Chanakila Lubasi was once the manager of a local supermarket in his native Zambia. This year, he'll be ordained a priest.
"I want to be a sign of hope that Christ is present in the joyful and sorrowful mysteries of life," explains Lubasi.
Reading the Gospels, Lubasi was particularly struck by the Lord's call to "proclaim the 'Good News' to the whole world." "These words," he says, "eventually compelled me to go to the seminary."
Point to Christ
Zambia is a country marked by extreme poverty and a place where the HIV/AIDS epidemic has left thousands of orphans. "My role as a priest would be to point to Christ - for strength, for hope," observes Lubasi.
Fellow seminarian Aaron Njobvu agrees. "I am becoming a priest above all to serve," he says. "I want to be a sign of the love of God for all."
Njobvu stresses the importance of the Eucharist in his service. "In the Eucharist especially the broken connect with Jesus and His love," he explains. "It will be my privilege to celebrate the Eucharist among my own people."
These two young men are among the 135 students at St. Dominic's Major Seminary in Lusaka, Zambia. Each seminarian there receives $700 in annual support through the Propagation of the Faith/St. Peter Apostle.
Throughout Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and remote regions of Latin America, there are some 30,000 major seminarians just like Njobvu and Lubasi. They've heard the Lord's call to the priesthood, but lack the financial help to complete their seminary studies.
Through donations to the Propagation of the Faith/St. Peter Apostle, these young men receive that support, and the poor of the missions are reached with the powerful, hope-filled presence of our Lord.
Sisters and Brothers
In the missions today, some 10,000 women and men receive help from the Propagation of the Faith/St. Peter Apostle as they prepare to serve the poor as Religious Brothers and Sisters.
Sr. Christine Mwaka is a Handmaid of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a local Religious community in Zambia that manages HIV/AIDS programs and cares for orphans in Lusaka and Monze. These Sisters also staff schools and parishes in those areas as well.
This community has 71 Sisters - all of whom received help in their formation from the Propagation of the Faith/St. Peter Apostle - and there are five novices now being supported in their studies.
Sister Christine teaches young people religion and history, and is in charge of the education of those five young women Religious novices. "What I do is connected to what St. Paul says," she explains. "'How can they believe in Him if they have never heard about him?' St. Paul tells us. We must be the Lord's voice."
Gifts to the missions
A year's help to educate a mission seminarian is $700; support for the novice year of formation for a Religious Sister or Brother is $300. The seminarians in Zambia and throughout the Developing World, along with young women and men there preparing to be Sisters or Brothers, count on your help so that they may become "signs of hope" and "voices for our Lord" among the poorest in our human family.
Coming in the name of Christ, these priests and Religious, over a lifetime, will invite countless people to Jesus and to the church - and will make present the healing, saving love of Jesus Himself.
Whatever help you can offer would be a real blessing for those seminarians and novices. While you would not know by name the person whose vocation you help to support, you would be sure of the many prayers offered for you by these young men and women.
Remember too that your prayers are your greatest gift to the missions. May the Lord bless you for your generous missionary heart!
Msgr. Delbert Schmelzer is director of the Propagation of the Faith for the Diocese of Madison. Contributions to the Propagation of the Faith may be sent to: P.O. Box 44983, Madison, WI 53744-4983.
Images of marriage:
God's relationship to Israel was frequently described as a marital covenant. For example, the prophet Isaiah said, "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you" (Is 62:5).
In fact, young men in Israel were not allowed to read the description of God's love for Israel in Ezekiel 16 until they were a certain age because of its semi-erotic imagery of lovers.
Frequently in the Old Testament, the prophets called the Israelites back to faithfulness to God (see Jer 3:11-12). Even in the face of Israel's faithlessness, the prophets described God as having exclusive and faithful married love for her.
God went so far as to command the prophet Hosea to buy a harlot and marry her, and when she left him, he redeemed her from her prostitution again and returned her to his home (see Hosea chapters 1-3). Why? God used Hosea as a living example of how he viewed Israel's harlotry after false gods and his ongoing faithfulness and mercy toward Israel, his bride.
Another prophet, Malachi, chastised the people for faithlessness to their spouses. "And what does he desire? Godly offspring. So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth. 'For I hate divorce,' says the Lord the God of Israel" (Mal 2:15-16). In other words, God desires faithfulness between spouses so that their children will know and love him.
Today, God still desires fidelity in marriage. How can God's people intend childless marriages, if the primary purpose of marriage is godly offspring?
St. Paul sees the mystical union of the marital embrace as a reflection of the union between Christ and his Church, between God and his people:
"'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church" (Eph 5:31-32).
From beginning to end, Jesus' ministry has a nuptial theme. Jesus' first miracle took place at a wedding where he changed water into wine (see Jn 2:1-11).
And the climax of the new heaven and the new earth culminates in the "marriage supper of the Lamb," when the Lord will receive his bride, the Church (see Rv 19:7-9).
In the New Testament God elevates marriage to the level of a sacrament. The husband and wife are ministers of the sacrament of marriage. They become channels of sacramental grace to each other.
Christian matrimony is a total surrender of one person to another person, and of both to Christ.
Since Scott and I were validly baptized, though not Catholics, we still had a sacramental marriage recognized by the Church.
We understood (as best as one can understand such an all-encompassing pledge) the vow we were taking. We freely consented to the gift of ourselves to each other. We believed we were not simply agreeing to contractual obligations and benefits; we were exchanging persons.
Once we had done that, we were free to express the unity we now possessed through the act of marriage. Any offspring we might have would be a constant reminder of our indissoluble union, for how could a child ever be divided into the two from which he came?
Kimberly Hahn, mother of six, is co-author of the bestseller Roman, Sweet Home, Our Journey to Catholicism, with her husband Scott Hahn. This column is reprinted from Hahn's book Life-Giving Love and syndicated by www.OneMoreSoul.com
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When a woman enters a room she exudes both an inner and an outer beauty.
There is something about the way a woman moves and presents herself that is lovely to behold. This loveliness comes from within and radiates through her outward appearance. Her inner beauty comes from her ability to relate to others, to give so much, to love deeply, and to know God through faith.
This is not to say that men cannot have great faith and the ability to give of themselves. God created men and women equal and he created them to complement each other.
Men tend to think more in the abstract, women in the concrete. Men are often more interested in solving the problem. Women tend to want to understand the problem.
St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare are a perfect example. Pope John Paul II would invite Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta to be with him in prayer and conversation.
In her book The Privilege of Being a Woman, Alice von Hildebrand speaks of a woman's inner physical beauty, "A contemplation of the female body can yield rich insights into the mission of women . . . in her body the intimate organs are not visible . . . what is hidden usually refers to something mysterious."
She goes on to say, " . . . as soon as she has conceived, God creates the soul of the new child in her body . . . This contact gives the female body a note of sacredness, for any closeness between God and one of His creatures is stamped by His Holy Seal."
She also speaks about woman's "spiritual feelings." These feelings are intentional as they arise from the heart. She says, "If the feelings vibrating in their hearts are noble, appropriate, good, legitimate, sanctioned, and pleasing to God, then they are precious jewels in God's sight."
As women, our inner beauty is also brighter when we know our weaknesses. There is strength in knowing where we are lacking so that we can call on our Lord for the grace to overcome the weakness.
Women are likely to admit when they need help and have a sense of humility which is beautiful to our Lord. This virtue of humility comes from the heart and is a gift of the Holy Spirit. There is no greater example of inner beauty than Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and that beauty came from her humility.
I leave you with this last thought from St. Thérèse of Lisieux's book The Story of a Soul, "Ah! Poor women, how they are despised. And yet many more women than men love God. During Christ's passion, they showed more courage than the apostles for they braved the insults of the soldiers and dared to dry the adorable face of Jesus.
"For this reason, He allows women to be treated with contempt on earth, since He has chosen it for Himself. In heaven, He will show that His thoughts are not men's thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9) for then the last will be the first."
In our pursuit to follow Christ, let us not be afraid to feel weak as no servant is greater than his master and our master is the Creator of the Universe. It is a privilege to be like Him.
The Diocese of Madison is hosting a women's retreat with the theme, "The Inner Beauty of Women." All women in the diocese are invited to attend.
The retreat will be held 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17, to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center. Speakers are Sr. Marcia Vinje, Christine Galvin, and Marcella Colbert.
Cost is $80 for those staying overnight and $45 for commuters. To register, go to www.madisoncatholic.org/oec/ For more information, contact Monica Grant at 608-821-3160.
Christine Galvin has been married to her husband, Andy for 14 years and they have five children. She has a degree in psychology and a master's degree in counseling. Since motherhood, she has been home schooling her children and supporting women and families throughout the diocese. Currently she trains women to lead FAMILIA study groups and co-facilitates Theology of the Body seminars for both teens and adults. She and her husband are a FOCCUS marriage preparation couple for the downtown parishes. Her joy is in sharing with women a love for Jesus and a love for His Holy Catholic Church.
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