2 Maccabees 7: 1.20-31
On the 19th January 2015, the Comboni Missionaries of Waterfall and Acornhoek communities and the Sisters of Saint Vincent De Paul had a recollection day at Acornhoek. The theme of the recollection was: Community life and fraternal service. The recollection was facilitated by scholastic Charlemagne DOSSAVI Sitou.
He began by refreshing our minds about the life of the Church, especially in the Southern Africa, where the Church is still reflecting on the family. Furthermore, at the Institute level, we are heading towards the XVIII General Chapter, and the Church at large urges us to reflect on the theme of Consecrated life. In essence, it will be superfluous to talk about consecrated life if we do not look critically at community life.
He emphasised that ‘Living in a multi-cultural community means dealing on a daily basis with different ways of approaching the realities that make up the fabric of community life.’ Some fundamental aspects of our community life such as the very sense of community, decision-making process, attitude towards money, sexuality, ways of communication and working together, etc., are all lived differently, and can become the object of serious controversies in the community, especially if the outlook of the other person is not borne in mind.
One of the pertinent points which he underlined was that ‘each of us has got a particular gift or character through which s/he is identified. Perhaps this day could be for us a time to rediscover the beauty and the richness of our differences and praise God for it’, he said. The invitation for us was not to run the risk of working together for a common cause without knowing one another better. Therefore, we are called to share our personal history because there is no strong brotherhood, no strong sisterhood without knowing deeply the confreres or the sisters we are living with. Difficulties and misunderstanding will come, but we should face them with the eyes of faith.
He went further stressing that the community is like a bunch of flowers in a pot that gives joy to those who see it. This implies that our cultural diversity in the community and our rich variety of gifts must not be a threat to community unity. Instead, a community must be a venue where all find harmony and unity. According to Pope Francis, this unity is not about uniformity, but ‘a multifaceted and inviting harmony’. That is the reason why it is stated that ‘this variety does not harm unity, but becomes a source of greater fruitfulness, as it is given for the good of all’ (RL 37).
By Bro. Boniface Gbama, mccj
“I chose you to go out and bear much fruit, fruit that will last”
(John 15: 16)
In the family, children “learn to love inasmuch as they are unconditionally loved, they learn respect for others inasmuch as they are respected, they learn to know the face of God inasmuch as they receive a first revelation of it from a father and a mother full of attention in their regard” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to Bishops On Collaboration of men and Women in the Church and in the World, May 31, 2014; Youcat, n⁰86).
Inspired by the Youcat (Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) throughout 2013-2014 during the youth meetings, the above quotation fed several discussions which led to the topic: “Family Challenges” for our Christmas Workshop 2014. For family life has been prioritized by the Bishops of Southern Africa for three years (2014-2016).
Considering the constant crisis of commitment in South Africa and also in marriage and family, the workshop entailed helping the Youth of Maria Assumpta Parish to grow in love and in commitment to God and one another. Among many challenges, few were prioritized according to the local needs of the Youth: HIV/AIDS, Teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, violence and crime, divorce and new family additions, sexual and physical abuse, contraceptive methods, natural family planning (NFP), artificial fertilization… and other correlatives topics like: abortion, menstruation, use of condom, masturbation…were also tackled.
From the 20th evening to the 24th December, different facilitators accompanied 115 youths from the Local Christian Communities of Acornhoek Parish. Srs Jane (Flagstaff) and Peninah (Johannesburg), Ntumi Mogane (Social Worker: Young Adult from Acornhoek), Frs. Jose de la Cruz, Jean-Philippe Lokpo, Jérôme Soku, Kgomotso Sebopela (MCCJ), Bro. Boniface and Charlemagne (MCCJ), Kokwana Regina (Ste Anne-Widow from Acornhoek); Desmond, Emerentia, Abednego, Hlayisani (Bosco Volunteers) facilitated this moving youth gathering with different teachings, prayers, reflections, games, sports, work in groups, braii…
After this moving and familial experience, many resolutions were taken to build up the family of God in Acornhoek, starting by the young people. Youths who are far from home were encouraged and expressed their desire to join catholic chaplaincies where they are studying or working. Moreover, we felt renewed, revived and converted on the approach to love, sexuality, marriage and family. It has also been perceived that the position of the Catholic Church on all those boiling issues seemed to be superficially understood by the majority of the young people, who should be the sentinels of tomorrow.
Above all, the Catholic Church advocates a holistic-ecological approach to sexuality. This includes sexual pleasure, personal love and fruitfulness. A chaste love defends itself against all the internal and external forces that may destroy it. Continence and abstinence are values which can help married people, religious, and single people to become more and more matured, freer, and more loving person, able build better relationships.
Let sing with the Book of Song of Songs: “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned.” (Song 8: 6-7)
Love will remain mysterious. With God as our partner our journey through life means growing in love and in commitment to God and one another. Jesus tells us that there is no greater love that to give one’s life for others, something that begins in our families.
We can only fulfil our high calling by making an ontological jump from the biological conception of family to the spiritual one, form libido conception (pleasure) to agape approach (self-giving). This needs commitment and sacrifice. It’s impels us to develop the logic of extra mile. We need also to realize more and more that we are all interdependent, members of the Body of Christ, we need one another. Not only need one another but need to help one another. Coming together is just a start, keeping together is a progress and growing together in love is a success.
A commitment to love is a commitment for life.
Fr. Jérôme SOKU, MCCJ
Youth Chaplain of Acorhnoek Parish
“Lenten season gives us the opportunity to contemplate Jesus our proto-ancestor, who died in order to give us life. It is a journey marked by so called three traditional dimensions: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving”. During this time of Lent, we, as Maria Assumpta Catholic Community ( Marhomeni) reflected much on the book published by the Department of Evangelization and Family Life Desk of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference. As the heading states: “Ku va eka Kriste, ku hitekela eka Vurhumiwa”. Therefore, after Ash Wednesday, 1st week of Lent, we started meeting every Friday at 16h00, whereby we reflected on the topic and readings that are prescribed on the due book. Throughout the meetings, we shared as members and tried to uplift each other’s faith relationship with God. We also committed ourselves in living up to all the good work that our Lord lived mostly in the Gospel readings specified in the book. Moreover, for the whole six weeks of Lent, we conducted the sharing on Friday according to sodalities we have in our parish, namely: St Anne, Young Adult, Sacred Heart, Daughter of St Anne and Youth. We hope that this sharing will help us and build us as community, uplifting our faith and grow as one family in Christ, bringing responsibility in our families, praying for those who are in need of our prayers, loving one another and working together for the building of our community. May the Holy Spirit makes us grow in faith and to be generous so that we may strive and help our fellow brothers and sisters.
Pedro, Chair person