THE AFRICAN UNDERSTANDING OF SACRAMENTS IN GENERAL
Sacraments are connected with our new life in Christ Jesus.
This life is supposed to grow to maturity. Once we are baptized we are set on a journey of growth. To appreciate the importance of sacraments in our Christian life, let us look at the African view of life. In this way, we hope that we shall grow in our understanding of the value of sacraments. Traditionally life is thought of having a beginning, a growing towards old age, when a person dies and joins ancestors. From the time of birth up to death, they are important stages that are marked by celebrations. These stages have being identified as; I. Birth
II. Give the name
III. Appearance of the first tooth
These stages are selected to help as see what is done on these occasions in some African societies: BIRTH RITES:
When a child there is much happiness in the family and gifts are given to the new baby and the parents. Before the baby and the mother can be allowed to go out, medicines are given to protect the new life from evil spirits, people and the contaminated environment the purpose of rites of birth is that the family has a new member. INITIATION RITES
Puberty is the second example of a stage of life which is market by celebration and rites. Initiation rites are normal performed when a person reaches the stage of puberty. In some societies there are also initiation rites when one is introduced into a secret society or a group of elders. Here we will confine ourselves to the “PUBERTY RITES”. The purpose of all the puberty rite is to help the young adult to face the new period of life he/she is entering into, instructions are given. To emphasize the importance of talking instruction seriously, material things are used. Sometimes those to be initiated have to undergo suffering as part as adults they will have to face many problem and hardships. It is only through patience and endure in suffering , through determination and not always seeking what is easy and comfortable that they are going to be successful in adult life. MARRIGE LIFE
The third example of a stage life market by celebrations and rites is “MARRIAGE”. The couple is instructed by elders w3ho already have a family. There are many rites connected with this important stage of life. To conclude, lets highlight some important points which will help be helpful on understanding the sacraments in general: (i) In Africa, life is believed to be a process. It begins at birth and continues to grow up to old age when dies and joins the ancestors. (ii) In the process of growth there are various important stages and rites that are in order to strengthen and protect life. In the rites, material things are used as signs pointing to the fact that life has indeed been strengthened and protected the use of material things are accompanied by words, which explain the sense in which they are used. (iii) There is a strong community involvement in the performance of the rites. This is seen in the celebrations that are made at every important stage in life. (iv) Although the whole community is involved in the celebrations and performance of the rites, there is always one person is elderly, knowledgeable in the details of the rite. (v) People believed that the performance of these rites, life is indeed strengthened and protected.
UNDERSTANDING THE SACREMENT
1. As we have perceived seen life in an African tradition, let us now look at the sacraments in the life of Christ. This is also a process which begins with baptism and continues until it is fulfilled in the future after death. This fact is illustrated in Matthew, 7: 13-14 where the Christian’s life is described as following the road that leads to life. In john 14: 6, Jesus himself is described as the way and in the act Acts of the apostles 9:2; 18:25;19:9,23;22:4; Christianity is described as the way. NOW AND IN THE FUTURE
A Christian has...
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