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Walking on Water, Part I
MEXICO | NEWS | NEWS
Fr Evaristo Sada, LC, speaks frankly about his experience of the priesthood, the Legion’s current situation, and some resolutions for the future.

P. Evaristo Sada, L.C.

February 20, 2010. Mexico City, Mexico. During the Youth and Family Encounter today in Mexico City, the general secretary of the Legion of Christ, Fr Evaristo Sada, LC, gave a personal testimony in front of an audience of families, aimed at helping Regnum Christi members cope with the current situation of the Legion and the Movement. During the last months, Fr Evaristo has given similar talks at Regnum Christi conventions in several countries, most recently and Atlanta last January.

Since the complete talk is quite long, it will be presented here in three parts:
• Part I: On the mysteries and paradoxes of the priesthood.
• Part II: On finding Christ in the midst of the storm.
• Part III: On lessons learned in the past year, and resolutions for the Legion’s and Movement’s future.

The complete talk can be downloaded in PDF format here.

His testimony began with a reflection on the gospel passage of Jesus inviting Peter to walk on a stormy sea (Mt 14:22-34). Peter panics and begins to sink, until Jesus reaches out his hand and pulls him up, reproaching him for his lack of faith.

“This passage reflects the priestly vocation very well,” said Fr Evaristo. “Normally, the priest listens to the secrets that people confide in him. Today, a priest is going to open himself up to you. Rather than teach doctrines or give advice, I think it’s better to open my heart and share my own life experience.”

The priesthood contains a mystery

“Jesus is on the water and tells Peter, ‘Come.’ It is an echo of that ‘Come and follow me.’ Going to Jesus means being his disciple. Being like him. Doing what he does. In this case, it means walking on water. Jesus asks Peter for something superhuman. Peter doubts. Of course he doubted—but he doubted himself, not Jesus.

“As a priest, you know your misery and your limitations. You are a man just like all the rest. Christ expects you to be like him, to represent him. People expect you to be like Christ. And you know very well that this goes beyond you, it is too much for you. You can’t let them down. You have to learn to live with this paradox in your interior and in your conscience, and walk on water without sinking. You begin to become part of this mystery in which you have always believed, a mystery to which you have offered your entire life.

“The priesthood is something great; it contains a mystery of friendship and trust between God and the man he has chosen.”

The priestly vocation is full of contrasts

Fr Evaristo then listed some of the contrasts that a priest experiences in daily life:

“In some places, you walk along the street and people spit on you. Sometimes they treat you with scorn. And then, at the next corner, they tell you, ‘Father, you are Christ in person for me.’

“You get up in the morning feeling very limited, without the capacity for so many things. And a few minutes later, you are celebrating Mass and saying, ‘This is my body which will be given up for you.’ And then, ‘I absolve you from your sins…’

“You know your misery and you know that you are not always virtuous. And at the same time, you must preach the Gospel, although you live it in such an imperfect way.

“You are emotionally destroyed inside, and you have to console and support others.

“You don’t have the strength; you feel that you can’t do it. And you have to give witness that faith gives us fortitude.

“You are humanly alone, or it can seem to you as if God has hidden himself. And you must accompany souls and assure them that the star is there even when they can’t see it.

“You feel an urgent need for solitude and more prayer, and your ministry does not allow it. The people are hungry and you have to bring them bread. You don’t have time…

“And in the midst of these contrasts, you experience the strength of God, you see that he obtains fruits that are disproportionate to your possibilities. Again and again, you see with such clarity: God acted, he used me, but it was not mine. And we believe: this is not the work of a man; it is the work of God. You feel like the mud Jesus used to cure the blind man. Mud made with saliva and dirt.”

The priesthood is happiness

“All of this is hard. But it is priceless to know that you, without deserving it, are a friend of God. That he thinks about you. That he has so much trust in you. When you enter the confessional, you see the weakness and misery of the human person, and you realize how Jesus takes possession of your sentiments; you feel true compassion and mercy, and you are able to communicate in some way the great love that God has for that soul. And people go away liberated, at peace. You give absolution to a dying person and after giving him the sacraments, he dies in your arms. You embrace a young man who has no hope, or you see a depressed girl, and through your eyes and your attitude, they discover that God loves them just as they are.

“On one plane trip, a man sat down next to me and told me that he was a thinker, and that he wanted to share his life philosophy with me. He started by telling me his version of the start of the universe. ´Everything started with a huge energy that exploded and the universe, the stars, the earth, the animals, and man all came into being. But the energy stopped before man, because man had freedom, and freedom could not be violated.’

“Once he finished explaining his theory, I told him that I thought a little bit like him… that I also believed the universe began with a big explosion, an explosion of love: the love of God overflowed, and out of love, God created the universe, the stars, the Earth, all creation, and the human being. He loved man so much that he made him in his image and likeness: he made him free. And by making him free, he respected him and expected him to recognize God as his Creator. He wanted man to respond with love to the Love with which God had created him.

“I asked him if he spoke with the energy. He answered that he did not, that the energy deserved respect. I told him that what he called energy was a Father for me, and that I talked to God as a son talks to his father. And that was how we dealt with each other, as Father and son, as son and Father. Throughout the day, I remembered him, asked him for advice, offered him my work, and he was always there at my side, treating me with the same love and mercy with which he had created me.

“During the Year for Priests, the Holy See promoted the practice of spiritual adoption of priests, encouraging them to offer their prayers and sacrifices for priests. Various people have adopted me. Abigail, an 8-year-old girl from Kansas, wrote to me telling me that when she brushes her hair, the snarls hurt her very much, but she offers it for my priesthood. There is Celerino, a very poor blind man who spent the last 12 years of his life in bed. His wife Magdalena told me that he offered his prayers and sacrifices to go with me when I traveled around the world preaching God’s love. He just died. Now he is with God. He told me, ‘I want to die, because there I will be able to see well.” Mrs. Susan, who has cancer, told me she was going to offer her chemotherapy treatments for me. Some of my consecrated sisters have also chosen to adopt me this year. I give them heartfelt thanks.”

In the next section of the talk, Fr Evaristo talks about the difficulties the Legion is experiencing recently and comments on some reflections that have helped him to move forward.

Talk continues at this link.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2010-02-20


 

Related articles
- Walking on Water, Part II
- Walking on Water, Part III
 


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