CONSOLATION – LIBERATION (1)
To understand the meaning and practice of consolation from the perspective of liberation they must be considered in the context of those challenges presented by our present historical situation. Consolation implies adherence to the faith that inspires our efforts to be more supportive and engaged, to get closer to the incarnate God who intervened in our own history. Consolation involves a culture of peace rooted in justice and mercy. It is a definitive option for the poor who so often on our continent are women. Women continue to suffer oppression because of cultural, social and religious circumstances.
Women in the Bible: Agents of Consolation/Liberation
In Exodus, God is a consoler and a liberator; he not only notes the cries, sorrows and sufferings of his people and becomes directly involved in the process of freeing them from Pharaoh’s tyranny (Cf. Ps 77). Prayers of the great Biblical heroines show prayer as a source of consolation/liberation: Judith, Esther, Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Jud 13,5-7; Esther 4,19; Lk 1,46-55) and the prayer of Samson (Judges 15,28). In the context of liberation these prayers demonstrate that God actively guides human history and his saving power is directed especially to the poor and the weak. The Canticle of Mary reveals that God inspires our actions; he prompts us to take responsibility for people’s lives and to struggle against injustice in our society. We pray that he will raise up new guides and prophets in our midst; we pray that he will inspire us to continue our journey towards freedom; we pray for new Moses, Deborahs, Judiths, Davids, Helder Câmaras, Mother Teresas, Martin Luther Kings and Oscar Romeros. May God inspire all of our missionaries to lay the foundations of peace.
Ordinary/Extraordinary or “the mystique of consolation/liberation”
Life is a great mystery . Through mysticism we can contemplate, enter into and live this great mystery. For Allamano this involves doing the ordinary and the every-day with a view to the extraordinary. We become active contemplatives and do our very best without ostentation. We must take this daily struggle to heart. This struggle is really more resistance – not succumbing to fatigue, discouragement or frustration.
There are certain elements that can help us live this mysticism.
1. Teaching justice and peace as a way to overcome institutionalized violence.
We must ask ourselves: how can we make our communities places where we learn justice and peace as means to overcome institutionalized violence? There are many answers to this question: we must work on our language and communication skills, on the way we share and carry out alternative projects; we must keep our language open, welcoming and totally without discrimination and do our best to include as many people as possible in our community activities. Finally we must be more concerned with personal growth (how we mature as individuals) than with concrete or material results.
2. Learning to live the community program as a means to overcome that globalization which excludes local culture (localization).
In this framework consolation/liberation must become increasingly a community activity. The time of individual heroism is past; the one-man show often harmed the missions and produced little genuine evangelization. In this era of savage globalization local communities must become the focus of our missions. These communities must hear the word of God, absorb it and devise ways of communicating it in the local language. To appreciate local culture we must understand its history, customs and holidays. This involves being open to expressions of the local community’s deepest values and needs: by discovering and following a path to the Kingdom the missionary “facilitates the work of the Spirit.”
3. Celebrating the struggles and victories of the coming Kingdom.
In the context of life and history one of faith’s great challenges is celebrating our victories and activities. In the era of the “religious marketplace” celebration is often synonymous with “emotion”, intimacy with or manipulation of the sacred. More than ever we strive to experience in the present what we hope for in faith. We must make the perspective of liberation the universal Gospel norm. In its immanent dimension the Kingdom of God is identified with a society of justice and peace which translates the promise of salvation into historical liberation. A Christianity that cannot link religion and happiness has no appeal in the present. Our celebrations must involve the whole of our humanity: our hearts, our minds, our attempts to find meaning in historical events, God’s revelation to our communities.
Mary, the Consoler: the feminine as a pledge of a fuller and more mature humanity
Mary – the place where a fuller humanity comes to birth
Through the incarnation Mary gives historical and human form to the mystery of God. She is the prototype of mankind’s response to God’s intervention in history. Simultaneously Mary is humanity seeking fulfillment in God. Nurturing peace and reconciliation in her bosom she represents the community; she is God’s message – Gospel – to a world overwhelmed by clouds of injustice.
Mary, the historical hope of the coming Kingdom
Mary’s expectation of the fulfillment of God’s promises is active and real. Mary is the caring and careful feminine - ethical strength - who carries out her part in God’s plan day by day, relentlessly and with dispatch – a journey of faith (Lumen Gentium, 58). Visiting her cousin Elizabeth she shares the joy and enthusiasm of God’s presence – Emmanuel – in the midst of the poor.
Mary: from you spring truth, justice and peace
The truth is that Jesus Christ – God in a human form – raises all mankind to the level of sons and daughters of God! In this same spirit which generated Christ, a new mankind, in your bosom we and the poor long for dignity and fullness of life. From you, Mary, justice is born; justice which is basically reconciliation, integration, overcoming the antagonism which causes power-struggles and exclusion. From you, Mary, we learn how to live in a framework of justice; we experience peace as total harmony, a culture of solidarity, of sharing and taking part in the life of Communion (God-mankind-cosmos).
1. Encourage life; learn to care for children; cultivate a garden; learn to be attentive to the sick; visit hospices for the suffering; respect and help women gain self-esteem; speak truth about violence; help to replant forests; take part in movements for justice and peace – movements for the landless, the homeless, immigrants, minority groups that suffer discrimination.
2. Learn to love all things, to appreciate the beauty of everything in the natural world.
3. Come to grips with personal, inter-personal and community conflict and suffering.
4. Promote responsible leadership – share decisions and organization as much as possible.
5. Don’t rely on in outside authorities or structures; learn to trust the intuition and creativity of the soul – it is there the Spirit speaks. Cultivate prayer, silence and meditation.
Father Ricardo Castro
(1) Space limitations have made it impossible to reproduce Father Ricardo Castro’s whole article on Consolation/Liberation. The article is rich with thoughts and suggestions. Anyone who wants to read the whole article should speak to the author.