The Missions: San Francisco and San José

Unless the mission is oriented by charity, that is, unless it springs from a profound act of divine love, it risks being reduced to mere philanthropic and social activity...Consequently, being missionaries means loving God with all one's heart, even to the point, if necessary, of dying for him. - Pope Benedict XVI

My Christmas Day was spent at a sumptuous feast with our American volunteers the Kirby family, Maire Eggers and, of course Fr. Gee, and our friend Fr. Mike Seis from a neighboring parish. This topped off the day and set my equilibrium aright after a less than inspirational morning of saying Mass for a dozen people in the only Christmas Mass the town of Pedro Santana had. The rest of my congregation isn’t accustomed to attending Mass on Christmas Day or they were at the house of a family in mourning. This was how my parish entered into this blessed season: a teacher (of the public school) in jail for manslaughter and a town drunk dead. I’m not too clear on many details, but Deacon Roberto reports that the dead man was last seen by him stumbling drunk, wielding a machete, looking for a fight. Christmas Mass made me feel like the King in our Lord’s parable who gives a banquet and all the guests don’t show because they are attending to “better” things. Likewise, the sentiments of this parable were not lost on me as I headed out to the highways and byways in search of other guests. I found a truckload in two villages and brought them to my scheduled Mass in the chapel of El Córbano where we had a packed chapel. Another anecdote unique to a Dominican Christmas, during our Christmas drama, they were bold enough to use a real baby for our Virgin Mary to hold. Miraculously, he played a good baby Jesus, with no signs of Originial Sin which all too often manifest themselves at inopprotune times during my Baptisms.


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