As you may or may not have seen on the news, Miss Honduras and her sister were murdered last week.
If you did hear the story or read the articles, you probably also were reminded that Honduras is one of the world’s most dangerous countries, has the highest homicide rate in the world, even the Peace Corps has left, etc. etc.
And… what can I say to all that? When friends and relatives worry? Because it’s all true. The police have regular checks on the highways, Coke trucks have armed guards, you can’t go out a night…. a few weeks ago, a man I knew, the uncle of one of my friends, was murdered.
One of the Hondurans was asking me about it. What was my perspective? Did I feel safe? Would I ever leave out of a concern for safety? While I can’t answer for forever, I can say that, for today at least, my feelings are pretty much the exact opposite.
Yesterday was our final English class at the seminary. We had had the exam last week so that this week we could have a party, complete with popcorn, cookies, and a movie (in English, obvs… and I have to say, I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy so much more in English than I did in Spanish). Afterwards they were really sweet and offered their thanks for my work, but I was more excited because it gave me an opportunity to thank them.
It’s one thing to hear the statistics… how there’s one priest for every seventy mountain villages, but this year has allowed me to see much more closely the monumental tasks that these men take on. There are so many people. Two weeks ago for the confirmation retreats we held in Santa Elena, the church was filled with at least 500 people made up of the youth, their parents, and their sponsers. That’s just one little sector.
There are so many people… and they’re a people that has been deeply wounded by poverty, violence, abuse, and abandonment.
Yet it’s where the suffering is greatest that His love and healing is needed most. And these young men have said yes. That they’re willing to spend the rest of their lives in service, tending Christ’s flock. Pouring themselves out for each and every one of the Church’s members. It’s nothing short of heroic.
Last weekend was the final retreat for a group of teens in San Luis. We started the monthly formation in February and it’s been one of the most challenging and humbling experiences of my year, but also one of the best. Seeing the same youth every month, eating so many meals around Father’s small dining room table allowed for relationships much deeper than the ones we can form in just the week long mountain missions.
This retreat was centered upon Advent and Christmas preparations and I got to give a talk/reflection on the Joyful Mysteries. I was excited because, one, this is my favorite set of mysteries, and, two, it gave me an excuse to read The Reed of God again. One part of the book particularly relevant for my reflection today: Houselander’s meditation on the humility of the Word made flesh. Growing in the womb of Mary, Christ was literally dependent upon her for everything. She says,
He was absolutely helpless. He could go nowhere but where she chose to take Him; He could not sepak; her breathing was His breath; His heart beat in the beating of her heart.
Today Christ is dependent upon men. In the Host He is literally put into a man’s hands. A man must carry Him to the dying, must take Him into the prisons, workhouses, and hospitals, must carry him in a tiny pyx over the heart onto the field of battle, must give Him to little children…
During this tender time of Advent we must carry Him in our hearts to wherever He wants to go, and there are many places to which He may never go unless we take Him there.
How will Honduras ever find healing and peace if the doctors and peacemakers flee? Where will they find hope if the ministers of the Gospel run away, essentially saying there is none? How will they learn about sacrificial love when those who are supposed to be models of it aren’t willing to make sacrifices?
Fr. Ruperto, the Director of Vocations, asked me if I wanted to teach again next year and I didn’t hesitate in saying yes. Truly, this was one of the best discernment processes I’ve ever had. Father had mentioned the possibility of two years last January, so I had a whole year to think about it and get to know the seminarians. When the time came to actually make the decision, it was easy and joy-filled. It also answers a few of my questions about the next steps in life too. It means I’ll be extending my stay here for a few months, and that I won’t have to start looking for teaching jobs next spring. Past next November, I have no idea what life will look like, but it’s comforting that I’ve sort of got a plan until then. Please keep me in your prayers… they’re definitely needed.
To end, I wanted to share another quote from Houselander. It’s part of her reflection upon Mary’s search for the missing Christ child:
No matter how hard the way, it will in some measure be sweet to us, and we shall take it, not as a path along which we are driven, but as one whose attraction we cannot resist, because we know that on it we shall someday discover Him.
Where must we seek?
Everywhere – in everyone.
How must we seek?
With faith and courage and limitless love.