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Walking on Water, Part III
MEXICO | NEWS | TESTIMONIES-LEGIONARIES
Fr Evaristo Sada, LC, speaks about lessons learned during the storm and commitments for the future.

tree at sunrise
"It has been a long and hard winter, but the spring is coming soon. The light is on the horizon."

The text below is a continuation of Fr Evaristo´s talk at the Youth and Family Encounter in Mexico City on February 20, 2010. Download the complete talk in PDF format here.

Lessons God has given me

I would like to tell you about “my storm in the middle of the sea” and some of the lessons God has taught me.

First lesson: God is a good Father and I can trust in him.

It was very hard for me to follow the vocation to the priesthood. I trusted in God. I do not understand some things that have happened along the way. There are some things that are very bewildering, but I believe in Providence. God knows more than me. I am not here to give God lessons about what he should or should not allow in my life and in the life of his Church and his Legion. God has acted like a Father with me. He has been a good and understanding Father. I see myself in his arms and I contemplate him healing my wounds and those of the people around me. If we are where we are now, it is thanks to God. He is the one who has sustained us. God knows our miseries better than anyone, and he has patience and compassion with us. He understands, he knows. God is faithful, and I can trust in him. I don’t have to deserve his love. It is gratuitous. This gives me a deep peace. I have a secure love that has come out to look for me and that will never fail me.

Second lesson: Humility.

We humbly recognize that we have made mistakes. We should identify the causes, accept the consequences, and correct what has to be corrected with determination so that it does not happen again.

We also humbly recognize that God has blessed the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi in many ways, and that it is up to us to take care of those talents. They are not for burying under the earth.

Humility to accept that there is space for the mystery, that there are things I do not and will not be able to understand.

Humility to accept that when I lived with our founder, I did not see the negative things that we now know. I did not see them; I was only able to see the good, and I did not realize the bad. God allowed it that way. Now that I know them, it hurts very much to see it. It hurts me for the people who have suffered; it hurts me that it has caused such a loss of prestige to the Catholic priesthood. I pray for him, I pray a lot for him. I also accept him as part of my history although it makes me suffer to be the target of suspicion and mistrust. But I offer it to God as reparation. Making reparation is an important part of a priest’s life. When the priest sees sins, he should be the one who spurs people on to love more and give ourselves to God with more generosity. I offer it for the people who have suffered the most and who have felt misunderstood for a short or a long time. I offer it for the Church that has been damaged.

Humility to recognize the great sorrow I feel when I realize that the instrument God used to give me so many good things also did damage to other people. Maybe some people can feel uncomfortable with what I am going to say now and I understand them: humility to recognize and give thanks for the good things God gave me through him, which is the most valuable thing I have in life: my love for Christ, my family that is all of you, the Legion and Regnum Christi. I received my priestly vocation from God through him. I am a happy Legionary priest. Deeply happy. I should see the two things—both are objective—to see with my two eyes. But above all, it is to see from a perspective of faith, to see with love.

One of the things that has most helped me to see the truth in love is prayer. I have spent many hours on my knees in front of Christ in the Eucharist; I have leaned my head on him in complete abandonment and have begged him: ‘Lord, give me strength; I don’t want a heart of stone. Give me a heart of flesh to love as you love’ (Ez. 11:19). This is one of my resolutions: to be a priest of more prayer.

In the Legion and Regnum Christi, we aim to form apostles who will go out into the world and preach the love of God with simplicity, passion, and coherence. But the first and most important thing is the point of departure: to know God’s love, to know it by personal experience, to experience God’s love. In practice, we have given a lot of importance to the conquering and apostolic dimension, and that’s good, but we have to put more means to help ourselves and help them to grow in the prayer life.

Lent: a time of conversion. The Holy Father reminded us last Wednesday in the general audience: ‘Conversion is not just at the start of our Christian life; it is part of every step of the journey, continually renewing itself and spreading itself, branching out into all of its expressions.” We have learned so many lessons and we have seen things that we must correct and improve. Each one should examine himself and make resolutions. I will share some of here:

We will humbly seek to have a greater sense of service in everything we do. May all people, without any kind of distinctions, receive from us the personal attention they deserve. To be priests who listen and are close, to be good friends who are kind, accessible, like Christ the Good Shepherd. To keep insisting on the centrality of the person. The person is at the center, not institutions. We want to love without seeking anything in return. Love can never be a strategy. We want to take exquisite care so that not one person feels used or undervalued. We will try to adapt ourselves to each one, to meet them where they are at, not to ask for more than is within their reach. To be very understanding with everyone. To understand that self-giving is a gradual process. We want to purify that pragmatic spirit that sometimes invades our way of facing things. Not to give so much importance to the numbers and results in themselves.

With humility, we must recognize that on occasions we have gotten in over our heads, with the desire to do a lot for God and society, we have tried to take on a lot of projects and initiatives, but we need to measure our strength and cut back when necessary.

We resolve to be more humble in our way of relating to everyone. To be transparent in communication. We want to keep learning to work better, with humility and simplicity, with other institutions, with the dioceses, parishes, and other initiatives run by committed lay people. We should show more trust in people and be less controlling. In our pastoral work, it is urgent to give more attention to marriage and to the family as the family.

This is not just something for the priests. This is a task for all of us.

Third lesson: Mercy.

John Paul II says that love in earthly life (which is a life of sin and death) is manifested as mercy. Mercy is the name of love on earth. The limit of evil is mercy.

I have learned to understand the weakness of the human condition better, and not to judge people. Judging is something that only God can do. Here, I would like to give a piece of advice that goes with the theme of this encounter: if there is no forgiveness in a marriage or family, evil continues advancing. You have to put a stop, a limit, with mercy. God forgives and forgets through confession. The sacrifice of love is forgetting. Sacrificing for the loved one is not just about forgiving, but also about forgetting. So many times, we don’t forget; instead, we keep it inside or take it out again and again, and it is to break, to hurt again. That is not love. Ask God, “What would happen if I forgave the way you do?” Choosing forgiveness means renouncing rancor and resentment. Renouncing pride and putting humility in its place. Renouncing hardness of heart and choosing mercy. We have a golden opportunity to let the love of God bring good out of this. God in his Providence knows why he allows things.

Commitment:

Someone can say: “This is not what I want. It’s just that I can’t. I can’t do it.” What is happening is that Christ is still sleeping in your boat. Shout out to him: “Wake up, Lord. Save me, Lord. I’m sinking, I’m breaking, life has become bitter to me.” Tell him whatever you want. If you have no wine or your wine has become bitter, shout to him that you need new wine. Mary is going to intercede for you as in the wedding at Cana. The new wine we need is forgiveness, reconciliation, humility, mercy, a life of love and reparation. Truly understanding the power of mercy can change our life forever.

“Lord, you were able to multiply the loaves; you were able to turn the water into wine. Now I ask you to convert my heart.”

It is demanding. Yes. It is that the Gospel is demanding. This is a marvelous opportunity to give witness that love is stronger.

In the painting, you saw how there was a ray of light on the horizon. It has been a long and hard winter, but the spring is coming soon. The light is on the horizon. I think our experience is going to help all of us to see how God can do many things with weak people. I see you and I say: really, I am enthused by my vocation and mission in the Catholic priesthood in the Legion of Christ, its spirituality centered in God’s love, its love for the Pope, its strong sense of mission. I am enthused by our charism, our mission of forming apostles to put ourselves at the service of the Church. Apostles who know, live, and share the love of God with passion.

This is my family, the family to which God called me. We should humbly value the good things God has given us, and in an atmosphere of a lot of prayer, obedience, and unity, we should honestly face whatever is needed to overcome ourselves. We need one another. We have understood that it’s up to all of us to put our shoulders to the wheel. This is a new chapter in our history. The panorama we have before us is exciting, but not at all easy. And the responsibility is in our hands. Christ told us, “Come.” And if he does so, it is because he believes we are able to walk on water. God is not making fun of us. God does not want to make us look bad; he does not want us to break or sink. If he has called you and tells you, “Come,” it is because you can. He has not made you a penguin that has wings but cannot fly. He has made you an eagle to fly very high. Let us live this moment with virtue to bounce higher like the ball, and not to be fragile like the egg, not to remain there like a smashed tomato. You are not alone. God is helping you: “My grace is enough for you, for my strength is manifested in your weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Trust in him, trust in yourself at least as much as God trusts in you.

We are grateful to the Pope and the Church. As the Pope just said last week: “The motherhood of the Church is a reflection of God’s solicitous love” (Benedict XVI, February 11, 2010). We believe that it is so.

I would like to conclude thanking all of you as well for your support. Your human and spiritual company has been very important for us. You cannot imagine how much. I thank my brother priests, consecrated men, consecrate women, who are here giving their lives. They sacrifice themselves every day to serve society and the Church in the best way possible. Thank you from the heart.

And today we renew our commitment to serve you better. We love each one of you and your families so much that we want to serve you better.

There is a song to Mary that I like very much. Here, in front of Christ in the Eucharist, before this huge challenge we have in front of us, I would like to tell Our Lady of Guadalupe what the song says: “Yes, I accept, Mother. I accept to take your hand, climb up the mountain, kiss the cross, and die with Christ. Yes, although it is night, I am looking at you. I accept, Mother, to die for them, to sow the world, if I go with you. Yes, like you, Mary, I tell him yes.”

Thank you very much.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2010-02-20


 

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


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