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