Last Sunday I asked the children at their CCD class if any knew the meaning of the word ALOHA. A few had ideas, like hello, goodbye, love. But not the essence of the word.
Aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, peace, compassion, and mercy, and since the middle of the 19th century, it also has come to be used as an English greeting to say goodbye and hello.But aloha is more than the sum of its meanings.
Aloha means love, affection, peace, sympathy, pity, kindness, mercy and compassion. However, it also has a deeper impact on the Hawaiian culture. For the Hawaiians, there is "The Aloha Spirit," a unique way of living, the ultimate lifestyle, or the secret to a rich life.
If we dissect the word "Aloha", we dive into the roots of Hawaii: "Alo" means "to share"; "oha" means "to show affection or friendship", and "hā" means "life, breath". Basically aloha is all sharing the same (warm) breath of life.
History books are not clear when the "Aloha" expression entered the Hawaiian vocabulary, but several sources date it back to the end of the 18th century. Aloha derives from the Proto-Polynesian word "qarofa". Interestingly, the Maori language has a similar word with identical meanings - "aroha."
The Aloha Spirit prevailed in the Hawaiian culture and society. In less than a century, the famous expression traveled the world and was adopted by multiple languages. Certainly the people of this Big Island . still live the true meaning of the word.
Aloha is being a part of all, and all being a part of me. When there is pain - it is my pain. When there is joy - it is also mine. Both the great Hawaiian saints, Damien and Marianne of Molokai, lived aloha and passed it on to all with whom they came into contact. This is how we see the Body of Christ- all sharing that breath, who is Jesus Himself. As I told the children, may Jesus always be that breath in their lives.
|St. Marianne of Molokai|