jueves, 30 de agosto de 2018

Discerning the Body

Hno Brian, a.a.

The flight to Mexico City from Boston is a short four and a half hours. Despite all of our modern marvels, somehow it still astounds me that one can wake up in his own bed and be transported to a whole new world by dinnertime.

Despite the slight shortness of breath I experienced on that first day as a result of the city’s impressive altitude, I immediately felt at home in our community at Parroquia Emperatriz. Though suffused with the distinct flavors of the region, the essence of our common Assumption charism was palpable, enabling a quick and seamless transition. What a joy it is to experience firsthand the embodiment of Father d’Alzon’s intention that, as Assumptionists, we be “simply catholic, but as Catholic as it is possible to be,” in all of its unified diversity.

Having spent a week in CDMX, I was ferried to our fledgling community at Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol in T’lilapan, Veracruz, passing along the way the imposing Pico de Orizaba, which makes even the most imposing mountains of New England appear rather tame.

Shortly after my arrival, the scope of the mission became increasingly clear as I accompanied Father Oswaldo to five remote chapels (one-third of the total in our care) where he celebrated Mass for the far-flung faithful. It was very encouraging to see these remote outposts of Mother Church so vibrant and thriving! It seemed evident that the Mass was not simply a mundane task relegated to the periphery of the peoples’ lives, but was the very center around which their lives revolved. 

In addition to teaching English classes in nearby Jalapilla, one of the duties allotted to Brother Daniele – my traveling companion and confrère – and I, was the daily [Celebración de la Palabra]. While this seemed a rather daunting obligation at first, especially given my limited grasp of the language, I quickly grew very fond of this solemn assignment and of the community that I was honored to serve at Capilla de San José.

Towards the end of our time in Veracruz, Daniele and I joined 60 volunteers in la misión Asuncionista, a two-week [campaign] whose [objetivo fundamental es la extension del Reino de Dios,] in particular among the poor.  

It is in such endeavors that our contemplation and action are united, giving flesh to Saint Paul’s mandate that we be “servants of one another through love.” We are called not simply to recognize the joys and sufferings of our neighbor, but to enter into and share them as if they were our own, with a readiness to be evangelized in the process. Just as we are urged to “discern the Body” when receiving the Holy Eucharist, so too should we be keenly aware of Christ present in our neighbor.

Heaven is not simply a place we hope to get to one day. Rather, we are meant to live the life of heaven here and now, to bring God’s Kingdom to bear on all we do and say. During my time in Mexico, far removed from the routines and obligations of my “regular” life, it was admittedly easier to be “on fire” for God.

The challenge, I suppose, is to allow this summit experience to permeate my daily life; to descend the mountain following the Transfiguration and be fundamentally transformed. Like the apostles on the mount, there is an all-too-human desire to “erect tents” in the hopes of framing and preserving these moments of heightened awareness.

However, we are constantly inundated with God’s glory. It is for us to develop our spiritual senses that we may readily perceive His presence in our midst as we advance toward him by degrees, scaling the heights of virtue.

Hno Brian Verzella, a.a.

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