I almost lost it this morning at Mass in Dulce Nombre.
This is the first Sunday of Lent and the parish was celebrating the rite of acceptance of the catechumens who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil.
About 96 young people from 21 towns and villages came – some in busses, some packed in pick ups, some walking.
They have been in a formation process since last August, run by catechists in their villages. The quality of the formation is varied and the motivations for these mostly young people (over 14 years of age) are probably mixed. But I found it moving as they came forward and placed a card with their name on it in baskets, before the altar. I found myself close to tears. I had met some of them in November when they entered the catechumenate and I work with their catechists.
One of the moist amazing tales is of the eight young people from Torera, a village that had no religious formation ever until this year. Now each Sunday a group comes from a nearby village for a Celebration of the Word and the formation of the catechumens. Real mission territory. I’ve been there twice – with the people from Plan Grande which is one of the communities that sends its “missionaries” to evangelize this almost abandoned village.
There are other villages. Granadillal arrived late. The bus they were on broke down and they had to seek other transportation – but they made it at nearly the last moment.
|Padre German offering the names of the elect|
After the rite, the catechumens – now called the elect – left the church to spend a short time together with me and other catechists.
As I did last year, I reflected on how Jesus had been tempted. We are all tempted. That is not sinful. But we need God’s help lest we “fall into temptation,” and the Spanish translation of the Lord’s Prayer puts it.
I had them write or draw a temptation and then they put the papers on the floor in the shape of the Cross to help them realize how Christ crucified and risen helps us resist and overcome temptation.
It was surprising, again, to realize how many of these young people cannot write.
Days like today give me hope and help me continue to long to serve these people even more.