A few nights ago, I was out with my family celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a few other thousand Hispanics in our area.
Mass was to start at 7pm, and we had invited some non-Hispanic people to join us. When they asked me when we should arrive to Church, to their surprise I said: “No later than 6pm, if you want to find a seat”.
When they arrived there, it became obvious to them why, as hoards of Latinos from all over the continent started to pour into our parish until there was standing-room only!
This was the third celebration at this parish, the first being the night before during the vigil, the sunrise service, and the evening service. All were full to and beyond capacity.
As I looked around at the throng, the moment became bittersweet for me.
In one hand, it always amazes me that no matter where in the world one might be, on this day many Hispanics and Latinos, from all social and economic classes, as well as distant countries pour over a parish to thank the Mother of God for being Our Mother. This celebration was not limited to those of Hispanic/Latin origin. Our guest is from Scandinavian origin. People and flags from all over the world were present at the Church. There were even some beautiful Nigerian nuns singing traditional Spanish songs, making it a most joyous occasion!
On the other hand, it made me recall a time where we attended a different parish. As I was trying to make a case to allow Hispanics to gather for celebrations like this and share in our traditions with the rest of the community, I was simply told by a parish employee that “those people can attend the Church down the road”.
I looked around all of us. Us, being the people that should go attend the Church “down the road”, and then I realized I’d never really forgiven that person. Maybe forgotten. Stored somewhere. But still there.
As Mass developed, I was trying to think, what should I do? Do I feel sorry for myself for having been offended? Do I feel sorry for my brothers and sisters for having been rejected because of where their life’s journey had originated?
The homily was of course, beautiful. To the point of the pastor of praising Hispanic’s “stubborn and unapologetic” Catholicism. Of how much he wished for more migrants to be like us. Of how much he wished for more like us.
Celebrations continued until almost midnight, and I put these feelings aside for the time being.
The following day, during the morning Mass celebration the answer came to me.
I remembered a teaching by our spiritual director, Fr. Michael. And understood what God was trying to tell me:
“Just bless them. They are injured. They are hurting. Just bless them.”
I know I cannot forgive on my own. I must ask God to help me. And He simply has said “Give them to me. I will heal them. And I will heal you too.”