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03.01.2022 17:34:44 5070x read.

I wish to start by quoting our FIC constitutions article 63: “however hard we work and in whatever situation we are, it is necessary that there should be moments in our lives for personal and communal reflection. Moments when we are ‘idly’ together with God in Christ…” The Provincial Council of Malawi Province organized an annual retreat for the brothers who had not gone for a retreat yet. This was a moment of taking a pause on our involvements in our apostolic works and have ample time set aside to recollect ourselves and our religious values as Brothers FIC.
The retreat started on 19th through 24th December, 2021 at Nantipwiri Pastoral Centre. The facilitator was Fr. Ludovic Bafuta, a Discalced Carmelite Priest from Nyungwe - St. John of God Retreat Centre. He selected the theme: Community life as a way of demonstrating our talents. God created everyone with unique abilities and talents to serve each other with. Our reflection was on how we use those talents and abilities as religious to help others. Do we nurture them, or we have left them catching dust?
(Group photo of the Brothers and the facilitator)

We are all gifted people, no one is useless. Our talents are not the same, everyone has his/her own (1 Corinthians 12:7-9). Combining these talents we form a gifted community. Sometimes we are unaware of the talents we are given by God until we run into different struggles in life. A question that should be asked amongst oneself is: as a religious, am I using my talents fully to the benefit of my community? We should be wise and put these talents into use to help others (1 Peter 4:10-11 and Romans 12:6-8). There are many things that keep on dusting our talents. Some of those things are: our personal ego, lacking love for the community or congregation, and being indifferent. Our community life brings about transformation in an individual in the sense that personal ego to do as I wish should be crushed. If not taken care of, our personal ego will make us feel that we own the community. This leads to lose love for the community. We will often love things that contributes to our personal benefit and survival. We will start failing to commit ourselves to religious life; and this may prevent us from being creative and productive, thereby putting other members at bay as regards our vocation to religious life. We are not called to be what we are, rather we are called to become what God would like us to be.
In his reflection, Fr. Bafuta, gave some examples of talents from the Bible in Exodus 35:30-35, 1 Chronicles 22:15-16 and Genesis 25:27. Exodus mentions the talents of Bezabel who had knowledge of designing and skills in craft; and Oholiab who was a teacher, embroiderer and craftsman. On the other hand, Genesis (25:27-29) talks about the talents of Jacob and Esau. We have men with several talents in our communities, let’s set out to work. We should get lessons from Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-31). Our success is a product of our work. God always gives us everything we need to do what he has called us to do (Ephesians 2:10). The parable of the talents teaches us that we are not created equal, in that we are gifted differently – we will always depend on the other to be complete. We are working for the Master, not for our own selfish purposes. For that, we are going to be held accountable of our talents.
We need to strengthen our community life through our talents. Our fraternity, strictness of life, forgiveness and non-retaliation, brotherly love, and unity will help us to deepen the strength of our communities and the congregation. It is personal faith in Jesus that brings us together. As Fr. Bafuta said in his reflection, removing this faith in Christ, we become like bachelors living together. The closer we are to Jesus, the closer we become to the community. Our faith should always draw us closer to prayer. We can pray honestly to our Father, if we feel united with our fellow-beings in our prayer, if we are prepared to live up to our faith in God of love in ordinary life by acting positively for the happiness of our fellow-beings… Honest prayer asks for love in action. This means that our prayer will be nourished by our mission and will lead us back again to our apostolate (FIC Const. 61).
Bro. Gasper Kalisto

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