ENTRY INTO THE NOVITIATE IN THE INTERNATIONAL NOVITIATE AND FIRST PROFESSION - TANZANIA, 8TH DECEMBER 2018
This year’s celebration of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be written in golden letters in the pages of the history of our Congregation. In Tanzania we experienced two big events; the beginning of the second year of the International Novitiate with the reception of new novices into the Novitiate and the Profession of the first group of the novices who completed their novitiate formation.
During the morning prayers, echoes of joy were heard in the International Novitiate when the Provincial Superior Sr. Basilisa Jacob accepted 12 Postulants into the Novitiate. These postulants come from four countries namely Cameroon, Rwanda, Congo and Tanzania. Among those who witnessed this joy-filled event were: Sr. Belancilla Mukandahiro, the Regional Superior of Our Lady of Kibeho Rwanda, the Delegature Superior of the Pallottine Fathers in East Africa Fr. John Onna, and many other Sisters from different communities in Tanzania who had come for the First Profession.
O Adonai or O Lord and Ruler
O Adonai (Exod 3:14)
and Ruler of the house of Israel (Matt 2:6; Micah 5:1; 2 Sam 5:2), You appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush (Exod 3:2) and on Mount Sinai gave him Your Law (Exod 20). * Come, and with an outstretched arm redeem us (Jeremiah 32:21).
Jeremiah 23:5-8; Matthew 1:18-24
Faith and expectation fill today’s scripture. Faithful expectation is a central advent theme. In Jeremiah and Joseph, we have persons of great faith; faith in their God in the midst of the circumstances in which they found themselves. They are great examples for us as we confront the circumstances of our individual life, our life as a nation or as a global community. We all need a bit of advent’s faithful expectation.
The O Antiphons, also known as The great Os are Magnificat antiphons used at Vespers of the last seven days of Advent in Western Christian traditions. They are also used as the Alleluia verses on the same days in the post-1970 form of the Catholic Mass. They are referred to as the "O Antiphons" because the title of each one begins with the vocative particle "O". Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture.
According to Fr. William P. Saunders, "The exact origin of the O Antiphons is not known. Boethius (480–524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time [the sixth century]. At the Benedictine Fleury Abbey, these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the O Antiphons was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, "Keep your O" and "The Great O Antiphons" were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the O Antiphons have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church."
O Wisdom, O holy Word of God,
you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care:
Come and show your people the way to salvation.
Donald Jackson, artist and scribe
Matthew Frontispiece: The Genealogy of Christ (Matthew 1:1-17)
Zeph 3:14-18; Phil 4:4-7; Lk 3:10-18
And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?" He said to them in reply, "Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise." Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He answered them, "Stop collecting more than what is prescribed." Soldiers also asked him, "And what is it that we should do?" He told them, "Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages." Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. John answered them all, saying, "I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire.His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people. Lk 3:10-18
"I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire."
John would use water to cleanse the initiate for Christ but Christ would use fire to purify the believer. Water cleanses, but fire purifies. We use water to cleanse the dirt off the ore, but we use fire to burn the impurities out of it and, the more precious the metal, the hotter the fire.
Are we ready to be purified; to be made into God’s most precious ore? If so, we must be willing to embrace the fire. We must be willing to reject what is tepid, what is comfortable, and plunge into the heat, into the Refiner’s fire.
Sir 48:1-4, 9-11; Mt 17:9a, 10-13
John the Baptist by Michael D. O’Brien
Today’s readings continue to suggest the importance of preparation. Matthew’s Gospel recalls John the Baptist who gave his life preaching the good news of Jesus and our need to repent of our sins and prepare ourselves to receive Jesus’ presence, love, and forgiveness. Sirach holds up Elijah as the great prophet who calls us to repentance, healing, and restoration.
One theme from the readings that strikes me is how communal the repentance, healing, restoration, and preparation seem to be. Even in the Psalm the refrain is “make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved” (emphasis added). Sirach sees Elijah restoring “the tribes of Jacob.” Preparing to receive Jesus involves repentance and healing.
VISIT OF THE APOSTOLIC NUNCIO AT LEADERSHIP TRAINING CENTRE FOR THE LAITY – ARUSHA - DECEMBER 3rd, 2018
On 3rd December, 2018, we were honored by the visit of His Grace, Marek Solczynski, the Apostolic Nuncio of Tanzania. He was accompanied by His Grace Isaac Amani, the Archbishop of Arusha Archdiocese, Prosper Lyimo, the Auxiliary Bishop, Fr. Simon Tengesi, the Vicar General, Fr. Juvenalis Wengaa, the Secretary General and five Priests, leaders of the Deaneries.
Is 48:17-19; Mt 11:16-19
Life today often seems like a brief interlude between rushing and waiting. We rush to airports and wait; we go shopping and wait in lines; we rush between classes to eat lunch and wait in lines; we even wait in line to receive communion! Yet we wait because we know we will catch the plane, get the gift, or have lunch. Our expectations are ultimately fulfilled. That is the reward for our waiting. The essence of waiting is in the hope fulfilled and that is the central theme of advent: a faithful God fulfills his promise to an expectant people.
Isaiah 41:13-20; Matthew 11:11-15
Jesus tells us “Whoever has ears ought to hear” (Mt 11:15) at the end of the Gospel today. So what are we hearing? Are we even listening?
Today I hear Jesus saying that John the Baptist is the greatest person born of woman, but even the least of the Kingdom is greater than he. (Mt 11:11-12) John the Baptist testified to the imminence of the kingdom of God. Jesus is telling him, his disciples, the people in the crowd around him and, most of all, us that the kingdom is here and now and we are all called to work for the kingdom. Yet Jesus says that the kingdom suffers violence and that the violent are taking it by force” (Mt 11:12). So what are we to do?
▪ On the 33rd Sunday of the Ordinary Time in the liturgical year, the Church celebrated the World Day of the Poor. Pope Francis with great passion for the poor presided over the Holy Eucharist at St. Peter’s Basilica in which participated about 6,000 of homeless and poor people from Rome and surrounding areas. During his homily, Pope Francis urged all men and women of good will to ask for the grace “to hear the cry of all those tossed by the waves of life; the cry of the unborn, the starving children, young people more used to the explosion of bombs than happy shouts of the playgrounds, the elderly cast off and abandoned to themselves, the cry of all those forced to flee from their home lands for an uncertain future”. He invited bishops, priests, religious men and women to allow themselves to be evangelized by the poor whom they serve, and in this way to discover the beauty of the Gospel.
Is 40:25-31; Mt 11:28-30
To get the whole picture of what Jesus means today in His invitation to us, we need to consider how oxen are yoked together in Palestine. Two animals, not one, pull a very heavy load together. When Jesus invites us, “Shoulder My yoke and learn from me…,” He, therefore, is not giving His yoke to us. Jesus is sharing His yoke with us. Who says that Jesus is passing His burden to us? Who says that Jesus wants us to carry His burden for Him? Who says that Jesus commands us to pull the load alone? Whoever says so is gravely mistaken.