THE GIFT OF THE POOR

Pedro Arrupe tells of visiting his brother Jesuits who were working in a desperately poor slum in Latin America. During his visit he celebrated Mass for the local people in a small, decrepit building; cats and dogs wandered in and out during the Mass. Afterward,  Arrupe was invited to the house of one of the members of the congregation and received an unexpected gift.

Here’s what happened after Mass, in Arrupe’s own words:

When it was over, a big devil whose hang-dog look made me almost afraid said, “Come to my place. I have something to give you.” I was undecided; I didn’t know whether to accept or not, but the priest who was with me said, “Accept, Father, they are good people.” I went to his place; his house was a hovel nearly on the point of collapsing. He had me sit down on a rickety old chair. From there I could see the sunset. The big man said to me, “Look, sir, how beautiful it is!” We sat in silence for several minutes. The sun disappeared. The man then said, “I didn’t know how to thank you for all you have done for us. I have nothing to give you, but I thought you would like to see this sunset. You liked it, didn’t you? Good evening.” And then he shook my hand.

As I walked away I though, “I have seldom met such a kindhearted person.” I was strolling along that lane when a poorly dressed woman came up to me; she kissed my hand, looked at me, and with a voice filled with emotion said, “Father, pray for me and my children. I was at that beautiful Mass you celebrated. I must hurry home. But I have nothing to give my children. Pray to the Lord for me; he’s the one who must help us.” And she disappeared running in the direction of her home.

Many indeed are the things I learned thanks to that Mass among the poor. What a contrast with the great gatherings of the powerful of this world.

Source | Pedro Arrupe, One Jesuit’s Spiritual Journey: Autobiographical Conversations with Jean-Claude Dietsch SJ
Also told in James Martin, The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything, pages 211-212
and James Martin, My Life with the Saints, pages 107-108

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • There are those who have everything and daily miss the sunset and the many other blessings that companion us day by day.
  • There are those who have nothing and daily embrace the sunset as a precious gift from above that sustains us.

BEYOND ADORATION

A story told my cardinal Martini SJ, has to do with an Italian couple that’s getting married. They have an arrange­ment with the parish priest to have a little reception in the parish courtyard outside the church. But it rained, and they couldn’t have the reception, so they said to the priest, “Would it be all right if we had the celebration in the church?”

Now father wasn’t one bit happy about having a recep­tion in the church, but they said, “We will eat a little cake, sing a little song, drink a little wine, and then go home.” So father was persuaded. But being good life-loving Italians they drank a little wine, sang a little song, then drank a little more wine, and sang some more songs, and within a half hour there was a great celebration going on in the church. And everybody was having a great time, lots of fun and frolic. But father was all tense, pacing up and down in the sacristy, all upset about the noise they were making. The assistant pastor comes in and says, “I see you are quite tense”.

“Of course, I’m tense. Listen to all the noise they are making, and in the House of God!, for heaven’s sake!”

“Well, Father, they really had no place to go.”

“I know that! But do they have to make all that racket?”

“Well, we mustn’t forget, must we, father, that Jesus himself was once present at a wedding!”

Father says, “I know Jesus Christ was present at a wed­ding banquet, you don’t have to tell me Jesus Christ was present at a wedding banquet! But they didn’t have the Blessed Sacrament there!”

Source | Anthony de Mello,  Awareness. Page 65 ff

PONDER AND CONSIDER

You know there are times like that when the Blessed Sacrament becomes more important than Jesus Christ. When worship becomes more important than love, when the Church becomes more important than life. When God becomes more important than the neighbor. And so it goes on. That’s the danger. To my mind this is what Jesus was evidently calling us to – first things first! The human being is much more important than the Sabbath.