Keep your faith on the path of virtue

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

“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.

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