Thursday, November 24, 2016

Mercy upon mercy upon mercy

Sunday, the feast of Christ the king, we ended the Year of Mercy with a parish-wide Mass in Concepción.

A thousand or more gathered in Dulce Nombre and we walked in the mud and the cold light rain to Concepción. On the way we stopped three times to pray for peace and we also stopped at the city cemetery to commend to God the body of a woman from one of the villages.

In the Mass, we commemorated the Delegates of the Word in the parish. The delegates were formed fifty years ago and are a special way the Honduras Church responded to the lack of Sunday celebrations in the thousands of rural villages. Before his homily, Padre German had one delegate read the letter that Pope Francis had sent to the Honduran bishops praising the delegates. After Mass 4000 tamales were distributed and the people left for their home.

Mateo, delegate of the Word, reading the letter of Pope Francis to the delegates
The Sunday before, the parish had gone to close the Holy Door at the shrine of the Crucified Christ in Quezailica. Parishioners from the parish of Fatima in Santa Rosa and from Dulce Nombre participated.

But that Sunday began auspiciously for me. At 4:30 am, I heard loud cries of lament from the house just below mine. It lasted for at least half an hour. After washing up, I asked another neighbor what was happening. He told me that the father of the family had been killed. I accompanied him and two others to the site of the murder, in another part of Plan Grande. We stayed until the police took the body to the morgue.

Monday, I had to go to Santa Rosa to get my brakes fixed. But first I went to the neighbor’s house and prayed at the coffin. Using the ritual, I blessed the body and sprinkled it with holy water. I hoped to return for a celebration of the word and the burial, but was unable.

I later discovered that his brother, who had also been shot, had died. Last night I attended the last evening of the novenario, the nine days of prayer for the dead in their homes. After others led the rosary, I led a prayer.

Last Wednesday I went to Gracias, to prepare for a workshop on Thursday and Friday on Alternatives to Violence in the prison. It was a very good group, very responsive to the theme we had chosen: anger. But in the time there I was several times face to face with the injustice of the so-called “justice” system in Honduras. As I knew, there are people who have incarcerated for more than a year without a trial; there are others who are unjustly imprisoned; there are others who are imprisoned for what seems to be what would be called “legitimate self-defense” in the US.

Yesterday, I was called to visit a sick young woman in a village about an hour from Plan Grande. Our pastor is away on a much-needed vacation and so I went.

I was surprised to find out that the sick woman was only seventeen years old. She has been ill for over four months and had had a surgery; she was waiting for an appointment in San Pero Sula. But she had been bed-ridden for several days and was not eating. She was also suffering from anemia. I found out that she has kidney problems but, because of an inflamed liver, a doctor who visited her advised against sending her to San Pedro Sula. The doctor also noted that there was no medicine available in the clinic or the nearby hospital for her. She also had a nine-month old boy, who was – thanks be to God – in good health.

I prayed at her bedside with her mother and a few others nearby. She is living with a young man and wanted to go to confession but Padre German is out of the parish until next week. I told her about God’s merciful forgiveness. Though I didn’t give her Communion, I placed the pyx with the Blessed Sacrament on her chest. How I longed to give her Communion…

Today I’m off to Gracias to share a noon meal with the sisters there and with a Common Venture group from Iowa that is helping the Gracias parish in building their retreat center. But I’ll have to get back to do a Celebration of the Word with Communion at the main church in Dulce Nombre.

This weekend will be busy. Saturday morning I have a Celebration of the Word with Communion in Dolores for those graduating from ninth grade. I’ll return that night for a 7:00 pm Sunday vigil Celebration with Communion. Sunday morning I’ll head out to Concepción for a 7:00 am Celebration of the word with Communion. Later at 10:00 am we’ll have the parish wide celebration of those over fourteen who are entering the catechumenate in order to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. Padre German won’t be back until Sunday night and so I’ll be presiding over the Rite of Entry into the Catechumenate as well as the Celebration of the Word with Communion.

I’m also trying to finish up some writing for a project that some young priests of the diocese have to provide material for base communities, based on the Sunday readings.

And the internet has not been dependable.

But today, Thanksgiving in the US, I feel grateful for God – in the midst of the joys and pains of God’s people, here in Honduras. For God is merciful.

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