Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 31

Glorious Cross  May 31

Wash the stains of guilt away; bend the stubborn heart and will; melt the frozen, warm the chill; guide the steps that go astray (Sequence, Pentecost).

In the act of dying, Jesus breathed his Spirit on the Church and it became the principle of life.   From within the Body of Christ, the Spirit brings to action all the dynamics that animate the life the Body.  The presence of the Spirit cleanses from sin, it awakens dying inspiration, it repairs damage in the Body.  The Spirit softens hardness, overcomes weakness, restores balance to the Body.  The Spirit does all that to stimulate every part of the Body.  Gifted by the Spirit, there are members or particular communities that serve as blood to wash, bathe, heal.  Gifted by the Spirit, there are members or communities that generate the energy to make supple, to warm, to make straight.  The Body takes to itself the gifts of the Spirit as it own vigor.  Descending on the Church as a dove, the Spirit gathers all the forces of the Body to an ever-new vitality for the work of Christ in the world.  Blowing like a wind, the Spirit quickens all the aspirations of the Body for clear and strong witness.  Appearing like tongues of fire, the Spirit activates all the resources of the Body for efficacious commitment.  The Spirit-gifted Christians are the outpouring the Spirit in the Church and world.

When the fire is not yet well lit, you can’t stew the snails. (Akye)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 30

Images of MartyrsGlorious Cross  30 May

The Region of the Congo has the name “The Martyrs of Bondo” (Congolese Regional Statutes, 2).

In the 1964-5 Simba revolution in the Congo, then Zaire, 23 Europeans Crosiers were massacred in Dakwa and Buta.  We honor them here.

Fr. Josephus Beckers, 49, evangelizer of the poor; Fr. Robert Carremans, 55, formator of the local clergy; Fr. Marinus Godefrooy, 52, man of service; Fr. Victor van Heeswijk, 37, teacher of professors and students; Br. Leonardus Ignoul, 57, helper of the poor; Fr. Gerardus Jansen, 58, zealous baptizer of catechumens; Fr. Gerardus Kester, 47, enthusiastic priest of the apostolate; Fr. Godefridus Kraewinkels, 43, benefactor to everyone; Fr. Paulus Kruitwagen, 52, selfless servant; Fr. Alphonsus Kuypers, 40, spiritual director of religious and native clergy; Fr. Hubertus van Lieshout, 31, prophet of Church renewal; Fr. Johannes van Oort, 38, kind friend to everyone; Br. Lambertus Schoenmakers, 47, religious and exemplary servant; Fr. Henricus Snijkers, 37, youth minister; Fr. Albertus Timmers, 35, enthusiastic witness of Gospel joy; Fr. Henricus Verberk, 47, confrere radiant with joy; Fr. Johannes Verhoeven, 31, apostle of service to youth; Br. Petrus Verkuylen, 66, zealous wise man for everyone; Fr. Arnoldus Vervoort, 40, counselor with good sense; Fr. Wilhelmus Vissers, 55, fully committed holy man; Fr. Phillipus Waldram, 54, revaler of God’s love; Fr. Wilhelmus van Wetten, 45, mild-mannered man of courage; Br. Josephus Wouters, 59, constructor of churches and friendship.  Martyrs of Bondo, be with us all!

To forget the ancestors is to be a stream without a source, a tree without roots. 

To read a fuller account of the martyrdom and see images of the martyrs, click on the following links:  Martyrs Story  Images of Martyrs

Monday, May 29, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 29

Glorious Cross  May 29

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love (Gospel acclamation, Pentecost).

Fire is a traditional symbol of the Spirit.  Fire is defined as the release of heat energy and of the light that accompanies fierce combustion.  In human history, fire has created empires.  The one who controls fire rules.  Jesus reigns.  The King has sent his Spirit on the disciples as a burning energy to purify them, to motivate them and to enable them to do the work of evangelization.  The disciples themselves are transformed into the image of Christ by the fire of the Spirit.  They burn with an ardent love.  They live in light that never dims.  Receiving the Spirit, Christians become his Temple, the hearth of divine fire in the world.  Through their own fidelity, they tend the fire of the Spirit, always inflamed and illuminated by it.  Their commitment to the fire prepares them for the mission of Christ:  the burns they receive are transformed into gifts of the Spirit.  As torches aflame with charity and truth, their task is to kindle the fire of the Spirit in the world.  They make it available to people’s hearts and to the structures of human life.  The combustion they ignite with enthusiasm is never without pain:  it is a participation in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus.  But it is a fire always to be lit with conviction and never be allowed to die out because of fear.  It is matter of empire.

It’s the old black pot that turns out the good white rice.  (Niger)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 28

Glorious Cross  May 28

(The Crosier) observes the three vows freely and joyfully (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

If our founder, Theodore de Celles, had had the occasion to formulate a personal “credo” about the vowed life, it would probably have been something like the following:
            I believe that the vows are my response to personal encounter with the Risen Christ, who gives me absolute confidence in the Father, the inspiration to love unselfishly and the freedom to give myself completely to the Kingdom.
            I believe that the vows are a “way of the Cross” through which I die to concern for my personal security, to discriminatory love and to the pursuit of my own will, all that so as to rise to the total gift of myself.
            I believe that the vows put me in relationship with God as Province, Unconditional Love and Ultimate Architect of Life; they put me in relationship with the confreres through fraternal service, shared life and collegial interaction; they put me in relationship with the people of the world by solidarity, universal love and attention to their calls.
            I believe that the vows evangelize me through the pursuit of continual conversion to Gospel values; they evangelize others through the reference my life makes to the Kingdom of God present in the world and through my prophetic witness that points to appropriate Kingdom behavior.
            I believe that the vowed life is already the expression of a resurrected life in Christ, the fullness of which I await.

Ask the elders:  they will recount marvels for you.  (Luba)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 27

Glorious Cross  May 27

You overcame the sting of death, and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.  You are seated at God’s right hand in glory.  We believe that you will come and be our judge (Hymn, “Te Deum”).

The judgment of Christ at his return will not be the act of an arbitrary judge.  Quite the contrary, his judgment will simply affirm a verdict already determined by the free decisions people make according to the light of their consciences.  There will be no surprises.  There is no such thing as an unconscious or unintentional sin.  The only decision that will be condemned is a decision against goodness.  The unbeliever has a conscience and the freedom to follow it, doing good and avoiding evil.  Every decision made carries its own judgment.  The Jewish person has the Law revealed by God.  In behaving according to its spirit and commandments, the Jewish person´s judgment is marked.  The Christian looks to Christ whose Gospel is proclaimed and kept alive in the community of the Church.  In the end, Christ reduced all the morality of that Gospel to one commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 14:12).  Paul interpreted it thus: “The one who loves has fulfilled the law” (Rm 13:8).  The final judgment will be reckoned on love.  The Christian will be judged by acts of love or the neglect of them.  In Christ, the door to the Kingdom remains unlocked, but the door knob to open it is turned  only by the hand of the one who loves.  The final judgment will acknowledge the deliberate responses to the call to love.

If you don’t know the judge, don’t expect to win the case.  (Unknown)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 26

Glorious Cross  May 26

(The Crosier) prays the Liturgy of the Hours in common and celebrates the Eucharist . . . with a paschal joy that expresses the spirituality of the Glorious Cross (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

Instinctively from the moment of their first experience of the Risen Christ, the disciples of the  Acts of the Apostles felt a profound sentiment of gratitude to God.  They expressed that essentially through a liturgical life, going to the Temple for the “prayers” and to their homes for the “breaking of the bread.”  This dynamic of gratitude characterized their fraternal life and each Christian community down through history.  The principal assembly of the Christians is the liturgy where they make the memorial of the Death and Resurrection of Christ through seven sacred signs.  At the heart of these signs is the Eucharist, around which is celebrated the Liturgy of the Hours.  The Hours are fixed moments of the day when Christians enter into the eternal prayer of intercession that Christ prays before his Father, a redeeming prayer of praise, thanksgiving and intercession. So Christians and the whole world, are exposed at every moment to the blessing of the Glorious Cross.  The Hours lead to the Eucharistic table for the most explicit celebration of the Paschal Mystery.  Around the table, Christians make present the Glorious Cross of Jesus, remembering his Death and Resurrection by listening to the Word and sharing in the sacrificial meal.  This Eucharistic action makes efficacious the paschal joy celebrated.

The dog does not forget its master.  (Bangala)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 25

Glorious Cross  May 25

Very early on the morning after the Sabbath, when the sun has just risen, they came to the tomb, alleluia (Antiphon, Canticle of Zachary, Easter Sunday).

The sun has inspired many religious reflections from the Jewish people.  Although the sun had always been considered a creature of God, Israel needed to resist the temptation to deify it like their neighbors had.  In a good sense, the sun was a theophany, a manifestation of God.  The light of the sun, like the presence of God, made people feel alive and protected from nocturnal evils.  Winged, present everywhere and seeing all, the sun symbolized the judgment of God which sees everywhere by its penetrating rays.  The constancy of the sun was a reminder of the invincible force of divine justice, embodied in the king.  The sun also marked the liturgical seasons for Jewish worship.  It is not surprising, then, that the first Christians used the sun as the symbol of the Risen Christ.  Christ rose from the tomb on the Sabbath, breaking through the dark barriers of evil, like the sun rose over the chaos at the beginning of creation.  Full of light, Christ has inaugurated the New Day, making the earth fruitful and restoring the vital energies of humanity that were asleep during the long demoralizing night.  Christ’s love has shone on every human person, inviting a decision for or against him.  The Sun of Justice is the judgment of the world.  Christ, dead and risen, remains always visible in the horizon of human life, the constant call to true adoration of God and the compass of the Kingdom.

A person who has light does not eat cockroaches.  (Shi)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 24

Glorious Cross  May 24

By his faith, (the Crosier) gives witness with joy to a spirit of hope and inspires it in others (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

She was in front of the tomb weeping.  Mary Magdalene represents everyone who despairs of seeing their human life fulfilled.  Perhaps we are among them.  We always look for the fullness of life, weeping.  It is possible for us to feel so abandoned that we cannot recognize the presence of God any longer.  Jesus calls Mary, but not from his tomb.  It is she and we who are found in the tomb like dead people.  But they are not tombs so deep that God cannot come there.  God knows how enter into the darkness of our lives.  God knows how to roll back the stone that blocks our entry into life.  God calls us by name, revives us, makes us see and believe.  Jesus asks Mary to cling to him in a new way, with a more lively faith.  But she is not to hold on to him for herself.  She must make him a gift to others, to his brothers still entombed in the Upper Room in Jerusalem and everywhere in the world.  She did that, testifying:  “I have seen the Lord and this is what he told me.”  Can we leave our mourning, thanks to our Easter experience?  Can we be revived to enter into a living relationship with the Risen One?  Can we go to the others to say:  “Why are you weeping?  I have seen him, alleluia, and here is the word of life that he wants to say to you.”

It’s the neighbors who know how to adequately communicate news.  (Shi)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 23

Glorious Cross  May 23

Father, calling to mind the death your Son endured for our salvation, his glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven, and ready to greet him again when he comes, we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice (III Eucharistic Prayer).

Around the table of Eucharist, we remember the act by which Jesus entered into his magnificence, despite the evidence of the scars of his torture.  We celebrate the victory, even as we call to mind the wounds he endured.  It is a victory to be appropriated by each of us.  The way is the same for us as it was for him:  we are scarred into magnificence.  The Eucharistic action identifies us with his sacrifice to bring us to his Resurrection.  We lift the world of our hearts onto the table.  This gift implies a death to all pride and an absolute obedience to God.  There will be scars.  We lift the world of our relationships onto the table, letting them be transformed for Gospel love that reaches even to our enemies.  This pain will leave scars.  We lift the world of our possessions onto the table to be liberated from slavery to things.  The abandonment of obsession with self will produce scars.  There is no other way to come to the magnificence of Christ, to the state of being a person full of God, given to unconditional love of others and redeemed from dehumanization, to a more abundant and eternal life.  There will be many blessed scars to witness the arrival.

Someone who likes wearing tattoos doesn’t cringe before the needle pricks.  (Nyang)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 22

Glorious Cross  May 22

In Cruce Salus – In the Cross, Salvation (Crosier motto).

The Book of Revelation (Apocalypse) of the New Testament proclaims the victory of Jesus in a striking way.  One has only to read the visions of the Lamb and of the Redeemed to understand the depth of confidence in this victory.  It is the Lamb who was slain who gives glory to the believers.  There is no earthy power that can stifle the deafening chants of victory.  The Book of Revelation served well the needs of a Church that was still being persecuted.  It gives courage for persevering in faithfulness, while the pagan nations attempt their last pathetic, dying efforts to overcome it.  The Death and Resurrection of Jesus saves.  In various periods of Church history, there have been enemies, either within or outside the community, who have tempted Christians to lose faith.  Despite the thunder of these threats, the Body of Christ continued to sing the chants of the triumph of the Apocalypse, as if they had been composed just for that age.  The dark side of the Cross has never eclipsed its side of glory.  Quite the contrary, the more furious the threats, the more vigorous has been the confidence.  And even more extraordinary, the Church always believed that suffering the Cross makes it stronger and makes the victory more evident.  The People of God are not afraid of the Cross.  They embrace it as the way to glory.  And in the midst of the harsh noise of intimidation, the confident and never-ending hymn of the Lamb who was slain is heard:  "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive . . . power . . . for ever and ever" (Rv 5:12-13).

An old person’s mouth is twisted when talking, but doesn’t speak twisted words.  (Shi)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 21

Glorious Cross  May 21

Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life.  Lord Jesus, come in glory (II Memorial Acclamation).

What is the meaning of the Eucharistic salutation to Christ, “Glory to you!”?  The word “glory” connotes a fullness of all good things that evokes a deference of honor.  Does Jesus possess the fullness of everything good?  Certainly!  In his risen Person, he sums up the whole of the New Creation!  Glory to you!  Glory also refers to worthiness.  Of what is Jesus worthy?  He was perfectly obedient to God in his death and he merits the title, “the unique Son of God.”  Glory to you!  Glory signifies the radiance of majesty.  How is Jesus majestic?  He conquered all his enemies once and for all and he remains in possession of his Kingdom without contest.  Glory to you!  Glory implies perfection.  Is Jesus perfect?  Yes!  He is the perfect image of the Father and the unequaled model of the New Humanity.  Glory to you!  Glory refers to heavenly happiness.  Is Jesus supremely happy?  Without a doubt!  He descended from his Father, he did all things well and he returned to take his place for all eternity.  Glory to you!  Glory has the sense of complete transparency regarding the truth.  What truth shows itself through Jesus?  He is the Truth, revealing the saving love of the Father and the final transformation of the human person.  Glory to you!  Finally, we who believe in him and obey his word until he returns will bring his glory to its fullness.  Glory to you!

The elephant is not bothered by its weight because his young ones glorify it.  (Lega)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 20

Glorious Cross  May 20

The Crosier assimilates the spirituality of the Glorious Cross (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).
Spirituality is a way of being before God and people.  To speak of the assimilation of a spirituality is to speak of a process whereby a point of view becomes practice.  A point of view is a way of looking at something.  Practice is a way of acting.  As for the spirituality of the Glorious Cross, the point of view concerns good and evil in the world.  According to this point of view, God created all good, while evil is a corruption of it introduced by sin.  The historical struggle between good and evil is resolved by the Cross of Jesus:  good is conquered completely, but the full manifestation of the victory awaits a future moment.  In the meantime, the effects of evil make themselves felt as the desperate attempts of a loser in a battle already won.  That is the point of view.  On the other hand, the practice of the spirituality of the Cross is the way of living the victory while diminishing the sense of its incompleteness.  Such a life is characterized by celebration and by commitment to promote hope and eradicate suffering.  So that the point of view can be practiced, there must be a continual process of contemplation and verification:  where is the evidence of the victory of the Cross seen in the concrete?  One has to enter into the daily experience of the Paschal mystery with eyes wide open.  One has to participate reflectively in the reality of good and evil in the world.

The leopard did not know how to seize by the neck; he watched it being done.  (Rwanda)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 19

Glorious Cross  May 19

When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory (II Memorial Acclamation).

The early Church’s expectation of the Second Coming of Christ had reached its peak.  For the first community, the return of Jesus was considered imminent, to the point that Christians even suspended various aspects of ordinary life, e.g., work, marriage.  Little by little this eschatological fever diminished.  But it strongly marked Eucharistic worship forever.  Christians typically waited for the return of Christ during the celebration of the Eucharist.  The “anamnesis” (remembering) of the death and resurrection of Jesus was always made “while we await your glorious return.”  Churches were constructed so that the orientation of the congregation was always to the east, awaiting the rising of the Sun, who is Christ.  The most ardent desire of the Church is the return of Jesus.  It is this that gives hope and courage.  It is this that gives impulse to ministry.  The fact that Jesus is going to return gives urgency to the Christian life.  To live in Gospel integrity is considered the best possible stance of waiting.  The return has evoked an apocalyptic sense in certain groups of Christians, leading them to predict the date and to prepare by extreme measures.  For consecrated religious, the return of Jesus defines not only the content of their message but also the organization of their lives.  He will return!

The night lasts long, but the day finally arrives.  (Bornu)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 18

Glorious Cross  May 18

In Cruce Robur – In the Cross, Strength (Crosier motto).

Despite all the apparent power of evil in the world, even if it dominates one’s experience, there is another power through which the believer can be free for love, justice and obedience to God.  It is the power of the Cross of Christ.  Filled with this power, the human heart remains always a center of grace, of virtue, a holy place from which God reigns.  It is possible that the extent of the Reign of God, at a certain historical moment, is limited to the small space of the heart of a courageous man or woman.  One has only to read the histories of heroes of religious persecutions in the Church, heroes of political oppression, heroes of imprisonment in concentration camps or heroes in deplorable situations of poverty.  In them can be seen the victory of individuals influenced by grace, of individuals who have overcome despite impossible obstacles.  This is testimony that there is always the possibility of light in the darkness, strength in the face of weakness and goodness in the midst of evil.  This is the reliving of Jesus’ Paschal Mystery.  We live always with the possibility of being violated, mastered, even destroyed by the ghosts of the forces of evil.  But each little interior resistance becomes part of the great victory of Jesus and an extension of his reign.  What strength in the Cross of Jesus that makes such faithfulness persevere to the end!

The thigh is supported by the leg.  (Ngbandi)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 17

Glorious Cross  May 17

. . . he . . . called us to the glory that has made us a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart. . . . called us out of darkness into your own wonderful light (I Preface, Sundays in Ordinary Time).

The catechumen is welcomed into the community with the mark of the sign of the Cross of Jesus.
We use the Word to teach about the mystery into which the person is seeking to enter.
We pray for the catechumen to be able to persevere in the spiritual journey about to begin.
The catechumen is exorcised to be separated from the kingdom of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of Light.
The person is questioned to verify faith and the intention of an unconditional commitment.
We wash the person for purification from sin, transformation into the new creation and incorporation into Christ.
The catechumen is anointed as a gesture of identification with Christ Priest, Prophet and King.
The person is dressed in a white garment to show the world the new interior life now to be enjoyed.
The catechumen is enlightened by the flame of the Paschal Candle that shows the good path to be taken with understanding and courage.
The person is empowered by a touch on the ears to hear the Gospel and on the mouth to proclaim the Good News.
This is the rite that designates the holy nation, the redeemed people, the chosen race, the royal priesthood.  This is the rite of baptismal initiation into the risen life of Christ.

The zebra doesn’t undo his stripes.  (Masai)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 16

Glorious Cross  May 16

(The Crosier) becomes accustomed to a simple recollection that preserves him from disturbances of the senses (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

If the early Church rejoiced in one simple contemplation, it was certainly the contemplation of the Risen Christ.  The regard of these first disciples who knew him personally, who were eyewitnesses, even at a distance, of his Passion and who saw him after his Resurrection, the regard of these disciples was fixed on him.  His presence, sometimes visible and sometimes not, became the center of their attention, the inspiring strength of their life.  Their contemplation of him strengthened them in their human weaknesses and for the disturbing events that followed the Resurrection.  The history of the Church testifies to the same dynamic:  the stability of individual believers and of Christian communities is related to the contemplation of the Risen Christ.  It is only with a look fixed on him that one advances amid ever-present personal and social disruption.  This is especially the conviction of religious who try to advance the Kingdom of the Risen Lord by their consecrated commitment.  It is their witness that the intimate contemplation of Christ sustains them in the ups and downs of consecrated life.  Is there any another support for living in freedom while facing the desires that threaten the observance of obedience, poverty and chastity?

The little bird drinks only water that doesn’t trouble his flying.  (Mali)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation May 15

Glorious Cross  May 15

Christ, the mediator between God and humankind, judge of the world and Lord of all, has passed beyond our sight, not to abandon us but to be our hope.  Christ is the beginning, the head of the Church; where he has gone, we hope to follow (I Preface of Ascension).

A man of flesh:  a baby who matured, a child to be spoiled,
    an adolescent growing into adulthood, someone who knew
    hunger, thirst, fatigue, pleasure, suffering, death.
A man of intelligence to educate in the family and at school.
A man of feelings:  surprise, irritation, anger, sadness, humor
    adventure, compassion, loneliness, terror, abandonment,
    rejection, joy, love.
A man of will:  tempted, obedient.
A man of relationship:  family, friends, politics, ministry, enemies.
A man of the spirit who observed the religious traditions,
    who prayed, who gave witness.
Jesus Christ, the only Son of God who remains now and eternally
    one hundred percent human in his place in the heavens.
Our elder brother, welcome us!

What is in the meat is also meat.  (Nande)