Spain: European Commission of Mission - Barcelona
1826, Father Champagnat went to convalesce with Father Dervieux, parish priest of Saint Peter’s at Saint-Chamond
I, Brother (Joseph, Davy, Clement) freely and voluntarily, make into your hands Br. Joe Welton, our Provincial, delegate of Brother Superior General, profession of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience for one year according to the Constitutions of the Institute of the Little Brothers of Mary. From now onwards, they will live as consecrated people. Freedom in decision carries responsibility and fidelity. What I promise freely and voluntarily, l bind myself in conscience to follow. That is why it has to be done in phases of one year. Conscience is an internalized policeman. Their freedom is tied in observing these vows. That is why they have to sign as a legal way of accepting responsibility and obligation to live them. We know so well that novices are placed in the affiliated group who share in the spiritual benefits of our religious family. The three have been our initiates for the past two years here at Matola Novitiate, Mozambique. We, the staff have been accompanying them every fortnight in this journey of self discovery. Each expressed a strong desire to be a full member of our Marist family. They have understood all the implications of the vows and feel more than ready to make such a rare commitment freely and voluntarily. Jesus has assured them saying, “ Behold, l am with you all days, even to the end of the world.” When we are assured of support and protection, we gain extra momentum. Parabens future brothers! When we look at the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness, we can easily discover the areas touching power, possession and pleasure which can easily be linked to the vows. Adam failed and Israelites in the wilderness too complained. Jesus passed because his food was to do the will of God. Our young men have decided to follow Jesus chaste, poor and obedient. They will do the will of Jesus who will always be their point of reference when stuck in a vocational crisis. Engage him always in living these vows. He never betrayed them before Satan. When you betray them your conscience will never leave at peace. You will be in jail of your conscience. Looking at Joseph from your left, then Davy at the middle and Clement at your extreme right, you will agree with me that, they are just at the prime of their life, not yet thirty. Witnesses may feel they will drop on the way when they discover the weighty demands of poverty, celibacy and obedience. You have made a sacrifice of good things, wealth, married life and power. You will live an alternative way of being a man. Mozambique this time has embarked at combating poverty among its citizens but you have chosen to live poor, the church is crying foul of the sexual abuse and the pope is asking for forgiveness from the victims but you have chosen celibacy and power is attracting the majority in our secular world, to dominate, to rule, to control, to exploit, to oppress the weak and marginalized but you have chosen obedience as your food. The vows will be the counter-currents in the world marked by aggressive secularism. You will have to tighten your belts, renounce totally personal will which will certainly put pressure on you along the way and seek only the will of God which you find through the mediation of your superiors. Remember being too independent never helped Jean Marie Granjon, the very first recruit. Like Mary’s l advice l would say, “ Do what the superior tells you!” I have my personal fear based on experience and many questions come to my mind: Will they betray their Master like Judas? Will they deny their Master like Peter? Will they desert their Master like the rest of the apostles except John? They said they will not because they have made free and voluntary decisions. They have discerned long enough during their formation years. Bravo young men! It is like saying backward never, forward ever. Where is this courage of these white martyrs coming from? The Holy Spirit is the answer. When Mary said yes, the Holy Spirit took control of her and she went in haste to proclaim the good news to Elizabeth. Difficulties and problems she faced, ( seven sorrows of Mary) but the devil never succeeded to make her change her mind in being a loyal disciple of Jesus. She never betrayed him, or deserted him or denied him. Her faith was built on a rock and not on sand. She was a faithful member of the church. She never abandoned the church but had to wait with the rest of the faithful for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, we saw the faithful dying for their faith. Ask gifts of the Holy Spirit and bear the fruits of the Spirit which will make you true to your call. No wonder Jesus commended her to John as a mother. Anyone who takes Jesus seriously will always seek the companionship of Mary. The devil failed to make Mary sin but succeeded only with Eve. Being in the Marial congregation and relying on her intercession, the three can accurately saying like the angel, “ nothing is impossible with God.’ We shall accompany you as marvelous companions. By the witness of your life convince the young people that even in the aggressive secularism, it is possible to live our Christian faith in a radical way. Carry with you the advice of the late Pope John Paul II who said, “ young people pay a deaf ear to what they hear but open their eyes to what they see.” When you live what you proclaim, you will inspire many who will desire to join the company of Mary like you. With Jesus and Mary you are in a safe company and you will never regret because they will never disappoint you, l bait. Parabens! Courage! Forca! Congratualtions! __________ Simeon Banda, fms, Matola.