Editors Note: All of our Brothers in the Kenyan Region are on their annual retreat this week (1 – 4 August 2017) at St. Patrick’s Kabula Retreat House. The retreat is animated by Fr. Santulino Ekada, OCD. Each day, one Brother is providing his reflections on the program.
By Festus Kathuki Mulu
Father Santulino opened the program by firstly stating the theme of the retreat, “Learning the Virtues.”
The first topic for the day that Father introduced was “Knowing and Living our Identity.”
On this topic Father Santulino discussed how important it is to live our identity as vowed members of the holy church. He then illustrated how intertwined our life is with the mother church, thus putting it clear that a vowed Brother cannot define his identity unless he connects it to the church. Therefore the vocation of brotherhood has to be strongly tied to the local church. Father then explained this connectedness of religious brotherhood to the church by use of three levels that we have to go through in order to reach our identity as consecrated brothers. These levels include first being men; and in this level he explains that the vocation of Brotherhood has to begin on one being born a man. Then the other level is being disciple of Jesus through baptism; in which Father explains that before one makes the decision to become a Brother then one has to be baptized in the mother church, in which one confesses his faith to Jesus and to the Catholic Church. Then the last level is consecrated life of Brotherhood which is affirmed by the church itself. After the above illustrations I was able to understand why my identity as a vowed brother cannot be full if then my service to the church is disowned.
Father Santulino then continued to explain how living the life of consecration calls for our personal humility, in order to be able to understand that; change to conversion is not abrupt and that it is internal, such that we may not easily recognize it if we are not keen. By use of a personal story Father Santulino explained how change to holiness is internally based such that if one focuses only on the external appearances then one may end up concluding that there is no change in his life thus ending on giving up in our life as consecrated men. Father Santulino further connects this change in our life to the virtue of obedience. It was here that I was able to discover that it is only through consisted obedience to the will of God that is spoken to me through His word, leaders in the community and my fellow brothers that conversion occurs.
The conclusion to of the day’s reflection father discussed the vow of obedience. Here he explained that living this vow only indicates our actual life in the community. Father again denoted that obedience doesn’t only involve the act of accepting the call to a mission nor responsibility but also having to positively respond to that responsibility by being totally interested and involved in it. The above attitude to a responsibility then would definitely be the source of our joy and happiness in the community.
Has he put it, obedience is continuous response to the will of God through love to his people that I live with, including the members of my community, workers in the community that I live in, students I study with in school or co-workers in my mission. It is giving totally as a sacrifice in response to the call for obedience that leads to conversion.