Sunday, May 15, 2016

Celebrating St Isidore and more

This year the feast of San Isidro Labrador – Saint Isidore the Farmer – falls on Pentecost Sunday. But patronal feasts are very important here and so there were some interesting ways we celebrating liturgies.

Saint Isidore, a farmer laborer from near Madrid, lived from 1070 to 1130. He is the patron of farmers, together with his wife, Saint Maria de la Cabeza, also known as Saint Turibia.

Interestingly Saint Isidore was canonized with a bunch of heavy weights - Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, and Philip Neri.

Here he is invoked by many farmers and usually his feast is accompanied by rains, though this year we are still waiting. It's been a very dry, hot year and there are fears of drought and water shortages, partly due to climate change and partly due to the destruction of the forests here - for the sake of financial gain.

But there is a refrain often used here: 
San Isidro, ponga la lluvia y quita el sol.
 Loosely paraphrased:
Saint Isidore, bring on the rains, and stop the raging sun.
On Saturday, Padre German celebrated Mass in the morning in San Isidro La Cueva. The night before they had a procession as well as a vigil until early in the morning. The Mass was simple and included blessing of seeds.

San Isidro La Cueva
On Sunday, today,n we had Mass in Yaruconte, whose patron is Saint Isidore, who is also patron of the sector of the parish. People arrived and walked in procession from a soccer field to a farm building which had been prepared for Mass. We celebrated in what is a “trapiche” – a place where sugar cane is locally processed.  It was the only place int he village large enough to accommodate the crowd. How appropriate that we celebrated the Eucharist in a trapiche.

Padre German, who I fear has been wearing himself out with numerous Masses, asked me to say a few words at each place. He has become very insistent on the necessity to care for the earth and to stop the burnings. 

I spoke briefly at each Mass.

What first strikes me about Saint Isidore is that he is a campesino, a farm laborer, who lived out his life of holiness, together with his wife, in the daily labors of a farmer. The people I work with are more like him than me. God helps us work out our holiness in our daily lives.

In many ways he lived out the first reading for his feast – from the first chapter of Genesis. I challenged the people to think about “dominating” in terms of working the land as the Lord (“Dominus,” in Latin) does – with tenderness. He cared for the land. In contrast I reminded the people of the quemas,  the burning of fields mostly to clear them for planting coffee. We ought to imitate Isidore’s care for the land.
Quema en El Raizal, on the way to San Isidro La Cueva
Secondly, Saint Isidore, though himself poor, welcomed the poor to his table. He also had a great love for all of God’s creation. I shared the story of how, one winter day, he opened his sack of wheat to share with some hungry birds. People made fun of him but when he got to the mill to grind his corn, the bag was full.

Lastly, I reminded the people that this care for the land, this love of the poor and al created beings, came from his love of God, his faith, his connection with God. (The Gospel was from the Last Supper where Jesus reminds his disciples that He is the vine and we are the branches and we need to continue to be connected with Him.) He went to daily Mass and he prayed as he worked. I reminded the people that we do need to come together for the Eucharist but we also can pray when we work. Indeed, our work can become a prayer.

New statue of San Isidro en la Cueva
It was good to be able to be with the people to celebrate these days.

The past few days have been busy – and some of it has been draining.

Friday, Padre German sent me to a village to see about a tragic event. A jilted boyfriend, jealous and vengeful, had chained the door of the room where his former girlfriend was sleeping with her two young children, another man, and two of her nephews. Then he set it on fire. The little children and the woman were in the hospital but the two young boys and her sister were there and we talked for a while. The boys were without a change of clothes and so I arranged some shirts and pants for them.  Sadly, the woman died this morning in a hospital in Tegucigalpa. The family still feels threatened, even though the police are looking for the arsonist. So they are having two groups of men from the village watch the house during the night.

This is a village that has suffered much this past year. There have been several cases of assaults with machetes or guns – mostly because of drug or alcohol abuse, as I was told.

There was also a tragic case where two young men were killed by military in the village and another young man unjustly imprisoned.

It was hard to be there but that is what we are about here – accompanying people n their joys and pains.

Lest you think I didn’t celebrate Pentecost, I took part in the Vigil we had in Dulce Nombre, from 6:30 to 10:30 pm on Saturday. First a bonfire, then a procession, then a Holy Hour, and then Mass (with five readings).

Needless to say I’m a bit tired, but the next two days are quite full.

St. Thomas Aquinas Coffee Committee is ready to receive about 3000 pounds of green coffee from the coffee association and we have to arrange to get it to the Beneficio that will process it this week. Finally, it will be on its way to Ames in June.

But I also have to try to contact the bishop to determine the date of my ordination as a permanent deacon for the diocese.

All this is before I leave for Newark on Wednesday for my pre-ordination retreat, which a friend helped arrange with the Office of the Diaconate in the Newark Archdiocese.

Life is not uncomplicated and full – but it is ever a joy.

¡Gracias a Dios!

I almost forgot one of the joys of Mass today. Two babies were presented to the people gathered for Mass in Yaruconte. Presentation of babies about forty days after their birth is a common custom here in the countryside.

¡Gracias a la Vida!

Looking out the church door in San Isidro La Cueva

1 comment:

Artsy Fartsy said...

Brother Juancito..So sorry to hear of these tragic past few days. I remember some such insolents of jealously from when I lived in Honduras. It is not only there, but all over the world that these horrors occur. I would so like to see an end to this thinking.
The weather can be insufferable this time of year. Prayers for your continued strength and courage, and that the rains come soon.