Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 17, 2007
Young man's death from AIDS rings village with sadness
May the merciful God grant peace to man caught in merciless trap
A Missionary's Musings
By FR. JACQUES JOHNSON
This afternoon I got into our pickup and hit the road. My first goal was to visit the La Lagonita church sponsored by my family.
Good news: the roof is on but windows need some work. The fa‡ade is awesome. The floor is even but the cement has yet to be poured. I didn't meet any of the people. On a weekday they were all at work.
So I got back in the truck and headed out for El Soch, one of our largest communities with some 150 Catholic families. When I drive by on my way to other communities, there always seems to be people hanging around the church at El Soch.
Today was no exception, although most of the time there are men lingering there. This time there were some 15 women gathering to pray and for fellowship. One lady came to me immediately and invited me to come to her house as a nephew was very sick. Could I come and say a prayer for him?
There had to be a purpose to this spontaneous drive besides checking out the development of a couple of churches. God has a way to guide us to help some of his lost souls.
Arturo was 22 years old and an uncle told me that Arturo was slowly but surely dying from AIDS. His arms were thin as that of a 10-year-old. He hadn't eaten for 28 days. He responded very little as the uncle did most of the talking.
That man had been assisting his nephew with the devotion of a father. He covered up nothing about his nephew's life. It was as if he was doing the confession that his nephew was too weak and too sick to do for himself.
I had neither the Oils of the Sick with me nor the Holy Communion. I had gone unprepared as my focus was the construction of churches.
The house was filled with people, mostly family, I guessed. Sadness was all around, tears were being shed and a sense of hopelessness filled the house.
With my hands on Arturo's head I prayed spontaneously, asking the Lord Jesus to have mercy on this child of his and to forgive all his sins. With this I said a prayer of forgiveness: "May our Lord Jesus Christ who loves you, bless you, may Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you your sins, grant you peace and lead you to everlasting life."
As I reflect on this encounter with a dying AIDS victim in an isolated part of the world, I couldn't help but think of the awesome mercy of God for these poor and suffering young people.
A life devastated
AIDS, our modern answer to the plague or pestilence of other centuries, relentlessly devastated that human life. I drove back to Chicaman with helpless Arturo on my mind and in my prayer.
Since I wasn't overly busy the next day, I felt that I should follow up. I drove to El Soch again. In my mind, Arturo was the lost sheep, very much in need of Christ the Pastor. My intention that afternoon was to offer Arturo a proper Sacrament of the Sick including Reconciliation, with the oils and the Eucharist.
Members of the family filled the small house. Arturo was in bed but he appeared to look better. He sat up a bit and we talked briefly. He was willing to receive the sacraments and so I proceeded with members of the family joining in.
When I left, I saw the uncle wasn't hopeful at all. I hoped to be able to drop by again in the next few days. A call from Sergio last night suggested that I should go celebrate Mass at La May right after the 8:30 a.m. Sunday Mass at Chicaman.
Educate the young
After Mass at La May on Sunday, I stopped at El Soch to visit Arturo and his family. I was told immediately that Arturo had died the day before and that he had already been interred.
This young man had barely begun his life as an adult. With his death, humanity and his people had become poorer. He had a normal human potential which had been dramatically crushed.
This tragic event is an invitation for all to live a chaste life and reject the lure of sexual sins that exposes people to a killing disease that allows no mercy.
Young people need to be educated about these facts of sex and death and to learn to live virtuous lives, which is the way to provide all with long and meaningful lives.
I pray that our merciful God will grant real peace to this young man who got caught in a merciless trap. May God grant Arturo, who lived a long and painful death, the welcome of the prodigal son, cherished and embraced in the arms of our loving and merciful God.
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