Sunday, March 01, 2020

Lent has begun - a chatty blog post

On Ash Wednesday I served as a deacon at the morning Mass in Dulce Nombre. The Mass was mostly for the delegates of the Word who would be signing the people with ashes in their communities. As the readings began, Padre German leaned over to me and asked if I was ready to preach. Of course. I try to have something prepared – sometimes, as yesterday, written out – if only on a sheet of paper.

After Mass, I went to two distant villages to visit the sick and sign them with ashes. In the past I’ve often gone to a community that didn’t send a delegate to the morning Mass, but this year I decided to visit the sick – a great way to begin Lent. I’ve visited these communities two or three times before to bring communion to the sick, partly because they don’t have a communion minister. I had planned to go later but a delegate in the community had told me that someone told her that I would be there February 24. I don’t recall saying that and couldn’t go on Monday because of car repairs. So I decided to go.

Three persons had gotten worse since the last time and so I was glad to see them and share Communion with two of them. What was interesting was that the next day the pastor will be in both villages for confessions and Masses. The one village has arranged for someone to transport five of the sick to the church for confession.


In the last two weeks there have been a number of workshops which I have led or in which I helped.

We are beginning a new way of doing religious formation of children in several villages. Up to this point, most of the preparation has been to prepare for sacraments. The new manner, promoted on a national level, is by ages. Since it’s new material, I met with catechists from six villages. I’m hoping that this works out well.

I also had a meeting for those who are preparing to become new catechists; thirty-one arrived.

The parish is trying to help revive the base communities and so we had all-day workshops in two zones of the parish last week and in the other two this week.

The day after Ash Wednesday I went to a forum on environmental issues sponsored by JPIC, a Franciscan association for Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation. It was informative and I made a few contacts to get information about issues of mining nearby.


The Church in Latin America has made mission central to its life, especially since the 2007 meeting of the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean in Aparecida, Brazil. Since Padre German came to the parish, we’ve been having missions in the parish, usually weeks when parishioners go forth two by two to villages, visiting homes to evangelize the people. Recently we have also had missions for the first half of Holy Week.

The missionaries do not go out without formation. Last Tuesday we had a training session. Since the Honduran Church has set peace and reconciliation as its central theme this year, I spent almost two hours on the themes of forgiveness and reconciliation. It was not easy to prepare, but, thank God, I have been studying the works of John Paul Lederach and Father Robert Schreiter. In addition, Sister Nancy Meyerhofer has shared with me some of the materials she used in a diocesan meeting and with the youth leaders in her parish. I also had worked on this theme for a December week of classes for the Honduran Conference of Religious.

I know that at least four of the missionaries had been instruments of reconciliation in communities where they had gone in previous years. I was also encouraged by the response of the participants as we tried to work through the themes of forgiveness and reconciliation. I hope that we can have a few day-long workshops to help us develop our capacity to be instruments of peace and reconciliation in the parish. The pastor is talking about places of listening, where people can come and share what is happening in their lives – most of all in those who are suffering distress because of the violence around them.

This is very important and I find it hopeful that we are beginning Lent with this vision.


Sunday, we had the rite of election of catechumens, who will, God willing, be baptized at the Easer Vigil. We had fourteen. However, three of these did not get to the rite of election in December for various valid reasons and so we celebrated the rite of entry in the catechumenate at the beginning of Mass. One of the most moving parts of this rite is the signing of the persons with the cross on their senses. For me, the most poignant part is when the minister and the godparents kneel before the catechumens and sign them on their feet.

After the initial rites, as we sat down to listen to the readings, Padre German leaned over and asked me if I was ready to preach. Despite trying to deal with all the details of the rites, I was ready.


This next week and a half, after a clergy meeting, I have four days of training for catechists in different zones of the parish, as well as a meeting with the communion ministers and youth leaders and a deanery meeting. As usual, I will go to a rural village Sunday morning for a Celebration of the Word with Communion.

Then, God willing I will be gone for eleven days. There is a symposium on the permanent diaconate in Germany sponsored by the International Diaconate Center. After some thought and conferring with the bishop and the pastor, I decided to go. Since this is probably the last time I’ll get to Europe, I decided to spend a few days of “vacation,” visiting Chartres, Paris, and Dachau.

When I get back we have the annual clergy spiritual exercises. Then it’s only two weeks to Easter. Lent this year will be a whirlwind. I just pray for some calmness – and conversion.


On Sunday, February 16, I went to Debajiados, a remote village for Celebration of the Word with Communion. It’s one of my favorite places to visit. After the Celebration I went to take Communion to two women. They both live far from the town church and so I drove about 10 minutes and then hiked up the hill for about 10 to 15 minutes. I didn’t go alone – I was accompanied by 5 adults and 13 kids. Some of them were relatives of the two women I visited. It was great to have them with me.

On Saturday, February 22, I did six baptisms. On Sunday, February 23, after Mass in Concepción, I went to San Juan for a Celebration of the Word with Communion. It was not easy to preach the Gospel of loving your enemies. There have been three killings there in the last few months.

We are repairing and repainting the church, inside and out. Here's how the church looks as they apply paint to neutralize the oil-based paint. God willing, we will have a mural on the apse, above the altar. An artist will be coming in April or May.

We have had a few cold and rainy days. The cold goes right through you, since it’s so damp. Though people in the US might find my complaining, trying to sleep when it’s 59 degrees in the bedroom means two or three heavy blankets. I really didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. This is what the world here looked like at 5:48 am.

No comments: