Monday, June 1, 2015


Tuesday of the 5th week of Easter (Acts 14:19-28; Jn 14:27-31) 

                                                            ‘MY PEACE I GIVE TO YOU’ 
At the instigation of the visiting Jews, Paul was stoned and left half dead. He regained consciousness and continue to preach the Gospel saying, ‘through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’ It's obvious that he did not hold anything against those who stoned him, rather he saw it from the perspective of the Kingdom of God. ''I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength'' (Phil 4:13). In the Gospel of today Jesus declares, ''Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.'' What kind of peace is Christ offering us? 

From Paul we see that the peace Christ offers is stronger than any tribulations. It is a peace tested on the Cross to overcome every cross. The world rejects such peace and tells us that peace is the absence of cross. In fact, what the world offers is momentary excitement. Jesus makes peace by laying down His life.''And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross'' (Col 1:20). Since Christ died once for all, it means that only Him can give us peace.  
For Paul, If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Rm 14:8). So the peace of Lord, which comes through the Cross and is stronger than any cross, must be received as a gift. It is a gift we receive when we receive the Lord. Thus, the peace of Jesus begins in the individual who is reconciled with God. Unless we are at peace with God, we know no peace! Jesus said to the disciples on mission, ''Whatever house you enter, first say, peace be to this house!'' (Lk 10:5). Peace comes when we receive Jesus as our savior. He is the king of Peace.

The First Fruit of The Ascension

‘If I do not go, the Advocate will not come’’ (Jn 16:7). Jesus’ ascension opened way for the Holy Spirit to come. His ascension was not a departure; He ascended but still present in the Spirit and the Eucharist. With His Ascension, humanity now has a sure reference in God. Our pleas can be heard through Jesus. Again His ascension asserts the universality of salvation!

While we are looking upwards waiting for the Holy Spirit, the Virgin is already full of the Holy Spirit. She is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. It implies that she is already sharing in the fruits of the Ascension, which includes the universality of her motherhood. She is the Mother to all of whom Jesus is the Saviour.

Mary cannot exercise her universal motherhood if limited by time and space. So, being assumed into Heaven, she shares closely to Jesus' Ascension. Her life is closely tied to that of Jesus. Being in God, body and soul, Mary shares in extra ordinary way in the merits of Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension. Her participation enlivens our hope that we too shall be who she is already.

Being in God, and only in God, can she exercise her universal motherhood on all the faithful. Thus, it is through the power of God that Mary can hear the prayers of her children all over the world. Her apparitions and interventions in the lives of the faithful are possible because of her insertion in the power of God as the Daughter of the Most High, Mother of the Son and Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Thus her motherly care glorifies the Lord as the Most High lifts her up in her lowliness.

Therefore, without the Ascension of Jesus, the Assumption of Mary would not be possible and would lack meaning. Jesus’ Ascension bore its first fruit in Mary. And she manifests the beauty and glory of the Ascension.

Solemnity of the Ascension
Ss Joachim & Ann, Ijegun, Lagos.
14th May, 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015


The liturgy of the Church gives room for silence. We see this in the brief pauses before prayers, the prolonged pause after the homily and Holy Communion, etc. These moments of silence indicate that in the Mass, we offer, not just external gestures or acts, but our whole selves; our hidden selves. Silence is important in the Liturgy.

It gives room for the internalization of the mysteries we celebrate, or rather, the personalization of the objective sacrifice of the Body of Christ, the Church. If silence is destroyed, the celebration becomes more external than internal, and may be reduced to a ‘’show’’. The moments of silence in the Liturgy give deeper meaning to our singing and clapping.

In fact, it is as if all the moments of ‘’noise’’ are directed towards the period of silence and awaits it. Silence shines out in the liturgy as the culminating point of our external gestures. In other words, without this heightening point, the external gestures appear to be open ended. And when this occurs, in-depth and lasting fulfillment from these external gestures may not be felt.

As an act, silence enables us to open our inner life to the spiritual reality we celebrate. As the liturgy is the action of Christ through the Church, we must learn to give way to Christ to lead us and draw us to a deeper communion. We must not forget that it is around His table that we gather; we must not forget that the priest only stands in persona Christi, i.e. it is Jesus who offers Himself but through the action of the Church. These deep mysteries are loudly expressed in the liturgy when we pause before prayers and observe moments of silence. Here silence speaks to us about the Unseen, and deepens us into the mystery we celebrate.

Links to previous articles in the series 'Why am I afraid of Silence?'
Part I: Silence Confronts
part II: The Nature of Silence (a): Silence as Behaviour
(b): 'The Conscious Rest'
  (c) Silence and Spirituality

Fr Jude Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help,
Ugwogo-Nike, Enugu, Nigeria.
Feast of Pentecost, May 24, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Part II (C) Silence and Spirituality
If silence is an act, and a form of communication, why can’t it be used as a means of prayer? Since we can pass message to each in silence, then we can equally interact with God in silence. God sees in secret and hears the promptings of our hearts (Mt 6:18, Rm 8:27). Our ability to communicate in silence is one of those unique qualities of man that distinguishes him from other animals, and makes him ‘little less than the gods’(Ps 8:5). God communicates to us both in silence and in speech, and we can reach Him or rather, respond to Him in both ways.

In silence we communicate from the heart, not just lip’s service! More so, we communicate with the heart. Further still, in silence we communicate the heart! This is where friendship and bond are formed. Hence, prayer offered in silence (or from the silence of the heart) transforms and unites us the more with God.

The restless and noisy society we commonly experience these days is a reflection of the people’s restless hearts, which remain restless until they rest in God, as St. Augustine would say. A heart that encounters God is less noisy and more humble. Calmness and tranquillity are part of the strength of those filled with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, silence is a grace. Thus, we not only need to pray in silence, we equally need to pray for the gift of silence.

‘Be still and know that I am God’ (Ps 46:10). Allowing God to lead the way; to determine the paths we follow, is a grace beyond measure. It is in the stillness of our hearts that we can recognize the God who is active in our lives, give way to Him and follow accordingly. Silence is a grace, a treasure, a platform for interpersonal encounter with God. It is a catalyst to spiritual growth.

Links to previous articles in the series 'Why am I afraid of Silence?'
Part I: Silence Confronts
part II: The Nature of Silence (a): Silence as Behaviour
(b): 'The Conscious Rest'

Friday, May 22, 2015


WHY AM I AFRAID OF SILENCE? PART II: The Nature of Silence (b) The Conscious Rest
We continue to look at the inner life of silence. From the preceding write-ups, we are convinced that silence is an act. As the Psychologist postulated, it can be learned or unlearned. If silence belongs to the realm of action, it then means it is self-generated and involves an active mind.  It is not mere passivity. This is because a silent man is attentive, or rather, he projects his mind to gather and process information at the same time. He picks up and retains data more efficiently.
This twofold dimensional reflective psychological projection consumes energy. Simply put: silence can be energy sapping and can generate tension. So one not schooled in it can easily become uncomfortable when confronted by silence; he gets wearied out by it. In the article below (, it was discovered that frequent exposure to ‘background noise’ leads to fear of silence.
On the other hand, silence can be healthy and energy-giving. It can be a source of replenishing lost strength and healing wounds. As an act that goes in the two directions—outwards and inwards—it bounces back on us to restore lost confidence. Since silence is first and foremost and internal job, it recreates the inner self. In silence we do not merely give ourselves out, rather we receive more than we give out i.e. less information is given out, more is accumulated. Though silence is a conscious act, it inclines one to the direction of inactivity. Ironically, we can say that in silence the mind is consciously at rest.  ‘’Conscious rest’’ is another name I give to silence. Thus, we are refreshed and internally more secure when we embrace silence. Yes, this can be obvious if we consider that the gathering and assimilation of more data brings confidence and tranquillity to the silent mind.
From the foregoing, it is obvious that I am afraid of silence when it confronts me. And it confronts me when I do not practice it.  Therefore, the key to overcoming the fear of silence is to keep learning it or practicing it. The extent of the uneasiness we experience when confronted by silence goes a long way to show how poor a student are we at the school of silence.

Fr. Jude C. Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Mother of Perpetual Help Shrine,
Ugwogo-Nike, Enugu, Nigeria.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

WHY AM I AFRAID OF SILENCE? II: Silence as Behaviour

After some years of break, I am making a renewed effort to continue the reflection I published in 2009 titled, WHY AM I AFRAID OF SILENCE? Click here for the first part, titled ‘Silence Confronts’ A guest writer has spurred me on to continue the reflection by initiating part 2, which attempts to answer the question: ‘What kind of silence am I afraid of?’ To answer this question, we must look at the nature of silence. Our guest writer, as a Psychologist, views silence from the dimension of human actions or behaviour. Subsequently, we shall draw other impacts of silence, including spirituality and relationship.


                                                  SILENCE AS BEHAVIOUR

What do we understand by silence?
Silence is said to mean the absence of intentional sounds. By intentional sounds we mean things we turn on, like TVs. I-pods, words we speak, and the ones we hear, music, game sounds, etc. By this definition of silence, we can say that silence is a purposeful quietness, and also an action.

Fear of silence is also said to be a learnt behaviour. This theory can be supported with a research conducted by Drs Michael Bittman and Mark Sipthorp with 580 undergraduate students.[1] This research was undertaken over six years, and the result shows that constant accessibility and exposure to background media leads to fear of silence. Since fear of silence of silence is a learnt behaviour, it can also be unlearned by confronting the experience of silence.
Silence implies consent. This is a concept in "Social Interaction" which means that people tend to assume silence to an action as tacit approval of that action. For instance, when there is an issue and you are being silent, others may interpret that as consent. Silence on the other hand can mean objecting. Example, if somebody calls you an idiot and you remain silent, it can mean that the person is too much of an idiot to deserve a response.

Summarily, silence is an action which implies consent and also an objection, depending on the purpose it is being used.
Written by:
Adachukwu Umeh, B.Sc. Psy

[1]Hofmann, G. (2013). Our Fear of Silence.Psych Central.Retrieved on April  23, 2015 from

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Silence and Joy!

In this reflection I would like to highlight two aspects of Easter which might seem contradictory, but they are aspects of our faith which co-exist in every authentic Christian.

The first is SILENCE
On Holy Thursday evening we ended our celebration in Silence: the whole Church fell silent at the stripping of the altar, at the watching and waiting with Jesus, at the beginning of his Passion. The bells were silenced, the lights were dimmed, a physical silence encouraged us to go deeper into an interior silence in the face of the mystery of a suffering God.

The Stations of the Cross on Friday morning led us through the physical and emotional pain of Jesus as condemned, Jesus as faltering on his Way of the Cross, till we reached the Solemn Celebration of his death in the afternoon –when Jesus experienced the silence of the Father. Our Liturgy began and ended in solemn silence.

The silence of the tomb continued all day Saturday, silence and stillness over all the earth as the body of Jesus lay in the tomb. In the silence of Holy Saturday we touch on inner silence of God, the silence of the descent into the realm of the dead, the silence of waiting. Then sometime in the deep silence of the night Jesus is raised from the dead: the Resurrection happens in silence. It is not seen by anyone, it is not heard by anyone, it is a miracle heralding a completely new kind of existence, for which we have no adequate language, no adequate symbols, no adequate explanation. It transforms our stuttering silence into the silence which is God.

The silence of the Resurrection means that silence can be a key to the greatest and most overwhelming mystery there is: that Jesus did not remain dead but broke through to Resurrection life, and infinitely significant for us, that we too can share his Risen life, already.

The second aspect is JOY
An irrepressible aspect of the Resurrection is JOY: the joy of overcoming death, the joy of the new kind of existence, the joy of God. The joy of the Resurrection permeates all Christian existence:

We encounter Christian joy already in the Annunciation :Rejoice. It is echoes in Mary’s song of Joy “My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”.

Jesus remarked that he taught the things of God “so that my joy may be in you”.

The disciples “rejoiced” at the sight of the Risen Christ and the Acts of the Apostles tell us that wherever the disciples went “there was great joy” not withstanding the fierce persecutions.

The Joy of the Resurrection is the Joy of New Birth: that we are changed, that change for the better is always possible. Pope Francis talks about “the great stream of JOY” into which we are plunged, a stream of joy which can purify us, which can wash away old way of living and doing things.

Easter joy is revolutionary: it gives hope a permanent and prominent role in everyday life. And without hope life would become meaningless and unbearable : “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain”

I suggest that there is a golden thread connecting Silence and Joy: it is the hidden life of the Spirit in us. “The life you have is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). This means that we can always relate to God through silence, it means that nothing –not even death- can quench the profound joy of knowing and sharing the New Life of the Risen Christ.

Easter Reflection 2015
From the Provincial Superior
Redempotrists of South Africa.
Sent in by, Fr Andrew Ogbu, C.Ss.R 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Value of Life

Burial traditions vary from culture to culture. Just as different religions and sects attach varying rites to burial, it is quit uncommon to see a group of people without a burial tradition. Even where some people claim to be atheists, they still attach certain rituals to burials. Nevertheless, some burial rites can be more elaborate and expensive, while others are simple and less expensive. Why are cultures not indifferent to burial, such that the dead can be discarded without any formal or socially accepted formula?

Our gathering here this afternoon from different parts of the country, in a cultural and grand style, is a reflection of how we value life. The value which a culture places on life is clearly  reflected in their burial ceremonies. The Igbos of Nigeria value human life so much. That is why a lot of energy, time and importance is put into their burial rites. In other words, the burial rites of Ndi Igbo can be said to be a ‘Celebration of Life’.

Hence, during the burial rites of men and women whom the society considers to be advanced in age, you would see men and women who are either family members,  friends of the deceased or close relations in matching attires, various cultural troupes would be in attendance, firing of cannons, use of sirens and of course, cooking of different delicacies and the serving of assorted drinks. These gestures are ways of saying: ‘if we had our way, we would have made it different because we love to live'. Thus, our gathering here today for the burial of our Daughter, Sister, Mother and Grandmother; Madam Patricia Chinakwaeze, is equally a way of saying, if it were within our power, we won’t have let our her go.

Since it is not within our power, in a way, we have been summoned here by a force beyond our power—the power of death! Since we are helpless, at the strike of death we feel the pain; tears roll. The tears too join in expressing our helplessness and how we wish it were different.

Nevertheless, we are here today as Christians. This makes a lot of difference. As Christians, our value for life is located in Jesus Christ. It is from Him that we draw meaning for life and death. Thus, our burial rite, marked with this Eucharistic celebration, has become an expression of the value for the life we share in Jesus Christ.

As Christians then, we will cry because we miss our mother but we will not despair; no one is going to jump into the grave! This is because in Jesus we have come to know that our life is a pilgrimage, and death is just the beginning of life. Thus, our burial rite has become an act of sowing her like a mustard seed to germinate through the Resurrection of Christ into eternity, where she will become a mighty tree of blessing. In Jesus we come to realize that we are not just left helpless under the destroying power of death, but rather we are under grace from Jesus’ triumph over death on the Cross. Hence every Christian burial is a proclamation of Jesus’s victory over death, which gives us hope.

Without Christ Jesus, our natural value for life cannot sustain us. We would despair when summoned by the force of death, and this in turn would diminish our value for life. That is why societies that reject Christ will always be permeated by the culture of death and low respect for human life.

We pray at this Mass that God will grant Madam Patricia Chinakweze a share in His Kingdom.


Fr Jude C. Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Holy Mass Celebrated at Late Madam Patricia Chinakweze compound
Eziagu Enugu, Nigeria
6th February, 2015.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015


I want to share with you the fruit of a discussion I had with a friend about spiritual growth last December. Many of us experience, at one time or the other, a deeper yearning for goodness, truth, beauty—God and His righteousness (cf. Mt 6:33). At some point, we might be wondering if we are making any progress at all or retarding on the journey. The discussion I had with my friend was an attempt to answer one question: What does it mean to grow spiritually?

It means to grow in the personal realization of how much one is loved by God. This deepened awareness of God’s love as experienced by the believer constitutes spiritual growth. This is based on the fact that it is God who loved us first, and our love for God, therefore, is a response (1 Jn 4:7-12). It implies then that we can only respond to the extent that we are aware of God’s love for us. This response to God’s love is a pilgrimage of faith! Furthermore, since God’s love is Incarnate, it implies that our daily experiences can now testify to God’s love. Even our negative experiences (sin) can equally remind us of how we have distanced ourselves from God’s love, for where sin increased, grace increased the greater (Rm 5:20).

Though the realization of God’s love, which leads to spiritual growth, is personal, it nonetheless, draws from and leads back to communion. Since our spiritual growth is a function of our realization of how much we are loved personally by God, it is obvious that any activity that does not deepen this realization will have little or no impact on us spiritually, no matter how strenuous such activity might be.


If our spiritual life can be summed up as a response to God’s love, the following implications are inherent.

1.       HUMILITY: The realization of God’s gracious love for the believer humbles him. Humility is the bedrock of the Spiritual life. Therefore, the practice of acts of humility accelerates spiritual growth.

2.       HISTORY: Through the Incarnation the love of God has come to share in our history. And a believer who experiences and responds to God’s love will begin to understand how it has shaped his life. In other words, a personal realization of God’s love implicitly includes a realization of the history of this love in one’s life. By connecting this awareness of God’s love to one’s history, the deepened realization translates into a lived experience! There is history of experience. Since the love is incarnate, our realization of this love follows the pattern of our lived experiences and accumulates a residue of the history of God’s love-journey with the individual. Therefore, being conscious of one’s journey with God enhances spiritual growth.

3.       Time: Though the realization of God’s love as expressed in spiritual activities takes cognizance of the past, with an eye into the future, it can only be actualized in the present (cf. 2Cor 6:2). We live ‘now’ in the presence of God. Therefore, a believer can only progress spiritually if he realizes in his present experience that God loves him, and allows this realization to become intricate part of his present experience.

Mary, Mother of love, is a sure way to deepen our response to God’s love for us. Devotion to Mary keeps on the steady path to spiritual growth.

 Fr Jude Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
5th February, 2015