• May 1, 2013

Vatican II came to open the windows for fresh air.  In this way it became receptive to other cultures and spiritualities

“In Africa this meant an appreciation for spirituality that is integral, building the visible and invisible, life and death, the creator and creation in a mutual embrace ot unity and harmony” The New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality, p.18  Discuss African Spirituality.  How is it (African Spirituality) different from another Spirituality of your choice?

Protestants were quick in recognising the African spiritual values.

Pope Paul VI wrote in Encyclical Africae Terrarum 1967 before he went to Uganda in 1969.  He was thrilled with the visit.  In his encyclical he recognised the African spiritual heritage as worthy of respect and valuable for the Church.

Let us look at the seven concepts:

  1. The Creator and the world – God is Creator and present in the world. Note names like Nkosilathi Nkosilamandla, Kudakwashe, Anesu etc
  2. Unified sense of reality – The divine and human are seen as together No dualism in African Spirituality
  3. Life the ultimate gift – life is from God and is sacred.  Birth, marriage and death ceremonie/rite reveal this – importance is given to the person.  Healing ceremonies are meant to protect and promote life.
  4. Family and Community – Unlike in the West cogito ergo sum,our philosophy is I think therefore we are, I am because of other people.  Other people make me what I am.  The African is incomplete when he is alone.
  5. Ancestors – The living dead. They have a great influence on the community of the living.  They are regarded as intermediaries.
  6. Oral Tradition – the spoken word is very powerful. It either blesses or curses.  It is prayer.  Spoken world influences people.  It is from God.
  7. Sacred nature and respect for environment – People of Africa see God in nature.  So space and plcae are very important.

Note that you cannot move people anyhow – they have a close connection with land.

Pope Paul VI says “Be missionaries to your own people”  When in Uganda he wrote; “You may and must have an African Christianity.  Indeed, you possess human values which can rise up to perfection so as to find in Christianity, and for Christianity a superior fulness and prove capable of a richness of expression all its own and genuinely African.  You have the strength and the grace necessary for this because you are living members of the Church, because you are Christians and because you are Africans.”

Independent African Churches and Pentecostals are thriving – the above points therefore need to be taken seriously when considering African spirituality.

Catholic African Spirituality is blossoming with many spiritual writers especially now after the 1994 African Synod.

1985 – Zairean rite of the Eucharist came out

John Paul II has visited the continent more than ten times in the twenty-first century

Just mentioning words like; liberation, colonial influence, AIDS, war, unemployment, poverty, refugees, drought, famine, injustice etc – will have a profound significance to Africans and will affect our spirituality.  Desert spirituality for instance.

J Sobrino write; “Spirituality is purely and simply the actualisation of the Spirit of Jesus in our times”.

How do we react to starvation, hunger, abuses, injustices, violence, cruel regimes, culture of death and drugs?

Saints/heroes are moulded and made in our homes and houses.

Small Christian Communities came into being – with the wish of challenging the difficulties of our time as communities, not as individuals.

The Church is over to you.  There is a need for people to continue building a truly African spirituality in writing, ritual, song, dance and the communication of truly Christian andAfrican values.  We need to bring ‘Good News’ to our people.

Karl Rahner speaks of the future of the Church being in the hands of the layman as well as with Priests, brothers and religious.  Priests need not be frightened by this development – we should not feel threatened that laity are taking over

Demonstration; Priest pulling a scotchcart

People seated comfortably

Sisters pushing the cart

This age and era is gone, the days of clericalism, doing everything on one’s own is gone – People of God.

How do we develop their spirituality? How do families pray

Spirituality is desire to come closer to God.  Lay Associations – sign of lay spirituality, prayer life and apostolate

Catechists some of them are very prayerful, they are true witnesses and apostles

John Bradburne – lay person who worked with the lepers

St Annes, Sodalists and other associations

Need to evaluate and monitor and guide their progress

Need to encourage rather than discourage