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The heart of Jesus – mission of compassion

Corazon de Jesus ComboniMoved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said: «Of course I want to, be cured!» (Mk 1:41)

This simple action of Jesus is full of meaning and strongly expresses his attitude towards the marginalised. It is an act of rebellion against injustice that is based on a socio-religious system of exclusion. In this way the Father reveals himself to us (Col 1:5), in a Son who, travelling the roads of Palestine, dares to touch a leper to heal him. Already in the first chapter, Mark reveals to us how Christ, the visible face of God who sent him, is capable of loving, with a heart that overflows with compassion (Mk 1:1).

Devotion to the Heart of Jesus has been, since the beginnings of our Institute, a source of spirituality in which our mission is firmly rooted. Through it we enter into the intimate person of Jesus, his attitudes, his desires and his vision of the new world that the Beatitudes announce. Therefore, their contemplation reveals to us the core of our consecrated life: the central place of the love of God as the key to reading the History of Salvation. It is a love that incarnates itself and defines itself as total passion for humanity (CA 2015, No. 22). Personal prayer is a qualified space for going more deeply into this mystery since it is an intimate encounter with Jesus in humility. In this way it becomes an experience of pardon, acceptance and gratuitousness that transforms us and moulds us according to his Heart.

The Pierced Heart of the Good Shepherd calls us to make a constant gift of ourselves and all that we are. The mission is that of self-offering without expecting anything in return, of pouring out one’s life for others. This is our consecration: to make of our life an instrument of the mercy of the Father incarnate in the charism given to Comboni. Our history, with all its limits and incoherencies, leaves us with the indelible witness of confreres who consumed their life to the end for the sake of the Gospel. Men who allowed themselves to be moulded in a cycle of never ending conversion through the experience of relating to the love of the Father, becoming bread for the hungry and hope for the desperate ones (CA 2015, No. 14).

Mark speaks to us of the life of a man whose principal characteristic is compassion, because this is the face that the Father wanted to show us. His attention to the poorest thus becomes a constituent element of the mission of the Church. This is an aspect that is clearly present in Comboni (W 2647). The contemplation of the Heart of Jesus moves us to being especially close to the excluded and calls us to seek them in new environments where live is relegated to the margins. At the same time, our style of life, which may become an obstacle to the dynamism and flexibility of the mission of today, is questioned. All our activities and reflections must come from below, from contact with humanity nailed to the Cross. This is the most radical expression of the total offering of the Son and is still today very much present in some countries where we operate, countries ravaged by war and other forms of violence. Our missionary presence is a sign of the love that wells up from the Heart of Jesus (RL 3.3).

Comboni, a man marked by the religious experience of his time, developed his own missionary dimension of the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus. The total gift of the Father in the Son is a sign of love that opens us up to new hope. The Kingdom is a programme of the liberation of life in its fullness (W 3323). This deep conviction led him to travel thousands of kilometres on the Nile and in the desert, risking his life because he saw the pierced Christ as a source of life for the remotest. The audacity of our Founder in opening new frontiers of evangelisation is part of our spirituality and mission. Revisiting the Rule of Life is also an opportunity to grow in passion for the Gospel while seeking out those who are forgotten.

The challenges of the world of today render our mission urgent. We live in times of expectations and desire for new political, economic and social structures. There is a deep and sincere search for meaning but it often finds only shallow answers that merely lead to alienation and nihilism. The folly of the Gospel (1 Cor 1:25) transforms the heart and the world; our Institute is still called to travel the road, with the compassion of Jesus and touch the lepers of today.

May the feast of the Sacred Heart give us the grace to continue growing in love.

The General Council, mccj

 

You, me and the us God calls us to be

LMC PeruYou were the community I never chose but with which I always wanted to be. Maybe because in the differences I find a little more of myself, and together we reveal a little more of ourselves.

With you I learned that you do not do mission by yourself, and what I need from you. You crossed my path and even without knowing you opened your heart and accepted me as a companion on our journey, yes, because basically this is a journey we walk every day in this piece of land beyond the realities that we both knew.

You extended your hand when I thought that nothing made sense. I realized, on that night when we prayed together and everything seemed to be crumbling, that God does not make mistakes in his plans for each one of us. You were and you are my support when everything seems hard and difficult. You are a word that does not hide, eyes that speak, you are yourself.

With you I learned the dimension of sharing and of giving, in this triangle of love, in the dynamics of the I, the you, the we.

Many times you are the eyes seeing much beyond what I see. The heart that listens to me, when I need to talk. The arms that hold me and sustain me. The hand that is always there when obstacles appear on the way. God knows why he put you on my way, and now I know it as well. May God help me to watch you and to know how to make sense of your presence in my life and in our journey.

What together we are able to be is what moves this community in search of the mission of Jesus in the world. We are silence, we are laughter, we are criticism and demands, we are limitations and the infinite, we are also the stubbornness of our lives and apprenticeship, we are tears often shared between my crying and your shoulders or embrace. We are often prayers when in silence we look at the reality in which we live.

Come what may, it does not matter. What matters is that in our imperfections we want to be of God.

We are witnesses of those who accept to grow together. We are Andrea and Paola (Paula in her native land), lives that God united to walk in the direction of a love which is learned daily, a love born of mistakes, exercised in prayer, made of silences and often of glances that say it all, made of extended hands and chores shared, of bad moods and stubbornness, of different perspectives and of two ways of acting that complement each other.

We are what each one can give of herself. We are in what you are and teach me to be. We are in what we mutually learn. We are from where we know we come from. Love.

LMC PeruWhen I realized that I was called to mission, I knew that I was being called to be community. In this journey I knew that God was calling me to be community with Andrea, as humbly they call Neuza in Peru. Arriving in Peru I understood that it was time to cross the desert. Even so, when I arrived in Peru I felt happy, totally happy and realized that Andrea was part of this happiness. A happiness filled with obstacles and difficulties, joys and hilarious mistakes, and for all this, complete. When I was called to journey with Andrea I knew and still know that God wants to teach me something through her. We met people in our lives to make us grow, to make us holy, to teach us how to walk and get closer to God. To walk with Andrea demands accepting that there will be complicated and difficult times, but that even in silence she is always there. She knows when you wake up crying and comes to hug you and only returns to bed when she is sure you are alright. She is there looking at you when it seems the world collapsed on you and instinctively she will cry with you to share your sorrow. To live with Andrea is like climbing and descending mountains with a sore stomach from too much laughing. With Andrea I feel capable of facing the greatest difficulties on our journey. With Andrea there is not a boring trip or waiting for a bus. With Andrea there joy in every step in the mission. Andrea puts up with fatigue, pain, and suffering and accompanies me up and down the roads. With Andrea I meet Jesus in every corner. To live with her is a constant learning experience and a journey that I propose to do every day. I am happy and I trust that we are happy even in the days when I am frail and everything looks grey, you are always there at my side to love me just as I am. Just as with the love of God, to be community with Andrea is not easy, but it is enough to know how to love and to be loved. To be community with Andrea reminds me of Pope JPII’s quote, “To love is an act of the will,” because I want to love her every day on each step of our journey.

To live in community and share everything in our lives is not easy. But when we want to and we do it with love and for love, when we do it knowing that it is God who unites us and stays with us at all times, everything is fine. To be community is to be available to walk not in me or in you, but in us. To be community is to stick together in happiness and to share the crosses. To be community is to know how to give space and bear hugs. In community we share the biggest gift God has given us, life. Together, in community, we bring joy to every house we may visit, we pray wherever, we sing wherever and we live in Vila Ecología in the beautiful house we call home.

We are you and me, we are us.

LMC Peru

Ayllu Community , Neuza (Andrea) and Paula (Paola)

The Journey Diary – news from the mission in Peru

LMC PortugalWe share a piece from the Journey Diary of April from the Parish of Christ the King in Vergada. Today we have news from Peru by the CLM Neuza Francisco.

To love is to go out

Since getting here I have discovered love on a daily basis. A love that constantly demanded and demands us to move out, move out from ourselves, from what we already know, that demands a journey. We must love the world and all that in it reflects the love of God. Here I found another way to love, I found a love that is available, simple, born of honesty from what I have and by sharing we make it possible to give and to receive. In a very disinterested way. A love born of growing together, like brothers. Here is where I ardently feel that I must be. It is in these brothers that I daily here the voice of God. It is in the ups and downs of the big mountains surrounding me that I constantly meet smiles, tears, and meet arms awaiting me, eyes reflecting history, a lot of history.

Along these dirt paths where I walk every day, I meet witnesses that convert me and make me thank God, the miracle of life. I am grateful for having been one of his chosen ones. A little at the time, I start knowing not only their faces, their expressions, but their names, their homes, their families. Many times I hear from afar when the call me “Andrea, sister Andrea.” Yes, here we are all brothers and sisters.

Someday I will tell you the story of my name. I feel I am one of them. We are family.

Ah, Peru, who stole my heart!

Sharing what they have, yes, often they give you the little they have and the lot they are. Very often on my way back I carry in my lap half a dozen apples from the man who comes to the seniors meeting, together with a banana from the man who runs a food store, plus corn from one of the families I visited or two or three potatoes from a sick woman.

Each day we accept to grow together. Each visit we accept to carry each other’s cross.  We are words of mutual guidance, we are smiles, we are silences of the confessional, we are tears. We are, as a consequence of being, fragile and many are the times when on our knees we reconcile ourselves with love.

In the humility of each person crossing my path I meet the face of God, a merciful God.

In the daily joys and sorrows I meet the meaning of life. And every time I read it, I see a family, a group of children waiting for me, I see arms, the arms of Christ.

LMC PortugalNueza Francisco, CLM in Mission, in Peru

With Jesus in Mazarronquiari (our mission)

LMC PeruWe arrived in Pangoa with our luggage full of hope and unanswered questions. Where will our mission be? In reality, the Lord has answered in various manners and one answer was for Rosa to be part of this missionary expedition. In prayer we asked the Lord to send missionaries and Rosa, in spite of her difficulties, answered yes. I, too, had some problems, but they were eventually resolved and there was the will of God.

We found the community of Pangoa fully involved in the beginning of the Easter Triduum and this, too, was an answer from God’s will. We made ourselves part of the celebration in the parish. First, we accompanied Fr. Oscar in the celebration of Holy Thursday in San Pablo of Mazarronquiari and then during the way of the Cross in Pangao on Good Friday. In the afternoon we arrived in Santa Teresita, a mission of previous years of which we had heard a lot. We stayed overnight and it was beautiful to celebrate with our brothers in faith in such a remote place. The night came, we ate in a little restaurant and later we shared a bed offered by a neighbor. Before that, we saw a movie that people hardly understood, but it make them laugh.

On Holy Saturday we celebrated again in the parish and prepared to reach our final destination of San Pablo in Mazaronquiari. I was happy to know that we were going to be in a poor and remote place. This was another answer, as the Lord chooses his favorites. Well knowing that we would not be comfortable there, we accepted it in faith.

We arrived on Monday very early because at 7:00am they were going to close the road for repairs. When we arrived it was not clear where we would stay. In reality, it was a space the size of a sports arena with 7 or 8 little houses around it. There was not much to choose. But the coordinator decided to give us a room made of lumber and with a tin roof. It was the best he had. Two neighbors brought six logs and several planks to make pallets on which to sleep. Next to that they placed two logs and a table. So even the kitchen was ready, very simply. We travel light so it was not difficult to make our beds and settle down.

The children arrived in the afternoon and drew us out of our planning because we had to start the catechesis, so that we got into it and started by speaking of God the father and creator. The kids are the engine of our days and steal many smiles from us. They are very attentive to our needs and are ready to give us a hand. Pablo, the founder of the community from whom it takes its name, never ceases to visit us and bring us something to eat such as yucca or local pumpkins. He is very kind. The mothers also send us through their children some fruit or cooked yucca. The problem is to eat it all.

Besides the catechesis we are also organizing celebrations and the rosary. Truly, here what you can theorize upon is very little, and the practice is better, so that a greeting, a conversation, play with the kids or watch a movie is the best witness of Christian love that we can give. This way our catechesis our into a space where to learn about God and develop creativity.

San Pablo de Mazarronquiari

LMC PeruIt is an attachment of the Native Community of Mazarronquiari. It was started by three families who eventually grew and are now 20. For the majority, they are women and children who wear the customary cushma (a tunic). But the young men no longer wear it. They leave to go to work in the morning, the children go to school very early and the women go to the fields or start cooking. Several families do not live at the center, but a 10 or 15 minute walk away. The school can be reached in half an hour walking fast.

The founder, who has been here for about 30 years and was one of the first to get here, tells me about the place. With a proud smile he tells me how they named the place after him. Opening a Catholic church was a characteristic of the place. Other communities have evangelical churches and do not receive a priest well. Here they have two catechists and many people are married in church. It is a sign that the will of God wanted to bring us here to serve them.

Lights and shadows

This is a very young community, the parents are not over 35 and there are children everywhere. They are always smiling and really want to learn despite their needs. They do not seem to notice. Coffee is their main source of income. They plant it and pick it. Yucca is their basic source of food. But fruits are also part of their daily diet.

Education centers, from primary to secondary, are fairly near and available to the children. There they receive breakfast and lunch, a fact that eases family expenses and gives sufficient nutrition to help them study. They all start early and come home around 2:00 or 3:00 pm. The parents do their best to send them and buy the necessary supplies.

However, this is not enough. Here I am realizing that you cannot develop a place by only offering partial solutions rather than integral development. At the end of secondary education, if the girls stay home, they only have one choice, to be young mothers and start a home, repeating the cycle of survival and poverty. I saw two 18 year old girls pregnant and one 17 year old with a child in arms. It surprises me to touch this reality. Especially when one who finished secondary school last year asked me for work and I asked myself what alternative she would have here. She wants to work, but not in the coffee fields, after all why did she complete secondary school?

It is sad to see the lack of opportunities and the big question is: Why study? Is it a salute to the flag just to say that education is obligatory? In the end she left and they eventually found her in a bar of ill repute. Is that where we send them when there are no answers to their concerns? I pray for her, I have no alternative. Her boyfriend is waiting for her to marry her and she cannot aspire to anything more.

Today I asked why they do not roast and grind the coffee. It is more profitable. A young man explained it to me: no one would buy it, because the middlemen want it green… and at low cost. What exploitation! Coffee leaves here at 5.80 per Kg and exporting a Kg is less than 20 soles. But in Miraflores a cup of coffee costs 15 soles. You figure it out. Who profits from the farmer’s toil? Even though they have coffee makers, they cannot sell it. And the only coffee I drink comes from a bag belonging to an international corporation. Contradictions.

The day is coming to an end, but ideas on how to improve people’s lives still swirl through my head. I know that there are projects and investments worth millions, but nothing reaches this far. And the children live with an uncertain future and they only rejoice in that God the Father protects them.

I hope that this experience of sharing life and of seeing close by their hopes and their sufferings will commit me to give with joy my time to proclaim that we have a living God, who knows their pain and has chosen them because he loves justice and exalts the poor. May the Lord give us a heart of flesh to answer his call.

LMC PeruRocío y Rosa. CLM Perú

Mission Experience in Mazaronquiari

LMC PeruWe thank God who allowed us to reach San Pablo in Mazaronquiari. Very early, filled with Easter joy we are here to share life with our brethren in this community. They still look at us with some mistrust, but with the hope that something good will come of it. The manager of this area hosted us in his house and very promptly gave us a bed, some logs and a table for the kitchen. We do not need more and we feel comfortable despite the limitations.

Fr. Oscal, MCCJ has been around these places for ten years already, taking care of the communities of this part of Pangoa. He has given us a specific job, the catechesis of the children. He has already prepared and given the sacraments to the adults, but the children will be our responsibility. It will be a month of intense catechesis.

The children are pure energy, very lively and eager to learn as today the attended the first day of catechesis. The innocence of their eyes gives us courage, for there is no better place to plant the Word. Reflecting on creation and reading Genesis in this beautiful panorama was unsurpassable. We did not need pictures to make them admire the work of God. We sang, played and, what they like the best, they showed their artistic touch by doing drawings on creation.

Today I learned two words, shinana and sarara, meaning women and men. We sang and added the words in nomatsiguenga. The work is relaxed like in the other communities and they usually behave within the limits. Only some of the settler children cause problems.

I have seen cooperation, interest and trust to get the job done.

Therefore let us thank the Lord with a prayer.

LMC PeruRocío y Rosa. CLM Perú

Visit of the CLM international coordinator to Balsas

LMC Brasil

On March 8 of this year, we had the joy of receiving the international coordinator of the CLM, Alberto de la Portilla, on a visit to the Group of Comboni Spirituality of Balsas-MA.

Opportunity that has allowed us to deepen our knowledge of the work carried out by the CLM worldwide.
It was a beautiful sharing that contributed a lot to the strengthening of our group.
Our gratitude and may God bless everyone.
Peace and good
Ortegal
Group of Combonian Spirituality of Balsas