Lent Message- 2009

Dear Sisters, Brothers, Friends, Benefactors, and Colleagues,

Our warm greetings from Swaziland.

As Christians throughout the world celebrate this time of Lent we at Cabrini Ministries would like to share a few thoughts with you. Let us start with these words of St. Paul from Scripture:

Though he was in the form of God
Christ did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, He emptied Himself,
Taking the form of a servant. (Phil.2: 6-7)

In these words we see Jesus’ understanding of what was asked of Him in bringing His Father’s message of love into the world…that He would serve others with every gift of nature and grace given to Him in becoming human. Before He died Jesus acted out his servanthood in a way unforgettable and startling to His disciples by washing their feet.

In Lent we enter a particular time of renewing and deepening our relationship with God through Jesus by spending time reading, praying, and contemplating His life and actions with the desire to become more like Him so we can continue His work of servanthood in today’s world. If we desire to become more like Him, we too must become more and more emptied of ourselves so we might serve others.

As we celebrate Lent we would like to share with you a wonderful blessing and inpouring of the Holy Spirit which helped us to act out symbolically this servanthood and grow in desire to live it more fully as an organization.

Youth with a Mission, a Christian evangelical organization working in Swaziland and led by Jim and Lisa Nave, had received a large number of new Nike sneakers. The organization which gave it asked only that a ceremony of foot washing be done before the sneakers be given. Jim and Lisa along with Petros and Elizabeth Kunene, Mathew and Nini came to the Mission and asked Sr. Barbara and I if they could wash our feet and pray over us. We were very touched by the experience. And then at the end we were surprised to receive new Nikes. In reflecting on the experience we desired very much to do the same for our entire staff of about 43 local people. Youth with a Mission agreed and we set the date for our February staff meeting.

When the day arrived we all praised God in song and then Petros Kunene spoke to the staff (in siSwati) about the good work the staff do daily as servants of the community who are sick, orphaned, without sufficient food and often voiceless. The scripture passage from St. John was read and Sr. Barbara and I went around the room washing the feet of all the staff while Jim, Lisa, Petros, Elizabeth, Mathew and Nini prayed over each and every staff member. We asked God to make us true servants like His Son, Jesus. We ended by coming together in a circle of about 50 of us to sing and pray over Youth with a Mission who had brought us such blessing.

When the shoes were brought in (with the correct size for each staff member!) everyone was surprised and happy, but clearly the inpouring of the Holy Spirit which was given to all of us made the shoes secondary in the experience. Many of the staff are very poor people themselves, like the people they serve each day and yet it was clear that all knew the true gift which had been given was a renewal of our commitment to be Jesus as we serve Jesus among His more vulnerable children.

May you also in God’s great love know Him again and more closely in this time of contemplating more closely His life as a servant of all, His suffering, death and resurrection.

With grateful hearts,
Srs. Diane and Barbara