By Brother Patrick Fumbisha | en français
The description of our charism calls us to an integrated life of Mary and Martha. In this reflection I would like to speak about two crucial elements of the transformation process: to know fraternal love and faith and confidence in this process. I see Martha representing fraternal love and I see the life of Mary representing faith. I am also going to ground my reflection in the Fundamental Principles.
Almost two years ago on January 12th, Brother Peter Mahoney was driving me in his car. When we arrived at our destination in Charlottesville, where I was to take the bus to Baltimore I thanked Brother Pete for the ride. His answer was very simple. It touched me deeply. He said something like this to me. “You are my brother and it’s my duty.” His words made me understand what we are called to. We are called to form a fraternal community of Brothers, “who mutually help, encourage and edify one another, and who work together” (FP). The realities of encouraging one another, of mutually edifying each other, of helping one another and working together constitute the very foundation stone of our fraternal life. Moreover, our Fundamental Principles ask us to “cultivate fraternal affection for our Brothers.” We are called to a life different from that of Cain who asked God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Yes our transformation process invites me to be conscious that I am my brother’s keeper. This process leads us to the road “where we discover fraternal charity and and friendship …as the most powerful means of evangelization” (FP). For me, brotherhood is our prophetic mission in a world characterized by tribalism, racism, sexism, and tensions between religions and so many other forms of division. “To live as a Xaverian Brother” is to transcend these divisions. It is to see ourselves as a member of the one same village.
Before I entered the Brothers, I was an altar server. In the course of my being a server, for a certain period of time, I had difficulty believing in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. For me it was only bread. I continued to receive the Eucharist out of habit and for fear of what others might say if I didn’t go to communion. I was able to receive communion without even being conscious of doing so. I was like a child on line to receive a small wafer from an adult. The child does not take the wafer to satisfy himself; nonetheless he eats it to please and to do as everyone else is doing. Part of me always had the desire to seek God. That is why I began to ask many religious to explain to me how his small piece of bread could be Christ? The answers I was getting were more of the theological and intellectual type whose intention was to convince me.
One fortunate day I met a Franciscan priest with whom I shared my doubts. His answer at first confused me. His answer was, “Oh that! That is the beginning of faith.” Now I was really confused. I told him, “I am having difficulty believing in the presence of Christ in communion.” He told me, “It is the beginning of faith.” From that moment I experienced a glimmer of understanding of the Blessed Sacrament. I do not know how to explain it.
It is my same experience with the transformation process. The doubt that I have is the beginning of trust in the process. It is a process that one cannot understand just by the intellect. The process requires trust like that of our Founder when he exclaimed, “O Lord I cannot understand your ways, but I must adore them.” It is a step in the faith journey and we do not know the road to take. But we understand that only faith can lead us, filled with hope, on the road to our destination according to God’s plan.
I will finish my reflection with these words from our Fundamental Principles that ask us…
Enter into an ever deeper sharing
Of faith and prayer with your Brothers,
Reflect with them on how you find Him
In your lived experience
It is in our daily experiences of fraternal love, of death and rebirth, that we are going to be transformed. Let us just trust our Lord who more than likely wants us to embark on this journey of transformation with our joys and sorrows, our certainties and doubts, our strengths and weaknesses.
I find your words, Patrick, very inspiring. The brothers are very blessed to have you as one of our formators. I hope you find much satisfaction and joy in your ministry.