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.
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