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

our first group of the year will be down tonight - marymount university arrives for the third consecutive year. they will be followed by a whole slew of groups beginning in may.

since they will be working in pedro santana, i'll leave it to fr murphy to keep you all posted.

otherwise, all is well. the friday soup dinner after stations had about 100 people last week.

i continue my onslaught about Good Friday (for more info see 2 posts below this one). only a few weeks left of lent, so it'll be interesting to see if this does any good.

that's it, enjoy the 29th of feb.

Last week, I visited for the second time in my fours years here one of the more remote corners of the world, a town in my parish known as La Llanadita. This is a village of 8 houses, located on a mountaintop of nearly 4,000 feet. I celebrated Mass and baptized a half dozen children. Of those participating, nobody received Holy Communion, and I was conscious of keeping things simple and staying away from the details of the Lenten season that even veteran Catholics find a little confusing. Well, imagine my surprise when upon having lunch with the folks I decline some meat in honor of a Lenten observance and my hostess states that she doesn’t eat meat during Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. Just when I think a community is completely in the dark about the faith, a beam of light cuts through. (photo pending better satellite connection)

okay, i don't have much to say other than i am still impressed by the number of people that come to stations of the cross and the soup dinner every friday.

wait, i do have something to say:

an evil tradition has crept into the banica mindset and culture. they choose Good Friday as the number one party day of the year. so, i began on the first sunday of lent and will continue every sunday of lent to preach the importance of silence and meditation and penance on the day of Christ's death. we will see what happens...

it rained last night - 10 feb. i think that's the first feb rain in 5 years.

it'll be good to get out on the road and not have to breathe in 2 months of dust...

oddly enough, right now, at 7:53 am on ash wednesday morning, it's 59.3 degrees in bánica and 66.3 in front royal, va.

happy ash wednesday, we had a full church this morning for Mass and i'm heading out to sabana cruz for Mass #2.

i'm back safe and sound, enjoying the nippy 64.5 degree morning.

it's 81.6 now (high noon).

Finally, I found a community that wants to celebrate Candlemas. In the prayers that are included for the feast of Presentation in the Roman Missal there is the rite of blessing of candles. This is an ancient tradition that finds its source in Sacred Scripture when blessed Simeon declares our Lord to be the “light for the nations” when the Christ Child is officially presented in the Temple. Now, I found this community in the most unlikely of spots and it wasn’t all ‘according to the book’. La Peña is a three hours drive from the rectory and I arrived for my normally scheduled monthly Mass on February 1. The feast of the Presentation is on the 2nd of February (Ground Hog Day for us Americans), but I found my community, one of the many that time seemingly forgot, in the throws of a great feast. They explained to me that it was the Day of the Candle. Then I began to understand the confused logic. Traditionally, Candlemas is celebrated 40 days after Christmas. For most of our parishioners, one celebrates the day of the Lord’s birth, December 24th with a Christmas Eve dinner. So naturally, it’s a day early. But, that wasn’t the only irregularity.

After Mass, a few of the men who had kept vigil outside of church with their drums and home made rum lead the children from the home of the family throwing the party. The procession began from the family altar of the house that was covered in saints’ images, candles to be blessed and a variety of food placed in bowls. These altars are not unusual, but the food on it was a new for me. These men, with children in tow, walked ceremoniously to the other side of the yard where a stream flowed. I approached to investigate, but my presence seemed to be slowing up the works. So, I stepped back to look from a distance (I didn’t want to miss anything). One of the authentically pious, but simple women of the church, sensed my concern and assured me that this was a harmless plea for a heavenly blessing, but what I witnessed was some type of oblation to a stream. It is a neglected, but still smoldering Christianity that I serve here. It is full of frustrations and surprises.

Speaking of surprises, it has been reported that in the town of Costanza (not in my parish, but I believe in the diocese) this week had snow that stuck to the ground.

thanks for all the prayers.

retreat went very well and i'm refreshed and ready to tackle lent.

please pray for a safe flight back to banica.

i'll get the lenten schedule together soon and post it.

one note of (perhaps) interest: as you can see, i didn't change the blog layout this year. i wasn't inspired to do so and thus the blog will remain the same for another year, or at least until my summer vacation when i have access to true broadband again.


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