A PILGRIM BISHOP
When you are a pilgrim, you walk on the Earth, you walk with other people in community, you walk with yourself, and you walk towards God
Bishop Raphael Hess, Bishop of Saldanha Bay has spent the Lenten period on a pilgrimage throughout his Diocese. Being a pilgrim bishop has enabled him to develop an incarnational vision for the mission of the Church:
“The Diocese of Saldanha Bay is grounded in an incarnational earthy spirituality, expressed mainly in Afrikaans, Xhosa and English expressed also through body, song, dance and that deep stillness which frames all words and actions| Grounded in joy : Grounded in God’s Spirit that comforts and consoles, that challenges coldness and complacency, like the earthly Jesus did. Grounded in one another, the Diocese greets you and welcomes you”
The pilgrim day starts with early morning meditation and Eucharist, followed by a light breakfast. Then the bishop, accompanied by different groups of pilgrims visits communities and churches around the area. Saldanha is a hot , water scarce part of South Africa, and the pilgrims are often relieved to return to the shade by 10 or 11 am.
On one of the days, the Bishop was joined by the Green Anglicans and a group from Lamberts Bay. Part of the day was a prayer for the Land. During this service the Bishop read an open statement to President Zuma:
Mr President, your people are sad today. Mr President, your people are angry today. Now that you have done the unthinkable, we declare the following:
The Anglican Diocese of Saldanha Bay says an emphatic No! to your continuous dispruption to our social and economic stability.
We say No! to you Mr President , to your corruption and the endless avarice amongst your friends. We say No! to you Mr president and we say YES! to the cry so passionately articulated by the late great son of the soil, Ahmed Kathrada when he asked you to step aside and resign, to allow those who carry the hopes of our people to lead”
The group visited some of the different areas of Clanwilliam. The town is surrounded by majestic mountains and beautiful landscape. But close the homes are vast piles of rubbish and the water is polluted. The group did a symbolic clean up of a tiny portion of litter to symbolize our awareness of the sin of environmental degradation..
“Almighty God, giver of all good things:we thankyou for the natural majesty and beauty of our land They restore us, though we often destroy them. Heal us”