ST ALBANS CATHEDRAL PRETORIA
A PRAYER LABYRINTH FOR THE INNER CITY OF PRETORIA
The Cathedral of St Alban the Martyr, in discerning its missional priorities, is exploring the idea of creating a prayer labyrinth for the inner-city of Tshwane.
This exploration recognises that the inner city is home to the headquarters of many Government departments. These headquarters house the offices of decision-makers and government technocrats whose decisions and work impact on the whole of the nation.
This exploration further recognises that the unique placement of the churches and other places of worship amongst the institutions of the state provides us with a unique opportunity to impact on their work. We are exploring a merger between those who provide leadership and facilitate service delivery in government on the one hand, and those whose task it is to uphold and support them in prayer. The task of the community of faith would be similar to that of Aaron and Hur (priests) who supported Moses (leader of the Israelite nation) in the battle with the Amalekites (Exodus 17:9-16).
The Israelites were reminded in a letter from the prophet Jeremiah to seek the welfare, prosperity and peace of the city of Babylon in which they lived when they were in exile. He pointed out that if the city in which they live prospers, then they also will prosper (Jeremiah 29:7).
Why a prayer labyrinth?
A labyrinth is a path which leads to the center of an intricate design and back out again.
A prayer labyrinth is a labyrinth used to facilitate prayer, meditation, and spiritual transformation. The most famous prayer labyrinths today include an ancient one in the cathedral of Chartres, France, another in the cathedral of Duomo di Siena, Tuscany; and two maintained by Grace Cathedral, an Episcopal church in San Francisco. While prayer labyrinths have been used in Catholic cathedrals for centuries, the past few decades has seen a resurgence in their popularity.
Within Catholicism today, the labyrinth could symbolize several things: the hard and winding road to God, a mystical ascension to salvation and enlightenment, or even a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for those who could not make the actual journey.
The modern “rediscovery” of the labyrinth and its use in church settings is celebrated by groups such as The Labyrinth Society and Veriditas, and The World-Wide Labyrinth Project. According to these groups, the labyrinth is a “divine imprint,” a “mystical tradition,” a “sacred path,” and a “sacred gateway.” The stated purpose of Veriditas is “to transform the Human Spirit,” using “the Labyrinth Experience as a personal practice for healing and growth, a tool for community building, an agent for global peace and a metaphor for the blossoming of the Spirit in our lives” (from the official Veriditas website).
It is particularly the focus on healing and growth, community building, and the labyrinth form of prayer being used as an agent for global peace that spawned the idea of a Labyrinth of Prayer for the inner – city of Pretoria.
How will it work?
In practical terms, a group of people will assemble at the Cathedral for a briefing. Participants will be handed a roadmap which indicates important landmarks in the inner – city (e.g. the State Theatre, Reserve Bank, High Court, HQ of Dept of Labour, HQ of Dept of Education, SAPS headquarters, etc.). Short introductions to each of the landmarks will be provided, e.g. the work that is done, the names of the important role players, the particular issues that each of these are dealing with, etc. This information will be gained from the media and engagement with the institutions and their role-players.
After the briefing, participants will team up in two’s (or more) and walk to the designated landmarks, pause at each, and offer prayers for the work that takes place there and the people who are working there. The walking of the prayer labyrinth will constitute a praying presence in the city. Groups will walk different routes and visit different landmarks with the same purpose. The prayer walk will conclude groups returning to the Cathedral at an agreed time for concluding prayers at the Cathedral. The prayer walk will take between 45 minutes and an hour to complete.
The participants will ideally have some experience of prayer, and believe in the power of prayer. The participants will also have revealed an active interest in the affairs of their communities and that of the state, and will have a sense of vocation to pray for the wellbeing of the nation.
If all goes according to plan then the first labyrinth walk will take place on Saturday 6 December from 9am. It is hoped that members of prayer chains in our parishes in the diocese will support this initiative. We shall also strive to secure ecumenical participation.
An Invitation to join the walk
For the psalmist, a real sign of God’s blessing was to see the city of Jerusalem prosper (Psalm 128:6). It is a refrain that is repeated often in Scripture: the destiny of the individual is intricately linked with that of the city. Please come on Saturday December 6 at 8.30am to join in the first of many such prayer walks for our beloved city.
Looking forward to pray with you for our city
PRAYER WALK FOR THE CITY OF PRETORIA
“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you … . Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper”. Jer. 29:7
Gather in small groups of three
Share your names and a little information about yourself
Now follow the route, clockwise or anti-clockwise:
- At the Cathedral gate, turn west. The HQ of the Dept of Labour is on the corner of Francis Baard and Paul Kruger Streets. Gather on the steps at the entrance to the building.
Pray here for the work of the Department of Labour. Pray that the decisions that are taken in this building may positively impact on the lives of workers in SA. Pray for a strengthening of the bond between workers and employees, and for mutual appreciation and understanding between them. You may want to include in your prayers the work of the Farlam Commission on Marikana, trade unions, employers, etc. Pray for Thobile Lamati, the DG who heads up the work of the HQ of the Dept of Labour.
- Now cross Francis Baard Street, and walk down the arcade until you get to the HQ of the South African Police Service.
Pray here for Riah Piyega (national commissioner who operates from this building), and all the men and women who works in the South African Police Service. Hold before God the complexities and risks inherent in police work. Pray that the men and women in blue see their work as a calling, and for a selfless commitment to serve the communities of our land to safeguard the community’s right to safety, life, and propert, and to protect us all against lawlessness.
- Now proceed south and cross Pretorius Street and walk down Paul Kruger Street towards Church Square. As you enter Church Square there are two municipal buildings on your left (west). The first one houses the Dept for Economic Development and the Dept for Roads and Transport. The second building houses the Dept of Corporate Services.
They have asked prayers for unity of purpose, for better coordination between the various departments of the metropolis, so that an improved service can be delivered to the citizens of the whole of Tshwane. Pray for the Kgosientso Ramakgopa the mayor and his Municipal Council, and all municipal workers, that their decisions may demonstrate their care for the poor and vulnerable in the city, and that they may practice compassionate justice over selfish greed. Pray for social cohesion between the people of our city, and for the efforts to break down the barriers of race, class, and religion that continuous to divide us.
- Proceed further south to the Palace of Justice. It is on the west side of Paul Kruger right on the corner where the circle ends. Here Nelson Mandela and Rivonia Treason trialists were sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island.
Pray here for Judge President Mlambo and the judges, magistrates, and other legal practitioners who work from here and the High Court Building. Pray that justice will be foremost in their minds and that their tests of our new national legislation will help to lift the reputation of our justice system. Pray that the judgements they make may be consonant with God’s justice.
- Now cross Paul Kruger Street to the National Treasury Building on the right (east).
Pray for the DG Lungisa Fuzile and his team as they manage the fiscus. Pray for improvements to the economy of our land, so that the gap between the rich and the poor may shrink. Pray also for the drivers of the economy, that the unemployed may find gainful employment. Pray for those who find themselves in unmanageable debt. Pray for those who are unable to provide in the needs of their dependants because of lack of income and or opportunity.
- Before you leave Church Square move to the middle where the statue of Paul Kruger stands.
Take in the sights, sounds, smells and activities of the square. Give thanks and pray to God for what you observe. Spend a moment to pray for all people of good faith and people of good will in Pretoria. Pray for all who work tirelessly for the freedom of the city and in particular its vulnerable people. Pray for creative partnerships and collaborations to overcome the challenges that the city is confronted with.
- Follow the walkway east on Stanza Bopape Street. On the corner of Lilian Ngoyi and Helen Joseph Streets you will find the Lilian Ngoyi Square (eastern end). From here you will see the ABSA Bank headquarters and the Reserve Bank Buildings.
Pray for all our leaders in the economy as they struggle with the economy of our businesses, our mines, our labour unions, our government and the financial position of our land in the world. Pray especially for the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Lesetja Kganyago, and others who make policy decisions which affects the prosperity of our own lives.
You will also see the National State Theatre (to the south).
Pray for artists, film makers, writers and the media. Pray that their work will help to stir the conscience of people in our city, and help decision makers to imagine new and better possibilities.
On Lilian Ngoyi Square, self proclaimed leader of the White Wolves, Barend Strydom, on 15 November 1988, killed 7 black people and wounded 15 more in a random shoot-out. He proclaimed to do this on instruction from God.
Pray for healing amongst all God’s people in Pretoria; healing from prejudice, healing from deep wounds, healing between races and genders and nationalities, and the capacity to restore deeply fragmented relationships.
- Return to the Cathedral for a short debriefing session and a concluding prayer.
MAY GOD THE FATHER, surrounded by the Angels and Saints, look with the eyes of his mercy upon this our Metropolitan City of Tshwane; banish from it all poverty, violence and discord, and make it a place of peace, fellowship and safety for all its people.
MAY GOD THE SON, Redeemer and Brother of all humanity, open wide the arms of his love to all the people of Tshwane; may he draw us to himself by his holy Nativity and by the sacred wounds of his Passion.
MAY GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT, ceaselessly at work in all the world, be present among the multitudes of this City, to bring us to that justice and truth, that unity and love, for which he teaches our hearts to yearn.