Two days of 2014 marked this; 24th and 31st December. It is a time when both Christians and non Christians have a bee hive of activities around the clock. Christ is yet to be born and the New Year to be ushered in; for the latter business booms to maximum. But in Kizito house Novitiate community ye trends were very different. As a community we decided to have a special program on the two dates; ie A moment of recollection and prayer-solitude in the mountains.
24th December saw us for Loruvani Hills. Had we become mountain climbers in one way or another? No ,we sought to alone in prayer just with Jesus. We set off from the community at around 10:30 am with a bright day’s weather. Reaching the starting point; St. Simon the Apostle parish at Loruvani, with the MSOLA(Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa) in the neighbourhood, a simple drizzle that took by surprise never discouraged us. We were determined and we meant to start in the church which unfortunately was locked at that moment of arrival. Led by our Novice Master, Fr. Kizito, we wasted no time but headed for our pilgrimage destination-the hills.
An increase in the rain caused us a setback and we had to think twice. Here I saw greater courage than never before especially from the Novices who were not any closer to retreating or surrendering. Summing up the situation in agreement, we decided to head back to the church, have our Mid-day prayers and the rosary, hoping that the weather could change then we proceed. Unfortunately the rain increased even the more. Our faith was tested I will say! Considering the time factor we decided that each one go on with personal prayer moments with Jesus and meditation. Later at around 3:30 pm, we met together and thus concluded. We also paid a visit to the MSOLA community nearby to greet them and to wish them a Merry Christmas. Thereafter our journey homewards commenced so as to prepare for the vigil mass and on the occasion to celebrate with the entire Assumptionist congregation, the 164th Anniversary of the Augustinians of the Assumption.
Despite a few disappointments in the course of the day, we felt really convinced and ready to receive the new born child, Jesus Christ. To make mention of it all, the Christmas was worthy celebrating.
But this was just the beginning. We aimed for greater heights. On e may ask why two days of fasting and prayer more so on days when everybody is in the moods of celebration? Was the store running dry?! As you continue reading patiently, all your thirst will be quenched.
Yes, Jesus was yet to be born and now we were ushering in the New Year. Why not just enjoy ourselves? This we did to have a special moment with our Lord. And also, we decided to fast on these two days so that what we should have enjoyed goes to the poor and vulnerable. On the other hand, we meant to be with Jesus in so humble a manger; He the King and Saviour yet also God was born.
This time round on 3rd, we headed for Kisongo, ’Canaan’ pilgrimage site. No one dared take breakfast. Fr. Arnold drove us there and on arrival we lost no time, there and then, armed with our prayer books and a few necessities. “The Directory” gave us our beginning orientation with a sharing on “Silence”. I led in the way of the cross and in and with Christ we faced the hills. As we proceeded, Novices Dominic, Edward and Kizito alternatively joined in leading the other stations so did the turns get on.
That place is just good enough to bring one more closely to Jesus’ experience up to Calvary. As you climb up the hills from one station to another, believe me or not, you share bit by bit in Christ’s agony and yet it is such a beautiful experience. What a wonderful moment which brought us to Jesus! “At certain moments without a wooden cross upon my shoulders, no whips on my back, no thorny crown, kicks, slaps, wounds bleeding, I was just imagining the great love Jesus had for each one of us that kept Him going” Getting to the top of the final hill and the last station, I felt really Jesus was present especially that I never heard one complain, no dry lips, all was smiles!
Thereafter, it was a moment of solitude and prayer; each one in a silent place to the advantage of the silence in the area until 4:00 pm when we met again for the concluding prayer then started our journey down the hill and later homewards to prepare for the New Year vigil mass.
Talk of the “Desert” we experienced, we left our community and set off to spend silent moments in prayer and meditation, no food till evening. Like Jesus, we made it even though we never met the devil to tempt us directly ,no stones to change into bread etc.
All in all, I thank God for such an experience.
HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS 2015.
Novice Augustine Joe Byamukama
Kizito House( Arusha Tz),2014-2015