Aug 4 – Memorial for St. John Mary Vianney, priest
In his youth, John Mary Vianney (1786-1859) taught other children their prayers and catechism. As a priest, was assigned to a parish which suffered from very lax attendance. He began visiting his parishioners, especially the sick and poor, spent days in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, did penance for his parishioners, and led his people by example. Crowds came to hear him preach, and to make their reconciliation because of his reputation with penitents.
He has been declared patron saint for all priests.
– Patron Saint Index
And you shall be my people and I will be your God.
I recently did a sharing to a group of 20 about my Camino in 2016. The process of preparing the slides brought back many wonderful memories and, as I recounted my most powerful Christ encounter during the walk, I choked up again, recalling the emotions and vividly hearing the voice of Helge — a German pilgrim who had started his walk from Berlin and found himself a mere 12km out of Santiago, but with no money to afford to continue on into the town.
He had received news from Berlin just the day before that his beloved mother had passed on. And his siblings, who he was estranged from, had sent word for him to return in order to settle the funeral matters. However, he told me that his mother appeared to him in a dream the night before and had told him to continue on into Santiago, because she was safe in Jesus’ arms and it was what He wanted Helge to do — “I will let him come freely into my presence and he can come close to me;” (Jer 30:21).
Thereafter, we spent two wonderful days together in Santiago and when it came time for us to part, I marvelled at how God had brought us together and taught us what it means to be true brothers in Christ. We had shared stories about our lives, our hopes, dreams and had five meals together (and countless cups of coffee — Helge was a recovering alcoholic). In that time, all barriers seemed to melt away as we shared freely how Christ had been a part of our lives.
I had heard how meeting people on the Camino could prove life-changing and indeed, God was ever generous in sending me so many like-minded pilgrims during my 15-day trek. Since then, I have felt the call again and am planning to make another pilgrimage in 2021. Let’s see if this virus abates and the situation improves around the world — we leave it in His hands!
I have recently been journeying with a staff who, though having been with me for the past 8 years or so, has shown a ‘comfort zone’ mentality and unfortunately, has not kept up with changes in our division. He has proven to be a challenge to others around him and I personally took on a mentoring role, meeting him on Zoom once a week since late March. This journey has proven to be an enlightening one for me because yet again, He has shown how taking a Christ-like approach to a difficult situation can actually yield results that one would never have foreseen under normal circumstances.
As a fellow Catholic, he has expressed his thanks and appreciation for my effort and time. And though I think he sees the writing on the wall — HR is going to have a chat with him soon — I look back and recall how I was put in a few situations where I would previously have lost my cool, and taken some of the things that were said to me very differently; and the reaction would have been detrimental. In this situation, God has again shown me how reaching out to Him each time I feel I am ‘lost’ or ‘unsure’ and then allowing Him to speak to me in times of solitude and stillness (COVID-19 has certainly helped me be more attuned to my inner voice), has allowed me to discern His words more clearly.
Brothers and sisters, there will always be situations in our journeys where God sends us people to encounter and, in many cases, our subsequent decisions on how we treat them and deal with the outcomes that arise determine how we are regarded. For those in the financial industry, or those who play golf, there is a ‘risk vs reward’ scenario. I would hazard a guess that many of us shy away from taking that risk of being vulnerable to a stranger, or even a colleague; simply because we feel that we have more to lose. But take a look at Jesus on the cross and see what He gave up for us. Then look back on the many encounters we’ve had over the years and pick one where, if you had the chance to go back and ‘redo’ the interaction, what could you have done better? And yes….bring Christ with you.
(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Dear Father, we are your sons and daughters and sometimes, we forget that. Let us always remember to treat the other person as a brother and sister, regardless of race, station, or what we ourselves perceive as an ‘agenda’. Let us be courageous enough to open our hearts to others and to let the light of Christ shine through.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for never forsaking us and for being our loving, doting Father.