Madagascar - Meeting of the Fraternity in Sahalava

The Fraternity of Our Lady of the Assumption is a little group that is just beginning, very modestly, in Sahalava, Madagascar.

We met on the 23 December (our 3rd meeting), to celebrate Christmas together. Each one had been invited to bring some "little thing" to eat that could be shared. The suggestion had been to avoid bringing anything complicated or expensive, just something simple, so as to be in harmony with the spirit of Fr Pernet and A. Fage who wanted us to be simple and that we express "fraternity" by simple gestures. 
 
When the day came, about a dozen persons arrive. The instructions had been followed: each one arrived with a little packet of biscuits, sweet or savoury. For example, a young women – who come comes to the nutrition follow-up with her child (who, by the way, slept peacefully in a basket during the meeting), had fried some potatoes at home to be put in common. 
The atmosphere was a joyful one! 
 
We began with a Christmas carol, a prayer and some introductory words after which we proposed that there be some "photo language" to express what Christmas meant for each one, what this feast "said" to us. 
Without any hesitation people spoke out, one after the other – the sharing was spontaneous and beautiful. 
After a time of silence there were spontaneous prayers that came straight from the heart and which spoke of daily life with its joys and its sufferings: family and neighbourhood events etc. 
 
Here are some echoes: 
 
"December is a month for the children; we pray for all the children in the world, especially for children who are poor so that they can celebrate and enjoy themselves like the other children." 
"Prayer is the most important thing in our life; on this festive day, in spite of the difficulties, entrusting our life to the Lord, we pray for the future that we may always have hope in our lives." 
"This young man (showing the photo) is both happy with his crops and sad to be working alone, but joy and hope are stronger than sadness." 
 
Each one was full of life and energy during that time.
 
The final part consisted in the distribution of little bookmarks we have made, which had some thoughts of Fr Pernet, words that spoke to the laypeople or the LSA at Christmastime. Each person read the one she or he had received; those who could not read were helped by their neighbour. 
 
Then the sharing continued at table with what had been brought by each one and, something that cannot be missed out here, all was accompanied by dancing, song and music. 
 
At the end, the Fr Pernet’s prayer which was sung in Malagasy, expressed very well our desire for unity in truth and charity. 
At their suggestion, what remained of the biscuits and drinks was kept as "belonging to the Fraternity" for a future occasion – a little sign that already speaks of a sense of belonging. 
 
We were all very happy with this sharing and everyone’s participation; this gives us hope for the future. 
 
 
09/04/2013
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