Advent – the season of hoping for the coming of Christ – began yesterday. But hope is what life is about here in Honduras.
People hope for food, for water, for good weather for their fields, for good prices for their coffee crops, for justice. But often they have to wait.
How we wait is important. Do we wait impatiently, always expecting that our needs will be satisfied immediately? Or do we wait passively, hoping that maybe something will happen for us?
In the past week or so, I’ve had several experiences that hint of other ways of waiting.
On Sunday, November 25, the parish of Dulce Nombre de María celebrated the feast of Christ the King with a procession, Mass, and dedication of a new building. People came from all parts of the parish to celebrate.
|The people of Dolores walking in procession with the Eucharist|
People walked from Dolores with the monstrance with the Host on a truck. Others came, walking riding rented pick ups, or on the regular buses that serve the area. I am continually amazed at the commitment of these people who will walk hours for a church meeting or celebration.
During the Mass about ten young people from a village were baptized. Another sign of hope as more young people make the commitment to live out their faith.
|Baptisms in the Christ the King Mass|
As Communion began, Padre Efraín, the pastor, motioned for me to come and helped distribute the Eucharist. As I placed the host on the tongues of many people I knew, I was filled with a deep sense of faith and of unity with Christ and the People of God there present.
After Mass we blessed the new building with a kitchen, dining room, and a meeting hall which will help the parish’s efforts of evangelization, bringing the Good News to the people, by providing a decent place for training sessions for people from many villages.
|Blessing the new building|
Then there was food for everyone since people had brought ticucos, empañadas (pupusas), and even tamales to share.
We used the meeting hall for the first time this past Friday and Saturday for the parish’s annual evaluation and planning meeting. Twenty-five people came in from the parish. Two seminarians who are helping in the parish for a month, as well as René who is discerning his vocation before entering the seminary in January, were also present.
|René, with Ignacio and Gustavo, at the Dulce Nombre parish meeting|
The evaluation was at times intense as we looked at what had been planned for this year in each of the three ministries of the parish: liturgical, prophetic, and social. We also shared evaluations that several of the sectors of the parish had made.
In all, I think the parish is doing fairly well, with a few areas where we need to improve. But the parish has developed a plan, a calendar, and a series of objectives for the coming year.
This planning, I think, is a sign of a people who are waiting – but expectantly, ready to move forward and respond to God’s call.
Many of the events are training sessions, helping people to become better catechists, lay preachers, retreat leaders for base communities, or leaders of Celebrations of the Word in their villages.
There are other events where they will celebrate their faith – with Masses and Baptisms and first Communions in the villages, with two youth get-togethers for Mass and soccer, with Masses and blessings of seeds in April and May, and the regular Sunday celebrations and weekly meetings of base communities in the villages.
There are hopes that a Spanish Catholic aid organization will again help the parish by financing an agricultural project.
This is one way of waiting – getting ready to respond to God’s call and celebrating God’s work in daily life.
But I think there is another aspect of waiting, in a positive sense. We need to celebrate our successes (how God has done good with us) and share our dreams.
Last Wednesday I went with Mari who works with Cáritas to the town of Erandique, Lempira – over terrible roads – to lead a workshop for youth in the parish. Hipólito, who is from the parish and works with Cáritas, had invited us as international facilitators to share with the 36 youth who came. Interestingly, Mari is from Cuba and I’m from the US – a nice way to show the young people that we must go beyond national borders and controversies.
|Youth in Erandique working together, with Hipólito looking on|
I started with having the young people share in groups what they had achieved, personally ad as a youth group in the parish. Some found this hard to do and one young woman even said that she felt that she had not achieved much. After this, I asked them to work in groups on what their dreams were for young people in their community in two years.
After I finished Mari used what the young people had shared to help them think about their capacities, their dreams, their sense of leadership, and the need to organize. She helped the young people see the significance of a quote I had shared from Dom Helder Câmara, the late Brazilian archbishop:
When we dream alone, it’s only a dream; when we dream together, it’s the beginning of a new reality.
But then there are nightmares.
I am without a car for about a week because on Thursday night, just before the parish meeting, my car began to emit a terrible noise and then wouldn't start. My mechanic moved the car to his shop and found out that the crankshaft had cracked - all the way through. He had never seen this type of damage before. And so I'm getting it repaired - for more than $500. But at least this didn't happen out in a rural village.
Here's a photo of the cracked crankshaft:
And so I'm waiting for the motor to be repaired - something I don't wish for anyone.