Keep your faith on the path of virtue
“THE path to heaven lies through heaven, and all the way to heaven is heaven” are words attributed to Saint Catherine of Siena, a 14th century scholastic philosopher and theologian.
She concluded this statement, “because Jesus said, “I am the Way.”
A general acceptance among adherents of institutionalised religion, certainly among those of the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is that their discipleship should be expressed in their daily lives.
We affirm by word and deed that religion is a way of life.
It is incarnate in the quality of our relationships with each other and all of creation founded always on the bedrock of justice.
Intrinsic to our faith is exploring what mystics call the “inner path” or our “interior life.”
The practice of fasting and setting aside more intentional time for prayer and meditation are essential points of entry into the under-engaged aspects of our lives.
Ramadaan, the obligatory 30 days of fasting and prayer observed by Muslims, is ending.
The conclusion of this pilgrimage of the soul is noted by the presence of the maankykers (moon- seekers) who will gather tonight or on Sunday at Signal Hill Bay or at the southern end of the peninsula, Soetwater.
The sighting of the new moon ushers in eid al-Fitr (“festival of breaking of the fast”) as the Maghrib (sunset) prayer is intoned on open fields and other decade-old points of assembly such as in Green Point.
Living a distance from the Bo Kaap or Roger Street of my previous parish, there will be no knock on my door from a young bearer of my barakaat, a blessing of sweets or savouries.
I had a foretaste of this generosity on Boeber Nag, the 15th night of Ramadaan, when Mariam Baderoon, a dear friend, travelled from her home in Grassy Park to the cathedral bringing offerings of boeber:
this deliciously milky mix of vermicelli, cardamom, sultana, cinnamon sticks, rose water and love serves as both reward and encouragement.
It affirms one has faithfully reached the midway mark, the “oppie berg” of the fast.
Mariam gifted me with boeber and other festive “somethingnice”.
Such gifts of food and sweets are ways of ensuring no one is excluded from the happy celebration of Eid.
But feast days are not meant to be one-off occasions. They are intense, distilled signs of intent and indicators of how we ought to live in relation to each other: a community that accepts those of different faiths and doctrines while conscious of the essentials that guide and inform its own faith practice. A people committed to resolving divisions in their midst, keen to forgive and embrace the neglected.
A paramount challenge confronting the faith community – in the way that eid al-Fitr might suggest – is this: how do we proceed along the path to heaven while ensuring that nobody is left behind and excluded from that which makes for a substantive quality of life?
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, in the sparse and compelling poetics of his ruling, determined this week that the Speaker in Parliament, Baleka Mbete, has the power to decide on a secret ballot in the Zuma no-confidence vote.
Justice Mogoeng observed MPs voting on this matter, should manifest “courage and the resoluteness to boldly advance the interests of those they represent no matter the consequences...”
That challenge should surely be embraced by all people of faith as we witness our country slip away from the heaven of freedom.
Eid Mubarak to all who bend the knee of their hearts to The Almighty.
And may the joy of the day extend to all who seek the goodness of life and justice in the public face of love.