Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Prayer

"Land of Zebulan! Land of Napthali! Way of Sea beyond Jordan! Galilee of the nations! The people that lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those who lived in a country of shadow dark as death a light has dawned."

Long before all ages amidst the dark chaos
chosen, selected from the nations,
God began creation - the artist -
In the secret womb depth of a mother
fashioned...formed...knit together...
to burst forth on an unsuspecting world life...
And how God laughed!!!

My prayer this Christmas for each of us is: May our hearts become the sacred crib, the birthing place of God-among-us. For peace and justice for all will only become manifest in our lives when we awaken to the divine design that has made each of us an emerging Emmanuel.

How many people were disturbed by the news of the birthing of Jesus? Mary was troubled, the shepherds were disturbed and Herod was deeply disturbed... are we disturbed by the birth of Jesus in our lives in every moment of every day??

May the New Year bring you every blessing and the disturbing peace and joy of Christ.

(This was sent me by Br Michael Colasuonno)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wishing all of you a Happy Christmas!

"This is the irrational season
when love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason,
there'd have been no room for the Child."
(Madeline L'Engle)

This is to wish all our readers a very Happy Christmas!! I feel that this quote in so many ways best captures the spirit and meanning of Chritmas. It is so much about being open to the workings and stirrings of God in our life so that we too might birth God in our world. Each of us is invited to birth God just as Mary did!!
So we pray that each of you will birth God in your lives so that God will be made alive to all that you encounter.

Happy Christmas to all of you and may you birth God to all that you encounter this year!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Our New Vehicle

Henry and myself drove down yesterday to Kumasi to pick up our new vehicle. Our old mini bus is now 10 years old and and has taken its fair share of battering over the years.

We booked for this new Toyota Hiace in early November. And on Tuesday I got the call to say that the vehicle was ready for delivery. We finalised all the paper work and got the mini bus registerd. Work is still in prgress with regard the transfer of ownership, and we still need to get the insurance done. I drove it back this morning. Its a good 'machine' and moves well. It is a lot more comfortable than the older one.

And I am sure it will serve the new set of novices well. Its first official "job" will be to drive the new group of novices from Accra to Tamale on the 31st of January 2009.

(My next blog entry will probably be from South Africa where I am travelling to tomorrow! I will be back in Tamale on the morning of 6th of January. Henry is holding fort all by himself until then.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Believe - Josh groban

Children sleeping, Snow is softly falling.
Dreams are calling like bells in the distance.

We were dreamers not so long ago.
But, one by one we all had to grow up.

When it seems the magic slipped away,
We find it all again on Christmas Day.

Believe in what your heart is saying, Hear the melody that's playing.
There's no time to waste, There's so much to celebrate.

Believe in what you feel inside,
And give your dreams the wings to fly.
You have everything you need If you just believe.

Trains move quickly to their journey's end.
Destinations are where we begin again.

Ships go sailing far across the sea.
Trusting starlight to get where they need to be.

When it seems that we have lost our way,
We find ourselves again on Christmas Day.

Believe in what your heart is saying,
Hear the melody that's playing.
There's no time to waste, There's so much to celebrate.

Believe in what you feel inside,
And give your dreams the wings to fly.
You have everything you need
If you just believe.

(These are the lyrics of the song that is listed third on the playlist of this blogpage)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Africa My Home - A Poem by Diarmuid O' Murchu

Long before the foot rested firmly on the soil,
Long before we modeled the first footsteps of a child,
Long before we roamed the Savannahs of the wild,
In Africa, my home, God was smiling.

Long before we stalked the animal of prey,
Long before we forged the flint stone from the clay,
Long before we distinguished the night time from day,
In Africa, my home, God was moving.

Long before the music of the rattle or the drum,
Long before the silence when the voice could only hum,
Long before the spoken word became our daily crumb,
In Africa, my home, God was weaving.

Long before we flicked two flint stones into flame,
Long before we gathered round the fireside in our playing,
Long before the power that entitled us to name,
In Africa, my home, God was carving.

Long before we ritualized our living and our dying,
Long before we solemnized our laughter and our sighing,
Long before we danced in our worshipping of high,
In Africa, my home, God was dancing.

Long before the ancients forged the ancestral line,
Long before our peoples used the night sky as a sign,
Long before our hunters and gardeners would design,
In Africa, my home, God was sculpting.

Long before the planet was divided into parts,
Long before religion bred fear into our hearts,
Long before the disempowering forces came to caste,
In Africa, my home, all knew freedom.

Long before the conquerors ravaged our resource,
Long before the missionaries brought their wisdom to impose,
Long before the west knew the planet’s source,
In Africa, my home, God had risen!

Long before the writing appeared upon a page,
Long before the White God adopted holy rage,
Long before the cross would crucify a sage,
In Africa, my home, God wrote poetry!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Call of Advent

During Advent we, like Mary, are called to let Christ grow in us from the simplicity of our daily life. We are called to allow Christ to form himself in us from the inside out. This is the special message of Advent, and this is the purpose of the Christian life. We look forward to the birth of Christ, soon, and very soon, at Christmas. But this is not just an event "out there".

Advent reminds us, day by day, that Christ is born out of the silence of our own heart. On Christmas we remind ourselves that Christ is born in us. This is where it matters for Christ to be born. If Christ is not born in us then Christmas is little more than tinsel and bright lights. But if we allow Christ to be born in us, if we invite him to be born in us, then Christmas is all it is meant to be.
(Season of Promises: Mitch Finley)

( From a recent Advent reflection I received from Penny Joy Day)

An Advent Reflection

Just today i received an email from a good friend in South Africa who has kept me posted right through the year with some spiritual nourishment. It has been a well spring in the desert!! Thanks Mrs Penny Joy Day!!

I share with you a part of the reflection that she me for Advent.... even Mary spread the good news ... for she could not contain it all for herself!!!

"It is truly a humbling experience to read back through the Old Testament and see how frail and imperfect all the "heroes" actually are. Abraham, the coward who cannot believe the promise. Jacob, the cheat who struggles with everybody. Joseph, the immature and arrogant teen. Moses, the impatient murderer who cannot wait for God. Gideon, the cowardly Baal-worshipper. Samson, the womanizing drunk. David, the power abusing adulterer. Solomon, the unwise wise man. Hezekiah, the reforming king who could not quite go far enough. And finally, a very young Jewish girl from a small village in a remote corner of a great empire.

It never ceases to amaze me why God could not have chosen "better" people to do His work in the world. Yet if God can use them, and reveal Himself through them in such marvelous ways, it means that He might be able to use me, inadequate, and unwise, and too often lacking in faith that I am. And it means that I need to be careful that I do not in my own self-righteousness put limits on what God can do with the most unlikely of people in the most unlikely of circumstances. I think that is part of the wonder of the Advent Season."
(Dennis Bratcher)


“Something in me is stirring; I think it’s the part of me that waits in lonely exile and yearns for a homeland. It’s the hidden part of me that wanders aimlessly, stumbling in the dark, crying to be found. O God of exiles and strangers, find the homeless parts of me; Guide them toward yourself, for you are my promised land. Take the stranger inside of me and find familiar soil for it. Keep me mindful of the Emmanuel, whose sojourn brought a glimpse of home.” – Joyce Rupp

Advent is the season for exiles, it is a time of waiting, a time for yearning for the light to dispel the darkness. It is time to reclaim what we have lost in our hearts. It is not meant to be a cozy, self-satisfied time in which we wait for ‘baby Jesus’ to be born. Rather than focus on the historical event of Jesus’ birth, this season challenges us to attend to our own place of exile and whether or not this savior who has been born and lived on our earth has made a difference in our lives.

Have we taken to heart the promises of hope that he holds out to us? Do we have a great yearning in our heart for the sacred?

Let us pray for each other and implore the God of All Exiles to reveal to us the part of ourselves in exile, the part that is wandering and needs to come home. As we experience this Advent, we trust that You will guide us to our true self where You dwell.

“In you may the light and darkness,
the wilderness and the wastelands,
the stream in the desert and the flowers in the wildness
And may the light and the shadow deep within the cave of your heart
Be the place for Jesus to be born anew.”

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ghana Votes 2008

Ghana goes to the polls tomorrow to elect a new President and 240 members of Parliament under the shadow of recent electoral violence and malpractice in various African countries. Kenya and Zimbabwe had their problems this year where rigging and violence was rampant. Our neighbours Ivory Coast have once again postponed their elections. Our other not too distant neighbours, Nigeria where rigging was rife are even today after one year contesting some disputed election results. But it’s not all gloom and doom when it comes to election is Africa. Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Zambia have all had peaceful transitions of political leadership.

Democracy is young in Africa. In 1957 Ghana was the first country to win independence on this continent. In the course of its independent history civilian rule was often interrupted by military coups until democracy returned with some form of stability in 1992.

This is a multi party democracy but two parties (NPP & NDC) have ruled the roost and held sway over the country for the last 16 years. We are led to believe that there are three main contenders for the Presidency – Nana Akufo-Addo of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), John Atta Mills of the National Democratic Convention (NDC) and Papa Kwesi Ndoum of the Convention People’s Party (CPP). The ruling NPP dominates in the Ashanti and Central Regions of the country and the NDC has massive support in the Volta Region and the Northern Region of Ghana.

And though Ghanaians have made it clear that they prefer democracy with all its flaws to military rule or anarchy we pray that the elections will go off peacefully and that all people will respect the outcome of this election whether it is favourable to their party or not.

Expanding The Vision!

Following our recent Congregation Chapter in Munnar, India we were invited to expand our vision. It is in this context that the document states..."When our ancestors reflected deeply on Mystery in creation, they came to understand that Earth, Air, Fire and Water were at the heart of this great Mystery."

We used these four invitations as our Offertory prayers during the profession ceremony.

Earth: Earth invites us to be grounded in healthy, intimate relationships within community. We are called to live our brotherhood in deepening relationships with men and women who wish to share Edmund’s charism. We pray that we open our hearts and respond to those whose hearts are broken through isolation, sickness and disease, injustice, ignorance, poverty and violence.

Air: Air calls us to wander freely across boundaries of spirituality and culture while anchoring ourselves firmly within our own religious tradition. We pray that we be open to the invitation to deepen our understanding of the Divine Mystery in all of life and creation.

Fire: Fire inspires us to be a passionate and compassionate presence within the wider community. We are inflamed with the Spirit of Jesus and Edmund, daring to be different, ‘to be the change that we wish to see in the world.’ We pray that we risk ventures in community and ministry in a new way.

Water: Water energises us to flow freely in collaboration with others. It invites us into action, to engage in ministry with people at the margins and be open to conversion through the dislocation we experience. We do this through education, care and actions for justice and eco-justice. We pray that we nurture the desire in us to be advocates for the voiceless, especially the young and those being deprived of life by exploitation and systemic injustice.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Profession celebration continued at night!!

The Brothers gathered again that evening to celebrate the day. It was an evening to express gratitude and thanks for all that had transpired in our lives bringing us to this day.

It was a gathering celebrating our brotherhood and our companionship.

Certificates were given out to the newly professed for the time they had spent in the novitiate learning and experiencing.

Day of First Profession!

On the 22nd of November 12 young men professed their vows for the first time as Christian Brothers. This was the first time that first professions were held in the novitiates. Our novitiate in Stellenbosch had their profession on the 19th of November. This year saw the African Province blessed with 20 first professions.

We were blessed to have the whole African Province Leadership Team (PLT) present for the day with four of them arriving on the morning of the profession. The PLT would stay on after the profession to have a four-day meeting.

The Eucharistic celebration for the Profession of vows which took place at the SS Peter and Paul Church was celebrated by the Archbishop of Tamale, Gregory E. Kpiebaya. The Eucharist which drew heavily on our recent Chapter documents invited all present to enter into the mystery of God's call and specifically to the call of risking and daring to be brother. This same theme was taken up by Br Richard Walsh, the Province Leader, in his homily.

A short Power Point presentation to the words of the song "Standing on the Shoulders" highlighted how right through our history people have responded to God's call. It reminded us that it was back on 26th August 1897 that Brs Jarlath Mullan, Malachy Conlon and Evangelist Delaney first stepped on African shores when they arrived to work in Kimberly, South Africa. And it was for the effort and work of all the men that followed that today we have well near 114 African born brothers in the Province. This set the mood for the 12 men to profess their vows, it was on the shoulders of these men who had gone before that they stood bolding professiong their vows of Poverty, Obedience and Chastity for one year.

Following the Eucharistic celebration the people joined us in a celebratory lunch at the Catholic Youth Centre. It was wonderful occasion to share a meal with peole who had walked with us during the two years. People who had welcomed us among their midst and made us 'strangers' feel at home. We thank them for their care and concern, for the welcome and whole hearted acceptance.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Day of Closure

On the 19th of November we formally brought the curtain down on the Novitiate experience for 2007-2008. The whole day led us through a process of remembering and letting go, of celebrating and thanking, of holding and closing.

We began the day by walking through our property and house recollecting and sharing memories of the various places. It was a moving experience to recall and share, to remember with joy and some degree of sadness, to laugh and shed a tear, to speak and to listen!

This took us a long time but the time went by quickly as each accessed scenes from our memory and brought them before the eyes of the community with such vividity that it all seemed so real all over again.

We spent the afternoon clearing the clutter from rooms. That evening we had a bon fire to burn all that we no longer needed. With it we were burning not only the remnants and the rags, the waste and the garbage from our rooms but also from our minds. It was a moment of cleansing and purifying. Were we burning our boats on these shores to travel light and fresh on new shores??

In the evening we gathered around the fountain to bring the novitiate experience to a close. We had shared so much now it was just time to sit in silence and listen as scripture spoke to us of Kingdom and seed, of sower and growth, of planting and nurturing. The seed was planted, nurtured, watered and now it was growing.
We finished the evening with planting the saplings that we had been tending and nurturing since our environment week. Just as we nurtured the saplings into healthy little plants that will one day provide shade to and beauty for another to appreciate, we leave with the sense that our lives will do the same for those that will follow!!