November 10 2013
In the course of a life time come those exceptional seasons of awakening brought about by people and places found far from the daily routines of normal. Our children were gathered in for an adventure, now young adults with college study and their dreams and aspirations taking form, as we arrived in Guadalajara in December of 2000. There was a sense as we traveled along the volcanic disarray of the Pacific coast, that this might well be one of those exceptional seasons, this was an adventure of faith in Christ into the unknown. We were traveling with plans both to serve Jesus and experience a part of creation unknown to us, where we were told there was a remarkable Catholic priest and a his school in the distant Sierra Madre Mountains of west Mexico. His name was Padre Pascual Rosales and he had extended an invitation to us to visit, share time together, and to learn about the Cora people and their community surrounding Mesa del Nayar in Nayarit.
What we could not sense during our preparation and travel to La Mesa was the quite certainty of this beautiful Christian servant leader. We had no sense that we were about to meet a man of scholastic brilliance who spoke fluently in eight languages. We couldn’t know that we were about to meet a man who daily poured out his life to serve, educate, and share the love of Jesus. We certainly couldn’t know that we were about to fall deeply in love with a person of tremendous grace, a beautiful people of quiet perseverance, and a place of remote beauty. Jesus knew, that is why he sent us. Padre knew, that is why he invited us. We received their magnificent blessing and our lives have forever changed.
Padre Pascual was wonderfully made. Above all was his deep love and adoration of Jesus Christ, a love that expressed selflessly his second love for all mankind, especially those with a life in any kind of pain. His love was practical and met each person, whether child without clothing or adult without compassion, at the level of immediate need. Always with his eyes smiling, unless he sensed hidden motive and even then with patient humor, his heart open to faithfully share the love he so abundantly received in Jesus. Padre was to all of us who knew him the transparently kind and loving servant of a wonderful God. To be in his presence was to sense the warmth of Jesus close and personal. Pascual was gifted of our Lord to change lives in profound ways, whether young or old, rich or poor, of great status or low regard, pure of heart or conflicted, to know the man was to know there is a greater truth beyond any shadow of doubt. After meeting Padre you knew with certainty that there is a God of all creation and He is a God of great love.
So many memories flood upon the heart sweeping me back to the first days of our journey with Pascual and the Cora people. As we flew toward Christmas day over the dry Sierra’s, in awe of the majestic mountain splendor laying out below our wings, I realized that only a very strong enduring people could carve out a life in this rugged remote wilderness. Tough, steep, convoluted spines of a massive dragon back rose as volcanic remnants of eons past; this was a dangerous place to live. Yet it took simply one conversation with Padre Pascual followed by a simple meal with the students and a Sierra sunset chased by the brilliant night light of stars just beyond the fingertips, for us to realize this was a foretaste of heaven, a glimpse into an eternity of awesome grandeur and immense proportion. How the stories come as waves upon the ocean of experience with this wonderful man of God speaking of the school “We pray, study, and work – the play, it comes naturally…” then a wayward student or challenging adult “we never know when they will come to understanding….” when we as visitors were plagued by the resident fleas “when visitors come, the fleas prosper!” A long day came to a close “to rest Don Tomas, Dona Colletta, to rest” or in times of difficulty or reflection “ Christ alone is sufficient for me.” About the purpose of the school and education “to prosper the students that they may profit their parents” his style of leadership “speak softly and you will be better understood” “we live poor but happy” “all people seek God, we never know who will come to understand” “the students did all this work (or food, or dance etc.) “Joy comes in serving” an inclusive statement of encouragement and a singular testimony to the fullness of a life so beautifully lived in service to a forgotten people.
The Christmas pageant, formed of ancient roots supporting crossed cultures formed a vibrant fabric of human experience as the candles smoked, the incense billowed, violins sawed background melody to Gregorian chants sung in rhythm to tinkling chimes. From all corners of the mountains came the people to celebrate the feast of communion in Christ and their history as the created. The very old and wise with eyes for God, the young with eyes for each other, the children with all eyes to them, the Padre eyes lifted to the Eucharist held high above to honor the Lord of all. So the universe seemed to gather there and then for that incredible moment of eternity, we were one drawn close together celebrating new life, new hope, the new promise again of forever through the birth of a baby named Jesus. And so we remember glimpses of the future past, hearts aching, souls singing songs of memories, such are the exceptional seasons of awakening and the sweet loving eternity of Jesus found in this beautiful man named Padre Pascual.