Nigeria, Corrupt Nation With Many Absurdities

Billion Naira Enterprise: Why politicians are rushing to join 2023 presidential race paying N100million for expression of interest form

THE race to succeed Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has become an all comers affair, particularly in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) – despite the sum of N100 million that aspirants have to pay to obtain expression of interest and nomination forms that will qualify them to participate in the presidential primary election.

AS at May 7, about 30 politicians have indicated their intention to seek the presidential ticket of the APC for the 2023 general elections.

If all those who are declaring for President on the APC platform go ahead to obtain forms, the party’s presidential primary election – scheduled for May 30 to May 31 – would witness an unprecedented number of presidential aspirants seeking the ticket of a particular political party.

The APC is also raking in billions of naira from the sale of forms.

Cost of APC presidential forms has increased by over 300 per cent since 2015

The N100 million price tag on the expression of interest and nomination forms means that the fees paid by APC presidential aspirants has increased by more than 300 per cent since 2015, when the party first participated in Nigeria’s general elections.

In 2015, the APC’s expression of interest and nomination forms for the presidential election cost a total of N27 million. The party won the presidential poll as Buhari defeated incumbent Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Goodluck Jonathan and by the next election – 2019 – APC presidential forms went for N45 million.

The cost of the forms have increased from N45 million in 2019 to N100 million for the 2023 election.

The major opposition party, PDP, pegged its expression of interest and nomination forms for the 2023 presidential election at N40 million. By the time the sale and submission of forms closed on April 22, seventeen presidential aspirants were set for the party’s presidential primary election, having purchased and submitted the forms.

The cost of PDP’s presidential forms rose by nearly 100 per cent since 2015. That year, presidential aspirants bought the expression of interest and nomination forms for a total sum of N22 million.

Following Jonathan’s loss to Buhari in 2015, the PDP had become an opposition party by the time the 2019 general elections and the party’s new status was reflected in the reduced cost of its presidential forms. The PDP expression of interest and nomination forms for the 2019 presidential poll went for a total sum of just N12 million.

From N22 million in 2015, down to N12 million in 2019, the PDP jerked up the cost of its presidential election forms to N40 million for the 2023 general elections.

APC rakes in billions from large turnout of presidential aspirants

But, although the PDP forms are more affordable than those of the APC, the ruling party (APC) is recording a much higher number of presidential aspirants.

Abdullahi Adamu
APC national chairman Abdullahi Adamu

The 17 PDP presidential aspirants that bought and submitted expression of interest and nomination forms paid a total sum of N646 million.

As at May 7, APC presidential aspirants who had reportedly picked up forms have paid a combined sum of nearly N2 billion.

They, reportedly, include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church Tunde Bakare, minister of state for education Emeka Nwajiuba, Jigawa state governor Abubakar Badaru, Ebonyi State governor Dave Umahi, Kogi State governor Yahaya Bello, former Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu, former Imo State governor Rochas Okorocha, minister of transportation Rotimi Ameachi, former Senate President Ken Nnamani, former Zamfara State governor Ahmad Yerima, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Godswill Akpabio and Nicholas Felix.

The APC presidential forms have also been purchased for Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Godwin Emefiele, and African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina.

A female aspirant Uju Kennedy picked the APC presidential forms for N30 million, in line with the reduced cost for women, youths and persons with disabilities.

Other presidential aspirants that have declared their intention to contest on the platform of the APC include Ekiti State governor Kayode Fayemi, governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, former party national chairman Adams Oshiomhole, minister of labour and employment Chris Ngige, former Ogun State governor Ibikunle Amosun, former Abia State governor and Senate Chief Whip Orji Kalu, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Dimeji Bankole, minister of science and technology Ogbonnaya Onu, Ihechukwu Dallas Chima, Usman Iwu, Tein Jack-Rich, Adamu Garba, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, Moses Ayom and Ibrahim Bello-Dauda.

Senate President Ahmed Lawan and minister of state for petroleum resources Timipreye Sylva are also expected to join the presidential race before.

By the time all the aspirants pick up their forms, the APC would have raked in more than N2 billion from the proceeds.

On May 4, the APC National Working Committee (NWC), in a statement signed by National Publicity Secretary Felix Morka, announced the extension of sale of forms to May 10. The sale of the forms was initially slated to round on May 6.

An analysis of the list of presidential aspirants show that those in the race are mostly governors, ministers and former governors – a class of Nigerians that can easily afford to gamble with N100 million.

However, while the aspirants all pointed to a desire to serve the country as the reason they joined the race, Nigerians – including political analysts and leaders of civil society organisations involved in policy and governance – who reacted to the large turnout of presidential aspirants for the 2023 elections in interviews with The ICIR, expressed different views on the unprecedented development.

Many presidential aspirants are coming out because Buhari has reduced the worth of the Presidency – Onyekpere, Lead Director Centre for Social Justice

Many presidential aspirants are coming out because Buhari has reduced the worth of the Presidency – Onyekpere, Lead Director Centre for Social Justice

In an interview with The ICIR, Lead Director of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) Eze Onyekpere noted that the 2023 presidential election is witnessing a large turnout of aspirants because the Buhari administration has reduced the worth of the Presidency.

Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

“The Buhari presidency has reduced the value and worth of the office. He has reduced it to the extent that any charlatan feels that if Buhari can be there for eight years, then anybody can be there. The present administration has reduced the ambience and elevation attached to the office, that is why it is becoming an all comers affair,” Onyekpere said.

He further observed that majority of Nigerian politicians “want to answer President for the sake of answering President”.

Onyekpere argued that, considering the enormity of the challenges facing the country, if politicians were sincere about serving Nigerians, only a few aspirants will come out for the presidential election.

“If you understand that we are using 90 per cent of our revenue to service debt, if you understand what that means and you want to serve the people, I don’t think there will be up to five people coming out to contest for President.”

Onyekpere raised eyebrows at the source of the funds the aspirants that are still occupying public office are using to finance their presidential ambition.

Large turnout of presidential aspirants scandalous, embarrassing – Suraju, Chairman HEDA Resource Centre

Large turnout of presidential aspirants scandalous, embarrassing – Suraju, Chairman HEDA Resource Centre

Also speaking with The ICIR, Chairman of Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre, Olanrewaju Suraju described the large turnout of presidential aspirants as “scandalous and embarrassing” especially considering the “huge and undemocratic cost of nomination forms imposed by the APC”.

According to Suraju, the development shows that quite a number of ministers and governors enriched themselves at the expense of the country and in breach of public trust.

“It is also an indication that a lot of them are not really bothered about the enormous challenges facing the country. Considering the challenges bedeviling the country, I would want to believe that any sincere person would want to think twice before coming out to run for president,” he added.

Joining the presidential race is an investment for some aspirants – CDD Director Idayat Hassan

The Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) Idayat Hassan, in an interview with The ICIR, noted that many of the politicians who are declaring for President are just investing for future political opportunities.

Hassan, however, added that some of the aspirants also believe they have a chance of winning.

She said, “There are different reasons for this. It is a competitive process and some actually believe they can emerge the presidential candidate at the end of the day. But for some it is just a game. To them declaring for President is to secure a bargaining chip for the next administration.

“So some of these people are investing their N100 million or N40 million for something bigger in the future. With it they will have a bargaining power to seek ministerial appointments or other top positions in the next administration.”

Hassan also pointed out that, most times, aspirants who drop out of the race lobby to be drafted into the party’s presidential campaign team.

“So for some of the aspirants it is just an investment,” she observed.

Large turnout of presidential aspirants show that political corruption is thriving in Nigeria.

Large turnout of presidential aspirants show that political corruption is thriving in Nigeria… Rafsanjani, CISLAC Executive Director

Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) Auwal Rafsanjani said ‘political corruption’ was the reason for the large number of presidential aspirants, despite the N100 million charged by the APC.

“This is what happens when political corruption is being amplified by those who pretend to be fighting corruption. It is not about service to the nation. The reason you are seeing a proliferation of presidential aspirants is not because so many people want to serve. It is about personal ambition for personal benefit and gain,” he observed.

Rafsanjani raised concerns at the presence of political office holders in the presidential race.

“They should tell us where they got the money because their legitimate salaries as vice president, ministers, governors and members of the National Assembly cannot match the money they are spending.”

The CISLAC executive director said political corruption was thriving in Nigeria because the fight against corruption has been derailed.

“Those that are supposed to be leading the fight against corruption are the ones undermining it,” he said, adding that many of the aspirants who are coming out to contest the presidential election are among those who are benefiting from the collapse of the anti-corruption campaign.

“If there is an effective campaign against corruption, they dare not come out to say they want to be President,” he observed.

He said it was unfortunate that Nigerian politics had become comnercialised to the extent that only politicians suspected of involvement in money laundering, and those who have access to public funds, are able to contest elections to “capture power”.

Conspiracy theory

Director-General of The Heritage Centre, an Abuja-based think-tank, Katch Ononuju, raised a conspiracy theory in an interview with The ICIR concerning the mass turnout of presidential aspirants in the APC.

Ononuju alleged that most of the aspirants are joining the presidential race in order to derail the electoral process in the party – in order to pave the way for Buhari to decide who emerges the party’s candidate.

“Most of them are not ready. Most of them never said they want to be president. It is just Abuja telling them to go and collect form and as they collect the form they also sign the withdrawal certificate. It is a government scam. Because the government does not want the political process to determine who will emerge as the candidate. The President want to determine who will become the candidate, he does not want a primary,” Ononuju said, adding that Buhari does not want to hand over power to a Southerner

Pastor who charged N310,000 for ‘rapture’  ‘snatches’ choirmaster’s wife, abandoned his

 (A long investigative piece you may find interesting)

Mary and estranged husband Abraham

FOLLOWING the report on how ‘How pastor who charges N310,000, keeps dozens of Nigerians in church in preparation for ‘rapture’, additional information has emerged alleging that the pastor – Noah Abraham – divorced his wife and ‘snatched’ his choirmaster’s wife.

The ICIR’s Senior Investigative Reporter Marcus Fatunmole and Cameraman Fatunbi Johnson were at Kabba on May 5 and 6 to speak with major parties to the incidents.

Read the first part here.

  • Abraham fled from Kabba town in Kogi State, where he had run his church, to Araromi-Ugbesi, near Omuo-Oke in Ekiti State to start a new church after the Kabba community had banished him for committing ‘sacrilege.’
  • The community said Abraham offered another woman to the choirmaster to replace the one ‘snatched’.
  •  Abrahams’s wife claims her husband’s newfound love was behind the crisis.
  • The choirmaster, church members and leaders of Kabba town insist Abraham was covetous, high-handed and operated what they described as a strange ministry.
  • Abraham’s choirmaster, Dare Ikuenayo, said his life is in ruins since the self-professed cleric fled to Omuo-Oke with the singer’s wife in August 2021.
  • Abraham also went with Ikuenayo’s three children and his own four children. 

Abraham’s wife, Mary, the choirmaster and two monarchs in Kabba spoke exclusively with The ICIR over the crisis.

When the reporter met the 53-three-year old Mary, coincidentally she wore the same cloth her husband was clad in when the reporter met him in his Ekiti church a week before meeting his wife.

In Nigeria, it is common practice for a husband and wife to buy the same clothes or materials to sew so that they can wear matching outfits often to social events.

Mary and estranged husband Abraham wearing similar clothing. Photo: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

Abraham is the founder of the Christ High Commission, whose news about charging N310,000 for the rapture, otherwise known as the second coming of Jesus Christ, has gone viral.

The ICIR exclusively obtained video recordings of the church where he camped about 40 people waiting for the rapture.

Although the members in his church in Ekiti did not speak, the ones in Kabba spoke to The ICIR while alleging that he has severally issued death threats to people who wanted to quit his church because of his activities.

The two families and their marriages 

Abraham and his wife were married for 31 years, and they had five children, but one had died long before their marriage hit the rocks.

His alleged mistress already had four children for her husband before quitting her home. 

Her family, just like Abraham’s also lost one of their children, a boy while they were members of the church in Kabba. 

According to Mary, the boy’s death made the woman get very close to the pastor.

Dare Ikuenaya (the choirmaster) and Bose Oloruntoba (the woman snatched by Abraham) in their wedding picture. Photo credit: The ICIR

Abraham’s alleged mistress had a church wedding with her husband, Ikuenayo, the choirmaster. 

Abraham told the choirmaster to end his marriage with his wife because he said God told him He ordained the woman for him, Ikuenayo, Kabba monarchs and some church members claimed. 

“She later changed her name from Bose to Anabel, and she bleached her skin from a dark woman to a fair person,” Ikuenayo the choirmaster said of his estranged wife, who is now fair-complexioned like Abraham.

Many pictures of the woman The ICIR crew saw showed that Anabel had been a dark person. The pastor’s wife also confirmed it.

Anabel, the choirmaster and Mary Abraham are indigenes of Kabba.

Abraham had parted with his wife and lived with Anabel before the town banished him.

His wife said he denied her access to her children, including the family’s only girl, a person with disabilities, while Anabel brought all her children to live with him.

The choirmaster also said his life had been in ruins since his wife eloped with Abraham. He explained that Anabel took him to court to claim the custody of their children. He didn’t fight back because he left everything to God, hoping God would help his family return home.

Two options for Abraham before Kabba leaders banished him

Before banishing Abraham, Kabba leaders had given him two options: to return Anabel to her husband or leave the town if he failed to do so. He chose her. The community consequently expelled him from Kabba and its environs.

Abraham’s church in Kabba now used for farming. Photo credit: The ICIR

Abraham pulled down his church building before leaving the town. People have since been using the land for farming.

In August of that year, Abraham returned to his home town in Omuo-Ekiti to begin a new church with Anabel.

He charges members N310,000 “to prepare them for rapture at the church.

He assembles dozens of people from different parts of the country at the church.

Some of the members allegedly sold their houses, cars and other belongings to raise the money. They will live with him as long as he wants them to stay, he had told The ICIR

The members comprise adults, teenagers, university students, business people and children.

How Abraham and Anabel had lied about their relationship

The ICIR reporter had visited Abraham in his church, located at Araromi-Ugbesi, near Omuo-Oke, on 27 April.

He had claimed Anabel was his daughter. Anabel also backed him up by confirming she is his daughter. 

Noah Abraham (second right) flanked by his assistants and alledged mistress, Anabel. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

People around the church who spoke with the reporter also questioned Abraham’s relationship with the woman.

The reporter interviewed six neighbours who said the relationship between them was more than familial because of the manner they moved together in the town.

Controversy over who ‘snatched’ whose spouse

While Mary claimed Anabel bewitched her husband and turned his heart from her, Anabel’s husband said the pastor coveted his wife and succeeded in seizing her.

Mary notes that Abraham was a loving husband before Anabel came into the picture, “That man is a man every woman will love to have as a husband. He loved me. He cared for me. He is a caring man”.

According to her, he was loving and responsible when they were poor, and when fortunes smiled at them, he had his eyes for her and her alone, this was until Anabel became a church member. 

Mrs. Mary Abraham. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

She said Anabel began “her evil plans” by giving false prophecies and telling fake visions in the church. 

But Anabel’s husband the choirmaster was of a different view. He insisted the pastor coveted his wife and ended up ‘snatching’ her.

At least seven of the church members, neighbours and two leaders in Kabba interviewed by The ICIR said Abraham lusted after the woman.

Who is Abraham to the people in Kabba?

The ICIR’s interviewed many people in Kabba, including Abraham’s wife. They described him as a brilliant man with good problem-solving skills that could get his way out of any problem.

He was destitute when he came to the town. Working with his wife, he started his life in the community as a farmer.

His wife said her family supported him in paying his house rent because he could not afford it.

From farming, Abraham moved to selling electrical appliances.

Abraham’s house in Kabba under remodelling before his banishment. Photo credit: The ICIR

They described him as very skilled as he could dismantle any engine, including cars and couple them back.

He was also said to have built his church alone and was remodelling the house he bought before he was asked to leave the community.

“He can start any house from the scratch, roof it, put the electrical appliances and do the plumbing without any assistance. He did not learn any of those things,” one of his church members, Oliver Eze, said.

“We don’t know how he got those skills. He can do many things. He is too smart, and he can manipulate anything,” he explained

My life with my husband – Mary

The pastor’s wife worked as a teacher to support her husband and run her family when he had nothing. She narrated how they lived as paupers. They had lived in Kaduna town before coming to Kabba, where they eventually started the church.

Narrating the level of poverty her family faced, she said she could not get food to eat for three days after giving birth to her first child, and she collapsed because due to no strength.

She lost one of her children when he was ten years because her family did not have the money to care for him.

She said her husband’s mistress was a devil who came to destroy her family’s ministry.

Bose (Anabel) and her four children. Photo credit: The ICIR

She said some people in her neighbourhood told her the woman had been going about from one church to another, committing atrocities. “They said she used to give false prophecies. I immediately called my husband, who urged me to be careful with the woman.”

“One day, she called me; she said she was having a problem with her husband. The husband wanted to send her packing. I said no, it could not be possible. My husband said any woman that wants to stay in the church must be submissive to her husband. He said if I talked to the woman and she refused to listen to me, I should allow the husband to deal with her.”

“I called the church’s elder, and we settled the matter with her and the husband. She kept thanking me. I didn’t know she was targeting my home.”

A few days later, Mary said the woman told her that her child was sick.

The pastor’s wife advised her to take the boy to the hospital, but the woman refused.

She later brought the child to the church, where he later died. She said her husband (the pastor) agreed with the mother to leave the child in the church.

The boy’s death made Mary bring the woman to her home because she cried for many days.

May said “I gave her a room. Her husband and three children were there eating three times a day. I called her on the third day after the church’s service that she would return home. I didn’t know she had gone to tell some people that there was too much enjoyment in my house. She said she didn’t know that a man could care for someone the way my husband cared for my children and me.”

She said the Anabel kept coming to the house against her wish, but Abaraham allowed her.

The woman later changed her husband’s heart against her, she claimed.

Eventually, her husband sent her out of the home and brought in the Anabel.

He also ordered her children never to relate with her. According to her, she had not had access to any of her children since the woman came.

She said her children always refused to pick up her calls.

L-R: The pastor, Noah Abraham. Some of the people he camps at his new church in Ekiti State. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

“This woman has charmed my children. She has charmed my husband. None of them could recognise me again. This woman has four children. I have five children. My husband forgets about me and has been living with her.”

She added: “When my husband was still himself, he would not collect anything from a woman who bleached her skin. He would challenge people who bleached their skins on why they did so. This woman bleached herself, and she has been living with my husband.”

She alleged that the woman was after three things in her family: to separate her from her husband, stop her children from going to school, and kill her husband.

“My first son is serving in Enugu State. I learnt that he has recalled the boy from service. My second child is at FUTA; he withdrew the child. My third born is in a school for persons with disabilities in Oyo State. He has withdrawn the girl from school. The last one is preparing to go to FUTA. I don’t know anything about that one again.”

Mary sobbed repeatedly as she spoke with The ICIR. She now lives with her elder sister, Felicia Oloniyo, in Kabba. 

Oloniyo said she had been praying to God to deliver her sister.

She said her sister’s husband brought her to live with her in 2021 before leaving for Ekiti.

She said their aged mother had been disturbed over the crisis.

Overcoming Worldly Concerns

The Saints Prove That You Can
Overcome Weakness and Temptation

It is a strange thing how little we Catholics, who make so much of devotion to the saints, really understand of the secret of sanctity. We read the lives of saints, and we are filled with reverence and admiration. We see their statues in our churches, and we honor them as we might honor some great man who is otherwise no concern of ours. We look at their figures in our stained-glass windows, and we are induced to fancy them to have been different creatures altogether from us; not men and women of living flesh and blood, as we are, but some kind of privileged being, some kind of angel in human form, sent to earth to win our esteem, it may be, but scarcely one of us, scarcely near enough to us to be seriously taken as our friends.

And yet, when we come to understand them better, how very like our own we find their lives to have been: the same kind of trials and temptations, the same sense of failure and shortcoming, the same unceasing disappointments. They, too, knew all the weakness of human nature, and they knew it as much from their own experience of themselves as from what they saw around them. “You do not the things that you would,” says St. Paul, writing a word of pity and encouragement to his children in Galatia; but of himself he says no less spontaneously, “I do not that good which I will; but the evil which I hate, that I do.” Again, in another place he says, bearing witness to the sense of his great weakness: “I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind, and captivating me in the law of sin that is in my members. Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

What a tale all these words tell us of a man who, with all his chosen sanctity, had first-hand knowledge of temptation! And the same may be said of all the saints. All of them who have left any record of their lives in writing tell us how they realized their own great weakness and how they feared for themselves in the face of their temptations.

“Life spends itself in sorrowing, but, indeed, there is no amendment.” So writes the great St. Augustine, a man who in his early life had drunk deep of the cup of sin, who had found it so hard to recover, and who to the end of his days felt the consequences of his early misdeeds press hard upon him.

Every morning of his life, we are told, the great St. Philip Neri, that most happy because innocent of saints, added this to his daily prayer: “ Have a care of me, O Lord, or I shall certainly betray Thee today.”

St. Teresa, who stands so high because of her intimate union with God in prayer, confesses that for seventeen years she was so beset with every temptation that she could scarcely hope to be able to persevere.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, who has written about sin and its nature as has no other Doctor in the Church, was to the end of his days so overcome with scruples and temptations as to be almost persuaded that God had foredoomed him to Hell.

No, in this, at least, the saints were more like us than we imagine, more like us than the written lives sometimes let us see. For the written lives tend to dwell on the golden harvest; they do not always tell us either of the seed-ground or of its tilling. There is no royal road to Heaven, not even for the innocent saints of God. “Man’s life on earth is a warfare,” says Holy Scripture; it does not say that the saints are excepted. Everyone, whether saint or sinner, whether innocent or guilty, whether priest, religious, or layman, has his particular battle to fight, his particular temptation to conquer, and in that fight, in that conquest, lies precisely the secret of his sanctity. Men and women have worked miracles before today and in the end have been found wanting. Men and women have been raised to great heights of contemplation and prayer and at the last have failed. Men and women have apparently lived lives and died deaths of peace and security, and yet the Just Judge has been compelled to pronounce on them the sentence “Amen, I say to you, I know you not.” But no man and no woman yet has fought on against crushing trial and temptation and has failed to win a crown of glory; has stood up and gone onward in spite of past misdeeds and has not been received into the company of the saints. This it is that makes the basis of sanctity, this never giving in, this constant resisting, this refusing to accept the dead level of our own failures. The rest is the structure that is built upon it.

So very human a thing is sanctity, so very ordinary. When the apostle addresses his disciples as those “called to be saints,” he makes no selection; he does not seem to think that he is asking something quite extraordinary. It does not demand special notice; it does not require that a man should live any other life than that which he is living. In every rank of life, under every condition, true sanctity has been and yet can be found. St. Onesimus was a slave; St. Genevieve was a simple shepherdess; St. Isidore was a country farmer; Marie Lataste was a servant girl, St. Benedict Joseph Labre was a common tramp.

And yet we tell ourselves that this can mean nothing for us. In theory it may be very well; in practice it is not possible. We must earn our daily bread; we must endure our circumstances. We are crushed beneath temptations that are inconsistent with sanctity. My own household is against it—a wild and reckless son or brother, a careless, irreligious father or mother, a systematic persecution that is roused to madness by the very shadow of a holy deed. St. Stanislaus was the most innocent of saints, yet for years he lived with, and was in everything subject to, a restless, selfish brother, who would kick the poor child to the ground and trample him beneath his feet, because he would not join in his nightly revelry. Is our lot worse than that?

St. Elizabeth was a great saint, although she was turned out of house and home by her brother-in-law to starve with her children in the street, while he sat drinking in his palace. Is it worse for us than that?

And if we speak of our temptations, which one of us will dare to say that we have one particle of the trials, interior and exterior, that some of the saints have been compelled to endure? Nay, more than that—to go no farther than our own immediate surroundings, if we had but the sight of the angels, perhaps if we had but the knowledge of some confessor, if we could but see the battles, far greater than our own, that many around us are fighting, and fighting with success, although they may not know it, we would be shamed into silence when we would complain, and into greater bravery in action.

“Why cannot I do what these and those have done?” This is a question that has turned two sinners into two of the greatest saints in the Church. Before St. Augustine and St. Ignatius of Loyola put it to themselves, no one would have suspected they were the material of which saints are made; and even if they were, no one would have thought that they would have paid the price. What it cost the first we know, at least in part, for he has told us himself, and his story is of the kind that is understood by every human heart. What it cost the second we do not know; but if any master “knew what was in man,” he did, and he learned it from his experience of himself.

Indeed, that is the value of it all. The more difficult our particular trial, the greater our particular temptation, so much the more shall we know when our turn comes for action, so much the deeper shall we see into the hearts and lives of others.

Most of us have courage for other things that are hard; if we would only have a little courage for this! If, when temptation is pressing most upon us, we would only not turn cowards and give up! If we would only keep always in mind the words of St. Paul: “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted beyond that which you can endure, but with the trial will also give the means to overcome it.” It is just the little more that we want; it is just because we fail to give the little more, to hold out a very little longer, that all the rest comes to grief. It is just that little more that makes the difference between us and the saints; that little more of spiritual character, not less of trouble and temptation.

Allowing Ourselves To Be Led

Fr. Jeremiah Shryock, CFR, gives a homily to the nuns of the monastery of Bethlehem in Livingston Manor, New York, where he serves as chaplain.  “A refusal to be led is really a refusal to surrender,” he says. “It contradicts our very nature since we were created to be led by another, because by ourselves, living life on our own terms, in our own ways, leads us absolutely nowhere.”  He adds, “The great mystery, the beauty, the secret of our life, consists in allowing ourselves to be led by the Good Shepherd.”

Fr. Jeremiah remarks that in his life as a priest, the most peaceful people he’s met have been those who have “accepted their dependence, who are allowing themselves to be led.”  “The voice of the Good Shepherd calls us beyond our own resistance and beyond the life that we think will make us happy and towards the life that He wants, which is nothing else than a life of intimacy with Him.”

Will we surrender our lives to Him?

Image courtesy Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.