Friday, February 27, 2009

Today - A poem by Hafiz

I do not want to step so quickly
Over a beautiful line on God's palm
As I move through the earth's

I do not want to touch any object in this world
Without my eyes testifying to the truth
That everything is my Beloved.

Something has happened
To my understanding of existence
That now makes my heart
always full of wonder and kindness.

I do not want to step so quickly
Over this sacred place on God's body
That is right beneath your own foot

As I dance with
Precious life

Thursday, February 26, 2009

One day at a time

Time belongs to God. Now is all we are sure of. There may not be a tomorrow. Use today, live today. Don’t borrow sorrow from tomorrow. The troubles that never come are the ones that fret and worry us most. Take one step at a time. The steps that wound us most are the ones we imagine. Be patient and tolerant and uncomplaining, just today. Do todays duty, fight today’s temptations as bravely as you can. Don’t try to see the things of tomorrow because even if you could see, you might not understand. We cannot see beyond these short horizons, which make life so much easier. The secret I brave, good happy living, is to get through one day at a time and be grateful. Just one day, nothing more.
(Sydney Muponda)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reflections on Lent ... Extract from Province Circular

The familiar story of the rich young man is instructive in that the man recognised that while he had kept all the commandments and was undoubtedly a good person, there was emptiness at his core. What he had was existence. What he was seeking was ‘life’. His problem was that he could not let go of what was binding him and what gave him his identity and meaning. He lacked freedom. He lacked depth. He was not whole.

This story sums up the gospel and our own lives too. Jesus had remarkable insight in that he could see that there was no way into the fullness and freedom of ‘life’ except through detachment. He made and still makes huge demands on those who would follow him. Leave your nets, your father’s house, let the dead bury the dead, take no money, no extra clothes, no bag. In other words, surrender for the sake of oneness with the mystery of life.

Only when we develop an inner freedom can we detach from possessions, family, occupation, ministry, profession, reputation, luxuries, ideas, practices, addictions, compulsions, certainties, success, even life itself.

The utterly brilliant St John of the Cross writes somewhere that it does not matter if a bird is tied by a cord or a thread, it is still unfree.

He specifies that some of the things to which we may have become attached could in themselves be neutral or even at one time good, but they can become for us little gods.

For John of the Cross, to be human is to be in a relationship of oneness with God. Inordinate attachments render that impossible.
Our problem can be that we tend to cling to these things, or at least some of them, because we have become accustomed to finding our meaning and identity in them, even while knowing deep down that they are shallow and illusory. We can be, in other words, slaves to our egos……condemned to illusion and separation… the antithesis of eternal life. Eternal life, with apologies to John the Evangelist, is participating in that exciting 15 billion year old oneness that carries us hope-filled in the never-ending and unconditional loving embrace of God.

We know that life can become very cluttered and noisy. Sometimes the clutter and noise is external, sometimes it is within ourselves.

Lent offers us an opportunity to come in deeper touch with our true selves. As persons of the gospel, we have nothing to offer if we do not do that. If, in our mission and ministry, we are no more than our egos, we are doing more harm than good, because while claiming to be the good news of Jesus we are in fact modelling the rich young man; a good person, but empty inside. This is not the way to freedom. This is not the reign of God.

The inner peace which results from the discipline of detachment frees us to become agents for the reign of God. We recognise that the dignity of being human is found not in the ability to control and dominate the earth but in our intimate and loving relationships within and among all creation. Imagine if transmitting this insight, by word and deed, were to became a hallmark of all our Christian Brother activities, ministries and interactions.

Ash Wednesday

On this day when we are reminded with the ashes that we are dust and to dust we shall return, recall that we all carry in us that same stardust that gave birth to the Universe and so "Remember you are stardust and to stardust you shall return!!"

May we live this season of Lent ...

"Compassionate of heart
Gentle in word
Gracious in awareness
Courageous in thought
Generous in love."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Encircled by God

As we begin the season the Lent tomorrow I echo the words of Edwina Gately in my prayer for you ...
"In a still gray moment
in a quiet lonely place
may God's gentle mantle enfold you
and circle you with grace.
May Her sweet breath brush upon you
and warm your body through,
her gracious arms encircle you
like a flower wrapped with dew.
may you truly know within
that you are God's delight,
and She longs to hold and love you
through your deep, deep night."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lent - Joyce Rupp

The cosmos dreams in me
while I wait in stillness,
ready to lean a little further
into the heart of the Holy.

I, a little blip of life,
a wisp of unassuming love,
a quickly passing breeze,
come once more into Lent.

No need to sign me
with the black bleeding ash
of palms, fried and baked.
I know my humus place.

This Lent I will sail
on the graced wings of desire,
yearning to go deeper
to the place where
I am one in the One.

Oh, may I go there soon,
in the same breath
that takes me to the stars
when the cosmos dreams in me.

© Joyce Rupp

Sunday, February 22, 2009

"If you only knew what God is offering you!"

What was Jesus offering the Samaritan woman at well? What was Jesus offering all those he called to follow him?? What is Jesus offering each one of us today?? I believe that Jesus was inviting each of them, as he is each one of us, to share in his intimate experience of God. Discipleship is first and foremost entering into the relationship with God that Jesus had!

We come to religious life only to seek God…even though we might have huge dreams and notions of saving the world and eradicating poverty and injustice… “The religious must be the person who first and foremost, always and forever, in whatever circumstance, seeks God and God alone, sees God and God alone in all of this confusion, in all of this uncertainty and, whatever the situation, speaks God - and God alone.”

Nothing in the life that we have chosen is more important that our quest for God … and “for the person who cannot find God here, staying here is a mistake. For the person who does not seek God here, leaving here is a must. For the person who can find God better someplace else, leaving here will be a grace.”

Philip Pinto, our Congregation leader in a recent address to Brothers said: “The fundamental call of Religious Life is always to find God, to deepen one’s relationship with God. We have been on this journey for years. The danger with this is that for many of us we feel that now we are in a comfortable relationship with God, that the God we have known all these years is all there is to know. We get upset with people who question this understanding of God, who question the Church, who challenge long-held beliefs and belittle the devotional practices we were brought up on.”

Entering fully into the Jesus like relationship with God ...
- demands that we view life and the world with God’s eyes and through God’s eyes.
- Invites us into a radically different kind of life where our limited and tunnelled world view is challenged
- Moves us to compassion and to seek justice with a passion

Friday, February 20, 2009

David Otieno's Birthday

On the 18th of February we celebrated the 25th birthday of David Otieno. We had a Eucharist to mark the day and then had a lovely celebration after supper to celebrate the gift of Otieno to the novitiate community. Jordaan and Peter Ndivo baked three cakes for us!! And along with the ice cream they made for a good dessert. Likisi got the community going with his dancing and soon had the whole community up on its feet moving to the some good Sierra Leonean music! It was enjoyable night and celebrated not only Otieno but the gift that each one is to the other in the community.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Opening of Novitiate Year

On the 14th of February we were formally welcomed into our novitiate experience. We had a brief but meaningful liturgy which through song, ritual, reflection and readings from our Constitutions, Scripture and Chapter Document underlined our invitation to enter more fully into our journey to discover the God who awaits us.

The liturgy reminded us of the importance of our active quest for God, and of our need to engage the world and the issues of the world especially those of Africa. We were also assured by the fact that even in times of loss, despair, frustration, fear we would not be alone as we would find courage and strength in the words that Jesus oft spoke to his disciples ..."Take courage... do not be afraid... I am with you."

We were each presented with a copy of the Constitutions of the Christian Brothers, the Chapter Documents and the Logo of the Congregation to mark our entry into the novitiate. At the very beginning of the liturgy, in keeping with a Zambian tradition, we were welcomed by the Formation Team by tying a cloth around our shoulders.

We concluded the liturgy by the breaking and sharing of bread which was a sign of our companionship and community, our oneness with Jesus and with one another. Following that we had a wonderful night of celebration enjoying the brotherhood and sisterhood that we shared with our neighbours and fellow Religious in Tamale.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

On Valnetine's Day .. let us spread the message of love!

Love, love changes everything Hands and faces, earth and sky
Love, love changes everything How you live and how you die
Love, can make the summer fly Or a night seem like a lifetime
Yes love, love changes everything
Now I tremble at your name
Nothing in the world will ever be the same

Love, love changes everything Days are longer, words mean more
Love, love changes everything Pain is deeper than before
Love will turn your world around And that world will last forever
Yes love, love changes everything
Brings you glory, brings you shame
Nothing in the world will ever be the same

Off into the world we go Planning futures, shaping years
Love burts in and suddenly all our wisdom disappears
Love makes fools of everyone All the rules we made are broken
Yes love, love changes everyone
Live or perish in its flame
Love will never never let you be the same

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what gets you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” (Pedro Arupe sj)

Entry into Novitiate

Today marks the day that we will formally start our novitiate year. We have a liturgy this evening to launch our novitiate experience. We have invited about 35 guests to join us to celebrate this day when we take another step on our journey to discover and explore.

We believe that as disciples of Jesus, who enter more deeply into the Mystery of God through our lived experience as brothers in community and mission, we will
  • be ever open to exploring the mystery of God in all of Creation;
  • reflect on the Jesus story in the light of our evolving understandings of the cosmos;
  • build healthy, compassionate communities living a heart-centered spirituality and supporting one another in mission;
  • open our hearts to the cry of the poor and the earth and to be moved to prophetic action through advocacy and works of justice; and
  • allow the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice to ‘fly free’ with freshness into finding new expressions.

We hope that as God continues to nourish us by the Word and strengthen us by an unwavering presence you will continue to keep us in your prayers so that the work God has begun through us might come to its completion.

Vision statement for 2009-2010

We are just after completing two days of visioning and at the end of the process this is what emerged as our vision for the next two years as Novices at the Br Paul Noonan Formation Centre, Tamale.

We, the African
Christian Brother
novices in Tamale,
inspired by
the radical Jesus and
his call to discipleship,

heart centered spirituality,
discern and grow responsibly
to reach out with passion
to the poor and the earth.

Monday, February 9, 2009

At the concluding prayer for the "telling of our Stories" we used this extract from John O' Donohue's 'Eternal Echoes'.

"Each one of us is inevitably involved in deciphering who we actually are. There is no other who can answer that question for you. 'Who are you?' is a surface question which has a vast, intricate rootage. Who are you behind your mask, your role? Who are you behind your words? Who are you when you are alone with yourself? In the middle of the night when you awake, who are you then? Is it one of the unnoticed achievements of daily life to keep the wild complexity of your real identity so well hidden that most people never suspect the worlds that collide in your heart?

There are no manuals for the construction of the individual you would like to become. You are the only one who can decide this and take up the lifetime of work that it demands. This is such a wonderful privilege and such an exciting adventure. To grow into the person that your deepest longing desires is a great blessing. If you can find a creative harmony between your soul and your life, you will have found something infinitely precious. You may not be able to do much about the great problems of the world or change the situation you are in, but if you can awaken the eternal beauty and light of your soul, then you will bring light wherever you go. The gift of life is given to us for ourselves and also to bring peace, courage and compassion to others."

Telling of our Stories

“My eyes can no longer hide the wondrous fact of who you really are”

We told our stories, that’s all.
We sat and listened to each other
and heard the journeys of each soul.
We sat in silence entering each one’s pain
and sharing each one’s joy.
We heard love’s longings and lonely reaching out
for love and affirmation.
We heard of dreams shattered and visions fled,
Of hopes and laughter turned stale and dark.
We felt the pain of isolation and the bitterness of death.

But in each brave and lonely story
God’s gentle life broke through
And we heard music in the darkness
and smelt flowers in the void.
We felt the budding of creation
in the searchings of each soul,
And discerned the beauty of God’s hand
in each muddy, twisted path.

And God’s voice sang in each story,
God’s life sprang from each death.
Our sharings became one story
of a simple lonely search for life
And hope and oneness in a world
which sobs for love.
And we knew that in our sharing
God’s voice with mighty breath was saying,
Love each other and take each other’s hand,
for you are one though many, And in each of you I live.
So listen to my story and share my pain and death.
Oh listen to my story and rise and live with me.

The Novitiate Community in Tamale

Standing (L-R): Otieno, Paul, Sunday, Peter K, Brian, Cornelius, Nicholas, Peter N, Henry, Prince, Vivek
Sitting (L-R): Frank, James, John, Sydney, Jordaan, Chris, Likisi

Introducing our 15 new men!!

Jordaan Sagarias Rikambura is my name, born in Keetmanshoop on the 26th of July 22 years ago and bred in Soutput my rural home village (Namibia). I am Otjiherero by tribe. We are six children in our family, 3 boys and 3 girls. I am the 3rd born. I completed my matric in 2003. My journey with the Christian Brothers started last year. I did my pre novitiate in Bulawayo (Zimbabwe). Mahatma Gandhi once said “Be the change you want to see in the world” and that’s why I am in Tamale, Ghana today.

I am Paul Mutuku Mbithi born on 2nd of November 1980 in Kangundo, Kenya in a family of eight, six brothers and two sisters and I am the sixth born. I am a Catechist and social worker by Profession. I knew the brothers for a long time but joined the pre-novitiate 2008 in Arusha, Tanzania. I like cycling and listening to music. Tamale is very hot but the people love their tradition.

My name is Chipango K.S Brian. I am Zambian by nationality, born on the 14th of January 1984, in Kalabo district, western province. I am the 2nd born in the family of four, two brothers and one sister. I received my secondary education at St. Columba’s in Lukulu. The school is run by the Christian Brothers, and that is where I came to meet them in 2004. In 2007 I was invited for a come and see programme in Moreau house, Mazabuka and that is where I did my postulancy as well. Tamale seems to be a good place to be, despite the hot weather.

Pengnyin Cornelius is my name. I am a Ghanaian from Wa, in the upper west region. My hometown is Nandom – Fielmuo. I am 29 years of age, born on 22nd September 1979. I am a Dagarti by tribe. I am from a polygamous family. I am the last born of the 1st wife. My mother has 3 sons and 1 daughter. My parents are not Christians. I am a Technician by profession. I did my pre-novitiate in Sierra-Leone last year. I like reading and watching TV.

I am Chrispinus Munialo. I was born in Busia district, western Kenya on 13 October 1983. I am Luhya by tribe but can speak Swahili. We are 8 in our family, me being the 2nd born. I met the brother’s way back in 2006. I was invited for a come and see in 2007 and joined the pre-novitiate in Arusha, Tanzania. I am trying to cope with the weather in Tamale. I hope to enjoy the novitiate and to learn a bit of dagbani.

I am Innocent Mubanga Likisi, born in a family of five, three boys and 2 girls. I did my education in Mongu, Western province in Zambia at St. John’s Secondary School. I did my pre-novitiate in Mazabuka 2008. I like listening to music, reading and interacting with people.

David Otieno Oyugi. I was born in family of four being the 1st born. I am a Kenyan and a Luo by tribe. I hold a diploma in social work and community development. “Risking being different” I joined the brothers and I did my pre-novitiate in Arusha, Tanzania and had a wonderful experience in the courses offered.

I, Peter Muthini Ndivo was born on the 12th of November 1981. I am a Kamba from Makueni, Kenya. I am the 4th born in a family of six, 2 brothers and 4 sisters. I studied in Magadi Primary and Magadi Secondary School. I did a course in computers in 2001 and catechetical training and formation in 2006 – 2007. I like swimming, table tennis, cycling, singing and being with the youths. I have worked with HIV patients and orphans during my pre-novitiate in Tanzania. I look forward to being a Christian Brother, entrusted with the service of humanity, enriching my spirituality and that of others.

This is Sydney Muponda. Born on August 7th 1988. First born of a brother and a sister. I grew and did my education in Kasama, northern Zambia. I am a patriotic Bemba by tribe. My hobbies include nature, music, cooking, soccer and discovering new people and places. It was in 2007 when I begun the search for Gods will to renew the earth with the Christian Brothers. “Go forth from your land” … now I am in Tamale, Ghana. So far it’s lovely hot weather but cool and friendly people around.

I am Constantine Sunday Otieno, born on 18 August 1986 in Nakuru district, Kenya in a family of six. In 2005 after my final secondary exams I did a certificate in computer studies. I joined my pre-novitiate in Arusha, Tanzania 2008 and was entrusted to dealing with mentally and physically disabled kids and later to a Vocational College where I was doing communication skills with the students. Tamale is a town which is developing compared to where I was. I am open to new possibilities and challenges.

My name is Peter Amara Kabia, I was born on the 31st May 1978 in a town called Lunsar, northern Sierra Leone. I am Temene by tribe and I am the 3rd born in a family of two girls and four boys. After my secondary school I went to pursue a Teachers Certificate for three years. I joined the Brothers in 2008. I did my pre-novitiate in Bo, Southern part of my Country. My hobbies are listening to the radio, singing and teaching.

James Malunga. I was born 1981 in Lusaka, Zambia. My hobbies are singing, reading, watching movies and discovering new things. I met the Brothers when I was in Teachers college in 2004 and I became interested. I am now at “Br Paul Noonan formation centre in Tamale, Ghana. Like Edmund Rice (founder of the Christian Brothers) I would like to take part in the formation of the youths and behavior change. Young men take a step and join us!

Hello! And welcome to my world. I am Nicholas Linus Odhiambo. I was born on 17th August 1984 in a family of eight, four boys and four girls, me being the sixth born. I was born and brought up in a village called Nyando, Kisumu. I am a Kenyan of the proud Luo tribe. I knew the Christian Brothers in 2006, August, but joined the pre-novitiate in Arusha Tanzania, January 2008 after which I was invited for the novitiate in Tamale. My hobbies are playing Volleyball, cycling and constructive reading. May Jesus live in our hearts.

I am John Foday Bainda. I was born in Jaima Bongor Chiefdom Bo district, Sierra Leone in the year 1979 on December 22nd. I have one sister and two brothers. I came to know the brothers from the time that I was an altar boy. I always saw them coming up to the altar assisting the priest during communion, but it was in 2006 when one of the Brothers was promoting vocation in our parish that I got to know the Brothers well by the information given to us as a group. I did my pre-novitiate in 2008 at the Formation House Pastoral Centre, Bo. I am impressed to see so many women riding bicycles and motorcycles all over town here in Tamale.

My name is Frank Borbor Jnr. I was born in the year 1978, 11th October at Jaiama Nimikore Kono district. I am a Sierra Leonean by nationality. I completed my secondary education at the Yengema Sec.School. I am holding a Diploma in Logistics/ Transport Management as well as a certificate in Computers. I am from a polygamous family, from my mum’s side we are four, 2 boys and 2 girls. I came in touch with the Christian Brothers in 1993 but decided to join them in 2007 for a come and see in Makeni. In 2008 I did my Pre- Novitiate in Bo. Now I am in Tamale for my novitiate. My hobbies are singing, reading and playing volleyball.