Monday, August 12, 2013

A True Mission Story of Faith

Recently a dear friend came over for dinner.  With our family around the table he shared a true story he experienced in Mexico some years ago.   As a priest and missionary he was living for over 20 years in Mexico and Central America.  Regularly he would travel several hours to remote towns to celebrate Mass.  During one trip something unusual happened.  When he entered the Church he discovered that they had no supplies for Mass and worse yet they were expecting him to bring them.  He asked if Jesus was present in the Church and the women in charge answered, yes.  He then suggested that they have a communion service.  She responded that they knew what a communion service was and many had traveled from the mountains and wanted to attend Holy Mass.  It had been at least 4 months since Mass had been celebrated in their village.  

Quickly he began asking those gathered if a cup could be brought and wine.  Someone raised their hand and said they had a bit of wine and a cup.  Linens were found.  Then Father asked for an unconsecrated host.  Oh, they said we do not have one as it would spoil here.  Without an unconsecrated host there could be no sacrifice.  Consecrated hosts could not be used.  With little alternative he told all gathered to kneel and pray to Jesus and ask Jesus to provide the host.  He too turned and knelt in front of the tabernacle and began to pray for an unconsecrated host.  Silently he asked Our Lord to provide.  These people had gathered and desired not clothes nor food both of which they had little but rather they desired to receive Our Lord and attend Holy Mass.   Father turned around at one point to see the entire Church kneeling with heads bowed in prayer, even the tiny children were kneeling in fervent prayer.  Oh he thought, if nothing happens would this destroy the faith of this town.  As he continued to pray his mind began to wander, it found its way to a story. ..the story of Jesus and the apostles when a coin is needed to pay the tax. Jesus sends Peter to "go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel; take that and give it to them for me and for yourself."(Matthew 17:27)

As Father's mind reflected on the story he stopped himself and chided himself saying, stop daydreaming and pray.  Then it occurred to him that he should not disregard these thoughts.  Oh yes he realized.. the answer would come from scripture.  He had to think a moment.

Then he knew.  He called the women over who was helping him and asked if there was a book in the sacristy.  She answered yes the book was the only thing in the room.  He instructed her to go and fan the pages of the book and hold it upside down.  She looked at him strangely and went into the room.  Moments later there was a scream.  She came to the door of the sacristy holding a host.  She was screaming the host was in the book.  All the people began to cheer.  

This is a true story and Father gave me permission to share this story with you today.  I wrote to him and asked if I might share this beautiful mission story as the Gospel today was from Matthew 17 and recounted the finding of the coin in the fish.  When so often our faith is tested and there are flickers of doubt may we be reminded that "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). May I humbly ask for your prayers for a situation which in many ways seems without a clear earthly solution.  On July 19th the children carried a package containing a statue of Our Lady and 100 Rosaries and sent them on a great journey to the country of Timor Leste in Southeast Asia where two new Children's Rosary groups are forming.  Weekly I have been checking with Abel the new group leader there who is waiting to have their first meetings until he receives the rosaries.  Each week he has package.  Today we tracked the package to Indonesia where records indicate it arrived on July 24th and hasn't moved for close to three weeks.  The postal workers indicated that since the package has left the US we have no control over its movements.  There is simply nothing to do but pray.  With Our Lady's Feast of the Assumption on Thursday I would like to humbly ask those reading this to pray one Hail Mary and to ask Our Lord as a present to His Mother on her Feast to bring the package to light in the warehouse and send it on its way so that His Mother may have two new Children's Rosary groups. 

Thank you all for your prayers and God Bless!

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