How I met the Home
The dreams...of a fair-haired, shy altar boy. And the dreams...of a priest whose heart overflowing with love consoles, governs, sanctifies...
What’s all this about? You may well be asking yourself. Well, it’s all very simple, because in the plans of God everything is simple, even that which we find so complicated, a mystery we can scarcely comprehend or explain.
Yes, it all began because I was an altar boy in my village, Rielves, in the province of Toledo, Spain. I really was a blond altar boy, very blond, and shy, very shy. There I was, an altar boy in my parish church.
Looking back, I give many thanks to God for everything, because He conserved in me that desire to help at the altar, even when all my friends who were the same age as I was, and even a little younger, had stopped helping at Mass, and going to church.
A grace that I consider very important during this time of my life was that of never missing Mass on Sundays. I only remember having missed the Eucharist on two Sundays, and I remember it bitterly. It was a grace that God gave me because it was He who gave me the grace to say “NO” to my friends when arrangements were being made to play football on Sunday morning, which would entail missing the Holy Mass.
But let’s return to the main story. As you know, diocesan priests normally change parishes periodically, and they go to where their Bishop sends them, to tend to the portion of God’s people commended to them. This was the case of my village: many priests had passed through there, from the time I was preparing to make my First Communion to the time I left the village to give my life to God.
When I was twelve years old, approximately at the beginning of the school year, a new priest arrived in the parish. Another one. I remember how we were waiting in the sacristy, another boy who was altarboy and I, to see what the new priest would be like. He arrived: a young, friendly priest who liked to tell jokes and who spoke emphatically in his homilies.
Little by little I got to know him, and our friendship grew, and with the friendship, came spiritual direction. I remember also that some Sundays he would come with an elderly lady who spoke a funny kind of Spanish. She wasn’t Spanish, but she was really nice, and she used to give us sweets after Mass.
Time passed, and Holy Week arrived. Surprise, surprise! Fr. Rafael, our parish priest, had the bright idea of bringing a group of boys and girls to the village to spend Holy Week in a climate of prayer and of true friendship in God.
That’s how I met the first members of the Home of the Mother of the Youth. I was favourably impressed by their Christian joyfulness, the friendship between them and the love and affection that flowed from them.
So what happened next? Well, some of those young people began to come from time to time to the parish with Fr. Rafael; I got to know them better and better. I started to like their way of Christian life and I felt very drawn to living like them.
At the same time I began to pray with a little book of meditations about the Blessed Virgin Mary. I can say that this book helped me a lot and taught me how to pray. Around this same period of time I received the vocation to the priesthood. Let me explain a little. Seeing Fr. Rafael exercising his priestly ministry, I felt very attracted to the priesthood as he lived it. As I have said before, we were two altarboys. I remember how Fr. Rafael used to ask the other one if he wanted to be a priest, that the Church needed priests. And he used to answer no or try to avoid the question. I remember that he used never used to ask me and I used to get angry inside, thinking: why doesn’t he ask me, and I could tell him that yes I do want to be a priest? One day, of course, the question finally arrived. And I answered yes, that I wanted to be a priest.
In 1984 I went to my first summer-camp with the Home and the following year I made my first commitment. Since then, with good patches and not so good, I have remained in the place God has prepared for me since all eternity.
Evidently, the moment came to leave the H.M.Y. to enter the Servant Priests and Brothers of the Home of the Mother, but with the same spirituality that the Lord and Our Mother want for me.
I give thanks to the Lord and to the Virgin Mary for the Home, for Fr. Rafael and for my vocation; for having placed always at my side people whom I needed in order to find and answer my vocation.
© HM Magazine No. 116 - January/February 2004