Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 4, 2006
Live according to God's timetable
Priest decides to go with the flow
A Missionary's Musings
By FR. JACQUES JOHNSON
A Couple of days ago, Padre Sergio asked me if on Sunday I'd be willing to go as far as San Pablo Pajuil, a 1.5 hour drive, to celebrate Mass at 10 a.m.
"Sure, why not?" answered I.
Then he said, since you're in the area would you celebrate Mass at Esquipulas which is 10 minutes away by truck. "Sure, why not?" said I."
Then he said, "You could celebrate in Pajuil at 10 a.m., then at Esquipulas at 2 p.m." "Good plan," said I.
As an afterthought he added: "Perhaps on your way back you could celebrate at San Marcos Beleju, at about 4 or 4:30." "Yes, I guess, I could do that."
A set schedule
I had a clear agenda for my Sunday. I was happy to be given a full day. All that was left to do was to go and do it.
So on Sunday I left at about 8:30 a.m. on a mountainous, twisting up and down road. It took me an hour and a half to get to Pajuil. I expected that by that time the church would be full, giving me a bit of time for a few confessions before Mass.
To my surprise, only a few people were lingering. The vast church was almost empty. A good man invited me to the dining room as the women were preparing breakfast for me. I mentioned that it was already Mass time. "Oh don't worry Father. We have time, as the people are going to come in a little while."
What was I to do? Go and have a good second breakfast and enjoy a cup of coffee, that's what I decided to do. A good man, husband to one of the cooks, offered to accompany me to the kitchen, a small shack with a dirt floor.
"Why not have a second breakfast yourself as well?" I asked him. "Sure, why not?" he said as he joined me at the table.
So we had breakfast and chattered away. After thanking the cooks, I went to see how the church was filling up. As I entered, my hope swelled as quite a few people had arrived. I announced that I would be available for confessions. Just a few came, however. I guess they didn't want to burden me.
So I waited and people eventually came and filled the church. At 11:30 we started our Eucharistic celebration, a mere hour and a half late.
I was beginning to worry a bit about the 2 p.m. Mass in Esquipulas: Would we make it on time there? I hate to keep people waiting. But strangely people did not seem to mind keeping me waiting.
"Let's roll with the punches," I said to myself. "Do what you can and quit worrying." But I did cut down my homily a little. However for the prayer intentions, they didn't cut anything down. The reading of intentions went on for more than an hour in the Poconci language.
It was then that I really began to relax. "It's their call," I told myself. Mass went on as normal and most people received Communion which took a good 20 minutes with the three ministers of Communion going at a steady pace.
By the time Mass ended, I was a convert. "What, me worry?" No way. We ended the 10 a.m. Mass at 2:30 p.m. I still had two Masses to go.
"Father, please come for lunch: the cooks are ready."
"Let's not keep the cooks waiting," I said. After a leisurely lunch, I announced that I had to leave for Esquipulas for the 2 p.m. Mass. It was 3 p.m. when I left Pajuil for Esquipulas, a 10-minute drive.
I felt the people would be upset when I arrived an hour late. But when I arrived in the churchyard, only a dozen people were hanging outside the church. "Surely they're all in church waiting for me," I thought. I rushed into the church and saw five or six people in a church that holds 500.
Just ring the bell
I went out and inquired. "Father, don't worry," an elderly gentleman told me. "The people are going to come now that you're here. We're going to ring the bell and they'll be here in no time."
I was skeptical, but within 20 minutes the church was full with some 400 people. Intentions for Mass were read while I heard a few confessions before Mass. I delivered my full homily, celebrated the Eucharist, and served Communion along with three ministers of Communion. After Mass, I was invited for lunch. I wasn't particularly hungry, but enjoyed a cup of coffee before leaving for San Marcos Church in Beleju for the 4:30 Mass.
It was 5:15 by then. I enjoyed my lunch and when we were done, I set out for San Marcos which was 45 minutes away by truck. However a huge truck was parked in the middle of a narrow road as people loaded stuff onto the truck. I honked my horn as I was miffed that this driver acted as if he owned the highway.
Patience! I told myself. Another 10 minutes and I was speeding toward San Marcos.
A man was waiting for me by the side of the road. It was 6:30 p.m. I locked the truck and carried my backpack as he led me to the church. The leaders asked me to be available for confessions for a half hour. Then the Eucharist could begin.
After Mass, another lunch was awaiting me that was shared by members of the council. Then one of the councillors offered to walk me to the truck. I accepted because it was pitch dark and I had no flashlight. The good man lit a couple of candles and led me up and down the trail until I got to the truck.
Two young men were waiting by the truck for a ride to Chicam n. In the morning they were expected at the teachers' school there. After learning to relax and let life be lived, I was blessed by good company all the way home.
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