the railway station, today somebody was burnt to death and nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. Many inhabitants of the rural areas and the Township left their homes to sleep in the bush in the open, because they feel more secure that way. Many people brought their belongings into our churches, because those are not safe in their homes. What else will happen in future I really do not know. My home leave is a year overdue, but facing such a situation I cannot run away. My parishioners need me more urgently than my home country. In spite of all of that, we try to live our Christian faith as credible as possible. The fact that our parishes have developed amazingly consoles me and is a clear sign, that the Lord is really Emanuel (God with us). I told you already last year about the foundation of our "Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard". Far more than that, what were hopes and dreams at these times, have been fulfilled. We have a visitor from Germany with us at the moment, Baroness Diane von Wrede. She had heard about our relief organisation in Germany and is now staying with us for a few months, to work with us. She wrote the report on our activities, which I attach for your information, not without hoping that you may join our Brotherhood, at least as a "Spiritual Supporter" whose only task it is, to pray for our charitable work. There is an application form at the end of the report.

I greet you once again cordially and gratefully and I look forward to hearing from you again.

Yours with best wishes for a blessed New Year 1994

Yours

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Father Gérard


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