May – That women may be ever more aware of their specific role and talents and participate fully in the life and leadership of the Church. Lord hear us.
In Guatemala we, the local CLM, started this year 2019 asking God to enlighten us on where we were going to serve this year. In Santa Caratina Pinula we are continuing with the program of child nutrition of Chispuditos. However, we are temporarily leaving behind the monthly day of mission experience there and we are ready for a new location… to bring joy… faith, hope… peace… consolation, in solidarity with the injustice and deficiencies suffered by other Guatemalan brothers.
Now the Lord is bringing us to the municipality of Chinautla, in the Guatemala department.
Its center is Santa Cruz. It is located in the northern part of the department of Guatemala, only about 12 km from the capital. They are famous for their hand-made pottery. The entire population is indigenous and they are ethnic Pocomam.
They have been suffering under a lot of political abuse and corruption, because the mayor’s office has been monopolized by the same mayor since 1985. He has always supported whatever government has been in power, until he was arrested for corruption in 2015. In spite of the arrest, this individual was able to have his own niece elected mayor for the 2016-2020 term and got out of prison a few months after his capture, the gravity of the accusations facing him notwithstanding.
The people are poor and abandoned… the municipality of Chinautla does not allow the garbage trucks to drive over there, because they want to discourage the people so they will leave and then they will be able to exploit the village construction material. So the locals throw the garbage here and there, especially in the river that crosses the village, because they do not know where to put it, or how to take it to the main dump. They live in extreme poverty, have no place to go… nor will they want to… it is their land… all of them are owners.
That is where Jesus has guided our steps… all for his honor and glory. Fr. Roberto Gómez Palma is the pastor of Chinautla, people are mostly Catholics and the evangelical sects have not done much of anything. We have been there a couple of times, on February 23 and March 16, and we already see that the people are friendly and trusting. They send their children to our activities. Both the older and the younger ones come on their own, very independent and sure of themselves.
We ask the Lord to give us all we need to proclaim the Kingdom and share the joy of the Gospel. Also that he give us light to identify the needs where we can cooperate as Comboni Lay Missionaries. We place ourselves in the hands of Providence and trust in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, in the style of Comboni.
“Holy and Capable, making common cause with the poorest and most abandoned”
(St. Daniel Comboni)
Last weekend, February 9-10, the CLM of the PCA in Guatemala enjoyed the gift of the annual retreat. It took place at Casa Comboni in Guatemala City.
The lay participants were 18 and it was organized by Bro. Humberto Rua, our moderator, and by Fr. Victor Hugo Castillo, who kindly prepared the topic for the meditations of the two days.
The objective of the retreat: to take a spiritual time out in order to recollect within ourselves the essentials of missionary life and gather strength to face the activities of this year.
On Saturday, scrutinizing the Word of God in the Gospel of Mark, we reflected on Jesus as the Son of God:
* The Good News is Jesus of Nazareth, man and God, crucified and resurrected, Jesus as the Lord of History. Starting from this truth, the mission of the Church consists in speaking of God, not only creating communities, but also leading people to make a profession of faith. It is to re-establish hope which is so fragile in our days, and return dignity to those who do not believe they have it.
* The Baptism of Jesus and ours, that makes us Children of God, even though it gives us the Spirit, nonetheless it does not exempt us from temptations, hence we must defend us with the Word and here the proclamation begins.
* In the temptations in the desert Jesus defeated the Devil by the strength of the Spirit. The missionary is not super-man or super-woman, but it is their human experience that makes them able to help others. Vocation is a daily struggle and conquest, a pathway between temptations and victories.
Following, we had confessions, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and a time for meditation and silence. We did not forget about a time of enjoyment which is only possible in Godly endeavors.
Sunday, “the Mission,” the great gift of God to us without our deserving it.
* Mission is born when the disciple feels called by the Father. He then goes looking for his brothers everywhere. This love is not selfish. The mission of the disciples is exactly the same as the mission of Jesus.
* Apostolic life does not consist in doing a lot of things, because Jesus already saved the world, nor by starting from what he did, but only starting from one point: the cross.
* The greatest wisdom: “Mission consists in teaching the Word of God, the Good News. Mission is not in giving things, because giving the Word is much more than anything.”
* The activity of God is to be adored in spirit and truth. The missionary is a worker, cooperator of God, and proclaiming the Gospel is the proclamation of the truth that sets us free.
These were some of the points of the retreat. I could write much more, but in general terms, for in these topics we meditate starting for the Word.
We ended with a delicious lunch.
Blessed be God who has called us and gives us the ability to “go to the world and proclaim the Good News to all of creation” (Mk 16:15)
“Holy and able making common cause with the poorest and most abandoned”
(St. Daniel Comboni)
Lily Portillo, CLM-PCA
Perhaps the perception we have of ourselves down here has lessened due to the greatness of the world to which we feel we are called. Perhaps, a little at the time, we have let go off things to hold on to the world, the people, and love. Already we have nothing. Nothing is ours. There is nothing that cannot be given, shared with all those who walk side by side with us. It is a lot that we are not alone, and that all that we have is shared not only among ourselves, but with the world. We are part of a whole that only has meaning in the daily sharing and the life we have and we know is joined to others.
The scenery reflects the grandiosity of our interior, the grandiosity of the little miracles of which we are only spectators, as being the grain planted in fertile soil, we are channels of meaningful life. It is not just us, but we are more than the sum of the parts. We are from God. We are his instruments, his hands, his feet, and his embrace. We are imperfect and wounded, in a world full of sorrow and suffering where in love we dare to sow the paradise of God’s love.
Each morning we go out to meet the others, out of the comforts we have, of what is ours, we go to meet love. We go, hoping that on every street and at every corner we will always have two arms to help people grow with us. We are nothing, but in our humble state we are what is truly existing within ourselves. We cannot even count the lives that have already crossed ours, nor the number of smiles, tears and hugs we have shared in the simplicity of a home’s front steps. This is how it is, love deprived of superficiality, integral without color or race, simply being. And we are called daily to let it be and grow.
Each day we give our life without plans nor schedule. We offer ourselves. Many are the times when we feel that it is God himself who calls us at the door through many faces, many personal histories and people. We are available to the love aimed at us, which calls us at each moment. We are open to the call of Jesus who calls us daily.
We are soil open to care for others and to the possibility of growing hand in hand in Jesus’ journey. We are the cross carried on the shoulder and arms of others who are lost and cannot walk. It is not easy. We know by our own lives that it is not easy. But this is the only way it has a meaning for us.
Mission is life, our life, their life and the life we accept and give by proclaiming a Gospel living in each one of us. With each step we are witnesses of a Jesus who wants to live in the simplicity of our hearts. It is in recognizing ourselves as family that, in each day, in each visit we offer ourselves and grow.
The soil is barren and the mountains around us are often the way home for many. Protected by the imposing presence of the Misti and the Chachani, holding to our walking sticks, we cross the limits of what we can see and off we go looking for the face of God among those farthest away. We climb and descend mountains, following contorted paths. We go beyond the physical limitations of our bodies that often demand rest. We have gone beyond our limits, in the certainty that He is our strength and our life. With the certainty that ours is the mission of carrying him and of announcing him where He already is, where His seed is already there, where God already exists, where the only thing missing is that he be remembered, named and proclaimed. We go beyond our peripheries to the peripheries of the world to be the symbol of life, of love, of Him.
We do not have much. We live simply and humbly among the people of God. In the simplicity and poverty of the life we lead is the treasure in vessels of clay of our hearts: the love of God.
It is good, very good, to allow ourselves to be moved by all who have become part of our history. It is good to be a shoulder of support, to be a place of refuge, to be Neuza and Paula just as we are, and share in simplicity this gift of our life. And to help others to discover the gift of their own. We belong to what is brought to us, to those who go off, and to those who come and to all those we leave along the way. Step by step we discover mission, we are mission. We belong to a mission which is not ours, but belongs to the One who daily sends us to love more.
We are part of the Comboni’s thousand lives for the mission. Together, we rediscover new Africas, new peripheries. Ours is not a little bit, the flatlands of comfort. We go. Together we go beyond the mountains, beyond even ourselves. Together we go to meet new peripheries, where we have not yet been and have not yet reached. If you only knew, if we knew how many Africas are left to discover, how many peripheries are there thirsting for God, for his love and for the miracle of love, which is the Eucharist. This is why we are here. For this we go to this meeting of love turning our lives into mission.
In our daily prayer we discover the path to be followed, the beauty of an unending mission, without borders, without limits. He is the limit. Actually, he does not have any. We move forward in the certitude that we are not alone because we find his arms at every dawn and at the end of day. We walk knowing that we always arrive where he is waiting for us. No matter how long the day will be and the life histories we meet and involve us, often including the tears we share. Yes, Lord, here we are, takes us where you want us to be. And even if life takes us far from here, we are Peru in the same love that brought us here and binds us as sisters and brothers to the end.
From Peru with love,
Neuza Francisco and Paula Ascenção, CLM