By Cardinal John Dew Every year millions of people all over the world listen once again to the stories of the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem. For some they may be the only stories from the Bible they hear each year, but at least once a year is better than nothing. In many languages the world over, people hear and ponder on the wonder of Christ being born into our world.
By Cardinal John Dew Recently I watched a short video clip. It was only about a minute and a half, it was one of the many songs, tunes and familiar pieces of music that have been adapted to say something about the Coronavirus and the reality of Covid-19 in our world. You have probably seen many such things yourself, some very funny, some very clever, some making fun of world leaders and the things they have said about Covid-19. This particular one was set to the tune of the famous “Nessun Dorma” from her final act of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot, “Nessun Dorma” being one of the best-known tenor arias in opera. “Nessun Dorma” meaning “Let no one sleep” is an aria from the final act of the opera. As in the opera, many of us have probably lost a lot of sleep with anxieties and concerns about the Coronavirus.
By Father Neil Vaney Very soon we face a general election. As committed Christians, we may be confused for whom and for what we should vote. Or even gripped by a certain cynicism whether it is worth voting at all, given the reprehensible behaviour and mental states of some members of parliament. The good news is that there are still solidly Christian MP’s and others, more grounded in humanism, who still hope and work for a more just and caring New Zealand. Various parties and interest groups will propose differing policies and structures to achieve such goals. It is not my role to comment on these. What I put forward are various values and principles drawn from our common biblical heritage against which such strategies and goals may be assessed.
By Father Neil Vaney Living through the Covid-19 pandemic has made many of us sharply aware of something we thought we knew but largely ignored. It is the omnipresence of microbes. They dwell on our hands and faces. They can live briefly on doorknobs and railings. They may congregate on an apple that we pick up at the supermarket. Many are friendly; without them we could not live. Others like Covid-19 are concealed weapons able to penetrate nearly all human defences. As we have become aware of these tiny lethal creatures we have been brought short by this reminder of human frailty and vulnerability. We are journeying creatures, destined to death. We have seen two extreme reactions to this truth. The first has been to try to close oneself off as much as possible, in an effort to construct a fortress around ourselves and our families. The second is to accept paying a price to cling to the lives that prosperity has brought. Those who adopt this position argue as follows: certainly, many of the vulnerable will die but in time a vaccine will appear or herd immunity will gradually develop. Fear lurks unacknowledged behind both these options, as well as an unspoken denial of human fragility.
Did you know that the power of the Holy Spirit works better than any disinfectant? Lately, we all have had the experience of regularly disinfecting our hands. But even if doing so is reasonable and necessary, no disinfectant can give you the comfort and sense of security that the Holy Spirit brings. I, too, have experienced that because of his work, I managed to overcome many fears regarding the uncertain future and found the strength for new creativity.
I just can’t catch a break. I remember hearing my mum utter these words at her most stressful times when I was a kid. I also remember thinking, “Could it really be that bad?” Now that I’m adult, I better understand how my mum sometimes feels. There are days—and even weeks—when I just can’t seem to catch a break. Do you ever feel this way? Like you can’t keep up with all of life’s demands and responsibilities? Like there’s no time to rest?
In the face of adversity, such as the Covid-19 virus outbreak in China which is now a global health emergency, Chinese Christians find themselves drawing closer to God. During this time of home quarantine for the health and safety of all citizens, the authorities forbid all collective gatherings, imposed extended holidays for schools and companies and travel restrictions. Some cities have stepped up precautionary measures by allowing only one or two household members to leave the house to buy daily essentials every other day or once in five days.