It is a cold, windy night. A quiet
night. A joyful night. A holy night.
We are a small band of
12 -- four priests, four brothers, four missionaries.
Lacking anyone to man the store and Church, we decided
to use the brothers for this duty, leaving our perimeter
unprotected except by the Spirit. Later, the Mission
Corps members arrived, and we began manning some of the
outer stations. Although traffic, and "business" was relatively
light all night, Christmas and Christ were in the air,
and most people we met were in a joyful mood,
and were interactive.
walked by carrying a CHRISTmas tree, and when we suggested
they might therefore be CHRISTians, they asserted happily that they
were "atheists and proud of it!" As they dragged the
tree off into the darkness, we hailed "God bless you!"
and could only pray that the light of Christ would
be with them in His tree.
We had several stories during the night, fairly usual
now, of friends helping friends get to Reconciliation.
One group of young women, dressed for a night on
the town, initially passed us giddily, seemingly uninterested.
Eventually one of them confessed to being Catholic, and then
turned in the other three. Half a block of walking
and talking later, all four headed into the Church for
confession. In another case, a reluctant husband was
finally pushed over the top and went inside, when his
wife declared simply, "I´m taking you in!"
Mission Corps members, once stationed out in the perimeter, began
sending in people, some who had only grabbed a pamphlet
and moved on, until they got closer to the Church,
and then went in. A family of tourists
went in en masse; a young woman arrived with a
pamphlet, seemingly distressed, and was later spotted at the evening
Mass, calm and joyful.
of our missionaries was hailing down the usual bike messengers,
while another approached a flower delivery boy, who promised to
return after his shift. This is part of
another familiar theme -- "seeds planted, and fruits harvested." We
received the response "I´ll be back” three times for every
"I´m going in." We are praying that the Spirit guides
these souls home.
We asked one man if
he would like a rosary, and he responded, "No thank
you! I´m still praying on the one you
guys gave me last year!"
One of the
sidewalk vendors we talked with last Holy Week looked very
happy this time to see us, and instantly launched into
a vigorous discussion of God and religion. His
cheerful wife confided, "He only talks about this stuff with
Later that night, one of
us was entirely alone with the Lord, late in the
Eucharistic Hour in the main church. It was
a quiet, holy moment. During his night vigil,
the missionary came to a deeper sense of just how
deeply the Lord loves us, and how vulnerable He has
made himself by coming to earth to save us, and
how vulnerable in some forms, such as in the Eucharist,
He continues to make himself, solely out of love for
us. Do we love like this?
A quiet night. A holy night.