Lorenzo with some young people during a hike to El Quisco.)
Here the summer has arrived, with its 90 degrees. School is out, and everyone is getting ready for the summer vacations. I’m still not used to living Christmas in this context, but maybe it’s a good thing, in that it makes me look in a deeper and truer way at what Christmas really is: the Lord who comes to us, how and when He decides, and not according to what we have imagined, for however familiar or glorious it might be. This remains the point of conversion that I see is most necessary for my life. In fact, I begin the day desiring to follow the Lord and I get to the evening aware that I’d followed everything but Him: my ideas, my projects of greatness, my ideal of what a priest is, my thirst for affirmation, my concept of usefulness…
Often, I think that the exam of conscience every evening is the voice of the Lord who asks me: “When did you love Me today?” I can respond only by looking back at my day and picking out the signs of His initiative. I love Him when what I do does not spring from my images or my desires. I love Him when He is uncomfortable for me.
In this way, I begin to love the rule of the house more, which at times (especially in the morning) is rather inconvenient! I begin to love more my brothers, as well as the banal and repetitive everydayness. I begin to love the unexpected more, and even those things that instinctively I would avoid, because they are sure signs of His presence.
I was helped and am helped to live this awareness by Fr. Simone, one of the six brothers with whom I live in our house in Puente Alto. He was finishing a very intense day, and it was already past midnight by a bit. Fr. Marco and myself had just returned home. We thought that everyone would already be in bed, when the door opened and Simone entered, having just returned from the hospital. “I’ve experienced perfect joy,” he said, happy. Then he explained to us that he had not even had time to get under the covers when they called him from the hospital, asking him to bring the sacraments to a dying man. Without hesitation, he got dressed and grabbed his bike in order to speed over and open the doors of Paradise for that person.
It’s true: the perfect joy is born from responding to the voice of God, without resisting and clinging to our images, whatever they may be. Now I always pray that the Lord will take away the thousand resistances that remain in me when, in the most unexpected ways, he asks me to love Him. There is a fundamental point where He, in this land of mission, wants me to love Him: the Chilean people, those whom I encounter every day, always new and different.
When we accept the place where the Lord has placed us, and the people that we find around us, then we experience the fullness, because he who loves the Lord has everything. Then, precisely through these faces, He shows us His preference.
There is a very simple episode that helped me to recognize this evidence. I was in my bar in the backstreets near the chapel of St. Joseph Obrero when Damaris, a girl of ten years, stopped me, happy to greet me.
“Hey, Father, where are you going?”
“Hi, Damaris, I’m going to say the Mass.”
“But are you the boss of the Mass?”
“No, the boss of the Mass is Jesus, I just help.”
“But you’re the one who says the Mass?”
“That means that you’re the boss!”
“Alright, fine, I’m the boss.”
“Wow. And don’t you miss your family?”
“No, I am happy here.”
“Because you have the Mass?”
“Yes. because I have the Mass and because I have you all.”
That day, for me, it was Damaris who gave voice to the Lord.
Don Lorenzo Locatelli has been on mission in Santiago del Chile since 2013. Pictured, don Lorenzo with some young people during a hike to El Quisco.