By Sr. Paqui Morales, SHM
“God’s timing is perfect.” This is the way Sarita summarized the day of her First Holy Communion.
Sarita is a 45-year-old woman who has been bedridden for years due to being both blind and paralyzed. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis ten years ago. Her husband chose not to accompany her in her illness and abandoned her, leaving her to care for herself and their two sons, aged four and seven at the time. Her sons have lovingly taken care of her over the course of the years as they have witnessed the progress of their mother’s illness. She was first left bedridden with complete paralysis in her legs and partial paralysis in her arms, and later she lost her sight as well. The boys still go to school and study, but they must also take care of cleaning, cooking, washing the clothes, and attending to their mother.
Fr. David is the parish priest of Our Lady of Consolata, a parish located in one of the poverty-stricken areas of Guayaquil (Ecuador). A few months ago, he asked us to accompany him to visit this lady. Sarita immediately won over our hearts. It was truly impressive to see how joyfully she welcomed us into her home. There was not a single complaint and no sign of her feeling sorry for herself. Her words radiated gratitude and joy. She was delighted, as she said, to welcome someone who wanted to talk to her about God.
Before our visit drew to a close, we hung a small image of Our Lady on one of the bamboo walls. That way, even though she could not see it, Sarita would be able to reach out her hand and touch it and so remember that she was not alone. Later we discovered that she had only received Baptism, and thus we offered to give her catechesis so she could make her First Communion. Very kindly, she said, “No, thank you. I’m fine like this. You can visit me whenever you like, but for now I would prefer not to receive catechesis.” Father answered her: “Don’t worry, Sarita. Whenever you are you ready.” We visited her several other times and she was always glad when we came. Father would say to her, “You will be happier the day you receive Jesus,” but she was still reluctant.
For years, Evangelical Protestants had been visiting her, and she was rather imbued with their ideas. Curiously enough, however, when they insisted on taking away the image of Our Lady that we had left after our first visit, she would not let them.
Beto and Luis, two lay members of the Home of the Mother, promised to visit Sarita’s house every Saturday. Luis taught her sons to play the guitar while Beto prayed and chatted with Sarita. They often spoke about what every member of the Home of the Mother has impressed in his or her heart: the Eucharist and Our Blessed Mother. One Saturday, Sarita, with a mischievous look on her face, said to Beto, “I said I didn’t want to receive catechesis, but you’re secretly giving it to me.” receive catechesis, but you’re secretly giving it to me.” With these words, she did not reflect the least sign of disapproval, but rather seemed pleased. Things remained the same for some time, until Sarita manifested her desire to go to confession for the first time and to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
When we received the news, all of the lay members and Servant Sisters who were in some way closely connected to Sarita’s situation were overjoyed. We all wanted to be a part of such a special day. That Sunday, the Lord was going to enter into the area where Sarita lived, an area full of the most terrible human and spiritual hardships. In that area, there is open drug consumption and the most terrible vices are publicly flaunted. But the Lord looked at nothing other than Sarita’s heart full of desire to have an encounter with Him.
Five married couples of the Home, Beto, and the six Sisters went to Sarita’s house ahead of time to prepare for Jesus’ visit. We decorated the poor bamboo house with white and gold balloons and prepared a beautiful altar adorned with white roses. One of the ladies did a simple hairdo and makeup for Sarita. She looked so beautiful and became emotional at all of the attention she was receiving. Finally, the long-awaited moment arrived. Fr. David brought Jesus and led a para-liturgy. Before reading the Gospel of the day, he said to her, “Sarita, listen. The Gospel is speaking about you.” Full of excitement, we listened to the passage about the blind man from Jericho who exclaimed, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.”
That morning, Jesus did not restore physical sight like He did to the blind man of Jericho, but He gave Sarita a more important vision: He let her see His immense love and gave her the vision of Faith, which allows her to see beyond her suffering and discover the immense love of God.
After a period of joy and celebration, Sarita ended by saying, “Who would have ever told me that, given the condition that I’m in and at 45 years old, I would be making my First Communion?”. And with a beautiful smile she concluded, “God’s timing is perfect.”.
God is so good! God is so good! He knows how to wait for the right time for each soul.
That day, there was a great celebration in Heaven. It was so great that it let itself be felt on earth because all of us who were present were able to rejoice with a “heavenly” joy.
© HM Magazine Nº207 March-April 2019