Only one thing is necessary. Therefore anything which does not draw you closer to God is vain and futile.
The episode of Jesus in the wilderness is presented to us on the first Sunday of Lent. In the wilderness, Jesus is alone in the eyes of men, and he meets the devil who tempts him to be comfortable, rich and to have power. One might ask: What about it? The Founder gives us a tentative answer in the Spiritual Gymnasium when he writes:
"It is necessary that takes off all one’s clothes in order to wrestle:
because if... he is dressed in even a small thing,
the enemy will easily find a place to grab him from and knock him to the ground."
The devil knows which path he should take... and that is why he puts before us things that at first glance seem beautiful and good.
But how will I give of my energy to walk after Jesus if I find myself comfortable with my daily routine? How will I offer the time and use the wealth I have for others if my mind is on money and part-time work? How will I obey; how will I be humble and serve others if I am attached to my ideas and want things to be done the way I wish them to be done?
Like Jesus in the wilderness we need to get rid of those things that don't leave us free to love. The Founder writes that it is necessary we only wear the armour of prayer. Let us be convinced that everything we have comes from God and in that way it becomes easier for us to do everything for his sake.
In the celebration of the liturgy, we are participating in the Paschal mystery of Christ. Christ’s saving action was available to all, and therefore all worshippers are expected to participate actively in the liturgy. Saint Benedict of Nursia points out that “nothing may have priority over the liturgy.” This is because it is centred on the Holy Trinity, the Alpha and the Omega.
The liturgy is not made or invented. Instead, it is something living that grew over millennia of faith. Its celebration differs around the world but its focus is still on the Holy Trinity. One of the Vatican II documents, the Sacrosanctum Concilium, strongly emphasized that the liturgy be closer to the people. That’s why liturgy in Africa is celebrated differently from Europe. For starters, mass in Africa takes a longer time than in Europe. The reason is that Africans are not in a rush and therefore, the homily takes much time. Also, the music in African mass makes it more lively.
The music, including the Agnus Dei, Kyrie and Sanctus are all done in native languages. Different instruments are used and the sacred music in an African mass will leave you dancing, something quite rare in Europe. Also, masses, especially the special ones, have liturgical dancers, making the mass lovelier.
In Kenya, the church is essentially a family of believers. Family in Kenyan culture is the foundation of everything. A group of families form a Small Christian Community (SCC) and the church is made up of several SCCs. Therefore, everyone in the family, from the youngest to the oldest, is part and parcel of the liturgy. This ensures that no one is left behind in God’s work.
We cannot say that sacrifice is a trendy word of our time; we try to avoid it as much as possible. However, sacrifice, even when viewed outside the spiritual dimension, is beneficial for the individual. Seeking only what is comfortable and familiar does not challenge us and therefore does not lead us toward maturity in wisdom and experience. In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul draws our attention to the athlete who is prepared to sacrifice everything to win a perishable crown. He also teaches us, in his letter to the Galatians, that self-control is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Thus, we can conclude that sacrifice also has a spiritual dimension. By denying ourselves small things in life, we grow in freedom and self-control. Let us ask God for the grace of living the spirit of sacrifice so that we may be strengthened against temptation and sin, and grow in the practice of virtues. Sacrifice is a must in our journey of holiness!
In the letter with which the Pope called the Church to promote Evangelization in the years before the Great Jubilee of 2025, Pope Francis closes with a strong invitation for the whole Church to make 2024 a year of prayer. The Pope makes reference to the many things that had a negative effected on every person. Faced with many terrible news, the Pope calls the whole Church to enkindle the flames of hope. With this thought in mind, the Pope closes the letter expressing his strong desire and urging us to mark this year as a year of prayer.
I would greatly desire that we devote 2024, the year preceding the Jubilee event, to a great “symphony” of prayer. Prayer, above all else, to renew our desire to be in the presence of the Lord, to listen to him and to adore him. Prayer, moreover, to thank God for the many gifts of his love for us and to praise his work in creation, which summons everyone to respect it and to take concrete and responsible steps to protect it. Prayer as the expression of a single “heart and soul” (cf. Acts 4:32), which then translates into solidarity and the sharing of our daily bread. Prayer that makes it possible for every man and woman in this world to turn to the one God and to reveal to him what lies hidden in the depths of their heart. Prayer as the royal road to holiness, which enables us to be contemplative even in the midst of activity.
In a word, may it be an intense year of prayer in which hearts are opened to receive the outpouring of God’s grace and to make the “Our Father,” the prayer Jesus taught us, the life programme of each of his disciples.
In this exhortation that the Pope issued on the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, eight years after the encyclical Laudato Si, the Pope calls us to be responsible in our actions. He calls us to do so because the effects of climate change are being felt worldwide, and that we have reached the breaking point. He continues by saying that these effects are felt primarily in the health care system, in the source of employment, in access to resources, and in housing.
The most prominent part of this exhortation is in the last chapter, where the Pope begins by emphasizing that he is not only calling Catholics, but his brothers and sisters of any religion, because authentic hope does not only give strength to the human heart, but also transforms life. The last paragraph begins with the same title of this exhortation, which is Praise God. Because when man tries to take the place of God, he ends up becoming his own worst enemy. The Pope managed to recollect all his thoughts in this exhortation in one sentence.
In the end, if the environment is destroyed, all humanity will be destroyed as well. Man depends on nature to survive. Almost everything that keeps us alive comes from the bounty of nature created by God. This is the reason why the Pope makes the call to every religion not only Christians. Despite the differences in beliefs, the cause we are fighting for is for the benefit of all of us, regardless of religion.
Thus, everyone should unite against this threat and respect nature, motivated both by one’s belief but also for the sake of the common good. In this exhortation, the Pope was clear to mention the problems we are facing and why we should fight against them. Thanks to this exhortation, one is urged to accept the differences between the different beliefs and focus on what is of the best interest for all.
SDC Candidate (Malta)
Societas Doctrinæ Christianæ M.U.S.E.U.M.
St George Preca Street
Marsa MRS 9090