Tag Archives: solidarity

August 17: Water of life

fountain.st.peters.rome

It was my joke, when I was researching in Rome, that my constitutional walk was down the Via Aurelia, round the fountain and back to the HQ of the Missionaries of Africa, and the (thankfully dust-free) files in the archives. The fountain was a good goal to aim for: you could hardly miss it, unless you mistook it for the one on the opposite side of the piazza. And a thing of beauty it is with the water playing in the sunlight.

This summer it is not playing. When the old popes brought water from the hills to furnish these fountains and many others throughout Rome there were many fewer people drinking less water, using less for washing and all the many processes that need water. The spring rains have not come this year: the City of Rome may soon ration water, so the Vatican City has turned off the supply to many of its fountains in solidarity with the Roman people.

People come before ornamental fountains, though even in April I was glad of the drinking fountain in the wall of the Vatican. I hope that is still running in the heat: my friend Fr Dominique Arnauld told me that the water in the fountains of Rome is reliably fresh and drinkable; and cold. You could spend a small fortune buying bottled water!

Let us not take water for granted – nor the needs of our fellow human beings, brothers and sisters. Nor indeed all the creatures that depend on water from the hills and from springs and rivers and the clouds. I’m sure I could use a little less each day. And you?

Laudato Si’ !

 

 

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11 January: Open Heart, Open Mind II: A Nasty Piece of Work.

 

 

Traveler

No apologies if I’ve told this story before; but it is good to start the year with an open heart and open mind which I certainly needed to one year.

This was a school year and I was starting a new job. My superior was running through the register of ‘my’ form of 16 year olds, jabbing a sharp-nailed index finger at Cormac’s name: ‘Watch him, he’s a nasty piece of work.’

I wished I’d not heard those words but tried to keep an open mind. Cormac turned out to be a bit of a bully, something of a leader, a lunchtime absconder and a smoker. To deal with the last problem first, I kept a tube of extra strong mints in my pocket. He could not smell his after-lunch breath, but if I could others would. The other little difficulties were alleviated a little when he and his fellow smoker were referred to me for a misdemeanour even I could not ignore, so detention slips were duly written and handed out.

After lessons they appeared with strong evidence of their innocence – on this occasion. ‘I could count this against all the times you should have had after school detention but didn’t, or I could just rip them up,’ I said. Actions speak louder than words, except for the next word: Sorry.

I went off sick soon after that. When I struggled back it was Cormac who stood up in form period and said, ‘Sir, you should not be here. Go home.’ He was right. I am ever grateful for the solidarity he showed that day.

WT

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17 September: Dialogue, Missionary Style.

I was with a Missionary of Africa, fifty years a priest, mostly in Northern Ghana, where both faiths live side-by-side.

‘Always, if I wanted to do something, I would go to the mosque and I would talk to the Imam, and be seen talking to the Imam. Do nothing without telling him, then he knows you are not trying to undermine him or his people. Always, always  Muslims are included, try to do nothing separately, be sure that the whole community can benefit.

‘Do not confine your work only to the poorest. You could be seen as undermining the better-off, especially if some of them are Muslim and see the poor Christians or traditional believers being helped, becoming organised, as a threat. Always be open.

Today, in my prison work in Holland, I share an office with the Muslim chaplain. I insisted, yes. Our door is always open. The prisoners walk by – many of them are Moroccan – they see us laughing together, they stop, they think, ‘What is this?’

We are all called to be missionaries, as Pope Francis insists, so stop, think, ‘What are we doing, what should we be doing, as witnesses to Christ among our neighbours?’

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12 September Eid-ul-Adha: The Holy Day of the Sacrifice.

sourate2-196-98b75 Surah II, 196. Al-Baqarah (The Cow)
‘Perform the pilgrimage and the visit (to Mecca) for Allah. And if ye are prevented, then send such gifts as can be obtained with ease, and shave not your heads until the first have reached their destination.

And whoever among you is sick or hath an ailment of the head must pay a ransom of fasting or almsgiving or offering. And if ye are in safety, then whosoever contenteth himself with the visit for the pilgrimage (shall give) such gifts as can be had with ease. And whosoever cannot find (such gifts) then a fast of three days while on the pilgrimage, and of seven when ye have returned, that is, ten in all.

That is for him whose folk are not present at the Inviolable Place of Worship. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is severe in punishment.’

The Holy Day of the Sacrifice: Aïd al Adha or Aïd el Kébir

Commonly called the ‘Eid-ul-Kabir’ (the Great Festival) in North Africa, it is also called ‘Tabaski’ in West Africa, ‘Tafaska’ among the Berber and ‘Kurban Bayrami’ in Turkey.
Eid-ul-Adha (the Festival of the Sacrifice) is one of the most important Muslim Festivals. Each year, it marks the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca and takes place on the 10th day of the month of Dou Al Hijja, the last month of the Muslim calendar. This year, the Festival is celebrated on the 12th September 2016 (in France). We are in the 1437th year since the Hegira of Mohammed to Medina. It lasts 4 days and is celebrated throughout the world. It is the Great (kabir) Festival of the Muslim world.

This Festival commemorates the submission to God of the Patriarch Abraham, who was ready to sacrifice his son at his command (Ishmael, according to Muslim tradition, or Isaac according to the Bible; the Koran does not make the name of the son explicit.)

On the eve of Eid-ul-Kabir, everything is purified; houses are cleaned from top to bottom; every cloth, down to the smallest duster, is conscientiously laundered.

Every Muslim family according to their means, sacrifice an animal (a ewe, goat, sheep, cow or camel) by slitting its throat while laid on its left flank, the head towards Mecca. A portion of the meat from this sacrifice will benefit the most destitute among the Muslims, thus asserting the solidarity and mutual assistance prescribed by Allah.

It is a day of reconciliation, where each one is invited to pardon whoever wronged him.

THE CALENDAR OF MUSLIM FESTIVALS

The dates listed are subject to a variation of one or two days according to the visibility of the moon in different regions. These festivities may provide the opportunity to our Christian communities to offer their good wishes for the festival to our Muslim neighbours, especially if there is a Muslim place of worship in the same locality.

This post is copied from the Missionaries of Africa’s website , where you can learn more about Islam and Christianity.                                                                                                                                                   MMB.

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July 28: A Birthday Treat, II: An Unforeseen Ending

hswim

Tommy was about to find that life is full of surprises!

Just then their number was called. His Mum suddenly seemed confused about how to steer the boat to the shore. Tommy watched excited as one of the boatmen prepared to leap on to the bow of the boat. The young fellow leapt as he had done, probably a hundred times, but this time something rather unusual occurred.

mercylogoAs he was in the air preparing for a quick descent on the boat’s deck, the boat suddenly went into reverse and he went into the water. This was because Tommy’s clever, confident Mum had suddenly discovered that if you turned the steering wheel full circle the boat would go backwards.

Tommy’s Mum felt badly about this because she had humiliated the young man and she felt even worse when she heard him cry out that he could not swim. Meanwhile, the other boatmen and a crowd of onlookers were watching in hysterics as Tommy’s Mum and her other sons dived into the lake to rescue the unfortunate fellow.

Tommy himself felt the man was a fraud which was a bit unfair, but it taught him not to judge by appearances.

Speaking of which, Tom’s Mum and brothers looked in a bit of a mess but Tommy felt very proud of them and it somehow made his special day even more special.

DBP.

(More from Tommy around Christmas!)

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A Musical Reality

friartrump2

Harmony is not always the most reliable goal to have for anyone aiming to help people in distress. A bustle of activity that will ensure survival and healthy well-being might be more reassuring than a neatly-decorated reception table, at which the sufferers can be allocated a number and a place in the queue for food. But even that little detail of being welcomed in a friendly way tells a person that their existence has been taken seriously and their distress properly acknowledged. This is that cup of water offered to the thirsty which Jesus treated as a good first step of solidarity. Further steps will include added experiences of care, listening and celebration. Achieving inner harmony will, in fact, be a valid goal on a path of recovery.

Musical performers can tackle the issue of self-deception and helplessness on a journey that might fail to bring a full recovery. This promotes realistic courage. Watching the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, about love which wishes it was stronger than death, but feels unsure of its resources, a lesson of honesty, patience and poignant empathy can be learned. In a production of this opera by Gluck, at the Edinburgh Festival last summer, the story was set in an intensive care unit.

Family and friends of Eurydice began by wanting cake and balloons to reassure the woman in the bed, but were dismissed as foolish and superficial in their treatment of this most profound human predicament. She does die, but a hint of eventual resurrection ran through the music.

 

CD.

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