From creativity to gift
Bakers of the Bread of Mercy
“You yourselves feed them” is the invitation that Jesus in Mark’s gospel in ch 6:3 addressed to his disciples and addresses to us, today’s disciples, so that our life may be nourishment and gift.
The Lord asks us to offer before Him, without reserve, what we have “as bread”. Not just understood as material bread, but everything that man needs to live a dignified life, which therefore promotes good health, work, knowledge, faith. But in order to be able to give, we must first acknowledge that we have received.
In fact, this phrase provokes us deeply. Sometimes, it is easier not to bother and say to those who knock on our door, ‘I have nothing of what you ask of me’. Jesus, on the other hand, urges us to commit ourselves, to “not wash our hands”, to not remain indifferent in the face of so much poverty.
He wants to make us sharers in his work of salvation, because Christ is the one who satiates the hunger of the human heart, but he has decided to do it through us, and he continues today to trust in our paucity.
Therefore, that of the Lord is an invitation to always put ourselves at stake, to welcome the possibilities that Providence sometimes offers us by surprise. Without waiting to have greater moral and material resources. Certain that the moment we enter the fray we realise that what we have is much more than we think and that certain talents or aptitudes only show their effectiveness in relationship with others.
The right ingredients for the Bread of Mercy
It is up to us then, to know how to procure good and right ingredients, to produce ‘good bread’. And in this we hope that the meeting we will soon be having will be of great help to us.
This bread, to be tasty, we know that it needs healthy and quality ingredients, namely compassion and passion. Also not to be missing from our recipe, looks of trust and an outstretched hand, patience, all amalgamated by reassuring smiles.
The true Bread of Mercy can be made in abundance to feed more people. This is thanks to the professionalism and collaboration of so many brothers and sisters who look to the same goal as us, namely to do more together for us and for others. It is true that in every place of life, we already do something, but together, perhaps we can and would like to dare to do more.
The figure of the catechist in Africa
It is really a very good thing that the training, which we will carry out in Italy where the reality of Spazio Spadoni was born and is developing, is also addressed to some catechists. It is a great gift, because it is one thing to know and speak from “hearsay” and quite another to see with one’s own eyes.
On this occasion, it will also be important and enriching to meet with different volunteer realities. It will be a real school of life, because meeting is functional to knowing.
In fact, even in Africa there is the figure of the volunteer, even though there is no structured volunteering as in Europe and particularly in Italy. It is precisely catechists who are the first to animate and involve others in the practice of the Works of Mercy such as visiting the sick, the imprisoned, the abandoned. However, they often go by a different name such as ‘Charity Works’.
To be a catechist in many countries of the world, for example in Africa, is a great mission. First of all, it takes a couple of years of training. Then, in order to live this apostolate, it is necessary to take a day off each week from work in the fields to visit the communities. They are tens of kilometres away, but the weekly meeting with catechumens, the sick and families must be ensured. A great commitment is required. In fact, as we know, almost all of them do not have cars or adequate means of transport, so they travel by foot.
A service that is welcomed and experienced as a true mission
In the African Church, the figure of the catechist is indispensable. Although they do not have the same sacramental role, they are comparable to the permanent deacon and have a central role in the parish’s activities. Sometimes they are the ones who lead moments of prayer, because they enjoy undisputed credibility and people trust them. They are explicitly entrusted with the transmission of the faith and often accompany children in their life choices, including their vocational choice. Catechists are indeed, a real wealth for the Church.
It is also nice to see how, in the Church’s hard times, they get busy sensitising Christians to put together something to take to those in prison or hospital. In Africa there is no public assistance. During the Eucharistic Celebration, at the time of the Offertory, one can never miss the presentation of various products for the poor in the village.
Surely to us, God asks for willingness, to let ourselves be filled with his compassion so that we can have a full heart that is useful to others.
As co-workers, we feel a strong responsibility in our hearts to make our contribution by living this mission with co-responsibility. Because we are called to be close to our brothers and sisters with humility, but also with enthusiasm and consistency of life. Then being together will help us to better organise ourselves in order to network and to bring about an improvement. Make the recipients of the Works of Mercy protagonists themselves along with us.
We will meet in the spirit of mercy by listening to each other to avoid giving continuity to the spirit of paternalism that always has a ready solution, but by creating a new spirit. Precisely in this action lies the novelty of Spazio Spadoni’s work. It stands in the world as a servant, driven by the desire to promote merciful action through the collaboration of all.
The art of maieutics
As the philosopher Socrates suggests, ‘we must learn to put into practice the art of knowing how to draw out’. What is sometimes missing in our dialogues, in fact, is precisely the ability to listen to the other person, without the pretence of wanting and immediately giving answers. As another wise man says, ‘the human heart is not a sack where anyone can put his hand’. Have the desire to understand it and then seek a way out, a solution. To make the other person feel that he is important and that his thoughts, his reflection, his way of seeing and perceiving things interest us and can suggest something we can do to better help him.
The art of maieutics is the art of the breeder, of she who helps women during childbirth. Through the exercise of this art, the Master helps the disciple to bring to light the thoughts and truth present in the soul.
Just as the nurturer helps women through the pains of childbirth, the Master guides disciples in exploring their souls. Through the pains caused by false opinions, conditionings, doubts, prejudices and perplexities that, similar to labour pains, prostrate the disciple in his effort to bring himself to birth.
By listening to people, they themselves let us know the causes of their plight and also possible solutions. So it becomes very important, in this waiting time, to prepare ourselves well and responsibly for the meeting in July. Also through the material made available and sent by Spazio Spadoni.
Unfortunately, we are used to paternalism. It has always offered us solutions and has not taught us much about how to find solutions independently. Slowly we are realising that this system can no longer work. We feel the need and demand to have big-hearted, patient and helpful people beside us, who instead of giving us fish teach us how to fish!
Sister Gloriose Nshimirimana
Missionary Congregation Sisters of Santa Gemma