Fr. Juan Visits Guatemala City

Throughout my 18 years as a Dominican friar I have been blessed with friends that belong to different Provinces of the Order. I just visited fr. Luis Roberto Aguilar, O.P., in Guatemala City last weekend. He has been inviting me for the last three years and finally I went for a few days. It was quality time! Fr. Luis Roberto presently works at the Basilica of the Holy Rosary downtown and generously hosted me along with the other four friars that minister there. The landmark Basilica is honored to have the “Queen of Guatemala,” Our Lady of the Rosary, a beautiful statue of Mary holding an infant Jesus sleeping in her arms. Every October, the month of the Rosary, the Basilica becomes a place of pilgrimage for all the faithful of Guatemala. From early morning to late evening the people fill the Basilica paying a visit to their “Queen” during “her” month.

During my stay it was quite a treat that we had the joy of receiving the Franciscan friars at the noon Mass on Sunday, August 4. At the Basilica, it’s a tradition to have the “abrazo” (the embrace) of St. Dominic and St. Francis, the Sunday before the Solemnity of St. Dominic (August 8). The “abrazo” recaptures the closeness of the two mendicant founders and their Orders. The statues of the two saints are placed on floats and carried in procession from the main altar to the atrium of the Basilica. There the faithful gathers to see the profound bow that the statues perform to one another. In the midst of incense and fire rockets a big applause takes place. I love the pictures I took.

All along my short stay I witnessed the faith and devotion of the Guatemalan people, it was encouraging and refreshing. What a gift to share in friendships with Dominican friars that nurture our vocation as preachers! You were all in my prayers.

—In Christ, fr. Juan, O.P.

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God Is Love

In my June 8 column, I spoke about the spirituality of communion, which is the guiding vision for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Pastoral Plan. There are twelve points that the Focolare Movement proposes as making up a spirituality of communion. The first is “God is love.”

That “God is love” may seem obvious, but it’s something we need to remind ourselves from time to time. St. John says in his First Letter: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent us his Son as expiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10). Before time began, God knew each one of us by name. At some point in time, he called us into being. It’s his love for us that sustains us at each moment of our life. It’s his love for us that led him to send his Son into the world to be our Redeemer. God not only loves us, but every person he has ever created or will create. There are no limits to God’s love, as Saint Paul attests in today’s second reading (Rom 8:35, 37–39). When you stop to think about this, it’s overwhelming. Knowing how much God loves us becomes the foundation for a spirituality of communion.

A time in which I experienced God’s love for me was when I was in the eighth grade at St. Mary School in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. My mom dropped me off early for school one morning, and while I waited for my teacher to arrive and open the classroom, I felt beck- oned to enter the parish church across the parking lot and to pray. I entered the church and knelt down in a pew. Sunlight streamed in from a stained-glass window and bathed me in light. I felt incredibly close to God. That was a tremendous experience for me.
Share with others your experiences of God’s love.

Brother Ian

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