Thursday, August 27, 2020

Eco healing


A Contextual Reflection on the Healing-Spirituality of 

Blessed Eustáquio

in the Context of Ecological Crisis


This personal contextual reflection is in commemoration of our fellow brother Blessed Eustáquio.

by PAULUS BALA KOTEN sscc, Kornelius (Nellyz) 
from Indonesia   

Eustáquio and Healing Spirituality


Father Eustáquio was one of the priests who had a special charism for accompanying humanity. One thing that comes to mind when I see his name Eustáquio is his healing charism.  In my reflection, this kind of charism is not simply a charism itself, but more than that, it is primarily about a spirituality. Yes, it is about his spirituality of healing. Blessed Eustáquio and his healing spirituality are two complementary sides: because of Eustáquio, the act of healing is no longer simply a routine work. Through Eustáquio, the act of healing became a living spirituality which really touched the marginalised situation of humanity of his time.  Eustáquio lived and worked at a time in which people suffered much due to many kinds of disease. In that time, his healing spirituality found its context. As I put into writing this reflection, I truly know that Eustáquio has passed away or in other words, physically Eustáquio is not present in our time right now. Does this mean that Eustáquio’s healing spirituality has ended? In order to answer this question, firstly, I would like to acknowledge that every human being in every age suffers his or her own suffering in particular contexts.  People may suffer much because of disease, war, plagues, etc, and all these take place in a particular time and place.


Again, I raise a reflective question, “Has the healing spirituality of Eustáquio ended in this era?”. There is only one answer: Yes, it has or no, it has not. I simply want to say that right now, I live in a place and time that is quite far and different from that of Eustáquio. In my time, there are vast numbers of humanitarian black holes which are tearing humanity apart. There are various kinds of humanitarian crises. All these humanitarian black holes, in turn, generate massive humanitarian wounds in each age and all of these humanitarian wounds call for healing. A sincere awareness to choose and be concerned for one of the humanitarian black holes is a decisive choice in answer to the question above. In my reflection, I try show a deep concern regarding the ecological crisis, because for me, this is one of the worst humanitarian black holes of this era. In this framework, I use Eustáquio’s healing spirituality as the context for my reflection.


An Ecological Crisis Portrait: Human beings at the Threshold


Our nature now finds itself in its worst phase. Our common home “Mother Nature” is in crisis. It is screaming louder than before because of the damage we inflict on her. A call to consider the recent situation of our common home is really needed. Through this, as Pope Francis stated, we will get a new awareness that there is a constant accelerating process at many levels which in turn, are causing a vast number of problems in the life of humans. 


Here, I might summarize some of the problems caused by this constant accelerating process. I have adapted these from Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si.  Firstly, there is pollution and climate change. This planet (Earth) is beginning to be seen as a large landfill due to various kinds of pollution such as, air pollution, water pollution, and soil pollution. These forms of pollution, in turn, create a wide range of health problems. Moreover, there is also global warming due to massive climate change. In recent decades, this global warming has been accompanied by a constant rise of sea level. If we pay attention we can see that those who live in the areas most affected by this global warming are the poor who are heavily dependent on natural reserves,  on agriculture, fisheries, and forestry.


Secondly, there is the problem of water reserves. Another indicator of natural damage is the decreasing number of natural resources, such as water. In some big cities, the number of health water reserves is decreasing.  At the same time, water-related diseases are found among the poor, including those caused by micro-organisms and chemicals. Furthermore, there is a serious problem in that there is a big tendency in some places to privatise natural resources, and thus turn them into merchandise which is subject to market law.


Another problem is the decrease in biodiversity and the increase in social deterioration especially as regards the development model and “throw away” culture on human life. Then there is global inequality. The global warming, caused by high levels of consumption in certain rich countries, is having a devastating impact on the world's poorest regions, especially in Africa where, due to rising temperatures, there is a decline in agricultural yields. These all, in turn, create problems that harms those who are ostracized.


All these portraits of our ecological crisis symbolise how humanity is at a threshold at this time.   People today are suffering greatly on account of how badly we are behaving in relation to nature. The struggle for humankind today is quite heavy due to a double responsibility. Firstly, we have to think about how to survive, and secondly, we have to think of new ways to coexist with nature. Again, this is the real humanitarian black hole of our age, in which humankind finds itself at a threshold. We cannot simply lean on technologies to help us. The reason is our industrial systems are in their last cycle of production and consumption, and they have not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse the waste and its by-products.  Here, I reflect that the root of ecological crisis in this era is not simply ethical, but primarily spiritual. In my reflections I see no other way for earth to recover except through a change in basic human attitudes in relation to nature. And, in this framework, I would like to offer ECO HEALING as my contextual reflection. This contextual reflection is one of my efforts as a member of SSCC to ground and revive Blessed Eustáquio’s healing spirituality for these times. Up to this point, I reflect that Eustáquio’s healing spirituality should find extended meaning in its application.




Two Foundations


My contextual reflection is built on two foundations, namely a biblical foundation and what I call an ethical-cosmic foundation. Firstly, as regards the bible, there are many biblical inspirations toward the nature and its dynamic. But, for this moment, I am interested in what St. Mark has written in his Gospel, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature....” (Mark 16:15). Through this verse, I find two important insights such as, “Go” and “Proclaim the Gospel to every creature”.  These two points, in my reflection, bring me to a new awareness of Christian mission (Go) and new mission target in this era (proclaiming the Gospel to EVERY CREATURE).


Christian mission in my reflection should find its extended meaning in its application. Going and proclaiming the Gospel is not simply about sacramental ministry anymore. It is firstly about accompanying humanity as Eustáquio did in his time. The how or the way of accompanying humanity depends on having a new way of seeing our mission target. Jesus asks us to “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature”. In my reflection, this mission statement contains an unlimited mission target which is not simply for human being, but for every creature. It means that the Good News (Gospel) should be proclaimed to nature as well, to the air, water, soil, trees, plants, etc. Up to this point, it is interesting to reflect on how our mission now is moving from Accompanying Humanity to Accompanying God’s Creation. St. Benedict, the Abbot, stated, as it is written in our Rule of Life, that our contribution to the Church is not simply based on what we do, but on how we live as well. Putting in this context, I might say that our calling to change our human basic attitudes in relation to nature is one of the ways of accompanying God’s creation.


Secondly, from an ethical-cosmic foundation, I believe that every creature is connected in the web of life. In other words, it means that what happens to one also happens to all. Or, with an ethical nuance I might say that, “who is not my brother in humanity is my brother in creation”. The proof that every creature is connected in the web of life is our human situation right now. If we dare to tell the truth, we are aware that our human respiratory diseases are primarily caused by massive air pollution. Again, what happens to one happens to all as well. This is how I understand the ethical-cosmic dimension of Eco Healing. If this is so, then, there would be no more suffering both for human beings and God’s other creatures. How can a brother harm his own brother or let his other brothers suffer? How can I help a brother (human) to get healthy water if healthy water-reserves in nature (brother in creation) is declining due to massive illegal logging. Indeed because of this we as humans and also our brothers in creation all suffer. Both get sick with various kinds of diseases.


In this context I believe that we need a healing spirituality that we can inherit from our fellow brother Blessed Eustáquio. We as humans and Mother Earth (our common home) are in a same situation in which we cry out and suffer due to various kind of diseases. Blessed Eustáquio has bequeathed his healing spirituality for us all. I might say that this is one of our missions for this era. The place where we live is our place for mission. We do not need to go to Belo Horizonte to visit the sick people and cure them of their sufferings. Through eco healing, as I see it, we can be the Eustáquios of our times wherever we are. His healing spirituality invites us to embrace God’s creation and creatures as brothers and sisters in creation.


Eco healing, in turn, as Pope Francis says, invites us all to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wasting with a spirit of sharing, and an ecological asceticism  which means learning to give and not just abstain or fasting. This is a way of loving in which we move gradually from what I want towards what God and the world need (Laudato Si. 9). For me, eco healing, in turn, creates a pastoral conversion in which we are called day by day to meet God and be God’s partner in this world. Eco healing is one of our new missions in which we struggle for justice and love (Our SSCC Constitution, 4). Through eco healing, we struggle for inter-generational justice with a spirit of love. The ecological sufferings of this era reveal that we and the nature have not fully received the Gospel at all. And, in this context, our mission invites us to evangelization so that we enter into the dynamic of Christ’s love for His Father and the world, especially the poor, those who are suffering, the abandoned, and those who have not accepted the Good News. Finally, eco healing is one of the proofs which shows that we are available in responding to the need of the Church and that, we are able to adjust to every situations (Our SSCC Constitution, 6). Our Founders and Blessed Eustáquio have shown us how to do this.


Eco healing does not forbid us from taking and using the things in this nature. We have to know that our calling is not simply to cultivate the garden but also to take care of it. (Genesis 2:15). This means that there is mutual responsibility between human and nature. Each one of us can take and cultivate the things of  nature that we need in order to survive.  But, we also have a responsibility to ensure their fertile sustainability for the future (Laudato Si, 67). In our own communities, this eco healing invites us to be more efficient and aware of our use of clean water, electricity, making organic gardening, cleaning ourselves and the environment every day, reducing plastic waste, recycling waste for the arts, bringing our own drinking bottles. A healing spirituality starts from the small acts of healing similar to what Blessed Eustáquio did. Eco healing begins with small acts.


Up to this point, I might say that, Eustáquio’s healing spirituality has not ended. It is always renewed in our journey of life as SSCC members when we are able to adjust to every situation and when we are available to respond to the need of the Church.


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Fr. Eustaquio (a humble servant of God)

By Sr. Anastasia Imaniar Rusani SSCC.



The Life of Fr. Eustáquio is an inspiring story. For me personally it is not only because of his healing miracles but for his willingness to relate with the people, especially the sick and the outcast.

One of the stories of him that touched me is when he had just moved to Poa after the great miracles he did in Romaria. After his arrival he experienced difficulties in his relations with the new people and the environment of the city. It was written about him; the Pastor who was accustomed to a role that placed him at the centre of attention in the places where he had formerly ministered was at first amazed. No one sought him out, neither the children nor the women who lived in the locality. He had an empty feeling of uselessness, discomfort, and even rejection. These feeling were only overcome when he discovered that he needed to adapt himself to the new needs and to adopt new strategies and new ways of handling himself.

It speaks clearly that he was a creative missionary. I believe that every person experiences something similar when he or she arrives at a new place. Moving from a ‘comfort-zone’ comfort is always disturbing, especially if the new place and environment is far from what he or she was hoping.  Instead of complaining and grumbling, Fr. Eustáquio thought of new ways to deal with this situation. His strategies to attract the people in Poa could be a great example for a young missionary like me, that it is better to adapt to the situation than to feel regret whole day. The way he used was a simple approach; he evangelised, calmly, through conversation. Starting with a smile and conversation there followed an invitation to the faithful to come to the Church, and thus the delicate relationship was strengthened bit by bit.

There was one thing that Fr. Eustáquio committed faithfully to during his life, no matter where he was assigned: visiting the sick. His main concern was the sick, perhaps because God he was aware that God had granted his hands healing powers. But for him, nonetheless, his actions did not appear more than a simple human duty that anyone would do if they were aware of their obligation and the consequences of their vocation to serve. All this shows his humility as a person and missionary.

The other thing is his awareness of himself as a priest. Regardless of how so many people knew him as a miracle worker, he dedicated himself exclusively to his own priestly functions without letting go of social action, Christian charity, justice and peace. It is true that we need to be aware of our first duty, priority, and for what reason are we here, as religious and as human beings.

In my opinion I believe that nobody expects to have responsibilities beyond their ability. But as I experience it now, the responsibility I have is something that I never thought of before. Here I always quote the word of St. Paul: “His grace is enough for me...for power is made perfect in weakness.”

In my study and mission in Gantang and also in the local Baciro Parish Church sometimes I feel disappointed with people who do not show interest in me as I expected. This made me conclude that they did not accept me and had rejected me.  But we see how in Eustáquio his experience in the past did not affect his faithfulness to his duty and vocation to serve. To serve is the most important thing in my life as a missionary and the rest God will take care of the rest.

I believe that if God gives me something to do which I don’t think I am able for, He will give me the strength and ability to do the things that I have to do for Him. This is the mystery of His power in my life ... in all the lives to whom He. trusts.

In the end all is for the Glory of God... “Our action is a simple duty that anyone would do if we aware of our obligation and the consequences of our vocation to serve.”


I want to give my best and we have to believe in God, everything will go well

by Emanuel Nade (Indonesia)

On this Feast Day of our brother, Blessed Eustáquio I use as a title for my reflection his own words:  “I want to give my best and we have to believe in God, everything will go well”.

Eustáquio was born in Aarle-Rixtel (Holland) in the diocese of Hertogenbosch, on 3 November 1890 and was baptized on the same day. His name was Humberto. Before he became an SSCC religious there were people in his family and in school who doubted his vocation.  Finally he said to his father “I want to give my best and we have to believe in God, everything will go well”.  Following God’s plan he entered the formation process and finally he became  a priest and served the faithful. He was from a simple family, his father was a famer in Barbante and in his house they were fourteen.  Eustáquio was the eighth of eleven children along with his parents. Although he was from a working family it did not prevent him to attend daily eucharist. Every day he attended the eucharist so that both at home and at work there was a peaceful atmosphere and the family grew in solidarity. Because the terms and conditions of ordination required the priest to be educated, Humberto attended school under the tutelage of Sister of Charity of Schijndel and was then tutored by a famous catholic teacher named Harmelinck.

After finishing his junior high school, he was accepted as a novice on 23 September, 1913 in Tremelo in Belgium. He chose the religious name Eustáquio by which he became known later.  He took his first vows on 27 January, 1915 in Grave (Netherland) and his perpetual vows on 18 march 1918 in Ginneken (Netherland). In 1915 he completed his philosophical education and from 1916 to 1919 he continued his theological education at Ginneken. His teacher knew that he did not have sufficient capacity for metaphysical questions but realized that he had a good vision of logic and wisdom in moral matters. Finally  he was ordained a priest on 10 august 1919. His father was so happy to see his son celebrate mass at the altar because especially as he had earlier believed that Humberto (Eustáquio) could not be a priest.

Eustáquio started his ministry in Vierlingbeen as an assistant novice master.  After that he continued his ministry in pastoral care in Maasluis among the Wallons and French-speaking glass workers for around two years.  He showed a great zeal for service among these people.  His zeal was  recognized by the Belgium government and they awarded him a medal for serving minority groups who had fled to the Netherlands. In December 1924, Eustáquio was sent to Spain to study Spanish as he was to be sent as a missionary to Uruguay.  However in the end he was sent to Brazil which speaks Portuguese. Father Eustáquio wanted to become missionary and that wish was only fulfilled when the Dutch Province searched for a mission in Latin America and established a foundation in Brazil.

In Brazil Eustáquio began his ministry and became known all over Brazil. Father Eustáquio arrived in Rio De Janeiro on May 12, 1925 and worked as a missionary for eighteen years in Brazil, Ten years in Agua Suja (1925-1935), six years in Poa (1935-1941) and two years in several other areas. In Brazil they knew him as a true missionary because he served them with great zeal. From this area he showed a great zeal for service, he gave himself especially to the poor and sick, bringing healing through his ministry. Because of his deeds many people want to be with him;  in his ministry in Poa, he had the special ability to heal through the intercession of saint Joseph. This activity was specially directed at strengthening the faith of people and freeing them from their tendency to believe in superstitious things.

There are people who doubt about his ability to be a priest, but who are they? Talking about vocation means talking about the grace of the Lord.  If the Lord want to him be a priest nobody can stop him. He is offering himself to God, he believes that God is going to accompany him in his vocation in this congregation (SSCC) even though he is full of limitations. God becomes his power through his limitations.  God is with him in his ministry. When you read  the story of his life in Brazil you can see how many people were converted because of his miracles.  He was very aware that healing’s miracles did not come from his power but from God.  As such he never said the miracles comes from him. Obedience toward his superiors was very strong, he does everything superior asked of him.  He was exemplary in this until the end of his life.

I would like to state how, in his journey of life as a priest and religious,  God wanted to show, “what is started by Holy Spirit, will be ended by holy spirit as well”.


Happy feast day for Blessed Eustaquio SSCC.