Benedict Daswa (1946-1990) was an exemplary Catholic, family man, a caring husband and father, a teacher and the Principal of a School in Limpopo (S. Africa), a committed community council member and catechist in his parish. He was a man of prayer and charity and a courageous witness to the truth.
He was martyred for his faith in February 1990 after a heavy thunderstorm accompanied by thunder and lightning had burned down several rondavels (rural homes) in his home village and the surrounding area. The local Community Council agreed to consult a sorcerer (sangoma) in order to identify who was responsible for these burnings. Benedict, a member of this Council, was absent when this decision was taken.
Some time later when he arrived home he made it known that he didn't agree with the Council's decision and refused to pay the 5 Rand contribution for the sangoma. He argued against blaming witches for causing lightning strikes and said that his faith prevented him from taking part in anything connected with witchcraft.
As Benedict continued to stand firm in his Christian beliefs many people in the community conspired to get rid of him. They saw him as a stumbling block in the community because of his Catholic Faith and his consistent stand against witchcraft. And so it was that on 2nd February 1990 that Benedict Daswa was stoned and then beaten to death by a mob of youths along with some men from the village.
In January 2015 Pope Francis officially declared "Blessed Benedict Daswa" a martyr. On 13th September next, the beatification ceremony will be celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in a village field near the Parish of Thohoyandou, Diocese of Tzaneen, Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Bishop Victor Phalana of Klerksdorp meanwhile has called on South Africa's Catholics to spread Blessed Benedict Daswa's story highlighting his example as a committed Christian father, husband and catechist.
Bishop Phalana went on to say that the beatification was a sign that "… we are now a maturing Church. This is a special moment, a moment of truth and grace. This is an acknowledgment of the hard work of all missionaries. They brought the faith - and people like Daswa embraced it and died for it."
Benedict Daswa's mother and his 8 adult children on
the 20th anniversary of his martyrdom.
Pope Francis Missionary Intention for August
"That setting aside our very selves we may learn to be neighbors to those who find themselves on the margins of human life and society." Let us pray.
Pope Benedict said: "Jesus' mission concerns all humanity. The Church must never be satisfied…. The Church can never retreat in comfort … She must be concerned with and for one and all."
In a homily to new cardinals, Pope Francis spoke of how Jesus reached into the isolation of the leper. He made himself unclean in the eyes of the Law of Moses but his healing act returned the leper to the community. Jesus' followers operate in the same way. "The way of the Church is precisely to leave her four walls behind and to go out in search of those who are distant, those essentially on the 'outskirts' of life. It is to adopt fully God's own approach, to follow the Master who said: 'Those who are well have no need of the physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call, not the righteous but sinners'" (Luke 5:31-32).
Pope Francis concluded: "I urge you to serve Jesus crucified in every person who is marginalized, for whatever reason; to see the Lord in every excluded person who is hungry, thirsty, naked; to see the Lord present even in those who have lost their faith, or turned away from the practice of their faith, or say that they are atheists; to see the Lord who is imprisoned, sick, unemployed, persecuted; to see the Lord in the leper - in anyone who encounters discrimination!
"We will not find the Lord unless we truly accept the marginalized! May we always have before us the image of Saint Francis, who was unafraid to embrace the leper and to accept every kind of outcast. Truly, dear brothers, the Gospel of the marginalized is where our credibility is at stake, is discovered, and is revealed!"
Scripture (Mark 1: 41): Moved with pity Jesus stretched out his hand to the leper and touched him and said to him "I want to (cure you); be clean."
He said: "Latin America is the 'continent of hope'! For we expect from it new models of development, which link Christian tradition to civil progress, justice and equity to reconciliation, scientific and technological development to human wisdom, fruitful suffering to hopeful joy."
Then, finishing his homily he said: "We place these hopes on the altar as a gift pleasing to God. Imploring his forgiveness and trusting in his mercy, we celebrate the sacrifice and Paschal victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one Lord. He calls us to live the true life, a more human life, to live together as children and brothers."
With each Morning Offering we join ourselves to the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the greatest power for change that the world has ever known. We offer ourselves this month for the poor in Latin America.
2 Corinthians 8: 1-15 Your surplus at the present time should supply their needs.
Pope Francis General Intention for August
"That volunteers may give themselves generously to the service of the needy. " Let us pray.
Speaking to a group on International Volunteer Day last year, Pope Francis thanked them for their "precious action in the world" and called them "the image of a Church that rolls up her sleeves and serves brothers and sisters in difficulty."
He said: "Your interventions alongside men and women in difficulty are a vivid proclamation of the tenderness of Christ, who walks with humanity at all times. Follow this path of voluntary and unselfish commitment."
Volunteers do not get paid, but they will often tell you that they receive more than they give. They receive the joy of helping others and the assurance, as Jesus said, that whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters - for one another - we do for him.
Scripture (Luke 6: 38): Jesus said: "… for the measure you give will be the measure you get back."
Prayer Intention of the Institute for August
"That the Secular Comboni Missionaries (founded in 1951 by Fr. Egidio Ramponi) may commit themselves joyfully to the service they render. Lord hear us."
Prayer of the Month
O God, who have taught your faithful people to seek not to be served, but to serve their brothers and sisters, grant, we pray, that they may be effective in action, gentle in work, and constant in prayer. Amen.
--adapted from the Roman Missal