April 18th, 2016
Fr. Rafael Alonso Reymundo
“We believe that the death of Jesus Christ is our redemption and life, and His resurrection is what gives us eternal life. Our hope fills us with joy, but it does not eliminate our pain. We may cry, but with tears of hope, the hope that one day we will see our Sisters.”
Fr. Rafael's Homily from the morning Mass, April 18th, 2016, after the earthquake in Ecuador.
The audio is in Spanish, but the English text translation is below the player.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today is a very strange day. One day, the Lord inspired me with those words I said in Mamie’s funeral Mass: “Thank you, Lord, for everything you give me and thank you for everything you take away. Because, everything you give me and everything you take away comes from your love. And whenever you take something away, it’s so you can give me more.” This is what has happened with our Sisters. We believe that the death of Jesus Christ is our redemption and life, and His resurrection is what gives us eternal life. Our hope fills us with joy, but it does not eliminate our pain. We may cry, but with tears of hope, the hope that one day we will see our Sisters.
No one would have imagined that the first of our Sisters would go to the Lord’s encounter in this manner. Perhaps an illness… But, that too would have made us suffer, because death is something very strange for man. Man is not made for death; he is made for life. We are united in the suffering of all our Sisters, as well as the suffering of all the mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers, and sisters of our Sisters. Because they too suffer. And we have to ask the Lord to help them suffer with hope. Our Sister Clare had a motto that I gave her, on the occasion of her perpetual vows: “Sola con el Solo” (“Alone with the Only One”). This motto has now proved true, as she presents herself before God. Many times, she heard us repeat the Antiphon from the Martyrdom of St. Agnes: “I go to You, the One I have always sought, loved, and desired.”
When we first met her, our Sister Clare had a very scarce religious formation and knew very little of the mysteries of God. All she knew was that God had lit a divine fire in her, a sacred fire that led her to a complete surrender [of her life]. “I’d like to become a famous nun.” I told her, “If you want to be a famous nun, first you have to be very humble, the most humble.” She who, in her adolescence and teenage years, had made an idol of her body, wanted to – from the moment she understood that God called her to be completely His, leaving behind her past and surrendering herself to Him – abandon herself with complete trust into Jesus’ hands, choosing Him to be her only Lord. And this is what has really made her become a famous nun. “The one who humbles himself shall be exalted.”
Today, not only adults like us are crying, but also young people – and most of all, the little boys and little girls. She was a “people person” with a special gift for attracting children – as she told me so many times – “not to me but to Jesus”. She wanted to help children keep their souls from being stained by sin. She was well-acquainted with the drama and suffering of a life lived in sin and vice, and she wanted to do all in her power to preserve other children from this suffering. And she did this by singing. She attracted them by loving them and teaching them songs that many of them will never forget. They always wanted to be with Sr. Clare – not because Sr. Clare was the object of their love, but because she was a reflection of Jesus for them. They saw Jesus in her and they also saw Our Lady in her. I am talking about Sr. Clare, because she is the one that had already made her perpetual vows and, in that sense, had already finished her formation so she could dedicate herself completely to the mission that the Lord would entrust to her. She served the Lord here in Spain, in several different places. She was also in the United States, at Assumption Parish and the school at Assumption Parish in Jacksonville, and when she was sent to serve the poor there in Playa Prieta, she made no complaint and showed no signs of annoyance or repugnance. With a truly supernatural spirit, Sr. Clare said her complete “Yes”. It was a total “Yes”.
As she had heard so many times in this chapel and in so many other places, “Lord, if You want this, so do I.” That was the life of our Sr. Clare. Interestingly enough, she died at the age of 33. It’s as though Jesus called her right at the same age at which He died. We’ve heard the Lord say, “I am the Good Shepherd” and “I am the Door.” He passed through the door of death and led us through the door of death towards Heaven. This is the great hope and the great relief we have, because Sr. Clare loved the Sisters so much, just as she loved the work of Our Lady – the Home of the Mother – and we know that thanks to this, she will now be interceding for us, along with these other Sisters of ours who followed her.
Maria Augusta was looking forward to finishing medical school so she could come here, along with Jazmina and Mayra, who were both about to come here to live with us and enter the novitiate. Valeria entered at the age of 15, with the consent of her grandmother, who was her legal guardian. She let her enter as an aspirant. She was so kind, so good – so very good. Mother told me, “Father, we have to let her enter – she’s so good.” All her classmates were very fond of her. All of them. They will mourn her loss now, too, as they will mourn the loss of Catalina. Catalina still hadn’t entered, but she had been waiting two years to be able to enter. And now, both Mother and I were willing to give her permission to enter with us. She had a tumultuous past life. The Lord forgave her everything, as He did with St. Margaret of Cortona or with Sr. Mary Magdalen, and many other great sinners, because sin is not an obstacle in reaching the Lord, if someone sincerely detests their life of sin and has no desire whatsoever to go back to it like a dog returning to his vomit.
My dearest brothers and sisters, you’ll have to forgive me if my homily is a bit incoherent and given in an unsteady voice, choked with emotion and with sobs – as you all respond with your sobbing. There’s something we should always conserve among us: our love for one another. It is a spiritual love that seeks the goodness and holiness of the other person, never appropriating ourselves of their love but always leading those who love us towards Jesus Christ Our Lord, who should be the center of the life of a Servant Brother/Priest or Servant Sister, or of any lay member of the Home of the Mother, or of any Christian. Our third mission is the conquest of the youth for Jesus Christ, not for ourselves. We are not the center. The Lord is the center and it is towards Him that we must lead souls. Let this be our service, for the Lord will reward us: “Well done, prudent and faithful servant. As you have been faithful in little, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, enter into the joy of your Lord.” We hope that our Sisters will soon also be contemplating the face of God.
I’ve been told that this morning, Fr. Higinio celebrated a Mass at 7 AM. Fr. Lubo phoned to see how things were unfolding and he is going to celebrate a Mass himself and let the Cardinal know, too. There are also Bishops praying for our Sisters. This morning, the Director of “Infocatolica” called me, asking me about what happened and giving his condolences to me and, through me, to the entire Home of the Mother. Many people are thinking of us, looking to us with love and hope. We cannot defraud the hope that a large part of the Church has in us. And we certainly will not let them down if we are faithful to our own vocation and if we live what the Lord asks of us. Our Sisters’ example of being where they should be, no matter what happens, realizing that that is where the Lord wants me and that being where He wants me is what guarantees our obtaining the gift of eternal life… As the conclusion of today’s gospel says, “I have come that they may have life and that they may have it in abundance.”
Sr. Sara Maria, who has lost half of her community, who has witnessed the destruction of the house where she had spent 7 and a half years dedicating her life to those children and who, undoubtedly suffers in a most intense manner – more than we do, if that is possible… Sr. Sara Maria must be sustained by our prayers, as should the parents and family members of each one of our Sisters. Each one of you has a family, hearts that love you. And they love you with a tenderness that is truly difficult to describe. We too have to stand by these family members, because they too are our family. This is not a biological family, but a spiritual family. God has united each one of your families to us, to all of us. In that sense, we have to sympathize with them in their own suffering. Each person lives it in a different way and we will pray that they live it in a Christian manner, and that they be consoled by the fact that their daughters have walked the path that the Lord had prepared for them and that they will now receive their reward, the crown of glory. May the Lord our God help us all. This is the moment for an increased fidelity. Let us keep in mind what Sr. Sara Maria said when we were in the meeting talking about death not long ago – “For me, death is how Fr. Dominguez describes it: a door, a door that I have to walk through, that we all have to walk through.”
May we live in such a way that it be walking behind Jesus Christ. Because, following Him – He who also crossed the threshold of death, the One who died on the Cross – He will lead us to the resurrection. If we die with Christ, we know we will rise with Him. This is our great joy because, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” Jesus’ words are spirit and life. His words are definitive, because they are the words of the Divine Logos, the Eternal Incarnate Word who loves us, who precedes us, and who has told us, “He who comes through me will receive life in abundance" – spiritual life, a life in the vision of heaven. There, St. Augustine says, God will wipe away our tears. In seeing Him as He is, we will rejoice. I imagine Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, going out to their encounter and telling them, “Come, my daughters. You are the foundation of the Home of the Mother. You are the foundation of the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother. The Lord, my Son, has desired it to be so. Accept, and enter now into the joy of the Lord.” May the Lord assist us.
Nothing more. May you be good, may you be good. May you also live to be humble, recognizing the Provident hand of God the Father, who reveals Himself in our lives. Let us thank Him for all the benefits the Lord gives our souls and those He gives to the institutions of the Servant Brothers/Priests and Servant Sisters of the Home. It is a strange, weird beginning. Perhaps we will understand it all within a few years, perhaps in twenty, twenty-five years, we will say, “Do you remember all that? Look at all the blessings that have come from such a terrible event.” We also recognize the fact that God is the only one who can transform these things and bring good out of evil. I don’t know what good we will be able to bring out of this evil, but I can imagine a few examples: an increased love; an increased preparation because the Son of Man will come at the moment we least expect; an increased unity among us; an increased fidelity on the right path, on an authentic path of living God’s commandments and the evangelical counsels with greater perfection, a greater fidelity. As Fr. Paul said, let us not fall into the temptation of the devil, who will try to make us doubt God’s goodness. God is good, above all else. Look at Jesus on the Cross. Look at Our Lady at the foot of the Cross and be confident in defeating the devil, acknowledging that God is wise, omnipotent, and good. And this acknowledgement will free us from the devil’s temptations and make us grow more and more in holiness. So be it.