THE “BLESSED-IN-GENERAL” IN THE NT BIBLE
Very Rev Fr Dr Hilary Mbachu
1.0 INTRODUCTION: The blessed are the people favoured by God. They are all the holy men, women, prophets and apostles called by God and his Christ or are so called in the Bible. Many are called or declared “Blessed” by the Lord Jesus. His Mother Mary is first called blessed by Elizabeth and later by a woman listening to his inspiring and marvelous preaching. Joseph the husband of Mary is blessed by his holy and just life. The twelve apostles are called blessed by their Master Jesus. Paul and his missionary companions are a blessed group. The reason for being blessed is that they are chosen or are a people of faith or are forgiven or justified or chastened or kept God’s word. The Letter to the Hebrews calls them our ancestors in faith and pays glowing tribute to them for their tenacity and steadfastness in faith in the face all vicissitudes of life (cf. Heb 11:4-40). The Letter of James proclaimed blessed the person who endures trials. The Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse calls nine groups of persons blessed. They are the innumerable people from every nation, race, tribe and language dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (Rev 7:9). They “have been through the great trial; they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb (Jesus). That is why they are standing in front of God’s throne and serving him day and night in his sanctuary; and the One who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them” (Rev 7:14-15). After their earthly ordeals the blessed happily enjoy God’s beatific vision in heaven. In general the Blessed are the numerous holy persons mentioned and unmentioned by the Bible.
2.0 THE BLESSED (MAKARIOI) EIGHT VIRTUOUS GROUPS OF PERSONS [Matt 5:1-11]: In Matthew’s Gospel the Lord Jesus makes a list of eight virtuous groups of persons who are blessed or happy – classically known as the Eight Beatitudes. They are: “the poor (ptochoi) in spirit” to whom belongs the kingdom of Heaven; “those who mourn (penthountes)” who shall be comforted; “the gentle / meek (praeis)” who shall have the earth as their inheritance; “those who hunger (peinontes) and thirst (dipsontes) for uprightness” who shall have their fill; “the merciful (eleemones)” who shall receive mercy; “the pure (katharoi) of heart” who shall see God; “the peacemakers (eirenepoioi)” who shall be called the children of God; “the persecuted (dediogmenoi) in the cause of uprightness” to whom belongs the kingdom of Heaven”. The ninth round-up blessing is for those whom people persecute, speak all kinds of calumny against them falsely on account of Jesus; they should rejoice (chairete) and be glad (agalliasthe) for their reward will be great in heaven for it is how they persecuted the prophets before them. In his Letter Peter stressed this ninth blessedness for uprightness in suffering persecutions, slander and insults for Christ (cf. 1 Pet 3:14; 4:14). These are the abundant blessings for virtuous men and women who shall be rewarded with eternal happiness in heaven. The blessed (makarioi) are happy people. In Luke’s Gospel the blessed virtuous are reduced to FOUR [Luke 6:20-22]: those who “are poor” to whom belongs the kingdom of God; “the hungry now” who shall have their fill; those “who are weeping now” who shall laugh; those whom people hate, drive out, abuse, denounce their names as criminal on account of the Son of man (Jesus himself) should rejoice and dance when that day comes for their reward will be great in heaven, for it was how their ancestors treated the prophets. At face value the four blessings in Luke seems to repudiate earthly or human wellbeing. They are counter posed by corresponding four curses [Luke 6:24-26]: the rich are cursed for their consolation; those who have plenty to eat shall go hungry; those who are laughing now shall mourn and weep; those whom everyone speaks well of shall suffer the woe that befell the false prophets flattered by their ancestors. Whatever may be our reservations about the blessed or cursed groups in Luke’s Gospel, the fact remains that there are blessings or happiness (makarioi) reserved in heaven for people who live virtuously on earth and punishment hereafter for those who now live viciously.
3.0 THE BLESSED CORPORALWORKERS OF MERCY [Matt 25:31-46]: The scene of the Last Judgment by the royal Son of man in his glory with his angels is like a follow up to the four blessings for the upright and the four curses for the unrighteous in Luke 6:20-26. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The sheep are placed on his right hand and the goats on his left. The sheep represent the blessed of his Father, while the goats are the cursed ones. The Kingly Son of man will say to those on his right hand: “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world” (Matt 25:34) because they fed the King by feeding the hungry, gave him drink by giving the thirsty to drink; received him by receiving the stranger, clothed him by clothing the naked, visited him by visiting the sick, and visited him by visiting the imprisoned (Matt 25:35-40). Then he will say to those on his left hand: “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” Matt 25:41) because they denied the King food by not feeding the hungry, denied him drink by denying the thirsty drink, refused him welcome by nor welcoming the stranger, never clothed him by not clothing the naked, refused to visit him by not visiting the sick and those in prison (Matt 25:42-45). The last verse is the summary: the non-merciful or the cursed (goats) will go to eternal punishment, and the merciful or the upright (sheep) or the blessed to eternal life.
*** The blessedness of the eight beatitudes and the blessedness of the six corporal workers of mercy are the specified bulk happiness (makarioi) for the upright. Now let us turn to the other blessedness-in-general for unspecified groups of persons.
4.0 “BLESSED IS ANYONE WHO WILL SHARE THE MEAL IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD” [Luke 14:15]: This was the saying by one of the guests gathered around the table and listening to the Lord Jesus as he taught his host on the choice of those to be invited to a launch or dinner: He should not invite his friends or brothers or relations or rich neighbours who may invite him back and so repay him. Rather he should invite to his party the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; then he will be blessed, for they have no means to repay him and so he will be repaid when the upright rise again. In effect Jesus teaches that our acts of charity should be done for the miserably and pitiably poor who will be unable to repay us in this life. Our reward for our charitable acts shall come when the righteous shall be raised up in the world to come. This is akin to the teaching on the reward for the corporal workers of mercy in Matt 25:31-46. Sharing in the meal in God’s kingdom is another form of saying that we enjoy his beatific vision.
MARIAN DOGMASBy Jude-Thaddeus & Joy Izuka
What is a Dogma?
The word dogma which originally means ‘opinion’ finds its origin in the Greek language. Over time, its meaning has evolved given rise to more than one definition.
Dogma in the everyday, secular context refers to an uncritical, not-well thought out, unquestionable teachings of the Church. “Dogma” in Catholic usage today means a divinely revealed truth, proclaimed as such by the infallible teaching authority of the Church, and hence binding on all the faithful without exception, now and forever.
Dogmas in general, propose truths contained in Divine Revelation or having a necessary connection with it. These truths are immediately or mediately grounded in Scripture. They reflect not only the full authority of the Church received from Christ but also the Church's tradition, liturgical practice & the faith of the people (Sensus Fidei). Dogmas are lights on our path of faith (CCC, 89).
Dogmas, Doctrines & Disciplines “Three Ds”
When discussing dogmas, it’s important to mention two other closely related terminologies: Doctrines and Disciplines. Doctrines refer to the teachings of the Church in matters of faith and morals to be believed by all the faithful. As already pointed out, when such teachings are formally defined and solemnly declared, they become dogmas. Therefore, all dogmas are doctrines but not all doctrine is dogma.
On the other hand, a Discipline is any practice, rule or regulation set down by the authority of the church (Magisterium) for the guiding of the faithful toward the perfection of the Gospel in their own lives and the life of the Church. While disciplines are subject to change, this is not the case for either doctrines or dogmas.
The Marian dogmas bring into focus important aspects of Mary's role in salvation & her personal relationship with God. These are
· Immaculate Conception - highlighting the connection with God the Father
· Divine Motherhood - highlighting her connection with God the Son
· Perpetual Virginity - highlighting her as Spouse of God the Holy Spirit
· Assumption - highlighting her Place in the Universal Church
This edition will focus the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the four Marian dogmas.
The Immaculate Conception Dogma
This dogma states that Mary was conceived without original sin. This means that the conception of Mary in her mother's womb was without any stain of original sin and from the first moment of her existence, she was preserved by God from the lack of sanctifying grace that afflicts humanity at the beginning of human history, and that she was instead filled with divine grace.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated on December 8, was established in 1476 by Pope Sixtus IV, but the dogmatic definition made ex cathedra by the exercise of papal authority was performed by Pope Pius IX in his constitution Ineffabilis Deus, on December 8, 1854.
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception is distinct from and should not be confused with the perpetual virginity of Mary or the virgin birth of Jesus; for this dogma refers to the conception of Mary by her mother, Saint Anne and not the conception of Jesus.
As pointed out in the maiden article, Marian dogmas bring into focus important aspects of Mary's role in salvation and her personal relationship with the Triune God.This edition features the first Marian Dogma - Divine Motherhood, an article of faith solely declared (hence a dogma) and celebrated as the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God on January 1 every year throughout the world in the Roman Catholic Church.
It states that Mary is the Mother of God. This was the first specific Marian doctrine to be formally defined by the Church early in the fifth century. The definition Theotokos (in Greek) translated "God bearer" was formally affirmed at the 3rd Ecumenical Council at Ephesus in 431.
Scriptural basis for the dogma is found in John 1:14 which states "And the Word became flesh and lived among us" and Galatians 4:4 which states "…God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law…" Luke 1:35 further affirms divine maternity by stating: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you ... and therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God."The dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium of the Second Vatican Council affirmed Mary as the Mother of God by stating; "The Virgin Mary, who at the message of the angel received the Word of God in her heart and in her body and gave Life to the world, is acknowledged and honoured as being truly the Mother of God and of the Redeemer."
The dogma is a reminder that Catholics throughout history have believed and continue to believe that a Jewish young girl named Mary was chosen from among women to be the fleshy tabernacle of Jesus and indeed is the Mother of God, God-bearer. This belief is an established truth.
The liturgy of the Church is filled with different mysteries which capture Mary's role in the history of salvation. Many of these are celebrated all through the Liturgical year. Of these, one is celebrated during the Advent (Immaculate Conception) . Another in the Christmastide (Divine Motherhood). These mysteries belong to the highest category of articles of faith, which all Catholics are bound to believe, refferred to as dogmas Assumption, the third of these dogmas, is celebrated annually on the 15th of August. This concluding article focuses on the last of these dogmas, Mary's Perpetual Virginity.
The dogma of perpetual virginity has been an ongoing teaching of the faith since the Church’s inception at Pentecost, yet has never been proclaimed solemnly by a roman pontiff invoking the charism of an ex cathedra statement, such as with the Immaculate Conception (Pius IX, 1854) & Assumption (Pius XII, 1950). It should be noted however that many popes & councils have referred to the perpetual virginity throughout the centuries, such as Pope Martin in the 7th century following the Lateran Council in 649 and Paul IV in the 16th century Apostolic constitution Cum Quorundam 1555. In Luke 1:34 you hear the Blessed Mother herself accentuate her perpetual virginity: ‘I do not know a man’ Mary perpetual virginity has been traditionally described as ‘ante partum’ [before birth], in partum [during childbirth], post partum [after the birth of Jesus].
There is a fifth Marian dogma under consideration. It proposes that Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, is also the Spiritual Mother of all peoples. She fulfils this role through three motherly aspects as Co-redemptrix, Cf. Jn 19:25-27; Mediatrix of all graces, Cf. Jn. 2:1-10; and Advocate, Cf. Rev 12:1-6.
35oseries JOURNEY WITH THE YOUTH INITIATIVE “O SERIES”
CERTIFICATE OF INCORPORATION REG NO 156638
JUST ORDINARY EVEN DEVELOPMENT
The news outlets are replete with the many challenges bedeviling this nation. There appears to be no solution and when there is, it appears to be distant and miles away. When there is a problem, wise people look for solution but they work harder to prevent the problem. The group that cannot prevent a problem may not come up with solution to end it. The Nation is in the hands of those that lack what it takes to provide a solution, this is the reason problems here appear hydraheaded. It is the duty of the government to be the solution to a nation’s problem and never the problem itself.
The beginning of the solution to any problem is to go back to the drawing board. Some critical questions follows the going back. The critical questions are to be handled by critical minds that see beyond their nose and box. The first question could be, how did they come or arrive at the predicament? Why did they come to it and are they enjoying where they are and how they are. The answer to the question of “are they enjoying where they are” would be a lead to the answer to the way out. The agreement that may come out from the questions may be that “no one is enjoying the arrangement and the drama”. This is regardless of what those that arranged it intended, they are not enjoying it, rather they are suffocating.
The easy found blame heaped at the feet of those that almagamated them has already expired. Anyone still looking at that portion of history as the reason for the mess they are into as a nation is not saying the complete truth. What are the obvious reasons for this reasoning? They were not the only people whose fate were determined and foisted on them by those that were not going to dwell in the arrangement. They are not robots, they are human beings gifted with reason. Anything gifted with reason can make some adjustment.
The beneficiaries of the ill arrangement that would prefer that it remains so are no longer finding it as they would like to continue to enjoy it. The oiling of the arrangement was thought by those that oil it that it would ever remain as such. Every living thing in it including the non living thing is suffocating.Must it continues or remains the same which no one is enjoying. Nature is even suffocating in this nation and would soon revenge and protest. Nature has a way of saying, this is enough. It has in the past shown that the blood letting everywhere is no longer acceptable, that the injustice is enough, that the suffering of the masses, the hardship purposefully imposed on them by those charged with the responsibility of bettering their lives is enough.
The elected were in the past asked to show responsibility enough but they refused. They have lost the authority in the power they hold and those outside power now command more authority than them. The warning has been steady in this series.This political discourse once quoted Gene Sharp, an American Professor of political science that strongly believes that power depends ultimately on its bases. Thus a political regime maintains power because people accept and obey its dictates, laws and policies. His key theme is that power is not monolithic, that is, it does not derive from some intrinsic quality of those who are in power. According to him, political power, the power of any state – regardless of its particular structural organization – ultimately derives from the subjects of the state. His fundamental belief is that every power structure relies upon the subjects’ obedience to the order(s). If subjects do not obey, leaders have no power. (Cf Sharp Green (2010). The leaders here do not understand this fact. The said obedience comes from the leader’s adherence to the bases of the relationship.
When the pact is broken, disobedience sets in and the question of authority arises. The legitimately elected unknowingly surrenders authority to the non elected, non state actors that may use it as they may deem fit. Students of political science should not forget this in their analysis of the logjam that is the case in the polity now. The confusion that the above brought is the question of “who is to be obeyed and at what risk”. This question would not arise where the legitimately elected maintains the terms of the relationship with the electorate and commands their obedience.
The answer given to the question of who is to be obeyed depends on the risk – benefit factors considered by the individual based on what he sees from what is on the ground. The elected have lost the power, whether one believes it or not. Are they still to be obeyed and to be disobeyed?
The political discourse that everybody must be involved is how to get out of the wood and not the old practice of defending or supporting what continues to lead to the wood. There no denying the fact that directly and indirectly that the nation has been navigated into the wood and the only thing that is required now is discussions that will lead it out of the wood. One sure sign of a nation in the wood is the violence, fears, sadness that pervades everywhere. No one is actually relaxed and in such a tensed environment, nothing much can be achieved.
When the elected willfully embarked on this journey to self destruction, they thought that they would never be the victim. They are now also the victim. They have lost the power to the non state actors, they can no longer move freely in the nation they preside over and they are being killed like the common man. Watch the news and listen to it and you will observe how government officials are been neautralized without consequences.
The current arrangement has made everyone a victim. The masquerade is now flogging even those that made it and would continue to do so. The current leaders and even the past got elected to help develop the Nationt which is where their relevance would come from. They destroyed their manifesto, began to chase the non essentials and painted the fault lines of the nation even with red colour and blood. What does one expect, when painting of the fault line becomes the official policy of the government and its only target, nothing will be the result except the blood bath and the confusion every where.
These confusions were avoidable and preventable with just even and ordinary development. Development is the process of growth and directed change. The government instead of directing a change decided to do otherwise. Two things would always be in governance; either it is going backwards or forward.
What is in place is only government that reacts and not acts. The taxpayer’s money is used to maintain people that react only and eavesdrop to remarks that they consider unfavourable to their principal. Where has the reaction led the nation to? Development is a process of directed change. Those charged with the responsibility of the directed change have failed woefully but would never accept. For them governance is a secondary school debate where one can defend or promote a position he knows within himself that it is false.
The current information minister that has the penchant for press conference and the denying of the obvious strongly seems to see government and governance as such. His reactions to recent remarks of one of the former leaders of the nation which everybody knows is true are an instance. The remark says that “the leader of the current government has done his best, if anyone is expecting anything more than what he has done or what he is doing, that means, the person is whipping a dead horse and there is no need”, this confirms what he understands governance to be. His position that the current president is leaving a legacy of security, infrastructural development, economic prosperity and social cohesion for the nation is not only unfortunate but irritating.
The time wasted to defend the indefendable could be used to plan how to develop the natural and human resources the nation is blessed with. Any administration that systematically plans it and executes it would end all the struggles on the fault line. The development will end the fault line of the geography of who should govern. What the nation needs is achievement of the leader and not the geography of birth. The Development should focus on national interest and not ethnic. The development should include allowing what nature bestowed on a people to be used. Why preventing a section from functional seaport whereas there is a sea base, why not allow functional airport among the people who travel by air and can afford it, why landing a product in an area that those that use it are few, why do policies inhibits business growth of a section rather than elevate them.
These are faultline development strategy and the reason for the hydraheaded challenges and anyone that understands these solves the mirage of problemsand the real ones.
THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT: YEAR C.
(MIC. 5:1-4, HEB 10:5-10, LK 1:39-45)
BY REV. FR. ANSELM CHIGOZIE AMADI
THEME: BRINGING CHR
Introduction: "The Lord will abandon them until she who is to give birth has borne.” This prophecy of Micah, in the primary sense, anticipates the nativity of the savior. But in a secondary sense, foresees the function of the faithful as Christ bearers who in turn make him present before men. Mary conceived in her womb the Word made flesh and brought him forth to the world. Today, Christians conceive the Word in their hearts and make him present in the world.
Mystical Conception: Mary conceived Jesus by accepting the Word of God: "I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your Word." Before Mary conceived Jesus in her womb, she first conceived him in her heart. We can glean from Mary's response, an attitude of humility (handmaid) and acceptance of the Word of God. She has given us an example to follow in order to conceive Jesus too. We are called to imitate her in self-emptying. To create room for the Lord, we need to empty ourselves of the self (ego) and materialism.
In his first coming, "there was no space for him in the inn" (Luke 2:7). This stands for a type of spiritual accommodation in the hearts of people which was lacking. In his second coming he cries, "I stand at the door and knock, if you open, I will come in... (Rev. 3:20). The door in question is that of our hearts. If our rooms are filled up either by the self, others, or preoccupied with material concerns, there will be no room again for him. Nothing can be receptive until it is empty. That was why he could only be borne by a Virgin; which implies a heart that is not attached to any wedlock, material wise, or by relationships or by way of concerns.
Another way we can conceive Jesus is by accepting and believing the Word. Hence: "let the Word of God in its entire richness find a home in you" (Col 3:16). Jesus says, "whoever hears the word of God and keeps it is my mother (Matt 12:50). If we display the same attitude of faith in the Word of God as Mary did, we become Christ bearers after her pattern; that is to say, tabernacles of his presence.
Bearing Christ in Our Lives: The heroic bishop and martyr, St. Ignatius of Antioch, was fond of calling Christians God bearers – (theophorus) that is, living tabernacles of God's presence, just as Mary is called the Ark of the new Covenant.
Mary, the first bearer of Christ, is a shining example of Christian vocation. Christians are called to bear Christ in their lives and make his presence felt in such a way that the same Jesus who went about doing good (Acts 10:38), will still do the same through believers. This logic is evident in Mary's visitation; just as the mystical bride sings out in the prophetic canticle: "Hark! My beloved, behold he comes, springing across the mountains, leaping over the hills" (Song of Songs 2:8). Though these words refer to Jesus the bridegroom, yet it was fulfilled through Mary, when she went to the "hill country", bearing the beloved bridegroom in her womb.
As the Ark of the Covenant was overshadowed by the cloud of God's presence (Ex 40:34-35), so Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. As David danced before the Ark, (2Sam 7:18-19), so did John the Baptist dance in the presence of Mary. As David exclaimed "how can the Ark of the Lord come into my care'' (2Sam 6:9), so Elizabeth exclaimed," how is it that the mother of my Lord will visit me". In all these, Mary remains an example of Christian living. As she bore Jesus in her, we are called to do the same.
Bringing Christ Forth: If we conceive Christ and bear him in our hearts, we must necessarily bring him forth to others. I say necessarily because the divine person is self-diffusive. It is in the nature of God to communicate himself to the other. This supreme communicability of divine presence, inherent in his nature is evident in the procession of the Trinity, namely, the Father generates the Son, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, so the procession continues to the creation of the world.
According to John Tauler, God's nature is so superabundantly, so transcendentally rich that he could not contain or restrain himself. He had to pour himself out to give himself. The Father poured himself out in the procession of the divine person and then poured himself out to his creatures. By this logic of divine procession, Christ cannot be pigeonholed to the heart that conceives him. His presence must of necessity flow generously to others through us. This is the message of Christmas: bringing Christ to others.
Tauler identified the threefold birth of Christ. The first is the birth within the Godhead, of the only begotten son of the Father. The second birth, when Mary became his mother without any loss of her virginity. The third is the spiritual birth by which God is born into the souls of all just men through grace and love. In this third birth, Christ's goodness flows from us to others and so we bring him forth to the world, as Mary did at the fullness of time.
WITNESSES TO THE POWER OF MARYS INTERCESSION
PROF. MICHAEL OGUNU
President and Coordinator of the
World Apostolate of Fati
Three of the praises of Mary which we recite in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also called the Litany of Loreto, are: Virgin most powerful, Health of the sick, and Comfort of the afflicted. These three praises kept re-echoing in my mind as I read the cases of two priests who were cured of terrible illnesses through the intercession of Mary.
The first was that of the Venerable Father Peyton, the famous Rosary Priest whose popular saying we are all familiar with: the family that prays together stays together. From his earliest years, Father Peyton had learnt to love saying the Rosary from the example of his parents.
From my earliest memories, he said, I saw my father with the Rosary beads in his hands and my mother holding hers. My older brothers and sisters and I knelt around them, praying. Father began with the Sign of the Cross, then the Apostles’ Creed, the Our Fathers, the Hail Marys, the Glory Be’s. What impressed me most was the voice of my mother talking to Mary: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death”.
For the first 19 years of my life, says Fr. Peyton, this was our daily practice as I grew from childhood to boyhood to my teens. In good times and bad, in sickness and health, in poverty and hard work, we ended each day speaking to Jesus and His Mother, offering them the greatest tribute that could possibly be given, making the greatest act of faith, and honoring Mary above all the angels and saints. Because of the daily family Rosary, my home was for me a cradle, a school, a university, a library and, most of all, a little church.
In 1929, Fr. Peyton entered the seminary in Notre Dame, Indiana (USA). There he continued the family Rosary with the priests and his fellow seminarians.
Two years before his ordination, he was stricken with a serious illness. Fr. Peyton was forced to leave the seminary. In the infirmary at Notre Dame, he learned important lessons that directed him on his journey through life:
The first lesson, he said, was my total dependence on my neighboursthe doctors, nurses and their assistants. How I learned that famous line from literature: “No man is an island”. We are all one family, all one in Christ, all members of His Body. We form with Him a Mystical Body that is closer even than the branches and leaves of a tree are to the trunk that gives them life.
The second lesson was about the precious gift of Jesus’ mother, given with His dying breath on the cross. In the infirmary, I deteriorated until the doctors said, “Try prayer. Our remedies are useless”. One of my former teachers heard the bad news and hurried to visit me. He saw me at my worstdiscouraged, depressed, hopeless. His words were the most important ever spoken to me. “Mary is alive”, he said. “She will be as good to you as you think she can be. It all depends on you and your faith”.
That night, he activated my dormant faith. It was like setting a match to a haystack sprinkled with gasoline. Thanks to the family that always prayed the Rosary, I had come to know who Mary was and that Jesus Christ, her Son, had entrusted me to her love and care. I asked her with all my heart and soul to pray to her Son for my cure.
Like the dark night that is replaced by dawn and the dawn by the sun, she brought me back to life. I was certain Our Blessed Mother was taking part in my healing. I am not describing a miracle. I'm giving witness to the power of Mary's intercession and the quiet, unsensational way she works. I begged the doctors to examine me once more and received their report in a letter. Like a prisoner waiting for the verdict of the jury, I opened the letter and saw my freedom, my new lease on life, my second spring.
The first words I spoke were, ‘Mary, I hope I will never disgrace you’. My superiors sent me back to the seminary. On June 15, 1941, I knelt beside my brother in Sacred Heart Church on the campus of Notre Dame and was made a priest.
How could I pay back my debts to Our Lord, His Mother and my family? I prayed for an answer. Seven months after my ordination, while on retreat, God gave me the answer: the Family Rosary Crusade. Through Fr. Peytons Family Rosary Crusade, millions of families came to know who Mary is and about the saving power of the Rosary.
The second case was that of Hermann Cohen, a great Carmelite priest, who was threatened with glaucoma and with the loss of his sight. Let Fr. Cohen tell the story in his own words as stated in his letter to his friends, dated November 6, 1868:
My dear friends in Jesus Christ: I have just received a fresh token of Our Lady’s tender love for her children, and I am really happy to tell you about it. Since last year, my sight was growing weaker due to fatigue. I spent the last six months in that lovely solitude of the desert in the Carmel at Tarasteix. There I had an unexpected attack of ophthalmia, and I was advised to go to Bordeaux to consult a specialist. About a month before that, I was banned from reading. The specialist thoroughly examined my eyes and found them in a bad state - it was a complicated case. I was threatened with glaucoma and the loss of my sight. The doctor said inflammation was inevitable, and I would have to undergo an operation to excise the iris - an operation pioneered by Dr. Greaffe of Berlin, the same man who treated my brother Louis. When I left Bordeaux, I had to wear dark glasses with biconvex lenses, a green eyeshade, and take other precautions as well. Any light was unbearable, even that of a candle. It was very painful to try to read anything. At this point, someone suggested that I make a novena to Our Lady of Lourdes, who had already cured several people of blindness. This suggestion appealed to me, and all the more since I did not look forward to an operation, which in any event might not be successful. I recalled that it was twenty-two years since Our Lady had obtained for me from the Lord of the Eucharist, a cure far more important than that of my bodily eyes. The novena began on October 24, the feast of St. Raphael, who had cured Tobias of his blindness. I bathed my eyes every day in water brought from the miraculous grotto, and I prayed to my Immaculate Mother as did a lot of other people. On the sixth day of the novena, I walked from our house in Tiagneres to Lourdes, as I thought this was the best way to do the pilgrimage. In fact already at Bagneres, I felt an improvement in my eyes each day of the novena as soon as the Lourdes water touched them. I even made a point of checking this improvement through the ophthalmoscope, so that the doctor could see that the congestion of the visual organs was gradually diminishing - and I used nothing but Lourdes water. Finally on the last day, which was the feast of All Saints, I arrived at the grotto itself close to the spring; my pain was gone as well as all the symptoms of the illness. Since that day, I have been able to read and write as much as I like, without glasses and without precautions, without effort and without fatigue. I can look at the sun or at gaslight or candlelight without feeling the slightest discomfort, and I have got my greatest wish - to continue my life as a hermit at our desert. So, I am completely and totally cured! It is my inmost conviction that this cure is a miracle due to the intercession of our Blessed Lady. So for that reason, I need to proclaim in public, as much as I can, the goodness of the heart of Mary. I ask all of you who love our dear mother to thank God for me, and I entreat all of you who are suffering to go to her with full confidence; because no one has ever invoked her in vain.
Medical science confirmed Hermann’s inmost conviction that he was miraculously cured at Lourdes. Here is what Dr. Boissarie said: Among the events which took place between 1868 and 1871, four have caught my attention particularly. One of the first cures to be published in the Annals of Lourdes is that of Fr. Hermann. Quite ill, he went to Bordeaux to consult a well-known specialist who formally diagnosed the presence of glaucoma and proposed the excision of the iris. On his return from Bordeaux, the illness deteriorated every day.
Dr. Boissarie repeats the train of events mentioned by Hermann himself and concludes: “We are not accustomed to cures as complete and instantaneous as this. They are quite outside the rules and traditions of our art. For my own part, I don’t know how to contest or interpret this happening”. On November 12, Hermann returned to Lourdes to offer a Mass of thanksgiving. The annals of Lourdes mention this private ceremony. There were only a few people there. Very few in the town knew that Fr. Hermann was there. But he wished to express his very deep gratitude. “What shall I render to the Lord”, he asked, and then invited the people to help him pay his debt. He was very emotional and did not try to hide it. He expressed it eloquently, making us share his gratitude with him. He was like one of the people our Lord cured and who went out among the crowd singing his praises.
In a letter dated November 22 addressed to the Countess of Villeneuve, he said: “I could write volumes to you describing all the details of my cure, showing how supernatural it was, and ordained by God to proclaim the power and goodness of his revered mother”.
We too can write volumes recounting all Our Lady has done for us, but what have we done for her in return? In 1917 at Fatima, Portugal, Our Lady said: Say the Rosary everyday. Do we do that? In his letter to his sister, January 6, 1869, Fr. Cohen said: May the eyes of everyone be opened to see where happiness is really to be found. And where else can that be other than in total submission to the will of God? To fear Him and keep His commandments, for in this, says the writer of Ecclesiastes (Eccl. 12:13) consists the whole duty of man.
BIRTH OF CHRIST: PEACE ON EARTH! PEACE IN IGBO ENCLAVE! [Cf. Luke 2:14; John 14:27; 21:21-23] Very Rev Fr Dr Hilary Mbachu
1.0 INTRODUCTION: Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace (cf. Isa 9:6), bequeathed peace to his Apostles and through them to us (cf. John 21:21). But the entire world is in turmoil and bedeviled by wars and rumours of war, insecurity, quarrellings, conflicts, fighting and mass killings. Calm or tranquility eludes many in panic, fear and trembling. Such a harrowing situation moved Pope St. John XXIII as the Vicar of Christ to issue his classic Encyclical “Pacem in Terris” (Peace on Earth, of April 11, 1964) to plead and pray for peace in a tense, rancorous crises ridden world. Pope St. Paul VI upheld his legacy by inaugurating the First World Day of Peace on Jan 1, 1968 and with Messages to the world he got it celebrated annually on this date till his death in 1978. Pope St. John Paul II fortified this legacy with his First Message for the 1979 World Day of Peace continued after him. Note that “Nothing is better than peace, in which all warfare between heaven and earth is brought to an end” (St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians, no. 13, in: The Liturgy of the Hours, vol. III, p. 76). Our need for peace from the Prince of Peace is now more urgent than ever in a world embroiled in myriads of crises and conflicts. Peace on earth, in Nigeria and especially in the Igbo enclave, is imperative!
2.0 “ON EARTH PEACE FOR THOSE HE FAVOURS” [Kai epi tes ges Eirene en anthropois eudokias: Luke 2:14]. The traditional English translation of “peace to men of good will” [in Igbo formerly: “ndi ihe ha na aso Chukwu” based on the Latin Vulgate “pax omnibus bonae voluntatis” does not state well the usual sense of the Greek form. The current Igbo rendering: “ndi nwere obi oma” comes closer to the Greek “anthropois (men) eudokias (of good will, pleasure, favour; desire, purpose, choice). The angelic army proclaimed peace to people of good will, people who enjoyed God’s favour, all the good people at the time of the birth in Bethlehem of Jesus, the Babe-Messiah Son of God. The same eirene or shalom or perfect well being is showered on all who work for peace at Christmas, make peace, live and proclaim it wherever they are.
3.0 WHAT IS PEACE? “Peace is more than the absence of war: it cannot be reduced to the maintenance of a balance of power between opposing forces nor does it arise out of despotic dominion, but it is appropriately called ‘the effect of righteousness” (Is 32:17) [Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, no. 78]. To ensure true peace, however, the savagery of war must be curbed and outlawed. Peace (Hebrew: Shalom; Greek: Eirene; Latin: Pax; Igbo: Udo) in its semantic range signifies wellbeing, wholeness, wellness, completeness, soundness, security, tranquility, calm, harmony, safety, unharmed, welfare, healthiness, prosperity. Thus peace is not just pacifism or absence of violence or conflict or war or its definition as “the tranquility of order” by St. Augustine (De Civitate Dei, XIX, ch. XIII, PL, 640). Peace is the ensemble of all the above taken together. “Peace is not pacifism; it does not mask a base and slothful concept of life, but it proclaims the highest and most universal values of life: truth, justice, freedom, love” [Pontifical Commission “Justitia et Pax”, Ways of Peace, Papal Messages, (1968-1986) p. 5]. A combination of all these concepts highlights its excellence as the Lord’s best parting gift to humanity.
4.0 THE FOUR PILLARS OF PEACE: Truth, justice, freedom and love are the four pillars of peace as taught by the Saintly Popes Paul VI and John Paul II. They are like the four legs of a square or rectangular table on which they rest. Break one of the four legs and it tumbles away. So also if one of the four pillars of peace is broken or missing, that is the end of peace. The Pope also stressed that “truth is the power of peace”. Where there are lies or falsehood, peace does not thrive. The four pillars with truth as their power must be made to stand firm at all times and in every circumstance. Otherwise peace will be very elusive.
5.0 “MY PEACE I BEQUEATH YOU” (John 14:27): Jesus, the Prince of Peace, Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty God and the Everlasting Father (cf. Isaiah 9:6) came on earth and with his innumerable good deeds and words proclaimed his message of peace to all near and far. In the midst of the stormy waves that billowed and almost sank their boat, the Lord Jesus rebuked the elements with the words: “Quiet! Be calm! And the wind dropped, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39). As he was about to depart this world to the Father God, he promised to send down to his apostles to his troubled and fearful apostles the consoling Paraclete, the Holy Spirit and also left his best legacy of peace to them: “Peace, I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you” (John 14:27). The eirene or shalom or peace from the Prince of Peace could not have been given to the apostles by a corrupt, unjust, untruthful, perverse and enslaving world because his peace is a heavenly one and he continues to bestow it on all humans of good will who love God, keep his commandments and worship him in spirit and truth in a storm-tossed world daily torn apart by violence, turmoil, stress and lack of general wellbeing.
6.0 “PEACE BE WITH YOU” [John 20:21]: Despite Lord’s foresight of the divisions among his followers, peace remains his unfathomable best gift to his apostles on his Resurrection day. This peace is not like the peace of the world marked by only material prosperity. The peace of Jesus is the breath of the Holy Spirit on his apostles for their proclamation of the Good News to the world and for the forgiveness of the sins of the repentant or the retention of the sins of the unrepentant (cf. John 20:22-23).
7.0 JESUS IS OUR PEACE [Eph 2:14-18]: Jesus is the peace and reconciliation between the Jews and Gentiles, the two opposing enemy races. By restoring peace, he created “a single New Man out of two of them” and through his cross reconciled both to God in one Body and in his own person killed their hostility. In this way he brought the good news of peace to the Gentiles who were far off from, and to the Jews who were near, to God. Yet this peace now eludes our Church and society engulfed in disunity, daily, tensions, lamentable wars and rumours of war. One is despairingly led to ask: Where then is that peace from Jesus given to us nearly two thousand years ago?
8.0 CALLED TO BE PEACEMAKERS Despite the gaping discord and divisions in the world, all are called to be peacemakers as willed by Jesus: “Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be recognized as the children of God” (Matt 5:9). Peace is the external sign of our adoption as the children of God. Do not foment trouble. Work for peace, grow peace and root out causes of discord (cf. Gaudium et Spes, no. 82-83).
9.0 PRAYING FOR PEACE: As we make peace we also pray for peace. The Holy Eucharist is essentially a sacrifice of peace (zehah shelamim). Before Holy Communion the priest prays for peace and proclaims peace to the faithful who also wish him peace. “The peace of the Lord be with you; And with your spirit”. The people also pray or sing for the peace of Jesus the Lamb of God on all. The Church has done well to integrate in the Holy Mass this peace of the Lord Jesus and the exchange of peace greeting before the reception of Holy Communion, the sweet Sacrament of peace.
10.0 CONCLUSION: All agree that peace, one of the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22), and the big bonus of Jesus, is a basic ingredient of human life and the bedrock of human development. Without peace human existence will be rocked with tensions and lack of progress. The WORST of peace is better than the BEST of violence or wars. So let us all continue to work and pray for peace and for mutual up building (cf. Rom 14:19). Let there be peace so that God’s Kingdom of Peace would reign over all for ever!
SCATTERING AND END OF ISRAEL IN 2 KINGS 17Rev. Fr. Dr. Luke Emehiele Ijezie
The frantic expectations of the coming of a messiah for Israel may not have deep significance if one does not reflect well on what happened to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in 2 Kings. It started with Israel in 2 Kings 17 when the Assyrian empire under Shalmaneser brought Israel, the northern kingdom, to an end by scattering the inhabitants all over the empire. To make the decimation definitive, he brought peoples from other nations to occupy the land, thereby undoing what Israel under Joshua purportedly did to the nations earlier on living in the land. This is, no doubt, the greatest tragedy of Israels life as a nation. It became an embarrassment to future YHWH worshippers who could not understand why such a terrible and powerful God would allow a pagan nation to decimate His own people. It led to apostasy and the questioning of the real existence and power of the Israelite God, YHWH. Israels writers were, thus, challenged to rise up to defend their God as that was the only durable reality left to them to boast of. The question was: What really went wrong? The whole biblical text is anchored on explaining the reason for this catastrophe. The most elaborate and theologically crafted explanation is found in the present text of 2 Kings 17.
However, Israel was not the only people scattered and decimated by Assyria. Many kingdoms within the region suffered the same fate. The empirical fact is that the great power of Assyria was unassailable. The small kingdoms within the region were militarily very weak and could never have withstood the super power Assyria. Israel had its bitter pill when it tried to challenge the power of Assyria. The last king of Israel, Hoshea, son of Elah, came to the throne in Samaria during the twelfth year of Ahaz, king of Judah. He ruled for nine years. During his time, Israel was attacked by King Shalmaneser of Assyria and Hoshea was forced to become a vassal, paying tribute to Assyria (2 Kgs 17:3).
When Hoshea tried to rebel, Assyria crushed Israel. This is graphically reported in 17:4-6: But the king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was playing a double game with him; he had sent messengers to Sais, to the king of Egypt, and had not, as in previous years, handed over the tribute to the king of Assyria. For this the king of Assyria imprisoned him in chains. The king of Assyria invaded the whole country and, coming to Samaria, laid siege to it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah on the Habor, a river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
Many other internal factors helped to weaken the resistance of Israel. But the theological explanation does not see these other factors as significant. The religious and theological mind sees the events of history as being under the control of Israels God YHWH. If His people are defeated in war, it cannot be because the enemy is stronger. YHWH is always all powerful. The defeat must have to do with a fault line in the relationship between the people and their God. According to the author of the text, whom scholars identify as the Deuteronomistic historian, Israels fall came as a result of sin. The people broke the covenant: This happened because the Israelites had sinned against Yahweh their God who had brought them out of Egypt, out of the grip of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshipped other gods (2 Kgs 17:7). The love and worship of YHWH alone is the first and greatest of all the commandments. Its transgression also carries the greatest punishment. This is echoed in the whole of Deuteronomy and other related texts (Exod 20:2-3; Deut 5:7-8).
Consequently, the exile of Israel was seen as a deserved punishment for the transgression of the Mosaic Law, which was given to past ages. The foreign nation, Assyria, was seen as YHWHs instrument of punishment for his stiff-necked people (see Isa 10:5). The horrible thing about the exile of Israel, the northern kingdom, is that the people were never reconstituted as a nation. The history of the old Israel would now be appropriated by the Southern kingdom of Judah.
However, later ages, including the New Testament times and Christian era, would talk of the future reconstitution of Israel. Both Jesus and Paul speak of the future gathering of the scattered children of God. Some Israelite historians see the modern state of Israel, created by the United Nations in 1948, as the fulfillment of the promise of reconstituting the nation of Israel. Many theologians broaden the vision as that of a spiritual entity, a new Israel that embraces all children of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ, to be reconstituted as the new people of God in the future new Jerusalem and new world.
LITURGICAL FESTIVALS: CATEGORIES/CLASSES OF FEASTS IN THE CHURCH
Have you been to the Mass before, and the priest says “today is the solemnity of this or the other mystery?” You may have also wondered why on another good day you attended the Mass, maybe the same priest or another says, “today is the feast of this or another saint.” As if, that was not enough, you found yourself in a Mass wherein the presiding priest announced that “today the Holy Mother the Church celebrates the memorial this or the other saint.” Did anything come to your mind either at the first instant or after a repeated experience? Were you tickled at all? Were you left with any impression or wonder as a Christian or a Catholic? If yes, have you cared to deepen your knowledge towards these nuances for a stronger and deeper faith in the mysteries of our faith? Even if you have not bothered to do so, relax, come aboard as we tour through the topic.
Every liturgical calendar year is adorned with various festive moments ordinarily called feasts with each falling on specific days or within a particular season. These feasts, each celebrates an important aspect of the life of Christ. Some of them touch directly on the life of Christ whereas others celebrate the life of Christ as reflected in the lives of the saints. Based on the above, the Church has classified or categorized these feasts according to their order of importance and significance in the life of the faithful. Hence, there are three classes of feasts in the Catholic Church namely: solemnities, feasts and memorials.
Solemnities are the first class of feast in the Church’s liturgy. They are the celebrations of greatest importance. Because they celebrate the most important aspect of the mystery of salvation, they are accorded the same respect as Sunday. Each solemnity begins on the prior evening with first vespers (Evening Prayer I) and several of the solemnities have their own vigil Mass. On the days of solemnities, both the Gloria are recited or sung in the Mass. Sundays and Holy Days of obligation such as: Solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity, Ascension, Assumption of Mary, All Saints, Immaculate Conception and Christmas are considered as solemnities. We have other solemnities which include the Solemnity of St Joseph, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Solemnity of St Peter and St Paul.
Feasts are the second class of the Church’s liturgical celebration ranking immediately after solemnity. Feasts are of second importance in our liturgical calendar and are celebrated on particular day. These feasts or celebrations do not have a first vespers or Vigil Mass the prior day. An exception would be the feasts of the Lord which occur on Sundays in Ordinary Time and Sundays in the Christmas season. For example, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord (February 2) has its own first vespers. On these days, the Gloria is recited but not the Creed.
Next in the category of liturgical feast are the memorials. Memorials are further classified as either obligatory optional. Memorials commemorate a saint or saints. Obligatory memorials are so called because they must be observed. For example, the memorial of St John Bosco (January 31) is obligatory while the memorial of St Blaise (February 3) is optional. Only the memorials of the saints who are of universal significance are observed by the whole Church and marked in the general liturgical calendar. The celebration of memorials is also governed by the liturgical season. For instance, obligatory memorials occurring in Lent are only celebrated as optional memorials. Furthermore, during privileged seasons (December 17-31 and Lent) the prayer of the Saint may be substituted for the regular collect (Opening Prayer) of the Mass.
Wow! It’s another solemnity and the most widely celebrated. Guess what? It is CHRISTMAS. Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!
JOURNEY WITH THE YOUTH INITIATIVE “O SERIES”CERTIFICATE OF INCORPORATION REG NO 156638
BEING CARRIED AWAY
The dictionary definition of this expression is “to be so excited that one is no longer in control of one’s behaviour, actions and decisions in a given occasion. This is also a character of being unable to manage the stage but allowing the stage to manage one. Time and experience have proven the great effect of the stage; it produces profound emotions which “carry some people away to the point and extent of forgetting purpose to pursue shadows. A good leader is not a man of the stage and must not allow himself to be affected by it. It will be a betrayal not to point this out of the current crop of the unfortunate leaders that abound in this clime and contraption and which is the reason for all the shedding of blood in the land and the many lyings that are going on. It has reached to the zenith that the leaders and all the agents of the state cannot be trusted with the capacity to say the truth. Propanganda worked more in the past when there were only single source of information, when history was read as news. Today, no one can domesticate news or have the final say of what happened because many have access to it as it happens.
A time comes when silence is a betrayal. Any attempt to shy away from embarking on this journey would amount to the conspiracy of silence .Conspiracy of silence is equally a betrayal. One of the major thing that may not be found among the luggage of this journey which similar journeys carries and which merit them accolade and applause is emotion. Emotion for one is not a quality of a leader. Conspiracy of emotion is equally a betrayal. Leadership is defined as “a capacity of someone to lead others” Crises is defined as “an unstable situation”. A Leader is a pacesetter and a pacesetter is a person who determines the rate of action through leading. Uniqueness is a characteristic of a leader and the dictionary defined unique as [adj. uncomparable] being the only one of its kind, unmatched and better than any else.
Leadership is leadership. It is about charting a course, it is an art, a principle thing but it is not drama of a thing, showmanish, entertainment thing... However with the events as they are nowadays and our current mindset, it is difficult to make a journey with this as a luggage and land successfully.. The stop and search and shoot at sight harbingers would see it from their own angle and interpret it only within the box and others may interpret only outside the context. When emotion drives, reason goes on French leave but when hatred navigates, reason is killed and buried. The moment reason is buried, man becomes a beast and brute.
This exercise may not be academic and intellectual enough as it may not follow the pattern of sages and guru and mentors of particular readers and many generally do not possess the patience of reading a piece that may not support their mindset and already held believe regardless of how biased and prejudiced their way of thinking may be.
With the myopic understanding of what leadership means, perhaps as politico cum socio terminology only, some may see themselves outside the leader and leadership ladder and everything about it would not concern them. However ,”Leadership is leadership, no matter where you go or what you do. Times change. Technology marches forward. Cultures vary from place to place but the true principles of leadership are constant. Whether you are looking at the citizens of ancient Greece, the Hebrews in the Old and New Testament, the armies of the last two hundred years, the rulers of the modern Europe, the pastors in the local churches or the business people of today’s global economy, leadership principles are the same [cf Maxwell J, The 21 irrefutable laws of Leadership 1998 p.xx].
In the same way, whether you are looking at leadership from the individual level, family, community, the principles are the same. Regardless of who occupies a particular headship, if the principles are applied the same result would be achieved. The many clamours all over the place is as a result of the non application of the principles or its wrong application.
To be able to apply the principles of leadership, the Leader must possess these qualities. Without them, the principles that would guide may be wrongly applied and the consequences do not benefit anyone nor does any good to a group. Courage and exemplary character are two of the qualities that can propel correct application of the Leadership principles.
One who lacks courage cannot be a leader. Courage is not about “shoot at sight, stop and search” but it is more about “do not shoot yet”. It is a known saying and rule of engagement that it is better to let the thief go than in the process of shooting him you kill the innocent. It is easier to pull the trigger than to hold and reason. Courageous person dialogues but a timid one dressed in the borrowed robe of courage is always afraid of dialogue.
Those who lack reason rely more on pulling the trigger which at the end does not solve the problem. It takes courage to lead in times of crises and hardship. In the moment emotions and sentiments are usually high; the noises would be much, tempers too would be in crescendo, the reason of the led may be momentarily lost, the sound of drums of war would be loud and amplified but a Leader must remain rational. Every Leader worth the name navigates out of the wood and not into the wood. Every Leader of the same caliber is a problem solver and trouble shooter.
Human resources are the strength of Nations and no Nation can afford the wastage of her human resources under any guise with shoot at sight order. Good thief does not kill the one he steals from so that he can equally remain in business. If you kill the person you steal from, from whom do you steal tomorrow to remain in business? If you kill the one you oppress today, who will you oppress tomorrow since oppression is what you live for and work for. One who possesses courage does not presume. Following courage is exemplary character, which involves honesty and integrity. “When words conform to reality, it is honesty and when reality conform to words, it is integrity”
Leadership in time of crises and hardship demands vision, foresight and focus. According to Leroy Eims, “a leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see and who sees before others do”. What does it imply to see more (vision), to see farther (foresight) and to see before? Visionary people identify beforehand problems and have the creative spark to deliver a successful solution to those problems. This mean solving a problem even before the peoples begin to realise that it is a problem or better put, they do not solve problems, rather they prevent problems. It is not enough to have vision and foresight, one must be focused. Many things unnecessary distract one who is not focused
A good Leader values silence. In silence there is eloquence, noise creates illusion, but one can listen to silence and learn from it. The irony of our world today is that many that claim to be leaders know what leadership is but do not know what it is not. Knowing what something is was thought to be equivalent to knowing what it is not but such a belief has failed humanity. There leadership more in calming the tensed nerve than in tensing the enraged nerve. It takes a studied silence to solve a problem than unintelligible speeches. There are many speeches today that are more unintelligible than intelligible silence. In intelligible silence reason is put into use, solutions sought and battles won without pulling the trigger.
Why do many leaders fail today, they lack the aptitude of thoughtful silence, intelligent silence and studied silence. The much silence they exhibit is stupid silence that is full of noise without calculation. Such silence makes use of the mouth more than the mind. In a situation of uncertainty, it is unfortunate, everybody becomes experts without experience.
Experts without experience cannot offer a bloodless solution. They command from different angles that have no vantage. Vantage means a position giving strategic advantage, commanding perspective, or comprehensive view. The social media is awash with different information, that some are more harmful than the real happenstance.
Leaders are always in command position. Their words are command. Their silence too are command, their body language are command. This being the case every leader must realise that, “a wrong command at a wrong time leads to disaster, a right command at the wrong time, brings resistance, a wrong command at the right time is a mistake but a right command at the right time brings success”. Crises moment breeds many commanders, makeshift commanders that even may lack the comprehensive knowledge of the issues they command.
Leadership in time of crises is more of a thing of making use of the head than making use of the mouth. With use of mouth only and alone, a wrong signal full of enthusiasm but devoid of reality may be given and the consequences are always tragic. It is better to talk weak and do great exploit than to talk tough but lack what it takes to defend self or others. Propaganda is a veritable tool for action but he who allows the battle to be fought in his own home knows that he has much to lose even when he wins.
Leaders are crises managers. In crises moment, the line of action is sometime loosely defined but every struggle needs fine tuning. The victim should protect the follow victim and not to victimized a fellow victim.
THE LITURGICAL COLOURS
Have you wondered why the color of the priest’s vestments, the altar clothes, the mass servers’ dresses including those of the lectors vary from time to time? If, not, then something could be wrong. For those who may have wondered why but may not have cared to get an answer to that, we have undertaken to talk about the use of colors in the Church’s liturgy and their theological significance in this series.
What is color itself?
The Oxford Dictionary defines color as “the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way it reflects or emits light.” There are three different types of colors namely: primary, secondary and tertiary colors. The primary colors are: red, yellow and blue. The secondary colors are: green, orange and purple while the tertiary colors are: yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green, and yellow-green. In technical term, black and white are not colors but shades. Although in the world or of arts all the colors portray particular concepts, the Christian religion, especially the Catholic Church attaches a whole lot of theological significance to some colors which are used during liturgical activities.
The Liturgical Colors
Liturgical colors are specific colors used at liturgical activities for vestments and hangings in Christian religion especially in the Catholic Church. “The color of the liturgical vestments changes from time to time. This is because the Church uses different colors to indicate the mood of the particular season or feast being celebrated.” The different colors are all drawn from creation to remind those participating in the liturgy of the different blessings of God.
The use of colors to differentiate liturgical seasons became a common practice in the Western Church in about the fourth century. At first, usages varied considerably but by the twelfth century Pope Innocent III systematized the use of five colors: Violet, white, Black, Red and Green.
The purple/violet color represents preparation, atonement, penance, sacrifice and mourning. It is used or worn during the seasons of Advent and Lent which are sacred moments of penance and preparation. During funerals, the priest wears a purple or violet vestment while the altar is decorated with purple. Usually, followers are not placed at the altar whenever the purple/violet color is in use. All Masses for the dead are celebrated in purple vestments.
Red symbolizes passion and blood as well as martyrdom. It is worn on the feasts of martyrs, on Good Friday, Palm (Passion) Sunday, and on Pentecost Sunday. It is also worn during votive Mass of the Holy Spirit. The Cardinals wear red as a symbol of their devotion and commitment to the Church and the Pope. It is to show their blood which they are ready to shed for the Church.
The color White is a symbol of purity and joy. White is also called Gold which won during the joyful seasons of Christmas and Easter and during the celebration of feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints who are not martyrs. Hence, White is one of the most common colors in liturgical vestments that are used everyday by priests, regardless of the current the current liturgical celebration.
Green signifies hope, growth and perseverance. Its symbolism must have been derived from the natural color of the fields, the plant world. Hence, it is a sign of life and growth. It is used and worn during the Ordinary Time of the Year signifying the moment of watershed in the lives of Christians. It is moment of living and growing in the faith expressed, experienced, and nourished by the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter.
The color Black, though not very common since after the Second Vatican Council, is a symbol of pain, sorrow and mourning. However, Violet which is a mitigation of black is allowed during funerals, Advent and Lent.