Black Out Loud—A Celebration of Regional Capital Territory's Black Identity and Cultural Heritage
They say the Black History celebration begins when the February jamboree ends. For this reason, the Students' Association of Saint Paul's...
Black Out Loud—A Celebration of Regional Capital Territory's Black Identity and Cultural Heritage
Annunciation of the birth of Jesus, God’s (subtle) Subversion of the Divine History
Synodal Process and the Danger of Manifest Destiny
Une Foi Solide comme la Montagne
The Locus of Decolonization Theology
Le Mois de l’Histoire des Noirs à Sacré-Cœur d’Ottawa
Une Fête de Famille Oblate à Ottawa
Those Teachers Who Made Us Who We Are, Today
Ecumenism, the New Areopagus for Western Christians
Fellow Nigerians, Please Shine Your Eyes
Le 17 février 2023, les missionnaires Oblats de Marie Immaculée ont célébré le 197ᵉ anniversaire de l’approbation pontificale de leur famille religieuse. Cette approbation est la reconnaissance officielle de la congrégation comme étant une œuvre de l’Église universelle. Cette dernière est arrivée 10 ans après que quelques prêtres, indignés par le cléricalisme et l’abandon des pauvres de leur milieu, ont décidé de se réunir en communauté afin de servir les plus défavorisés.
Le lendemain de cette approbation, Saint-Eugène De Mazenod, écrivit à ses frères dans une lettre : « Il nous faut travailler avec une ardeur renouvelée et encore plus de dévotion totale, pour apporter à Dieu toute la gloire qui découle de nos efforts, et au monde qui nous entoure, le salut de toutes les manières possibles… Au nom de Dieu, soyons saints. » (Lettre aux Oblats, 18 février 1826, EO VII, n. 226).
Ainsi, pour célébrer les 197 ans de notre famille, les oblats et les associés de la région d’Ottawa se sont rassemblé ce 25 février 2023 dans la paroisse Sacré-Cœur, à Ottawa. Onze oblats et neuf associés se sont joints aux restes de la famille oblate du monde entier pour rendre grâce au Seigneur pour sa fidélité durant ces longues années.
Dès l’arrivée, la rencontre avait une aire très cordiale, car la fraternisation s’est rapidement reprise comme si l'on se voyait régulièrement. C’était émouvant, puisque c’est un rituel de la famille oblate que nous n’avons pas pu vivre depuis quelques années à cause de la covid-19. Après un bon moment d’échange et de partage, la célébration eucharistique a succédé à cette communion familiale.
Dans son homélie, le provincial nous a rappelé que la fête du 17 février est, d’abord, une fête d’action de grâce pour nos différentes vocations. Il nous a rappelé que nous sommes une famille charismatique, comme le dit le père général. Nous avons évidemment des dons différents. Et, malgré les différences de nos dons, nous sommes appelés à nous rappeler que chaque don est pour la croissance de toute la famille. Ensemble, nous formons un corps missionnaire, et par conséquent faisons partie intégrale du corps du Christ.
De plus, ce corps que nous formons, insiste-t-il, nous appelle parfois à mourir avec le Christ. Malgré cela, souligne-t-il, cette mort ne se limite pas à l’expérience spirituelle. Elle est aussi un appel à mourir à travers ce qui doit mourir dans nos sociétés, notre histoire, notre famille, nos relations et nos missions. Pourtant, dit-il, c’est nécessaire se rappeler que pour qu’il y ait une résurrection, il est inévitable de traverser la mort.
En effet, compte tenu de l’âge de la famille oblate dans notre région, et de notre histoire, dans tous ses états, on comprend mieux l’importance de la mort dans ce processus de la résurrection. Ainsi, cette célébration, par exemple, nous rappelle, comme communauté religieuse, à revoir ce que le Seigneur nous appelle à vivre. Elle nous est donnée pour réfléchir sur notre identité aujourd’hui, notre rôle dans l’histoire du passé, notre mission actuelle, et l’avenir des œuvres que l’Église nous a confiées. Ensemble, nous l’avons fêtée en pensant à l’appel de l’Esprit à l’Église à emprunter le chemin de décolonisation, recontextualisation et résurrection.
Teachers are the best gifts God can offer each one of us. They occupy a significant part of our growing years. This is more beautiful for anyone who likes the school environment. Such people find being in the school more comforting than many other places. As a lad, apart from my family, the school was one of the few areas I found solace. But then, the severest punishment one could inflict on me was asking me not to go to school. So, from my nursery school years, the holidays were my worst moments. I always missed my classmates and teachers. The days were very long and sometimes dull.
And if I liked school, it was because of these men and women. They are some of the teachers who groomed me from nursery to secondary school. They made my school days enjoyable. So, I always longed to see them, as I knew I would learn new things. And though I might not remember the details of my personal experiences with them, I still remember them vividly. They challenged, pushed, punished, forced me to enlarge my tent, and, more significantly, loved me.
And even though I was a timid lad, I often made calculated troubles. I still remember that very young I wanted to be a lawyer, and so, with a friend, we went around looking for problems intending to defend ourselves before the teachers or the headteachers. We used to anticipate the questions they would ask us before we went to answer for some of our childish mischievousness.
And these women and men put up with us. They kept nurturing our curiosity and feeding us with the correct information to progress to greatness.
Today, nine years ago, I prayed over them during my first holy mass in my village. There they were before the whole community, receiving a blessing from a child they collectively brought up. I thank God again for them and all those who work to make men and women out of young lads.
On 19th February 2023, I was privileged to worship at All Saints Anglican Parish. It was a special Eucharist in honour of Black History Month. So, the Associate incumbent, Reverend Chung Yan Lam, invited me to preach. And being from a community of storytellers, I’m kin to hearing what stories people or communities tell. How do they narrate their “Who I am Story” through welcoming rituals? How is a church’s “Vision Story” expressed in their worship?
For instance, on my arrival at All Saints’ Parish, it was clear that their community is also a storytelling community. It was such a comforting experience to feel at home right upon my arrival in their community. For example, while I was still driving in, one lady asked me where to park behind (her) car. Fortunately, the associate incumbent had already informed me to pack behind her car. But that was just the beginning, as the other welcoming rituals that followed confirmed my initial apprehension.
For one thing, it was such a beautiful experience, but what inspired me most was not just their story as All Saints Anglican Church but the conviction that there is a strong grace in sharing the Lord’s Supper. But, unfortunately, I must recognize that, on the doctrinal level, there are still so many hurdles to overcome to consummate this friendship one experience each moment we participate in each other’s celebration.
Evidently, after the beautiful celebration, I wondered why Christians, especially in North America, are not encouraged enough to share in each other’s worship. I might be wrong today, but I believe no Christian denomination can survive alone, especially in the West.
Unfortunately, we have ironically made Christianity a proud religion. Its force as the only religion where the embodiment of God was consummated in the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ has weakened its theology, making it pride itself as the only way to God. Moreover, its relationship with the Eurocentric hegemony, which translates into the famous kingdom of God theology, has made Christianity too arrogant to recognize its need for others.
Besides, her arrogance goes beyond her relationship with other religions. Among Christian communities, few are those who share in the table of the Lord. Some go as far as berating or denying each other the possibility of making heaven. Ironically, Christ pointed out that there are many mansions in his father’s house. And the author of the Apocalypse says: “I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:9).
However, as I think of this, I remember Paul’s encounter at the Areopagus (Acts 17: 16-34). Then, Christianity was still a small group. As a minority, Christians were thus neither arrogant nor pretentious. So, when Paul was persecuted, he ran from one city to the other (Thessalonica, Berea, Athens), accepting the help and communion of different communities. Communities welcomed and sheltered him from dangerous elements in each city he entered. The only thing that mattered to them was his profession of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Today, even with the recent murder of Bishop O’Connell, I still believe that Christianity is not yet persecuted in North America. However, it’s now no news that we are today a visible minority and that our voices are among those on the margins of society. It is hard to swallow this fact, but we all know that our voices no longer make laws in North American society. So, like Paul and his brothers and sisters, our survival is no longer a private matter. Communities must learn to welcome one another. We ought to open our doors to each other if we hope both to survive and to show the world the unifying message of Christ. We need to unite to reinvent ourselves.
Furthermore, while Paul was in Athens, he went about discovering the city. And among the beautiful and sacred encounters he had was that of an unknown God. He never pretended like the Athenians were a godless people; instead, he saw them, with all their sacred religions, as a blessed nation.
“People of Athens! I see that, in every way, you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god.” (Acts 17:22-23).
Paul never condemned their gods as idols; instead, he talked to them about his newfound faith, which he immediately embodied in the unknown God. And despite the diversity of his teachings, they only found his theory on the resurrection strange.
Today, as I look at our Churches struggling to keep faith in this Northern Hemisphere, I imagine it’s time to explore Paul’s openness to other religions. We must learn from his ability to understand that there are many ways to understand the Christian faith. And to accomplish that, the Church should be humble enough to realize that pride will be its end. None! Neither the Roman Catholic Church nor the entire Protestant Churches can survive if left alone. It’s, therefore, necessary that we increase our ecumenical relationship. We must let go of our pride and allow Christ to take flesh in us. We must create space for a new embodiment of Christ in this new age of our continent. The word of God has always been contextualized according to the Kairos. Today and forever, God will keep incarnating in our history, society, and people. So, let the Church say, Maranatha, Come, O Lord, Jesus Christ.