Saturday, March 25, 2017

Joys in serving in the countryside

The rains have ended and the days are sunny and warm – even hot. Because the road is now dry, I can now use the back way into Plan Grande, past the cemetery, without worrying about getting stuck in the mud.

The evenings are still quite cool – great for sleeping.

Leaving my car up the hill was a pain – but it was really a blessing in disguise. I had a good number of opportunities to speak with people, including the guys working on paving the road here. I may have to make walks to different parts of the community a part of my schedule. (I do need to walk for my health.)

Today I went with Padre German for Mass in Debajiados – one of the remotest villages, but one that I enjoy visiting. I ended up preaching there. But I also had a chance to stop and take several photos of the view on the road to Debajiados, including this one.

Then I went to Oromilaca for a funeral. Padre German had called at 5:45 am to ask me if I’d take the funeral since he already had four Masses scheduled for today. Of course. I find funerals a wonderful way to serve as deacon. 

Here are photos of a tree I saw on the way back from Oromilaca.

Tomorrow I’m off for a Celebration of the Word with Communion in El Limón, where I’ll also lead the scrutinies for two catechumens. Then back to Plan Grande for an afternoon Mass. I still have to prepare my homily and I’m putting it off by writing this post.

Holy Week is coming and so I’m busy getting ready. I’ll be working with leaders from the communities next Tuesday to help them prepare celebrations in their villages. Padre German will have his usual several Masses on Palm Sunday, three Masses on Holy Thursday, one Easter Vigil in Dulce Nombre with about 40 baptisms, and four Masses on Easter Sunday.

I’m planning to be in Dulce Nombre for the Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Easter Vigil Masses. But I will be in Concepción for a Holy Thursday Celebration of the Word with Washing of the Feet and Communion. Good Friday I’m out to a village. I also plan on visiting at least one village each of the first three days of Holy Week, visiting the sick and maybe presiding at a Celebration of the Word with Communion.

In the next few days I’ll also be preparing the texts for our parish’s special Stations of the Cross on Friday, April 7.

I also may be working with Sister Pat, one of the Dubuque Franciscan sisters in Gracias, for an Alternatives to Violence Workshop in the prison in Gracias, Lempira, on April 3 and 4.

And then I’m off to two weeks in the US starting the Thursday after Easter.

Monday, March 20, 2017

In the rains - and more

The last few days we have had a lot for rain and it’s been a bit chilly. Sunday we had sun! But today it is cloudy, though the sun might peak through later.

We’ve had no water for several days here in Plan Grande. They are replacing the waterlines. Yesterday morning there was water for some folks for a short time, but they turned off the water since there was a broken pipe. After it was fixed, the water was turned on (from the tank up the hill) and we had water for a while.

They are paving the road here in Plan Grande and so there is no really good direct way to get to my house.

I can get here from Dulce Nombre by driving through a cow pasture.

From Candelaria it’s down to a ravine and then up and up and up. The hills are very steep. 

Wednesday, returning from a trip to Cucuyagua, I took that road. It had rained and so it was slippery. I started up one hill (seen above) and had to back down and use an alternative road.

The next day I had a meeting. After a whole night of rain, the road was very slippery. I gave a ride to a neighbor but as we went down the road, on an S curve, I felt the car fishtailing. But we got to the bottom of the ravine safely. Going up on the other side, at one point I thought we wouldn’t be able to go up. The car stalled and I started it again and, by the grace of God, we made it.

So, I’m now leaving my car with folks who live closer to the main road and walking home. That means that when I go to seek the car I have a ten-minute walk uphill!

The other night, the electricity went off in the whole region for several hours. But yesterday, the electricity was out from 7:05 am to 7:00 pm.

But that’s all part of life.

Thanks be to God there are also signs of hope.

A growing mango tree by my house.

Chorchas (orioles) pecking and singing at the kitchen window (and other windows of the house.)

Cows in a nearby pasture.

Celebration of the feast of Saint Joseph yesterday in San José Quebraditas.

Kids in Plan Grande  greeting me as I walk down the hill to the house.

And the promise of a paved road.

God is good.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The tamed ass of Palm Sunday

Today I led a workshop for the catechists in Zone 4 of the parish. I do like this zone a lot because there are many catechists who have caught our vision of participative catechesis, that helps the children and youth encounter Christ – and not just memorize “facts” about the faith.

I decided to spend part of the time on helping the catechists develop new ways to use the Bible in their classes. I was in for a surprise – and a lesson.

I decided to use the Gospel accounts of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in a communal Ignatian contemplation approach, promoting the use of the imagination. Before we started I explained the use of our senses in imaginatively encountering Christ in the Gospels.

I read three accounts of the events of Palm Sunday, starting with Luke 19: 29-40, followed by Mark and Matthew – leaving time between the readings for prayer and imaginative contemplation. After the last period of silence, I invited them to share what it meant to them in groups of two or three. Then I opened up the prayer to sharing in the group.

Two young men had noted something that I had barely noticed. In Luke’s Gospel, the disciples are told they will find a donkey, a filly, a young ass – πῶλον, “on which no one has ever sat.”

They told me how they were first afraid – as Jesus was about to mount the donkey. If no one has ever mounted a donkey, the donkey will be very frisky and will try to throw the person off. It needs to be broken in before one can safely ride on a young filly. It is dangerous to try to ride on a donkey on which no one has ever sat. You need to get someone to break in the burro before you can ride it or use it to carry burdens.

They found themselves afraid for Jesus.

But then Jesus mounted the donkey and it was as gentle as could be – even carrying him over palms and mantles, in the midst of a noisy crowd, crying out “Hosanna!”

They were amazed.

I was amazed at this incredible insight that most of us who read the scriptures never notice. Jesus rides on a donkey that has not been broken in. In fact, in his gentleness he tames the beast.

Later I spoke with the two men and we reflected that in the Garden of Eden the animals were tame. But when sin comes into the world, we have situations in which donkeys will try to unseat anyone who tries to sit on them. But Jesus, restoring creation to its state of peace before the fall, can sit on this beast that has become tame.

Jesus tames us with his gentleness. He restores peace with his presence.
Later in the workshop I had the catechists break into three groups and work on the Palm Sunday story in three ways – drawings, retelling the story in their own words, and drama.

I ended up making an ass of myself in the drama!

Significantly I ended the workshop with Matthew 11: 25-30 that begins with this verse:
I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, but revealed them to the simple people.

Am I graced!


This was first posted to my blog of reflections, Walk the Way, but I think it deserves a wider readership.