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17th March 2004

Greetings from Rusape!

Lent got under way with two well attended masses on Wed, the blessing and distribution of ashes. I took the theme from 2Cor ?Be reconciled to God? and moved on to the notion of forgiveness with two apposite quotations:

Mandela?s inauguration speech 1994 ?If I did not forgive, I would still be in prison?.

Martin Luther King ? The person who chooses not to forgive is devoid of the power of love?.

Another quotation that I came across runs as follows ?Forgiveness is the greatest gift one can give to oneself.? Not many people realize that.

I had Mass at the school on Friday morning. The church was packed and the children were in great voice. We distributed ashes only to the baptised, Christians of different denominations. A large number would have no religion or African customary religion – belief in the spirits. Gentle rain came down at 6.45am as I made my way to the school,. By mid afternoon it had developed into heavy rain. Over an inch of rain fell in Rusape, while three to four inches fell in Mutare on Saturday, which was a gift to the people who had sown maize late.

Ireland?s defeat by Wales in the Six Nations was disappointing, especially as the referee awarded a try to Wales, which should not have been given.

The following excerpts from last week?s Irish Times once again, point the finger at the various groups responsible for the present state of the country: Few escape criticism in Nyberg?s draft conclusions. The banks, the Government, the Financial Regulator and the media are mentioned as being responsible for the crisis. The commission concluded there was a lack of critical debate across Irish society about the scale and sustainability of the economic growth and the property boom. There was a general view that property values would not fall, which contributed to the growth in property lending and excessive risks taken by the banks, it found. The commission also blames the media for supporting the profit and share growth of the banks during the boom while being dismissive of warnings that suggested the growth was not sustainable.——————————

The blessing and distribution of ashes continues for four weeks at the outstations , where we celebrate Eucharist once a month. I had a memorial Mass on Saturday for the teacher, who died a month ago, at the homestead in Tsanzaguru. This time the road was more accessible and the weather more favourable for an outdoor Mass..

I was back at the church in Tsanzaguru on Sunday for their monthly Mass. It was a case of mingling the readings for Ash Wednesday and the first Sunday of Lent, the Temptations of Jesus. I find Pope Benedict?s book, Jesus of Nazareth, (Vol 1), very good on St. Matthew?s gospel. While scholarly, it is very readable. After Mass, I took Canisius, our faithful cook, to his home, not far from the church, and left his two weeks supply of groceries to his family. I dropped him off at the beer hall, off the main road, and gave him a few dollars for a drink. He clapped his hands in gratitude.

Monday golf was enjoyable. In recent weeks, I have spent Mondays shopping for plumbing material for the toilet/shower block at St. Simon?s and the cook?s house, which we are renovating and preparing for the new cook, who will start work on April 1st. Rusape has a number of hardware stores but has limited supplies of plumbing material. Even in Mutare, prices can vary from shop to shop e.g. an iron door frame was $18.00 in one shop and $23.00 in other shops. Africans are not good at planning ahead. The plumber will say ?Baba I need such and such?. The next day or week he will make another request. The old underground metal water pipes were rusting and had to be replaced with PVC piping. We discovered that the company that installed the 5,000 litre water tank, while I was away in 2008, did not put in a non returnable valve, which meant that our borehole pumped water was returning into the town water supply. The construction teacher, who is on career break from for the Catholic Secondary School, is supervising the project. Africans know best how to deal with their own.

The scenes in Japan and Libya are frightening. Natural disaster and manmade problems. The safety of nuclear power is now in question

Love and best wishes.