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

Just showing off the parish

Ever ignorant of the cultural differences that separate me from the folks God has given me to attend, from our dinner table I handed our cook a small plate with a piece of sliced bread and asked her to toast it for me. She dutifully returned me the bread with a warning that the plate was hot; I guess I didn’t specify which I wanted toasted.

Last month, I was tending to a village reachable via mule. At the beginning of our return journey, my mule was well rested and full of energy and wanted to show the other mule who would be first in line. This started a race. When our exasperated mule driver finally reigned in the frisky beasts, he expressed his frustration by asking the one mounted on the errant mule, “Father, don’t you know how to ride a mule?” It must have seemed the height of irony for the man who cares for the parish mules to realize that the “owner” is completely green in the saddle. When he apologized later for being somewhat vexed he and his friend had a good laugh when I explained to them that nobody where I’m from has an animal for transportation.


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