Monday, July 31, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 31

Community  July 31

For all of us, study and reflection are necessary conditions for the effective realization of our ideal of Christian service to people (Const. 24.1).

There is a poster that has been popular in recent years that says, “Be patient with me.  God isn’t finished yet!”  That might be a good motto for each confrere in his human and religious development.  Formation never ends as long as we live.  Certainly, there are times at the beginning of life which are more or less exclusively dedicated to formation.  That is also true at the beginning of new ventures.  But it is an illusion to think that, once initiated, there is nothing more to learn, nothing more to become.  God, the Great Sculptor, does not put down his hammer and chisel.  From all eternity, he has conceived an image of each person and the person’s mission.  God begins to bring that to realization already in the womb.  Little by little, through the people around us, through instruction of all sorts, through happy and unhappy experiences, God gently strikes to bring about the work.  The Sculptor does not stop until the work is finished.  The moment is not at the end of studies, nor at solemn profession, not even at retirement.  Everybody is in formation until death.  Patience, God is not finished yet.

Don't let go of your oars until the canoe has reached the bank.  (Mpongoue)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 30

Community  July 30

Our community may expect of the person in initial formation . . .That he work to achieve a genuinely human community life with others, so that he is open to their appeals and ready to integrate himself into the community’s rhythm of life (Const. 23.6.d).

To judge the quality of my vocational discernment about making final commitment in the Order, I can ask myself some questions.  Do I have the capacity to live a true Christian, fraternal life of sharing and responsibility?  Do I have the desire and ability to participate in a life of prayer centered on the Liturgy?  Do I want to serve the Church out of the community, using whatever personal gifts I have?  Do I value the balance of the “three pillars” of the Canon Regular way of religious life, i.e, community, liturgy and ministry, and am I ready to structure my life to preserve that balance?  Am I a man of the Glorious Cross, in solidarity with suffering people and a herald of hope for them?  Do I give priority to the needs of others to serve them by Gospel poverty?  Do I live in universal love for others by Gospel chastity?  Am I attentive and flexible for the demands of the Kingdom of God by Gospel obedience?  In effect, am I maturing as a man, a Christian and a Crosier according to the Constitutions and the Rule of St. Augustine?

Can an eagle without feathers fly?  (Madagascar)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 29

Community  July 29

The African region is a part of the European Province (Prov. Stat. 19.c).

For these historic events, we thank God!
X 1210     FOUNDATION of the Order at Clairlieu in Europe!
X 1248     FINAL APPROVAL of the Order in Europe!
X 1287     DISCOVERY OF THE RELICS of St. Odilia in Europe!
X 1410     CHAPTER OF REFORM in Europe!
X 1840     SECOND FOUNDING of the Order in Europe!
X 1920     FOUNDATION IN THE CONGO at Bondo!
X 1938     BISHOP BLESSING, O.S.C., first Bishop of Bondo!
                CELLES in Belgium!
                BISHOP CREEMERS, O.S.C., second Bishop of Bondo!
X 1965     MARTYRDOM of 23 Crosiers in Buta and Dakwa in the Congo!
X 1984     FOUNDATION OF MUSYENENE in North Kivu!
X 1985     FOUNDATION OF MULO in North Kivu!
                BEGINNING OF THE NOVITIATE in Mulo!
X 1991     FOUNDATION OF THE SCHOLASTICATE in Kinshasa in the Congo!
X 1993     CROSIERS LEAVE BONDO after 73 years!
X 1999     FIRST REGIONAL CHAPTER in the Congo!
For events yet to happen, we pray to God!

The bird that doesn’t fly never knows where the wheat is ripe.  (Nande)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 28

Community  July 28

It follows that the communities in which men prepare themselves to join our Order must be particularly conscious of their great responsibility.  They must be prepared to share with these men an experience of genuine faith, communal life and prayer, collegiality and subsidiarity (Const. 23.2).

A word to the older brothers in the community from the younger brothers:
            We thank you for the strength and faithfulness that has always marked your life, for having invited us to join the Order, for your concern for our well-being and our initial formation.
            We see you as the bearers of our charism, a storehouse of Crosier experience and wisdom, the witnesses of so many successes and failures in the life of our Order.
            If we would ask something of you, it would be this:  teach us to wear the Crosier habit with integrity; show us in word and deed the true Christian; teach us to pray well; be for us more collaborators than benefactors so that we will be well prepared for the future; initiate us into unselfish and generous service, as compassionate and optimistic as Christ’s. 
            We are anxious, in our turn, to become one day mature and responsible brothers like you.

It is not a waste of time to sharpen one’s tools.  (Nande)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 27

Community  July 27

Those engaged in an apostolate need understanding, respect, and often active cooperation from the other members of the community (Const. 22.5).

Understanding, interest and collaboration are the offspring of a marriage between personal apostolic aspirations and those of the community.  According to the Constitutions, pastoral commitments, whether communal or personal, are always the fruit of community discernment.  (We Crosiers practice the “community of goods” at all levels of our life so as to avoid every trace of individualism.)  In this context, it is expected that the confreres show mutual support in the various works decided upon by the community.  If the confreres are not engaged in a common community apostolate, each of them tries to be aware of the work of the others.  Each one wishes the others well, giving them the freedom necessary within the limits of community agreements.  Everyone is attentive to everyone else’s pastoral joys and burdens.  There is a real effort to follow the development of projects, even to offer a word of advice or a helping hand here or there as desired.  All consider themselves agents of a single community mission, inspired by the Spirit of diversity, however multiform that mission might be.  All do their work in this fraternal confidence.

People who don't know how to agree are like water which falls abundantly:  they do not follow the same route.  (Lega)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 26

Community  July 26

(The Crosier) knows how to adapt and live joyfully and fruitfully with other cultures and ethnic groups (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

At the end of his ministry, just before his death, Jesus gave his disciples a single commandment:  “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).  According to Christ, it is not possible to be his friend without doing what he commands, without accepting the others whom he loves.  The tendencies of our heart to separate the races, nations and tribes is very strong.  It is only the great love of God in Christ that can convince us to change our hearts and to live in another way with our neighbors, whatever their origins.  Every day we come together at the Eucharistic table to encounter God in Christ.  We can see there all the races, nations and tribes.  It is God’s plan to bring into unity all those who are dispersed because of sin.  We sing, we pray, we eat at the Table without distinction of origin.  Quite the contrary, each recognizes in the other the same resemblance, that of Christ.  We strengthen the bond with God and with the children of God, who are all our brothers and sisters.  We leave the table to live what we pray there, what we believe there.  The proof of an authentic Christian faith is seen in the way we live love our neighbor in our daily lives as Christ commanded us.

Fingers are not all of the same length.  (Bété)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 25

Community  July 25

This respect includes a proper esteem for our brothers and our Order in conversation with others (Const. 19.13).

“But if . . . you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place and have come to share in the rich root of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. . . . consider that you do not support the root; the root supports you” (Rm 11:17-18).  The wild olive shoot is the unbeliever called to participate in the salvation of Christ that is rooted in Judaism.  Because the pagan is grafted on, his or her new status is a gift of God, which the person should always recognize and, therefore, remain humble about.  The life of the graft and the life of the trunk are the same from that moment on.  This image can illuminate the situation of the confrere in the religious community.  Once incorporated into the community by his profession of vows, the confrere´s identity and destiny are identified with those of the community.  What the confrere was before entering is now animated by the community.  What he becomes because of his entering is the fruit of his participation in the community.  The confreres together are the sacred space of the encounter with God and the flourishing environment of personal development.  It is the same sap, the grace of the charism, that arises in and enlivens each one.  To wound a branch is to wound the whole tree.  To injure another is to injure oneself.  So, the discretion observed about the Order and the confreres in conversation with others outside the community is an expression of humility and gratitude and act of self-respect.

Don't spit in the air, or else the saliva will fall back on you.  (Bakusu)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 24

Community  July 24

(The Crosier) has a healthy measure of flexibility and the capacity to adapt to persons and circumstances (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

To call them, he was a Jew among Jews without fear of contamination by the Law.  May the Jewish people enter!  Without fear of losing his Gospel orientation, he was a pagan with the pagans when it helped to attract them.  May the unbelievers enter!  To invite them to Christ, he was weak with the weak, all things to all people, without his conviction being uprooted, without diminishing his personal integrity.  May the masses be saved!  Content with humiliation in poverty, he was equally at ease with abundance.  Hungry or full, welcomed or mistreated, he continued to work.  It was not otherwise with Christ, who walked in the company of the pious and sinners, of the poor and rich, of the insignificant and powerful, making himself close to them to draw them to himself.  Paul, once a man rigid in the practice of his beliefs, became in the end the incarnation of apostolic flexibility.  What an example for us of Christian freedom, of missionary adaptation, of pastoral suppleness.  What encouragement for the Order, already 800 years old in its comings and goings for Christ, in calm and turbulent times, among people of every color, race and nation!  What an inspiration for the Crosier today who witnesses in a world become the “global village”!

When the prey zigzags, the crocodile must also zigzag.  (Mossi)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 23

Community  July 23

Hospitality requires freedom and flexibility and is to be practiced with sensitivity (Const. 9.11).

            I went into the Garden, but those who ought to have welcomed me hid themselves.  They are no longer there.  (Gn 3:8)
            I presented myself as an angelic trio in front of the tent and the old man prepared me a meal.  He engendered a son.  (Gn 18:1)
            I was hungry and they let me satisfy my hunger in their field.  They will never lack a harvest.  (Lev 19:10)
            I came to ask for a dwelling place and she consented.  She will be called blessed for all generations.  (Lk 1:26)
            I knocked at the door of the inn to be born, but the owner locked me out.  He lost his rebirth.  (Lk 2:7)
            I came among my own, buy my own did not receive me.  They lost their place of privilege.  (Jn  1:11)
            I wanted to live there to grow up as the messianic child, but the king chased me.  He is fallen.  (Mt 2:13)
            The Pharisee invited me to dinner, but without offering me water to wash my feet.  The prostitute entered the kingdom before him.  (Lk 7:38)
            They invited me to the wedding and included my friends.  The water became wine.  (Jn 2:2)
            The two of them insisted that I stay with them because it was getting dark.  At supper, their eyes were opened to their Lord.  (Lk 24:29)
            I presented myself hungry, thirsty, sick, naked and they ignored me.  They have gone to eternal punishment.  (Mt. 25:42)  
A visitor is a blessing.  (Nande)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 22

Community  July 22

The main purpose for you having come together is to live harmoniously in your house, intent upon God in oneness of mind and heart (Rule of St. Augustine 3).

The most fundamental characteristic of community life is its Gospel nature.  The members are first believers, with their own experience of God in Christ.  They are convinced that the salvation of the world is the fruit of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus.  They want to organize their lives by the light of this revelation.  In communion with other believers in the Church and with the gifts of its members, the community participates in the mission of announcing the Good News.  In community, the members search for their own salvation, as well as that of everyone else in the world.  The Gospel quality of their community life is their first witness, exercised through the search for unity in Christ in common prayer, through respect for the other person, through fraternal sharing of life, through the exercise of co-responsibility for the common good and through concern for the world by prayer and service.  The objective of their coming together is, therefore, to walk together toward the realization of the Kingdom of God.  They are in search of the God who is in search of the world.

Those who get into the same canoe have the same aspirations. (Wolof)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 21

Community  July 21

Recreation must allow for a certain variety, and yet each person should have equal opportunities. . . . we must avoid the situation where some can do what they please . . . while others can only be passive onlookers (Const. 19.9).

God rested after work.  The six days of labor merited God the seventh day of rest.  Thus, God determined forever the sabbatical pattern for humanity:  a significant time of tiring work, followed by a brief time of refreshing rest.  The rhythm of work and rest structures life at every level in Crosier life:  religious observance, manual labor, study, apostolic life, etc.  Bodily rest, as well as that of the spirit, is necessary for the welfare of the human person.  Everybody has the right to rest and the obligation to look for ways to do that well.  It is the responsibility of the religious community to provide time and the necessary resources for its members’ relaxation in accord with their needs.  Spiritually, we are already at rest in Christ.  In effect, Christ himself is the Sabbath because of the labor of his Cross.  The Sabbath of Christ is the great festival of our human life, celebrated preeminently in the Liturgy.  The moments of human rest are small “sacraments” of this same Christian mystery.

He who beats the butter licks his fingers.  (The Reunion)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 20

Community  July 20

. . . mutually honoring God in yourselves, whose temple you have become (Rule 9).

The Temple is the holy place of God’s presence.  It is there that God is honored by acts of adoration, contrition, intercession and thanksgiving.  For Augustinian religious, the brother in community is the Temple of God.  This is the Temple one enters to adore God.  Each time a confrere is welcomed, a space for God is created in the heart.  In acts of acceptance of the other, of communication and solidarity, one bows before God in God’s holy Temple.  The Temple is the sacred place where, regretting one’s sins, the person asks forgiveness.  Reconciliation with the confrere is the sacrament of reconciliation with God, according to the Lord’s Prayer given by Christ.  When one pardons another, one reconciles with God in God’s holy Temple.  The Temple is the place of intercession where one participates in God’s concern for the world.  The gesture of compassion toward the confrere is intercession become effective.  By responding to the needs of another, one becomes the channel of God’s blessing in God’s holy Temple.  The Temple is the sanctuary in which God is thanked.  When one respects the dignity of the confrere, affirming his goodness, valuing him, one recognizes the goodness of God.  One gives thanks to God in God’s holy Temple.  Before the confrere, according to St. Augustine, sandals are removed because one stands on “holy ground.”

The dog is respected because of its master.  (Minyanka)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 19

Community  July 19

There should be an atmosphere of ease and naturalness in our communities (Const. 19.9).

There used to be another way of living in community.  Silence dominated the day and the night.  Conformity was a virtue:  the religious habit didn’t admit of personal styles; everybody marched to the same rhythm of community activities; behavior was to be standard and predictable.  A certain rigidity was canonized as true religious observance:  a rarely changing schedule; a liturgy scrupulously conducted according to the rubrics; Constitutions determining the smallest details of daily life.  With the Second Vatican Council, religious life sought renewal by a return to the inspiration of the founder.  For the Crosiers, it was a pilgrimage to Clairlieu, the initial foundation by Blessed Theodore and his companions.  What was their inspiration?  They sought a simplicity of life more faithful to the mystery of the Cross, a space of liturgical prayer most festive and contemplative, a manner of living as brothers more reflective of the dynamism of the Acts of the Apostles, a service to the world more flexible to its needs.  In effect, they wanted to be a Gospel “place of light,” a project of life clarifying the sense of human existence.  The first Crosiers looked for a place to be profoundly human in the search of God.  That is the inspiration for the freedom and naturalness in Crosier community life.  The Brothers of the Holy Cross in search of God are better served by the humanization of the charism rather than by its institutionalization.

The lion roars, the bird sings.  Of the two, which do you prefer?  (Lokele)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 18

Community  July 18

The . . . Crosier has an essential knowledge of the charism of the founder . . . and the spiritual patrimony of the Order (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

Charism means the unique grace given to Blessed Theodore de Celles and his companions and finally shared with the confreres in every epoch.  The charism that calls, identifies, sustains and gives the Order its objective is historically marked by seven consistent elements:
The spirituality of the Glorious Cross as the revelation of salvation and the model of Christian life.
The ambiance of prayer as the organization of daily life to support the contemplation of the Christian mysteries.
Liturgy as the preeminent and most formational celebration and witness of the community.
Community as the fraternal sharing of life according to the Rule of St. Augustine.
Poverty as the community of goods that is characterized by simplicity, moderation, justice and charity.
Hospitality as the ministry that welcomes and helps guests in the community and witnesses the Gospel to them.
Ministry as the response to the needs of the local and universal Church through the ordained and lay ministries and the use of community resources.

To throw well, you have to bring your hand behind.  (Mossi)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 17

Community  July 17

Community meals should be seen as special opportunities to experience and further the spirit of fellowship (Const. 19.2).

The table gives a consistent rhythm for assembling the family and promoting its formation.  The offering of sacrifices of adoration to God in the history of religions had a meal dimension.  The Passover of the Jews began with a meal and that meal is commemorated every year.  Hospitality is often exercised by an invitation to the table.  The Jewish messianic expectation was envisioned as a banquet of tasty foods and fine wines.  Jesus sat often at table as a gesture of friendship (Bethany) or solidarity (house of Levi).  The inauguration of his Passion took place at table and its efficacy is always realized at the Eucharistic Banquet.  At the final hour, Jesus will knock and, if anyone hears his voice and opens the door, he will enter and eat together with that person.  At the table of religious, we find formation, sharing and relaxation.  There we pray, organize life, discuss ideas, share sorrows, resolve conflicts, encourage one another, give counsel, welcome guests, laugh and even do penance.  At community meals, we are nourished on many levels.  Times at table are privileged moments for the formation of the community and everyone at table is there as a formator.

A young man is not killed by hunger but rather by lack of friendship.  (Burundi)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 16

Community  July 16

Whenever you go out, walk together, and when you reach your destination, stay together (Rule of Augustine 20).

To go two-by-two is not strange to the Scriptures.  The first to follow Jesus were the two disciples of John and two pairs of fishermen.  In the parables, there were two debtors, two inheriting sons, two sons who were sent, two men at the Temple praying.  There were possessed and blind people in two’s that benefited from Jesus’ healing.  The gathering of at least two people for prayer was efficacious.  Two men were talking with Jesus at the Transfiguration.  There were two ambitious disciples.  At the final hour, people will be surprised in two’s in bed, in the field, at the mill.  Jesus sent his disciples out two by two on mission and there were two disciples looking for the Cenacle.  There were two false witnesses in Jesus’ trial.  Alongside the crucified Jesus, two thieves hung.  There were two angels in human form at the empty tomb, two apostles who ran to it.  There were two disciples on the road to Emmaus and two celestial men at the Ascension.  Two candidates were proposed to succeed Judas.  In the Book of Revelation, two true prophets encouraged the believers while two false prophets tortured them.  In effect, people come together in the truth and in the lie, in bad times and good, in virtue and sin, in work and laziness, in the search for life and death, in glory and dishonor.  Why not this kind of solidarity for doing the business of the Kingdom?

One follows the way better with company.  (Shi)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 15

Community  July 15

It is fully in accord with our ideal of life in community that much freedom be allowed to the provinces and individual local communities in specifying the details of their daily life within the framework of our proper law (Const. 18.1).

In the history of the Order, the local community always had the preeminent place in the structure of the organization.  The local community is considered the place where Crosier life is lived in its essence.  Among the various chapters of the Order, it is the local community chapter that is honored as the most vital, because it is there that the confreres give concrete expression to the charism of the Order and live it out daily.  The other chapters, General and Provincial, more legal in character and convoked less frequently, depend on the local chapters for their vitality and effectiveness.  It is in the local chapter that the principle of subsidiarity is realized, a principle so dear to the Constitutions:  life ought to be regulated first at the level it is lived before involving or imposing the intervention of a higher authority.  In this perspective, the universal law of the Order recognizes the rights of provinces and, especially, of local communities to find their own form of the life of the charism.  That demands of every confrere a sense of personal and irreplaceable responsibility.

Only the person who lives in the village can tell you what happens there.  (Bagumbu)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 14

Community  July 14

Our community, however, will realize this prophetic function only when fellowship and true brotherly love define our lives (Const. 15.3).

How shameful to be discovered as a hypocrite!  Actions do not correspond with words.  Behavior contradicts commitment.  The hypocrite mocks the other people around.  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites because you clean the outside of the cup and dish while inside they are full of plunder and intemperance” (Mt 23:25).  Hypocrisy can infect a religious community.  The shell—buildings well built and signed by the Cross, actions of prayer, structures for living, ministerial outreach—could mask an interior life of moral disorder, ritualism, interpersonal coldness and self-serving service.  Everything becomes a fraud:  the community walks around disguised in signs of exterior consecration, but without contributing to the advancement of the Kingdom.  Such misconduct, often historically connected with the practice of poverty, is not a stranger to Crosier life, particularly in the 15th and 19th centuries.  The Order can never repeat such scandals of hypocrisy again.  To avoid them, there must be an ongoing serious communal practice of examining the interior life of the community.  Such an examination should include careful attention to two groups:  those who are the happy beneficiaries of an authentic witness on our part and those who are the duped victims of our fraud.  

Leopard skin is beautiful; but inside it there is war.  (Luba)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 13

Community  July 13

If your brother, for example, were suffering a bodily wound that he wanted to hide for fear of undergoing treatment, would it not be cruel of you to remain silent and a mercy on your part to make this known? (Rule of St. Augustine 26).

A great strength of the Rule of St. Augustine is that it is based on the personal experience of the saint.  The entire time before his conversion, Augustine knew much weakness.  He felt vulnerable to the society around him and to his friends.  He knew failure.  The way to full conversion was difficult.  After his conversion, he recognized with great compassion that his friends in the community were not angels.  (In the group of Jesus’ disciples, eleven were indulgent toward the one who was thief and traitor, remarked Augustine!)  This realism led him to a very strong teaching about fraternal correction.  On his own religious journey, Augustine was greatly helped by persons who served as healers of his soul, among them his mother.  To encourage his community, the Rule makes reference to medical intervention as the model of spiritual intervention.  Deadly wounds are deadly wounds, even if the sick person denies it.  And death does not come just from bodily illness.  If a healer remains indifferent, he becomes an assassin.

The woman who hides her pregnancy dies because of the child.  (Bamileke)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 12

Community  July 12

(The Crosier) accepts community life as his dearest and most immediate apostolate (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

Lord, it is enough for me to remain with my brothers, witnessing to the salvation offered by the Cross of Christ to the world.

It suffices for me to participate in the community project, to give example of a human life of integrity in our times.

Is there something other than this to do, another mission to realize, a more urgent work to accomplish?

I am content to participate in a sharing community in a world ravaged by greed, in a family of chaste love in the midst of unbridled eroticism, in a brotherhood of listening to the Spirit in the face of the abuse of human power.

It is more than enough to celebrate the mysteries of Christ before the eyes of a world liberated from God, to live well with my confreres before the peoples of the nations inflamed by hatred and to leave the monastery to be in solidarity with those who suffer in a society without compassion.

Thank you, Lord, for having called me to Crosier community life.

Take on only one task; thus its weight will suit you.  (Luba)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 11

Community  July 11

. . . each one of us is obliged to an unceasing effort to understand and respect our brothers for the unique person that each is (Const. 15.1).

The watchman of the prophet Ezechiel, chapters 3 and 33, is charged by God to keep the people on guard against dangers from two sides.  The well-being of the people can be threatened by the infidelity of the people to the Word of God.  It is for the watchman to alert the people to that.  At the same time, the happiness of the people can be intimidated by enemies outside the people.  It is for the watchman to inform them of that.  If the watchman does not speak the truth on his watch, he will be help responsible for all the harm that comes to the people.  In religious life, the confreres are like watchmen for mutual well-being.  Each must be concerned for the welfare of the other and of all.  When there is danger, the confrere as watchman must sound the alarm at the first sign.  He does that by speaking the truth in complete honesty and with love for the person concerned or for the community.  Listen to the word of Jesus:  “The truth will make you free” (Jn 8:32).  The truth warns of danger and gives the opportunity to those who are threatened to escape.  The watchman speaks because, otherwise, the destruction that results will fall on his own head.

A lighted torch never goes out when it has a keeper.  (Nande)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 10

Community  July 10

. . . we must guard against our falling into pure routine. If its work is to be effective, the entire life of the community, its common prayer, life, and work, must again and again be critically examined in the light of our special sources of inspiration, and above all in the light of the Gospel and its actualization in today’s world (Const. 8.2).

If I am a community member sensitive to its tradition and ready to defend it, I am important to the good functioning of the community.  On the other hand, if I am a member open to innovation and ready to initiate it, I am also important for the common good.  And if I find myself somewhere in between these two strong orientations, I have my importance, too.  In fact, a community must have a large range of postures about organizational change.  Such richness helps the group to avoid a “digging in” that fossilizes it, as well as an absence of form that causes it to dissipate.  Conservatives invite to fidelity, while innovators invite to creativity.  In the end, these inclinations together contribute to creative fidelity (or faithful creativity!) in the direction of the community.  It is routine that sounds the alarm that vital community dynamics are not at work and that the community’s existence is being threatened.

A man went alone to the plantation; he brought back fruit that wasn’t ripe.  (Akye)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 9

Community  July 9

Sharing life with our brothers means to be willing to hear one another, to be open in our dealings with one another, to be ready to lay aside individual preferences (Const. 14.5).

Communication is the fraternal bridge to the other.  The maintenance of this bridge comes from dialogue, which makes demands.  Initiative:  we don’t wait passively for the approach of the other but make the effort to initiate contact.  A person does not just stay on his or her own side of the bridge.  Transparency:  what is said in words should conform to what is inside the person.  We do put up obstacles on the bridge.  Humility:  the other person has value and that person’s communication can have more value than mine.  One does not play the tyrant on the bridge.  Patience:  everybody is weak, afraid and inept and needs time and courage.  We do not despair on the bridge.  Skill:  we learn little by little the effective techniques of communication.  We are not careless in crossing the bridge.  Confidence:  one must have a strong sense of identity and respect for the good will of the other person.  A person does not weaken the bridge.  Courage:  we discover our own limitations and see those of others.  We do not flee the bridge.  Responsibility:  we leave the dialogue with revelations about the other in our hands.  One does not destroy the bridge.

A family matures through conversation.  (Bayombe)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 8

Community  July 8

His (Augustine’s) example invites us to live together in a multi-racial community, where every confrere goes beyond his prejudices (Regional Congolese Statutes 1.10).

The Rule of St. Augustine  was written as a guide for Gospel living for communities made up largely of members from different social and economic, even cultural, backgrounds.  The ideal of Augustine was to attract all sorts of people to the Christian community so that it could witness to the possibility of being of “one in heart and soul in search of God.”  All that is very evident in the Rule, which concentrates on the formation of community among persons of different origins.  According to the spirit of Augustine, it is not homogeneity of members of the community that should be sought to make for an easy community experience.  Quite the contrary, in the spirit of the universal love of Christ, welcoming a diversity of persons is necessary for fashioning a community.  That happens by the power of the Spirit rather than just by human effort.  The Rule is an effective aid for the formation of multi-cultural communities whose challenges are quite difficult.  The Rule is also particularly helpful for religious life in the Southern Hemisphere because it was written in Africa and for such a context.

If the drums aren’t together, they don't know how to resonate.  (Yaka)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 7

Community  July 7

Our commitment demands a continuous fidelity to our brothers and to our common will to live and work together (Const. 14.2).

During his life before his conversion. St. Augustine was known to be a social man, always in the company of his friends, often in unworthy pursuits together.  The “community” tendency marked his whole life, especially after his conversion in 384.  In 386, he went to Cassiascium in North Africa with friends and his son, Adeodatus, to live a community life in search of the meaning of Christianity.  In 389, he returned to his home town to replicate the community life at Cassiascium with his friends.  As bishop in 395, he continued the development of community life with friends.  The place of friendship in his communities is remarkable.  Friendship between two persons is based on a common project, e.g., the pleasure of a hobby or the sharing of work.  It is the shared project that attracts the one to the other and brings them closer over time, towards being “one soul and one heart.”  For Augustine the common project was “the search for God.”  It was this shared passion which sustained true friendship for him and which became the base for Augustinian religious life.

It's fraternal union that kills the leopard.  (Shi)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 6

Community  July 6

By our acceptance of this, our common rule of life, or Constitutions, we incorporate our lives and persons into the community of the brethren of the Holy Cross . . . (Const. 1).

Chapter 1.  Our community ideal.  May we live as Christians together, faithful to our cherished patrimony!
Chapter 2.  The vows.  Make us free, Christ, for the witness and work of your Kingdom!
Chapter 3.  Prayer.  Nourish us, Lord, in the commemoration of your mysteries of love!
Chapter 4.  Other aspects of daily life.  May all our activities be directed to you!
Chapter 5.  The apostolate.  Inspire us by the love of your Cross to serve well the needs of our brothers and sisters!
Chapter 6.  Formation.  Cultivate in us, Spirit, the vision and the ability for Gospel life and service!
Chapter 7.  Members and local communities.  May we commit ourselves to co-responsibility in your call.
Chapter 8.  The Provinces.  Make of our diversity, Father, an enrichment for the accomplishment of your Kingdom!
Chapter 9.  The universal Order.  May our collaboration affirm and give rebirth to the unity and peace of the human family!
General Directives.  Keep us always flexible to respond to the “signs of the times”!

Wise words are like sugarcane that one doesn’t stop sucking on.  (Madagascar)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 5

Community  July 5

. . . we must remember that the sick and aged deserve our special attention (Const. 13.4).

There are two ways we give attention to our sick and aged in the community.  First, we care for their needs.  This begins with the effort to understand well what they suffer and to stand with them in that.  They have many questions and feelings about the origin and causes of their sufferings, about where their life is going, about their sense of personal value in fragility.  They suffer emotionally as well as physically.  Our empathy moves us to do everything possible with available resources to meet their needs at every level.  Finally, we should encourage them in their vulnerability with the hope of the Glorious Cross of Christ.  But there is another way we attend to these confreres.  It is like the attention we give to preachers.  These confreres, in their weaknesses, remind us of the great mystery of human destiny.  Because of sin, we all live with the sentence of mortality.  In our weaker brothers, we get a graphic view the effects of sin in the world.  At the same time, their sufferings remind us of the suffering of Jesus who saved us.  Seeing them, we see him.  Their weakness helps us contemplate the great act of the love of God in Christ who took on our burdens.  We are touched again by the mystery of the Cross that leads us to Resurrection.  Our sick and elderly brothers in the community become proclamations of the Paschal Mystery before our very eyes.  We should pay attention to them.

It's the guardian of the heir that knows the value of the inheritance.  (Balari)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 4

Community  July 4

(The Crosier) knows the Rule of Augustine, the Constitutions of the Order and the Provincial and Regional Statutes (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

From the dawn of history, humanity has received law as the guarantor of the life and happiness it seeks.  Even in the Garden of Eden, limits were drawn for Adam and Eve.  “Because the day you eat of the fruit, you will certainly die” (Gn 2:17).  After their fall, the way to life was illumined by the Law of Sinai.  “The soul that sins will die” (Ez 18:20).  Jesus defined the law of life in terms of following his discipline of Gospel love.  “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (Jn 11:26).  St. Augustine gave even more concrete legislation to his sons in their communal search for life in God, taking account at the same time of the vulnerability of their humanity.  “May the Lord allow you to observe these prescriptions with love . . . giving off in your life the good odor of Christ” (Rule 8.1).  The Constitutions, which flow from the Gospel and the Rule, connect religious life with general law of the Church, while preserving the particular traditions of the Order.  With striking confidence, in the traditional rite of Crosier profession, the superior responds to the confrere professing to follow the Rule and Constitutions, “Do this and I promise you eternal life.”  Law serves life.  Each province, region and community has the right to adapt its religious life to the local situation.  Thus, vital obedience pays attention to the law of the Order and takes care that the law truly remains the guarantor of life.

Near the lamp, one is enlightened. (Proverb)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 3

Community  July 3

The three vows are a particular realization of the one Christian love, which is the pulse of our community and the goal of our work (Const. 10.5).

In Crosier life, the vows are the expressions of communio.  They are about relationship with God, with the confreres and with the world around us.  Poverty establishes relationship with God as the Great Benefactor, chastity with the One who is Love and obedience with the Ultimate Planner.  The vows also put us in relationship with our confreres.  By the profession of poverty, we take to heart the needs of our confreres and make them priorities in our life.  Living life responding to their needs is to enter into an enduring relationship with them.  To live chastity is to be open to fraternal friendship.  The vow of chastity concretizes brotherly love by the daily practice of solidarity with the confreres.  Obedience establishes fraternal relationship through adult commitment to continual listening and dialogue.  To act together collegially constitutes community life.  Finally, the vows create relationship with people in the world by an availability to meet their needs, by welcoming each man as a brother and each woman as a sister and by attending to their appeals to bring about the Kingdom of God.  In effect, the vows facilitate community at every level of life.

The person always alone is a sorcerer.  (Nande)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

TableTalk, 13th Sunday A

In our first reading today from the Second Book of Kings, we can relearn an important lesson about God and God’s relationship with us.

The Old Testament story is told of an influential Shunemite woman who opened her home to the prophet Elisha as he was ministering in the area.  She recognized Elisha’s holiness and wanted to be supportive of him.  She arranged for a room for him in her house.  Elisha was grateful and asked his servant Gehazi if there was something the woman needed.  “Yes, indeed,” he said, “she has no son and her husband is aging.”  Elisha called the woman and predicted to her that, within in the year, she would be a mother.

Our Gospel reading today gives us a way to interpret the story of Elisha and the Shunemite woman.  Jesus says, “Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet's reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward.”   This is to clarify for his listeners that if a person is generous with someone representing God, that person is being generous with God and God will be generous with the person in return.  When a servant of God receives welcome from someone, that person will be rewarded.  So it went with the Shunemite woman.  She hospitably received the prophet Elisha and was granted her deepest wish to have a son.  This says something similar to what the Scriptures say in another place, “God loves a cheerful giver.”

It is interesting to note that the prophet or righteous person Jesus is speaking about in today’s Gospel is really the Christian disciple.  To be disciples of Jesus, persons make radical decisions about their lives, like Jesus did.  Jesus says that worthy disciples make him their number one relationship:  “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”  The disciple makes a relationship commitment with Jesus like Jesus made with his Father.  But there is something even more radical about discipleship.  Disciples leave themselves open to whatever consequences in life the relationship with Christ brings them.  This is the kind of openness Jesus spoke about to his Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, “if this cup cannot pass me by, your will be done.”  Such openness meant for Jesus, of course, going to his death on a Cross.  Jesus describes a similar commitment for discipleship:  “whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.”

As the disciple identifies with Jesus by a radical life decision for him, Jesus, who has made his own radical decision for his Father, identifies totally with the disciple.  The disciple becomes interchangeable with Jesus. When you see one, you see the other.  Jesus explains, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

So the disciple is someone who is the presence of Jesus and of the one who sent him.  And however anyone acts toward the disciple, he or she is acting toward Jesus and the Father.  “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”  Whenever someone receives Jesus as a prophet or a righteous man, that person is rewarded.  Whenever people receive the disciple as a prophet or righteous person, they are rewarded.  Jesus is clear, “whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

To receive the disciple is to receive Jesus and his Father.  To be hospitable to the disciple is to be hospitable to God—and God responds with divine generosity.

What is interesting about this identification between the disciple and Jesus is that just the presence of the disciple is an invitation to people to be generous with God.  Elisha’s presence was an invitation to the Shunemite woman to be generous to God through her generosity to him.  And she was.  And she was rewarded.  As you and I move about in the world, we are an invitation to all we meet to be generous with God.  And if they are, they experience God’s generosity in return.  Just the presence of someone so radically identified with Jesus is an invitation to others to open out to God and be blessed.

As disciples of Jesus, we think a lot about service, about strategies for using our gifts for the Kingdom.  But we do not often think that our simple presence in a crowd is sometimes the magic that opens people to God, invites generosity to God and becomes the occasion for blessing for them.  What I am saying is that we can easily forget that our simple presence can be sacramental to others, that when we show up as Jesus would show up, a spiritual opportunity is present to those around us.  Long before we even do or say anything, the radical image of Christ in us can itself begin the process of evangelization and conversion and the reception of God’s blessing.

Long before we develop skills for ministry, long before the concrete plans are made to be of help to people, our presence alone is a gift of grace.  “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”  If you and I as disciples stay radically attached to Jesus, if you and I grow our hearts for loving to death, we are already in service of a world searching for God.  Our simple presence will spark recognition of goodness, truth and beauty deep in the hearts of other human beings.  Who we are, the way we are present, can already open people to new relationship with God.  We are sacraments long before we open our mouths or engage in helpful service.  The presence of the “little ones,” the prophets, the righteous persons Jesus speaks of in the Gospel today, is the beginning of God’s blessing on human lives.

The great challenge for us, of course, is to personally cultivate our identity with Jesus and his Father.  We cannot show up as disciple when we are not.  How deep is our personal love for Christ and how ready are we for whatever love will ask of us?  This is our first formation, to become ever more radical in our relationship with Christ and ever more open to the Cross.  When I am like that inside, it will be noticed.  It will have social effect.  And others who welcome us will experience the reward of their welcome.  The is the “newness of life” Paul speaks about today in our second reading from Romans.

This Eucharistic moment is a time for us to make more radical our relationship to Jesus and deepen our openness to loving others to the death.

Parable and Conscience Meditation July 2

Community  July 2

The Crosier as Canon Regular follows the canonical life based on the balance of the three pillars:  liturgy (communion with God), community life (communion with the confreres) and apostolate (communion with the people) (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

The Spirit has inspired many different forms of consecrated life throughout the history of the Church.  Among other religious charisms, the classic forms are the monastics, the mendicants, the apostolic congregations and the Canons Regular like the Crosiers.  Each of these families has its own characteristics.  The distinctiveness of the style of Canons Regular is found in the balance between three commitments to communio, that is, communion with God through liturgical prayer, communion with the confreres through community life and communion with the people of the world through the apostolate.  These communions, in fact, are one, an indivisible “trinity”:  to be in communion with God is not authentic without at the same time being in communion with the confreres and with the people of the world.  To live in balance, then, means to maintain these three commitments in such a way that the practice of one does not diminish the practice of the others.  Communio remains whole.

You can´t separate the fingernail from the finger.  (Cameroun)