Know Thyself

Know Thyself.

It’s what’s written above the oracle at Delphi and it was the theme of my  high school government class.  That maybe sounds odd at first, but it makes more sense once after thinking about it a bit.  After all, if government is the study of men coming together as social units… one would hope to know something about man.  What always followed the “know thyself” bit was that man is mortal.

As I noted a few weeks ago, I’ve learned a lot here in Honduras about both myself and humanity as a whole.  In particular, being down here has very much confirmed the whole “man is mortal” bit.  In these past twelve days alone we experienced three more deaths.  Not people close to the community, but rather loved ones of others who are close to the community.  After all this time, it still hasn’t gotten any easier to see people you care about in pain.  Then, too, we constantly have to take safety precautions.  Being careful with the water, putting on bug spray (two of the friars came down with dengue this week), not walking alone, and safety, insofar as it’s possible, in transportation.

SIDESTORY.  Haha, I actually had a pretty crazy adventure Monday coming back in a bus from San Luis where we had been putting on a leadership retreat for teenagers.  There was definitely a moment where I thought, “Hmm… well, I guess if I’m meant to die on this school bus sliding backwards in the mud on this mountain road, then that’s how it’ll happen.”  Obviously (and thankfully) I did not and helpfully, a giant tractor thing happen to be going by to get us up the mountain.

Anyways. I promise it’s not nearly as scary is it all may sound.  I never wake up or go to bed in fear that I might day the next day.  But it does offer a very important perspective.

Being down here, I’ve seen that… well, yes, we’re going to die, but more than that.  We were made to be saints.  But.  Like actually.  Saints. Not just saying that because the Baltimore Catechism tells me so.

One of the formation talks we received this summer noted how there’s a huge danger with placing saints in this super hero category.  It makes sainthood something unattainable for the rest of us normal people.  Not true.  And not healthy.

I suppose I’ve been thinking more about it than lately because, one, I’ve been reading all these fantastic books like The Practice of the Presence of God and Everday Sanctity (okay, this is a little blue book that I found on our shelf.  By MA Nailis.  It doesn’t have an Amazon page, but if you find it, read it!  It’s excellent!), and too, because that was the topic of my talk at said retreat in San Luis… “The Road to Sanctity.” Long story short, I think I’ve come to two (perhaps obvious) conclusions.

One.  The technical definition of a saint is someone in heaven… aka, someone in the presence of God.  I think those saints who are most famous on earth, those like Mother Teresa and Saint Francis… or even the saints who are not so famous, like my Uncle Steve, who I’m quite confident is in heaven, what they had in common was that they actually lived the reality that God is present with us here on earth too.  How differently would I act if I took into account every moment that He’s here… with me… right NOW?  And MOREOVER, He’s present in my neighbor and in a particularly special way the poor.   So my new goal is to make myself more aware of God’s presence in the little things.  Like now, when I walk by the chapel, I’m trying to get in the habit of doing a full genuflection and sign of the cross, rather than the sort of knee goes halfway down and the sign of the cross that (ha, as my stepdad has said ) looks more like you’re swatting a fly as I run back and forth between the kitchen and the library.

Two.  “Yes” to the Duty of the Moment.  Which is something I talk about all the time… but again, this whole realization that really any day could be my last has given me new perspective.  So often I think we get discouraged when we think about life in terms of the next 70 years.  Ohmygosh, if I was going to be a saint, that would mean I’d have to be nice to my younger brother for the rest of my life.  COMPLETELY impossible.  Or never complain or gossip or whatever sin/human weakness you care to name ever again… clearly not going to happen.  Or we get into this mindset of Saint Augustine, “Make me a saint, Lord, but not yet!”  Let me just enjoy today and then tomorrow I’ll start improving my prayer life, loving my neighbor, etc. etc.  So.  My new attitude–  I don’t have to be nice to my brother for the rest of my life or never gossip again.  God isn’t asking me to do that.  He’s asking me to do that just once.  Be nice to my brother right now.  In this moment.  I only have to say “yes” one time.   Furthermore, as He’s right here and present with me, He’ll give me the strength to do it.  Does this make sense?  Maybe it sounds weird… but it’s given me a lot of hope as I think about the future… because sometimes thinking about the future scares me and/or makes me tired.  But… again, when the saints where doing all their crazy works… hmm… how to describe it.  For example, I think about the life of Mother Teresa and it scares me out of my wits.  I could NEVER be a saint like she was.  But really, all she did was just give God one yes at a time, until she wound up at heaven’s doorstep.  And that’s what He’s asking of me too… not that I be Mother Teresa, but that I give Him one “yes” at a time, until I wind up… well, hopefully at heaven too.

And thus concludes this week’s reflection.

Other fun but not really profound things from life:

I spent all of Wednesday morning making this giant construction paper mural with Leydi for the girls at Casa Misericordia.  It’s an ocean/jungle thing… eventually it’ll have all their names and birthdays.  It was a blast.  Times like those are when I pause to wonder if my life is really this awesome.

Ha, other moments of pure terror from the week:  I was eating an orange at lunch when in the last little piece, I saw worms.  Gross, nasty little white worms with these little black pinpoint eyes.  I almost died right then and am still recovering from the trama.

I washed all my jeans this morning!  And it hasn’t rained today, so they’ve had time to dry! This is a HUGE victory.

I had spiritual direction with a Poor Clare on Tuesday.  Ah-mazing.  Possibly life changing. We’ll wait and see.  But no.  I don’t have plans to become a Poor Clare in case you were wondering.

The friars in their incredible goodness and generosity gave us a giant block of chedder cheese aka a giant block of GOLD.  And no, I am not speaking in hyperbole.  This is serious.

I think we’re going to play soccer at the girls’ orphanage tomorrow… I probably won’t tell you all the embarrassing details in the next blogpost.

Speaking of!  There probably won’t be another blogpost for a while.  Next weekend we’ve got Pan de Vida retreat in Ceiba, the weekend after that, I’m going to Santa Elena for a followup mission, weekend after that it’s San Luis for the final leadership retreat (advent/Christmas themed!), and thennn, probably something with Becas (scholarship kids) the weekend after that, then we’re going to Trujillo to celebrate thanksgiving with the super awesome folks at Farm of the Child, then it’s our training week for Honduran teenagers, then our week of mission for Honduran teenagers, and then I’m HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!  Dude. 2014.  Where did you go?  So yeah, if you don’t hear from me for a  bit, all of the above is probably why.

Last but not least, I’ve decided I want to start adding prayer intentions at the bottom of every post… something that hopefully allows everyone back home to stay a little more connected to life down here.

Prayer Intentions for the Week

  • For Mario, Gary, and Ada, that their souls might rest in peace, and then for their families that they might be comforted.
  • For the Pan de Vida retreat next weekend.
  • For Mariana, a woman who came to our door yesterday in need… actually for the soul her father too, who died yesterday.
  • For the Missioners’ community as we elect a new servant leader and new directors this weekend.
  • For our car that it can be fixed and stay fixed and that it all isn’t too expensive.
  • For our Becas kids as they start finishing the school year.
  • For the seminarians here in Comayagua, for their faithfulness, and an increase of seminarians and religious in general.

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