Today, Easter is both a celebration of the gift of spiritual rebirth and at the same time a reminder of the constant renewal of life here on earth.
We live in a wonderful but deeply wounded and wounding world that is at times uncaring, unforgiving, cruel, and devoid of second chances. Easter offers the assurance that the many difficulties and challenges that threaten to overwhelm us will be overcome.
Jesus says to frightened disciples, “Do not be afraid.” To us he says, “Do not be afraid.” Whatever it is that causes you to fear, Jesus the risen Christ will be with you and will go ahead of you and continue to be with you. He offers you joy and peace, forgiveness and hope. Most of all he offers you himself. You need not fear. He has overcome the world.
As a community, we are involved in several activities in order to reach out to the society with gospel values and this has brought hope, restored broken relationships, and transformed many lives for Christ within Uganda and beyond.
Emmaus covenant community members apart from spiritual programs, we also do some other activities for communal and self-sustainability in order to provide essential needs to their families:
We do Poultry farming and we are currently dealing in broilers.
We have parenting workshop for community members
We minister to the married and singles in the community
We have Family cell groups
Next to this we minister to children, religious and lay people.
To all our dear friends and partners in the Vineyard of Jesus Christ our Lord, we wish you hope, faith, love, and peace of the risen Lord.
Emmaus Covenant Community Leadership Team
We, the Emmaus Covenant Community are a community of lay faithful. We are called to be an oasis of gospel life expressed in the love of God and mutual love for one another so that the gospel of Christ will shine forth from them. Consequently, Emmaus Covenant community by its very lifestyle is evangelizing. Called by Jesus and touched by His grace each member of the community aspires to attain growth in human and spiritual maturity.
The year 2020 has started with the visit to the province by the Superior General, Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse and one of the General Councilors, Fr. Pietro Ciuciulla. It has been a great moment of communion. They had also a meeting with the Comboni Lay Missionaries in their house at Solent Avenue-Kampala (in the picture).
From the 6th January to the 8th February 2020, the two visitors met confreres individually and all communities. It was also a moment of meeting Bishops of the dioceses where the Comboni Missionaries are serving and some other religious families with which we work closely. The two confreres visited different projects geared at human promotion with which we are engaged. In all the communities, the Superior General and Fr. Pietro Ciuciulla had a message of encouragement, acknowledging the tremendous work the Comboni Missionaries are doing in Uganda and inviting us to be focused on labouring for the Kingdom of God despite the challenge of a reduction in personnel.
They had a meeting with the Comboni Lay Missionaries in their house at Solent Avenue-Kampala. The visitors invited the province to be grateful to God for the forthcoming beatification of Fr. Giuseppe Ambrosoli, Mccj.
Scheduled for the 22 November 2020 at Kalongo (Archdiocese of Gulu), the beatification will be a moment of celebrating the work of God’s grace in a man who humbly and lovingly sought nothing other than caring for the sick. One of the moments that marked the end of the visit was the inauguration of a small project, Limone Medical Centre, situated at the former premises of Leadership Magazine. The facility designed to accommodate confreres who need special care as they follow their medical treatment in big medical facilities in and around Kampala. It will have an outpatient service open to the public. It was a moment of joy to have the Superior General officially opening this place on Friday 7th February 2020.
The province is grateful to the General Council for this moment which we will always treasure.
We have observed many times a truck carrying a heavy load climbing a mountain. In the sloping side of the mountain the driver has little work to and in the climbing lane, there is a lot of smoke that comes and a keen attention is needed by the driver to manage the climbing lane. The driver is determined because he knows the lane will end and he will relax and so he does not give up in his task of taking the goods to the required destination. I can confidently compare our Christian life to this scenario of a truck driver who has to engage all the gears according to the task to be accomplished. Many times in our Christian life, we meet people who tell us it is very hard to follow Christ. Once they have made up their mind to follow Jesus, they are faced with situations that make them lose heart and they feel the fire in them that burns for love of God is getting weak and weak. Our Christian life comprises of many obstacles we meet. Much as we have faith in God and promise to maintain closeness to God at all times, there are few things that will give friction to us in the way of our Christian life to love God at all times. God created us in his own image and likeness Gen. 1:27-28. And Jesus came to fulfill this in New Testament when he said …..I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full John 10:10. It may not be easy for us to feel this fullness of life in Jesus on daily basis unless we are aware of our inner and very deep self-rejection. I meet very many cases of self-rejection in my daily work in the hospital and clinics and families with all categories of people both young and old, laity and religious and those who have no faith in God. According to different sources of consultations with patients and general teachings and Catechisms of Catholic Church the writer comes across, he has come up to compile these as some of the causes of self-rejection affecting our love for God. These causes when we dig deeper to find out the details are the same regardless of who is the person presenting with these scenarios affecting all people of all walks of life.
How can I know I have self-rejection?
When I sense in myself lacking something, not being satisfied in what I am, my family origin, my tribe and race, colour of my skin, my social status, my work and many others. In this case God cannot find a way to use his love in me since I lack self-esteem.
Being unsatisfied with the way God created me being black, brown or the colour of my skin, short or tall, fat and thin. When we witness fat people wanting to become thin and vice versa and many other related issues on how we were created, then we are witnessing self-rejection in such a person and such self-rejection shall be carried to other people like children, spouse, siblings, community, work place and others.
Sometimes a person feels being condemned by some inmost thoughts and this makes them feel guilty and condemned and such people fear to be called upon and it is worse in cases of taking up a responsibility.
We also witness people who develop “I do not care” attitude with extraordinary boldness and such people are usually headache to the Community.
Being closed up to others and a person does not want to be open to others and want to be separated from others at all times and covering everything from others.
Feeling of need of total isolation/loneliness from others, feeling of peace when alone at all times and this loneliness cannot be equivalent to solitary life in any measure. Such people are glued to their phone, television, News Papers, radios, novels any other thing at their disposal all the time.
God created us so that we should enjoy the company of one another but not to be segregated or isolated from one another worse in our communities and families.
Some causes of self-rejection
This can be as a result of some other things not only limited to such as;
Unwanted child in the mother’s womb which extends up to later years in life, this worse happens when some girls conceives in school/University, thereby dropping out of school
When a child is born in unwanted place; in the family, car, open market place, on the road side a place other than the hospital and not wanted by the father in most cases taking it to be a shame to him and his family
Family break up commonly in divorce, domestic violence breeding self-rejection and isolation making a child to long for the love of the father/mother all the time and finds no one to give this unconditional parental love
Missing the love of the father who is always away for job or other social moments without the family, such rejection really enters into the children and torture them in the later years in their lives
Many parents and guardians tend to compare children/some adults with other people who they judge to be better or even compare them to animals both wild and domestic or people or bad characters in movies. This brings inferiority complex to children who will know they are very useless and have no place in the heart of anybody including their own biological parents
Child abuse-brutality to children by parents, relatives both physical and verbal abuse that drive many children to the streets commonly in the developing countries like Uganda who end up being victims of HIV/AIDS infections and disease, early child marriages.
False promises in the hope of marriage which brings about a deep wound of mistrust of any person since love has been betrayed or abused.
Experience in war seeing people being killed, women and girls being raped and being forced to abuse own parents, siblings in terms of rape and murder perpetrated by people well known to the community and some are prominent in the society including the Church.
All these will bring doubts about God and meaning of life to the victims and the family members. All these above issues in a very long time in life sometimes late into adulthood can breed the 5 Demons in our life or in the life of others called Hatred, Fear, Irrational fear, Feeling of being inferior and Persecution Complex/Self-pity
These 5 demons cause the following in our lives or lives of others;
Hampers us to see what is bad in ourselves and so we fail to see our own mistakes
They make us to see other people as being bad to us but we are the good ones always
Projection of problems i.e. telling your own problem in another ones name-give him/her money
Leads to psychological diseases such as; ulcers, Asthma, High Blood pressure, headache and many others
Unless the inner causes are removed with prayers of repentance and counselling which are normally combinations of very many factors, you will never get rid of self-rejection in life. We should never take prayers as magic like you want food and there it is which is all about testing God.
Let us look at the manifestations of these 5 demons in our life;
Do I have the spirit of revenge when I am offended?
Am I so critic of others i.e. negative criticism?
Do I take myself better than others?
Do I enjoy when other are suffering?
Am I impatient with the traffic lights?
Do I get annoyed when someone drives badly?
Do I oppress the weak?
Do I enjoy having people under me?
Do I enjoy humiliating others?
When I get problems do I get the solutions in others? When someone dies so and so is the one responsible for this….as many always say.
Do I have the spirit suspecting others that they talk about me, i.e. they are looked down always
Am I jealous of other peoples’ way of walking, dressing?
Am I inclined to flattering others or mocking them by saying good things without meaning it?
Do I have aggressive thoughts, actions, words, intolerance about opposite opinion?
Do I move backwards when I get a task?
Do I feel the temptation of letting go of something that bothers me i.e. escape from others or reality?
Do I feel inferior in the presence of my Superiors?
Do I feel suffering while keeping quite i.e. suffering in silence?
Do I fear to depend on others? We see forest is made of different trees, crippling plants on big trees to reach to the sunlight. It is not avoidable to depend on others.
Do I refuse collaboration with others?
Do I need my radio or television on in order to distract myself in fear of silence?
Do I have fear of future or am I superstitious?
IRRATIONAL FEELING OF GUILT
Do I feel there is sin not forgiven?
Do I have something in the past that I hide from everybody and which I do not want to think about, speak about or even discuss about?
Do I seek to be under cover when I am alone, with others?
Do I always have doubts about my moral abilities?
Do I do or feel doing something against my nature?
Am I scrupulous with my moral life?
Do I prefer to be alone? One who builds near forest if he/she is accused of being a night dancer, no one will deny it (African saying)
Am I agitated to others or want to be alone all the time?
Am I susceptible or critical of others in all matters? First remove the plug in your eye as the Lord tells us Mathew 7:5
Do I get depressed easily?
Do I give excessive importance to others for their success?
Do I humble myself to others who are inferior to me, not experts in my field and in all matters seen? This is sickness!
Do I seek compensation in dreaming of things that are impossible to get?
Do I internally lament of not being understood by everyone?
Do I have fear of being rejected or not esteemed in the community?
Do I frequently speak of injustice or imagined wrongs instead of imagining to solving solutions?
Is it my habit to grumble about work, places, situations or negative talk?
Do I always speak about my own merits only i.e. I would have got this, that ……
The first step to overcome this is to accept and believe there is a problem with you so that you can seek relevant solution accordingly.
Prayer is the only solution to overcome this problem after seeking spiritual counselling from spiritual director or otherwise. This will energetically and profoundly influence our mind and spirit to be directed towards God.
This will call us to have very deep reflection and contemplation towards God and have a strong will and sufficient love for God. Prayer of conversation/repentance in such circumstances helps to heal/cure our lack of reflection about our activities.
God listens to our prayers and so we need the spirit of perseverance to wait for the will of God in our life as we ask in Faith convinced like a farmer who plants maize and will expect maize to germinate and give yield with good harvest at the end which will all take time and patience. We also need to remember that our prayers and answers will correspond to our actions in order to collaborate with God.
Our Spiritual Fathers give us a beautiful lesson about such challenges in life when they say: “Happy is the man,” says the dear St. Francis of Assisi, “who does not worry, nor grieve himself, about anything in this world, but leads a holy life, without any inordinate attachment, and abandons himself cheerfully to the will of God.” This is very true because we get troubles with ourselves when we are attached to material things or worldly pleasures and fame which all are pride and self-centeredness that drive us to oppress and deprive others of their due praise and recognition. St. Francis of Sales, knowing that all the accidents of life, without exception, happen by the order of Providence, reposed in Him with the greatest tranquility, like a child on the bosom of its mother. This gentle saint was filled with so great a confidence in God that in the midst of the greatest disasters nothing could disturb the peace of his soul. “I cannot but be persuaded,” he often said, “that he who believes in an infinite Providence, which extends even to the lowest worm, must expect good from all that happens to him.” In the same spirit, St. Vincent de Paul exhorts us: “Let us place our confidence in God and establish ourselves in an entire dependence on Him. Then fear not what men may say or do against us all will turn to our advantage. Yes, if all the earth should rise up against us, nothing will happen but as God pleases, in whom we have established our hopes.” Says the author of the “Spiritual Combat”: “Nothing is impossible to God, since His power is infinite. Nothing is difficult to God, since His wisdom is equally infinite. Therefore surrendering through prayers to allow his will be done in all that happen to us is the best offering we can give to him in our Comboni Lay Missionary activities we have committed to do. God desires our good with an infinite desire, since His goodness is without limit. We are told that God does not send us to carry a burden beyond our bear and he is aware of all that happens to us and we just say with our beloved Mother Mary let your will be done to me according to your will, Luke 1:38. What can be more stretched is a blessed secret this, of living by the day that is to say live each day the way it comes, one at a time. Anyone can carry his burden, however heavy, till nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, until the sun goes down. And this is all what life ever means to us — just one little day at a time “Do to-day’s duty; fight to-day’s temptations, and do not weaken or distract yourself by looking forward to things you cannot see, and could not understand if you saw them.”( Lasance, F. X. (Francis Xavier), 1860-1946. My prayer book; happiness in Goodness: Reflections, counsels, prayers and devotions. New York Benziger Bros). God gives us nights to shut down upon our little days and we should always remember to thank him for the gift of each day regardless of what the day has for us both good and bad, all of which has a purpose for us to identify God from what is happening to us each day.
St. Daniel Comboni beautifully puts it to remind us in our Missionary journey that: All crosses and adversities will only serve to strengthen the Spirit of the members, who are faithful to this holy task and determined to put the mission on the road of certain prosperity, because the works of God have always been born and grown at the foot of Calvary (Cross) and must, like Jesus, go through the process of passion and death in order to reach the Resurrection (St. Daniel Comboni Message MDC 236). When we have this saying in front of us in all moments of our life, we shall embrace all sufferings with open arms as Comboni Lay Missionaries knowing well that there is no Easter without Good Friday. Let us be strengthened by our weakness to find God in all that we go through as his followers and imitate our most beloved Mother Mary placing ourselves to the working of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in our life under the inspiration of St. Joseph our model in family life.
May we be there for each other to hold our hands when hard moments come to us in our daily Christian journey while daily singing our beautiful Hymn…I have decided to follow Jesus…..no turning back, no turning back…. May we always be one in Jesus Christ our Lord…..Amen!
A lot is said about prayer and a lot has already been said about prayer. Every social media is filled with prayers and many people have asked many questions about prayer. We admire the lives of very many saints both living and dead. What is so surprising about people whose lives reflect the glory of God like St. Padre Pio Saint Mother Teresa and very many others is that they believe they are sinners and they do not know how to pray. Our own current Pope Francis whose life has touched many with very many people following him on social media in billions says he is a sinner and he always asks people to pray for him. Many people have dedicated their lives to prayer and still they continue to pray without ceasing. So the question still stands, what is prayer and how can we pray?
According to Oxford English Dictionary prayer is defined as a practice of communicating with one’s God. Other people can say prayer is silent or loud conversation with the unseen God. No matter how we pray and the method we use, it all aims at talking with God.
Many different religious sects always lead their followers to pray in particular ways to nourish the spirituality of different followers. What is then the difference between religion and spirituality? Many scholars have different approaches of defining spirituality though they all agree on what religion is. Religion may be simply put, different people gathering together under the same roof to pray together in ways so appropriate to them. In Catholic Church our main prayer is the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the Holy Mass. Other different religions have their own according to what they see fit for them. Spirituality in simple terms can be what matters most to the inner being of a person, what is so intimate, most desired, most valued in the intimate being of a person and the person can do nothing without it. Many people are so intimate with money, love of children, spouse, job, cars, idols, phones and tablets, computers, spirits of ancestors which is the most popular in Africa and other parts of the world. This most intimate thing that occupies the mind and life of this person is said to be his/her spirituality. The thing that a person in need turns to for consolation in terms of need is the spirituality. Something that makes someone so intimate constitutes prayer to this person. Some people go to witchdoctors or ancestral spirits to look for quick answers to their needs. As missionaries, we meet these people and there are times you find in the middle of the Holy Mass a person getting a phone to check through. There are certain situations when a person can have prayers and follow the order of Mass and songs from a soft copy on a phone. So what is so intimate to you in your life as a missionary? If you get distractions concentrating in prayer, what comes so prominent is where your spirituality is drawn and so you need guidance on how to overcome this and be directed to proper methods of prayer. A true prayer needs to be when all your attention and self is drawn to God or the scriptures you have chosen to focus on. However not many times a person feels drawn to prayer like explained but the intention in prayer must always persist to pray to God as we shall see later in this article. It is not about being with others. Religion therefore helps to direct a person’s spirituality towards God, focussing on God not on any other consolations when in need. A spiritual person tells us to look for God of consolations but not consolations of God. This brings us to focus all our attention to God when we are in prayer, when challenges come; we draw our attention to God but not something else. In a very beautiful Hymn we sing, Jesus never fails…things of this will let you down but Jesus never fails…which stresses the importance of focussing on God other than focussing on earthly things that all have an end in case we have an issue burning in your life.
What do others say about Prayer?
Soren Kierkegaad said in true prayer, it is not God who hears what is asked of him but he who prays and who continues to pray until he hears what God has to say to him. Therefore, in prayer we need not to target quick solutions to our petitions but as they say Pray until something happens. It is important to pray always and not to lose heart Lk 18:1. It is important to pray always without becoming weary focussing our attention on God in body and mind.
Jesus advises us to be persistent in prayer. Like friendship, prayer relationship takes time, effort and sacrifice. In our Christian life we should never speak of success but faithfulness to him and his word even if we do not get what we have asked. True prayer has no conditions attached to it, we need to pray and continue to pray at all-time even if we fail to get all that we want. In all that we pray for, it is very important to ask God to let his will be done in our life but not what we want from him in our prayer. We always ask God to answer our petitions but we need to remember that on entering the service of God, we need to prepare your soul for temptation from all that we face in life.
Many times as missionaries we teach others to pray, we show them how to live as Christians but we may fail to teach ourselves to pray. As such we ask many people to pray for us. This is very good but the heart of prayer is from the individual and others intercede for us to add on what we already have in our heart.
Why do we pray?
Many people have reasons to pray and we need to understand that there are very many reasons why people pray. Others pray for success in getting a marriage partner, improve on business, success in academics, to know God, to find vocation in life, for the soul of the deceased especially those in purgatory. Whichever reason is there we should focus our prayer in the following as our Spiritual writers put it:
Personally some reason we pray for include;
Forgiveness of our sins, the sins that we commit all the time and our prayer should ask for forgiveness as Jesus said …. come to me all that are overburdened and I will give you rest Mtt 11:28
The love of God, we need to pray for perseverance in the love of God as our human love is conditional and self centered in most cases of our life
The love of prayer, when we persist in prayer we tend to be drawn to love praying as part of our lives
To find perseverance and peace. Unguarded looks are often the cause of grievous sins as one spiritual teacher said. Unless we have peace in our lives we cannot understand what true peace means in other peoples’ lives
For the Church;
To glorify God, venerate Blessed Virgin Mary, Angels, Saints and many more
Provide for spiritual necessities of children of God
Procure deliverance of souls in purgatory
To live and pray very well we are encouraged by our spiritual leaders as devout soul should be pure, honest, transparent in all that we do with our hands, lips, eyes, ears and the whole body. St Paul tells us “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you whom you received from God? 1 Cor. 6:19. As human beings it is not easy to know ourselves transparently as John Powel SJ said that “to reveal myself openly and honestly takes the rawest kind of courage”. The best prayer is to accept and believe we are nothing in front of God and we are nothing but sinners and pray for his mercy and forgiveness.
We must know that there was nothing Jesus did without prayer and we too can do nothing without prayers in our life like what Jesus went through in the wilderness Mtt. 4: 1-11. A good prayer is where we feel so free to pour out our heart without fear. Prayer can be sharing a relationship with God and some people just need to be in the presence of God
There is a story of Simon Makonde who was born on Sunday, baptised on Monday, was confirmed on Tuesday, he wedded on Wednesday. He fell sick on Thursday, taken to hospital on Friday, died on Saturday and was buried on Sunday. This very imaginary story explains that the journey of sanctity is not something very short. It has to be tested by time and challenges. What matters is where you will be at the end of time, hell or heaven. To pray well, St. Alphonsus Liguori tells us we must focus our attention on that day we shall die whether near or far, in painful of peaceful death, alone or in care of others. When we die what will be our fate on the last judgement day Mtt. 25: 1-13? To pray well we always focus on our death and final judgement. We must live a life based on the beatitudes Mtt. 5: 1-12 and the teaching on the mountain Mtt. 5. 1-12
Where do we see God in our life?
God is everywhere and we can find God in all that we do and the people we meet. The fact you are able to read this message means you are blessed among billions in the world that do not have access to internet and the computer, you have eyes that are able to read compared with millions who are blind, you are blessed because you belong to a group who have a very great concern for one another. All these call for a big thanks giving to God. When you look at the nature, trees, sand, animals, birds, water, the wind, and cool/warm water breeze are all ways we can appreciate God in the creatures as St. Ignatius and other saints did. A story is told of St. Ignatius who would move at night to the balcony of his house and gets taken up to look at the stars and tears begin to flow down his cheeks with eyes fixed on the stars. This is a good thing we can try to identify with God in our life.
PRINCIPLES OF PRAYER
Spiritual teachers came up with some points to help and guide us in our prayer. These are just suggestions to look at but personally it has helped me a lot.
Prayer is an interpersonal relationship with God. It has to be internally felt by a person but not told what to do. When you pray it must be an inner most feeling in your heart. Use few words but to the point.
Prayer is an affectionate communication with God performed by the Holy Spirit and supported by the Holy Spirit. We must be ready to surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives. Prayer must be from the mind and the heart. When you pray endeavour to forgive all who offend and ask for forgiveness from all you might have offended to have a good prayer life Mtt. 6:12, and St. Paul tells us to pray with the spirit who intercedes for us Rom. 8:26.
Learn how to thank God is the simplest and yet important principle. One who does not thank is not welcome and appreciated. For our prayer life to be good we need to be thankful to God and to other people in our life and this appreciation goes to God in prayer.
Prayer is above all an expression of Love. Thank God for all that he has done in your life and has given you. Pray for empowering that is asking for God’s grace upon your decisions. Love with charitable acts to God and fellow brethren and always ask God “what do you want of me, what can I do in this situation?”
5.Prayer is to make the power of God come down in our weakness and difficulties Eph. 6:11. Make resolutions before you ask God for help. When we feel we are weak the best we can do is to call on the power of God in our weaknesses and beg for his forgiveness and mercy for having sinned against him.
The prayer of simple presence or prayer of silence is very important that is, put yourself in the presence of God without words. Quiet time in the presence of God without saying a word and without having anything to think in your mind. Put all your presence to God in Adoration.
7.The heart of prayer is in listening. Listen to the voice of God speaking to you
Our mind which has to be very clear with nothing negative moving on and it must focus only on God and the wonders God has done for us. No thought of revenge, committing a crime and plotting God always uses the normal ways to talk to us, just only listen and follow what you get. In this way we must be conscious of false positive voices from the devil. An encounter with your Spiritual Director is necessary to discern voices from God or the devil
Your will to do something. What is that you always wish to do? is it so pleasing to God according to what the church teaches us to do? A friend giving you a good advice in both spiritual and other areas of life is God talking to you through that friend. We need to always listen to the people talking to us in our communities or other places about our character and what we need to keep and what we need to drop as far as our character is concerned
Your emotions how are they, happy or remorseful, contented or dissatisfied
What are you always imagining in your life both public and private, do you imagine conversing with Jesus, Mother Mary and the Angels or something opposite to what is suggested here?
What is in your memory that you always think about, something pleasing to God or pleasing to the devil?
Christ also speaks to us through his own personal life we read from the Holy Bible and the apparition the Catholic Church approves for the Catholics to follow
He speaks to us through the Prophets and the Catholic Church Leadership especially through the Encyclical letters from the Holy Father the Pope
Place and time are important to pray and must be conducive. However, you do not need always a quiet to pray and just switch off the noise from your mind in the middle of a noisy place if it comes to your will to pray
Struggling with problems in prayer in form of distractions in prayer is very normal and is always expected in our human life. But this should not make you abandon your prayer and communication with God. Such distractions include sleep, thoughts and many others but only pray to overcome them. Our spiritual leaders encourage us to persist in prayer even if distractions come. One reason we sleep in prayer is that we go to pray when we are already tired from what we did during the day. This may necessitate a change in your prayer time or is a sign of a tired and exhausted body. Therefore, you need to take a leave from what you do and take a retreat that can nourish you and make you capable of communicating with God in prayer. If you always pray in evening hours a shift to early morning could be of help. They say what matters in prayer is the intention though the way may not be appropriate and having a target for your prayer intention matters so much and God listens to such prayers even if with a lot of distractions.
Our Father should become the basis of a Christian prayer as it is taught to us by our Lord Jesus. It should never be recited but meditated upon. The prayer of our Father covers all our life if meditated on from word to word and this should be our root of meditation on daily basis.
There are many ways we can pray in a group from the divine office, family prayers recited in a group and mental prayer which has been seen to be helpful in prayer life and all the Saints practice mental prayer or meditation on daily basis both the saints living and dead. Such meditations can focus on fining the will of God in our lives or even finding God in what we do as suggested by St. Ignatius of Loyola. If you are a farmer you need to see God in the plants and animals you keep, a teacher finds God in the pupils or students he/she teaches, a married couple must find God in the lives of the spouse and the children and home and many other examples in all the work we do. St Ignatius suggests in his Spiritual Exercises to imagine one walking side by side with Jesus or attending his sermon on the mountain or talking about the last judgement what questions will you ask him or you walk with the Lord Jesus in his Passion in the Garden on the way to Calvary how do you still up to now crucify Jesus and how do you intend to reconcile with him by being sorry for your sins and asking for forgiveness. These are just very minor suggestions but each person is to find out the best way to pray and meditate as guided by the Holy Spirit in the person prayers.
Why mental prayer and what makes up a mental prayer?
Without mental prayer a soul is without light. Someone said “they who keep their eyes shut cannot see the way of their country”. We need to realise that the external truths are all spiritual things that are seen not with the eyes of the body but with the eyes of the mind by reflection and consideration as one spiritual writer tells us. St. Bernard tells us that meditation regulates the affections, directs the actions and corrects the defects. One Saint during his life time would starve the body for weeks if his body got taken up with the lust or desires of the flesh and he would punish the body without food or drink until he would be very weak and asks the body if it can defeat God in his meditations for perfection in life aimed at sanctity. This can teach us a lesson in overcoming evils in our life with fasting. Jesus defeated the devil in the desert with fasting and prayer and this can teach us something to learn about how to achieve sanctity in life.
St. Teresa of the child Jesus said that he who neglects mental prayer needs not a devil to carry him to hell but he brings himself there with his own hands. Abbot Diodes said a similar thing that he who omits mental prayer soon becomes either a beast or a devil. St. Paul advises us that without petitions on our part God does not grant the divine help and without aid from God we ca not observe the commandments 1 Thess 5:17 that we must pray without ceasing. This prayer comes best in meditations.
St. John Chrysostom said by prayer we may obtain from God his Graces; without prayers it is absolutely impossible to lead a good life. The neglect of mental prayer is the cause of the great relaxation of morals we witness every day even in some of our religious communities and families. God wishes to be asked, compelled and he wishes to be overcome by certain importunity in prayer. Charity cannot last unless God gives perseverance, how will the Lord give us perseverance if we neglect to ask him for it. Saint Teresa again said without mental prayer there is no communication to God for perseverance of virtue. Cardinal Bellarmine said that it is impossible for he who neglects mental prayer to live without sin. Saint Augustine said to obtain divine mercy and grace, it is not enough to pray with tongues, it is necessary also to pray with the heart. Mental prayer makes one to see their own misery and return to God. Mental prayer makes a soul; modest, humble, devout and mortified in all things. Lack of mental prayer leads to wanting in modesty of the eyes, pride, resending every word, undevout, no longer frequenting the sacraments and the Church, attached to vanity, useless conversations, past times, earthly pleasures. St Chrysostom again tells us that he who does not pray to God or desires not to enjoy his divine conversation is dead….the death of a soul is not to be penetrated by God. Mental prayer is the root of fruitful vine. St. Climacus said that prayer is a bulwark against the assault of the afflictions, the spring of virtues, the procurer of graces. And Ruffina echoes a similar point when she said all the spiritual progress of the soul flow from the mental prayer, and Gerson said that he who neglects meditation cannot without a miracle lead the life of a Christian. St, Ignatius of Loyola noted that mental prayer is the short way to attain perfection and he who advances most in meditation makes the most progress in perfection.
Some virtues shown by people who live a life of meditations include the following but no exclusively limited to;
Humility and a big heart to persevere in vocation as was seen by St, Daniel Comboni and other Saints both living and dead. St. Bernard said that the truly humble man does not desire to be advertised as a humble man but wishes to be reputed and considered worthless
Feel the suffering of others and be able to heal in ways appropriate to you
Have a heart for others unconditionally
Love the poor and the suffering
Trust in the Sacred of Jesus and the Immaculate Herat of Mary at all times
Always be positive with people and their problems both personally and to others as well
Share their challenges and achievements, life with others, they always have in mind that faith without actions and good works in a relationship is dead
They are always calm, happy, have visions for the future both good and bad, trust in God at all times and all circumstances they go through in life
Therefore, a good Christian should;
Never fear to fall and when they fall they look straight to Jesus for forgiveness of their sins they commit all the time. This brings them so closer to perfection which is a step ahead to sanctity.
Looks at the cross all the time. Each time you look at Jesus on the cross fills your mind with thought about his passion and death and puts you in a position of thinking about the sins that you commit that still nail Jesus on the cross every day
They pray all the time whether in sin, sanctity, sorrows, joys and any condition they find themselves in life
They have a Spiritual Director whom they contact at all times when in need and not in need but for guidance all their life
They renew their Baptismal promises, commitments and vows all the time
They know that it is very hard to be a Christian but can move ahead and ask for the Grace of God to do this
The virtues that helped the Saints to persevere in their faith were but not limited to, they had;
Unshaken faith in God and surrendered their lives in the hands of the divine providence
They had hope in every situation that the hand of God is on their lives and so fear, death, persecutions were not an issue for them to fear in life and as such they freely gave their lives for God
They were charitable with their life, time, concerns, prayers that they freely gave their all to those in need
They loved unconditionally at all times the needy and they were not attached to anything of this world, that is why others gave all they had to the poor and needy and lived a simple life from royal life styles, something worth noting for us to think about.
Therefore, we need a heart burning with love for God and our neighbour Lk 10:27. We need therefore a very strong relationship with God, human beings, the environment to do what is so pleasing to God as all are creatures and works of the hands of the Mighty God. Therefore, we need to beware of the presence of God with us at all times both in public and private life especially in all that we do. St. Mother Teresa says at the end it is not about how many certificates and diploma we have but how much Love did we put in all that we did. So above all we need to have love in our heart so that we are able to please the Lord in all that we do.
In order to progress on mental prayer, we need to beware of the Pride in us that comes when we feel we are all and no one knows what we know and we are only mist perfect in all things and more rich in money, blessings and virtues than others Lk 18:9-14. As missionaries our attitude should be the one of the tax collector and say “God be merciful to me a sinner….”. Saints know that God is the author of all good things and live a humble life. St. Bernard again said that Pride is less hateful in the rich than the poor, so who are, are you the proud rich in money, pride, jealousy, hatred, lust?
Effects of Pride
Presumptions that is believe in yourself not the help of God and others and they take all credit for themselves even if it is at the expenses of others effort and sweat
Ambitions which is a vice making us to seek our own honour with inordinate avidity. We ned to avoid merit of honour and confess honours we get is due to God, we only use it to serve our neighbours
We are so ambitious. St. Ambrose said ambitions often makes criminals of those whom no vice would delight, whom no lust could move, whom no avarice could deceive
Envy which is sadness arising from contemplation of our neighbour’s welfare
Vain glory which is inordinate appetite for praise, desire that our merits should shine forth with glory
Boastfulness i.e. desiring to be supremely honoured above others, praises and exalts him/herself, exaggerating and amplifying things to make his/her merits appear greater than what it really is
Hypocrisy- demonstrates externally a virtue and sanctity which we do not really possesses
Disobedience i.e. violate command of our superiors/leaders, treating them with contempt/worthlessness
Discord- discrepancy of the will which prevents it from conforming to the will of God and the good of our neighbours
Therefore, these re some fruits of pride in us and the way to overcome is to practice all that has been described in this article which can be summarised as;
Avoid talking evil about others
Stop being jealousy about others
Your academic qualification of PHD, Masters, Bachelors should not be of stepping on others
If you have prayed and prayed but have not got what you want, change your attitude
In your jobs, home, community do people see you as an insecurity, security or they see Christ in you or the devil?
Great deeds make Christ to shine in you and in all that you do
Pray that God gives you that grace to persevere in prayer and good Christian virtues
Always remember that the greatest saints wanted that anybody who sees them feel peace and they were ever there for the concerns and the needs of others.
To summarise all this allow me to share with you Pope Francis’ message for the Lenten Season of 2017 which if we can try to live it in our daily lives, it can help us to find peace in our minds among the thousands of what we do all the time in our life. It does not only apply for lent but should be a life rule for any human being still living that is, they are very excellent resolutions for a Christian life on daily basis;
Fast from hurting words and say kind words
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude and gladness
Fast from anger and be filled with patience
Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope (people cannot change easily as they will)
Fast from worries and trust in God
Fast from worries and contemplate simplicity
Fast from pressures and be more prayerful
Fast from bitterness and be filled with joy
Fast from grudges and be reconciled
Fast from revenge and be merciful
Fast from selfishness and have sharing concerns
Fast from words and be silent so that you can listen (talk less and listen more)
As I wrote this it does not mean I practice all these, I am far worse than you who is reading these words. We need to pray for each other so that we can do our missionary work in the life of total self-giving to God and our neighbour.
Let us meditate on these words of Jesus in the apparitions to Vassula Ryden (2005) in True life in God be a consolation to us that “…..fear not oh sinner! If by your sins you have made yourself the slave of hell and are unable to deliver yourself, offer me to my Eternal Father and you shall escape death”. Mother Mary also echoed the same words in the same book when she said “….behold here is my son, endeavour to save your soul by offering Him frequently to God”.
May Mother Mary teach us meditation and contemplation which all made her life here on earth. Let us pray to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary to help and guide us in this journey of discovering our true identity as missionaries in search of the truth and giving this truth to ourselves and then to others, Amen
Let us give the Glory to God for all that we are we are going through whether good or bad.
Greetings from CLMU and we hope all is fine and well over there. We are moving on with everything well with the grace of God.
We had our Lenten recollection in our apostolic community of Our Lady of Africa Mbuya Parish which was facilitated by Fr. John Bosco Nambasi – MCCJ with a theme of Relevancy of Religious Life in Today’s Society- 1 Kings 3:4-13 and Mt. 6:30
He illustrated many characteristics of our world that affect our prayer life and how to live in harmony with one another and the people we administer to. Some of these characteristics include dire need/poverty, yearning for authentic spirituality, commitment/stability, unity meaning of real love of God. He further illustrated the need to live the spirit of poverty as mentioned by Pope Francis who has declared 2018 as the year for the poor which is a true reflection of the world we live in which is full of poor people. This poverty he said is of material, spiritual and otherwise.
He also tasked us to come away to some lonely place and rest awhile. This helps to listen to ourselves (discernment), pray and make relevant options for apostolic work. A life without reflection is not worth living as a great writer once said. When we retreat or recollect to a lonely place for a meaningful prayer, we are likely to attract others to ourselves and this will make us relevant to the current world we are living with full of challenges.
Many people are living like sheep without shepherd in which there is no care from family to society and the parental roles for the young ones is lacking and no guidance for those who need it. Our apostolic missions should target these people who are like sheep without shepherd. This is where majority of poor people are and we need to do all that we can to improve their lives. He said to prioritize the poor is to set to teach them and impact gospel values/virtues in society.
He further said that being as opposed to doing is what we must be aware of. “Being” refers to what our core values are as religious involving prayers, charity in addition to our vows and commitments we made. The essence of being is therefore to strive to live a life of faithfulness, justice, integrity of heart other than having long life, riches and founding oneself on capitalistic mentalities of consumerism, relativism, scientism and individualism. Doing on the other hand refers to trying to live according to public opinion and to do everything to impress the public which at the end makes us to live double life full of stress. He said the bad die early and the good do great. We must try to live a life balanced to what our daily cores demand. He urged us to pray at all times and he cited that there is scientific evidence (research work) indicating that people who pray remain at peace with themselves and others and they are likely to live longer than their counterparts (The Longevity Project a book by Dr. Leslie Martin & Dr. Howards S. Friedman reports of 20 years of follow up research on 1,500 adults since 1921). Also St. Augustine after his many years of living earthly life after finding about God remarks “you have made us Oh Lord our hearts are restless until they rest in you”. These researchers found out that people who pray get more engaged in social work and free service to others than those who do not value prayer. He emphasized the need of Lectio Divina which focuses on personal prayer focused on the scriptures which we must be able to relate to our personal life and work. He said Lectio Divina is different from community prayers like from the Breviary which many times we confuse.
This is the time also for us to renew our vows and commitments on daily basis basing on the charism of Comboni Missionaries, we need to renew our vows we made and commitments that we made the first time and see if we are still on the road or we have deviated from the originality. We need to pray at all times and Fr. Paulino Mondo MCCJ Assistant Parish Priest of Our Lady Of Africa Mbuya Parish brought it beautifully in one of the morning Masses that the Prayer of our Father has three points that we always need to focus; it teaches us to ask for food which we use to nourish us and we also need to ask for this food for the poor and needy and should endevour to do this for the benefit of others. Secondly he said it teaches us to be delivered from the sin and evil one which is the core of this Lenten period and this we can do through daily self-examination of consciousness like what St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches us in his beautiful book of Spiritual Exercises and personal reflections during our solitude moments. The third element is prepare for death as we say in the prayer of Hail Mary…..death is certain we shall die and we need to prepare for this moment sooner or later we shall die. When we come to the final judgment what shall be said of us, shall we be the people on the right of the Lord or the ones on his left who are cursed and cast into eternal hell….??? The answer must be deep in our hearts.
What should be done despite all these?
Fr. John Bosco MCCJ gave us some suggestions in how to live with the above issues that affect our life more so in the spirit of Lenten season;
We need to adapt to novelty and renew our life through putting more emphasis on prayer and fasting, common apostolate in all that we do. He said Religious life should not be run like companies that are managed aiming at making outstanding brands. We are all human beings in need of mercy of God to live a life worthy of his call. He said superiors need to look for new ways to animate communities and we must read the signs of the time in terms of technology and human development. We must come out of comfort zones that this is how it used to be done, times have changed. Members should be happy with their vocation, put Christ/Church at the centre of their life and reduce on the measure of consumption of social media, money, digital gadgets, power/politics and bodily satisfaction of sex and beauty. We must stop the saying that “I do this because of obedience” when someone puts us in such a task contrary to our vocation
He also said we live God centred life through looking at the evangelical counsels, Lectio Divina and daily reflection on the founder’s charism. Have constant proximity to the gospel values, accept your weaknesses and work on them to live faithfully.
He also said we be life care givers. There are many religious men and women today who have very wide knowledge about humanity and the institutions they run but have no heart for the human person and yet our Lord Jesus prayed that “Father may they be one…. John 17:21”. They have knowledge for excellence of institutions they run but nothing of the life in Christ. He said vows therefore help us to affirm meaning, obey the laws of nature and God and face life with realism. He finalized this point by saying “you can only make decisions from a thoughtful and discerned position if you accept the life cycle: Birth-growth-death. Let us therefore bring Christ to the people we work with, the people we lead and the people we live especially in the different institutions we lead and work with.
We were also blessed to receive MCCJ Council Members from Rome who made apostolic visit to us and it was such a wonderful moment. They tasked us to do our work in the spirit of St. Daniel Comboni to the poor and the needy. They told us to promote vocations as very many Priests and Comboni Missionary Sisters are advanced in age and there is need to bring many to the table of the Lord. Therefore everything we do we must promote the message of St. Daniel Comboni to the young people so that they carry the candle of St. Daniel Comboni burning to the rest of the world.
From Uganda we wish you all happy Lenten season as we discover where we went wrong in order to be worthy followers of Jesus and renew our lives imitating the Lord when he was in the desert for the 40 days living among the wild animals with the angels guarding him. Our wild animals include hatred, jealousy, pride, lust, gluttony, greed and many others that we call the angels to guard us from.
Eric Ezati Comboni Lay Missionaries. Uganda
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