Friday, June 27, 2014

Fr. V. Encourages from Nigeria

I do not hear from Fr. V. often.  His internet connection in their dilapidated, little seminary building, is intermittent and weak.  Among other words written, he encouraged with the following.  I sent this excerpt to a life-long, Christian friend, as it surely will speak to her in on-going, painful trials.

I share it with any and all of this blog's readers, as it is uplifting and holy encouragement from a beautiful soul who is living out God's dream for him, as a novice master and director of an abundance of young men entering the priesthood within his religious community.  Truly, the Holy Spirit spoke through Fr. V., in these words, as intended for him, no doubt!  

But Fr. V. is the type of joyfully spirited soul who in humility and love of others, would not realize the Holy Spirit is telling him--this priest--that he, too, is to receive the crown.  Yes, the Spirit of Life is encouraging Fr. V. by these words, as well as me and you who suffer fro the sake of love of God.

"Often it looks as if God delights in the suffering of His saints, but He does not. Rather it is the enemy, who in the process of opposing God, turns to His saints for revenge on them. The ability for one to accept this suffering for the sake of love of God is what gives one the glory. What you need is only the grace to be able to bear all these thorns gladly for His sake. Keep on enduring; one day the crown will be yours.  It is difficult for those who think that the kingdom of God means only food and drink to accept the reality of human suffering." 

[ Fr. V. also mentioned in the email that while he cannot connect with internet often, I am in his thoughts, and that he knows we are spiritually connected, and that is what matters to him most.  Fr. V. and I met when he was a visiting priest in a diocese in which I was part.  

He is a rare one who accepted an invitation to my lovely hermitage there, the night before Ash Wednesday.  When I learned his community is that of the Holy Spirit (the Spiritans), I went back to my library room and plucked off the biography of the co-founder, Ven. Fr. Lieberman and three volumes of his letters of spiritual direction.  

Fr. V. and I had and have a deep link.  He was celebrant at the first Friday Mass in Lent of that year, in which strangers to the chapel saw me in the mystical state during Mass, did not heed the posted sign to not disturb me, and started moving my head, then let go, causing a serious neck injury.  It was after that Mass, that my then prelate spiritual director and also the pastor, abandoned.  

However, over time, Fr. V. and I made connection, and he immediately brought the Eucharist, and again when he could.  Within a month, however, he was transferred to a parish in another town.  Even so, he planned to bring the Eucharist and visit for spiritual discussion on his one day off per week.  

Within a few weeks of his transfer, he had to return to Nigeria to extend his Visa.  There were complications, and we prayed much for all to work out.  After two more months, he had his Visa.  But then, unexpectedly, his superior decided he should remain there and instruct their many seminarians.  

God's will be done, but how difficult for him--for he hoped for a different outcome.  I, rather, had glimpses of how difficult it would be for him in the parish in the small town to which he had been transferred.  In fact, it would have been horrible for him, not that he would shirk from suffering.  His gifts would be unappreciated, trampled or lost.  

God chose which suffering for Fr. V.--not at the hands of unwelcoming parishioners with bias and as assistant to a tempestuous pastor.  Rather Fr. V. was to suffer in his native Nigeria with bouts of malaria and tough living conditions of which try as he might, he does not have the means to improve for the sake of his seminarians.  Regardless, his religious community in Nigeria had over 1200 applicants for seminary last year, of which they had living quarters and supplies to accept but 150.

God also chose which suffering for me, of which I am sure I've shared amply and not particularly heroically: reports of these my living conditions and the tremendous solitude--nearing isolation--of this "Little House of Penance" now better named Te Deum--in this type and form of "Patmos."  

When Fr. V. writes of how little he can do to repair and try to make more habitable, the building housing all their seminarians, I wish I could gather up all the tools and supplies and head to Nigeria.  My current work burn-out would spark into flame with a worthy cause as that.  Alas, I am here...and finding it physically difficult to get out of bed due to some new, severe hip pain, probably from this bad mattress.  

I have a mattress--although the other night I slept better on the floor at my daughter's home.  I thought at least maybe I was sleeping more like the seminarians in Nigeria who may not have beds.  I don't know, but we do know that Jesus often enough did not have a place to rest his head as he traveled about, preaching, teaching, healing, praying and saving souls.

So, that is a little bit about Fr. V. other than he also knew that I was being persecuted from within the ranks of the clergy in the diocese.  He also was celebrant at my last Mass there, the one when my neck was nearly broken.  He later told me he saw the people messing with my head and neck right when he held up the Sacred Host to consecrate.  He also told me to accept all--the abandonment, the pain of the injury, the rejection, the stripping--as God's most definite will.

And despite this sharing seems serious in tone, do read his above encouragement while picturing a rather young, very dark-skinned priest whose eyes sparkle always, and who speaks in thick accent while yet smiling, and whose words tumble out as joy bubbling in laughter.]

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