Friday, June 30, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 30

Community  June 30

For charity, it is written, “is not self-seeking,” meaning that it places the common good before its own, not its own before the common good (Rule of St. Augustine, 31).

The Rule of St. Augustine counsels every member of the community to prefer the common good to personal well-being.  That means that, as a Crosier, I must pay more attention to the interests of the community than to my own interests.  Otherwise stated, I put worries about myself at the end of the list of my concerns.  St. Augustine teaches, along with the Gospel, that one measures progress in Christian life by response to this counsel.  The more common interests take priority over personal interests, the more Christian one is.  If I look to my own concerns in the religious community before thinking of those of others, if I promote in the ministry the advantage of my own tribe or clan before that of the rest of the tribes and clans, if I work for the development of my region at the expense of others, thinking that I am doing something lasting in all these situations, I deceive myself.  Quite the contrary, I am contributing to the deconstruction of the community, of the Church, of society and, in the end, of myself.   It is our religious life that ought to teach this vital lesson.

If two old people quarrel, they will die in misery.  (Lega)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 29

Community  June 29

If he refuses to submit to punishment, he shall be expelled from your brotherhood even if he does not withdraw of his own accord. For this too is not done out of cruelty, but from a sense of compassion so that many others may not be lost through his bad example (Rule of St. Augustine, 27).

“If someone refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if the person refuses also to listen to the Church, let that person be for you like an pagan or a publican” (Mt 18:17).  These words clarify the prophetic vocation of the Church:  affirm the good, denounce the evil.  The Church has the intention of welcoming all humanity in the community of salvation.  She is the sign and instrument of this redemption in the world.  Every baptized person publicly vows to leave behind the corrupt habits of the world and to live by the Spirit in Christ, in effect, to participate in this prophetic mission.  Giving every opportunity to weak members for continual conversion, the Church, in the end, also has the instinct for self-preservation that will expel self-destructive elements.  This is right because, by mission, the space of grace that the Church is ought to radiate goodness and unmask evil without ambiguity.  The religious community, as an expression in miniature of the prophetic Church, is obligated to exercise these same dynamics.  This is the basic reason justifying sending a member away.

A lamb that is not docile becomes so when his head is in the pot.  (Nande)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 28

Community  June 28

(The Crosier) contributes to the common good by participating in common work (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

There is a very hard text in the New Testament about work.  It is found in the First Letter to Timothy.  It is about the care of widows, but the principle is valid for Christian life in general.  The text proclaims that if anyone does not care for his or her own family, the person “renounces the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1Tm 5:8).  Human work in the Bible is encouraged as an act of responsibility for oneself and one’s family.  In effect, to not work is shameful.  What’s more, it is a sin, a way of abandoning biblical faith, which testifies that God has left all resources in the hands of humanity for humanization.  The members of the Christian community do not abandon their human status, despite the tendency of some to consider themselves apart, privileged by their consecration.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  It is true that the work proper to Christians is the proclamation of the Gospel and the promotion of salvation.  But no where in the Bible is there a dispensation from ordinary work for evangelizers.  Call to mind Christ whose primary mission was the redemption of the world.  He was known as a carpenter in solidarity with the human race.  Remember Paul, called to be the great Apostle of the nations.  He was known as a tent maker so as to not impose on his converts.  Who among us surpasses them in Christian commitment?

The hoe never lies.  (Nande)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 27

Community  June 27

The first brothers of the Holy Cross chose the Rule of Augustine as a vital form of evangelical community (Const. 3.1).

« For you who form a monastic community, these are the prescriptions to obey » (Rule of St. Augustine, 1.1).
Chapter 1.  The fundamental ideal.  One for the other, we go humbly toward God, sharing everything.
Chapter 2.  Prayer and community.  In an ambiance of prayer, we approach God in all sincerity.
Chapter 3.  Community and health care.  Temperate and respectful of our different personalities, we take care of one another.
Chapter 4.  Mutual responsibility.  Careful about our ideals, we support one another as brothers on the good path.
Chapter 5.  Service to one another.  Unselfishly we move ahead together in loving, fraternal service.
Chapter 6.  Love and conflict.  We protect the vitality of our community by prompt and sincere reconciliation.
Chapter 7.  Loving authority and obedience.  We practice mutual and generous obedience.
Chapter 8.  Final exhortation.  By our observance in freedom, we witness to the work of salvation in Christ.

The one who carries a load without a pad ends up with a headache.  (Shi)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 26

Community  June 26

Our communities should be centers of light (Congolese Regional Statutes 3.1).

From medieval to modern times, the motto of the Crosiers has been, “Ama nesciri et pro nihilo reputari” which loosely translated means “Love to be unknown.”  This summary of spirituality certainly was linked to the contemplative character of the Order at its foundations and to the devotion of the Cross popular in that epoch.  While the Gospel sense of this motto always remains valid (it is Christ who should always increase), the evolution of the Order has brought her to a new perspective in her relation with the world.  Little by little in her history, and particularly from the time of the Protestant Reformation, the Order became more pastorally active.  Today Crosiers look to be pastoral agents who are really present and dynamic and who respond to the serious and pressing needs of the Church and contemporary society.  That does not mean that the Order has lost its humility and is drawing attention to herself in the ministry.  The Order is still more convinced than ever that it is only the proclamation of Christ that can bring about God’s Kingdom.  That is why, in our time, the Crosiers are intensifying their efforts to live a remarkable community life in vigorous witness to Gospel values.  It is the reason the Order today has entered into a more active dialogue with the Church and world to discern her apostolic contribution.  Protecting the balance of communal life, liturgical prayer and ministerial service, the communities are living as radiating centers of light.

To have a lot of dogs doesn’t make a person famous; what makes a person famous is that all the dogs are good hunters.  (Madagascar)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 25

Community  June 25

Hence the communities must undertake the task of education and formation in the values of traditional monastic observances (Const. 8.2).

Despite the fact that the Order of the Holy Cross (Crosiers) is not a monastic Order, from the time of its foundation the confreres accepted monasticism as a tutor in asceticism.  Traditionally, the Crosiers made use of monastic practices, e.g., fasting and abstinence, other practices of self-denial and renunciation, physical suffering and discomfort, even self-flagellation.  The Crosier spirituality of the Cross always supported asceticism, but very much moderated by the spirit of the Rule of Augustine.  The serious practice of asceticism is necessary for orienting an often disoriented life toward Gospel love.  Such an orientation begins in Baptism and continues all through one’s life.  The objectives of asceticism are to stimulate spiritual growth and to discipline human weakness.  The Constitutions encourage a communal ascetical life, but without determining the specific practices as did the previous Constitutions.  Respecting the tradition of the Church, the local culture and the person’s needs, today’s Constitutions leave the choice of practices to the discernment of the local community.  Thus, a commitment to asceticism is asked of all the confreres in their communities, but not a uniform program for the whole Order.  To each village, its own clinic.

The mouth of old person stinks, but what it says is very edifying.  (Nande)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 24

Community  June 24

And let everything I have said about not fixing one’s gaze be also observed carefully and faithfully with regard to other offenses: to find them out, to ward them off, to make them known, to prove and punish them -- all out of love for man and a hatred for sin (Rule of Augustine, 28).

It’s risky being a prophet.  To do fraternal correction demands an evangelical integrity that loves persons and detests their sins.  What attitudes are necessary to keep fraternal correction from becoming self-serving?  First of all, the person who does the correction is only an instrument of God.  That means that every act of fraternal correction should be preceded by prayer.  The evaluation of a person needs to be that of God.  One must have the wisdom of God.  Humility!  The evaluation of the person correcting is provisional:  it is not possible to know the depth of someone´s heart or to make an eternal judgment of the person.  Prudence!  The person always remains a child of God, despite sin.  One can never speak disrespectfully.  Gentleness!  Fraternal correction seeks the welfare of the individual and, because the person is a member of the community, also the welfare of the group.  Responsibility is called for.  Courage!  Finally, according to St. Augustine, it is better to promote the unity of the community than to correct faults.  Confidence!

Bury the dead person, but don't reject the one who is thin.  (Burundi)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 23

Community  June 23

The chapters constitute the heart, the nucleus, and the unifying force of a community (Const. 8.1).

What a declaration!  It sounds a bit heretical!  Normally, we speak otherwise about the “heart,” the “nucleus” and the “unifying force” in Christian life, don’t we?  It’s the Eucharist!  But the Constitutions speak differently.  In Crosier life, it is the assembly of the confreres that is the defining event—and for well-founded theological reasons.  The first effect of the death of Jesus was the reconciliation of all the children of God with God and with one another.  Jesus' blood created a fraternity.  The first response of the disciples after the Resurrection was to form a community in which all the dimensions of their human life were reorganized:  their ways of owning, praying and interacting with the world.  The priority was the fraternity.  Jesus himself, in talking about an act of prayer at the altar, taught clearly:  prayer (Eucharist?) is secondary to the dynamics of fraternal love.  If the fraternal life is not in order, the prayer needs to be interrupted to obey first the command to love.  The Final Judgment will be made on the criteria of love.  This is why the Constitutions "canonize" the assembly (the “chapter”).  It is only from a chapter in solidarity that real Eucharistic celebration flows.

It's by joining together that coals burn; it's in separating that they go out.  (African proverb)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 22

Community  June 22

You should either avoid quarrels altogether or else put an end to them as quickly as possible . . . (Rule 41).

If one or other party in a dispute is closed to the possibility of a solution, is fixed on one’s own point of view, wishes to win at all costs, suspects and mistrusts the other person or remains fearful and hostile, the conflict will not be resolved.  If, on the other hand, a person has more constructive attitudes like openness to solutions, the desire to find avenues that are mutually satisfying, the understanding of the other person's point of view, the appreciation that truth is multi-faceted and confidence in the other person, a solution emerges.  Everybody must be a reconciling person.  Otherwise, how would we be worthy of membership in the Church that searches to embrace every person?  How could we show our obedience to Christ who asks that we pardon seventy-seven times seven times?  How would we be children of God who lets rain fall on the just and the unjust?

The person who does not come to terms and proceed by reconciliation will suffer defeat a second time.  (Nande)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 21

Community  June 21

The proper functioning of our chapters is both a requirement for the creation of genuine community and at the same time evidence of a vital community (Const. 8.1).

Without the chapter, there is no authentic Crosier life.  The Constitutions are clear.  At every level, general, provincial, regional and local, the vitality of the Order depends on the calling of the chapter and on its good functioning.  Each member of the Order has the duty to participate according to his own status.  For chapters with delegates, the delegates have the responsibility for preparing and conducting them and for following through on them in collaboration with the leadership of the Order.  Other members involved (for the General Chapter all the other confreres of the world, for Provincial and Regional Chapters, all the other members of the Province or Region) have the right to submit proposals and the obligation to pray, follow and collaborate with the chapters.  For local chapters, each member of the community plays his part in accord with the statutes of the community.  If God calls all, God speaks through all.  A silent or silenced voice diminishes the effectiveness of discernment.  The chapter is, in fact, the auditorium of the Spirit in which the Spirit’s will for the life and mission of the community is sounded.  Each confrere contributes to its tone.

The chiefs are like the water of a whirlpool:  they don't go away without being consulted.  (Lega)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 20

Community  June 20

But if they have offended one another, they must forgive one another’s trespasses for the sake of your prayers which should be recited with greater sincerity each time you repeat them (Rule of Augustine, 42).

The lie about personal sin must first be avoided on the inside of oneself.  That lie should die in the heart before it fouls the mouth and then erodes social foundations.  Sin is admitted to first within oneself and without delay.  The person squarely faces the reality, the irresponsibility, the damage.  They are confessed honestly to God.  But the lie about personal sin must also be avoided outside oneself.  One cannot simply hide behind an interior feeling of regret, as if that were sufficient to rectify the situation.  In all vulnerability, the person has to go to the one offended to apologize, ask pardon, make amends.  The mark of the most sincere reconciliation is the effort to behave differently in the future.  One can confess in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  At the same time, the person must accord the same pardon to those who have offended him or her.  Then, one can take a place at the Eucharistic Table and pray in peace, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”

Don't meddle in the arguments between two brothers.  You will be laughed at.  (Nande)  

Monday, June 19, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 19

Community  June 19

The principle of collegiality means that members should enjoy full and effective participation in the life, the responsibility, and the decisions of their communities on local, provincial, and general levels (Const. 7.4).

There is a technique of group dynamics that insists on participants being in a circle for dialogue.  The circle should be “perfect,” that is, those in the discussion should position themselves so that each can see the face of every other participant for a real face-to-face sharing.  All the members of the group are there as equals.  No place in the circle is either privileged or disadvantaged.  The leadership of the group can be in the hands of the leader, but the leader participates as an equal, in accord with all the rules of listening and sharing.  If the leader is at the same time responsible for the group (as the “first among equals”), he or she exercises that responsibility according to the agreements already reached by the group.  In fact, the circle symbolizes the collegiality of an Augustinian community.  The confreres assemble as equals, each respecting the dignity of the other, for a face-to-face exercise of co-responsibility.  The superior takes a place in the circle.  All feel called into the circle by the Spirit of God and the Spirit is their inspiration.  Being in circle is not limited to chapters.  In effect, it is the spirit of all the interactions of the followers of Augustine.

Persons are only equal when sitting.  (Nande)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 18

Community  June 18

Community chapters are . . . the place . . . where the confreres meet each other in solidarity . . . so as to share their pains and their joys and decide collegially . . . about personal, spiritual, material and pastoral policies (Congolese Regional Statutes 1.10).

The assembly of the confreres, according to St. Augustine, is the point of departure for concretizing the Christian life.  The assembly, where the Lord is known, is the root of all prayer.  There conversion and Gospel love are lived.  In the assembly, the mission of Jesus is discovered, as well as the participation of each member.  The assembly, called “the chapter” in the Constitutions, is more than a meeting.  We are always the assembly, the chapter, at prayer, at table, at play, on mission, even when we are separated from one another.  The assembly asks that each member give priority to the other and to the group.  The assembly is not strange to African culture.  The individual finds identity and well-being in the tribe.  It is not of little consequence that the African author of the Augustinian Rule put the assembly at the heart of it.

The fish is only strong in the water.  (Mambwe)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 17

Community  June 17

We also hold that we can find personal fulfillment in committing ourselves fully, in fraternal solidarity, to the community (Const. 7.1).

Imagine a tree, big and strong, rising majestically toward the sky, glorious in the sun, solid against the wind, laden with good fruit that is ripe and sweet.  This tree is evidently well rooted in rich and fertile soil, watered by living water.  It is the image found in Psalm 1:3 of the dynamic person who observes the Law of the Lord.  It is the image found in the prophet Jeremiah (17:8) to describe the person who has put all confidence in God.  This image makes clear that the fulfillment of the person, like that of the majestic tree, depends on where it is rooted.  If it has been poorly planted, it will grow poorly.  This image can be applied to the Crosier.  He is full of human and religious potential.  He wants to develop as a source of vital strength, as a generous contributor to the life of others, as the model of Christian maturity.  As he grows in the Order first as a “postulant-shoot,” then as a “novice-plant,” and finally as a “young professed-sapling,” the Crosier is invited to put roots down in the only soil that promotes his growth, that is, in selflessness and total dedication to the needs of others, in imitation of the one who hung in self-denial from the Tree of Life.

The tooth is white, but there is blood underneath.  (Mali)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 16

Community  June 16

(The Crosier) feels at home in the community (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

To feel at home in the community is very much affected by the ambiance created by the members.  This sentiment of feeling at home prospers where there are community habits of affirming confreres in their goodness as persons: I accept you!  Affirmation testifies to the wonder members have over the generous goodness of God toward creation.  Through affirmation the community promotes the graces God has given to the members: “What a gift!”  To affirm is a also basic way of exercising fraternal love: “I appreciate you!”  Such an atmosphere of affirmation gives to each person the encouragement to be the best self the person can be.  It is a wonderful and welcoming environment that seeks the development of the person in the context of community life: “I encourage you!”  Personal initiatives are fostered; talents are cultivated.  In an atmosphere of affirmation, there is the habit of expressing mutual appreciation.  Efforts and contributions are recognized:  “I thank you!”  The community rejoices in the potential of its members and provides resources for the development and exercise of personal gifts within the limits of the community’s possibilities:  “I support you!”  With enthusiasm the community accompanies the fulfillment of each member as someone of value in the realization of the Kingdom:  “You have my confidence!”  Yes, you are at home!

Even the small bird has feathers on its tail.  (Schambala)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 15

Community  June 15

Each person is a distinct individual with inalienable rights and obligations, and with his own vocation and talents, which must be respected by everyone at all times (Const. 7.1).

Who is the confrere beside me in the chapel, at table, in chapter, in recreation?  What kind of history does he have, what destiny?  From all eternity, he was in the mind of God as a potential creation, unique and irreplaceable.  Born as the fruit of human love, he was formed in the constellation of a particular family with its own cultural roots.  He got involved in religion, shepherded by friends, advisors and pastors.  Life gave him understanding and experiences to live toward this moment of maturity.  He has known ups and downs, success and failure, happiness and disappointment.  His faith led him to the Crosiers.  He has his dreams and fears, his talents and limitations.  He has the right to a dignified life as a human being and the duty to share common work.  He has the right to a religious life according to the Constitutions and the duty to see them lived out.  He has the right to develop his gifts and the duty to integrate them into the community plan.  He has the right to be himself and the duty to respect others.  In fact, looking at the confrere beside me, it is my own history, my own destiny, that I see.  We reflect each other.

Each snake slinks in its own way.  (Bayombe)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 14

Community  June 14

The Region as a whole, all the members as individuals and all the communities, commits itself to participate in the africanization of all of Crosier life (Regional Congolese Statutes, 1.28).

Within the Christian members of a culture, the Gospel is in dialogue with cultural values that both humanize and dehumanize life.  The Christian members of the culture, faithful to their conversion to the Gospel, eventually develop a perspective for participating Christianly in the culture.  In them, the culture is transformed.  In them, the culture prays in Christ in a way that is recognizable as belonging to it.  In them, the culture finds its own moral language that effectively enlightens good and evil in the contemporary conscience.  In them, the culture interacts with Christian truths, producing Christian thought proper to it.  In them, the culture affirms that the Spirit is already present in its ancient traditions and is moved toward a new synthesis of renewed social life.  In them, the culture completes the multi-faceted face of the cosmic Christ and gives the Kingdom of God a new and unique expression in another part of the world.  In them, Christ becomes one of them.  For religious, this inculturating dialogue takes place within the community and serves as a model for the local Church.

Each flower has its own perfume.  (Douala)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 13

Community  June 13

In love for one another, we meet the Lord (Const. 3.1).

Once there was a large abbey where the monks were aging and diminishing in number. People stopped visiting them.  One day a rabbi moved into one of the fields of the abbey to study the Torah.  After a while, the abbot decided to visit him.  The rabbi was happy with this fraternal gesture.  The abbot and the rabbi entered into a long and deep dialogue.  At a certain moment, the rabbi said to the abbot, “I have a revelation for you.  But you may repeat it only once.  Father Abbot, one of you in the abbey is the Messiah.”  The abbot was very much disturbed and he left immediately to see the monks.  He called them together and said to them, “My dear brothers, the rabbi gave me a revelation.  But I can tell it to you only once.”  The abbot continued, “The rabbi revealed that one of us is the Messiah.”  The monks were totally confused.  “But how?” the asked.  “It is not possible!”  And they remained very upset.  The abbot reminded them not to repeat the revelation.  A little while later, it was evident that the atmosphere in the abbey had become more lively.  The monks did not repeat the revelation, but they began to do small gestures of kindness toward one another.  Each one began to look for occasions to make the others happy.  And little by little, the Christians began to visit again because of the spirited brotherhood of the monks.  Soon there were young men who asked to enter the community and the abbey experienced a great revival.

What do blind people want except to have their eyes opened?  (Marka)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 12

Community  June 12

As a mature African, the Crosier is someone «initiated,» that is to say, a man in whom others trust and who plays a role among them (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

The program of formation of a religious community resembles the African rite of intiation.  The young layman, already formed in Baptism, arrives at a moment of vocational crisis in his life.  What will be his role in the community of the Church?  Under the inspiration of the Spirit, he is attracted by several life options.  He decides.  He presents his option to the elders.  After a determination of his ability to make such a commitment, the elders separate him from the ordinary circumstances of life that he knew to that moment.  He enters into a community, often with a ritual that signifies the separation:  a change of clothing, the giving of a cross, the reception of other symbols.  He begins the voyage.  All along the new way, he submits himself to a new authority.  After a time of testing, of experience, he is judged to be mature and is incorporated definitively into the community by perpetual profession of vows.  But the arrival is not a moment for resting on his laurels.  Through the practice of good collaboration during his formation, he is ready to exercise co-responsibility for the life and mission of the community.  The community can now count on this initiated man for an adult role of participation.

The path grows by being used.  (Gabon)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 11

Community  June 11

Unity with one another is an inescapable demand for those who are on the way to God (Const. 3.1).

Accepting all other believers (and even all of humanity) with fraternal love is the consequence of knowing the love of God in Jesus.  Every person who is born anew in Christ is a child of God and brother or sister to all the other children of God.  There is only one house, only one family before God.  For that reason, to love Christ is to love one’s brothers and sisters.  God does not make distinctions between his children.  They come from every race, nation and tribe. The Christians among them have the same attitude as God:  to love of all humanity without prejudice.  May our love for one another lighten the loads of our brothers and sisters among whom we live, whatever their origins.  May our witness to fraternal love convince people in other corners of the world to love as Jesus did.  May our recognition of Jesus in the various faces of everyone diminish the suffering caused by racism, nationalism and tribalism.  May we always remain faithful to the commandment of Jesus, so as to know God, “for God is love.”

It's not that there isn´t room in the country; it's that hearts are closed.  (Burundi)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 10

Community  June 10

. . . he who suffered the injury must also forgive, without further wrangling (Rule of Augustine, 42).

This is the "Declaration of the Rights of Someone Offended," promulgated and rigorously imposed by the Prince of this World:

Every member of the Kingdom of Darkness who is offended has the right to vengeance.  Suggested actions:  1) an identical or equivalent reaction to what was suffered that inflicts on the offender the same painful effects as the original offense (eye for eye, etc.);  2) giving the offender “a taste his/her own medicine” (e.g., setting a trap);  3) passive aggressive behavior (e.g., snubbing, ignoring, making snide remarks, etc.).

In the absence of vengeance, no member of the Kingdom of Darkness should reconcile with the offender except on condition that the offender compensates 100% for the offense committed, i.e., the offender must show ultimately him/herself worthy of the high dignity of the person offended.

In the absence of vengeance and compensation, never must the offended member of the Kingdom of Darkness forget the offence, continually reminding the offender of it or at least at those moments when the offender is most vulnerable.

When a leopard falls into a trap, he ends up being lanced . . . but is your neighbor a leopard?  (Congo)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 9

Community  June 9

In our efforts to join together in a life that is truly Christian we adopt as our model Mary, who remains for the Church through the centuries an incomparable sign of love and service (Const. 2.4).

Down through the centuries of Order life, there has been a filial devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus.  From the time of the foundation, the confreres prayed the “Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. From the 16th century onwards, the Crosiers chanted the “Haec est praeclarum vas,” (“Behold the excellent vase”), their traditional hymn to Mary as an intercession against the Bubonic plague.  Throughout the centuries, they also offered a much sought after, privileged indulgence attached to the Rosary.  In the Scriptures, it is possible to see in her expressions of the Crosier charism:  woman of the Glorious Cross, suffering and full of hope at Calvary; witness to poverty superabundantly filled by God in her Magnificat; fruitful, chaste virgin at the Annunciation; obedient searcher of the Spirit in the Cenacle; community woman in the family in Nazareth, in solidarity with the hearers of her itinerant son, in the filial embrace of the Beloved Disciple, in prayer with the disciples; contemplative at the birth of her son, at his ministry and death and resurrection, at Pentecost; pastoral in the Visitation and at the wedding feast of Cana.  Holy Mary, pray for us.

The mother hen never sleeps on a roost, she always stays with her chicks. (Akye)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 8

Community  June 8

(The Crosier) is transparent and open to everyone, sociable in his sincerity, behavior, great kindness and self-forgetfulness (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

The Christian is the icon of Christ.
            Looking at the icon, one sees Christ, the Transparent One, who said, “I am the truth” (Jn 14:6) and who demands, “Let your word be yes, if yes, and no, if no” (Mt 5:37).
            The Christian manifests Christ, the Open One, who declares, “I have spoken openly to the world” (Jn 18:20) and who says, “There is nothing secret that will not be made known” (Lk 8:17).
            The Christian is the image of Christ, the Friend, who exclaimed, “I call you friends” (Jn 15:15) and who commanded, “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 5:12).
            The Christian reflects Christ, the True One, who proclaimed, “I say what the Father told me” (Jn 12:50) and who prayed, “Consecrate them in the truth” (Jn 17:17).
            The Christian shows Christ, the Tender One, who said, “He will not break the bruised reed” (Mt 12:20) and who counsels, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Lk 6:31).
            The Christian reminds of Christ, the Victim, who declared, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn15:13) and who invited, “I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you” (Jn 13:15).

The big watermelon is never bitter.  (Mali)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 7

Community  June 7

The Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross is a union of Christian men who will to live and work in a community to promote the accomplishment of God’s Kingdom in this world (Const. 1.1).

For the most part, the oldest Orders in the Church were not founded for an apostolate.  They were organized to witness the ideals of the Gospel more faithfully to their times.  Certainly this commitment inevitably involved pastoral activity of some sort, but never to the prejudice of the founding inspiration.  That was the spirit of St. Augustine, whose Rule hardly mentions the apostolate, despite the ordained status of practically the whole community.  The central concern was the formation of persons dedicated first to the search for God in the company of friends.  The Constitutions of the Crosiers reflect this preoccupation by their insistence on balance between the three pillars of community, liturgy and ministry in the organization of life.  Thus, those who wish to enter into the Order need to ask themselves:  can I relativize my apostolic desires to incorporate myself into a group where fraternity and liturgy, as well as apostolate, are part of the vocation?  All in delicate balance on the way to the Kingdom of God:  that is the oldest wisdom.

The mouse is small, but when you burn its hair, there is a strong odor.  (Bashi-Muenda)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 6

Community  June 6

But a brother who is never willing to ask pardon, or does not do so from his
heart, has no reason to be in the monastery (Rule of Augustine, 42).

How often in human life is there a lack of honesty, a lack of courage to take responsibility for one’s own mistakes.  This tendency dates from the creation of man and woman (Gn. 1:12-13).   The tendency is not absent from religious life.  Formerly in the Constitutions there was a practice that vigorously battled against it.  It was called the “Chapter of Faults.”  At least once a month, the confreres came together for an exercise of self-accusation.  First, at the call of the superior, all the confreres made a gesture of self-humiliation.  Together they knelt down, traced a cross on the ground with their thumb and kissed it.  Getting back up, they were required to begin admitting their faults against the Constitutions, that is, some offense against community life like impoliteness toward another, a violation of the silence, using community property without permission, damaging community property, neglecting a task, etc.  After a brief word of encouragement by the superior, the confreres left the chapter, each more aware of his role in the development or decline of community life.  This is the kind of transparence without which a community does not function well.

Someone who jumps and falls in a fire has another jump to make.  (Wolof)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 5

Community  June 5

These Constitutions should be seen within the history of the Order as a new stage in its constant and ongoing development (Const. 0.4).

            In 1210, the Spirit led Theodore de Celles and his companions, signed with the Cross and inspired by Augustine, to Huy as a protest against the canonical life of the cathedral in Liège.  Glory to you, Spirit of creativity, who gives rebirth to the Church!
            In 1410, the Spirit reformed the corrupt Crosier community.  The burning of all previous documents, purifying Crosier memory, promoted the renaissance of Crosier life and work.  Glory to you, Spirit of prophecy, who insures following the right path!
            In the 16th century, the Spirit turned longstanding Crosier contemplative customs upside down in favor of a more active ministerial life to relativize Protestant excesses.  Glory to you, Spirit of innovation, who reinvents your creation!
            In 1840, the Spirit revived the Order, dying from the philosophical poisons of the French Revolution, through the “second founder” for a new religious and missionary movement.  Glory to you, Spirit of life, who delivers from death!
            In 1967, the Spirit guided the Crosier General Chapter to update the Constitutions for a contemporary relaunching of the Order.  Glory to you, Spirit of renewal, who breathes over the Church!
            And now, what?  Glory to you, Spirit of surprises!

No one knows in what direction the horns of a heifer will grow.  (Rwanda)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 4

Community  June 4

(The Crosier) is a man with good human and social relationships, initiated in his family (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

Christ is patient, Christ is kind; Christ is not jealous;
Christ is not pompous, he is not inflated, Christ is not rude,
   he does not seek his own interests, he is not quick tempered, 
   he does not brood over injury, he does not rejoice
   over wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth;
Christ bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
   endures all things.

I am patient, I am kind; I am not jealous;
I am not pompous, I am not inflated, I am not rude, 
   I do not seek my own interests, I am not quick tempered, 
   I do not brood over injury, I do not rejoice
   over wrongdoing but rejoice in the truth;
I bear all things, believe all things, hope all things,
   endure all things.

Christ never fails.
   And I?

What does the beauty of a woman matter if she can’t present a good meal on a clean plate?  (Mossi)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 3

Community  June3

Helped by his African culture that promotes community life and the family, the Crosier lives with his confreres as in a family (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

The African family is more than the nuclear family (two parents with their children).  It is rather the ancestors of all times and places, including the dead and children yet to be born.  The extended family lives in an exchange of goods, obligations, feelings and services.  The members accept one another, the one receiving willingly what the other is and what the other offers.  The members are welcoming, open to including everyone in the circle of the family.  On entering a religious community, the African comes with all these values.  The community of goods is natural.  Harmony is sought.  Hospitality is indispensible.  The communal nature of the culture supports the African confrere in formation for community:  to become a person of confidence, transparent to others, listening to them, ready to serve, a full participant, capable of initiative, prepared for responsibility and living responsibly.  The African confrere is aware that to enter religious life is to enter another family.  He looks to being at ease with everyone, to feeling at home as in his own family.  The confrere rejoices in the fraternal life that gives identity and assures happiness.

The person is his family.  (Sérère)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 2

Community  June 2

To favor fraternal unity in the community, we use a common language (Congolese Regional Statutes 1.15).

Scene I.  Frustrated, they searched for greater fortune, even the possibility of avenging themselves against God who condemned them.  Arrogantly they located in Babel where the project was conceived:  a tower that would reach to the heavens.  It was an attempt to regain their ancient Garden privilege.  Suddenly they were confronted with unexpected difficulties in their collaboration.  Words did not pass easily between the builders.  Because of the terrible cacophony, the work was blocked in mid-course, the great plan was stopped, the dream died.

Scene II.  Still together, they were waiting in the Upper Room.  Suddenly with the sound of a wind, the fire appeared, not in some general way, but like small tongues above each one of them.  The sound of a single language was translated spontaneously in the ears of people from all over who were gathered for the feast.  Each one understood the same news, despite their diverse linguistic origins. 

Scene III.  The members of the religious community received the same inspiration, at first very personally.  They were to announce the establishment of the Kingdom.  But without a mutual and harmonious understanding, how would the project go?

If various people whistle together, there is harmony.  (Rwanda)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation June 1

Community  June 1

. . . the community of the Brethren of the Holy Cross, itself a part of the great community of the Church (Const. 0.1).

As a “cell” of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ, the Brethren of the Holy Cross (Crosiers), by their profession according to the Constitutions, are:
one assembly of different personalities and origins who are, among themselves, in search of unity in the crucified and risen Christ and who, by their witness, inspire the participation of others;
… a holy sacrament of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control, which come from the Spirit of Christ and give rebirth to the world;
… a catholic family with its arms around the world that overcomes barriers of human prejudice and builds bridges among peoples and nations;
... an apostolic prophet that announces the Good news and confronts beliefs, politics, economy, science and history with the Word of God.

As the tree, so the fruits.  (Luba)