Comboni Lay Missionaries



Yesterday our brother Eric Ezati (Ugandan CLM) pass away. We leave here the last post he sent us from Uganda with a single “Check of this can help anyone”.


Greetings to you all from Uganda the pearl of Africa. Hopefully all is going on well. As you all know currently we are coming to the final stages of our Formation of the three Candidates who God willingly will take place on 12th May 2019.

We had an input about prayer from Fr. Sylvester MCCJ the former Provincial Superior of Uganda who took us through this topic about prayers that I feel we need to share with you all. A lot has been said about prayer and every day we hear about prayer and we are still continue to read about prayers including reading the Spiritual books, prayer books, consulting our Spiritual Directors, we have spiritual retreats and many other sources of spiritual nourishment to improve on our prayer life. Despite all these we feel dry and we imagine that we do not pray well and ask our friends, colleagues and many other people to pray for us. Here we shall share with you what Fr. Sylvester took us through. Hope this information can help us to improve in our prayer life.

He said that prayer is our greatest encounter with God. This encounter can be challenging to understand as the different encounters we meet daily may reflect otherwise of what we intent to do. He brought out this well when he said in life, being religious does not mean you do not follow life in the normal way like any other ordinary people. This is exactly what we hear in the book of Ecclesiastes 3: 1-12 that very clearly explains this in our routine scriptural readings from the Holy Bible. All this should make us to know and understand that our different Apostolate we are involved in is possible because of God but not our own personal and human effort like many times we believe. Our Apostolate depends on what moves in our mind in the whole day, he challenged us that the first person you have in your mind when you wake up in the morning and the last person you will think about before sleeping at night can be a source of your joy or pain. This means if God is not the first person in your mind in the morning and the last in your mind in the evening, it means we still need a lot to work in our daily prayer life. At the end of all these daily routine activities that we do fail, prayer should be the answer and therefore prayer should be our daily vitamin to supplement us in our life activities to be in the right direction towards the Divine being we all want to see face to face one day at the end of our life on this world. We should therefore thirst for God through all our life as Psalm 62(63) says it all. He challenged us to digest this wonderful prayer in our life and achieve this longing for God through prayer in our daily life. He said God can never put our calls on hold, or put them busy no matter what time of the day or night we call to God, he said there is direct phone line to God that does not need Airtime, or phone battery or network congestion like we experience in all our days. He said God is so direct with us unlike human beings whose positive response will depend on the relationship we have with the person who calls us for help. We need to know that God comes to us and talks to us in every way of our life, which can be direct or indirect many times.

Fr. Sylvester challenges us by asking what legacy we are going to leave as an individual when we will die? He also asks us that what our first priority as an individual when we start and end our day? And where does prayer stand in our life? He said that many activities we do including prayer are mostly routine with no deep attachment from our heart and soul which is not good for a good prayerful life. We need a very deep relation like Psalm 62(63) for God to easily take root in our life. There should be new things brought to our life by prayer life and what are these new things that can daily come to our life as a result of prayer life? This point he made us to understand better by asking us to explain the relationship between our two eyes; they blink together, move together, cry together, see together but they never see each other. He said this should be the type of prayer with God in our daily hour but not to leave God in the Church or by the bed side and go back to him when we retire to bed. He said our relationship with God should be like the relationship between a blind wife and a deaf Husband. Above all Fr. Sylvester said that there can be no good prayer life without faith and this prayer life develops through experience we go through with the faith we have in God, which can be either positive or negative in our daily life. He said faith is very central in our experience of prayer and he said if we cannot prove, then we should believe like our Father in Faith Abraham Genesis Chapter 12 and the following. Abraham believed against hope as he had no child but accepted to be the Father of very many descendants.

Therefore, prayer means many things to many people. Allow me to share with you the exact words from his power point presentations which we should endevour to live in our daily lives as CLM, (start of slides):

Varied methods comprise the content of prayer: reciting the psalms alone or with others,

Pondering on the Scripture passages or other sacred texts,

Using repetition such as a word or phrase in centering meditation,

Praying the rosary,

Carrying on a conversation with God,

Walking meditatively,

Enjoying the beauty and wonder of nature,

Using the written prayers of others,

Journaling one’s own reflection and prayer,

Sitting in solitude and contemplation

Joining others for Eucharistic liturgy or participating in other sacramental celebrations,

Reading spiritually oriented books that help one pause to ponder and draw inspiration for communion with God.

And emergency prayer which consists of just one loudly spoken word” HELP”.

Body prayer

Breath prayer, etc.

To pray is to enter into a relationship with God and to have that relationship makes a difference in my life.

A bond is created with someone and that someone is God. Our Source of life continually binds each of us into a loving union. This process of prayer unfolds in a way similar to Jesus inviting his disciples to follow him into deeper friendship, a closeness that did not develop instantly. Prayer is a kind of companionship that develops step by step, as we are drawn into an expanding oneness of love.

Prayer is not only about entering into a relationship with God; it is also about being changed

Healthy prayer strengthens our bond with the Creator and also transforms us.

Where do you stay?

This was the way the disciples expressed their desire to know more about who Jesus was. He answered “come and see” Jn 1: 35 – 42. How often do we ask and come to seek Jesus where he stays in our daily endevours or we look for him on Sundays only?

Prayer is a realization that God has found us. It is allowing God to reach into us, to come alive in us. It respects God’s desire for intimacy and closeness.

Prayer is a realization that God has found us. It is allowing God to reach into us, to come alive in us. It respects God’s desire for intimacy and closeness.

Prayer is a realization that God has found us. It is allowing God to reach into us, to come alive in us. It respects God’s desire for intimacy and closeness.

Francis literally, could go out of his mind for God in a wonderful manner…”IIC 178. II C 95 capsulizes Francis’ entire purpose in life” “All his attention and affection he directed with his whole being to the one thing which he was asking of the Lord, not so much praying as becoming himself a prayer.” This is something we can learn to put prayer in our life all the days we are living and breathing in this world.

                     Prayer above all is falling in Love with God

In human love the following happens:

In everyday life, “falling in love” doesn’t need much “practical help for getting started.” It seems to just happen. Falling in love seems easy.

Sustaining a loving relationship that leads to self-sacrificing love, takes a lot of fidelity.

What do we do in the earliest stages of falling in love? Doesn’t it begin with something we call a connection? Perhaps it’s a connection with total stranger. Something happens in our hearts that lifts our spirits.

At the center of the attraction is a discovery of togetherness in some way. We connect. From then on, the growing attraction is fed by a growing, sometimes insatiable, desire to be with the one we love. Growing love feeds the desire for growing union – a desire for ways to be with the other in deeper and deeper ways. In the very beginning this may be quite unconscious, but before very long, we know we are in love. We start acting on that love. We think about, or daydream about, the other while doing all kinds of things. We call the other person more frequently, and arrange to spend time together.

We remember and replay our conversations. In the beginning, we talk about everything and anything. Nothing about the other person is boring. We want to know about all the other’s life experiences and choices, the other’s likes and dislikes, and what makes the other the person he or she is. And at each new discovery, there is a deeper bonding.

We look for ways to express our love, through tender words, through acts of caring, going out of our way to help the other. Each expression deepens the love. We always remember the very first gestures of love. And the more the love grows, the more it will lead to some level of commitment – some need to guarantee that the loved one will always be in my life and some commitment to a self-giving offering of myself to the relationship.

Falling in love with God

Is not a lovey-dovey feeling.

It is growth toward dedication and devotion. The emotional tone strong yearning and desire expressed and desire expressed in Psalm 63:2 In which the psalmist parallels life without divine communion to that of a dry; parched land seeking the moisture needed for survival: O God you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.’

The German mystic Mechtild Magdeburg depicted this acute longing for communion with God as that of a magnet being drawn to the divine. While this inner movement is dynamic and powerful, it may be marked by a quiet persistence rather than unrestrained or obvious passion. This yearning for God is sometimes indicated by an unnamable restlessness or perpetual searching. Falling in love with God: The foundation of true prayer is a friendship based on affection, a relationship developed with genuine appreciation for God.

As in human relationships with an intense longing for the other, the affective piece usually begins to wane and slip into the background while the quality of enduring, faithful love moves to the foreground.

Not everyone who has a well-developed prayer life” falls in love” with God. Sometimes there is a profound drawing toward the other, but not all prayerful relationships have this emotional dimension binding them together. What people do need is a conviction that relationship with God is an essential part of their existence.



Who is this One with whom I relate?

What names or metaphors do we use in our prayers to address a God of mystery, one who is accessible and touches our hearts in both formal prayer and in unexpected moments? Does it make any difference what words I use?

What does grace mean to you? Have you experienced Grace “in prayer”?

In prayer we bring ourselves to the entryway to our relationship with the Holy One, but it is God “who is able to accomplish far more than all we can ask or imagine.” Divine power at work in us gives us what we need in order for our prayer to be catalyst for union and transformation (Eph. 3:20)

Divine vigor stirring within us is grace, the loving energy of God’s movement. This gift enables us to grow into the person we are meant to be. The marvelous thing about grace is that is freely distributed. We cannot force it to be given to us.

Always divine grace draws us into relationship and encourages us into fuller life. Grace leads us into prayer and moves us out again, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout all Judea and Samaria, to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8

Lk 4:1, Mk. 1:12 whether led or driven by the Spirit, we know that the loving movement of the Holy One was with Jesus, leading him into a place where he discovered more of his deeper self. He became increasingly sure of how God was active and alive in his being.

Prayer is not a competition or being competent, not an experience of winning or of accumulating good feelings and great insights. Prayer is about “showing up” with an open mind and heart, being willing and ready to grow and change.

How would you describe your relationship with God at present?

What people, events, circumstances and resources have helped you most in learning how to pray?

You are under God’s care in this journey through falling in Love with His Son and He loves you…

There is no beauty as striking as His, no power as potent as His, no feelings as stimulating as His, no words as truthful as His, no stability as sturdy as His, no strength as reliable as His, no protection as dependable as His, no gifts as precious as His, no love as enduring as His. (End of slides)

Fr. Sylvester continuous to tell us that God wants us to come to him in the way we are in our brokenness, even if we have no emotions in prayer like other people, we must know that he touches us differently not uniformly. What can we learn from our beloved Saints in the Catholic Church? It is very clear that the shoulder of Jesus to lean on is sometimes thorny, very rough for people differently and it depends on what suffering means to you as an individual. We need at least one hour with God and two hours of spiritual reading in our daily Christian life to have a very good relationship with Jesus. We must be aware of everything that happens to us on daily basis, sometimes God wants to talk to us something but we are too busy to listen to him. We all need moments of quite time in our lives to listen to the voice of God speaking to us.

Many times we are distracted in a prayer which is very normal but we need to be aware of this distraction other than denying it. Just offer such a distraction to God in prayer and in such distraction God may be revealing to you what you may need to focus most in your life and offer this to God in prayer so that He may take care of the situation. He also said that sometimes you may not be in the mood of praying which may be a sign your body is tired and exhausted and instead of forcing yourself to pray, give yourself time to rest and start to pray later after you have rested. He also stated that we should be aware of consolation and dissolutions which may not necessarily mean you are in prayer.

Fr. Sylvester also said that unnecessary feelings or lack of disgusting feelings or lack of interest in our mind when praying is a sign of the devil trying to discourage us from prayer life sometimes telling in our mind that we have another alternative to prayer. When such moments come to our life, we need to seek the help of our Spiritual Directors at all cost so that they can help us to overcome such feelings in order to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in our life. When we have a good Spiritual life in us, the feelings are obvious; joy, serenity, inner peace which are a fruit of good prayer life experienced in a person. He also pointed out that God responds differently in our life in his own unique divine ways as he is in control of our lives. Therefore when we witness many people being blessed in their prayers more than ourselves, it should not make us give up in prayer life. We need to know that even though human beings can fail professionally, we should leave the rest to God who knows why certain things happen to us, and just use words of Mother Mary by saying; let your will be done in us, Luke 1:38. This directly means our relationship with God should not depend on any conditions we put in order to love him but we must love him because he is our father who loves us unconditionally. During prayer, sometimes we have human voices in our mind that distract us, let us try to ignore them from our spiritual journey. Let us know that in Spiritual life, there are no accidents but there are only opportunities that we must endevour to concentrate on, no matter how such negative thoughts affect us in our prayer life. This should also make us to find God in every situation of our life at all times. This is so because prayer and meditation life are very tricky as we see when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac to him. Such situations call us to have inner discipline in our heart in order to be comfortable at peace with God. This therefore needs us to have time to reconnect with God at every moment knowing well that our time of dying is sooner than later, as we don’t know when we individually shall die but we must be ready to die at any time and face God’s judgement on the last day* Mathew 25:31-46. This scripture should be our daily guide in life to prepare us for final judgement at the time of our death. Therefore we need to welcome God into whatever situations we face in our life and be totally surrendering to his will to whatever situation we are going through in our life.

Therefore we are called to live prayerful lives from daybreak up to sun set and not only reserve praying on Sundays and put God at rest during the week days when we don’t go for Sunday Mass.

Ezati Eric CLM Uganda and Fr. Sylvester MCCJ, Uganda Province

* We are sure that he prepared himself and the Lord welcomes him in his lap as a beloved Father. We pray for his eternal rest.

Easter Retreat of the CLM of Portugal

LMC Portugal

On April 6-7 we held our Lenten retreat in Viseu, directed by Fr. José Vieira. We started in the morning by listening to a song by Aline Barros called, Renew me, Lord Jesus, in order to enter into the spirit of the retreat. It is a time to stop, to create empty spaces in order to listen to Jesus and make him live in the intimacy of our being.   The morning had as a theme, “mission: holy and capable,” as Comboni wants us. There was a brief introduction by Fr. José Vieira as general outlines for a later time of individual reflection and prayer. We followed some of the points of Exult and be Glad by Pope Francis to help us see our mission in Christ and how we must be holy and missionaries in all the facets of our lives.  “Be holy because God is Holy.” Namely, to feel in our hearts a life united to God, where we allow ourselves to be molded by Him and so walk towards holiness. Later, we prayed the Way of the Cross, guided by the Gospel and by St. Daniel Comboni, that took us to relive the last hour of Jesus, keeping in mind how he keeps on suffering in Mozambique, Malawi, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and many other places.

In the afternoon we reflected on the theme of “a missionary heart,” again with a short introduction by Fr. José Vieira before our individual reflection and prayer. The theme comes from the fact that the heart is the true home of mission. In this sense, we cannot run away from our heart, and that is why it is so important to understand what makes it beat. To help us in the reflection, we were able to meditate on various parts of Comboni’s Writings where the word heart is mentioned. It is interesting to know that the word comes up more than a thousand times in the writings of Comboni, to show the importance of the heart in the mission and in the missionary.

I give you three quotes that shaped my reflection:

  • “The four of us make up one heart, one soul. Each one making an effort to please the others” (SS1507). I see here the meaning of community, united in one heart.
  • “The heart of Jesus is our communication center” (SS4764) I saw this sentence as being very connected to this morning’s reflection, namely this union with Jesus who becomes the center of our communications, one with the others, and puts us on the road to holiness.
  • “When one has the full certainty of being following God’s will, any sacrifice, all the crosses and one’s own death are the sweetest comfort of our hearts” (SS3683). It resonates with the search I have done to find this will of God in my own life, this full certainty of the path to be followed. It gave rise to doubts and uncertainties that I could raise in prayer to the Lord during this retreat.

At the end of the afternoon we had a penance service that helped us renovate our repentant hearts and take a look at what keeps us away from God and his love. In the evening, we had a Lectio Divina and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, using as a base the Sunday Gospel, the one of the adulterous woman. It was an occasion to open our hearts fully before Jesus present there and meditate on the Word and what it was telling each one of us in our lives and our difficulties. For me it was a beautiful sharing and a true encounter with Christ.

On Sunday morning we meditated, based on Pope Francis’ Lenten message, on listening to the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth. We looked even into these environmental problems and this Lent as a way of full conversion, not only in our actions towards our neighbors, but also in our attitudes towards the work of Creation “that waits with eager longing, awaiting the revelation of the children of God” (Rms 8:19).

We ended our gathering with the Eucharist and a time of fraternal relaxation.

LMC Portugal

For me it was very important and very good to experience this retreat. It helped me to stop, slow down and break the routine of this life so full of worries and work. It helped me to have an encounter with Jesus, look at the cross, listen to what was in my heart. It helped me to allay the fears and doubts that often bother my heart, with the certainty that, when I walk with him, everything makes sense. Ana Sousa

Personal experience as a CLM-Uganda

LMC Uganda

I professed my temporary Commitment as a Comboni Lay Missionary on 10th May 2015 and now I live as a Comboni Lay Missionary, in the Ministry of Healing. I work in Reach Out Mbuya, an Organization under Mbuya Catholic Parish that provides Holistic Care to People living with HIV/AIDS, Cancer and their individual families. I am a specialized Nursing Officer in Palliative Care working as Clinical Specialist, Trainer, a part-time Palliative Care Facilitator in Makerere University College of Health Sciences, School of Medicine. I love teaching and I enjoy working with adults, children and adolescents/young adults living with HIV/AIDS and Cancer. In them I see full hand of God at work in these young people. What these people want is just a smile and understanding, coupled with a hand touch on them regardless of what their physical condition is like, no wonder the women who had a bleeding for 12 years only said if only I can touch the cloak of Jesus I will get well Mtt. 9:21. We have witnessed people wanting to get blessing from the Pope, Bishop, and Priests and if you are working with the sick, rejected and abandoned, touching them is very great relief to them emotionally.

This experience has made me to realise that we are called to discover and reveal God’s love to all and reveal God’s Love for all whose source is in the open heart of Jesus. This requires us to be Contemplative in spirit, generous and educative in mission and passionate for justice, peace and integrity of creation. Jesus is the only one leading us in this journey and this journey is both exciting bewildering to me. I find it very hard to reveal God’s love to someone who has a broken heart, believes God no longer cares for him/her, if so why is it he/she has the incurable disease and the rest of the agony words the patient can pour out. Persisting with such a person and bringing Sacraments such as Crucifix, Statue of Mother Mary, Holy Eucharist and so on to him/her at home, with introduction of praying Rosary by the bed side of the sick person is a wonderful joy I will always remember in my life. Many of these people know they will die soon and so they all want to reconcile their past to God and their families, friends and people who matter in their life. What gives me courage and joy in this challenging Ministry of working with the sick is having faith and believe that I see the face of Jesus in the suffering as St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta tells us during her life on this world, especially tearful faces of the patients and their family members. Some of them have already given up on life as all their hopes are crashed with the terminal sickness to the extend they need help to make a short or long call of nature which makes them totally to depend on their children, leave alone the shame of African/Tribal Cultural beliefs where a child is not supposed to see the nakedness of the biological parent or of a care taker who becomes the real parent to such a child. Taking these people the way they are makes them understand that they still matter to other people and also there are still people who value them despite all their physical disability for daily personal care.

LMC Uganda

Sign of compassion, students of Missionary Club of St. Kizito Secondary School in Bugolobi Kampala, shocked to see people still living with such a condition in this world, alone in the house, no children, careless person she stays in the same house with. They all cried tears at the site and problem this very poor elderly women is living with HIV/AIDS, they gave all that they had to help her and promise to keep her in their individual prayers.

This makes me to believe that in our daily journey as Comboni Lay Missionaries; we need the spirit of creativity, courage and commitment so that God’s immense, tender, strong and merciful Love may shape our future. This we can only be achieved through prayers as Jesus said there is nothing the Father can fail to give us if we put it to God in prayer Mtt. 7:7-12, I also realised this is the only way we can attract more people to our group as they will be touched by the way we care for the sick, abandoned and the needy which is an open way for us to do apostolate in our local communities we live in. You do not need to be a Nurse or a Medical Doctor to visit patients, what they need is only company but not your professional skills. They have over seen medical professionals during their good moments in life and they need only friends, people who can listen to them, talk to them, encourage them and bring them so closer to God at such bed bound state. You don’t even need to think of loading with gifts to take to them, they no longer have appetite for food or your expensive gifts; they only need somebody to sit by their bed side, hold their hand, look them into their own eyes and talk to them as a friend. This will further require us through the moral values and confidence we show to the group through the work we do and how we serve the needy, abandoned according to our Charism of reaching out to the poor and most abandoned as Comboni Family that we value our call and we will do all that can please St. Daniel Comboni so that he can intercede and pray for us from Heaven so that his light will continue to shine through us in this world among the needy people of this world. We all have individual gifts, experience that we can use for this call such as our smiles, dreams that we can freely express to the people we interact with on daily basis to bring hope and love for our beloved group as Comboni Lay Missionaries. We should always remember that what we do always should promote communion and vitality of CLM in the view of all our missions so that all our actions bind us all as CLM into one big Comboni Family.

There are a lot of challenges that we may face in the process of doing our daily work, but interaction with our Spiritual Directors on these holistic challenges we face is helpful and it is very vital that we all have spiritual directors who help us to move with hope, faith, love and courage in all that we do. Inputs in our routine recollections, retreats, daily personal contemplations and sharing experiences with our senior colleagues in the different religious congregations and consecrated people is something that we all may venture into to find out our ability to withstand the wave of the Satan that wants to drift us away from our goal to serve the Lord in the needy we meet every day. Our Satan may not be the snake or that very black something/image we are aware of and not our enemies we know but this can be a person so dear to us in the family or community and so asking for the will of God to be done in our life is paramount just as our Mother Mary said at annunciation Luke 1:38.

Father Richard Rohr Franciscan Priest, an online Evangelist and Founder of Center for Action and Contemplation from USA, from his Falling Upwards: a Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass:2011), 44-45 has this very touching story titled “Discharging Our Loyal Soldier” for us to learn from in order to be committed CLM, hope it can touch you as it did to me:

A story from Japan at the close of World War II illustrates how we might support ourselves and others in transition to the second half of life. If you have ever been to Japan, you will know that its culture is rich in ritual, with a strong sense of the importance of symbol, aesthetics, and ceremony.

At the end of the war, some Japanese communities had the wisdom to understand that many of their returning soldiers were not prepared to reenter civil, peaceful society. The veterans’ only identity for their formative years had been as a “loyal soldier” to their country, but now they needed a broader identity.

So the communities created a ceremony whereby a soldier was publicly thanked and praised for their service to the people. After the soldier had been profusely honored, an elder would stand and announce with authority: “The war is now over! The community needs you to let go of what has served you and us well up to now. We now need you to return as a parent, a partner, a friend, a mentor—something beyond a soldier.”

I call this process “discharging your loyal soldier.” As Ken Wilber suggests, we need to “transcend and include” as we grow, recognizing the value of what has come before while shedding old skins and identities that no longer fit us.

With tenderness, notice how at various times in your life you’ve fixated on different priorities, different measures of right and wrong, different sources of meaning and belonging. Give thanks for the lessons you learned at each phase that helped you survive, succeed, and become who you are today. Ask yourself what beliefs you may be ready to lay to rest, ways of thinking and acting that no longer serve your maturing awareness of reality.

You might wish to explore your journey in one or more of these ways:

Journal or write a poem.

Draw, paint, sculpt, or create a collage.

Find a piece of music that illustrates changing moods and move to it.

Talk to a friend, spiritual director, or therapist.

Design a simple ceremony to discharge your “loyal soldier.”

When we apply this story to our own life as CLM, I strongly belief there are still so many Loyal Soldiers in us that we need our elders like Spiritual Directors and our leaders at all levels to help us discharge. Using the last part of the story, let us ask the Lord to help us to overcome our old self that prohibits our new identity as CLM to express itself in line with the will of God we have committed our self to do.

Ezati Eric, CLM Uganda