Category Archives: Reflection

Conversion of Life


Once upon a time there was a poor woman, and a very selfish woman she was.  One day she died leaving not a single good deed behind.  The devil caught hold of her and plunged her into hell.  Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 1.59.11 PM

Her guardian angel stood by and wondered what good deed of hers he could remember to tell God about.  The angel mentioned, “Why, she once pulled up an onion from her garden and gave it to a beggar woman.”

And God replied, “You take that onion then, hold it out to her in hell and let her take hold of it and be pulled out by it.  If you can pull her out of hell, let her come into paradise.  But if the onion breaks, then the woman must stay where she is.”

The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion toward her.  “Come and catch hold,” cried the angel “I’ll pull you out.”  And he began cautiously pulling her out.  He had almost pulled her out when the other sinners in hell, seeing how she was being saved, began clutching hold of her legs so they, too could be pulled out. 

However, she was a very selfish woman and began kicking at them.  “I’m to be pulled out, not you.  It’s my onion, not yours.  Let go.”  As soon as she uttered these words, the onion broke.  The woman fell back into hell where she remained to this day. (The Onion by Fydor Dostoevski)


During the season of Lent in our Catholic tradition the church offers us the opportunity to embark on a journey of transformation and change.   The journey of transformation begins with the confrontation of oneself – with oneself in one’s sinfulness, untruthfulness and wounded-ness.  As self-confrontation begins, one comes to true self-knowledge, to compassion and communion with self and others.

Experiences of life, if we have been reflective over the years, reflect to us that as we grow in the life of faith, grounded in Christ, we become increasingly aware of areas of life we need to change.  No family, place of employment, local community or any established institute is a place where those who are already perfect live in perpetual harmony but an organic community subject to the struggles that beset every person.  Often as people of varying dispositions and diverse personal histories try to live and work together in the fishbowl intimacy of human relations, these struggles intensify.


Well, maybe like the old woman in the story of the onion, we tend towards selfish behaviour that inflates our ego and opinion of ourselves.  In the process of ourselves climbing onto the pedestal of self importance we push our neighbours and even those we love into the shadow of our goodness.

The story of the onion would appear to emphasise the importance of doing good deeds which we all know are the right things to do.  However, the challenge this Lent might be to look at the reasons why we do the good deeds we do or why we fail to do the good we know we are called to do?  What are our attitudes and our motivations?  What do we hope to gain for ourselves?  What do I need to change in myself? etc…

This challenge can hold true for any area of our lives that we want to change this Lent, with God’s grace.

BUT before we begin our Lenten resolutions for change let us remind ourselves that we are not asked to wallow in guilt or engage in belittling who we are but truly to know ourselves always in the presence of an all-seeing, all-loving God who calls us to repentance.  Our self-will frequently leads us into ways that distance us from our Creator, but the return home is always a celebration of grace and a feast of delight.  We need not be overly ashamed of our sinfulness as this is the human condition but we need to acknowledge that we are sinful and need conversion.  This is a daily challenge against Pride, Laziness, Lust, Anger, Fear, Jealousy, etc.

Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 1.50.22 PMWe are not to forget that God’s power is his love, and that our misery is no obstacle to that love.  On the contrary, St Francis of Sales affirms that our need serves as a kind of throne for Divine Love.  Often times we think too much about our own wretched selves, and that is why we are so unhappy.

The beautiful saying of St Augustine is well  known:

‘We are made for God, and our heart remains restless and troubled until it finds rest in Him’.

We must ask God to teach us to live this truth.  In practice, this is how it should be lived… it is not a question, as you may well imagine, of getting rid of all our faults and failings, but of turning to God with these very faults and failings, and of giving ourselves to Him just as we are.  How many souls would enjoy divine peace, if only they realized this and acted on it.  We spend our time bemoaning our faults and looking at ourselves, instead of looking at Him and growing greater.  For that is what He is – Infinite Love, longing for us to give ourselves to Him so that He may give Himself to us (Monk).

  • What area of my life do I hear God calling me to change (convert) so that I can truly encounter His loving embrace this Lent?
  • Read slowly and prayerfully the words of St. Matthew 22: 34-40

    … Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart,

    With all your soul, and with all your mind.

    This is the greatest and the first commandment.

    The second resembles it:

    You must love your neighbour as yourself.

    On these two commandments hang the whole law!”

  1. What are the good deeds I can accredit to myself?
  2. In my opinion would they be enough to qualify me for a place in heaven?
  3. Can I concretely recall a recent incident when I helped another person without seeking any reward for myself?
  • Name the occasion…
  • What good did I do?
  • How did I feel?
  • How do I think God will reward me?
  1. What are some of the selfish deeds that I can accredit to myself?
  2. In my opinion would they be enough to qualify me for a place in hell?
  3. Can I concretely recall a recent incident when I selfishly avoided helping another person because there was no reward in it for myself?Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 1.46.14 PM
  • Name the occasion…
  • What did I do?
  • How did I feel?
  • How do I think God will reward me?

May we live from what is best in each of us

May you feel the presence of God walk with you during this great season of hope and change…

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday traditionally mark the beginning of Lent, for many Christians and the start of weeks leading up to Easter. It is a time of reflection, a time of good will and the time to find ways to grow closer to God.  Take your time and read slowly this is a good reflection for us:

Psalm 51

  1. :Have mercy on me o God in your faithful love;
  2. Wash me thoroughly from my guilt purify me from my sin.
  3. For i am well aware of my offences, my sin is constantly in mind
  4. Against you, you alone have sinned, i have done what you see to be wrong

14 Deliver me from bloodshed, God, God of my salvation and my tongue will acclaim your saving justice. Oh Lord open my lips and my mouth will speak out your praise: Amen.

What is my life like, today, tomorrow, am I ready to announce the Lord favor, by giving up some of my burdens. Or i am stubborn not want to listen the voice of my God. This time of Lent is a challenge, we as youth we want to have fun and becoming celebrity or even now we don’t know what to choose between valentine and Ash Wednesday. Wednesday we are starting Lent: Thursday is a Valentine day: Are you going to enjoy yourself during this time of lent. Having Fun with your friends forget about the Church and your faith? You are busy buying new expensive gift of your friend: My reflection is: Are you having enough time to pray during this time.

We have a challenge in the Church, we failed to take our faith seriously, we are the people if nice time. Why? Sometimes we need to voice out as Catholics stand and preach the truth about our behaviors, why we fail to receive Christ: This time of Lent take it as your revival time, let us fight against abortion, negative thoughts with others, abuse of alcohol etc. Why we fail to listen the Church and God Commandment: God says, No sex before marriage, we as young people we are not listening to God: Let us ask God to give us Strength and Listen to His Voice! Amen

2012 Reflection and Beyond!

Dear Friends of Education for life

I am reflecting on this past credible year (2012). I am humbled by the growth; outreach and overwhelming support that has made this programme grow. We created unity and the relationship that has made us bond together since I arrived in this office in 2009. I have seen other Dioceses rise from the ashes of war, some struggling to survive. But with one voice we have moved and were encouraged by Bishop Mvemve. It was also said by Bishop Mvemve  “Forward we are going, backwards we are not.” .I have heard their voices; seen the impact of heart centered leadership and how it ripples into the nation of Southern Africa.

I have witnessed the workshops that were taking place all over, taking different ages, from Church, Communities Schools and even in prison. All this comes from the love of God, the Church and the Society. You are awakening to a deeper life, serving from the bottom of your hearts. Education for life is not only a programme that takes place in the Church; we have many others and they are giving each and everyone strength to leave and trust God. Education for life needs some wings to fly, which is the reasons we need to journey together with all other programmes that the Church has. The programme is made especially because of you and your willingness to respond with all your hearts that has made Education for Life reach even higher levels of expectation.

Having inspiring Coordinators, being socially conscious, and realizing spiritual gifts in each other. We have an uplifted spirit of (Ubuntu) and counting our blessings with the gift of humanity through our youth and amongst us as servants of God; we gave others the chance to see the following: 1) The Love of God. 2) How to serve without having a reward in this world only trusting God. 3) How to grow into full maturity as our emblem reminds us:

2013 is the year of overcoming our challenges, not only from the Youth Office but at large, in our local churches and dioceses. We are remarkable Servants of Christ. To work with the Youth is not a time of travelling or time of Socializing; it is a time to build humanity and make it be a reality. My reflecting on the Vatican City: XIII ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Faith and Good Works are married all the time. “Go therefore and make disciples of all Nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look i am with you always; yes to the end of time”: (Mathew 28:19-20). Beautiful Scripture! We need to put it into action. We are required by our Christian Faith to bring Faith, Love and Hope to our Youth. 2013 is challenging me and you. Together we can! Many programmes are collapsing on the way; let us build them together again.

Let us welcome everyone in Faith: Spreading the good news and trusting God that we will change our mindset this year of 2013. “I have been found by those who did not seek me: I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me”. (Roman 10:20)

Reflection by: Sr Victoria Sibisi fcscj SACBC Youth Office.