|Fr Evaristo Sada, LC|
Part 5 in a series on priestly experiences and
insights, published on Thursdays in the Year for Priests.
2009. As a bridge between God and man, and a
man chosen from among men, the priest learns more about
human nature and divine nature every day. Painful or joyful,
these personal lessons gradually form a deeper and more nuanced
understanding of the world, God, and oneself.
For Fr Evaristo Sada,
LC, the priesthood is, more than anything, an ongoing discovery
of the merciful heart of Christ. Sometimes those moments of
discovery take place in the intimate silence of heart-to-heart prayer
in front of the Eucharist. And sometimes they take place
on missions, on a plane, in the confessional… or in
a hospital room.
The silent prayer
He was in Mexico City when
his sister called him with an urgent request to come
see her daughter, who was gravely ill in the hospital.
As soon as he arrived, a nurse from his niece’s
intensive care unit asked him to make a quick stop
to see an elderly woman who was on the verge
A sad sight awaited him at the door
of her room. The old lady’s face was completely purple:
she had fallen down the stairs and had three fractures
in her cranium. She was also unconscious.
“Mamá, wake up!
Mamá, wake up!” cried her son, a grown man. He
was on the edge of desperation, blinded by grief. His
mother lay motionless in the bed.
When the son saw a
priest standing in the doorway, he was livid.
“Who called you?”
he demanded. Fr Evaristo tried to explain.
“Get out of
here!” he shouted. “Just get out!”
Fr Evaristo stayed by the
door and asked him, “Please let me in just for
“No!” said the man.
Twice more he asked
for permission to enter. Finally, the man grudgingly conceded him
a few moments.
Fr Evaristo drew close to the bedside.
The woman’s eyes were shut with no signs of consciousness.
He took her hand.
“I am a priest,” he said.
“I have come to ask you if you would like
to receive the sacraments.”
At that moment, the woman cracked opened
her eyes and nodded her head. Fr Evaristo was able
to administer the sacrament of confession and a few moments
later she died.
Somewhere deep inside, that woman’s heart and soul
had reached out for her Savior in a silent prayer
that only He heard. And the merciful heart of Christ
had answered, bringing a priest to her door.
and divine nature
For a priest, the sacrament of reconciliation is
also a privileged moment to see how God’s charity surpasses
our notions of human justice.
“Before so much misery, and
even at times cruelty, our natural human reaction could be
to respond sharply,” said Fr Evaristo.
“But then you realize
that Christ the Good Shepherd takes possession of your priestly
heart, making it a compassionate, patient, and humble vessel of
Jesus’ love. And you find yourself telling the penitent with
your attitude and words that there is nothing they can
ever do to make Jesus love them less. It’s like
Jesus with the adulterous woman,” he said.
For Fr Evaristo, these
are moments when he finds himself touching two realities: one
is the weakness of human nature. The other is the beauty
and greatness of the merciful heart of Christ.
heart of Christ, shining out above the inconstancy, pettiness, and
betrayals of human nature, is what matters most.
A child’s first
Discovering Christ’s heart is a process that grows with
time. A child’s first experience of God’s love is very
different from the experience of a grown man. But that
first experience is a seed of what is to come.
For Fr Evaristo, it all began when he was a
small child coming to church with his mother. He was
full of curiosity about what lay inside that special golden
box that only the priest could open.
“When the priest
opened the tabernacle, he did it quickly and you couldn’t
see what was inside because of the curtain that covered
the door. He only put his hand in and took
it out, but I could never see the inside. I
asked my mom about what was inside and if she
could bring me closer to see. She told me that
if God allowed it, one day I would be able
to see inside.”
He was only 6 at the time.
was the beginning of my love for Christ in the
Eucharist,” he said.
Today, he still goes back to the tabernacle
to talk to the Friend hidden inside. Some days he
brings a heart weighed down with sorrow. And somehow, those
are the best times.
“Now, some of the most special moments
in my life are when God allows me to suffer
and I go to be with him. When I feel
pain, loneliness, humiliation, confusion… I go to Jesus in the
Eucharist. Sometimes I lean my head on the tabernacle. Sometimes
I open it and contemplate him. And there I am,
taking time to be with my best Friend.”
|Fr Evaristo Sada on the day of his priestly ordination at the hands of Pope John Paul II.|
In difficult times
anyone might guess, the past few months have been difficult
ones for the Legion of Christ. And as the General
Secretary for the Legion, Fr Evaristo has experienced that suffering
alongside everyone else.
In the midst of the storm, that merciful
heart of Christ continues to be a place of refuge
“In these months in which God has allowed
so much suffering, He has not left me alone. He
has been faithful, and I have experienced his love in
an overwhelming way,” he said. “I feel that I am
standing on solid rock, on the solid rock of God’s
love, who is the one who called me and consecrated
Although the winds and waters are running high, he has
confidence that the Legion will make it through the storm.
see the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi as a
boat that God built for me, and in which he
invited me to set out into the deep and bring
many people to heaven. It can go through stormy times,
but it is secure because the boat is the very
hands of the God the Father, and Jesus is on
board with us, although sometimes he seems to be sleeping,”
Living for a Person
Confidence in Christ is a trust
placed in a Person, not in a formula or some
abstract force. This is a message that every Christian is
called to share—that Jesus is alive and aware of what
happens to us, that he has a plan for our
lives, and that he is not really napping on the
job. Most of all, it means believing that this Person,
who knows us inside and out, is merciful and good.
For Fr Evaristo, sharing this message is what matters most
in his priesthood. And opportunities to share that message are
not lacking. Plane rides, as many priests can attest, are
excellent moments for sharing the good news with a captive
audience. (In some cases, the captive audience is the priest.)
On one such trip, Fr Evaristo sat down in his
seat, looking forward to some quiet time to pray his
breviary. The man next to him looked over with interest.
a thinker,” he said. “Want to hear my philosophy about
Fr Evaristo put his breviary away.
For the next
hour or so, the two men shared two completely different
worldviews: one believed that the power behind the universe was
a nameless energy that created all things, including human freedom.
The other believed that the power behind the universe was
a personal God who created all things “like an ocean
of love that overflowed into life,” and who loved mankind
as his own children.
“Do you talk to the energy?” asked
“No. You see, the energy deserves respect,” answered the
Fr Evaristo explained that what the other man called
“energy,” he called “Father.” When we know that our Father
is always with us at our side, full of mercy
and love, and that he sent his Son into the
world to walk with us, to listen to us, and
to help us in our daily trials, then life acquires
a very different dimension. It becomes personal. There is a
bond of love at the heart of everything, making our
lives deeply meaningful, even in the midst of sufferings.
conversation, the man looked over at him and said, “Father,
I’m interested in your perspective.” A door had been opened
The key to happiness
For a priest, these small victories
of God´s grace are one of the greatest joys in the
mission. Conversions take time, and sometimes many pieces have to
fall into place to give birth to a new life
of faith, but being part of that process is a
great privilege. Opening a soul to see the love and
mercy of God is at the very heart of the
mission; in some way, it’s as if the fruits of
Christ’s sacrifice spring to life in the present time.
fruits are visible; mostly, they are not. But when one’s
eyes are set on the merciful heart of Christ, there
is a deep confidence that he will do his work
in and through us. Knowing that he is at present
and at work even when he appears to sleep is
a great source of peace and joy.
“Soy un sacerdote feliz,
profundamente feliz,” says Fr Evaristo. It’s a kind of personal
“I am a happy, deeply happy priest.”
Fr Evaristo Sada,
LC, was born on February 28, 1961 in the city
of Monterrey, Mexico. He entered the novitiate of the Legion
of Christ in Salamanca, Spain on September 14, 1979 and
went on to earn his licentiate in philosophy at the
Pontifical Gregorian University, followed by his bachelor’s degree in theology.
On January 3, 1991, he was ordained to the priesthood
in St Peter’s Basilica by Pope John Paul II. He
is currently the General Secretary of the Legion of Christ
and Regnum Christi.
To view a list of the articles in
the series, click here.