Image: RwB Scholastics at AJU, with Fr. Jean Claude on Mutemwa Sacred Mount, in Mashonaland (Pictured by Vincent, S.J on December 27, 2022)

May credits be given to one who connoted our RwB Insider Newsletter, “Tubane.” Though, I did not have a chance to know the reason why it was named so, at least I can surmise the reason why he did not name it “Turyane.” Still, it is quite troubling to see how people turn against one another in our contemporary world due to unfounded reasons. In fact, there are many untold victims of either internal or external conflicts in our global society.

As a matter of fact, speaking of internal conflicts, one could just understand that some of us, if not all, have been victimized by the conflicts which are deeply imbedded in our inner selves. These inner conflicts are not new to us. Even our forefathers knew and faced them. In fact, one of our spiritual forefathers, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, having tasted the gravity of inner conflicts, asserted: “I presuppose that there are three kinds of thoughts in me: one which is my own, which arises from my sole freedom and of my sole will! And two others who come from outside, one from the good spirit and the other bad.”[1] So, there is a constant clash arising from our conflicting thoughts; this shows some of our inner plans or inner yearnings. Saint Ignatius termed them “motions”. These could prevent us from being at peace with ourselves. Hence, having disclosed the cause of lack of inner peace, saint Ignatius proposed us an antidote which is nothing else than “spiritual discernment.”

As we look at what worries us today, one could not turn a blind eye to the plain conflicts now prevalent worldwide. There are still unnumerable deaths and casualties resulting from infernal wars in our post-pandemic society: tribal and fratricidal wars persisting in our central Africa; killing millions of people and letting others with psychosocial and physical wounds. In the words of Pope Francis in his recent visit to the Republic Democratic of Congo, our social world is torn apart by “economic colonialism”, consumerism, greed, and individualism”. Pope Francis’s call is our call. Let us contribute to putting an end to these unhealthy attitudes. Let us start with our inner selves.

To this end, a question stays troubling my mind: How could we, as believers in the all-powerful God, prevent or get rid of these troubling inner and outward conflicts in today’s world? Back to my pilgrimage on December 27th, last year, the discovery of mount Chigona, as I was with my Jesuit companions here at AJU[2]  as we were visiting Mutemwa in Mashonaland, Zimbabwe, brought me insights. On this Mount, I was fascinated at how believers in the Creator are today building ties of fraternity in prayer to repulse spiritual and physical cannonballs of our society. Such a natural rocky shrine in the open air is considered a sacred space to gather different denominations. Several mighty deeds known as miracles are allegedly mentioned to be happening to people who attend prayers on Chigona. To guide the catholic faithful whom day and night come for prayers on the top of this sacred rocky mountain, the fourteen stations of the way cross have been erected by the local church.

During my brief visit, I was inspired by seeing how people, regardless of their beliefs and backgrounds meet and pray together on this sacred mountain. In fact, when I got there, I could see people who were praying in various groups, and those who were having their personal encounters with the Lord. As I interacted with some faithful, I got to know that people who come to pray are not necessarily Catholics. These people of God were from different denominations. I was touched by the simplicity with which they congregate on this mountain. It seemed to me that everyone identified with one around him/her without fear, hatred, or hostility. Yet not far away from this mountain, our society is torn apart by social-political conflicts, civil wars, and religious-related conflicts. What is lacking in our society to emulate what is being done on the sacred Mount Chigona? Our contemporary society needs this kind of inclusive encounter and movement in which people become more aware of both their individuality and their fraternity. It is so insightful to find the unconventional assembly of faithful gathered and holding each other’s hands, as during the celebration of Eucharist, under a still-calm wind in an open space; let me equate this still wind with the one which blew on the prophet Elijah in 1Kings 19:12.

Until when are we to talk about the tensions among religions, tribes, and countries? The more we put weight on our conflicting identities, the more we demean our humanity. We still need to transcend our divisive characters. Let us join hands together like in Chigona mountain to make humanity our core religion! Making humanity our fundamental religion could help us cherish our human essence. Still, due to the inevitable circumstances, not everybody can get to those “interdenominational” places like Chigona mount; however, it is my opinion that we may gather at the climax of the “interdenominational” mount within our hearts, which is “the faith in the Supreme Reality”. It is quite puzzling to see people who hold the same belief in God setting themselves against one another, in fact, if the believers in God were united, those who do not believe in God would not be a problem given that everyone’s belief would be respected.

I recall the Author of our faith telling his disciples that with a little faith, they can move mountains; likewise, if we cannot displace the mountains which are in our hearts, we may, at least, surmount them and gather at their climax instead of being overwhelmed by them. As far as I can remember, when the Author of our faith wanted to preach about the beatitudes[1], he had to climb a mount and sit on it; in one sense, this could require us to ascend certain mountains to be counted among the Blessed.  On this mountain, we are called to surmount our self-seeking inclinations, the “better than you” attitudes, and the animosity which are deep down in our hearts. I am of the view that our efforts are still needed to invest more in what makes us one humanity than in what put it asunder.

In brief, in our society as well as in our church, we still have a dilemma to wrestle with, to readily move us from Turyane to Tubane. I believe there exists the Mount of the Blessed. Our dept is one, as Christ told us: Love. And this will be attained by humanizing ourselves: Humanity is our essence. Inasmuch as religions are concerned, efforts are to be put into promoting different interreligious encounters and so promote the spirit of mutual respect and dialogue and help us transcend our conflicts in such a way that we may be able to meet, praise, and give reverence to our Father on the Mount of the Blessed.

Alexis Nzayituriki, S.J.

[1] : Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius no32.

[2] AJU in all letters stands for: Arrupe Jesuit University.