Sister Christiane Baka
Every year, the Catholic Church celebrates the Day of Consecrated Life on February 2.
“How can consecrated life be a gift? » wonders on this occasion Mother Christiane Baka, nun of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Peace in Côte d’Ivoire, of which she has been Superior General since July 2022.
La Croix Africa: What is consecrated life?
Mother Christiane Baka : The consecrated life is that of people who say they have received a particular call from the Lord to dedicate their whole existence to him through the profession of the evangelical counsels. As such, the consecrated in their unity manifest Christ, but each consecrated person is personally called to be a witness and an actor in this call.
What, in your opinion, are the great challenges facing consecrated persons today?
Mother Christiane Baka: It is important that we ask the question of our impact on our societies. Where are we in our witness to the love of Christ on this land of Africa which no longer counts the number of priests, religious congregations, societies of apostolic life and new communities? Where are we in our witness to the Risen Christ and his good news of salvation? What does the Christian beatitude that we embody mean in a continent where some are dying of hunger, others of ignorance, still others of war, or unsanitary conditions, etc.? ? How can consecrated life be a gift, good news on this continent which, on a global scale, concentrates more than half of extreme poverty?
All these challenges which present themselves to consecrated life in Africa deserve reflection. By celebrating the day of consecrated life, we will remember the mystical dimension of our commitment; the mystic or the mystic being the one who has experienced with Christ a mad love and who communicates it to others.
What do you think is the mission of the consecrated today?
Mother Christiane Baka: One could use three images to characterize the consecrated person. The first is that of the Sentinel which is inspired by the title of “guardian” attributed to community leaders among the Franciscans. As a young professed, this appellation questioned me a great deal. The guardian is the “responsible for the door of the community”: he opens the door to admit those who knock into the house, and he takes care to keep it closed to ensure the safety of all who are inside. interior. He also watches over the quality of life of his brothers by showing them the way to go; safeguarding the tradition of the institute is his priority. The third meaning is related to the question that God asks Cain after the murder of his brother: where is your brother? The guardian of the community therefore answers for his brother.
Listening is therefore an essential quality of the consecrated person. This requires that she make room for silence in her life. How indeed to hear the Word of God if one does not know how to make silence in oneself and silence around oneself? How could the consecrated man also hear the calls that men and women make to him, if he is not sufficiently attentive to their concerns and their distress? Listening to God and to others requires of him a total decentring of his life.
The second image is that of the consecrated as griot of god. I am using the word “griot” here in its original usage, which designates above all a “spokesperson”. The Abidji people, a language in the south of the Ivory Coast, call griot, ” Loubouôlap ” or Kokoba, from the name of the instrument that amplifies the voice. Literally translated, loubouôlap means “he who shouts”, who awakens from sleep, who announces. He is in a way a “spokesman”, a messenger.
The griot is an active agent among the people. His voice counts, because his word comes from higher than him and opens a horizon where admiration, attachment and faith are housed. His task of intermediation makes him a person dedicated to the cause of another whose faithful servant he becomes. Humility is therefore required in his mission, which humility is linked to the truth. The good griot is the one whose speech is stripped of all lies.
The third image is of the scale. The idea of a ladder induces that of an effort, climbing a ladder requiring attention and self-presence. This means that the consecrated life lived in the Church or in society is a life of perpetual combat. As the Dominican Jean-Claude Lavigne puts it very beautifully in his evocatively titled book – So that they may have life in abundance -, “religious life is a formidable path, close to combat rather than easy and certainly a place of passion”. This affirmation echoes the invitation that Christ addresses to every disciple: Strive to enter through the narrow door », Luke 13, 24.
Collected by Lucie Sarr
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“As we celebrate the Day of Consecrated Life, we remember the mystical dimension of our commitment”
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