Mr Jean Paul Tiotsap, Associate of the Daughters of Jesus in South Cameroon, gives us the quintessence of two days of teaching given by Sr Henriette Danet dj at the beginning of 2023.
At the beginning of this year, the Associates in Cameroon were granted the grace of a spiritual renewal based on prayer, teaching, listening, sharing, and relaxation, punctuated by songs of openness to the Holy Spirit, with Sister Henriette Danet, assisted by Sisters Elisabeth Monvoisin and Irène Kouassi.
Baptised in Christ
Through a projection of striking images of the Holy Land, the associates spiritually witnessed the journey of Jesus :
- who in all humility descended to the ranks of fishermen to receive the baptism of John the Baptist in the waters of the Jordan. “Behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him” “This is my son, my beloved.” (Gospel of St Matthew, ch 3, 16-17)
- In an ambiance of the renewal of our own baptism: baptized in Christ, we have received the Holy Spirit and we are all children of God. Having received the Holy Spirit, this same spirit will lead Jesus to the desert where he will be tempted by the devil.
The desert, a vast expanse of sand dunes, arid, without water, without food, a strong symbol of the difficult times in our lives that the Lord himself allows in order to prepare, train and equip us for our mission. As a result of this, we can do great things like Jesus and have the strength to humanise and make disciples too.
The fire of the origins
In order to better understand the charism of the Daughters of Jesus, what could be more natural than to look back at the history of the great adventures of men and women who, over time, allowed themselves to be consumed by the fire of the humanity of the Son of God, and so left us with the legacy of the charism that the Associates share with the community of the Daughters of Jesus today.
As an Associate, it is important to understand what we adhere to, and to keep in mind the foundations of this attachment to the community of the Daughters of Jesus. These foundations are summarised in this extract from the International Assembly of Associates in 2016.
« Born of the fire of that love which Jesus came to kindle on earth”,
«Looking at all things from the perspective of the poor”,
« Taking care of the poor, coming to the aid of all distress”.
Using several historical realities, illustrations, and extracts from the Gospel, Sister Henriette enabled the Cameroonian Associates present at this retreat to appropriate the humanising mission of the Daughters of Jesus, Love of the poor – care of the body – compassion. A true “renewal of the grace of the origins“.
Honoring the humanity of Jesus
Understanding the humanity of our Lord Jesus in the manner of Saint Teresa of Avila will remain one of the strong messages that Sister Henriette conveyed to the Associates. Beyond any purely spiritual consideration of Jesus, Saint Teresa invites everyone to see him as a close friend.
“If you make a habit of having him near you, you will never be without him. He will never abandon you.”
(The Way of Perfection, ch 26)
If we make Jesus our daily companion we will find solutions to all our difficulties. The image of Jesus at the well of the Samaritan woman illustrated this well as did a film projection of the story of the son of the king’s officer who was ill (Gospel of St John ch 4,46).
Considering Jesus as human, or better in his humanity, brings us closer to him as the Son of God. Thus comforted and convinced of his abiding presence by our side, we walk with confidence in the face of all adversity. This experience of Jesus with us, Jesus close to us, will be reflected in the way we read the Word, no longer in an abstract way, but as participants in the scene we are reading. Reading and living the Gospel with Jesus, in the presence of Jesus, makes us more aware of his holy humanity.
Called to prayer
Two days with Sister Henriette were enough for the Associates of Yaoundé and North Cameroon to understand the mystery of the breaking of the bread throughout the thirty years of the life of Jesus, Son of God.
Jesus performed many miracles and among them several involving bread. He fed many thousands of people with bread and each time there was some food left over, a bread that never ends. A whole life of witnessing to the mystery of the Son of God that many would only understand after his death on the cross. “Do you not yet understand?” (Gospel of St Mark ch 8, 21)
The breaking of the bread, which becomes the body and blood of Jesus, would thus become the foundation of our faith as Christians, and the institution of the Eucharist, a call to prayer, the great prayer of the Eucharistic celebrations in memory of Jesus.
This experience was a real “ray of sunshine” for the Associates in Cameroon. For two days, Sister Henriette passed on the torch of the charism of the Daughters of Jesus. She invited us to allow ourselves to be led along the paths of humanity, to be consumed by the “fire of the origins” in order to put ourselves at the service of the “poor” while making disciples in the manner of Jesus. All was well at the end of a beautiful Eucharistic celebration celebrated by “an associate” like no other: Father Prosper Ngassa.
Mr Jean Paul Tiotsap
Associate of the daughters of Jesus, Cameroon