July – That the CLM, in their forthcoming continental meetings, may allow themselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit and so respond generously to the needs of the people they meet in the various countries. Lord hear us.
The Comboni Lay Missionaries of Guatemala are concerned with the proclamation of the Kingdom in an integral way: being there, teaching, evangelizing with doctrine and witness, sharing some bread, some refreshments, giving a little monthly help, both in Santa Cruz Chinautla and in the Chispuditos programme. Our material resources are few, however, God has allowed us to remain in his works, our greatest resource is the desire to proclaim God’s love.
Love, the driving force, the charism of Comboni, the way:
“We will have to work hard, sweat, die; but thinking that one sweats and dies is for the love of Jesus Christ and the salvation of the most abandoned souls in this world, I find the necessary consolation not to give up in this great undertaking“.
(St. Daniel Comboni)
These times of COVID, in which it is forbidden to “be” with people, to “tire and sweat”, literally, is not possible. This has been a time for reflection, for reorganization of the mission, it has been necessary to make an effort to discover, with God’s help, how it is possible to announce Jesus from the “passivity” of our house. At the beginning of the pandemic, uncertainty, some optimism as well, we thought it would be a matter of only a couple of months, we have been here for three months already, and the health crisis currently being experienced in our country is going through the most critical days.
It has become necessary to find a way to at least take something… however little it may be… Fr. Roberto, parish priest of Santa Cruz Chinautla, told us. This suddenly makes us feel as if we were some kind of philanthropists, and not missionaries announcing Jesus. It was time to be on the social networks to raise funds, and to bring only things, not presence, not sharing time, not “be”. It seems that we are carrying out the mission in the style of Comboni, half way.
The Catechism of the Church says: “With the help of the Holy Spirit, Christians must distinguish between the growth of the Kingdom of God and the progress of the culture and promotion of society in which they are involved. This distinction is not a separation. Man’s vocation to eternal life does not suppress but rather reinforces his duty to put into practice the energy and means received from the Creator to serve justice and peace in this world”. (CEC 2820)
In other words, the Church shows that we are on the right path. And I offer, together with the present missionary action, the following prayer:
“Lord, more than the material, make people receive hope, and believe in your love and in your presence always, especially in the most difficult moments“.
“…Holy and capable. The one without the other is worth little to the one who follows the apostolic career. …The missionary must go to heaven accompanied by saved souls. And although they must first of all be holy, that is, completely free from sin and offense against God, and humble, this is not enough: they need to have charity, which is what makes them capable”. (St. Daniel Comboni)
To be formed is to be configured to the Heart of Jesus the Good Shepherd
“What is your name?… Go to your home and family and announce to them what the Lord has done for you and the mercy he has shown you”. (Mark 5,9 ff)
“In the mystery of the Heart of Christ, the missionary contemplates, in their fullest expression, Christ’s innermost attitudes and makes them his own: his unconditional giving of himself to the Father, his all-embracing love for the world and his involvement in human suffering and poverty” (RV 3.2)
“Formation must, as a priority, concern itself with interior motivations and educate towards facing, with creativity, competence and flexibility, the challenges emerging from new situations” (Ratio Fundamentalis 113)
In communion with all humanity, this year we are celebrating the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the extraordinary context of the COVID-19 pandemic that is still causing so much that is tragic and sorrowful all over the world. With confidence in God, we address an invitation to the whole Institute to contemplate the Heart of Jesus while opening our hearts to the mystery of his love so that this mystery may touch us deeply, free us from all the forces that keep us imprisoned and isolated and may help us to be faithful to our consecration and our mission.
As missionary disciples we enter the school of the Heart of Jesus who, in his humanity, reveals to us the Heart of God – the Heart of the Good Shepherd who goes out, approaches the poor, the suffering and the marginalised, inviting them to emerge from their isolation and their incommunicability, prepared for communication and a quality encounter with God, with others and creation. It is about participating in that love that always communicates itself, and that, if it is received by the beloved, always gives life, brings about growth and educates in the sense of the Latin word educere, which means bringing out what is best in the human being.
It’s important to remember that this encounter with Christ sets in motion a process of conversion, of formation and transformation, or better still, of “Christification” that lasts a lifetime and must touch the heart. The content of our initial and ongoing formation consists of the holiness and transformation of the person into Jesus Christ according to the dual complementary orientation of the sequela and imitatio Christi. Therefore, to be converted into another Christ is for us a privilege granted us by God’s mercy and grace and, at the same time, a responsibility that commits us to the coherence of life with the pressing and incessant question: “What would Christ and Comboni have done in this same historical situation of mine?“.
It is Christ who, with his merciful heart, takes the initiative of asking each one of us “What is your name?”,as he did of the possessed man referred to in the passage above.Toknow a person’s name, according to the Hebrew mind, means entering into the depths of his personal life. This question shows his interest in us as people loved by God and helps us, on the one hand, to reinterpret what is within and around us so as to discover where our hearts lie, who we really are and, on the other, shows us the Heart of Christ full of love, compassion acceptance and tenderness.
As Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, both in our initial and ongoing formation, it remains the commitment of the person and of the Institute to cultivate, deepen and contextualise our spirituality of the Heart of Jesus so that our whole life may increasingly adhere to the “programme” contained in our name.
It is Christ who, with his welcoming heart, shows his full trust in others, no matter what their situation, values them and restores them to their communities, to their homes, symbols of places of hope, of cordiality and human warmth. Life is made up of quality communications and relations. Saint Daniel Comboni speaks of the Institute “as a Cenacle of Apostles, a centre of light sending out so many rays that shine, giving warmth and revealing together the nature of the Centre from whom they emanate” (cf. Writings: 2648). Our hope is that the Heart of Jesus may truly be a Centre of communication among all the confreres and that we may make of fraternal communication an instrument for building bridges, to unite us and share the beauty of being brothers in mission, in an epoch marked by contrasts, division and indifference.
Lastly, as we reflect this year on the theme of ministeriality in the Institute, let us pray that the contemplation of the Heart of Christ may help us to live the mission, not superficially as a role to be filled but as a service to the Kingdom of God and an expression of a process of kenosis and decentralization. We wish you all a Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart!
The General Secretary of Formation and the MCCJ General Council.
Among the novelties brought about by this sadly famous Covid-19 pandemic is that it does not give much room for charitable action or heroism in favour of others. In old times of plague, whoever chose to do so could dedicate himself totally to the plague-stricken even at the risk of his life. This was done by people who were later declared saints, such as Louis Gonzaga, King Louis of France or Daniel Comboni. But that’s now forbidden. We are in a super-organized society that acts according to scientific hygiene criteria, and what we are told is that the best way to help others is to stay at home to reduce the risks of contagion. However, there is always room for generosity, even in times of coronavirus.
I say all this from a corner of Africa where, thank God, the coronavirus has not “yet” arrived and where government measures of isolation are not as draconian as they have been in Europe. But we are still conditioned in many ways by the virus, which is like a sword of Damocles that hangs menacingly over our heads.
I live in the mission of Gilgel Beles, in Ethiopia, with two young Comboni lay missionaries, one Spanish and the other Portuguese, who arrived here a year ago. Nothing was known about the coronavirus at that time, and they came full of enthusiasm to do many things for others. They gave themselves without measure in services such as teaching everything they were capable of teaching, visiting the villages, taking the sick who fell in their path to the health center… They worked hard to make the most of the brief two-year period of their stay.
Then, unexpectedly, in the middle of the work, so to speak, came the coronavirus. Many organizations called on their members to return to the nation of origin. They too were called. If they stayed, it was their responsibility. And they did not hesitate in their choice: they remained “on their own responsibility”, even when the mother of one of them is awaiting a delicate cancer operation and even when they themselves are afflicted by continuous attacks of typhus and typhoid fever, which weaken both of them…
And here they are. As I said, it’s not that the containment measures are particularly harsh. The range of movement is still quite wide, at least as long as the first contagions don’t show up in our area.
However, the whole rhyme of the activities has suffered. With academic life totally paralyzed and meetings banned, they can no longer teach groups and the library that they had opened no longer has any customers.
Despite all these limitations, they try to resist to the limit. They have become attached to these people and, although they cannot do many things “for them”, they can be “with them”. And they feel that the simple presence in these moments of tribulation is a value that in itself justifies both coming and staying as long as possible.
Fr. Juan González Núñez
From Gumuz, Ethiopia
“We would wish to share with you the following remarks. Our Comboni Family (MCCJ-CLM-CMS-SCM) has a long and valuable tradition of engagement in various pastoral activities with a strong social dimension. We also have a well-established history of 12 years of participation in the World Social Forum and the Comboni Forum “
“… In the 2018 Comboni Forum, held in Salvador de Bahia (Brazil) on the occasion of the World Social Forum, the participants suggested that all members of the Comboni Family engaged in social ministry could reflect on their activities. To look at this ministry from the light of the Gospel and of our specific Charism, the participants proposed an analysis and evaluation all the activities in which we are engaged. At our recent meeting of the two General Councils in April 2019 and of the General Administrations of the four branches of the Comboni Family in June 2019, we welcomed this proposal and we decided to create a commission that could draw up a roadmap and coordinate the various activities to implement the proposal… “
The nominated commission consists of:
Daniele Moschetti, (firstname.lastname@example.org), mccj
Sr. Hélèn Israel Soloumta Kamkol (email@example.com), smc
Marco Piccione (Venegono): (firstname.lastname@example.org), lmc
Sr. Maria Teresa Ratti (email@example.com), smc
Fernando Zolli (firstname.lastname@example.org), mccj
What is reported is an extract from the letter with which the general superior of the MCCJ (P. Tesfaye Tadesse) and the general superior of the Comboni Sisters (Sr. Luigia Coccia) communicated at the same time the birth of the commission for the ministry and the purposes of this commission.
Over the months, some people have added to the commission who have made an indispensable contribution in terms of experience and knowledge in order to achieve the most complete and exhaustive possible work.
The three concrete activities that the commission had undertaken to achieve its objectives are:
- Map all the social ministerial activities of the Comboni Family
- Publish the 2nd volume, which follows the 1st from the title: “Be the change you want to see in the world”
- Organize participation in the World Social Forum (FSM) 2020
For the first activity many of you have already been involved and we take this opportunity to thank you for your valuable contribution. From the collection of all the files received by the commission, a database will be drawn up thanks to which it will be possible to have a photograph of all the social and JPIC activities in which the Comboni family is engaged in the world.
But this post wants, above all, to give you the good news that has been completed and that is now available, the 2nd volume of the book on social ministry of the Comboni family entitled “WE ARE MISSION: witnesses of social ministry in the Comboni family“, which presents with more detailed informations, some projects in which fathers, brothers, sisters, seculars or lay people are engaged and which have been considered particularly significant to illustrate the methods and style to live the aspect of the Comboni charism which provides for a concrete social commitment. Alongside the presentation of these projects, there are some reflections from witnesses who will certainly be able to help in reflection and discernment on these issues that are so important and, I would say, characterizing our being Combonians.
The book is available in four languages (Italian, English, French and Spanish). It will be distributed in the Comboni houses but some copies will be reserved for the laity.
Unfortunately, the last activity foreseen for the commission, namely the participation in the WSF initially scheduled for 2020, is currently pending. In fact, due to the sad health situation that is affecting the whole world, the forum has been postponed to 2021.
Instead, the forum of the Comboni family usually scheduled immediately after the WSF, it was decided to do it in another period. At this time, it has been set from 12 to 16 December 2020.
Hoping that the tool of the book will help us in our daily mission and in feeling even more family united by the gift we have received of the Comboni charism, we greet you and send you our best wishes and prayers so that even from this difficult moment we can get out more fortified in faith and in the certainty of being accompanied by a God who walks with us.
Marco Piccione, CLM