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Matola Noviciate - Eight day retreat lead by Brother Christopher


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01/12/2008: Mozambique


hspace=5Brother Christopher leads the second year novices into an eight day retreat. From Monday evening until Sunday evening last week, our second year novices had a face to face encounter with Jesus. As we say each young person needs a holy man like Eli to help him hear the voice of God. It took Samuel three times to discover the voice of God. Eli had to tell him, ‘ When he calls again, say, speak Lord, your servant is listening.’ The Lord truly spoke but he feared to tell Eli but eventually he told him when he insisted. Brother Christopher helped them on how to identify the voice of God and not that of their ego in their lives. Imagine eight solid days with Jesus. One may ask, was the Devil alive? Did he provoke some doubts in some of them like the temptations of Jesus? Were there some moments they had to argue with Jesus on what it means to follow him and allow him lead the way? Did Jesus tell each one of them, ‘ Go behind me Satan?’ when they were tempted to lead as Peter did? My favourite phrase is, ‘ When you were young you used to lead your life, but when you get old, someone will have to tie you a cord and lead you to where you would rather not go.’ If we miss this as religious, we shall betray the heart of our consecration. Champagnat our Founder followed Obedience like food and in it , he discovered the will of God. God speaks through the superiors. Anyone who closes his ears from the superior will be hearing the voice of his own ego.

I was very struck when one of the Sisters of Charity told me that in their congregation they are not consulted. They are led like lambs to where needs of their mission are. Yes, others will have to lead us to where we would rather not go. There we will find new mothers, fathers, siblings in the common faith. This shows that we are people on the journey, itinerant servants. I said that is why the Lord asked the disciples not to carry anything on the journey. He wanted them to trust on the hospitality of those who welcome them. The false securities can delay the journey and give us a false feeling that there is no hospitality where he sends us. I am sure that our second years will be like lambs to be led where the Superior will post them. Brother Louis, one of our pioneers was excellent in obedience. He has temptations but had a listening year to his Eli, Saint Marcellin and died as a Brother. His former name was Jean Baptiste Audras.

To tell you our readers the truth and shame the Devil, our novices,upon their arrival at the noviciate, they all spoke well of Brother Christopher as a truly holy man. They proposed in anticipation to our first years to book him in advance to direct theirs too next year. They were touched by his simplicity and his deep sense of prayer. All the handouts they got from the retreat will be their points of references in the years to come. Yes, our very dear brothers, are ready to be led where they would rather not go. Some of our dear brothers died as martyrs and the Church honoured them immediately. An obedience religious will speak of victory.

I once attended the profession of the Benedictine Sisters. I was shocked to hear that they only professed Obedience. I was told later that all the other two vows fall into that vow. It is in this vow that we fall closely the invitation of Jesus that when you are old someone else will have to tie a cord and lead you where you would rather not go. Love of Jesus makes us not to have preferences. Thank you Brother Christopher for being the Eli of our novices and l more than certain that now they know what it means to be a religious.

Bravo our novices. Have Elis as you go ahead. They will help you to hear the voice of God from experience. Never pay attention to the voice of your egos because they always mislead. My little advice is bloom where you are planted. God bless you always. Remember, you are not alone. God has put Elis along the way, please consult them when other voices mislead you.

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