Summer time full of Blessings....
Indeed the summer of 2011 will remain in my memory as a manifestation of God
working through the events of everyday life.
The summer began with the Catholic Ministry of the Sick and Suffering Practicum, a
newly created program of 9 weeks by the Seminary of St. Paul. In fact, the program
was designed to allow each participant to deepen the theological foundation of the
spirituality of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and then put it into practice through a silent
retreat of ten days. This silent retreat was a powerful experience of the encounter
and union with the love of God that showed those participating the weaknesses and
areas in one's life requiring special attention on the spiritual, moral or ethical. Being
able to dialog daily during the retreat with the Spiritual Director was a great grace.
Overall, the retreat was a wonderful experience of silence and contemplation.
The next step was an inside look at the practical stage of preparation for the priesthood; to do the work of ministering to the sick in hospitals, to discover Jesus in the person who is suffering and needing consolation, compassion and mercy. Indeed, ministering to the sick and sharing in their suffering with them through their ailments, their loneliness, and their hope that so often is dissipated in medical diagnostics, led me to find in intercessory prayer the most compassionate and merciful way of pleading for not only physical health but the spiritual health of souls to which I was ministering. I discovered the face of Our Lord in the sick and suffering. I was able to see beyond the smells, the medical instruments, and the interpretation of science to the humanity of the fragility, small size, and defenselessness of the sick and suffering.
The hospital experience touched my soul in three ways: the first was "Humility" and I refer specifically to where I disappeared completely so that our Lord Jesus was the one doing the visit, it was God’s work through me. A clear example of this were the moments when the silence was the most effective way of communicating the action of God and the expectation of His Divine Will. The second aspect was "Charity," defining the act of unconditional love, to go beyond the defects or sin and to use the example of the Prodigal Son who was left to regain the joy of God in the life of the sick before stopping to judge their errors. This example may be a tangible source of the peaceful coexistence and friendships I fostered with patients of different beliefs or who simply expressed disbelief. The third way this experience touched my soul was "hope" that in spite of the circumstances in which science has a verdict on a disease, God our Lord may come and go beyond the ordinary, to manifest his love in an extraordinary and prodigious way that ultimately is what every soul awaits.
As a candidate for Holy Orders of the Diaconate and the Priesthood I feel that this experience should be an indisputable requirement for those seeking to consecrate their lives to the service of building the kingdom of God.
Finally, the summer ended with ten days at World Youth Day in Madrid Spain, a meeting filled with culture, youth, and a deep desire to live with the Holy Father. At WYD, the living spirit of Jesus in our midst was evident in the positivity and enthusiasm of countless young people that came from various corners of the world to meet with the Vicar of Christ and discover the universal Church. This is the Pope's Youth! Again and again we were reminded that we are sheep led by Pastor of Christ, Benedict XVI.
But I especially want to highlight these words spoken by His Holiness during the keynote address at the World Youth Day:
Dear friends, be prudent and wise, build your lives on the firm foundation that is Christ. This wisdom and prudence will guide your steps, nothing will make you shake your heart and peace will reign. Then you will be blessed, blessed, and your joy contagious to others. You ask for the secret of your life and find the rock that holds the whole building and it sits on your whole life is the very person of Christ, your friend, brother and Lord, the Son of God made man, which gives consistency throughout the universe. He died for us and rose again so that we might have life, and now, from the throne of the Father is still alive and close to all men, continually watching love for each one of us.
Benedict XVI - Plaza de Cibeles Madrid 19/08/11
To conclude, this hot summer was not only one of high temperatures but also one in which the action of the Holy Spirit that prevailed in my life at different times and ways.
What Joy! What joy! And what responsibility I feel to serve, love, and give everything to Jesus Christ our Lord and God!