Awards share and connect.

On first receipt of the traditional WordPress awards from fellow bloggers, I was dubious. On the flip-side though, I appreciated/appreciate the recognition for my intentional work in the Vineyard, and through these awards have been exposed to excellent blogs that I would not have found without specific mention from fellow bloggers.

For this particular award, I graciously thank To Love and Truth, as Michael’s blog provides an inspirational and educational read each time I visit.  I am honoured.

It’s been a while since awards have been doing the rounds, and I would like to thank the readers of my blog for  support and contributions over the past year. Thank you…many blogs are deserving of these awards.

I’m particularly grateful for consideration of this award as I do endeavour to share special moments and thoughts with the readers of 1catholicsalmon.

best-moment-award

The Rules:

1.  Use the award logo in the post.

2.  Link to whoever nominated you.

3.   Write 10 pieces of information about yourself.

4.   Nominate fellow bloggers who meet the indicated criteria.

5.   Leave a comment on the nominees’ blogs to tell them of the award.

1. I am an avid reader, especially of all things regarding Catholicism, and at the moment I’m reading an e-book called ‘Catholic Christianity’ by philosopher Peter Kreeft. Highly recommendable.

2. I was born in South Africa, and I am currently hankering after the warm sun and sunny skies that abound there.

3. I belong to the wonderful parish of St. Joseph New Malden, where the Truth of our faith is promoted daily, and where I receive my Spiritual Food.

4. I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting a man who radiates the love of God: Rev Stuart Windsor.

While  I was shopping in a Christian bookstore, he walked in and began chatting with those around him as if he were acquainted with everyone. He possesses a sort of magnetism that cannot be ignored and I was intrigued by this elderly gentleman’s’ confidence, and sense of authority. His demeanour and obvious  joy set him apart from the rest of us in that shop, and I wanted to know more about him.

I walked over to pay for my books when he began chatting with me also. He asked me which church I belong to and proceeded to make a positive remark about St. Joe’s, telling me of a fine young priest he knew from there.

He  handed me a business card. On it, was the logo of the CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide organisation –  www.csw.org.uk ) and his name:

Rev Stuart Windsor – underscored  with the title , ‘Special Ambassador‘.This title would’ve meant nothing had I just been handed the card and not met him personally. Meeting this man changed me in a way that I cannot explain, and I understood for the first time what it’s like to meet someone really close to God. Don’t ask me how I knew this, I just did. I proceeded to look up information about him, and it made for some very interesting reading. Click the link above for interesting facts about him.

5. My beloved and I have been married for 28 years this year. It still feels so right.

6. The older I get the deeper my love for Jesus grows.

7. I love praying the Rosary. I have a collection of Rosaries.

8. Reconciliation is part of a monthly routine, and is one of my favourite Sacraments.

9. I have a picture of Mary Magdalene (Jesus’ friend) at His feet. I want to have it printed on a canvas to place at the side of my bed.541611_10152642400455584_1973326944_n

10. I prefer attending Mass that is Ad Orientem

So, I nominate these chosen blogs for the following awards:-

Best Moment Award (to person/blog that brought a special moment): 

  1. Art in Faith
  2. Reinkat
  3. 8 kids and a business
  4. Catholic alchoholic
  5. 365 Missional practice
  6. Wonder and Beauty

     Semper Fidelis Award (Semper Fidelis for always faithful):semper-fidelis-awardBridges and tangents

Biltrix

God and politics UK

Dominus mihi adjutor

Jericho tree

Catechesis in the third millenium

Sunshine Award (to to person/blog that brought sunshine):

sunshineawardCatholic Cravings

Catholic teen apologetics

Catholic working mom

Biltrix

Reader Appreciation Award:reader-app-award

 Along the watchtower

A candid and fair assessment? Indeed!

Nelson Mandela: A Candid Assessment

by Timothy J. Williams:  (1catholicsalmon’s reposted this article which can be found here. This is a balanced and fair comment on Mandela’s life and life lived in South Africa today.)

Mandela-(Steven Siewert)Calling him one of the “most influential, courageous and profoundly good people to ever have lived,” President Obama ordered all U.S. flags lowered to half-staff in honor of Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday, December 5. As the worldwide tributes pour in for the former leader of the African National Congress (ANC) and first black president of South Africa, it is good to remember just who Mandela was, and who he wasn’t.

As president of South Africa, Mandela—though a typically bumbling socialist—was not a vengeful character. After having spent much of his adult life in prison, he is widely praised for not seeking to retaliate against the former white rulers, and for having largely urged reconciliation and compromise in undoing the injustices of Apartheid. Though Mandela was a committed Marxist, he was also a pragmatist, disappointing his more impatient comrades by not immediately carrying out the massive nationalizations of industry he had promised, so as not to drive away foreign investment. And he recognized his own limitations, both physical and political, in deciding not to attempt to remain in power after his term in office.

Most white South Africans rejoin that Nelson Mandela had no reason to seek revenge on anyone, nor any basis for extending forgiveness to his previous jailors. After all, as the most famous prisoner of the previous Apartheid government, he had been fairly tried and convicted of complicity in many murders, and he confessed to participation in 156 acts of terror, crimes that would certainly have earned him the death penalty in a great many countries. Moreover, his confinement was more than comfortable by any standards. During his legendary twenty-seven years in prison, Mandela communicated freely with his followers, and somehow managed to accumulate a considerable fortune. He was continually offered release by the white Apartheid government, but on one condition: that he renounce violence in pursuit of political reform. That is something he consistently refused to do.

As was made clear by testimony before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Mandela was personally involved in the targeting and timing of terrorist bombings that took place during his imprisonment, such as the infamous “Church Street Massacre,” designed to maximize casualties among Afrikaner women and children. Even a group as left-leaning as Amnesty International refused to grant Mandela political prisoner status because of the obviously violent character of his ideology and his actions. His African National Congress party ran a horrific camp for political prisoners in Angola, with daily torture and murder, often by the “necklacing” technique, whereby a gasoline-filled tire is placed around the neck of a victim and set ablaze. Virtually all the victims of this particular horror were blacks.

Within South Africa, on direct orders from Winnie and Nelson Mandela, the ANC targeted not only whites, but also all black civil servants, teachers, lawyers, and businessmen—essentially anyone who imagined a post-Apartheid South Africa that differed from the one mandated by the Marxist ANC. Even simple black peasants who refused to carry out terror attacks were treated as enemies, and they were killed in large numbers. Thus, just as the terroristic FLN killed far more Algerians than did the French during the Algerian war for independence, the ANC was the leading cause of death, by far, for black South Africans throughout the period of Apartheid.

The only reality that makes it even remotely possible to view Mandela as a “statesman” is that he lived on a continent where the definition of “statecraft” is not exactly rigorous or exemplary. Since the wave of decolonization following World War II, the number of African states ruled by ruthless dictators has always been in the majority, and sometimes approached unanimity. The precise number of tyrants involved is actually difficult to ascertain. One simply loses count, and the shadows of the worst of them conceal the merely “semi-heinous” crimes of the lesser despots, so that their names are eclipsed and you find yourself asking: “Does so-and-so really fit the African definition of a tyrant?”

Numbered among the rogue gallery of miscreants who have wielded power on that tragic continent, we find some of the world’s biggest drug traffickers, diamond smugglers, and slave traders. It seems that the poorer an African nation is, the greater the wealth accumulated by its “President for Life.” Almost every country in black-ruled Africa has a system of gulags. All elections are rigged, free press is non-existent, and all dissent comes from exiles. In the past fifty years, there have been more wars in Africa than in all the other continents combined. And everything is considered a weapon of war: ethnic cleansing, child soldiering and child rape, even cannibalism. Just refraining from committing genocide in Africa practically sets one up for comparison with Mother Theresa.

So in this regard, Mandela (post-Apartheid, at least) does indeed look pretty good. Though personally implicated in a great many murders, there is at least no record of him ever eating a political foe or advocating child rape or promoting genocide. And he left office voluntarily in 1999, even if this was due more to advancing years, frail health, and the realization that he had no talent for governing, rather than to a real commitment to democracy. Still, by African standards, this is the stuff of a Nobel Peace Prize.

Mandela did, however, leave behind another socialist nightmare in the making. With their motto of “liberation before education,” the ANC has proved itself completely incapable of governing, and South Africa is sliding into chaos at an alarming rate. Since 2004, South Africa has experienced almost constant political protests, many of them violent. Activists like to refer to the nation as the most “protest-rich in the world,” which, along with prison camps, is the only type of “riches” a socialist nation can produce. The nation is staggered by unemployment, corruption throughout all levels of the police, military, and civil service, and ubiquitous, inescapable crime. Life in South Africa is far more dangerous, especially for blacks and women, than it was under Apartheid. With about fifty murders a day, the nation is now among the undisputed murder capitals of the world, most of these crimes going uninvestigated. The astounding estimates of other violent crimes, including rape, are almost impossible to believe. But only the truth of such figures could account for the fact that the private security business in South Africa is the largest in the world, with over a quarter-million private security guards in a nation of under 53 million.

Taking their lead from the disaster in neighboring Zimbabwe, the government of South Africa is now looking the other way as white farmers are driven off their land by arson and murder. It is said that job advertisements, even those posted by the government, routinely include the phrase “Whites need not apply.” Would it be an exaggeration to say that a “reverse Apartheid” is taking place in South Africa? The nearly one million white South Africans who have fled the growing chaos don’t think so.

Of course, life in South Africa is now most dangerous for the most defenseless, for those waiting to be born. As president, Mandela—ever the pragmatist—signed the most liberal abortion law in all of Africa, with no reason at all needed for a woman to procure abortion in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and abortion easy to obtain through all nine months. Since this law took effect in 1997, even the most conservative estimates put the number of abortions that have taken place at one million. Once again, socialists and pragmatists of all stripes reveal that they cannot conceive of any form of good governance that does not involve killing on a massive scale.

Yes, some South Africans view Mandela as a nearly messianic figure. Desmond Tutu has publically thanked God for the “gift” of Mandela. But this is the same “bishop” Tutu who recently stated that he would decline his own invitation to heaven if God turned out to be a “homophobe.” Any pious invocation by Tutu has to be regarded as more than a little suspect. Nor can we have any confidence in Barack Obama when he declares that Mandela “achieved more than could be expected of any man” and that “he belongs to the ages.” Obama no doubt believes he himself “belongs to the ages,” since his signature “accomplishments”—the government seizure of medical care, the enthronement of abortion, and the promotion of homosexual “marriage”—are all policies promoted by the ANC in the new South Africa. So we should not expect to hear much from the Obama administration about Mandela’s violent past. Statists never find anything to reproach in one of their own.

(Photo credit: Steven Siewert)

 

A new pathway to peace.

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For many years have I used the Rosary to meditate on the life of Our Lord, particularly during Lent and during the months of November- The month of the Rosary, and in May – The month of Our Lady.

Until ten days ago I hadn’t experienced the intense consolation one receives from meditating on the different parts of Christ’s life. I’d always listened to those who have only praise for this method of prayer, feeling at a loose end because I didn’t feel the same way. Ten days ago we received a call from South Africa to say that my mother was on her deathbed. I had been praying the Rosary during November, so when I thought immediately of praying the Rosary  I assumed it was just a knee-jerk reaction to pick up the beads again. I could not have been more wrong.

I lit a candle and earnestly prayed the Joyful Mystery: -

1. The Annunciation of the Lord to Mary

2. The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth

3. The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ

4. The Presentation of our Lord

5. Finding Jesus in the Temple at age 12

I prayed the Creed with an intensity I had never known before. I prayed about my Faith. About what I believe from the depths of my being. It took on a new meaning for me. While in prayer I began to feel a deep sense of hope, as I grasped the enormity of what God has done for me, and more importantly, for my mother at this critical juncture of her life on earth. God sent His only Son for our Salvation, in order for us to have Life after death.

And so  each day since then have I prayed the Rosary and received much consolation and reassurance in return. Read here to learn how to pray the Rosary if you haven’t done so before.

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Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared– whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima — she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ.

Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ “not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done.”
The great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: “The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love.

Oscar Pistorius, a true Olympic inspiration!

Image@Catholic 2012 – Olympic & Paralympic Games on Face Book

Three quotes that attest to Oscar’s qualities as a human being:

“Oscar is a giant of modern sport. A pioneer. The master not only of the possible but the seemingly impossible.”Jonathon McEvoy, Olympics Correspondent, Daily Mail

“Oscar is an extraordinary athlete who has made a significant impact in international sport. It will be fantastic to see him compete in London this summer – spectators can expect a real treat! He’s been a real inspiration to people around the world so we were thrilled when he decided to join our International Inspiration programme as an ambassador, helping us to inspire young people worldwide.” Lord Sebastian Coe, London 2012

“Nike routinely works with the best athletes in the world, and Oscar Pistorius stands out on that list. Many world-class athletes visit Nike and amaze our community, but the two weeks that Oscar spent on campus last summer went down as some of the most inspirational time we’ve ever spent around an athlete.” Arturo Nunez, Nike Emerging Markets Marketing Director

Biography

Early years…

Oscar Pistorius was born on 22 November 1986 without the fibula, the long, slender bone running along the outside of the leg from below the knee joint and down to the ankle, in each of his legs.

His parents, Henk and Sheila, consulted with some of the leading doctors in the world before making the heart-wrenching decision to have his legs amputated below the knee by South African orthopaedic surgeon Dr Gerry Versveld.

His parents were advised by doctors that having the amputation done before Oscar had learnt to walk would be less traumatic for him and would greatly improve his chances of mobility in later life. Six months later he received his first pair of prosthetic legs and within days he had mastered them.

Supported and encouraged by his sports-mad family, Oscar lived an active life which led to him becoming a keen sportsman during his school years. Whatever the sport, Oscar played it, with his main focus being waterpolo and rugby in secondary school. He also played cricket, tennis, took part in triathlons and Olympic club wrestling and was an enthusiastic boxer.

In June 2003, he shattered his knee playing rugby for Pretoria Boys High School and feared that his sporting career was over at the age of 16. On the advice of Dr Versveld, Oscar took up track running to aid his rehabilitation and began training under the guidance of coach Ampie Louw at the Sports Science Institute at the University of Pretoria.

Proud Paralympian

After a few months in the gym, Oscar took part in his first track session on New Year’s Day, 2004.
Three weeks later he entered a school 100 metres race on the prompting of one of his teachers and won in a time of 11.72 seconds. After the race his father looked up how Oscar’s time compared to the best in the world and Henk discovered that his 17-year-old son’s time was faster than the existing Paralympic world record of 12.20s.

In June 2004, he was given his first pair of Össur manufactured Flex-Foot Cheetahs and eight months after first stepping onto the track, the South African created a sensation in the athletics world by winning the T44 200m gold medal at the Athens Paralympics, breaking the world record with a time of 21.97s. He also returned home with a bronze medal in the 100m and overnight was propelled onto front and back pages around the world.

Oscar is a proud Paralympian and believes that the Paralympic Games in London will be a high watermark for the Paralympic movement. Oscar has ambitions to continue to promote the Paralympic movement and educate and inspire people around the world about the Paralympic Games.

Follow this link for a quick interview with Oscar.

From the Telegraph:

The South African was eliminated from the 400m, finishing last in his semi-final, but his presence was always likely to be more significant than his achievements on the track.

Pistorius secured his place in sporting history by becoming the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics. He will be back in a few weeks to add to his haul of Paralympic titles, but the impact of the 95 seconds or so he spent in competitive action will reverberate longer in the sport than anything he achieves next month.

Pistorius fought for the right to compete against able-bodied athletes, pursuing the IAAF to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after it ruled that his blades offered an advantage over able-bodied rivals.

The notion that a man without legs could have an edge over his able-bodied rivals seems like an affront to common sense, but Pistorius challenges preconceptions on many levels.

He has long been accepted by his rivals. Kirani James of Grenada, the reigning world 400m champion who finished first ahead of Pistorius, demonstrated his respect for the South African by making a point of swapping numbers with him after the race.

Having traded numbers he embraced Pistorius, as did every other member of the field, a public and powerful show of respect.

“Oscar is so special to our sport, and especially to our event it, so this is a memorable moment to be out here competing with him,” James said.

“I really respect and admire the guy, I just see him as another athlete and another competitor, and more importantly I see him as another person,” said. “He is out here making history, and we can all respect and admire that.”

Image @ the Telegraph
‘The Blade Runner’

Living ‘in the middle’, in between and keeping the peace.

I pick up on a line of thought from a post over at the Foraging Squirrel that got my juices flowing and my mind ticking so much so, that I thought I’d follow suit  with my version of having ‘lived in the middle.’

I hail from the Rainbow nation of South Africa – that beautiful country on the Southern most tip of Africa. I grew up during the 60’s , 70’s , 80’s in a country wracked with racial tension, discrimination and later on violent overspill from the townships. In the late 70’s I met my spouse, whose family had decided to make the life-changing move to South Africa as Mozambique was in the throws of a civil war. The Portuguese/Mozambican settlers experienced their fair share of discrimination in their places of work, schools and in society in general as they had moved into a nation laced with suspicion of ‘outsiders’ and a  racist world-view that overshadowed every part of life. My spouse was not spared from discrimination, and yes sadly, did experience some tough times with the older members of my family. I was for the purposes of this post caught ‘in the middle’ here. Although I knew exactly where my loyalty rested, I had to make some difficult decisions about my relationship with my partner, bite the bullet and face the music head on.

Neslon Mandela (Madiba) in his old jail cell on Robben Island.

We celebrated the birth of our first-born in 1990 the year that Madiba (Nelson Mandela) was released from 27 years of incarceration on Robben Island, a momentous year for both  our family and our nation. The majority of my family leaned to the right politically with individual members veering off to the left. At this juncture of my life I ‘d planted myself firmly ‘in the middle’ politically. In retrospect, I was not as involved or informed on the political front as I could’ve been but I was certainly caught up in the day-to-day relationships with fellow citizens whose political stances swayed back and forth with varying amounts of force and in different directions.  As far as my Faith Journey is concerned, I considered myself to be a ‘good Catholic’, as I attended Mass weekly, made sure that we baptised our children and said my prayers regularly. This holy engine was kept running quietly in the background of a very busy life. It was not as yet, at the forefront of our lives.

The escalating violence and the stress of living in a society wrought with poverty of the majority and two small children forced our hand as parents to make the excruciating decision to move to the U.K. (Excruciating for me, as I left my entire extended family behind). This decision proved to be challenging on many levels. At this juncture we faced criticism  and bias about our decision, but knew that our decision was made out of love for our children (and our own emotional well-being), looking forward to the positive prospects and opportunities for them in a ‘first world’ country.

The first two to three years after our big move was testament to our blood sweat and tears in establishing new roots in a new community and culture. The one constant in our life, our Faith and Worship, was continued uninterrupted at our local parish. Our TRUE NORTH. It provided us with moral reassurances and spiritual support we so needed and was the one place where we fitted in without having to prove our worth. We were lucky that our children had received places in excellent local Catholic schools.  For me, the holy engine of Faith was becoming more of the motor for sustained living  which continues to drive our decision-making. It rose up on the horizon as a beacon of Light and Love and Sustenance, as I began to become more involved in the life of our parish.

As I ‘ve matured both in years as well as along my journey of Faith my world view is decided by the tenets upheld by  the Faith and my relationship with God. England is a secular country, boasting secular values and ways of life. Living here has brought Faith issues to the fore and continues to do so on a daily basis. Because of this I ‘ve had to make a conscious decision about how I am to live as a Catholic Christian. There’s no room to manoeuvre half-heartedly through the secular mazes I’m confronted with from day-to-day. I’ve had to make my position as a Christian quite clear, and for me there’s no going back on this. It’s too important.

This brings me to an experience which relates indirectly to the post referred to at the Foraging Squirrel called ‘Where’s the Love?‘. About three years ago I was approached by a fellow Catholic who was searching for reasons to remain Catholic. From her perspective , the Church held no convincing reasons for her to remain as a member of it, and it failed dismally in the area of  ‘hands-on Christianity’ that her fiance’s denomination provided. She approached me and a myriad of others  for advice and conversation around these issues, finally deciding that the Catholic Church was no longer for her. We know her family well and I had developed a professional relationship her through our work. The weight of her decision fell heavily on the shoulders of her family, and I floundered as I didn’t seem to have the answers she wanted to hear or needed to hear at the time. A few weeks after she’d made her decision, we received an invitation to her ‘baptism’. I was flabbergasted and very uncomfortable. Attending the baptism would validate her decision, show our support of her decision and negate all of the soul-searching we’d done. It would place us as Catholics in ‘no-man’s-land’. Neither here no there.  After careful consideration and debate, the fact that she’d already been Baptised swayed us to make the decision not to attend the baptism. Once Baptised always Baptised. You cannot be Baptised again. In this situation we were forced to show our hand as Catholics, there was no middle ground.

I think about her often, and wonder where she’s at. I do not regret our decision, but it was not as straightforward as one might initially think it to be. There are many factors to consider, least of which was her feelings, and those of her parents. I pray that one day she’ll understand and appreciate our stance and perhaps one day, she’ll return from across the other side of the Tiber.

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IMG_0413 (Photo credit: NVinacco)

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