Thought for the Day – 10 October – The Memorial St Daniel Comboni (1831-1881) Apostle of Africa, Bearer of the Cross
Accepting the Cross was difficult, also during the time of Comboni, so many people were rejecting it, for the sake of an easy life but St Daniel Comboni was convinced, that the Gospel could make headway in Africa, in the Church and all over the world only through the mystery of the Cross. Let us listen to him:
“The Cross and very great tribulations are necessary for the safe-keeping, the establishment and the progress of the works of God, which must always be born, grow and flourish at the foot of Calvary.” (MDC NO. 198)
“I already see and understand, that the Cross is such a friend to me and always so near to me, that I have for some time now chosen her as my eternal and indivisible Bride. So the Cross will be my Beloved “bride” and my wise and prudent “teacher” (MDC No. 224)
“It is a constant law of God’s Providence, that His works are marked by the Cross. So it is no small comfort to my spirit, despite its own great weakness, to see myself burdened by very heavy crosses.” (MDC No. 230)
As for our world these days, many people formally reject the Cross considering it a sign of heavenly rage, or as something which is disturbing many people, especially children, psychologically. In mission, it is important to counteract this mentality, presenting the cross as the revelation of absolute love.
Besides the three expressions of Comboni I have quoted as presenting the mystery of the Cross in a vivid way, we have so many others in his writings, in a context of great sufferings and passionate commitment to mission. Some are rendered in a language we can considered too militaristic. Well, we have to remember that it is the language of Comboni’s time. An example of this is the “Hymn to the Cross” that Comboni wrote in 1877 at the end of a particularly painful period in his life.
“ The Saviour of the world
marvellously conquered souls
by the strength of this Cross,
which destroyed paganism,
razed the idolatrous temples,
vanquished the powers of hell,
and became the altar, not of one single temple,
but of the whole world.
This Cross which came forth from the summit of Golgotha
and then filled the universe with its power,
this Cross was adored in the temples,
and in the royal cities received the highest veneration;
it was reverenced on the standards of armies
and invoked on the mainmasts of ships.
By the Cross priests were consecrated
and monarchs enthroned with sacred rites.
Carried on their breasts by heroes it brought courage to all.
Earth, sea and sky recognise the power of the Cross
and everywhere it is honoured.
It was in the midst of troubles and thorns
that the work of our redemption was born and grew:
its development is wonderful
and its future is surely consoling and happy.
The Cross has the strength to transform Central Africa
into a land of blessing and salvation.
From the Cross there issues a strength,
which is gentle and does not kill,
which comes down on souls and renews them
like a refreshing dew;
from the Cross there issues great power,
because the Nazarene, raised up on the tree of the Cross,
stretched out one arm to the East and the other to the West,
and gathered His elect from the whole world
into the embrace of the Church;
with pierced hands,
and like another Samson,
He hurled down the columns of the temple
where for so many centuries
men had adored the power of evil.
It was on these ruins that He raised up the Cross;
worker of marvels,
which attracted all things to itself:
“Si exaltatus fuero a terra,
omnia traham ad meipsum”. (MDC No. 233)