The time that we spend in community is lived as a period of preparation for mission.
The breaking away from the daily routine, work, sharing with friends, family, the priorities that define us in a consumeristic society, etc. Everything changes in order to arrive at a subsistence society. It is done by making us rethink what in fact are our true priorities and/or necessities.
Remaining always focused on mission with our eyes fixed on Jesus, our community planning begins when we realize the richness we have, the experience of one and the illusion of another, that allow us to overcome the challenges facing us.
Fear, discouragement while learning a language, the insecurity of not being able to answer the expectations and the needs of the mission, difficulties in adapting and all the other thoughts that at times overwhelm us, can be quickly conquered with moments of mutual respect, prayer and sharing.
In our efforts for mutual understanding, laughter follows, painting our hearts in many colors, of love and joy.
Tere and Cristina. International formation community in Portugal.
This last Tuesday, the Spanish CLM Teresa Monzón arrived in Portugal. She is in Braga going through an experience of community with the CLM Cristina Sousa. They are both studying in Braga, but dealing with different languages: Portuguese for Tere and French for Cristina.
We welcome Tere with great joy and we feel united also to this community. Let us pray that in it life giving fruit will rise, “life in abundance.”
Last week I visited the Lisanga community in Granada. This time the formation was in Spanish, which paradoxically was a drag because most of the material I had was either in English or in Portuguese, but it turned out well in view of having the material available in various languages.
This is always a special time for me: To leave the office, away from e-mails and video-conferences and have the opportunity to share personally with our CLM. In this case it was with David and Aitana, Spanish CLM, and especially with Paula and Neuza, Portuguese CLM who are in Spain preparing to go to Peru.
David and Aitana are teachers and they were in their last week of classes so they were very busy with exams, evaluations and activities typical of this time. Just the same, they took time to share in some important moments of formation and of the week. They volunteered to welcome and make community with Paula and Neuza during the months thy will be here to study Spanish and to prepare to leave for Peru.
I spent most of my time with Paula and Neuza. We would get up early in the morning to say Lauds and start the day. The first few days we studied Spanish in the morning, but for the rest we took advantage of the first part of the morning to do some sports. We have to keep in shape, as mission requires it of them. Above all, they must be ready to do a lot of walking with the people.
After that, we had plenty of time to talk about mission, about community, to share our Comboni charism, to speak of Church and of the different styles of mission, to get to know more deeply our CLM at the international level and lots of other things.
It is always exciting to share these moments prior to the departure: The worries, the challenges to be faced and above all the trust in the One who calls us by name to serve far away from home.
During this time in Spain many people have shared with them their experiences of mission, have visited them or they themselves were able to visit many Spanish CLM and religious who have served in mission, in Peru and in other places. This way mission becomes community. They are not going on a personal quest, but they are sent as missionaries by our CLM community, which is always present, commits to their formation and follows them as well with prayers. Some commented that we all go to Peru with them.
The week ended with a meeting to evaluate the CLM of the Southern Zone of Spain. I think they felt most welcome by all and by the religious Comboni family of Granada with whom they are sharing lots of time during this month. And for the Southern Zone it was an electrifying moment, because any time mission knocks at our door, it mobilizes us, it animates us, it sets us moving and feeling alive. And so it was here in Spain as well with the preparation of our companions from Portugal.
We pray that all may go well in their mission and we will always be ready to accompany them on this journey of service to our brothers and sisters in Peru.
Just like those who start a journey and leave the comforts of home, we, too, our bags on our shoulders and with hearts full of certainties and doubts, started on our journey… Pilgrims, on a road without beginning or end, through ways and byways and more that had never been tried. We advanced on open grounds, through places full of history, on roads paved with love, we walked with Him, full of Mary.
Within the soul the certainty that we are eternal pilgrims, we are in the fashion of Jesus, simple refugees in search of God, in search of fullness and freedom…
We started off and were born as community in the month of Mary, the month of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Fatima. We feel sent by Mary. We are inspired by her, missionaries of yes. We try to follow her steps. To be missionaries means to feel like Mary, pregnant with Jesus, to be the living tabernacles of Jesus, to carry Jesus.
We are far, but we feel like pilgrims of Love and we feel on a journey with all those who gather in Fatima to celebrate the grace and the compassion of the apparitions of Our Lady together with the Pope. We feel that today, and many other days, Mary appears in our hearts and fills them with Grace, Love and Mercy. We are all called to follow her. We are all called to be missionaries, just like her.
Do not be afraid. For you have found grace before God – so said the angel to Mary. By creating us in his image, God looks at us constantly with boundless tenderness, and finds in each one of us a place where to stay. He calls us. Constantly, he sends angels to us to tell us not to be afraid, that God has found grace in us and calls us to be missionaries of love. And often we answer with, “me? But… Me, Lord?” We look left and right thinking he made a mistake. We, often entrapped by our internal wounds, by our anxieties and in our old ways, prisoners of our wounds and imperfections. We who often doubt about God’s call. Thus we make it impossible to receive the call. Let us have trust! Let us be like Mary, answering Yes, carrying it within us, wherever he wants us to go.
The mission needs us. The mission calls us. The mission is difficult, but if we walk together, hand in hand, we are with God, converted in instruments of God, allowing Him to love us and work through us.
Let us say with Mary: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
Community of “Lisanga”
Aitana, David, Neuza and Paula
New formation community in Granada, Spain (CLM of Portugal and Spain)
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