Saturday, October 26, 2013
SEXUAL DISORDERS AMONG RELIGIOUS AND PRIESTS 0. Introduction. The topic is set within the context of the general theme of the meeting, that is, “Vocation a sign of hope founded in faith”. Much is said and written about the issue of sexual disorders. News about priests and religious at-tract attention because of the particular nature of a priestly and religious vocation. We want to be realistic, that is, we accept that events take place and some of them are scandalous. We know that sexual disorders occur among people who exercise secular professions as well as within the family. Statistically, priests and religious who act against celibacy are a minority. But it is not enough to say that. Even one consecrated person who would act against the promise of celi-bacy cannot be overlooked. Disorders of this type affect other people and we cannot tolerate that people get hurt in their intimate life. We cannot accept that people are hurt by religious in whom they trust and whom they regard as symbols of God’s presence. On the other hand, we are not launching into a finger pointing exercise. We all remember what Je-sus said to the accusers of the woman caught in adultery: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” [Jn 8.7b]. 1. The Terminology. We also need to clarify the terms we use. Sexual disorders generally indicate actions different from or in contrast with what it is considered the normal way of expressing one’s sexuality. Sometime ago, the newspapers reported that around Mombasa people were arrested because they had intercourse with animals. This is called bestiality, that is, the sexual arousal, and possibly, the act, between a human being and an animal. I do not know exactly what hap-pened there. But bestiality is listed among the sexual disorders. Here we are not talking about issues of this kind. Rather, by the expression we indicate that people, who may be able to exercise their genital sexual act, do not do so because of a religious vow or commitment as a result of a special calling within the Church. In this context, any action that points to the exercise of genital sexuality is a disorder, because it goes against the proclaimed commitment of the religious as well as the expectation of others, both Christians and not, who know that those particular people are not supposed to have genital sex. However, we all live out sexuality. We are sexual human beings from the word go, that is, from the moment the spermatozoon and the ovum of our parents met. We are sexual beings all the time, when we write and when we play, when we pray and when we relax. We could affirm that sexuality is us, it is our human condition. Whatever we are and do, we are men and women, as the Bible says, created in the image and likeness of God: “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them” [Gn 1.27]. In the plan of God men and women are ordered towards marriage. A text in Genesis which is quoted in various passages of the gospels spells it out in a very nice way: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two of them become one body” [Gn 2.24]. Marriage is at the origin of humankind, although I think we have not yet began to realise the leaving of one’s parents, at least from the side of the man. From the side of the woman, it is more common…! Still, we can affirm that God’s plan in creation concerns the differentiation of the human being in male and female and their union in marriage. Sexuality is, should we say, original in humankind! A first affirmation may be that whenever sexuality is used to spoil marriage, one’s or others’, is disor-dered. Life experience shows that, although marriage is the way for humankind, not all do actually go that way. Reasons may be many. Family duties may prevent people from marrying. Others do not feel attracted to it, but prefer their own single condition. Others, after a short spell in marriage, have become widows or widowers. One of the best examples I find is that of the prophetess Anna of the infancy narra-tives in Luke: “…having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four” [Lk 2.36]. Others consecrate their life to God. That, in the religious traditions of many peoples, excludes marriage, but not sexuality! We are sexual human beings, that is, men and women, in marriage and celibacy. Reli-gious consecration in celibacy and virginity is a particular way of living one’s sexuality, that is, one’s humanity. It is not a suppression of something. It cannot be a frustrated way of leaving one’s sexuality in the hope that the church authorities may change their minds and allow us to change our status in life. That is to live in the realm of dreams, not of reality. 2. The Situation. We hear stories of priests and sisters who have sex. At times girls are attracted by priests. Attrac-tion may be mutual. Remaining at the level of man woman relationships, we hear that there are many in-stances of a behaviour that does not respect the appropriate boundaries. We also know that often our natural families crave for us to give them children. They insist that at least one child be born. Sometimes it is, I think, an emotional reaction, idealising the man-woman relationship. But the pressure is there and, undoubtedly, it places a heavy burden on many young men and women who want to consecrate themselves to God. To this we add the element of corruption within society: marriages break down, relationships out-side marriage happen frequently, children grow up without knowing who their parents are, often they know the mother but not the father, or they have no relationships with the father. So, if priests have children, well, it is human. People speak about that, but it remains in the quietness of conversations between people who know one another. Unfortunately, society shows many levels of assessment. Ladies are treated more harshly than men. A priest may remain to function as a priest even if it is known to have fathered children. A sister will have to leave the community if she remains pregnant. Women bear heavier consequences of their sexual conduct. When customs are spoiled by corruption, often it is the sexual field that is mostly affected. Cruelty takes the place of love and people are capable of anything. It is said that in Roman society of the 2nd and 3rd century after Christ, corruption of customs had entered into the texture of society itself. The state organisation became weaker and weaker and eventually it col-lapsed. Authors say, for instance, that theatrical representations were often dull and uninspiring. People were waiting for the end of the story when the bad person would be condemned to punishment. The actor would then be replaced by a prisoner to be tortured to death on the stage to the excitement of the audi-ence! It was widespread for the rich Roman families at the end of dinner to exchange wives and husbands in night long orgies. Christian writers affirm that Christian differentiated themselves from the rest of society precisely because they did not follow such practices. The list could be long. In a number of countries in Africa at the turn of this century a former superior general of the MSOLA was asked by the Union of General Superiors in Rome to make an enquiry with religious con-gregations about rumours that were going around sexual misbehaviour and to report confidentially. She did so and collected a series of facts that showed many compromises in the area of sexuality. But the re-port was seized by a journalist who leaked it before it reached the people who had commissioned it. She became the object of insults and a symbol of church colonialism. Some affirmed that they could solve the problems in Africa in the African way (whatever that meant!). Others were shocked by the contents, be-cause they were unaware of the situations. Few people recognised that there was an issue that needed to be tackled. The journalist in question, from the National Catholic Reporter, a USA based Catholic Newspaper, later on went to see the sister and apologised. But the damage was done. Not so much because it revealed what was happening - nobody doubted of the truth of the matter - but because when the issue became public it polarised people in a way that did not allow a serious and calm reflection to tackle the it in a constructive way. In addition, when thinking about the situations of sexual disorders we ought to include the aspects related to abuse of minors. It is an issue that needs attention. We recognize that there exist human condi-tions that bring people in the caring professions, which include priests, to sexually abuse minors. It may be the case of sexual union between a priest and a girl under eighteen, that is, a minor. It may be sexual play with children or adolescents. This is quite different from same sex attraction, both among men and women, or homosexuality, as it is commonly called. In February 2012, the Gregorian University in Rome organised a symposium for Catholic Bishops and Religious Superiors about the sexual abuse of minors. Presentations from various parts of the world stressed that the issue is worldwide. It is a human reality, not a problem of some cultures rather than oth-ers. One striking point came from the bishop of Papantla in Mexico, Jorge Carlos Patrón Wong, who, spoke about formation and quoted a document of Medellín published in 2003, stating that: “The centre of gravity no longer lies in the methods, theories and resources directed to seminarians, instead attention has been pointed towards the permanent formation of formators, since experience has taught us that what truly forms the person of the seminarian is the life and example of his formator” . The areas of addictions also need to be taken into consideration as they lead to sexual disorders, especially the addiction to pornography. Like alcohol, addiction to pornography, mainly, but not exclu-sively, through the computer can be brought under control, but only through specialised interventions. Good will and sincere promises from the person are not enough. 3. Sexuality, Morality and Religion. After stating the issues at stake, I would like to embark on same reflections about the theological, especially the moral side of what we termed sexual disorders in the life of priests and religious. Much of the following reflections derive from a wider theological reflection on sexuality. Much of the sexual dimension of the human being originates in the body and can be ascribed to the chromosomes, that is, the genetic make-up, and the instinct. The more the area is confined to genetics and instinct, the less the moral assessment has a place. We do not consider the behaviour of animals as moral, for instance. Precisely here lies the difference. Sexuality is an essential part of the human make-up. Like all things human it implies the activity of the being as a whole, not only of some organs. Human activity implies the body and the spirit, or soul, as well . First of all, we must consider the sexual activity as an act of the being. As humans, we always use our material and spiritual faculties. Animals act by instinct only. The study of the biological foundation of human sexual behaviour is the object of Ethology, a sci-ence, formulated in the 1930s, which studies human and animal behaviour through comparative methods. The merit of developing such a science goes to two 1973 Nobel Prize winners: Konrand Lorentz and Niko Tinbergen. These two scientists proved that living systems function through inborn mechanisms, i.e. reactions which are caused by stimuli. Reactions are spontaneous, i.e. they are not the result of training. That is why they are called inborn. Some reactions of such a type appear also as part of human behaviour, for example, to stand still, to turn around, to close the fist, to point the finger, etc. Although here cultural factors may have to be taken into consideration as well, often actions like these are reactions to something that confronts the person. They are spontaneous reactions. Sexual behaviour – to give origin to the little ones and to nurture them – is a behaviour that springs from the biological law of safeguarding the species. Secondly, we notice also enormous differences. The greatest difference between animals and hu-mans is that, whereas among animals sexual activity towards generation is periodical, people are available at all times. Also the position is remarkably different: among animals it is generally from behind, among humans it is frontal . With the development of the homo erectus the sexual act passed from relying mainly on hearing and smelling to emphasising seeing and touching. Science shows that human behaviour is often determined by biological factors. However, the moral quality of such behaviour comes from the meaning that it is given. Meaning is the field of morality whereas biology has not much to say about it. With regard to sexual activity, biology tells us that it is ori-ented towards the development of the species, that is, reproduction and protection. Morality has more to say, in the sense that it reflects on the meaning of actions. We realize that to introduce the concept of morality will link up with religion as well. Sexuality, morality and religion are deeply linked. This relationship has a symbolic dimension. The body is material and sexual, that is, male or female. It is never neutral. That is how it exists. Sexuality is, therefore, about human beings. If sexuality points to the material aspect of the body, never-theless it implies also a symbolic value. Sexuality implies objective as well as subjective data. It manifests itself as the desire to go out of oneself, towards the other. This desire for the other, when reciprocated, becomes the project of a life shared and built together. Obviously, this includes concrete actions; it is not just on the realm of ideas. Human experience includes both. If limited to the spiritual aspect, or to the material one, sexuality is not fully human. Religion is full of symbols. Religious experience is the experience of a relationship with another one, who is radically different. Such a relationship will imply also a certain capacity to describe that other one. Gestures are necessary, thoughts are indispensable, in order to establish such a relationship. In this way we can see the connection that exists between religion and sexuality. Symbolism runs through both of them. However, we are aware that the link is complex in the sense that it implies many elements. As a matter of fact, sexual experience may be a cause of rejecting religion. Religion, on the other hand, may block sexual experience. At times between the two there appears a complex game of influences that may assume pathological ex-pressions. The deep relationship between religion and sexuality is symbolic. In other words, there are simi-larities as well as important differences. First of all, religious experience, once it becomes faith, means accepting God into one’s life. In Christian thought, although it is affirmed that God can be found by human reason, nevertheless the full truth about God is based on God’s self-revelation. We can say, therefore, that it is not the human being who finds God. Sexual experience, like religion, implies the desire for another subject, in order to create union with that same subject. But, unlike religious experience, sexuality remains at the level of the acting subject (or sub-jects). Secondly, religious experience is expressed in symbolic language, whereas sexual experience im-plies a great deal of material aspect. Religious experience goes beyond sexual experience, in the sense that it develops symbolism to its highest limit, while remaining deeply and concretely human. Religious experience develops all human experiences, including the sexual one, beyond the material aspect. Through religious experience the human subject discovers the highest symbolism of the sexual aspect in searching for solidarity and unity, against the divisive tendencies of the human being left to himself or herself. I think this is the reason why religious experience, in its highest expressions, is described with the language of sexuality, especially the language of love and marriage (which is the deepest expression of sexuality). The best example I find is the way in which the prophets in the Bible use the language of mar-riage, both in its aspect of faithfulness and unfaithfulness, to speak of the relationship between God and the people. Likewise, I think this is the reason why the Canticle of Canticles (the Song of Solomon) found its way into the Canon of Scripture. It is appropriate that it should be there! In addition, the language of mystics, in Christianity as well as in other religions, is heavily loaded with nuptial, therefore sexual, images in order to express the union between the creature and its creator . 4. Criteria of morality in sexual behaviour. Moral reflection ought to take into consideration that sexuality is expressed in different ways dur-ing the various stages of growth of the person and of his or her relationship with others and with God. Within the Christian revelation, God’s love (agape) is the basis of human love (eros) . The human person grows into a deeper integration of eros and agape. Thus morality becomes integral part of the human real-ity and does not remain conditioned by taboos, pre-scientific expressions, nor by repressive methods of control. In this context I would like to point out three main criteria. 4.1 The human person a unity of body and spirit. We consider the human being as a unity of body and spirit, created by God, fundamentally good, touched by sin and redeemed by Christ. Sexuality is part of the expressions of the body. The body has its own ways to express interpersonal en-counters. It is important to recognise the constructive aspect of pleasure in the sexual dialogue. Erotism ought to be integrated, not repressed. Nor should it be exalted as the absolute expression of the human person. Sexu-ality is more than the satisfaction of physical pleasure. The process of integrating sexuality into the human person implies also some kind of control based on the ascetical practice of renunciation. It is in this context that the virtue of chastity finds its constructive role. 4.2 Interpersonal dynamisms. Interpersonal relationships are at the root of the exercise of sexuality. Only in that context the hu-man person is free from slavery to sexual desire. The experience of sexuality demands personal intimacy. A sexual encounter that happens outside the psychological and spiritual dimension of the person would be without value. The feeling of modesty (or shame), and the concrete actions that derive, have an important place. The feeling of modesty is a protection of the person against what is public. It is part of the moral development of the person to make modesty grow into a virtue. But modesty/shame contains some ambiguity. Its loss destroys the mystery aspect of human sexuality. But a too heavy insistence given to modesty/shame reveals the imbalance caused by a sexual formation based on taboos and repressive methods. 4.3 The value of the socio-political dimension. There is a social dimension in sexuality. That is why societies have shown interest in its expressions and have tended to regulate it. One way of regulating the exercise of sexuality is the formulation of norms of behaviour. The regulation of the sexual mechanisms in the field of interpersonal relationships enables the building up of society. We face now a mentality that tends to privatise the exercise of sexuality, including marriage. It is a char-acteristic of urban, industrial societies, where traditional practices are largely inapplicable. Norms of behaviour must aim at developing and protecting the values of the human person. They must free the creative energies of the human being. Norms must not be just series of dos and don’ts. This is particularly important in the Christian context, where sexuality expresses also the mystery of love of the Father in Christ through the Spirit. 5. Reflections on the way forward. The Priestly account of creation at every step affirms that all is very good: “God looked at every-thing he had made, and he found it very good” [Gn 1.31a]. To this echoes Vatican II, stating that all Christians are called to holiness: “It is therefore quite clear that all Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of love, and that by this holiness a more human manner of life is fostered also in earthly society” . All of us are aware that there is a different theological issue between priestly celibacy and religious life, both male and female. Celibacy is associated to priesthood in the Latin rite of the Catholic Church but it is not a constitutive part of the ministerial priesthood. The situation with the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church is different, as it is for the Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant Churches. On the other hand, celibacy is an integral part of the vocation to religious life. And this is true of all Christian churches that nurture religious life as a calling from Christ to live Christian life. Since religious are lay people (except those who have been ordained), the reflection intends to take into consideration also the numerous forms of consecrated life that exist in the church. In addition, I would like to mention here all those people who do not marry for a variety of rea-sons. If they accept their life condition as a vocation from God, then they live a kind of consecrated life, although without particular ecclesial structures. Two official documents of the Magisterium resume the theological position on the issue: the en-cyclical Scerdotalis Cælibatus by Paul VI in 1967 and the apostolic exhortation Vita Consecrata by John Paul II in 1996. Both documents outline the richness of God’s gift of celibacy in consecrated life and priestly ministry. Paul VI outlines also the formation required in order to attain the ideal of celibacy. The pope writes that formation must enable people to create harmony between grace and nature. Without a healthy psycho-logical balance people cannot be formed to live a life of celibacy. Consequently, when such a balance is not evident, the process of formation must be interrupted and people must be helped to find other ways of life. John Paul II adds a deep reflection on the value of chastity as a prophetic sign in a society where hedon-ism prevails. He also affirms that people who live the gift of chastity must be well balanced people who live that charism with joy and freedom. Theological and pastoral reflections stress the value of some traditional thinking, like the appeal to asceticism. Celibacy includes also renunciation. It means that in order to live such a gift one has to take the appropriate means with regard to the style of life and the friendships entertained. The fact that now in many societies it is common that both men and women share the same tasks demands also a renewed commitment to one’s ideal. Temptations are always present. One must detect them and act accordingly. The basic attitude, though, is that celibacy is a gift. A gift of God, first of all, that becomes a gift for God in the sense that one offers one’s life to God for the witness of the gospel. It becomes also a gift for others in the sense that the consecrated person becomes completely available for others. Thus to live without forming a family is not an unnatural style of life. Research shows that the non-use of the sexual organs does not upset the way the human psyche is built. One can live a perfectly normal and human life even without using his or her genital sexuality. That can be achieved if the person is psychologically mature, that is, able to integrate all the aspects of life in harmony. Sexuality must be integrated, not suppressed. However, human frailty is evident and the inclination to sin is at work in this field and it must be taken into consideration. If the existence of sin is evident, and perhaps more evident in this area, the pos-sibility of redemption is equally open to all. Consequently, to the condemnatory attitude we must oppose the affirmation that grace prevails over sin and that redemption is open to all. In the event of a fall, the way of forgiveness is open, because God is the God of mercy and for-giveness and in the church forgiveness is given as a sign of the presence of the risen Lord who takes away sin. That is possible when the person is able to recognise his or her own weakness that has led to sin and to assume the consequent responsibility respectively, especially when children are born. Since in the Latin rite Catholic Church celibacy is the expected style of priests, the birth of a child implies that the person must assume his responsibility and leave the ministry to exercise the ministry of parent and eventually of husband. Among the Eastern, as well as among the Protestant churches, where the celibacy discipline is different, there are also responsibilities to be assumed. Among women religious a fault in this respect is more evident. But, at times, religious women are left to themselves to bear the consequences. This is unjust. No act of sin and weakness may be pardoned and reconciled without justice. 6. Conclusion. As a conclusion of this presentation, I like to widen the field originally entrusted to me, to quote some passages from Fr. Bernard Häring, in the field of sexual morality, which I find particularly signifi-cant and meaningful. A Christian moral theology would be thoroughly unfaithful to the whole vision of revelation if, in the treating of sexual ethics, its purpose, ends and norms were defined apart from love” . “Our treatment of human sexuality is influenced not so much by a defence morality as by a covenant morality with its own dynamics and its proper protection” . “The truth of sexual love has much to tell us about being free and faithful in Christ. We would not be able to conceive any truths about the creative and redeeming love of God our Father, and Christ our brother, without the basic experiences of love that have come to us through the institutions of marriage and family . On a more general note, I find some remarks of Fr Bénézet Bujo interesting, even if they were written in the context of fundamental moral theology: This cross [of Jesus] will always remain a scandal and a folly. Only the African who has been converted and has faith will see in the Crucified Jesus the Proto-Ancestor whom he or she can identify with….”. Only a theology which takes into account both the traditional and the modern is capable of producing an original and effective model for Christians in Africa today . But traditions ought to be interpreted and developed. I find another quotation of Fr Bujo quite useful: There are those traditions that are unacceptable, but whose intentions in former times were justified and good. Other traditions, however, are not only unacceptable, but even regarding their intentions and aims, must be totally condemned and rejected. It is important to put a proper exegesis on African tradition. The traditions passed down by the ancestors must always be read and interpreted in the spirit of their authors. In other words, no tradition should be “read” or applied without its context . Bibliography BENEDICT XVI, Deus Caritas Est, Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2005. BUJO, B., African Theology in its Social Context, Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2003. BUJO, B., Plea for Change of Models for Marriage, Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2009. BUJO, B., Foundations of an African Ethic, Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2003. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, A Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, London 1975. FAGGIONI, P. M., Sessualità, Matrimonio, Famiglia, Bologna: Edizioni Dehoniane 2010. FLANNERY A. ED. Vatican Council II, Vol. 1, Mumbai: St Pauls, 2010. HÄRING, B., Free and Faithful in Christ, vol. 2, Slough: St Paul Publications, 1978 or Homebush NSW: St Paul Publications, 1980. JOINET, B., The Challenge of Modernity in Africa, Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa 2003. MAGESA. L., Christian Ethics in Africa, Nairobi: Acton Publishers 2002. SHORTER, A., Celibacy and African Culture, Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa 2003. VENDRAME, G., Sessualità, S. Lucia di Piave, 1994. WÜBBLES, T., Celibate Tensions in African Reality, (Nairobi) The African Bible, Nairobi: Pauline Publications Africa, 1999.
VOCATIONAL AND FAITH JOURNEY (Vocation as a sign of hope founded on faith) Fr. George Kocholickal SDB Thank you for this privilege to address you in this Forum of the Kenya Association of Vocation Animators. I am no stranger to this Forum since I served as the Vocation Promoter for the SDBs here in Kenya for quite many years – though it wasn’t a full-time job. Fr. Joseph Nyamunga suggested that I present my reflection connecting your specific roles as vocation animators and the Year of Faith that we are about to conclude. I would like to proceed in this way: First I wish to recall to our minds some of the very important insights on vocation, especially from the insights Blessed John Paul II, and then show a parallel between the vocational journey and the journey of faith. In the third part, I shall share with you some of the insights on vocation promotion before I conclude. I: VOCATION AND ITS DISCERNMENT 1. Vocation is a dialogue Pope John Paul II frequently explains vocations by comparison with the vocation of the prophet Jeremiah, which the Pope calls a “universal model” for every vocation. God’s word comes to Jeremiah and announces to him: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jer 1:5). Thus begins a dialogue between God and Jeremiah. The Pope uses this description of Jeremiah’s calling to illustrate the way God calls each person. The Lord tells the Prophet Jeremiah that his vocation was part of God’s eternal plan even before he was born... These words remind us that each person has a place in God’s plan and that each of us should carefully listen to God’s voice in prayer in order to discover the special calling we have received in Christ (Pope John Paul II, Homily, September 2, 1990). Hence the grace of a vocation takes the form of a dialogue in the hidden recesses of the human heart. It is a dialogue between Christ and an individual, in which a personal invitation is given. Christ calls the person by name and says: “Come, follow me.” This call, this mysterious inner voice of Christ, is heard most clearly in silence and prayer. Its acceptance is an act of faith (Pope John Paul II, Homily, February 10, 1986). 2. Discerning a vocation But is a vocation to be decided by prayer alone? Or does “listening to God’s voice in prayer” mean an introverted examination of our experiences of prayer? No, for “in many other ways too we learn to know God’s will: through important events in our lives, through the example and wisdom of others, and through the prayerful judgment of his Church” (Pope John Paul II, Homily, September 2, 1990). All that we learn of ourselves and of the world in which we live can inform this decision. During youth a person puts the question, “What must I do?”, not only to himself and to other people from whom he can expect an answer, especially his parents and teachers, but he puts it also to God, as his Creator and Father. He puts it in the context of this particular interior sphere in which he has learned to be in a close relationship with God, above all in prayer. He therefore asks God: “What must I do?”, what is your plan for my life? Your creative, Fatherly plan? What is your will? I wish to do it.” In this context the “plan” takes on the meaning of a “life vocation,” as something which is entrusted by God to an individual as a task. Young people, entering into themselves and at the same time entering into conversation with Christ in prayer, desire as it were to read the eternal thought which God the Creator and Father has in their regard. They then become convinced that the task assigned to them by God is left completely to their own freedom, and at the same time is determined by various circumstances of an interior and exterior nature. Examining these circumstances, the young person, boy or girl, constructs his or her plan of life and at the same time recognizes this plan as the vocation to which God is calling him or her (Pope John Paul II, Letter to Youth, Dilecti Amici, n. 9). The pope thus describes vocation as depending on what we might call “objective” circumstances, both interior and exterior. These circumstances vary from individual to individual, and a complete description cannot be given. Yet the primary factor can be summed up with a single word - love. “Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being,” (Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, n. 11), and thus having a vocation means being drawn by love and in love to commit oneself to a way of life. A vocation therefore begins with Christ, who makes an approach in love to an individual person, leading him to search for a path in life by which to respond to Christ’s love. In prayerful dialogue with Christ, this person then examines his personal circumstances, in order to find the path of life in which he can make the best gift of himself in love. II: VOCATIONAL JOURNEY AND THE FAITH JOURNEY What are the steps involved in the vocational journey? The candidates who have decided to respond generously to the gift of their vocation have to personalise it in the context of a particular charism, religious family and mission; then they are to witness to others the joy of having been called; celebrate the gift of their vocation in prayer and liturgy, and finally invite others to follow the path they chose. This dynamics closely resemble the five major stages in the cycle of Christian faith: First, Faith is received as a gift; then it is personalised; after that faith is witnessed through a life of service; it is celebrated in liturgy and prayer and finally it is proclaimed. Let me take you through these stages of our faith journey as well as the vocation journey for they walk together hand in hand. 1. Gift of God, received with gratitude and responsibility We are Christians because someone shared with us their faith. Perhaps, most of us were born in a Christian family and our parents shared their faith with us during our baptism; they brought us up as good Christians. We were assisted in this by our parish priests, religious sisters, catechists, and many others. Then we decided to pursue a religious vocation. For some, it also meant a priestly vocation. Here too there were messengers, people who assisted us including our vocation animators. However, that does not mean, that we understood then what Christian faith meant, or what being a religious/priest implied. In any case, that is how most of us begin our Christian life and vocational journey. Notice how important the messengers of the Church were in this. They were instruments of God to give us a “treasure” in “earthen vessels”, precious yet fragile (cf. 2 Cor. 4:7). Both our Christian faith and religious vocation are pure gifts, it is grace. St Paul writing to the Ephesians (2:8-9) says, “Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit.” In the universal call to holiness, of particular relevance is God’s initiative of choosing some to follow his Son Jesus Christ more closely, and to be his privileged ministers and witnesses. The divine Master personally called the Apostles “to be with him, and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons” (Mk 3:14-15); they, in turn, gathered other disciples around them as faithful collaborators in this mission. In this way, responding to the Lord’s call and docile to the movement of the Holy Spirit, over the centuries, countless ranks of priests and consecrated persons placed themselves totally at the service of the Gospel in the Church. The exhortation of Jesus to his disciples: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38), again points to the truth that vocation to priesthood and consecrated life too is a gift from God. He freely gives to those whom he chooses: “You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit…” (Jn 15:16). In fact, the vocation to the priesthood and to the consecrated life constitutes a special gift of God which becomes part of the great plan of love and salvation that God has for every man and woman and for the whole of humanity. How are we to receive this gift of vocation from the Lord? With gratitude and with a sense of responsibility. As the Common Preface IV says, “For, although you have no need of our praise, yet our thanksgiving is itself your gift, since our praises add nothing to your greatness, but profits us for salvation, through Christ our Lord.” So let us ask ourselves: Are we taking for granted the vocations that God is giving us? Are we grateful to God? Do we thank Him? Do we see the new arrivals as an act of love and trust in our community by none other than our heavenly Father Himself. Mother Teresa quoting the Indian Poet Rabindranath Tagore said, “Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.” Similarly we may state as well: Every fresh vocation to our community is a statement on God’s part that he still loves our community. Secondly responsibility: Every gift brings along with it a responsibility. On the part of the vocation animators and the community, it means to provide a healthy environment and support needed for the person to experience this form of life, and through prayer and spiritual direction seek God’s will. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, God’s free initiative requires a free response on the part of men and women; a positive response which always presupposes acceptance of and identification with the plan that God has for everyone; a response which welcomes the Lord’s loving initiative and becomes, for the one who is called, a binding moral imperative, an offering of thanksgiving to God and a total cooperation with the plan which God carries out in history (cf. CCC 2062). How do we assist the person to make a free and generous response to God’s call? Through personal accompaniment. Recall how Jesus accompanied the Twelve in their total commitment. He taught them in private, he reprimanded them when they went wrong in their thinking, he encouraged and consoled them in the mission he gave to them, and most of important, he purified their motivations in following him. For us too, vocation accompaniment implies all that, and especially of assisting the candidates in a painful purification of some of the misplaced motivations for joining the religious communities. Was Jesus fully successful in this? I may say, No! Recall what Judas did at the end of all that. A legend recalls that Jesus had to assist Peter who was running away from Rome during the persecution under Nero to escape death, to return and to lay down his life for the Master. 2. Personal appropriation of the Gift Let us now move to the second stage of our faith journey, namely, of personally appropriating and cherishing the gift of faith. We remain Christians because that is what we received from our parents and family, and we see that Christianity has the ability to satisfy our need for God. But we really become Christians when we can personalise the faith that we have received from the Church. Our parents, our Sunday school teachers, the church, could only take us to the water of life. God can only invite us to his grace. It is up to us to make a personal choice to participate in his grace. It is up to us to make an act of free will like the Magi (Mt 2:1-11) who decided to follow the star; like Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-11) who decided to climb the Sycamore tree; like the apostles and disciples who decided to follow Jesus. In Rev 3:20, the Spirit of God says, “Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share a meal at that person’s side.” Yes, once we have had a personal experience of Jesus in the context of the believing community, then we can say, like the Apostle Paul, “For me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21). That is my life is centred around the person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. A similar thing should also happen in the journey of our religious vocation. The candidate, through his active presence in the life of the community, is to slowly appropriate the life-style, charism and the traditions of the community, beginning to own it. In other words, he or she is to grow in a sense of belonging to the community. How does a person appropriate the God-given vocation in a particular religious community and make it personal? I don’t think the process is simple, in fact is complex. Study of the charism and the traditions of the community, experience of its apostolic life etc., can help. But I think the most important component in all these is the active “presence” of the candidate in the life and events of the community; that is, he is willing to share his own time become responsible for the affairs of the community. Recall what the Fox tells the Little Prince in Antoine Exupery’s little book: “It is the time that you spent for the rose that makes the rose important,” “what is most important is invisible to the eye.” I believe that one of the important signs of progress in ones vocation is the growth in the sense of belonging to the new community where God has placed the candidate. In this process of personally appropriating the gift of faith and gift of vocation one is to face many challenges. It is an arduous path as well. Every day the person has to grow in faith, hope and love. 3. Witness through Service Our Christian faith is given to us, we receive it. We personalise it through our ongoing experience of God in the person of Jesus, and we live that faith - we witness. The Greek word for ‘witness’ is ‘martyrion’. So, a martyr is not necessarily one who is ready to die for the Christian faith, but it is anyone who lives that faith, even if that implies some inconveniences, some challenges, and some suffering. Pope Paul VI was insistent when he wrote: “Above all the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness” (EN 21). Today we live in a very secular context, and sometimes the words of the Book of Wisdom is so relevant to us: “The godless say to themselves, ‘Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man, since he annoys us and opposes our way of life…” (Wis 2:12). This offers us a challenge and an opportunity to deepen our own faith. That is why Jesus warns us, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mk 8:34-35). Service (‘diakonia’ in Greek) is a concrete way of witnessing to our Christian faith. Service is seen in Christian charity. Jesus said, “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28). And so he insisted: “You know that among the gentiles the rulers lord it over them, and great men make their authority felt. Among you this is not to happen. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave” (Mt 20:25-27). Witnessing through genuine, wholehearted service to the other is in fact imitating our own Master and Lord: “If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you must wash each other’s feet” (Jn 13:14). The vocational journey therefore requires concrete ministry, of service especially to those to whom we are sent. Our Holy Father Francis has insisted on this dimension of priestly and consecrated life and is concerned about any attempt to withdraw into our comfort zones. He has told us to move to the periphery of the society, to meet people where they are, to be concerned about them. During the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, the Pope urged the priests to be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep”! “Self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live our priestly life by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others,” the pope continued. I think the concern of the Pope is very relevant. Do we train our candidates to serve? How do they serve the community? Are they engaged in cleaning (including the toilet), washing, cooking, taking care of the garden? Or are we giving them “servants” to serve them? ... What about their ministry to those outside? Do they actively engage in some sort of apostolic ministry (e.g. teaching catechism, visiting the sick, animating the youth groups, guiding the choir, working with the vocational ministry team etc.) 4. Celebrated in Liturgy and Prayer Living out our faith is a joyful thing. It is a celebration. Joy is one of the first fruits of the Holy Spirit. The joy of a believing community is expressed most of all in the liturgical celebration, and particularly in the Eucharistic celebration. The early Christian communities gathered together to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord by listening to the Word and breaking Bread together (Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 10:16-17). And this was a joyful celebration (Act 2:46). That is why, the Second Vatican Council reminded us that “The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11). In Lumen Fidei Pope Francis speaks of the Eucharist as the “precious nourishment for faith”, an “act of remembrance, a making present of the mystery”, which “leads from the visible world to the invisible”, teaching us to experience the depth of reality (n. 44). What is true for the Christian life is all the more true for the vocational journey. Where do the members of the community gather together? Around the Eucharistic table celebrating their common calling and religious charism, around the Lord Jesus in common adoration, in praise and thanksgiving, in raising petitions and intercessions and in moments of silent personal prayer, the community celebrates. We are not ignoring the moments of being together in recreation, or our common meals, and similar activities, all of which have their importance. But none of those can substitute or take priority over the spiritual celebrations of the community. A well-prepared and celebrated liturgy where everyone participates actively is of greater significance over other forms of common celebrations. 5. Mission of Making Disciples The gospel stories tell us so consistently how those who had an encounter with Jesus immediately become messengers of the Good News. “The first thing Andrew did [after he stayed with Jesus] was to find his brother and say to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ and he took Simon to Jesus” (Jn 1:41-42a). The Samaritan woman “put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people, ‘Come and see a man who has told me everything I have done; could this be the Christ?’ (Jn 4:28-29). The two disciples on the road to Emmaus after they recognized the Lord at the breaking of the bread, “set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. [There]… they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread” (Lk 24:33-35). The invitation of Jesus, “Come and See” becomes positively contagious. In the Gospel of Matthew, the very last words of Jesus recorded is about a sending the Eleven to “make disciples”. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you” (Mt 28: 18-20). St Paul, though called later, discovered this aspect of his vocation. He says, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1Cor 9:16; see also Rom 10:14-15). He knew, to be true to his call, he had to proclaim the Gospel. Proclamation is simply being able to share with others how Christian faith has given me joy and hope, and inviting them too to find that same sense of hope. We proclaim our faith so that someone else can receive it, and the cycle of Christian faith can continue. God continues to offer the gift of faith to others through us. Fruitfulness in our mission is a very tangible sign that the Lord is working through us. In fact he is the one who sent us to go out and bear fruit: “You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last” (Jn 15:16). One of the tasks that we have in our religious life is to seek followers or vocations to the life that we ourselves embraced. If we appreciate our vocation, if we really love it and are happy in this vocation, we will also gladly invite others to join us, to take our place once we are gone. Towards this, we shall speak about our community, charism, mission, indeed “make disciples”. That leads us to the next topic, that of vocation promotion. III: Vocation Promotion 1. Promoting a Vocational Culture One of our tasks as evangelizers and vocation promoters is to promote a “culture” of vocations. What do I mean by a “culture” of vocations? I mean create or facilitate an environment that promotes correct beliefs and attitudes regarding the purpose of human and Christian existence. It means to spread the word around that God has a personal plan for each of us, and we must listen to him to learn what it is. Both the young and their parents should know that the Lord has his plan for each of us, he calls each one of us by name. Our task is to be listeners, capable of perceiving his call, to be courageous and faithful, so that we may follow him, and in the end, be found as trustworthy servants who have used well the gifts entrusted to us (see, Pope Benedict XVI, Homily for the Marian Vespers with the Religious and Seminarians of Bavaria, September 11, 2006). The origin and goal of this plan is God’s love. God loves us, so that we can love him in return. “He loves us, he makes us see and experience his love, and from God’s loving us ‘first,’ love can also arise as a response within us” (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, n. 17). A vocation is always situated in the context of this love. “Before the creation of the world, before our coming into existence, the heavenly Father chose us personally, calling us to enter into a filial relationship with him, through Jesus, the Incarnate Word, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit” (Pope Benedict XVI, Message for 43rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, May 7, 2006). We must resist a culture that attempts to limit human existence to a purely earthly reality, and to measure the success of one’s life in terms of career, wealth, status, power, and so on. What you can do as vocation promoters is to encourage a culture of vocations, or train young people to ask questions such as, “Master, what should I do to be saved?”; “Master, what is your will and plan for me, for my life?” Promoting a culture of vocations is also to train young people to listen interiorly in silence. Blessed John Paul II told the young people gathered in Los Angeles about how he discovered his vocation. “I am often asked, especially by young people, why I became a priest. Maybe some of you would like to ask the same question. Let me try briefly to reply. I must begin by saying that it is impossible to explain entirely. For it remains a mystery, even to myself. How does one explain the ways of God? Yet, I know that, at a certain point in my life, I became convinced that Christ was saying to me what he had said to thousands before me: 'Come, follow me!' There was a clear sense that what I heard in my heart was no human voice, nor was it just an idea of my own. Christ was calling me to serve him as a priest” (Los Angeles, USA, September 14, 1987). 2. Targeting the Youth In our vocational journey whom do we target, if not the youth. It is from the young people that we can expect generosity and love. It is they who will take the risk for the Lord. If so, all of us as vocation animators must be engaged in forms of youth ministry, even if you are not youth ministers. You must meet and engage the young people in the parishes, schools, assist them to grow in faith, give answers to their questions, be a friend to them. You must invite them to your communities, allow them to join your forms of ministry, in short, witness to them the joy of living your own vocation. So, dear vocation animators, be youth ministers too, even if that is not an essential part of the ministry of your community. Here you will look for new methods of getting the attention of the young people, and dialoguing with them answering their many questions and inviting them to listen carefully to what the Lord wants them to do with their life. 3. Dialoguing with the family In today’s environment it is important that the vocation animators are also in dialogue with the parents. Why so? Parents too need to recognise that vocation is not the same as the career that they might be wishing for their children and educating them for. Parents have to be encouraged to be generous with the Lord, especially if one of their sons or daughters wishes to give himself or herself to the Lord completely. Indeed it is going to be a source of blessing to that family in the long run, though some of the parents may not see it immediately. IV: CONCLUSION As part of our presentation today we shall be watching a short movie on Saint Hildegard of Bingen one of the most remarkable women of the Middle-Ages. Pope Benedict XVI on 7th October 2012 declared her – together with Saint John of Avila – Doctor of the Church, as the Year of Faith was beginning. In the Apostolic Letter proclaiming her Doctor of the Church, the Pope writes: “Hildegard asks herself and us the fundamental question, whether it is possible to know God.... Her answer is completely positive: [Yes] through faith, as through a door, the human person is able to approach this knowledge.” Her mystical visions, her compassionate heart and in a special way her indefatigable courage in the face of many challenges bears witness to the truth that faith in Christ and ones vocation can indeed overcome mountains of problems and difficulties. “In truth I tell you, if your faith is the size of a mustard seed you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you” (Mt 17:20). May the Lord through the intercession of our Blessed Mother help us to rediscover our faith and gift of vocation, to experience it, to live it, to celebrate it and to pass it on to others. Thank you! Acknowledgement of Sources used: Bolin, Joseph, Paths of Love: The Discernment of Vocation According to Aquinas, Ignatius, and John Paul II, Joseph Bolin 2008. Fernando, Alvin Peter, “A Reflection on the Year of Faith,” in Diocese of Kandy new Letter http://www.kandydiocese.net/newsletter/November2012.pdf (Accessed on 25th November 2012).
KCCB - PONTIFICAL MISSIONARY SOCIETIES NATIONAL OFFICE. WAUMINI HOUSE, WESTLANDS 3RD FLOOR EASTERN WING TEL; 0714 27 15 21 E MAIL firstname.lastname@example.org PRESENTATION TO MEMBERS OF KENYA ASSOCIATION OF VOCATION ANIMATORS AT DIMESSE SISTERS ON 21ST OCTOBER 2013. THEME: REFLECTION ON VOCATIONS AS A SIGN OF HOPE FOUNDED IN FAITH Good Morning my brothers and sisters in Christ. Receive cordial greetings from Pontifical Mission Societies National Office in Kenya which is your office. I thank your leaders for inviting our office to come and share with you. It is a moment of knowing each other and calling for greater collaboration. PMS deals with promotion of the work of Evangelization ( Propagation of Faith - Mission Sunday), promotion of work of formation of priests and Religious and accompaniment while in formation ( St. Peter the Apostle - Vocations Sunday), Formation of Holy Childhood children ( Epiphany ) and Spirit of prayers and reading the Word of God ( through missionary Union. It gives me great joy to join you on this occasion of your Annual General Meeting as Kenya Association of Vocation Animators. It is a special time to share our missionary animation experiences, challenges, encourage each other, discuss emerging issues affecting vocations in our Church, and evaluate our current situation of Vocations in light of Year of Faith. Indeed, Vocation is a gift from God for service of humanity and promotion of God’s glory here on earth as we continue witnessing and building his Kingdom. missionary animation is a process of creating awareness, promoting and creating a conducive environment for suitable discernment We thank all Missionary Congregations, Institutes of Apostolic Life and Dioceses represented here for it is a sign of communion and solidarity. We are One Family in Mission. Our primary duty is to Evangelize, promote human dignity and deepen peoples Faith. We appreciate this realization that we need One another and that work of animation is an Ecclesial activity. Let us learn from each other how best to cooperate, support, inspire and partner. to become effective missionary Animators Recognizing the importance of your role, the Church places great trust in your ability to recruit suitable candidates who are well motivated and well intentioned to become future ministers of the word and sacraments as well as witnesses of God’s unconditional love to the world, with special attention to the poor, marginalized and oppressed. Thanks to the sacrifice and witness of missionaries. The Catholic Church is growing, and a big part of our Church still needs our help to survive and grow to Self Sufficiency. Even more challenging is the fact that more than 50% of the world population has never heard of Jesus Christ. Truly you are relevant and needed in your vocation animation work. Formation has been and continues to be a main challenge in our Church due to secularism, globalization, media influence, and socio economic factors. This has affected our formation environment, disposition of our candidates and we the elder members of the Family of God has Role Models to the Young. Though personal formation is of paramount importance it can only be realized in a well prepared and guarded environment. This means good conscience formation, proper understanding of our roles in our communities as agents of Evangelization and voice to challenge evils affecting growth in Faith and Morals.. I fully do agree that the individual has the main responsibility for his /her own formation. Our communities should provide that suitable environment that inspire holistic formation. Today, in particular, the pressing pastoral task of the New Evangelization calls for the involvement of the entire people of God and requires new zeal, new methods, and guided participatory engagement for the proclaiming and witnessing of the Gospel. This is why we need missionary animators like you who are deeply immersed in the mystery of Christ and capable of embodying a new style of pastoral Life. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in his Vocation Sunday message of this year 21st April 2013 “ Vocation as a sign of Hope founded in Faith. Invites us to reflect on suitability of candidates to priesthood and Religious Life, their commitment to prayer, their openness to be gifts to the world and the community’s involvement in supporting work of formation. Vocation is a gift from God founded in Faith. However, we need many Elis to walk with our Samuel of today to differentiate the voice of God from normal human voice. We need inspirational role models to touch the hearts of our young people and challenge them to respond. This means visit to schools, being close to Holy Childhood children, being available to the Youth etc. Recently, a old Consolata Missionary aged 85 years explained to me why we have few vocations today. He felt we are not witnessing enough, sisters are not available for catechism and home visits, they are found in offices as secretaries, schools as teachers and really in the pastoral field with women, SCC and children. For priests we are not available to youth, to Christians and to ourselves. We are too busy and we have lost our priestly identity… No priestly dress in the parish. We are celebrating masses and not available for consultation after mass due to our tight schedules. Not available to share and interact with our young people in the afternoon. The young people long to learn from us to be and inspired to be like us. We need to evaluate our pain for loosing vocations from our seminaries and houses of formation or even from the pastoral field. We need good and Holy priests, brothers and sisters. We need quality and not numbers. In the words of Cardinal Newman, when he learnt Br. Frederic had changed his mind to marry he wrote:’ I am exceedingly displeased to find that Frederic has actually made a proposal to a young woman being in our house, and having our habit on’. Cardinal Newman sought to safeguard the identity and integrity of priestly vocation has a gift from God. This is our duty. The media is damaging our image but we need to remain strong. Never fear to do the right thing. Friends, we need to invite many young men and women to respond to this divine call. However, times are difficult due to many media reports of child abuse, our poor mutual relationship in our communities and parishes and alleged moral issues which question our credibility. This should invite us to examine our way of life without being discouraged. The need for vocations is growing greater with opening of doors to the formerly communist countries in Eastern Europe and Asia as well as some African countries. The number of pastoral agents is far much less compared to the need in the field. The ratio of priest / sisters / brothers to Christians served is still very big. However, let us remain hopeful that the Lord of Missions will provide labourers in his vineyard. To respond to this gap Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops has began an initiative of Fidei Donum sharing. Dioceses with many priests are offering some of their sons on contract to work in most hit dioceses. I am happy to inform you we have currently 14 fidei Donum priests from Meru, Murang’a, Kakamega, Nakuru Embu and Kitui working in Isiolo, Malindi, Marsabit, Ngong and Kitale. Aware that lack of sufficient priests and Religious affects our work of Evangelization, the vitality of Faith as well as life of Christian Families, parish and Diocesan Communities let us join hands a build a strong recruitment, and formation Teams. May God bless you and your work. Thanks Rev. Fr. Celestino Bundi PMS NATIONAL DIRECTOR
CARITAS CHRISTI URGET NOS: Vocation as a sign of Hope Rooted in Faith: Presented by Bishop Maurice Makumba of Diocese of Nakuru
CARITAS CHRISTI URGET NOS! (2 Cor. 5: 14) “Vocation as a Sign of Hope Rooted in Faith” Introduction: The Harvest if Great! Last Friday, we heard the categorical words of the Lord from the gospel: And after these things the Lord appointed other seventy men and sent them out in twos ahead of him into every town and place where he intended to go. “The harvest is great,” he said to them, “but the workers are few. Pray then the Lord of the harvest to send workers for the harvest…” (Luke 10: 1-10). This for me summarizes all I have to say about the relationship between vocation, faith and hope; and I would even add charity – the other theological virtue. When the gospel says: “…the Lord appointed seventy others…;” it actually means, to talk about vocation is to acknowledge God’s initiative in the whole process of the relationship between the human person and God. And this is how it always was even from the very beginning with the creation of Adam and Eve. It was God’s love and goodness that desired to share his life particularly with the human person and this is why to give them life he breathed his spirit into them; a sign that we move by the strength of the spirit of God and we have God’s life in us. The consequence of this is that we will always have God’s as our point of reference. The refusal to have God as our point of reference is what leads man astray and into sin – this in effect is a futile attempt to transfer this reference to some other or to have ourselves as the point of reference. This search for autonomy, this human hubris, this pride, which was brought about by the devil’s deception, is what constituted original sin. The fundamental tragedy of sin is that the human person aspires to become God without God, when he can actually become God with God in Jesus Christ. By breathing his spirit into Adam and Eve, God had actually given them an opportunity to be like him because they moved with his spirit and it was by it that they were kept alive. In Christ Jesus, this opportunity to be like God is brought even closer by a God who descends to our level so that we may ascend to his level. As Christ himself says: “And when I am lifted from the earth, I will draw all things to myself” (John 12: 32); chief among them the human person. This in fact accurately outlines Jesus’ core mission and why he came. “Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider equality with God something to be seized. Instead, he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and accepting the state of man” (Philip. 2: 6-7). He humbled himself, became obedient to the Father and died on the Cross for human salvation. He did all this in order to lift us and take us up with him. This is also the mission of the Church in the world today – the body of those who have been sent forth to bring in the harvest. Hence Porta Fidei affirms: “While “Christ, ‘holy, innocent and undefiled’ (Heb 7:26) knew nothing of sin (cf. 2 Cor 5:21), but came only to expiate the sins of the people (cf. Heb 2:17)... the Church ... clasping sinners to its bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal. The Church, ‘like a stranger in a foreign land, presses forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God’, announcing the cross and death of the Lord until he comes (cf. 1 Cor 11:26)” (Porta Fidei, no. 6). How could the Church do this without distinctly Christian vocations? The essentials of any Christian vocation are contained in this action by Jesus; particularly faith, obedience and humility. It would be impossible to meaningfully talk about any vocation without taking into account this essential foundation of the relationship between God and the human person. Man was meant for God and that is why our aspirations ultimately find fulfilment only in him. This can only be achieved through Jesus as the only way to the Father because he has taught us how to do it – completely undoing deception of the devil. When therefore he elects the seventy others, they are supposed to go ahead of him into every town and place where he intended to go. The seventy two are responding to the intention of Jesus and not to their own intention. It is therefore clear that that the mission is not theirs but Jesus’. My dear brothers and sisters, this is such an important element of discipleship that none worth the name Christian should ever forget – let alone those who have received specific vocations for missionary work. The greatness of the harvest does not admit of any form of pride on the part of those who are sent nor does it give any room for presumption. This is why Jesus immediately adds: “Pray then the Lord of the harvest to send workers for the harvest.” The sending is the Lord’s, the harvest is the Lord’s and the workers’ are the Lord’s. We are the Lord’s! Everything revolves around the Lord because he is the point of departure and the point of arrival. Urged on by the love of Christ we are moved to evangelize (2 Cor 5:14). “Today as in the past, he sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19). Through his love, Jesus Christ attracts to himself the people of every generation: in every age he convokes the Church, entrusting her with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new.” (Porta Fidei, no. 7). Outside Jesus and without faith in Jesus, there can be no hope for a life with God. “Through faith, this new life shapes the whole of human existence according to the radical new reality of the resurrection. To the extent that he freely cooperates, man’s thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed, on a journey that is never completely finished in this life. “Faith working through love” (Gal 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life (cf. Rom 12:2; Col 3:9-10; Eph 4:20-29; 2 Cor 5:17)” (Porta Fidei, no. 6). Our involvement in vocation promotion puts our own vocation in focus because we are not promoting or animating something external to us; but rather that which is rooted in us and is part of us. As transmitters of the faith we need to lead by example; transmitting the faith not just by word of mouth but by deed as well. This is why all Christian vocations are a gift of faith and are a sign of hope for a life with God. The reason why Jesus chose seventy others was to have them participate in gathering in the harvest – that is, to bring back humanity to here he belongs, to a life of communion with God in Jesus. Marriage, consecrated life, priesthood and other forms of Christian life are all geared towards restoring our friendship with God. “In rediscovering his love day by day, the missionary commitment of believers attains force and vigour that can never fade away. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy” (Porta Fidei, no. 7). Vocations: A Celebration of the Year of Faith As Benedict XVI pointed out on announcing the Year of Faith: "What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end." The Church has received a divine command from the risen Lord that is unmistakable: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt. 28: 19-20). I believe this is the correct context within which to live the Year of Faith and are driven by the vigour for the New Evangelization. We are invited to a renewed experience of the Faith. There is “need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ.” (Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei, no. 3). We must deliberately “set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives life, and life in abundance.” (Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei, no. 2). Christ’s command to go and evangelize is therefore true today as it was then. The harvest is still as plentiful and great as it was then. Throughout the ages “evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize…” (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14). The Church cannot afford to be reckless in the proclamation of the gospel because, as I have already mentioned, she is only doing it on behalf of Christ. This “divine mission, which was committed by Christ to the apostles, is destined to last until the end of the world (Mt. 28: 20), since the Gospel, which they were charged to hand on, is, for the Church, the principle of all its life for all time.” (Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, 20). Hence, in announcing the Year of Faith, Benedict XVI said: “The “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime. It begins with baptism (cf. Rom 6:4), through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory (cf. Jn 17:22)” (Porta Fidei, no. 1). Vocations are for the purpose of ushering us into the door of faith that leads us into a life of communion with God. Such a celebration as this of the Year of Faith is always an occasion to make “an authentic and sincere profession of the same faith.” This authenticity and sincerity of faith should always be the mark of our identity. The Holy Father with Seminarians, Novices and Young People During this year of faith, one of the memorable moments was the Holy Father’s encounters with seminarians, novices and young people. During that meeting, in one of his homilies, he said: “Dear Brothers and Sisters, Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting you, and today our joy is even greater, because we have gathered for the Eucharist on the Lord’s Day. You are seminarians, novices, young people on a vocational journey, from every part of the world. You represent the Church’s youth! If the Church is the Bride of Christ, you in a certain sense represent the moment of betrothal, the Spring of vocation, the season of discovery, assessment, formation. And it is a very beautiful season, in which foundations are laid for the future. Thank you for coming!" (http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-mass-with-seminarians-and-novices-ful). Children are always a source of hope, a sign that there is a tomorrow. When the Holy Father therefore referred to the seminarians and novices the Church’s youth, he saw in them the future of the Church. In them he saw the hope of the continued proclamation of God’s message of love in Christ. So, even though what Blessed John Paul II says in Pastores Dabo Vobis was meant for priests, it actually applies to all those involved in missionary work in the wider sense: “Without priests the Church would not be able to live that fundamental obedience which is at the very heart of her existence and her mission in history, an obedience in response to the command of Christ: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations’ (Mt. 28: 19) and ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ (Lk. 22: 19; cf. I Cor. 11: 24)” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 2). This certainly requires the formation of people who carry on this mandate while conscious of the times in which we find ourselves. Thus, Blessed John Paul II continues: “Today, however, the Church feels called to re-live with a renewed commitment all that the Master did with his Apostles, urged on as she is by the deep and rapid transformations in the societies and culture of our age, by the multiplicity and diversity of contexts in which she announces the Gospel and witnesses to it…” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 2). Vocation Promotion in the Light of Africae Munus We are blessed to live in the times of the Second Synod for Africa. What is even more pressing is for us to be part and parcel of the implementation of its spirit and resolve. What the Holy Father says at the beginning of his Post-Synodal Exhortation is significant. He notes that “Africa’s Commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ is a precious treasure which I entrust at the beginning of the third millennium to the bishops, priests, permanent deacons, consecrated persons, catechists and lay faithful of that beloved continent and its neighbouring islands. Through this mission, Africa is led to explore its Christian vocation more deeply; it is called, in the name of Jesus, to live reconciliation between individuals and communities and to promote peace and justice in truth for all” (Africae Munus, no. 1). This is what he calls Africa’s commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is indicative that he places the task of Africa’s commitment on the shoulders of all the African and all those involved in the continent’s missionary work. The Holy Father is drawing out attention to the fact that just as the Lord called the seventy, he is inviting each one of us to participate actively and fruitfully in his harvest in Africa; with special reference to the areas that were of grave concern to the synod, namely reconciliation, justice and peace. It is time for Africa to “stand up, pick up its mat and walk.” The Church needs to offer to the continent the message of Jesus, which heals, sets free and reconciles. The Church needs to give hope to the continent. The formation of missionaries for present day Africa needs to respond to this renewed commitment by Africa to the Lord Jesus; the commitment of bringing Africa to a deeper experience of its treasured Christian faith. This will certainly bring about an encounter between the gospel message and African culture(s). “By discerning which cultural elements and traditions are contrary to the Gospel, they will be able to separate the good seed from the weeds (cf. Mt. 13: 26). While remaining true to itself, in total fidelity to the Gospel message and the Church’s tradition, Christianity will thus adopt the face of the countless cultures and people among whom it has found a welcome and taken root” (Africae Munus, no. 37). All those involved in formation have to be acutely aware of this call on Africa. There is need to strike a balance between the treasured traditions of the Church and the changing circumstances of our time. We are therefore faced with the challenge of being true witnesses to the Gospel by forming young men and women who can respond to the demands of our time and are capable of evangelising the African world of today; people ready to respond to the needs of the Church in the twenty-first century. The tremendous advancement experienced in science and technology and the continued interaction between cultures today call for a constant affirmation of the stable character of truth so that a plurality of cultures is not mistaken for a plurality of truths and tolerance is not confused with relativism. Moreover, there is need for an objective standard of values which will delineate the possibilities and limits of progress, particularly in human sciences. This is the only way seminaries can live up to their call in the Church. This is the only way we can talk about being committed to the call we have received to go out and preach the gospel to all nations. Evidently, this is why the celebration of our faith this year has been a momentous experience for all of us. It has given us occasion to re-think who we are and who we are meant to become. There is need to renew ourselves and to renew our zeal for the Gospel even if Africa still has a relatively young Christianity. Vocations for a New Evangelization in Africa Africa in her commitment to the Lord Jesus is faced with the need to recommit herself to “…evangelization, to the mission ad gentes, and to the new evangelization, so that the features of the African continent will increasingly be modeled on the ever timely teaching of Christ, the true ‘light of the world’ and the authentic ‘salt of the earth’” (Africae Munus, no. 159). Benedict XVI continues to stress that “The mission ad gentes calls for commitment on the part of all Africa’s Christians” (Africae Munus, no. 162) so that every part of the African society is touched by the Gospel message of Christ. The need for the Church to renew herself affects all Christians and is the responsibility of every member of the body of Christ’s faithful. Thus we can say with the Council: “In the present state of things which gives rise to a new situation for mankind, the Church, the salt of the earth and the light of the world (cf. Mt. 5: 13-14) is even more urgently called upon to save and renew every creature, so that all things might be restored in Christ, and so that in him men might form one family and one people of God” (Vatican Council II, Ad Gentes Divinitus, 1). This is true to the Church in Africa as it is to any other place. Evangelization can be new in its ardour, methods and expression. In former times we have talked a lot about inculturation – that is, adapting the message to speak to the people of a given place and time. This is what is needed for contemporary culture with all its challenges. In his Apostolic Letter at the close of the Great Jubilee of 2000, John Paul II wrote: “Now is the time for each local Church to assess its fervour and find fresh enthusiasm for its spiritual and pastoral responsibilities, by reflecting on what the Spirit has been saying to the People of God in this special year of grace, and indeed in the longer span of time from the Second Vatican Council to the Great Jubilee” (John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 3). Then he continues: “Now we must look ahead, we must "put out into the deep", trusting in Christ's words: Duc in altum! What we have done this year cannot justify a sense of complacency, and still less should it lead us to relax our commitment. On the contrary, the experiences we have had should inspire in us new energy, and impel us to invest in concrete initiatives the enthusiasm which we have felt. Jesus himself warns us: "No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God" (Lk 9:62). In the cause of the Kingdom there is no time for looking back, even less for settling into laziness. Much awaits us, and for this reason we must set about drawing up an effective post-Jubilee pastoral plan” (John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 15). Hence the need for continuous evangelization. Benedict XVI in Africae Munus invites us to explore our Christian vocation more deeply and to live the reconciliation between individuals and communities and to promote peace and justice in truth for all. Evidently, for us in Africa in this Year of Faith, New Evangelization cannot ignore the critical areas of reconciliation, justice and peace. This will continue to be our endeavour. In conclusion, let us then listen once more to what the Holy Father Francis said to the seminarians, novices and young people during their pilgrimage in Rome: “Dear seminarians, dear novices, dear young people discerning your vocations: “evangelization is done on one’s knees”, as one of you said to me the other day. Always be men and women of prayer! Without a constant relationship with God, the mission becomes a job. The risk of activism, of relying too much on structures, is an ever-present danger. If we look towards Jesus, we see that prior to any important decision or event he recollected himself in intense and prolonged prayer. Let us cultivate the contemplative dimension, even amid the whirlwind of more urgent and pressing duties. And the more the mission calls you to go out to the margins of existence, let your heart be the more closely united to Christ’s heart, full of mercy and love. Herein lies the secret of the fruitfulness of a disciple of the Lord! Jesus sends his followers out with no “purse, no bag, no sandals” (Lk. 10: 4). The spread of the Gospel is not guaranteed either by the number of persons, or by the prestige of the institution, or by the quantity of available resources. What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life, which is the Lord’s Cross. Caritas Christi urget nos! Dear friends, with great confidence I entrust you to the intercession of Mary Most Holy. She is the Mother who helps us to take life decisions freely and without fear. May she help you to bear witness to the joy of God’s consolation, to conform yourselves to the logic of love of the Cross, to grow in ever deeper union with the Lord. Then your lives will be rich and fruitful! Amen.” (http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-mass-with-seminarians-and-novices-ful). Given to Kava Members at Dimesse Sisters On Tuesday, October 22, 2013 By Rt. Rev. Maurice Muhatia Makumba Bishop of Nakuru
THE LAW ON THE OFFICE AND MINISTRY OF VOCATIONS PROMOTOR AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS OF CANDIDATES IN FORMATION Seminar to Kenya Association of Vocation Animators (KAVA) 22 October 2013-10-21 Dimesse Siters By Rev. DR. Owor John Martin (CUEA) The Constant Concern of the Church on Vocation to religious and priestly life During the first international Congress on Vocations to states of perfection held in Rome between 10-16th 1961, it was registered that “vocation problem has its origin in the love which the Mother Church has for the states of perfection.” Indeed, Vocational call, response to it and nurturing it to maturity has been a constant concern of the Church throughout her history of existence. However, it was only from the 18th and 19th centuries that the magnitude of the need for vocation ministry was felt due to the changing times ushered especially by the waves of the French revolution of 1789, the increasingly modern and industrial Europe and the rest of the world, which posed various challenges to the life of the Church. Miguel Canino a Don Bosco priest and vocations promoter describes this period in these words: The 19th century appeared full of contradictions that have directly affected the life of the Church. It was the century of restoration but at the same time of bourgeois revolution, the century of liberalism, Gallicanism versus ultramontanism, the rise of the social question. It saw a deep erosion of relation between Church and state, church and modern world that in many cases led to tragic events (eg. Confiscations, suppression of religious orders, end of temporal power of the Church,...). It seemed that a great deal of thought and policy was increasingly moving away from Christian life, taking hostile positions to the point of fighting the Church on everything regarding its impact on society. The challenge was not threatening only religious orders but also the clergy in general. To this Canino adds: The overall situation of the clergy was not the most favourable. Along with numerical fluctuation, the generalized negative atmosphere questioned the value of priestly and religious life. In this sense few families of bourgeoisie and nobility any longer considered it useful to dedicate their children to the priesthood and religious life. The situation described above did not only pose a lot of challenges to religious and priestly vocation in general but provoked a new trend of thinking in regard to vocational ministry. Before these challenges surfaced, recruitment of candidates to religious and priestly life was done with ease and spontaneously. This manner of doing things had to be reviewed with the new circumstances. From the 19th and 20th centuries recruitment to religious life required development of strategies to counteract the move to render religious and priestly life as of little significance. Different religious institutions had to introduce systematic fashions of communicating to potential candidates about their Congregations and way of life. This was necessary to guarantee the existence of the Congregation and to ensure that their structures like hospitals, schools or social works did not perish due to shortage in vocation. Promotion, Recruitment and formation of vocations in the spirit of Vatican II Vatican council II concerned with vocations to religious and priestly life has encouraged and made recommendations in regard to fostering of vocations, the need to plan methodically the promotion exercise, and about the figure and role of the recruiter. The decree on priestly training sustained as a general principle that fostering vocation is a duty to be discharged first and foremost by families which are to be considered as a kind of first seminary. The parish and then teachers have in their respect a big responsibility to contribute to this cause. Finally, it is the duty of priests to draw the hearts of young men to priesthood leading exemplary lives at all times. The decree called upon bishops not to spare energy and sacrifice in their effort in coordinating and helping those who in their judgement are called to God’s service. This work, the document recommends, should be done generously across boundaries of individual dioceses, countries, religious congregations and rites. Pope John Paul II in his Catechesis of the 19 October 1994 reminded the Church that vocation to consecrated life has as much importance today as in the past. For that matter, vocations promotion is a responsibility which should be undertaken by both individuals and collective action in order to ensure more response to the divine call. The Pontiff in this case alludes to the collective responsibility of all consecrated persons in vocation promotion by way of giving testimony of joy and fidelity in living consecrated life in their respective communities and apostolate. Likewise, he alludes to individual religious specifically entrusted with the role of vocation promotion. They should be persons with good example and integrity of life, who can lead young people to the Lord by helping them discover and mature in their vocation to religious consecrated life. Vocation promotion and promoter: A Canonical Description Vocation Promoters are commonly described as those individuals who are “entrusted directly with pastoral work on behalf of vocations,” either in dioceses, institutes of consecrated life or Societies of apostolic life. The present Canonical legislation does not offer any precise description of Vocation promoters. However, it touches the issue of vocation promotion in a general fashion (cf. Cann. 233 and 574, § 1) without giving any details. These canons simply indicate that vocation promotion refers to the Christian and religious training young people receive from their childhood as they grow into Christian and human maturity to be able to make personal choices with regard to their relationship with God in a particular vocation. The canons reiterate that this kind of formation is the responsibility of the entire ecclesial community i.e. pastors, parents, learning institutions and the family. How the young people are formed and brought up with regard to their faith determines their ability to choose their vocation. The parish , schools and family where young people grow are to be places which introduce them to love of God and religion in general and specific vocation in particular. The Legislator did not formulate norms to govern the figure and office of the vocation promoter in a strict sense; however, this does not imply that there is no juridical value connected with the same. It would be completely misleading and foreign to juridical tradition to dismiss the juridical basis of the figure and responsibilities of vocations promoters in dioceses and institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life as it is being suggested nowadays, especially by some individuals entrusted with this ministry by their superiors. In the event that certain specific issues are not governed by the norms of the Code, canonical doctrine holds that else where there may be pieces of legislation dedicated by the Church to treat the matter either directly or at least in an implied way. The prime place is the particular law where offices and responsibilities are usually well defined. Besides, canonists and all those people interested in giving answers to certain questions which are not systematically treated by the Code usually read through the various canons of the Code, scrutinise Conciliar documents, documents issued by the Roman Pontiffs, documents of the Roman Curia, Synodal deliberations, acts of the Conferences of bishops and any other sources which may be relevant to the voice “vocation promoters.” The office and extent of the ministry of vocations promoter ad Intra The Sacred Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes, states clearly in the special norms issued with the Instruction Renovationis Causam of 6 January 1969 that religious formation comprises two essential phases: the novitiate and the probationary period which follows the novitiate. The document immediately also indicates that there is, however, a period that precedes admission to the novitiate, commonly referred to as postulancy. This period, according to the document, can be constituted inside or outside the institute. Preference is given to a place outside the institute. It is also stated that candidates in preliminary probation should be entrusted by the superiors to a “qualified religious.” The following elements which emerge from the special norms cited in the above paragraph need to be reflected upon: “preliminary probation,” “outside the institute,” “qualified religious.” In regard to the “preliminary probation,” it appears that the legislator makes reference to that time before admission to novitiate dedicated to prepare and verify the vocation of candidates. This would allude to individuals who have already been in touch with the vocations promoter and are now assembled in one place for a closer verification of their specific vocational call. The incision “outside the institute” may indicate a place probably hired by the institute but outside the house of the institute. It could also simply mean an arrangement where candidates meet occasionally according to the schedules of the institute to be educated about their vocational call. A “qualified religious” is required to lead the candidates in their vocational verification. Much is left to be interpreted about this figure. The person is appointed by the competent superior but his or her title is not clearly stated. The qualified religious would actually be the vocations promoter. But he or she could be any other qualified religious who is not necessarily vocations promoter by way of ministerial designation. All factors considered, there is no any other individual religious better suited to take care of preliminary probation of candidates than the vocations promoter. The religious in question having had the initial contact with the candidate in his or her ministry, stands a better chance of understanding and guiding candidates in their vocational aspirations. Taking this view into perspective, the ministry of vocations promoter does not actually end with the initial contact with individuals to create awareness of the different vocational orientation and especially that to priesthood and consecrated life; he or she has a lot more to do with the candidates whom he or she is leading to the Lord. Take into account the process of admission; the law sanctions that “the right to admit candidates belongs to the major superior according to the norm of proper law” (can. 641). The legislator attributes to the major superior this right in a pure sense without it being conditioned in any way. The superior is, however, required to verify attentively certain canonical requirements in regard to the candidate before the admission. As much as the norm of can. 641 leaves to the discretion of the superior the right to admit or not, the “vigilant care” that is to be taken in verifying the suitability of the candidates necessarily calls upon the collaboration of other persons. Canonical requisites outlined under can. 642: required age, good health, suitable character and sufficient qualities of maturity are issues that cannot be resolved by an individual-the major superior-alone. In fact, the last part of the canon in question states that these qualities are “to be verified even by using experts, if necessary,” of course, while respecting the norm of can. 220 according to which care should be taken not to harm the reputation of candidates nor injure the right to protect personal privacy. In practice the admitting superiors rely on the recommendations and information given to them by those who accompany the candidates in their discernment, usually the promoters. In most institutes, promoters have the responsibility of seeking relevant information about the candidates and taking them to experts for mental and physical health tests. The burden of securing all the necessary information about the candidate through direct contact and other legitimate and reliable means puts the vocations promoter as the most suitable collaborator in the admission process. It should, however, be noted that the intervention of the promoter or any other expert in this process does not in any way diminish the right of the superior to admit candidates as stipulated by can. 641. The legislator retains, under the tenor of this canon, that major superiors have all the necessary and sufficient qualities to realize the canonical act of admission of candidates to Novitiate. The special norms of Renovationis causam on the other hand, instruct that, “there should be sufficient collaboration” between the qualified religious entrusted with preliminary probation and the Novice Master “with a view of assuring the continuity of formation.” Such collaboration is sustained by can. 651, § 2 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. The canon talks about assigning some assistants to the Novice Director in case this is deemed necessary so that better supervision and appropriate programme of formation is observed. Under normal circumstances, it would not be a good idea to designate vocations promoters to the office of assistants to the Novice master on a stable basis, but it is fundamental that they make part of the formation team of novices by way of acting as consultants. This is the most appropriate way of guaranteeing continuity of formation so well desired by the Legislator as underscored by the instruction Renovationis causam n. 12 (4). The wise counsel of the vocations promoters, who first got in touch with the candidates, probably having better knowledge of the family background, the environs in which the candidates grow, practically constitutes that aspect which should be retained dear and indispensable in formation of the novices towards integral growth and maturity in their vocational call. Vocations promoter in collaborative Ministry ad Extra Can. 680 talks about co-operation carried out among the different institutes and also between them and the secular clergy in an orderly manner. The canon does not indicate the subjects who should directly realize the co-operation; neither does it mention the areas or instruments for its fulfilment. The legislator alludes to multiple subjects and various modes which could be possibly adapted by the interested parties within the particular church. The legislator establishes in the same canon that any action adapted for the cooperation should be properly coordinated so that the spirit of unity is maintained ultimately under the presidency and responsibility of the diocesan bishop. Among the many initiatives which have been undertaken in the contemporary time is the pastoral ministry of vocational promotion to consecrated life and to priesthood. This ministry first and foremost belongs to the entire Christian community: Christian families, educators, priests and religious (can. 233). The ministry, however, is usually entrusted for practical purposes to designated individuals-the Vocations promoters or directors-who act on behalf of their respective institutes or dioceses according to the arrangements established. They do carry out the ministry either individually or collectively as it so happens today in several dioceses. Pope John Paul II stated this fact during his catechesis of 19 October 1994 in these words: “Vocations promotion can be done by individual initiatives, like the case of Andrew-who led his brother Simon Peter to the Lord-(cf. John 1, 42), or by a collective action, as it happens in many dioceses, in which pastoral (ministry) for vocations has been developed.” The Question of Rights and obligations of formatees (Candidates) There is a lot of concern among formatees and even some members of religious institutes regarding whether the law recognizes to candidates in preliminary probation and novices any rights and obligations in religious institutes or in seminarians in dioceses before they receive Holy orders. The answer could be yes, when this is viewed broadly. It is reasonable to think that those individuals welcomed in the institute/diocese or who in any way are under the care of the Institute/Diocese for the purpose of vocational experience enjoy certain rights and also have obligations before the institute/diocese which is offering them accommodation and enlightenment. The said rights and obligations are based on the general principle of fraternal life founded on charity which is a special characteristic of all religious (c. 602), and similarly, all Christians sharing the same dignity by their being reborn in Christ are all called to cooperate in the building of the Kingdom, each one in his own condition and function (cf. c. 208). These indications suggest that all Christians, independent of their status or wherever they may be found in the Church actually do share certain rights and obligations, thus, a sense of responsibility toward each other not only as Christians, but above all, as human beings who are brothers and sisters. It is on this background that it could be said that anyone who has been welcomed for religious experience by a religious institute and he or she actually resides under their roof or is under their care though outside the institute already enjoys some rights and obligations. This could range from the right to be listened to, the right to be helped in understanding the will of God and the right to be treated humanely. On the other hand, the candidate has the obligation to respect the authority of the institute; to be honest at all times, to comply with the general requirements prescribed by the institute for those who seek to be future members. It is now better to trace whether the Code gives norms that address this issue of rights and obligations of formatees expressly at the different levels of formation. The Code begins to treat issues related to admission of candidates and formation of members from c. 641. Throughout the subsequent canons it appears that the words “candidate” and “member” are employed with specific intention to establish to whom in the process of formation is recognized rights and obligations expressly by law. In fact the word candidate understood in the context of c. 641 which reads “the right to admit candidates to the novitiate/seminary belongs to major superiors/Diocesan bishop according to the norm of proper law” envisages that these are actually postulants or aspirants/seminarians. From etymology the latin word “candido-as-are; candidus” means “white”. Consequently, the application of the word candidate precisely means that the aspirant or postulant/seminarian is someone who presents himself or herself to the superior of a religious institute in “white, blank or empty” without rights before the institute/diocese but only with requirements and recommendations. Likewise, a novice admitted to the novitiate is still a candidate if the above meaning of the word is retained but with slight extension. The novitiate is described by c. 646 as the starting point of life in an institute. The phrase in this canon reading: “the novitiate, through which life is begun” should be understood as an initial phase of religious life by the novice, which is not to be confused with the beginning of religious life in a strict sense as treated in c. 654 which reads: By religious profession, members assume the observance of the three evangelical counsels by public vows, are consecrated to God through the ministry of the Church, and are incorporated into the institute with the rights and duties defined by law. The implication to the novice is the parting with the previous life style by assuming a new form of experience which will lead him or her to be born to a new life marked by the nature and particular charism of the institute. The beginning of life in the institute is the phase of intense experience and discernment of personal vocation through the vocation proper to the institute. At this point then, the novice is preparing to embrace after completing the novitiate the rights and obligations proper to members of the institute which he or she is not yet subject as long as the person has not yet been admitted to temporal vows. With religious profession a novice now becomes a member of a religious institute. The novice gives oneself entirely and immediately to the institute and the institute accepts the novice incorporating him or her as a member. There is a contract which is established between the professed and the institute, not bilateral in nature but institutional, because its terms are imposed on both of them by the public power of the Church. This contract determines the rights and obligations which are defined by the law of the Church (cc. 662-672). Proper law then provides in details how the rights and obligations are exercised by the professed. LAWS OF KENYA VERSES CANON LAW ON THE BILL OF RIGHTS Before discussing anything in merit of this topic it is vital to establish who are the subjects to the laws of Kenya and on the other hand, who are bound by merely ecclesiastical laws. As for the Laws of Kenya It is entrenched in the constitution Art. 2. (1) that: “This Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic and binds all persons and all State organs at both levels of government.” For that matter the same fundamental law of Kenya – the constitution - reiterates in Art. 3. (1) that: “Every person has an obligation to respect, uphold and defend this Constitution.” Besides, if any other law or custom is to exist in Kenya, then it should either support the laws of Kenya or it may create new obligations to the community to which it is given in a way that it is tolerated by law. Those which are Contra legem are not allowed to exist. Art. (4) reads: “Any law, including customary law that is inconsistent with this Constitution is void to the extent of the inconsistency, and any act or omission in contravention of this Constitution is invalid.” Additional laws ratified by Kenya are Treaties and Concordats or convention and they form part of the law of Kenya. Art. 2 (6): “Any treaty or convention ratified by Kenya shall form part of the law of Kenya under this Constitution.” What about Canon law? The Passive Subjects to merely ecclesiastical laws are those who belong to the Catholic Latin Church by the bond of faith, sacraments, ecclesiastical governance, and also enjoy sufficient use of reason and have completed seven years of age. Consequently, those who belong to religious institutes/Dioceses or even attached by way of formation are fully bound by the ecclesiastical laws, each one according to his status in the institute/Diocese and in the Church. How, therefore, could the laws of Kenya be relevant to Religious Institutes/Diocese and especially in regard to the rights of persons in formation? Strictly speaking, the law of the State and Church in principle operate at different fora. However, the relationship is established when we consider that the Church as a society operates within a larger society. And for that matter, some of its operations (not all as a matter of clarity) are governed by the laws of National Governments. Above all, there are laws to which we are all subjects: The laws protecting human rights. General Provisions relating to the Bill of Rights The bill of rights is described as a document that enshrines the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom [Art. 19 (1)]. Art. 19 (2): The purpose of recognising and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms is to preserve the dignity of individuals and communities and to promote social justice and the realisation of the potential of all human beings. Human rights are rights possessed by people, simply because they are human beings. Rights are not the same thing as standards of behaviour punishable or required by rules, which can be fundamentally unfair to individuals, or used to oppress minority interests It is to be noted that the idea of human rights is not entirely unversal-it gained prominence back in the 17th and the 18th centuries as a European thought. The idea of ‘Rights’ itself does not necessarily exist in every society or advanced civilization. They have now received the support of world nations. Respect for human rights is becoming a universal principle of good government. Characteristics of the Bill of Rights As articulated in Art. 19 (3) of the constitution, the rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights— (a) belong to each individual and are not granted by the State; (b) do not exclude other rights and fundamental freedoms not in the Bill of Rights, but recognised or conferred by law, except to the extent that they are inconsistent with this Chapter; and (c) are subject only to the limitations contemplated in this Constitution. Art. 20(2) states further that: “Every person shall enjoy the rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights to the greatest extent consistent with the nature of the right or fundamental freedom.” In the application and entrenchment of the Bill of Rights in our systems it is a constitutional norm adopted and practised globally that in interpreting and applying the Bill of Rights, the authority shall promote the values that underlie an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality, equity and freedom. [Art. 20, 4 (a)]. Frequent claims of fundamental Rights violated 1. Right to Fair trial (Const. Art. 25 (c) and Canon law (c. 221, § 2-3) The very first fundamental Right that has fallen culprit to this is the Right to a fair trial. More often than not, whenever a dispute arises between the formatee and administration, the laws of natural justice presumes the accused innocent until proven guilty, are normally disregarded and the formatee always has the task of facing the disciplinary committee from a disadvantaged position since in such an instance the disciplinary committed has already passed judgement on him and this process is just but a formality so as it appears the formatee in question was accorded a ‘fair hearing’. Canon law (can. 221, § 1-3) Reads: § 2. If they (the Christian faithful) are summoned to a trial by a competent authority, the Christian faithful also have the right to be judged according to the prescripts of the law applied with equity. § 3. The Christian faithful have the right not to be punished with canonical penalties except according to the norm of law. 2. Right to be informed Right to information is among the rights institutions overlook. It is clearly stated under Art. 35 (b) of the constitution that every citizen has the right to be informed as long as the information is required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom. 35. (1) Every citizen has the right of access to— (b) information held by another person and required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom. (2) Every person has the right to the correction or deletion of untrue or misleading information that affects the person. Canonical legislation though not explicit on this fundamental right, it provides for the same generically in can. 227 which states the following: The lay Christian faithful have the right to have recognized that freedom which all citizens have in the affairs of the earthly city. But the canon at the same time carries within it a prudential statement that reads: When using that same freedom, however, they are to take care that their actions are imbued with the spirit of the Gospel and are to heed the doctrine set forth by the magisterium of the Church. In matters of opinion, moreover, they are to avoid setting forth their own opinion as the doctrine of the Church. It is a common complaint among formatees especially those whose process of formation have been terminated that they hardly knew the reasons for their dismissal because no one told them anything in that regard. Canon law asks that the rules of the Church be applied with equity. The formatees, though may not have this right fully expressed in law, they however, enjoy this right to be informed about relevant matters concerning them as individuals in vocational experience at last least in respect to the fundamental rights as established in the above canon. What if the formatee claims that his fundamental rights have been violated in the institute, is there any possibility to lodge a petition against the institute or Diocese? About this the Constitution of Kenya states the following: 22. (1) Every person has the right to institute court proceedings claiming that a right or fundamental freedom in the Bill of Rights has been denied, violated or infringed, or is threatened. Canonical Legislation One of the functions of Canon law as well understood in the canonical doctrine is to protect personal rights. Canon Law does this by providing avenues for recourse, redress of grievances, and means for resolution of conflicts. Proper law of religious institutes usually establish a good frame work within which such matters are resolved. In some circumstances, there are indeed cases that may engage both canonical and civil fora in matters to do with violation of human rights. Preference of canonical legislation over civil law in solving disputes Canonical procedure is preferable indeed in resolving conflicts which may arise in the process of formation. It is not strange that such conflicts between formatees and religious institutes which have unfortunately been lodged within civil forums have been referred by civil authorities back to canonical fora recognizing their competence in matters related to the Church. It also to known that cases related to violation of human rights are quite often very complicated, difficult to establish and to defend. Courts in civil forum have been quite reluctant to declare infringement of fundamental rights in the course of judicial proceedings. There is, however, a positive trend towards greater enforcement of fundamental rights in the East African countries. As the courts recognize more the supremacy of the constitution, any assertion of fundamental rights will serve to challenge purported exercise of statutory power by public officers.
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