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A REFLECTION ON UCHECHI’S SELF-DONATION (6)

Uchechi's Desire For The Possession Of The “Ultimate Good” And Our Own Forms Of Desiring (4).
By:
NNAEMEKA DOMINIC EKWEARIRI

Having dwelt for a while on the forms of desire that punctuate the human life, as made evident in the literary, historical, and even as documented in the religious sentiments of the Scriptures, spheres. An effort was also made to indicate this essential human property, desire, and their occurrence in the socio-politico and economic strata. Finally human desires as they occur within the context of love and friendship. In all these instances were the operations of these innate human character probed and interrogated in the phrase 'our own forms of desiring.' Finally here as indicated in the beginning, the orientation, though already begun in bits, in this issue is to see how far Uchechi's desires are radically different from ours, and how the Christian can draw from the inspiration of her beautiful examples on how to, and how not to desire. Unlike the critique leveled against human desires as mostly dominated by the exclusive self and its goods, Uchechi's would be made to, in the final analysis, demonstrate that if Christians must remain true to their calling, then, they must refuse urges and constantly resurging temptation to desire exclusively the good of the self as though securing for it an everlasting personal immortality; they must learn to interrogate Uchechi's radical self-donation and seek to drink from her as from the ocean of holy desire (St Paul says be you imitators of me, as I am the imitator of Christ), on what should constitute the object of their desires. Let us then pause and ponder for a while on the heroic and radical desires of Uchechi, their object and content, which most surely contrast with the sordid lust of those thieves of life.

This question of the object of desire offers us the opportunity to reflect along the line made possible by Socrates. It is within this sense that we identify Uchechi's object of desire as it is diametrically opposed to the forms we have enunciated so far. First of all, other desires, like ours, when they are directed to some other objects of love, for the sake of another object reveal their illusions, i.e., they show such desires to merely deceive. These desires deceive because they hide from us that for the sake of which all other things are desired, hence the destiny of every desire. The first thing that is loved, that for which every other thing is loved, is not loved for the sake of another object of desire, or for the sake of another. It is for its 'sake that all the others too are friend. (read 'loved')' (Lysis, 219d) In this way, true desire is that in which all motives and objects of love have their end; all objects and motives of desire and love find their origin in this one desire or love for the sake of which everything ought to be loved. Therefore every true love must have its origin in that (object) which obliges love, that on which the vocation to love and to desire is founded that for which we ought to love and from which our desire should be channeled. Here then, is Uchechi's object of desire, God, with which we note a serious inversion of the vandal's object of desire from the mundane and superficial to the lofty and the transcendental and the Godly, an unchanging immutable and always abiding desire that endures and lovingly invites all to love and desire. In this sense then, love/desire will be oriented towards the advancement of the good of the other, the conferment of some benefits on the other as hinted by Phaedrus in The Symposium, 'Love, will make men dare to die for their beloved - love alone; and women as well as men' (Plato, 152) And all these for the sake of God. Who would refuse Uchechi this form of loving, this pattern of desiring?

In loving that for which all other things are loved, or to appropriate a phrase credited to Anselm in his ontological proof of God's existence, 'that than which nothing greater can be' loved, Uchechi came to an intimate communion with the light of that beauty which is not seductive and hypocritical, which does not return man to his primitive passions and which does not rekindles those primitive desires, but which opens the eyes of the heart and carries man aloft until it releases one into the Infinite Abyss of Mystery. She has by the very act of desiring that being who cannot be surpassed by any natural agency, beheld a correct vision of beauty, which surpassed all that Eve, Medea, Dido and Jason ravishly sought after, one which surpasses all earthly beauty, whether it be that of gold, silver, woods and fields, seas and sky, sun and moon, or stars and angels, man or woman, (1 Cor. 2:9) The underlying reason is the fact that this Beauty is the source of all other beauties, which are subject to 'It.' It shows that these can truly be beautiful if they have the Beautiful as their source and origin. Only this Beauty is Uchechi's norm and criterion of the beautiful - that object to which it is proper to desire and love, and for whose sake it is then proper that all others be desired in love.

Having identified Uchechi's object of desire as God who lovingly invites all to desire him, and for whose sake, Uchechi desired, let us note some implications of this radical assertion. Uchechi's desire is radical because it places God in the centre of her life, and allowed all her aspirations, dreams desires, love, and ambitions to be generated from him and directed towards him. Just as the centre of a circle is its principle of unity, and as the integrity of the circumference depends on its relation with the centre, Uchechi made God the principle of his thirst and hunger, around whom the circumference of her entire life rally: 'In God alone there is rest for my soul, from him comes safety; he alone is my rock, my safety, my stronghold so that I stand unshaken.' (Ps. 62. 1-2) The centrality of God as the object of Uchechi's holy desire is curiously read in the mouth of David when he was exiled which the psalmist as though describing the burning thirst which this little Igbo girl experienced explodes: ‘God, you are my God, I pine for you; my heart thirsts for you, my body longs for you, as a land parched, dreary and waterless.... Better your faithful love than life itself. On my bed I remember you, I muse on you in the watches of the night; in the shadow of your wings I rejoice; my heart clings to you, your right hand supports me.' (Ps. 63:1, 3, 6-8) Here again, one can pry into those words of Uchechi when she delivered a touching sermon to the members of the Holy Childhood to see how indeed this God captures the sole motive of her desires; that holy moment consecrated to inculcating into her colleagues and fellow young girls the holy virtues of Maria Goretti, and to passionately praying them to refuse the intrusion of whatever vandals might try to make into the temple of their body and preserve it solely for its owner, the Holy Spirit, can now bring out more clearly to the fore how much intimately she must have yearned for this God. The simultaneous rendering of her body and all her life's means of support, allowing it to be shattered by the cruel desires of those trigger-handed vandals rather than allowing her holy ambition to be polluted altogether underscore her intimate desire to hasten the flow of time and the breaking in of God's glory into her personal life: 'As a dear yearns for running streams, so I yearn for you, my God. I thirst for God, the living God; when shall I see the face of God.' (Ps. 42-43:1-2)
We can now see the radicalism of this desire in placing God in the centre, which implies as much as it is a burning hunger to be united with him, and configured to him, as it is the rupture with every other thing.

In the first instance, Uchechi desired to be united to God's will; she desired to harmonize her cravings with those of God. Sin, unchecked passion that is destructive and selfish, resulted from an option to be separated from God, from his desire; it is closing oneself to the touch of God's love; it is choosing the way of hatred and angst, of a rebellious desire against God. Righteousness and just living constitutes the contrary. It means allowing one's wishes, desires and ambitions to be built on God, which achieves interior union for the Christian. It means allowing one's desires to be penetrated and possessed by the desire of God. All these are captured by Benedict XVI's speech from the Autobiography of Blessed Mother Maria Teresa Scrilli, in whom we can read the radicalism of Uchechi's self-donation: I no longer considered I was my own mistress, but was guided solely by that impulse I felt within my spirit, moved by my sweetest love that overwhelmed me. O my bridegroom! I said and who will prevent me from pleasing you? (L'Osservatore Romano, Nov.15, 2006, n.46) Elsewhere, this passionate wish to be united to the desire of God is noted with some depth of familiarity: 'Lord, on my own I can do nothing, and even if I could not want to, for I desire nothing save that your will be done in me, over me and around me...voluntas, fiat....I will ceaselessly repeat that what you desire may be done, fiat...(Autobiography. 90) This confession of a saint is no mere empty words, but one which leaves itself to be admired and read in our age, in the very life of Uchechi, whose self-giving and abandonment in martyrdom expresses total love for Christ. This love for Christ expresses itself in the will to harmonize her own life with the thoughts and the sentiments of God's heart.

In the second instance, the desire to be united to God is at the same time a desire to break with the world. This is very expressive in Uchechi's choice of breaking ties with her body, her family and friends, and the whole community of the living world. (Rom. 12:2) It means saying to her family, to her friends, to the whole world and above all to Christ, Lord in life I wish to do nothing against you, because you know what is best for me. Only you have the words of eternal life (Jn. 6:68)
The first and second instances capture the permanency and exclusivity of her desire and love for God which challenges as much as it opposes our own pattern of desiring and loving a loving which lacks definitively as it does not endure for all time; a desiring which lacks exclusivity because of the burden and guilt of infidelity. Uchechi's constantly abiding love of God which set Him apart as her soul's desire by the fact that she crucified even her own ego with all its passions and its desires ( Gal. 5:24), make her God's possession, the beloved of God.

One might question whether such a title of the 'beloved of God' is not only reserved for Christ. Yet would we loose sight of the very fact of the seriousness of the vocation to be imitators of Christ, a call which this young girl passionately fought to actualize in her personal life? We imitate Christ in the forms of death and resurrection, of followership and acceptance, of good life and reward, of being called by his name and be addressed as 'the beloved'. It is likewise in this wise that Uchechi imitated Christ in his patterns of desiring and loving. Like Augustine, who said the best way to desire to be like the one to whom we pray in supplication, exhorted his audience to the radical imitation of Christ, Uchechi sought God in her desires to be like him in that circumference of love.
At this juncture dearest reader, let us draw the curtain in order to continue in the next issue.

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THEOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS

The Eucharist as the mystery of light
“I am the light of the world”

INTRODUCTION

In the Old Testament we see many signs of the grandeur of God's power as he manifests his glory in his wondrous deeds among the chosen people (cf. Ex 14; 16: 10; 24: 12-18; Num 14: 20- 23). In the New Testament this epiphany of beauty reaches definitive fulfillment in God's revelation in Jesus Christ: Christ is the full manifestation of the glory of God. In the glorification of the Son, the Father's glory shines forth and is communicated [cf. Jn 1: 14; 8: 54; 12: 28; 17: 1] (cf. Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 35).

Christ speaks of himself as “the light of the world” (Jn 8: 12). He is the true light that came into the world, he is the Emmanuel that came to stay in the midst of men, as true light to illumine the way and the life of man but right from the beginning of his life he was not accepted and was even refused “… the Word was the real light that gives light to everyone; he was coming into the world. He was in the world that had come into being through him, and the world did not recognize him. He came to his own and his own people did not accept him” (Jn 1: 9-11). This is truly a mystery on which one would wish to reflect.
In the obscurity of faith, the Eucharist becomes for the believer a mystery of light because it introduces him to the depth of the divine mystery. In this Sacrament (Eucharist) the glory of Christ remains veiled. The Eucharist is pre-eminently a mysterium fidei. Through the mystery of his complete hiddenness, Christ becomes a mystery of light, thanks to which believers are led into the depths of the divine life (cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Mane Nobiscum Domine, n. 11). Everyone is called to be a light to others, to walk in the light not in the dark. As Saint Paul says: “ … the moment is here for you to stop sleeping and wake up, because by now our salvation is nearer than when we first began to believe. The night is nearly over, daylight is on the way; so let us throw off everything that belongs to the darkness and equip ourselves for the light. Let us live decently, as in the light of day” (Rom 13: 11-13).
CHRIST AS TRUE LIGHT

The life and presence of Christ in the world is that of combating and casting away the darkness and the power of evil, because Christ is the true light of the world. For that end, he has demonstrated his power with his service, and his life in communion with the Father through his words, actions and teachings. He illumines and makes clear that which is hidden as in the case of the Emmaus disciples “… then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself” (Lk 24: 27). Jesus is the fulfillment of all that was promised in the Old Testament but that was yet hidden or that was not revealed for men. He is the fullness of all, he is the true light that illumines. Being light, all his life is to give witness to this light right from his birth till his death and resurrection.

At Christmas, we celebrate light under the sign of the star that guided the Magi (three wise men) to find Jesus “… where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage” (Mt 2: 2); in his public life on the basis of his proclamation “… when Jesus spoke to the people again, he said: 'I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the light of life” (Jn 8: 12). Christ testified and confirmed it in his transfiguration “… there in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as dazzling as light” (Mt 17: 2). Jesus above all demonstrated the force and victory of light over darkness with his glorious resurrection where the power of evil and darkness were conquered forever.

With the Resurrection of Christ, every Sunday is observed as the day of the Lord and must be the day of light, of joy, of feast, because the Lord has conquered death (darkness) and invites man to come with him, and all to walk as children of light. Already the Gospel of John affirms: “What has come into being in him was life, life that was the light of men; and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it” (Jn 1: 4-5). For man and for his salvation, Christ came but man under the power of evil and darkness did not welcome him, choosing evil and darkness in the place of light. Anyone who accepts Christ becomes the child of God.

THE EUCHARIST AS A MYSTERY OF LIGHT

The Eucharist is the mystery of Light. It is the mystery of light not only because the Emmaus disciples recognized him at the breaking of bread (Lk 24: 30-31) but above all because it is starting from the Eucharist that man recognizes the love of God for all, when the Father gave the Son to the world and the Son gave himself till the end in the Eucharist, the death on the cross, the salvation of all humanity.

As the mystery of light, the Eucharist indicates to man the union and communion with God and with others in Christ Jesus. It creates union and communion among men as members of a single family, and union and communion with God. It introduces man into the profundity of divine life, that is, the Trinitarian life where the Father is such that he gives himself totally to the Son; and the Son is such that welcomes and restitutes the donation to the Father, and the Holy Spirit is the embrace and the loving relationship between the Father and the Son.
The Eucharist as the mystery of light, indicates to men the way of salvation through the way of Kenosis (self emptying), that is of the humility of Christ in order to arrive at glory. It is only through this way of humility and total donation that one arrives at the reward of paradise, which is a situation of light and of beatitude. Christ himself teaches: “For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up” (Lk 18: 14). It is through the way of humility that one arrives at the way of exaltation just as one arrives at resurrection through death.

In the Word of God as real light that gives light to everyone (cf. Jn 1: 9) and constantly proclaimed, bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. It is he, the risen Lord, who opens minds and hearts. When the bread is broken, he lets himself be recognized as by the two disciples of Emmaus. It is in this convivial gesture that we relive the sacrifice on the cross, experience God's infinite love and are called upon to spread the light of Christ among the men and women of our times, to bear witness to the Truth. John Paul II affirms that: The Eucharist is light “for the heart of man oppressed by sin, disoriented and tired,” the light for a world that is “in a difficult search for a seemingly distant peace in a new millennium distressed and humiliated by violence, terrorism and war” (cf. John Paul II, Announcement of the Year of the Eucharist, Holy See Press Office, Vatican City, October 10, 2004).
The liturgy is a radiant expression of the paschal mystery, in which Christ draws us to himself and calls us to communion. As Saint Bonaventure would say, in Jesus we contemplate beauty and splendor at their source (cf. Saint Bonaventure, Serm. 1, 7; 11, 10; 22, 7; 29, 76: Sermones dominicales ad fidem codicum nunc denuo editi, Grottaferrata, 1977, 135, 209ff., 292ff.; 337). This is no mere aestheticism, but the concrete way in which the truth of God's love in Christ encounters us, attracts us and delights us, enabling us to emerge from ourselves and drawing us towards our true vocation, which is love (cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, n. 22). God allows himself to be glimpsed first in creation, in the beauty and harmony of the cosmos (cf. Wis 13: 5; Rom 1: 19-20). This leads us to worship and adore God in the Blessed Sacrament. Through the Eucharistic worship, we are called to the beatific vision which is rooted in God's original invitation of man to come and see and participate in the life of love for one another, joy for one another, peace with one another; praise, glorification and adoration of God going on without end with the Godhead among the three divine persons: the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

CONCLUSION


With baptism man is redeemed, becomes a child of God and the house of the Spirit in order to be a witness of the life and joy of the Kingdom of Light in which Christ has won the power over sin and death. And as child of God and of Light, he must be a witness of the light that is, behaving as a child of light. Saint Paul invites us to be awake, leaving the work of darkness and clothing ourselves with good works as children of light “… the night is nearly over, daylight is on the way; so let us throw off everything that belongs to the darkness and equip ourselves for the light” (Rom 13: 12). Christ as light remains ever present among men, shining and radiating till the end of time. Let us walk in the light. Let us embrace the life of holiness. Everything on earth will pass away but the Word of God which is Light will remain and all who stand by it will be saved. Let us embrace the Eucharistic Jesus who as the light of the world enlightens the human mind and introduces man into the intra-divine life as sons and inheritors of God, temples and house of God in the world.

By:
Fr. Dr. Innocent Ike Nwachukwu

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ARTHRITIS - Causes and Prevention

Serious deformities may sometimes occur in the bones and joints. These include tumors, swellings, inflammation. But the most frequent cause of worry is arthritis. This condition occurs usually during the later years of life, although it may begin at any age. Almost everyone gets a touch of it at some time in his life. In some case, the problem is only temporary, in others it may drag on for years.
The word arthritis means inflammation of the joints but in the early stages, the whole body is usually involved. One or two joints become completely deformed, leaving the patient handicapped, and some what weakened.
Some times with proper treatment the disease can be brought under control and may even clear up.

CAUSES:

There are may things that cause this. In some case, certain germs may attack the joints, particularly those germs that cause tuber culosis, prieumomia and streptococcus, inflammation of the throat.
Syphilis and gonorrhea may also give rise to arthritis atimes, but such infections are less frequent in these days of powerful antibiotic. Some doctors believe that abscess teeth and badly diseased tonsils may be associated with arthritis but this has not been fully proved. However, it is always wise to get rid of any serious infection, for it could adversely affect other parts of the body as well as the joints.

RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS:

Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious disease that involves not only the joints but also the muscles, tendons and other tissues of the body. The true cause is not known but the disease seems to occur more often in women. Rheumatoid arthritis usually begins rather mildly with some swelling, pain, and tenderness in the joints of the fingers, wrists, knees, and feet. In this disease, the joints on each side of the body are often involved at the same time. The joints feel unusually warm and may appear red, and perhaps even contain some fluid. During the active phase of the disease, the patient complains of fatigue, weakness, and pain.
Because of the pain in the joints, muscle spasm creates a real problem, because the flexor muscles such as those that close the hand, are stronger than the extensor muscles that open.

There are times when he or she may be entirely free from pain, only to have the condition return after a few months respite. During painful crises, it is important for the patient to have one or two rest periods during the day. How ever, he should not lie in bed for too long because it would only aggravate the muscle wasting.

  • He should be given a well balanced died.
  • He may need some mild analgesic like one or two aspirin tablet every few hours to help control the pain. These tablets will also have a beneficial effect on the inflammation.
  • Injection of water soluble gold compounds may be useful at early stage.
  • Elderly patients with kidney problem should avoid some medication. During the attack. A.C.T.H. and cortisone are often beneficial for a time.

Because rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, care must be taken not to use those medications too often. There are times when injections of hydrocortisone may be giving directly into the painful joint itself. This help to control the inflammation and the beneficial effect, may last from five to ten days, even longer in some cases. As in other of arthritis, exercise is always important in rheumatoid arthritis. The right kind of exercise will help to prevent wasting of the muscles and stiffness of the joints.

  • Adequate rest is also necessary
  • Eat balanced diet and some calcium.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious disease that involves not only the joints but also the muscles, ten dons and other tissue of the body.
By: MRS. AKUDO IWUAGWU

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REDISCOVERING THE RAISON D'ETRE OF POLITICAL AUTHORITY IN DEMOCRATIC NIGERIA. (1)

The State can simply be described as a sovereign political community. It generally designates a group of people inhabiting a specific territory and living according to a common legal and political authority; a body politic or nation. In a more complete way, the state is defined as 'a geographically delimited society endowed with supreme authority for the establishment of the universal common good'. The State, which has been described as the highest social structure, should therefore create all the presuppositions for the productive development of individual persons, of smaller circles of life, and of the entire society.

Among many political theorists and philosophers, there is a fundamental idea that is seen as a constant in their various views on the origin of States. There is an agreement that States evolved with time. They came into being as man grew in his awareness of what is best for his existence and wellbeing. In this, man instinctively or deliberately becomes conscious of the necessity for an essential union with binding principles that can make for the integration a State needs. The State is thus a necessity founded in human nature, since no society can “hold together unless someone is in command to give effective direction and unity of purpose. Hence every civilized community must have a ruling authority, and this authority, no less than society itself has its source in nature, and consequently has God for its author”.

As we have already seen, the state is the highest guardian of the common good. It has the purpose of promoting the general, political common good. In fact, “this is its full justification and meaning and the source of its specific and basic right to exist. The common good embraces the sum total of those conditions of social life which enable individuals, families and organizations to achieve complete and efficacious fulfillment” (Gaudium et Spes, no 74)

Against the backcloth of the purpose of the state, there flows an essential corollary, to wit: endowment with political power, otherwise called governmental authority. This is consequent on the fact that the state cannot carry out its functions unless it has a robust mandate to combat arbitrary, illegal powers that endanger the common good. Since this governmental authority cannot be exercised properly by the multitude itself, its administration must be conferred on one or more, from which the various forms of government result. Thus, the government receives its authority immediately from the nation as a whole. It is germane to note the teaching of the church in this regard thus: “The persons who go to make up the political community are many and varied; quite rightly, then, they may veer towards widely differing points of view. Therefore, lest the political community be ruined while everyone follows his own opinion, an authority is needed to guide the energies of all towards the common good not mechanically or despotically, but by acting above all as a moral force based on freedom and a sense of responsibility…the choice of the political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens”. It follows that political authority; either within the political community as such or through organizations representing the state, must be exercised within the limits of the moral order and directed toward the common good. (Gaudium et Spes, no. 74)

Arguably, political authority or power has always been at the centre of a lot of questions on human existence and preoccupation. It has radically elicited incalculable attention and has engaged a lot in intellectual reflections and written exercise. Based on the fact that it is the custodian of the common good, the fate and or destiny of the citizens, the growth of families, communities and states, have always been, to a larger extent determined by the manner those holding political or governmental power perceive it and the manner it should be exercised. The centrality of political power in the conduct of human affairs is underscored by the manner of its use by political office holders in their quest for dominance and supremacy in human affairs.

Taking the reader down memory lane in a historical travelogue, one discovers with great ease that history has seen political power transform those who hold and wield them into gods, despots, and conscienceless fortune and wealth hunters. The question of the common good has severally been stifled and obfuscated. With a tone of particularity, we note with utmost chagrin and dismay, the fact that African states have known and experienced this travesty of situation in a most special and bitter way in their post independent struggles. Political power has turned out and has been generally perceived to be the easiest way to amass tremendous wealth. This gross misconception of the essence and raison d'etre of political office have always spurred majority of aspirants to political offices to struggle and aspire after it, and keep it with all the resources and means the human heart can think of, and have at times moved out and destroyed whatever may present itself as obstacles on the way to it including human life.

REV. FR. PROTASE ANYANWU.

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