Could this really be called a "Culture" issue? I am talking about modern day crave/rave for pleasure. Pain or anything that has to do with the cross/suffering is fought against and eliminated at all costs. Minimizing is no longer acceptable. In modern medicine, the pangs of birth and death are almost completely a non-issue. Sometime ago, some holy persons were known/said to die in the ardour of sanctity; these souls pass on very peacefully/quietly. Today this time of exit from this life, is chemicalized and or commercialized with drugs that eliminate that which even Christ divinized/shared. Pain. When Jesus cried from the cross: "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani..." they thought he was asking for "a drink"; they offered him some pain relieving stuff: He politely declined/refused it. The God-Man wanted to go the whole length of His redeeming death. I, indeed sometimes wonder if I am getting crazy about this "God-talk". Sure, I am not. I am in full control of my sanity. Again, it is clear to me I am not a sadist: however I have some concerns about the rate at which we sell/buy into the hedonism that is plaguing our society. Perhaps it began from the Western hemisphere and spreading like wild fire, or perhaps from the Eastern. I do not know; God knows. It appears we are being overtaken by the jingles of TV/Radio/Newspaper ads. Think of the: "play, laugh, grow" advertisement that is directed to the kids. What is wrong in: "pray, laugh, grow"? Is it any wonder that the moral fabric of society is being eroded? I imagine God alone has an answer, but we've got to help Him to help us. I do not know; God knows. Should I keep my eyes shut and mouth sealed for the reason that "I am no better than the society I 'criticize'"? That will not be godly/prudent a stance. I believe the more I play the "prophet" to society in whose life I share, the harder my judgment will be. I am not afraid, though. I do all in love and concern, in the hope that God is ready to help each and all to achieve that for which we were made - heaven. A future blog story of "The python and the squirrel" may throw some light to this concern I have. In that life in/with God, we will play best, laugh best and grow completely into the Divine.
My name is Ukachukwu, the one person His Divine Majesty entrusted to you on the 14th day of November, in the Holy Year 1950. It is so amazing that you have no other "job" except me. Since I came to the age of reason I have always thought of your duties towards me. In God's eternal and omniscient plan, you were born in eternity the day I was born in time. The Almighty Who inspired my parents to name me Ukachukwu, had same name for you. You were given the sole responsibility of taking care of, guiding, guarding, directing and protecting me, to God's glory. You have always done an outstanding job in this regard; unfortunately I have very many times failed you by not co-operating with your promptings to accomplish only God's Holy will. For those moments I failed you in God, I am awfully sorry. Tomorrow is a special day Holy Mother Church set apart for us humans to recall your presence in my life and thank God for your mission in my life. I will offer a Mass of Thanksgiving and Reparation to God. I will write you again soon; but please continue your Divine assignment towards me, your Namesake, Ukachukwu. Before I put my pen back into the ink pot, do permit me to thank and remind you of your most recent deed of protecting me. Remember I was on call this night and was paged to the Hospital. I guess you delayed my leaving my room by some minutes, only to come out at our gate to see an accident caused by and/or involving "racing" youths or adults, right outside of the gate. I could have been a victim of this terrifying scenario. I had goose bumps reflecting on your great acts of keeping me in safe places at the proper time. I cannot thank you enough nor can I thank God enough for giving me into your hands for safe-keeping. Thank You God for giving me to Your Angel Ukachukwu to take care of Your adopted son, UkachukwuOnyeabor. I am awfully sorry for not always following his lead in doing Your Holy Will, in which is our peace, here and hereafter.
It is simply timely and providential that I should put to pen and paper this thought that has been brewing in my head for a long time now. These thoughts have been there before I wrote my first blog with the title "Information About Name". I said it is providential, because today, Holy Mother Church celebrates the Feast of the Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. God's providence assigns an angel to each of us at birth - our "Guardian Angel". That Angel has a name before God; invariably that angel assumes the name of the individual to whom he is assigned. As a matter of fact, my Guardian angel's name is UKACHUKWU, the name my parents were inspired to give me at birth. It was after 3 months that I was brought to the Church for Baptism and a Patron Saint's name, Sebastian, was given. What other name could have been given to my Guardian Angel? - Johnson, Smith, Paul, Vincent, Timothy, Benjamin, Jude, Sabinus, Raphael, George, Sebastian, Charles, Theodore, Augustine etc. Sure, none of the above. It could not be any of the foregoing for a typical Igbo boy born in/to an Igbo family that had desperately prayed and wished for a male child for my father: an only son with 4 female siblings. My argument is backed by saintly comments. Here is Pope St Gregory the Great on today's Feast: "Angels are known by proper names as well, to indicate their powers and their work. In that holy city where perfect knowledge is derived from the vision of Almighty God, if proper names are assigned to them, it is not that their persons could not be identified without names..." (2nd Reading for Office of Readings: Feast of Sts Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels) My Guardian angel could not be known by another name as he was "born" the same with me. He has a responsibility before God on my account as I owe unflinching loyalty to him before God. He does only God's will, per sempre. He is God's "semperfi". I was born in time for a period in time; he was born in eternity and for all eternity in/with God. At the end of this life's journey, he will get me into the "choir of angels" to sing God's praises forever in my true home, heaven. This depends on if I persevere and imitate him in doing God's will here on earth. If unfortunately I decide to hate God, God forbid, and end up in hell, God forbid, this special angel of God remains forever in God's presence, adoring, praising and worshipping God. A.M.D.G.
Every individual is a product of a culture. In Anthropology, it is definitive that all cultures are equal, with no further distinction. It follows that there is no such thing as a superior culture. Culture is what makes the quidity of any people; what makes them integrally unique. Culture is what makes people who they are. A people's culture gets expressed in/and through, but not limited to their language, food/diet, dance, dressing, belief system etc. It is therefore ridiculous to hear or know of anyone think of or tell another that his/her culture is superior to the other person's. All colonial masters were very guilty and or ignorant of these basic reality in human history. It was common knowledge that all the people they met were bound to lose their own mother/native language. My people, the Igbo in West Africa were among the victims of white man's "domination" Whenever possible, and it was not argued, they forced the people to drop their language and embrace the English language, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German etc. Their pride gave itself away when this dominance began to show its ugly head; they had no apologies in dealing thus with the people. Even the missionary groups copied their civil counterparts in dealing rudely with the folks they came to "evangelise". They imported their canned and packaged food from Europe, America or Australia. For Baptism, for instance, they forced the people to take "English" names of Saints as their patron Saint. Even if the name has no substantial meaning in itself. The great Igbo names were sacrificed on the altar of "English" Saint names. Traditional Religion had no way of canonizing their own, otherwise I bet you that there were many saints among them. About food, since they import theirs from overseas and dared not try native food of the people they came to serve. They seem to have forgotten Jesus' injunction: "eat whatever is set before you." Definitely they will rationalize their actions in their assumed/presumed "superiority complex". Is it any wonder that the peoples of Africa were asked to drop their language/native tongue to learn that of the "stranger" who came to make gains/exploit their host nation/peoples.
A day in the life of a Hospital Chaplain could be stressful as well as hilarious; it depends on how one handles the incidents that impinge on the individual. I enjoy what I do. I am a Roman Catholic Priest and Hospital Chaplain. Every day is a new day of thanks and surprises. Each day opens with entrusting everything I do to God, the Almighty, to guide and direct. This short story calls for deep thoughts as to how our psyche functions and how we are wired/influenced by external forces:- On this eventful day, I walked into the hospital room of 58 year old Mrs M.G. Just about 3 minutes into our visit she showed me the "Get-well" cards she got since admission, two days prior. "This is from my grand-son" proudly showing me a card prepared by 6 year old, Bruce. What caught my attention, which, when I remarked about it, apparently did not mean much to Mr M.G, was: "Made In China" which little Bruce nicely put below his drawing of flowers and good-wish words to grandma. My concern is, Is this young man giving us a message or what? Is he throwing a challenge as to the direction of our economy? What message is he inspired to deliver through the medium of this card? The questions could be more. Please I need your input, answers and comments. I need help to appreciate and/or understand this young man.
One is often fascinated at what arguments go on among people of different cultural/religious leanings concerning those who claim to be gay or lesbian. I truly love them: they deserve to be loved. In the first place, God loves them, like He loves you and me, unconditionally. Once upon a time a friend of mine told me he had lunch with a gay couple. What surprised me was hearing the story of one of these men. He told this friend that from his childhood he found he was more attracted to little male kids like himself than to girls his age. He said his parents knew this was the case with him. Oh! this young man growing up felt he was meant to be gay all his life? Wow!!! The question will be: "what did the adult parents do in the awareness of this reality? On the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, this year, we read from Matthew's gospel account of Jesus' parable about the wheat and the cockle. (cf. Matt. 13:24-43) The operative words in this parable are: "while everybody was asleep, the enemy came and sowed the cockle" While everybody was asleep?Indeed when we are "asleep", when we are not awake to our sole responsibilities, we are overtaken by events that shame our wakeful state. In the case under perusal, I imagine the parents of this man did something, maybe they did not do enough or did not know Whom to run to. These lovely and lovable men and women, if at the early stages of growth they discover, as many of them claim, that growing up, they were more prone to and/or attracted to same sex persons, their parents should have been awake to take some steps to rectify things in their regard. Obviously it is the enemy. Call him whatever you will; whoever or whatever is responsible for this anomaly in the lives of men and women, that person or thing is not a friend, but an enemy of God and humanity. In the Holy Writ, shortly after creation, God said to man and woman: "Go, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it" God's holy will is that we populate the earth and not decrease; the plan of this "enemy of God and humanity is the direct opposite of God's injunction. The enemy puts "rationalization" into the minds of people to justify their actions, even when they go against the objective and original plan of the Creator. People would expect to hear the parents scream for help from God, the Church and a circle of good friends and neighbours. St Monica, mother of St Augustine is an example of such genuine cry for help. My Igbo people in Africa have this proverb: "ka e wepu aka enwe n'ofe, mgbe o ghobeghi aka nmadu". This literally translates to: "remove the monkey's hand from the soup before it turns to be a human hand" - a stitch in time saves nine. Not too long ago I was ministering to a Behavioural Health patient in a facility who told me similar story of being just formed that way from childhood. The bottom line is that someone/persons were asleep and the enemy sowed the bad seed that could bring mankind to extinction. Let us love the gay/lesbian persons very dearly, deeply and truly, but begin to pray seriously for the end of this misnomer. May God save His Church and children from this scourge. God help us. Amen.
Our course at this time in the University in Omaha, NE, had to do with violence and non-violence. I told my lecturer and colleagues this Igbo folklore about the Cow and the Fly. At the end of the story, our Prof. who is of Irish origin said: "No Father, that was an Irish folklore, not Igbo" Here goes the story, though: Once upon a long time ago, the animal kingdom tried to instill sanity in the kingdom. Careful and diligent observation showed that the cow flouted all the rules and bylaws. This upset the entire population of the animal kingdom. After a general meeting to which the cow decided to be absent, a resolution was made to send a one-animal emissary with a special message to the Cow. When most bigger animals declined, for fear the cow could kick the hell out of them, in anger, the fly volunteered to be the harbinger. On the eventful day, while the animals met at the village square, the cow stayed some distance away eavesdropping. At the end of the meeting the mother fly decided to immediately go on her agreed errand. She was yet to finish her message from the animal kingdom when the big cow stepped forward and crushed her into the mud that "glued" her wings which prevented her from flying out of danger and proximity of the cow, if threatened. On seeing that the fly has been crushed to death by the cow, the rest of the animals fled for dear life. Those living close to mother fly's home told her family and baby flies that it was the cow that killed their mother. The flies, as one, went to express their disapproval and grievance over the death of their mother at the hands of the cow. The cow did not show any remorse and so the flies swore not to give the cow or her children any rest all their life; hence they perch on the cow's nose, eyes, ears, tail etc. They perch on all vexing parts of the cow. They vowed to keep the cow miserable forever. Hence the fate of the cow till date. The morale of the story is that it is not by might but by mutual respect and understanding that we could co-exist, make progress and root out terrorism completely. Let's all work for peace, justice and love. God bless all who see need to eliminate violence in a world God wants us to "enjoy" before an everlasting abode.
There are still some souls in serious search for God in this apparently materialist world. These are the men and women whom Mother Church refers to as "The Power House of the Church" There is no mistake about this - they truly are. May God continue to preserve them and grant them the graces of perseverance in their vocation or reminding us that "This world in not our Home" no matter how good it may look, now.
Ukachukwu Sebastian A. Onyeabor 350 N. Silverbell Road, Unit # A-21 Tucson, AZ 85745 Email: email@example.com 9th April, 2008
God's grace, peace and love be with all, now and always. Amen. I thought it wise, once and for all to enter this article into my blog page so I could simply refer persons to this blog for further reading. This was triggered by people's expressed interest/curiosity, asking for the meaning of our Igbo names as well as mine. I have always found it an opportune moment to state with "pride" that our Igbo names have lots of meaning and significance. As found in Holy Scriptures: there is power in the word and/as in a name: they are significant. Which biblical name has no significance associated with it? When God enters into a covenant with His people or their leaders, there often follows a name change. Abram became Abraham and Jacob became Israel. In the New Testament Peter got a "new name" after his great confession. After the Resurrection, when Jesus called: "Mary !!" Magdalene knew exactly Who called her.
To those asking of my name: my first name is UKACHUKWU which could take either of these meanings = related to the Supreme Being (God); concern of the Supreme Being; business of the Supreme Being; issues of the Supreme Being etc. Till date, most of my Igbo people believe in the existence of many deities as well as the Supreme Being. One is aware that this is not peculiar to the Igbo people of Africa. St Paul encountered this in Athens. The small deities are called "chi" in Igbo, while the Supreme Being (God) is qualified with the word UKWU which means GREAT OR ALMIGHTY. So the Supreme Being is CHI-UKWU; however in writing GOD in IGBO language, we drop the first vowel "I" so we now have CHUKWU. Incidentally the Igbo word for PRIEST is Ukochukwu. Note the difference UKACHUKWU and UKOCHUKWU. To perform the role of an UKO is to be a go-between, a mediator, a middle person. At my priestly ordination my people said: "Ukachukwu aburula Ukochukwu" which means Ukachukwu has now become a priest of God. My family name (last name) ONYEABOR literally means: SECOND PERSON. This could be translated to mean either "a companion"; "a helper"; "an assistant"; "an associate"; "other half"; "an auxiliary" or "a back-up" It makes good sense when my people say: otu onye a naghi aga nta, which translates: "no one man goes hunting". For a successful gaming/hunting session, you need a companion so while one person is at one end, the other is at the other. No one person can be at both ends at the same time. "The crowd begins with a second person". My Igbo people do not generally acquiesce with a lone-ranger mentality; this is because they believe that power is in the group. "Igwe bu ike"
The Down Side: It was very very unfortunate that colonialism as well as a generality of early missionaries to Igbo land and other parts of the colonized/evangelized world felt/thought their language and/or religion was better/superior to those of the people they came to colonize or evangelize. Is there any doubt most of these places were taught to drop their language in favour of the language of the "white" man? One recalls when you were penalized for speaking in the vernacular; you could receive corporal punishment lest the teacher be fired by the "white" manager of schools. Later this took the form of financial fines. It is interesting to note that some very wise cultures who foresaw the effects of this, fought the white man's superior mentality. Such peoples insisted on their language and culture; today we see and read literature in those peoples' language and not first in English and then later in theirs.
Offended? This article is not meant to offend/upset anyone; by no means. Incidentally, we are victims of the English language seen as an easier means of expression. I could write faster in English than in Igbo language. The good news is that today a sizeable number of Igbo families in diaspora are waking up to be proud of the Igbo language. Some struggle to speak/teach to their children in their mother tongue. My Igbo people keep the flame of what we cherish - our Mother Tongue, burning bright. Peace to all, especially to those who read and appreciate this article.