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St. Daniel Comboni – The experience of holiness

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On the 10th anniversary of St. Daniel Comboni’s canonization, Father Enrique Sánchez, Superior General of the Comboni missionaries, underlines the challenges of Comboni’s holiness and its implication on the life of the missionaries.

“I believe this is a good opportunity for us – writes Father Enrique – to pause for a moment and give thanks for the gift of the holiness of Comboni. He, during these years, won over many people who find in him a model and inspiration for living the spirituality and beauty of the missionary vocation… It is certainly a moment of gratitude. We are witnesses and may state simply that Comboni continues to be, today, not only a great missionary who inspires and attracts many people involved in mission, but also a journey of experienced holiness that may lead to an encounter with the Lord through personal consecration to the service of the proclamation of the Gospel.”
“On the other hand – he continues – this celebration becomes an opportunity we cannot forgo to ask ourselves how we have lived the gift of the holiness of Comboni in our missionary service, in our experience of community life, in our life witness, and in the wholeheartedness and clarity of our options.”
comb3The Superior General pointed out that, “We wish to celebrate the missionary holiness of a man who was able to open his heart to God’s plan for his life, allowing himself to be transformed into a tireless worker in building the Kingdom among those people who became his life’s passion… We recognise the holiness of Comboni as a holiness that projects itself towards and is reflected in the faces of the poorest and most abandoned. In these he finds the presence of God who precedes us and waits for us. These are those to whom we are sent as missionaries… As missionaries, we can only reach holiness when we make common cause with the people to whom we are sent. When we do not reject the pain and suffering of those who are not important or who are simply ignored by the parameters of our contemporary society. When, in simplicity and humility, we commit ourselves to building a humanity that is more just and respectful of the rights of all.”
“This holiness reminds us that we are called to become hidden stones in the building’s foundation, far from the temptation to wish to be seen, to occupy the front seats, to be in the spotlight or on the front pages of the newspapers.”
Father Enrique writes that “In a word, Comboni’s holiness challenges us and provokes us so that we do not allow ourselves to be gripped by the temptations of our time. These pretend to offer us an ‘easy’ mission permeated by a middle-class lifestyle, opposed to anything that implies radicalism, sacrifice, or the unconditional offering of oneself.”
“In St. Daniel Comboni we wish to celebrate a missionary holiness that is characterised by total commitment to announcing the Gospel to all the people of our time and, in a special way, to the poorest and most abandoned, as the first recipients of the Gospel.”
comb5“We wish to celebrate – he continues – the sort of holiness that speaks to us of celebration and rejoicing, of hope and confidence, of simplicity and spontaneity, of welcome and love without limits. These are the fruits of the Word sown with generosity in the human heart. A holiness that reminds us that, as missionaries, we are men and women destined to become witnesses who announce not a dark and gloomy future but the future prepared for us by God. His is a holiness that invites us to read history, at all levels, with the eyes of faith that do not allow us to distance ourselves from, or ignore the issues of our contemporaries. For this reason it is a holiness that is achieved through a sound commitment, a coherent life, a solid spirituality lived out in the small events of life and the great decisions that define our existence forever.”
The Superior General concludes, “As we live and strive daily to make Comboni’s holiness our own, we wish to continue his evangelising work by consecrating all our energy, our abilities, our entire lives, in the hope of one day making our own the experience which enabled him to say unflinchingly: ‘Africa or death.’ In this way, we experience his total abandonment to the will of God in his life. It is a missionary holiness that obliges us to deny ourselves so that we may allow the Lord to manifest himself through our lives, making us witnesses who announce the coming of the Kingdom more by our lives than by our preaching, discourses, or words. It is a holiness that lives in the joy of offering the only thing we possess: our entire lives.”

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