Tuesday, 16 May 2017

HE IS RISEN!!!!




Last week on Wednesday at the audience, Pope Francis made a proposal to all Christians, that at Easter we should greet one another saying: “Il Cristo e risorto; E veramente risorto”, which means Christ is risen, and the other answers: He is truly risen. It’s a way of wishing that the Risen Lord may be alive in each one of us.

Dear brothers and sisters, this night is the Mother of All Nights. It is because of this night that we are here, that I know you and you know me, that some left Kenya, Tanzania, Mbarara, Spain, South Korea, America and even Congo to be here.

But on this night, Christ is risen and this is the foundation of our faith. That is why this night is different from others; it is the Mother of All Nights.

What is the meaning of Easter?

To speak of it, I will use the word “Pasch” because it is closer to the origin.

In some of our Bantu and local languages, it is PASKA.

This word is from Hebrew PESAH (Swahili people, don’t think of money!) and in Greek: PASCHA.

It is to pass from one side to another. It is the PASS-OVER, a PASSAGE.

I would like to speak of three PESAH: The Jewish Pesah; the Pesah of Jesus and our own Pesah today.

The Jewish PESAH:

As we all know, The Hebrews were slaves in Egypt and God decided to free them from that slavery through the guidance of Moses. The exterminator angel (the angel exterminator) was jumping the houses of the Israelites and killing only the first-born of the Egyptians. He was passing over. « And when your children ask you, ‘what does this ritual mean?’ you will tell them, “it is the Passover sacrifice in honour of Yahweh who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, and struck Egypt but spared our houses.’” Ex. 12, 26-27

Then to go to the Promised Land, the Israelites passed through the Red Sea on foot. That was also a Passover. But the real Passover for them is that change from the Land of Slavery to the Promised Land, the Land of freedom and Happiness. The Pesah is the liberation feast for the Jews. They have to celebrate it every year.

The PESAH of Jesus Christ:

It is also a passage. Passage from death to life. The victory of life over death. The victory of Love over hatred. The victory of Hope over despair.

The tomb is empty. The Lord has defeated death and the power of Satan.

His Resurrection is the foundation of our faith. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is pointless and you have not, after all, been released from your sins. In addition, those who have fallen asleep in Christ are utterly lost. If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are of all people the most pitiable. In fact, however, Christ has been raised from the dead, as the first –fruits of all who have fallen asleep”. 1 Cor 15, 17-20

Christ is risen, and his mode of presence is different from the way he was present before the Resurrection. Now he is not limited by space and time. The Risen Lord is alive in all of us here. He can be present to many people at the same time.

Our PESAH today:

As for the Jews and for Jesus, our Pesah is also a passage. As human beings, we can have many passages in our life. I would like to mention three.

  • The first passage is from non-being to being, through our parents. We were not, then God called us into existence through our parents, and we became human beings. For this passage, our point of view is not needed. Our parents decide, then we find ourselves as human beings. What depends on us is what we want to make of our lives.
  • The second passage depends on us, on our free will and decision: it is from our human existence to what I call a humano-divine existence.  That is when we choose to belong to God, to believe in him. Some people refuse this passage, they prefer to keep only the human existence. Once we choose God, we choose Eternal life.
  • The last passage is from this life to death. Those who refuse God in their life think that the passage from life to death is the end of human existence. For us who believe in God, death is just a passage from this way of life to another one of which the Resurrection of Jesus is the prefiguration.

The Paschal experience for the disciples of Jesus was the experience that something new was happening in their lives.

As for the disciples of Jesus, we should also experience the newness of life in us. For that, we need to acknowledge that we have been taking the path of death, then to renounce it.

At times we have some signs of death in our lives. Look into your lives, you will see them. For instance telling lies, stealing, criticizing others, gossiping, cheating, being biased about people, being wicked towards others, jealousy, hypocrisy, hatred, etc. These are ways of death which at times we take. Jesus is inviting us to renounce them so that we may experience the power of his Resurrection.

At the beginning of Lent most of us took some resolutions. Now the temptation to go back to Egypt can be strong, that is the temptation to go back to our old behaviours.

Do not go back to Egypt.

Let us try our best to become good people. Each one should be good to himself then to others, and we will be good to one another. There is no need to be wicked.

We ask the Lord to help us experience the power of his Resurrection in our being.

Pesah is transformation. Pesah is new life. Pesah is a life journey.



                                                        Cekoroba Arsène




Monday, 15 May 2017

EASTER MONDAY HISTORICAL SITES PILGRIMAGE



We left our house at 6:15am and arrived in Kampala around 8am. We were nine candidates of the Missionaries of Africa, Lavigerie house-Jinja, and four aspirants from Holy Cross sisters who joined us. The whole pilgrimage was guided by Fr. Otto Kato, the vocation animator of Missionaries of Africa, Uganda sector.

Easter Monday was one of the well spent days in Lavigerie house, as we continued to enjoy the fruits of Easter. It is a tradition here in Lavigerie house that every Easter Monday the first years go out to pay pilgrimage to the remarkable and Holy sites of Missionaries of Africa, as well as, the Catholic Church in Uganda and the whole world at large. Most of the areas we visited were Namugongo Catholic Martyr’s shrine and protestant shrine, Kigungu, the place where our first missionaries (Brother Amans and Fr. Loudel Mapeera),  stepped the first foot when the just entered Buganda Kingdom. Another place we visited was Namulagala parish where the first missionaries celebrated the first Eucharistic Celebration was celebrated. However they were many other places to be visited, but due to limited time we could not visit all places. 

It was such a great time as we were challenged and inspired by the courage the Martyrs had. To die for their faith is a great inspiration. The missionary zeal of Br. Amans and Fr. Mapeera inspired all of us. The whole pilgrimage was wonderful, as we shared different experiences.  Thanks to our formators who gave us such a beautiful chance to experience what it really means to be a missionary. Above all I  thank God who made it all possible for us to have such glorious experience of what faith is all about. As in the book of James, not words alone but faith accompanied by good actions witnessed through His Martyrs and His two servants Amans and Loudel we receive His grace.

Isaac Ogwang

Sunday, 14 May 2017

PASTORAL EXPERIENCE REFLECTION AT HOME OF HOPE


Bamutaze Jean-Marie Vianney
One of my profound moments in my three-year-journey in Lavigerie House has been in the pillar of pastoral work, one of the four formation pillars. I have done pastoral in various places in the three years and they have all been moments of joy, challenge, strength and growth, but I would like to put to light the one of my final (third) year in Lavigerie House: which is Home of Hope, where I have worked for a full year.

Home of Hope is a home or center for children with multiple disabilities, they offer internal and outreach (home based) services to handicapped children. They offer different basic services, among them are; parental love and care, basic needs, education, empowerment, therapies, the list is endless. This is done after studying the nature of the debility of the child and then assess what he or she is able to do.

Before my appointment to Home of Hope, I had had and heard enough prejudices, biases and rumors, all these were surely negative. I had developed a disinterested love and appreciation of the place. Honestly, except developing these through here-says from people, I had no idea of what Home of Hope is! Not even the location! However, upon appointment, just imagine how my first spell to the place was-like!

Jean-Marie and Moses serving at Home of Hope

Nonetheless, I realized, upon arrival, that I had been to places of the kind before; like Sheshire (Katalemwa), Kampala, but this memory came later. It is justifiable for one to assert that Home of Hope needs a person with a strong but passionate heart to be there for even thirty minutes. What challenged me is finding all the children, each with his or her own incapacitatedness but happy, smiles all over, I was first welcomed by one who hugged me over six times in a single minute, Oh My God! Though I embraced him as well, I was hesitant, for it was my first time in the place, our first encounter with the person and etc.

The other side of it is that I cannot really explain how my love for the place and the children found place in the deepest bosom of my heart. Really this is the place I have loved and desired to do more for, always, as long as within my potentials. I thank God, the staff was kind enough, to offer special help to the place, as a community in our common pool of Samaritan Fund, we were able to extend more support to the place. I feel privileged to have had that experience which I really found indispensable in my life.

I think Home of Hope and the prisons have been the most visited pastoral places by the formators this academic year. This was a noble image; formators accompanied us (I and my pastoral mate Moses Ashango). Many people from both within and outside our community could once in a while accompany us, different movements like Peace and Justice Club of PCJ also worked hand in hand with us.

The challenging moments were when it came to riding especially under and after the rains, as the road network is still poor and the place is somehow distant. However, the greatest challenge was when some of the people who accompanied us, sworn never to go back as they could run impatient with the situation, some could fear to touch the children, some even refused to enter the house and kept regretting why they had visited. It raised many questions in me because it was a time when my love for the place had found immensity in my heart, I was happy with the children, we could play, make fun though we largely employed sign and body languages. What kept me strong are the such beautiful moments I used to have with the children and the other people who worked there, I just imagined how they push on day by day before I could hate the one day in a week that I visit the place. The other comfort were the words of Cardinal Lavigerie, “Be nothing but Apostles and nothing but Apostles.”

My joy was when I felt loved by the children, they could play and laugh with me! I could sense how our arrival would bring in a new gear, I felt proud of the place. These children, though incapacitated, they knew who loved them and they reciprocated these feelings.

Home of Hope reminds me so much of my first year, first semester, when old as I was, became debilitated for almost the entire semester. I was down with a fracture on the right leg, carrying the cast (POP) for at least two months, yet little signs of healing were realized after removing the POP, all that time I was walking only by the help of either the clutches, wheel chair or people around me. Honestly, on my own I could not do anything of the kind, in a way I was handicapped. I feel this is the climax of the history I share with my beloved friends at Home of Hope. The love and care I got during my time of disability is the debt I felt always. Meeting such friends who are immobilized like I was in my first year, I felt I had gotten the chance to payback or even reciprocate the love and care I got during my incapacitation. I always felt I owe them this love and care! Love and care that is fully unconditional. Perhaps God took me through all that first year experience to prepare me for Home of Hope! Thanks Lord! The humane feelings I developed during my faintness in which I experienced the “beauty of pain” are the same that have driven me through this year’s pastoral experience at Home of Hope. The happiness I lived that time is what I share with others I meet in the similar state. I neither regret the fracture nor having worked at Home of Hope!

What I can say is that all human kind is in the race towards a destiny, the destiny is happiness and absolute happiness rests in God, as St Augustine put it “our hearts are restless until they rest in you, oh God”, much as I need my happiness, I acknowledge that the disabled are human beings who need happiness as well. My duty to them is not limited to love, peace, justice, appreciation and empowerment thus, happiness. This is what Cardinal Lavigerie called the “ultimate call to humanity.”

This also reminds me that before God, each of us is in one way or the other handicapped, given our human struggles, failures and limitations. Through his son, Jesus Christ, God empowers and capacitates us in the unconditional love the Lord had for us, to the extent of giving up his life for our salvation. Sin had enslaved us, sin had incapacitated us physically, socially, morally and spiritually, but through the blood of Jesus, poured for our redemption, we are made a new and fully empowered, abled and strong. God’s healing touch also reveals itself to these immobilized children through us. Though they are of different disabilities, metaphysically God has endowed and abled them with various talents; some are excelling learners, some are good at art, music, relating, powerful intuition, telepathy, to mention but a few, I do not even feel happy to use the words; “disabled or handicapped” while referring to them. In all I have come to tell that; Disability Is Not Inability! I pray and believe we have been MESSENGERS OF HOPE TO GOD’S PEOPLE!

By Bamutaze Jean-Marie Vianney