Sunday, December 31, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation December 31

Poverty  December 31

. . . you may judge from this how lacking you are in that holy and inner garment of the heart when you quarrel over garments for the body (Rule of St. Augustine, 30).

In his community, Augustine saw his confreres dressed in two kinds of garments.  Obviously, there was the exterior clothing, adapted to the needs of each member, but always in a style more and more simple.  This clothing deserved the care of the community because it was used by the community, clothing brought by the confrere with him when he entered or given by the charity of benefactors.   However, Augustine was always more vigilant about the interior garment of his confreres, the evangelical values supported by his Rule.  The quality and care of this interior garment was a radical preoccupation of his.  When he heard complaints from the confreres about the quality of their exterior clothing, a sign of their lack of spiritual concentration, Augustine did not hesitate to ridicule the tatters of their other interior garment.   Here he showed an exaggerated concern that they be well-dressed, but for the Kingdom.

Earthly things are what’s left over from what’s left over.  (Luba)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation December 30

Poverty  December 30

The Region is, in principal, self-financed (Congolese Regional Statutes, 9.1).

In this group of three men, two ended up with promotions and one got fired.  It all started with the brief departure of the boss.  He left the responsibility for the development of his business with these three, giving each control of a part of his wealth according to each one’s ability.  Two of the men, each on his own, began to look for opportunities, do studies, make business decisions.  The third, a man less clever, lazy and fearful, shut himself up in his office—except for one time to go hide the money he was given.  When the boss returned, there was a reckoning.  The two creative employees who, on their own initiatives, increased the wealth they were given, assured themselves of their place in the company.  The third lost the little that he had, as well as the respect of everybody else.  The future of an enterprise, even religious, doesn’t happen with crossed arms, neither of the boss nor of the employees.

The rat that wants a good hole uses its fingernails.  (Somba)

Friday, December 29, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation December 29

Poverty  December 29

Moreover, both our individual and communal standard of living must be adapted to the environment in which we live and work so that, by the moderation and simplicity of our life, we truly do manifest an evangelical detachment and freedom from concern about material things (Const. 3.4).

One day in front of a small gate in the wall that gives access to the city, a shopkeeper stopped with his camel, loaded down with merchandise.  Even with the help of his friends, he couldn’t get the camel through the opening, which became at that moment like the eye of a needle.  The only hope seemed to be to unload the camel and force it to enter with difficulty on its knees and with its head bent down.  And this is Jesus’ lesson about wealth.  Teaching about this difficulty, Jesus alludes to places that demand a serious deprivation to enter and maintain integrity.  The camel that tries to pass through the eye of a needle is one image of the difficulties wealth poses for entering into the Kingdom of God.  Entry into the Heavenly Jerusalem is complicated by the desire for and possession of the goods of this world!  An extraordinary effort is called for to divest oneself of what is superfluous, to get the flexibility for passing through and finally living adapted to the needs of others.

When you have finished filling your sack, you fall under its weight.  (Shi)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation December 28

Poverty  December 28

. . . they should go back to their happier way of life which, because their needs are fewer, is all the more in keeping with God’s servants (Rule of St. Augustine, 18).

To free oneself from material possessions and the desire to have them is a scandal to both rich and poor.  Both groups envision the good life as a life of possessions, even luxury.  But they see with bad eyes.  To get another view, they need to visit the manger:  an obscure night adorned with the jewel of a bright star; rough shepherds amused by angels; a homeless couple sheltered by heavenly light; a rustic stable become a tabernacle; an animal’s trough upgraded to a throne; three illustrious visitors on their knees; a defenseless baby as the presence of the Almighty.  From the beginning, Christ had a message, he who had no place to lay his head and was executed as a criminal outside the city.  The message is this:  don’t despise impoverishment—it can be a highway strewn with priceless pearls.

If your older brother goes ahead of you, you already have your hand in the jar.  (Bakongo)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation December 27

Poverty  December 27

. . . you should not seek to please by your apparel, but by a good life (Rule of Augustine, 19).

We are very much rooted in the world.  Our desires go toward the flesh.  Our judgments are limited by earthly horizons.  We are used to the world and we prefer it.  To stretch toward the realities on high rather than toward the things of earth demands an effort beyond our human capabilities.  Earthly beauty attracts us.  It is not that this beauty is bad.  On the contrary, it is a reflection of the Creator and leads us to God.  The danger is that we stop at the symbol instead of passing to the Eternal Beauty.  And what is worse, we can use personal beauty to distract the people of God.  That is why it is better to please by the interior beauty that comes from the Spirit than to please by our bodies and their decorations.  The distraction we can create is always full of moths and rust (Mt 6:19), the seeds of eventual total disillusionment.

Feathers hide the leanness of the hen.  (Fang)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation December 26

Poverty  December 26

The administration of the finances of the Region is at the service of the members of the Region and the entire ministry of evangelization and human development (Congolese Regional Statutes, Intro., 9.1).

After the Incarnation, all human aspirations merit respect.  All efforts for the economic, political, social and religious development that foster human dignity are supported.  Art, communication, education and technology, among other things, are cultivated as expressions of that same dignity.  When the Word became flesh, he embraced the whole human condition to save it.  Taking our flesh, he has never given it up.  It is the same humanity that is present before the Father for all eternity.  In fact, we ourselves remain forever corporal in the resurrection of our bodies.  In this life, even our finances participate in bringing to fullness the creation of the new heavens and the new earth.  Money is first a resource to support those collaborating in the mission, that is, the confreres who commit themselves soul and body to the Reign of God.  Money is also a power to use with wisdom to influence change in the social order.  It is a pastoral instrument.

If you have been given strong teeth, it’s for digging up pebbles.  (African proverb)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation December 25

Poverty  December 25

A profession of this poverty without concrete human solidarity would no longer be a poverty in the Spirit of Christ (Const. 12.2).

Looking at the face of Christ in the Byzantine icons of the Oriental Church, one is immediately attracted by the eyes that look back at the visitor from a fascinating world.  The eyes of the Oriental Christ invite to contemplation of the mystery of his person.  And what does the visitor see?  Christ is serious.  He takes his visitor seriously.  His eyes are full of attention.  His welcome communicates a call to come close, to stay, to understand.  It is the engaging look of the one who loves.  It is the compassionate look of the one who embraces the human condition.  It is the determined look of the one ready to lose all in order to save the life of the one contemplating him.  His eyes do not stray.  They are the eyes of God.  Eventually, the visitor senses the invitation to share the same sentiments and to get involved—to take on Christ’s manner of looking at others.

The sun does not bypass a village because it is small.  (Ivory Coast)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation December 24

Poverty  December 24

This « sharing of things in common » includes the renunciation of all personal acquisition and independent use of the goods of the world (Congolese Regional Statutes, Intro., 1.16).

The paradox of life is that one finds all by losing all.  Listen to the words of Jesus:  to have the treasure, the seeker “sells everything he owns and buys the field” (Mt 13:44) where the treasure is hidden.  For a single pearl “of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it” (Mt 13:46).  This refers to the Reign of God and, in the end, to the person of Christ.  Every human being is in search of life.  Happily, Christ is constantly seeking the seeker.  The critical moment for the seeker, when found, is to abandon all personal goods in order to possess the treasure that is Christ.  The profession of evangelical poverty accomplishes this in a dramatic way.  And then?  Exchanging the insignificant goods for the fortune of the Kingdom, the seeker begins to put this new wealth in service of the development of others.  In solidarity with his confreres, the Crosier does this, not only according to his own judgment, but in collaboration with those together who serve the needy.  Finally, empty of all, he contents himself with the joy of his loss.

The needle clothes others but remains nude.  (African proverb)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation December 23

Poverty  December 23

Those in charge of the pantry, or of clothing and books, should render cheerful service to their brothers (Rule of Augustine, 38).

All the members of the community serve one another.  Poverty opens them to mutual help.  Even those who are in pastoral work outside the community are obliged to participate in humble community work to assure the well being of all the confreres.  Nonetheless, in the history of the Crosier Order, the Brothers especially have pursued a life marked by service within the community.  Joining a commitment to prayer to this life of humble service, the Brothers are known throughout the Order as men with both feet solidly on the ground and an ardent heart in heaven.  This style of life has made them good persons, witnesses of Christian commitment.  The service of their praying hands has given formation even to the hearts of the confreres who are known to be excellent ministers.  While the style of life of the Brothers today is not at all as before, their traditional spirit lives on among them and points the way to real Crosier community life.

The rooster is small of stature but his cockscomb caresses the sky.  (Minyanka)

O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation December 22

Poverty  December 22

In other words, we exercise our vow of poverty by our commitment to work together in a spirit of collaboration (Congolese Regional Statutes, 1.16).

It takes more than good intentions to live evangelical poverty.  It takes hard work that begins with self-forgetfulness and the letting go of a selfish hold on possessions.  But evangelical poverty is more than personal spirituality to be practiced in the solitude of a monastic cell.  Evangelical poverty is part of Church activity oriented toward the establishment of the Reign of God in this world.  It expresses itself concretely in the daily life of society through a disciplined and judicious use of material goods in the service of others.  In pursuing this objective, religious poverty puts the consecrated person in relationship with other believers and people of good will who seek a better world.  With absolute confidence in God, the consecrated person is free for unselfish work, for collaboration toward the common good.

The ripe fruit of the baobab tree offers itself to be sucked.  (Mali)

O King of all nations, the only joy of every human heart;  O Keystone of the mighty arch of humanity, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.