Thursday, 15 January 2004

Rome(Fides Service) – Here is a message of hope and cheer sent to Fides Service by Archbishop Simon Ntamwana of Gitega who is also President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Burundi. His words of love and hope are a source of comfort not only for Christians in Burundi but for all believers.
“We must never stop the path of love. These words of a spiritual Father whom I hold in high esteem, Saint Augustine (see his comment on Ps 54,4), are a pressing appeal for everyone but especially for us, the men and women of Burundi after ten years of fratricidal war. We see everywhere scenes of desolation, homicidal destruction, fields and property returned to the wild condition. Our country’s relations with the international community are totally paralysed. “We must never stop the path of love!" we would go immediately to death and ruin! "Just as a house, if the owner has left, falls into darkness and ruin and becomes full of dirt and filth; in the same way the soul abandoned by Love, by God who is love and is our Teacher, is filled with the shadows of sin, shame, evil desires and total scorn". "Woe to the road along which no one walks and where the voice of man is no longer heard! It becomes a den of ferocious beasts. Woe to the soul whom the Lord no longer visits and where his voice no longer puts to flight the ferocious beasts of spiritual evil! Woe to the house where the own no longer lives! Woe to the land which has no one to work it!" "Woe to the ship without helmsman: it will drift and be battered by waves and tempest! Woe to the soul without the true helmsman, Christ: because in the sea, abandoned to the cruelty of the shadows, tossed by the waves of passions, attacked by evil spirits, it goes to ruin "."Woe to the soul without Christ to tend to it with passion making it bear the sweet fruits of the Spirit! In fact, abandoned, filled with weeds and thistles, it bears no fruit except for the fire. Woe to the soul without her Master, Christ, living in her ! Because deserted, suffocated by the stench of passions she becomes the home of vice " (From the homily of the 4th century IV Liturgy of the Hours). Let us embrace the regal path of forgiveness and reconciliation. "Le us never stop the path of love!" This Christmas message for 2003 is for all who are willing to open their heart to Christ, the love of the Father for the world (Jn. 3,16) and to fraternal reconciliation which cannot be renounced. This call is particularly pressing for us, now that considerable efforts for peace have been achieved. I wish all of you dear brothers and sisters whom I carry in my Bishop’s heart, a new year 2004, which will remove all obstacles on the Path of Love who is Christ. With profound gratitude
Archbishop of Gitega
(Fides Service 15/1/2004, lines 38 words 513)