Tag Archives: Perú

You are where you’re supposed to be

On August 9, 1991, two Polish missionaries, Conventual Franciscan friars, Fathers Miguel (Michal) Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strzalkowski, were murdered by members of Sendero Luminoso, the Shining Path.  They were beatified in December 2015.

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Today, sitting in the dentist’s office, I was contemplating what I would write tomorrow, when I came across this quote of one of these martyrs, Blessed Miguel Tomaszek, OFM Conv.:

“You are not where you are now to understand the world, but to understand what the will of God is for you. It is a matter of being where you are supposed to be.”

A few years ago I came across a quote on the wrapper of a Dove piece. “You are exactly where you are supposed to be.” It seemed so right for me that I put the wrapper on the magnetic board in my kitchen.

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When the volunteers from the medical group Honduras Amigas came to the house for a discussion on the reality of Honduras last June, one of them saw it and wrote it on the board.

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There are times when I wonder if this is where I really am called to be – loneliness, frustrations, feelings of inadequacy, and more. But in the middle of this, there is a peace, especially on days when I connect with someone here.

I wonder what was going through the mind of Father Miguel and his fellow Conventual Franciscan priest, Zbigniew Adam Strzalkowski, as they served in the people of their parish in Pariacoto, in the diocese of Chimbote. In Give Us This Day, Robert Ellsberg notes how these two young Polish friars were struggling with Spanish, but many of their parishioners deeply loved them as they administered the sacraments, trained catechists, visited the sick, helped with projects of water and community development, and more.

In a letter he wrote before going to Perú, Father Michal wrote:

“I am a happy priest…. Overall, I am very well received. I can feel it over and over, but this isn’t so important to me. I’m myself, and I want to be myself.”

There is a page of the Polish Conventual Franciscans in English with photos and stories that lets you see some of this joy in their ministry in Perú.

When we find where God wants us to be, there can be real joy.

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The photo is taken from the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/meczennicy.pariacoto/posts/

 

 

True love of neighbor

Every morning I try to read about the saints and events from the day. I have assembled my own calendar of persons, events, and quotes but I also rely on Robert Ellsberg’s All Saints and Richard McBrien’s Lives of the Saints.

I also occasionally read María Berta Arroyo’s Profetas para un Mundo Nuevo, the second volume of short accounts of the martyrs of Latin America.

The entry for September presents a lesson that we could all learn.

Fortunato Collazo was a leader of his neighborhood, Juan Pablo II, in the district of San Juan de Lurigancho.

In the early hours of the morning of September 14, 1991, a group of Sendero Luminoso guerrillas broke into his house to kill him.

Another leader, Alfredo Aguirre, was awakened and walked into Fortunato’s house.

The guerrillas told Alfredo, “Vete de aquí; es pleito no es contigo. – Get out of here. Our complaint is not against you.”

Alfredo responded, “Si es contra mi vecino es contra mi. – If it against my neighbor, it’s against me.”

Both were shot and killed.

Such love, such solidarity, such sense of our connectedness are so needed in our world.

What would it be like if took Alfredo’s words to heart?

If it affects my neighbor, it affects me.

Standing with the Crucified

Do you want to be totally united to the Crucified?
If you are serious about this,
you will be present, by the power of His Cross,
at every front, at every place of sorrow,
bringing to those who suffer, healing and salvation.
St. Teresa Benedicta a Cruce

Today is a day filled with challenges for me.

Nagasaki crucifix

Nagasaki crucifix

On August 9, 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki and used the Catholic Cathedral as a point to help them determine the spot to drop the bomb.

Nagasaki was one of the great center of Catholicism in Japan, even preserving the faith after all the priests had left. On the day of the bombing, Catholics were gathered in the cathedral at Mass. There and throughout the city many innocent people were killed.

On August 9, 1943, Franz Jägerstätter, a Austrian peasant, was beheaded in Germany as “an enemy of the state.” Blessed Franz refused to serve in Hitler’s army because of his faith – despite the advice of priests, and bishop, and many others. He saw Nazism as a “train headed for hell” and refused to have part in it. For that decision of conscience he was executed by the state.

On August 9, 1942, Sister Teresa Benedicta a Cruce, Teresa blessed by the Cross, was killed in the gas chamber at Auschwitz. Born Edith Stein, a German Jew and philosopher, she became a Catholic after reading St. Teresa of Avila and later joined the Carmelites. She was sent from her Cologne to a Dutch convent for her safety. But after the Dutch bishops and other religious leaders spoke up against Nazi racial policies, she and her sister were deported to Auschwitz. Though she had a chance to escape to Switzerland, she refused to flee but sought to be with her people.

On August 9, 1991, two Polish Conventual Franciscan Friars Michał Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strzałkowski were killed by the Sendero Luminoso in the Andean parish where they ministered to and with the poor. As Father Michal (Miguel), wrote to a friend a few months before his killing: “You are not where you are now to understand the world, but to understand what the will of God is for you. It is a matter of being where you are supposed to be.”

Recalling these persons and these events, I feel a renewed calling to be a witness to the Crucified Christ and the crucified peoples of the world – by being here in their midst. May God give me the courage and gentleness to persevere.

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The quotation from St. Edith Stein comes from Robert Ellsberg’s  All Saints.

At the foot of the Cross

Shall he, then, keep on brandishing his sword
to slay peoples without mercy?
Habakkuk 1, 17

 Habakkuk is complaining about human beings whom God has made, who make gods for themselves out of the works of their hands, even out of the fishermen’s net. Worse, they “slay peoples without mercy.”

Today that complaint seems to ring true.

On August 9, 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. Nagasaki was a center of Catholicism in Japan, with its shrine of the Japanese martyrs. The bomb killed tens of thousands of innocent people, including those who had gathered in the Nagasaki cathedral to pray.

Two years before, on August 9, 1943, Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian peasant was beheaded for refusing to serve in the Nazi army. He was one of only a few Catholics who saw the reality of Hitler and decided that he could have no part of it.

In one of his letters to his wife from prison he recalled a dream he had in 1938 of a training speeding down a hill, with people running to get on board. He identified the train as Nazism and saw it as a train going to hell.

A year before Franz’s martyrdom, Sister Teresa Benedicta a Cruce, born Edith Stein, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz onAugust 9, 1942. A philosopher, a convert from Judaism, a Carmelite nun, she did not see herself as separated from the pain of her day, especially the suffering of the Jewish people. In fact, she has written to Pope Pius XI seeking an audience to talk with him about the persecution of Jews. Her letter was unanswered.

But St. Teresa Benedicta saw her role as being with Christ crucified.

Do you want to be totally united to the Crucified? If you are serious about this, you will be present, by the power of His Cross, at every front, at every place of sorrow, bringing to those who suffer healing and salvation.

On August 9, 1991, two Conventual Franciscan priests, Miguel Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strzalkowski, missionaries in Perú, were killed by the Sendero Luminoso. They had stood with the poor.

How can I be present at the Cross, at the suffering of peoples? If I truly want to follow the Crucified God, how can I be silent in the face of suffering, death, bombing, persecution?