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    Our dear departed

    Our CICM Vocation

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    Atkin Timothy Ongoing FormationBy Rex Salvilla, cicm

    Once in a while, we are given a chance to share and discuss some usual CICM topics in a group. These occasions can be the District Recollection, Retreat, preparation for the Provincial Assembly, preparation for the General Chapter, and other occasions where confreres can show their verbal skill. The usual and all too frequent topics are spirituality, community life, simple lifestyle, teamwork, frontier situation, multiculturality, and others embedded in the database of our memory. They may be quickly downloaded from our brains’ hard disk and shared with others through our vocal cords in any group sharing. When I notice these topics, for example, during the preparation of the Provincial Assembly, I could almost volunteer to anticipate and write down the results of the sharing in the Districts with reasonable accuracy. Try it. Supposing, we want to know the stand of the confreres on simple lifestyle. The regular venue would be the District recollection, and the results of the District recollection would be transmitted to a comity that will collate the results of the outcome. Try to anticipate the comity’s final paper by writing it down for each District meeting ahead of time. Your paper will be very similar to the comity’s paper, I guarantee you.

    After all, we have been exposed to so many constructive sharing if only we are persuaded of what we are saying, and if only we are convinced that what we are saying applies to every one of us, and if only we are convinced that we must do what we say. Take the example of the financial situation of our Province. We are all convinced that there is a problem. Are we all convinced that we are part of the solution? Concretely, are we convinced that we have to give our income to the community where we belong? If yes, do we do it? When everything has been said and done, more has been said than done.

    During the April 2011 Provincial Assembly, there was one essential proponent. That element was outright honesty when delegates were asked to identify the causes of the problems plaguing the Province. For example, on the aspect of individual members, the root causes mentioned are individual interest prevails over corporate vision; individualism; individualistic mentality; lack of personal integration; dislodgement of the Vision [of the Province]; and crisis [that led to the split of some members in 2002]. These root causes, I believe, say it all on behalf of the causes of other aspects like Community life, Leadership, Management, Formation, and others.

    In September 2011, there was an extended Provincial Government Meeting where some confreres (like committee chairpersons and District coordinators) were invited to propose concrete actions on all aspects of our lives based on the April 2011 Provincial Assembly result. And we produced another paper. Yes, that is correct, another paper. In fairness to the participants that I was a part of, the sharing was profound and honest, and the result should be implemented.

    Dear confreres, I hate to say it, but we all need to be convinced of our CICM vocation. We must all believe that we are all part of the solution. Our CICM vocation should be continually reinforced through deeds, not just in words. The lack of conviction of our CICM vocation is the real reason why living out of our words is usually tricky or lacking. 

    We can enumerate what can weaken or lead to laxity in our vocation. Perhaps it is the lack of community support, especially when one does not attend CICM gatherings anymore. Perhaps it is the lack of spiritual nourishment when prayers, reflection, and meditation become increasingly rare. Maybe it is the presence of too many projects and activities when confreres cannot relax and recreate anymore. Maybe it is the intrinsic nature of advanced studies. I have noticed that some confreres have lost their CICM vocation during or shortly after specialized studies. Whatever the case may be, we must safeguard, nourish, and be convinced of our CICM Calling.


    Letter from Father Théophile Verbist

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    Atkin Timothy Ongoing FormationBy Jos Das, cicm


    Letter received at CTV-Mbudi (Kinshasa)

    Dear Sons,

    It has been 150 years, to the day, that I have left Mongolia to which the Lord had sent me to proclaim the Good News of His Son. In my humble opinion, he called me to his house too early, for the work I had begun under the inspiration of the Spirit was barely born. On that day, the Congregation was like a child who was only five years old. Now, as I am in the house of the Father, I have another look that of God, I have changed my mind. I now see much clearer. I see that this work was not mine but that of the Lord, and what he had begun, he could not let it die. This is what I would like to tell you: The Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the work of God to which he has called us to collaborate, all of you and me. Become imbued with this truth, and then you will be able to live your mission, the mission of God, with confidence, for it is in good hands, those of God.

    Now, as I splay the clouds and look down the world from heaven, I see you at work in four continents. I’m really surprised. The day I left the earth, in the last hours of my life there, I thought it was over. I was worried, even anxious. I thought, “I worked in vain.” Why these negative thoughts? Because I considered the foundation to be my work, but it was God’s work. And it still is. Hence this development. As Saint Paul says, we sow, but it is God who makes it grow. Many confreres have joined me here at our Father’s house, more than 2000 of them. We are happy together; we are pleased to be here. We do not forget you, but we pray for all of you.

    Yes, I repeat, I am amazed and at the same time delighted to see how this small plant in the beginning grew and became a big tree. The image has changed, the color has changed. My first companions were all Belgians and Dutch, and it was like that for many years. But our life, work, joy, and endurance inspired and attracted young people from the countries where we were at work. Today, the Scheutists family, the CICM, counts among its members confreres from Africa, Asia, the two Americas, and Europe. It has become like a vast field of flowers, of different colors and beauties, a field much richer and less monotonous than when it was at the beginning. When I started this work, I could not imagine such a development, such growth. Let us thank God, for he is good.

    I know that it is not easy to live with these differences of cultures, mentalities, and ages. I myself experienced it when I arrived in Inner Mongolia, China. I suffered to learn the language, a very difficult language, and at my age… I must humbly confess that my knowledge was very rudimentary. But I made an effort and people appreciated it. They loved me, and they wanted me to stay with them. That’s why they didn’t want my remains to be transferred to Scheut, Belgium. A few confreres had to do it in secret. And understanding people’s mentality, getting into their mentality, is still much more difficult than learning a language. A missionary in another country, among other people, remains a foreigner, even after many years of committed presence. This is an aspect of his poverty that he is invited to accept humbly.

    I am proud to see you at work. Wherever you arrive, the first thing you do is to learn the language of the people and go through a period of integration. Language is the gateway. The concern is to be close to the people, to become brothers. From the sky, with my confreres around me, I see this one, very gifted for languages, he feels at ease; another one who struggles, yet moves forward, makes progress, and above all, loves his people and people love him too. That is what is important, that is the Gospel. I encourage you to love people and let yourself be loved. Many confreres put the local language in writing, composed grammars, and dictionaries, translated the Gospel, and the entire Bible into local languages. Congratulations!

    I also see fraternal communities, increasingly international and multicultural communities wherever you work. Living interculturality is a challenge; it is not easy to live with people from other cultures, with a different mentality, I have experienced it myself during the few years I lived in Inner Mongolia. My confreres experienced the same thing. Some of them did well; the others had a superiority complex. There was tension. I see that sometimes with you today as well. But you are working on it. You have published “Guidelines for Multicultural Living” to help and encourage all confreres to live a harmonious community life, despite the differences. Thus, I am glad that many of you live a fraternal community life. It is an excellent testimony in today’s world where there are so many divisions, rivalries, regionalism, tribalism. Know that your community and fraternal life is already a mission. This is the gospel lived. Jesus once said: you are all brothers. And Saint Paul adds that there is no Jew or Greek, there is no slave or free man, there is no man or woman; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

    Do I have to tell you that missionary life requires courage and endurance? I think you experience it every day. But I would add that it also requires a great deal of trust in God. It’s his mission; he never abandons you; he accompanies you. Two words that I have repeated many times in my lifetime: courage and confidence! In your personal and community prayers, always entrust your mission to the Lord. A true missionary is a man of the field, active, enterprising, a pioneer - Scheutists are known as brave workers - but he must also be a contemplative; otherwise, he risks building on sand.

    So, I am happy, very happy even, to see you at work in the Lord’s vineyard. But on the other hand, I cannot hide from you my deep sadness, my disappointment, because of the scandals of some, because of the counter-testimonies of others, because of the defections of confreres. I have read this word of Pope Francis, and I ask you the same question: “Who do we want to evangelize with such behavior?” Where do these defections come from? Maybe loneliness? It is not good for man to be alone. These words of God also apply to you. Without a community life, we run the risk of seeking compensation elsewhere: alcohol, women, a bourgeois life, money… Thus, I invite you never to let a confrere down, to have fraternal attention for those who are going through a difficult time, for those who feel alone, abandoned, discouraged, to support each other with fraternal correction, with prayer. Even the confreres who have left the Congregation always remain confreres, you cannot forget them. I am happy that their pictures have been put back in the photo gallery in the mother house in Scheut.

    Yes, you need money to do your mission. I wrote it to my companions; I experienced it myself. It was a puzzle: the lives of my companions in China, feeding so many orphans, initiating works for evangelization. So, I’m glad that you’re making efforts everywhere for self-financing and support. I congratulate you on that. But money is not a goal; it must always be at the service of the mission. In the old Constitutions of the Congregation, still in Latin, I read: Habentes alimenta et quibus tegantur, his contenti sint”, words taken from Saint Paul: “So when we have food and clothes, let us be satisfied.” We must also count on divine Providence, as I wrote: “I am confident that this (money) will happen. God knows that without money there is no way to do his work.”

    However, money seems to be a danger. Can I express to you my astonishment and great sadness when I read the Decree in the Acts of the last General Chapter: “ … the 15th General Chapter decrees that any case of grave financial mismanagement or financial fraud is severely punished, requiring from its author reparation and restitution. In case of proven or refusal to do so and lack of collaboration on the part of the person concerned, the competent authority shall use the procedures for dismissal from the Institute…”. If the Participants of the Chapter have come to such a decree, it suggests that mismanagement or financial fraud are unfortunately not rare cases and that it must be addressed with strong means. Saint. Paul was right to write: “The root of all evil is the love of money,” which leads to ruin and perdition. Pope Francis puts it in his own way: “The devil enters through the pockets.”

    Each year, the number of confreres decreases. But I am confident because every year a good number of young people join the Congregation. I pray to God that he gives good, true Scheutists. If the Lord gives enthusiastic, courageous, enduring, persevering young people, the future of the Congregation is assured. I tell you that the mission in Inner Mongolia was rough and ungrateful; it is everywhere, I think. So, you need the spiritual and physical strengths necessary to endure hardships. Here I repeat the words I wrote to the novitiate in Scheut on October 20, 1867: “Oh yes, my dear friends, in the interest of the mission to which you so generously offer yourselves, and in your own interest, do not be reckless; test your vocation, without haste; test it seriously”. Courage and confidence! With half-vocations, the Congregation is not served. If, after a serious discernment, you realize that the Lord does not call you to the CICM missionary life, have the humility to do his will, without shame or resentment. The good Lord will continue to love you.

    I still have many other things to tell, but if I put them in writing one by one, I think the world itself would not be enough to contain the books I would write of them.

    One more thing that makes me happy. I am glad that you have chosen, as the theme of your last General Chapter, my words: “We have a good and beautiful mission!” I repeat them here. I add Courage! Come on! Don’t be afraid! For the mission is sometimes hard and ungrateful. But also, trust! For the Lord is with you.

    Your humble Founder Fr, Theophile Verbist. ■


     foto articolo jos das


    Created in God’s Image

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    Atkin Timothy Ongoing FormationBy Charles Ilunga, cicm

     

    “I hope that at the end of your sabbatical year, you will write an article”, Raphael Mukendi, our Secretary General, told me during my first meeting with him on a Sunday at the Collegio. I gave him an evasive yes as I had not yet begun: Yes, we will see!

    Several factors can convince us to decide one day to take a sabbatical year. For my part, it is the conviction of having completed a task that was entrusted to me in a particular place. So, it was time to leave that place in order to renew myself physically, intellectually and spiritually.

    Several factors can convince us to decide one day to take a sabbatical year. For my part, it is the conviction of having completed a task that was entrusted to me in a particular place. So, it was time to leave that place in order to renew myself physically, intellectually and spiritually.

    The beginning is not easy, and breaking up with the past is painful. It is therefore difficult to leave behind one’s past, to embark on a new adventure, and uncertainty is scary. After the Israelites had left Egypt, they continued to think about the kettles of meat, the onions, and the fill of bread despite the oppression they were subjected to in Egypt (Ex 16.3).

    Experience shows that it often takes courage and determination to break up with the past in order to be born again to new life. In fact, I let myself be swallowed by mad activism. I therefore consider this sabbatical year as an invitation from the Lord to go to the wilderness in order to be challenged and to purify myself.

    My sabbatical year has gravitated around four aspects, which are, taking a few classes, fostering spiritual life, enjoying time of rest and discovering the Eternal City (linking the useful to the pleasant). I will mainly write about the first two aspects.

    During my sabbatical year, I lived in the community of the Comboni Fathers, located in Via San Pancrazio 17b, in Rome. So I was near the Teresianum Pontifical Faculty of Spiritual Theology, run by the Discalced Carmelite Fathers. During the Academic Year 2016–2017, I registered as a free auditor and took a few classes in Christian Anthropology.

    The theme “Man, created in the image of God” fascinated me a lot to the point that I decided to write this article. In fact, Christian Anthropology is fundamentally an anthropology where human beings are wanted for themselves and where every human being is able to live from love in accordance with his very origin. On the last day of the creation, God solemnly said, “Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1.26), as the crowning of his creation.

    1. Intellectual Life

    Many scholars have written beautiful pages and developed reflections on the theme of “God’s image” according to various perspectives, philosophical, theological, exegetical, etc. For many centuries to the present day, the biblical matrix expressed in Gen 1.2 has continued to be the starting point of Christian anthropological reflection, given that the dignity of the human person is rooted in his being created in God’s image and likeness.

    I will leave aside the debate and theological speculation on this theme to focus on God’s image in its relational dimension. In fact, the word “image” designates relatedness and expresses relationship. The human being is a creature endowed with intelligence and will as the first of the creatures and the closest to God by virtue of this very image which, by definition, presupposes the immediate proximity of God as the end of the relation of resemblance that every image implies.

    Of all visible creatures, only a human being is able of knowing and loving his Creator. He is the only creature on earth whom God has wanted for himself; he alone is called to share God’s life through knowledge and love. He was created for this purpose, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity. Although traditional approaches of God’s image present advantages, they also have a disadvantage of not emphasizing enough the fact that a human being is defined in his relation to God, in a relationship of communion.

    In God himself, by proclaiming: “Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness”, we find the notion of relationship and communion. Created in God’s image, humanity exists in relation to God, the Triune God. God is not alone, solitude, or monolithic. God is Triune, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He is family and communion. The divine Trinity is an expression of a relationship with others. Being created in God’s image can therefore be conceived as a personal dynamic, as such human beings are called to represent God in the creation. This representation should also be perceived in human relationships.

    As we have just said, the One God revealed in the Bible consists of three distinct Persons, all the three equally divine: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; one essence, one God. The image and the likeness of God in human beings must therefore, in a certain way, reflect the Trinitarian character of the One true God. That is why God defines himself in the plural when he creates the human beings, saying: “Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness.”

    Given the fact that God’s nature is that of being a community, a human being is not therefore an individual atom; he is ontologically endowed with a community nature, and comes from a family, a clan, a tribe, a nation and from humanity. Similarly, the regenerated human being cannot be conceived separated from the Body of Christ. The idea of an isolated human being, as a solitary atom, is therefore purely absurd. All those who are generated from Adam, in God’s image and likeness, are therefore Trinitarian image, each one for their own account, from conception until death.

    In line with this rediscovery of the depth of the theme of God’s image (imago Dei) since the Second Vatican Council, the International Theological Commission reaffirms the truth about the fact that human persons are created in God’s image in view of enjoying personal communion with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and enjoy personal communion among them, and to exercise in the name of God a responsible stewardship of the created world. In the light of this truth, the world does not appear as a merely vast and meaningless reality, but as a place created for personal and fraternal communion.

    By sinning the human being lost “his likeness” of God, but God has not abandoned him, and all his salvific purpose has been to restore the “likeness” with his sinful creature (Luke 15.4-6).

    Most of us know this song “How beautiful are your works, how great are your works… Every human being is a sacred story, the human being is made in God’s image.” This reflection on God’s image in his relational dimension leads us to let ourselves be challenged by God’s image in our communities. The image of God casts a light on our life of fraternal communion (CICM Constitutions, Art. 48, 49 and 50) and invites to conversion in order to become, despite our human limitations, the communion of the Holy Trinity. The relationship of love that exists between these three divine Persons would be a wonderful way to build communities where my confrere is created in God’s image.

    Pope Francis suggested a “concrete way” to “manifest” the Resurrection of Christ, that is through “fraternal life in community”. In fact, the Pope affirms that fraternal life in community “entails accepting the brothers the Lord has given us: not those whom we choose, but those the Lord has given us. As the Apostle Paul tells us, now that Christ has risen from the dead, we can no longer look at others from a human point of view (cf. 2 Cor 5:16). We view them and we accept them as a gift from the Lord. Others are a gift not to be taken for granted or looked down upon, but a gift to be received with respect, because in our brothers, especially if they are weak and frail, Christ comes to meet us […]. In a society that tends to reduce everything to flat uniformity, where injustice gives rise to divisions and hostility, in a world torn and aggressive, ensure that the witness of fraternal life and community will never be lacking” (Pope Francis, Message of June 24, 2017). That is possible through the loving relationship between the three Divine Persons.

    Lord, make of our communities and our relationships a true mirror of the Holy Trinity.

    1. Spiritual Life

    By choosing to take some classes at the Pontifical Faculty of Spiritual Theology, Teresianum, I discovered the Carmelite spirituality. The main axis on which the Carmelite spirituality is founded is prayer. It is a form of silent prayer presented as a time dedicated to awaken ourselves to God’s presence, God who lives in the innermost of the human heart. The fundamental vocation a human being is to join this presence of God inside himself. And prayer is the way that leads to communion with God who is there in his innermost being and who is waiting for him. Karl Rahner stated that, “the Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.”

    Two mystical Doctors, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, trace for us a path to follow in order to reach this union with God. In her book “The Interior Castle”, St. Theresa offers a spiritual itinerary in seven dwellings for those who wish to approach God and Jesus Christ. On his part, St. John of the Cross in “The Ascent of Mount Carmel” describes different stages one needs to go through in order to arrive at the union with God, by focusing on prayer and the exercise of theological virtues. To achieve the union with God, John of the Cross explains that there are many incompatible things between man and God. So, one must go through a path of purification to separate himself from all that is incompatible with the will of God.

    The vocation to union is the key to the relationship between man and God, and this thread was of great inspiration in the life of St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, and St. Theresa Benedict of the Cross (Edith Stein). This union with God is one of the fundamental themes of Spiritual Theology. Father Carlo Laudazi, OCD, has written a book entitled L’uomo chiamato all’unione con Dio in Cristo (Man called to union with God in Christ). All spiritual life is founded on the conviction that human beings are called to respond to the love of God. Spiritual life is a life that unifies itself in welcoming the Spirit of God, even though that may be difficult.

    The reading of the life of the Saints reveals that they were seekers of God, tireless witnesses of God, seekers of his presence and his action in their lives. They walked on the path of contemplation, this thirst to see God, to seek Him, and be in conversation with Him. This openness to God gave meaning and flavor to their life.

    The contemplation of God transforms the person into the image of God. St. Elizabeth of the Trinity said, “The saints know Him as they are known by Him, that is to say, by an intuitive vision. That is why they are transformed from clarity to clarity, by the power of his Spirit, into his own image.” This likeness of God makes it possible to be the manifestation of God’s glory. The purpose of spiritual life is the vision of God.

    “Unless the missionary is a contemplative he cannot proclaim Christ in a credible way. He is a witness to the experience of God, and must be able to say with the apostles: ‘that which we have looked upon … concerning the word of life … we proclaim also to you’ (1 Jn 1:1-3); (Redemptoris Missio, n.91). ■


    Revitalization: from theory to practice

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    Atkin Timothy Ongoing FormationBy Frans De Ridder, cicm


    In the gospel of Luke we find this verse: Now…the people were filled with expectation… (Lk. 3: 15). CICM’s 14th Chapter is “behind” us…It took place in June 2011. As with all Chapters as it was with Vatican II: now the people are/were filled with expectation…” (Lk. 3: 15)

    Earlier in Lk 3: 10, we read: “The crowds asked him: What then should we do…?” I know that each one of us must answer this question personally. No one can dictate what I/we should be doing… Yet my 35 years of experiencing Marriage Encounter has taught me that there are quite some people who cannot think out of the box, can hardly think or imagine that there are alternatives.

    We tend to take things for granted and think and behave as if the present way of living our missionary religious life is the only possible and “reasonable” one. I think the people John the Baptist was addressing were no exception. Hence John the Baptist is extremely down to earth in his reply:

    — Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none…

    — Whoever has food should do likewise…

    — Stop collecting more than what is prescribed…

    — Do not practice extortion, do no falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your

    wages! (See Lk. 3:  11-14).

    I will try my best to be concrete and down to earth. I do not have any particular confreres in mind and I beg those who feel offended to forgive me.

    1. Food and drink.

     Something keeps bothering me for many years already. In our world the number one killer is not “cancer” or heart attack.  It is obesity: 400 million are suffering from this modern dis- ease…while in our world daily 30,000 people die of famine and destitution or over 10 million a year!

    What about making an option to “practice fasting” on a voluntary basis, maybe one day a week or eating/drinking less and give the money to the poor? I love a good glass of beer. Yet do we need a glass (or more) every day? And often there is “multiple choice”. The question is no longer: “do you want a glass of beer?” The question is: “what beer do you want today?” My parents were simple farmers who had to work hard to make both ends meet every year. We had beer only on Sundays and then it felt like “feast day”. Also, a real dessert was only for Sundays.

    We may also not forget that CICM has had and does have its fair number of confreres addicted to alcohol! Is daily one (or more) glass(es) of whisky or brandy really so indispensable? Reading the Gospel carefully we can understand that “fasting” is one way of reconnecting with the bridegroom (Mt. 9:15).

    When our spirits are low and we start doubting about God’s real presence in our lives…fasting may be a Prayer of Body and Soul. Anselm Grun wrote a remarkable booklet by this name. Allow me to quote some spiritual guides:

    If all people were to accept the counsel of fasting in order to settle their differences, nothing would stand in the way of the profoundest peace in the world. (St.Basil).

    DREWERMAN.

    Drewerman concludes that the human drive to eat, which tries to consume everything, is “the impulse of existence”, the desire “to fill the void of nothingness”. Because he will not recognize his own nothingness, man must devour the whole world.

    Bishop Aloysius Jin of Shanghai:

    I knew deeply that Communism could never destroy Christianity; history has borne this out. Yet, now I worry that what communism cannot and could never do will be done by the consumer society.

    This is exactly what is happening to our world…

    The Belgian China missionary Vincent Lebbe, while founding his own four religious communities, warned strongly against a “bourgeois” mentality.

    Peter Van Breemen in one of his books makes the statement: After Vatican II huge groups of religious left the religious life…If now in the religious life, there is everything one can dream of, then there is no more reason to leave…Yet then there is equally no more reason to join either.”

    1. Prayer life.

    In the second half of our novitiate, we were introduced to a second mediation every

    day. To my happy surprise I can witness to the fact that in Singapore and other parts of the world many lay people start doing that: twice a day half an hour of meditation, something the World Community of Christian Mediation is promoting (WCCM).

    Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46: 11

    I know that the very  successful USA radio and TV speaker: priest and later archbishop Fulton Sheen, spent every day of his life one full hour in Adoration of the  Blessed Sacrament. For many practical reasons, I am  convinced that this one hour could be well spent doing daily meditation with a mantra (for example: ma-ra-na-tha)  twice a day; morning half an hour and evening half an hour. The words by Karl Rahner might well be prophetic here: The Christian of the 21st century will be a mystic or nothing at all.

    3. Transportation and Travelling.

    There are many good reasons for having a hard look at this aspect of CICM life. Cars are expensive and often a nuisance: the cost price, servicing, insurance, parking space, traffic jam, air pollution…There may be good reasons why confreres for their work ‘need’ a car. No problem for me. Yet this principle should not be a pretext for many a confrere having his own private car.

    On top of it, cars “isolate” us from the ordinary people who travel by public transportation. I am at times surprised/ scandalized reading about confreres who “travel back” to their former mission or go for expensive holidays, even if that is paid by good friends. Does this still tally with our vow of poverty?

    4.   Electronic gadgets.

    A computer is a handy instrument in our modern world also for a missionary. Yet, do we always need to purchase the best, most expensive, the latest on the market? This is also true for confreres who buy a camera, have a personal TV in their room, hand phones etc. Not only are those things expensive…Often they are an incredible waste of time! Often too they can undermine our spiritual life, the taste for God. Our spiritual life is gradually secularized and poisoned. Our bedrooms should be places to sleep and to pray (See Mt. 6:6) and not TV halls. And let us be honest TV, — as it is for many families— is often the end of real community life. Not only do we live in the world, more and more are we of the world…though Jesus said: “they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world”. (Jn. 17: 14)

    In Taiwan there are quite some inspiring Buddhist Monasteries.  Master Sheng Yan in Fa Gu Shan summarizes their spirituality in a few lines:

    What we really need is not much.

    What we want/desire is by far too much.
    Go only for those things we really need.
    Most of the things we want/ desire are not important.

     

    Justice is giving away what we do not need ourselves. It belongs to the poor!

    Charity is giving away from what we need for ourselves.

     

    Summary.

     

    St. Teresa of Avila often said: The one who has God, nothing s/he shall want!

    I am convinced that this is precisely the very essence of religious life: to live a life for God, a life with God. God the joy of our hearts!

     

    Show me the path of life, In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures for evermore! (Psalm 16: 11)


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