Thursday, December 15, 2011

From Sunson to Christmas.

At the centre of religious life is the search for God. Time alone with God is crucial, and, as part of this, Christian Brothers each year make a retreat of at least six days.
So it was that, during the second week of November, the twelve of us novices and our three formators from Br. Paul Noonan Formation Center, Tamale, negotiated the 54 speed bumps on the road from here to Yendi, nearly two hours east of Tamale, to make our retreat at St. Martin’s Centre run by the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD). The retreat was led by Fr. Kofi, an American SVD priest, who has spent nearly all of his time as a priest in Ghana.
We had two talks each day given by Fr. Kofi himself, and they were words that drove passion and inspiration into our hearts. Almost every one of us admitted that the retreat was an extraordinary, powerful experience. We were challenged to the depths of our hearts to respond with sincerity and integrity if we were to ‘make a lifetime commitment in this dangerous world’ as young Christian Brothers. We were called to reconcile with one another and with our own self. We were moved by the Holy Spirit for a conversion of mind and heart to accept Christ into our lives once more. Each of us in our own individual reflection experienced a personal conversion.
The whole atmosphere of the place played a significant role in the quiet time spent with the Lord. There was ample time for personal reflection and walks around the retreat centre in the heat of the day or the coolness of the evening.

The retreat also set the tone on which we will walk into this Advent period and onto Christmas. We feel we have a reason to celebrate Christmas with true happiness and joy in our hearts. We are not only going to celebrate the birth that took place two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, nor prepare for the second coming, but celebrate the reawakening consciousness in us of the constant presence of Jesus in our lives each day. He comes to us every single moment but we were too slow to recognize it. Today we look forward to celebrate Christmas and we sing glory to Emmanuel, God with us!
A novelty for us was reading in the dining room! During lunch times we heard read the lives of Br. Leonard Tavup from Papua New Guinea and Br. Celestino Mgala from Tanzania. The lives of these two men brought inspiration to us - each of them had a unique personality and his own journey towards Christian Brotherhood. Their spirituality was influenced by different cultural backgrounds, but they shared the same dream and charism as Christian Brothers. We hope to follow in their footsteps as disciples of Jesus and Edmund.
We offer a sincere word of thanks to Fr. Kofi and the retreat centre staff, as well as Brothers Kevin and Tony, who were present to support us with prayer and listening.
Merry Christmas everyone, and a happy New Year 2012.

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