The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Today we find in the readings on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception a peculiar story of Ahaz. Ahaz wasn't a particularly pious king of Judah and in the Book of Kings is known simply as one who "even immolated his child by fire, in accordance with the abominable practices of the nations whom the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites." (16:3) Simply put, he sacrificed his child to a foreign god-idol that promised peace and prosperity. But as if this wasn't bad enough, he also frequently asked for help from Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, instead of relying on God's own armies.
And so we read that the prophet Isaiah tells Ahaz to "remain calm and do not fear; do not let your courage fail", and to "ask for a sign from the Lord, your God" (Is 7:4,11). Isaih is telling Ahaz to turn from his idolatry and pray to God for help. Ahaz, in his defiance, says "I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord" (v12), essentially responding that he will not trust God, but rather in his own power and allies, the Assyrians. Further on, Isaiah then responds that in this case, the Assyrians will shave the Israelites, rendering them powerless and in suffering - "on that day a man shall keep alive a young cow or a couple of sheep, and from their abundant yield of milk he shall eat curds; curds and honey shall be the food of all who are left in the land...every place where there were a thousand vines shall become briers and thorns" (v21-23).
What does this mean for us? First of all, in the light of our current crisis, let me say that God, the author of goodness, does not in our time inflict evil on His children. Suffering is a fruit of man's pride and selfishness, and though God can and will save us, He will allow suffering as a refining fire to burn away our own idolatry. Just as Ahaz refused to give up self-control to God and desired instead to trust his idols and powerful allies, we will often choose to refuse God's help and instead rely on our own powers and allies in a time of crisis.
So, what are our idols?
But, even in the face of God's merciful judgement on Earth, we still have to choose to trust in Him and follow His commandment to love our neighbor. We must see the ways in which God is burning away our dependencies and idols so that we may 'burden Him', not trusting in powers and idols, as Ahaz did when Isaiah asked him to trust in the Lord. We must not sacrifice the lives of our at-risk brothers and sisters - the poor, the elderly, and the frail - to the idol of economy and money, as Ahaz did to his own sons in the name of prosperity. We must use this as a time of repentance for all that we worship in place of the Lord God Almighty who is all good and deserving of ALL of our love.
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
by Jason Wilde
When our daughter, Grace, was 2 or 3 years old, she was a bit of a night owl. We'd find her hovering over our bed at 5 o'clock in the morning, playing in her room just before midnight, or randomly wandering to and from her room at all hours of the night. But there was this one time when I remember checking on Grace just before going to bed myself when I found her huddled in the corner of the hallway, reading the story of the Annunciation in her Children's Bible. It kind of shocked me so much, not that she was clandestinely reading in the hallway, but that she was reading the Bible.
At the time, I don't think we actually had any other Bible in our house. Sure, I grew up always seeing the giant white book with gold embossed letters on our bookshelf, right next to the 28 volumes of the World Book Encyclopedia, but I could only count maybe a handful of times when I actually opened God's Word and read it myself (and all of those were part of either an assignment or trying to use it to prove myself right in some trivial argument). I guess I fell into the old excuse that "Catholics read the whole Bible every 3 years in the Liturgy". (While I can't prove or disprove this, it also requires one to actually read the Sunday AND all weekday readings to even be close.) Because of this, I can honestly say that I didn't have an intimate relationship with the Word of God, or with God Himself. To know God is to know His Word!
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. - St. Jerome
The early Christians didn't have the Word of God in any written form - for about 300 years it was passed solely by word of mouth, tradition, and through teaching. Saint Jerome lived at the time of the Synod of Hippo, which identified the Greek and Hebrew canonical scriptures which we would come to know collectively as The Bible. However, Jerome himself didn't really know or read any of these scriptures, even though he was baptized and could read and understand Greek. Of course, he was a very learned and cultured young man. But in modern terms, he was a lukewarm Christian, far more passionate about Greco-Roman literature than about Christ.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. (John 15:3-4)
Then one night while sick with a deathly illness, Jerome had a dream in which he was being judged by God. He told God that he was a Christian, but Jesus countered that Jerome was actually a Ciceronian because he knew more about the Roman philosopher and his writings than about the Gospel of Jesus. This shook Jerome so much that when he recovered, he resolved to put all of his efforts into the Word of God, eventually translating it into Latin, the common language of the people at the time.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. (John 15:7-8)
Like Jerome, I called myself a Christian for many years, when in reality I was relying only on my knowledge and understanding of the Catholic culture and tradition I grew up in. I knew all about the fasts and devotions, rituals and prayers that are so prominent in a Catholic Church, but had very little personal experience with the Word, aside from hearing three short sections read to me every weekend.
This all changed when we signed up for our first mission trip to the Philippines. On the preparation list was a Bible (we actually had to buy one!) My eyes were opened to the Word as the missionaries directed us in reading, reflecting, and in praying with the Bible in various ways. For me, it was like spending time talking with a new friend whom I'd only seen in passing my entire life. After the mission trip, I was hooked! I began by reading through the entire Gospel of Luke, then Genesis and Sirach. My eyes were opened so much to the actual Words of God that I began to see things differently, to understand His ways and how He wanted me to follow. In many ways, it was the difference between visiting China without studying the language and visiting China with even a very basic non-conversational understanding of Mandarin Chinese. Knowing a few basic words really doesn't help you understand the announcements at the train station, or talk with the taxi driver, or even find the street you are looking for, but in learning those words, it helps you to understand how the traffic can seem so chaotic and yet organized, why people may seem to be so rude, and even why that elderly man is wanting to touch my child's hair.
If you immerse yourself into a foreign language, then you can actually rewire your brain...it affects how you see everything. (Ian Donnelly, Arrival)
Bishop Robert Barron explains how 'Arrival', a sci-fi movie involving an alien ship that suddenly appears on Earth, relates to the Word of God. In this film, the alien language is the central component that draws a linguist, a scientist, and an unhealthy supply of military involvement together to understand how and why the aliens suddenly appeared, and what they wanted with humanity. The language at first seems impossible to learn, but after spending time studying and exploring the strange figures in more detail, the linguist suddenly begins to understand and can even converse. She then comes across a word that causes great panic and alarm: "Weapon". But her study and understanding of their language allows her to look past the initial human response. She tries to explain that "The weapon is their language. They gave it all to us. Do you understand what that means?" to which the anxious Colonel answers "So we can learn (their language). If we survive."
Her response is pivotal, if not absolutely Biblical: "If you learn it, when you really learn it, you begin to perceive time the way that they do. So you can see what's to come. But time, it isn't the same for them."
In Genesis, "God said: Let there be light, and there was light" (1:3). God literally spoke 4 words, and all light now exists. Think about that! God's Word, His Thoughts, and His Breath all have power unimaginable to us. If we, as people of God, truly believe this, and we believe that the Bible is the very Word of God, then why would we use it? Why wouldn't we try to use the Bible as our language course to understand God's Ways, how He works, how He thinks, and how He loves? And even more, why wouldn't we speak it out loud as defense against Evil and Darkness (also known as 'Executing the Word')?
Language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds a people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict. - Arrival
For the past three years, I have tried to understand the Language of God by reading it every day. Some days I forget, or get distracted or sidetracked. But I try to read it every day, from the Original Source. Even 15 minutes is powerful. In fact, if you read only 15 minutes every day, you can finish the Bible in a year! Now, I can admit that I have not consciously read the Bible in entirety, but I challenge myself every year to do so, and I believe it has truly changed me and my family. Every day, I learn the Ways of God and how He wants me to live while exiled from my Home. If you do not already, I challenge you to become more intimate and familiar in some way with God in this way. Some simple ideas are:
1) Pick a Gospel and read from beginning to end (over several days or weeks is fine!)
2) Do the same for an historical Old Testament book.
3) Read a Psalm each day for the next 6 months.
4) Even better, EXECUTE a Psalm out loud each day! "So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me empty, but shall do what pleases me, achieving the end for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)
5) Play Bible Roulette - open your Bible to any random page and begin reading for 15 minutes.
6) Practice Lectio Divina - read any daily reading, think and pray about something that catches your attention, and then read again twice more. Refrain from reading another person's reflections or thoughts.
In addition, if you'd like to join us for a virtual Bible marathon to proclaim His Word around the world, we are looking for readers to fill 144 slots - 30 minute slots over 72 hours (the time it takes to read the entire Bible) - on the days leading up to Palm Sunday, 2020. Please see the link here for details and to sign up. We will be simultaneously hosting a live New Testament marathon at our parish in Littleton, Colorado and would appreciate the power of your readings of God's Word. Please contact us for more details if you'd like to join the live marathon.
by Jason Wilde
“Hey, I noticed y’all’s shirts say you’re Catholic Missionaries…”
Not exactly a quote I get every day, but nonetheless, it helps me get past my fear of encountering a stranger. The stranger was a lone fisherman sitting by his pickup truck on a quiet beach in Louisiana. We had walked his way and briefly chatted about the 30 lb fish that he caught moments earlier and then gave to a nearby family sitting on the beach. His bait now wet again and line taut in the waves, he called us over to tell us that he too was Catholic, that a relative of his was a Jesuit missionary who he thought ‘did some good stuff’, and that he liked seeing us walking around the beach with our kids instead of watching TV or something else.
As we talked, I noticed an interesting looking contraption made out of PVC pipe. As I stared at it sitting by his truck, he began explaining how some guys had once caught an 8 foot Bull Shark while standing next to him, waist deep on the sandbar about 100 feet from shore. This terrified the fisherman as he didn’t like that one of the most aggressive sharks was swimming just feet away. And so, he built this PVC contraption which ended up being something like an air-powered potato gun for frozen squid slugs that he tied to his line and then shot beyond the sandbar from the safety of dry land. It really was a genius solution that would have never come about if he wasn’t placed in such an uncomfortable situation.
“Are you an engineer?”, Jessica asked.
The fisher smiled broadly. “No, I’m a Cajun.”
There are two responses to fear - fight or flight. This man could have wrapped up, sold his tackle, and found another way to live, or he could continue to do what he wanted to do in the face of a trial. But in the end, he did something better - he chose to look at the trial as a way to spark something new and better.
One of our conversion moments came in India when we were also placed in an uncomfortable and possibly dangerous situation. But instead of saying that we’ll never travel again, we turned to God, and He told us that we should lean in to our fear, traveling for His purposes.
Sometimes God uses these situations to allow us to revisit our life, step back, and turn to Him for a better answer. It gives us the chance to really depend on His wisdom and providence to rescue us, instead of thinking that we are in control and can work our way out of the predicament. As we begin the Easter season and listen to stories of the early Church from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, we can really understand the uncertainty and fear that was going through the minds of these poor fishermen. Their Rabbi was crucified for His teachings, and they were next if they were caught. But the Risen Jesus changed all of this - He told them to put away their anxiety and do the opposite of what human reason would have suggested. He told them to go and be courageous. With no leader and no home, they boldly stepped out and God rewarded them with miracles of healing, preaching, and conversion. When they were forced out of the city walls, they didn’t scatter but instead camped out and shared everything they had with each other.
One of the biggest dangers of our modern lives is that it is too easy to depend on ourselves, to place our security in the hands of reason, technology and insurance companies instead of in God’s hands. It becomes impossible to see Him working in our lives, and therefore become closer to Him, when we are constantly looking for the human solution to any insecurity. Our Church is not suffering because of lack of religious freedom but because we have freed ourselves from needing God’s help and therefore have lost our witness of a life truly dependent on Him.
In the end, the fisherman’s solution was an inspiration to us...a witness of sorts...that went beyond his worldly needs. It taught us that we too need to give our fears and our plans to God and allow Him to give us the blueprints that we need in our lives.
The old man stayed all night, sleeping in his truck on the beach with his pole and squid cannon. Then as we watched him pack up his tackle and drive away the next morning, I couldn’t help but remember that St. Peter was a fisherman...
by Jason Wilde
I watched the scenery from the back of Padre Carlos' tiny hatchback on our way to Mass at a distant Puebla on a rainy Sunday morning. As we slid through the muddy back roads, I noticed that the scenery was changing. The rough, unfarmed greenery was slowly turning into flat, grassy ranches lands spotted with cattle and an occasional horse. Another 20 minutes later, Padre pulled his car up to a tiny little store and we made our way to the even tinier chapel perched on a hill on the other side of the road. The locals were just starting to arrive by truck and by foot, and I noticed that the men were relatively well dressed compared to other pueblas that we'd visited. Most had clean blue jeans, boots and cowboy hats; they were clearly ranchers.
The Gospel reading that Sunday was about Jesus as the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18). Padre Carlos was a very popular homilist, and he didn't let us down. He started by asking the men standing in the back of the chapel how they called their herds. We listened as each one whistled in his own unique way, and the crowd of about 20 people giggled each time.
"If I could imitate one of you"...(whistling feverishly)..."would I be able to call your cattle?", Padre questioned.
"No!", the cowboys all responded in unison.
"Similarly, then if Jesus is the 'Buen Vaquero', do we listen to His call?" Padre continued.
Everyone laughed and seemed to nod in agreement.
"....or do we also listen to others? Do we listen when strange gods call us - gods of money, drugs, alcohol, gossip, TV, internet...?"
The still silence was deafening.
I keep reflecting back on this homily as we stand on the precipice of another season of lent, trying to decide how we are going to prepare ourselves to receive the Good Shepherd whom we all claim allegiance to. But, we live in a world of gods: gods who are loud and in our faces, gods who all vie for our attention and for our support, gods who want us to follow them, to be like them, to reject all others. And while we might claim to only serve one God, in reality we all struggle with this, and unfortunately, our God is a jealous God. He doesn't like when we listen and follow the calls of those other gods:
Interestingly, when push comes to shove, it seems that the faith claims and institutions of one's political party generally trump those of one's religion.
Lent is a time to remove ourselves from the presence and grasp of those other gods. It is a time to clear away the noise that distracts us from His calling. Usually, this means we must sacrifice something that makes us uncomfortable so that we can feel His healing presence. Every year, I struggle to find 'what I should give up', but in reality, I should be working to free myself from the calls of these gods so that I can hear the angelic whistle of the Good Shepherd.
by Jason and Jessica
This powerful statement and our nation’s motto, though always controversial, seems to be something that we can always turn to in times of need. I mean, what else could give us a greater peace of mind than knowing that our Lord has everything in control, guiding us to our final destination with Him? I know that whenever I have faced a stressful situation, or have been worried about the health of my child, I am completely calm and collected, just falling down and telling God to take control.
Ok, so maybe this last part is a stretch.
One of the many little things that I’ve learned about myself throughout our formation here at Family Missions Company is that I am a control freak. I’ve survived much of my career by always trying to handle everything myself, knowing every answer, every solution, and every possible outcome. In chess terms, I like to always have an ‘end game’ in mind (Jessica still won’t play chess with me for this very reason).
When traveling, I had every logistic travel component planned down to the specific bus stop saved to a Google Doc on my phone, ready to be armed with it when we stepped foot on foreign lands.
But then we let God slip into our lives, and everything went haywire.
As we’ve shared before, Chi Yu’s adoption was anything but predictable. We never really knew what was going on until we received a frantic fax needing our signature before being sent back to China. And we really didn’t fully know his medical situation until at least six months after he had been home with us. But, from the first moment we met Chi Yu, his limb difference was not a disability for him. In fact, his limb difference is his greatest strength. Because of it, he is the most determined and energetic kid we’ve ever met.
But he did have health problems. His pancreas was not working properly resulting in poor growth. To us, this was his greatest need. We knew that it was God's will that Chi Yu was our beloved son. It was God's will that we were becoming missionaries. So we placed our trust in God that he would provide the means to care for Chi Yu in missions. We knew that there is no better place to be than in the center of God's will.
But when the reality of paying for God’s trust hit, it shook us. It turns out that Chi Yu's pancreas medicine costs $1000 per month without medical insurance. We frantically searched for every alternative possible - and still it would cost about $450 per month in Costa Rica. For a missionary family living Gospel poverty, this would use up all our financial resources quickly.
Many suggested that we tried medical insurance. We started with a very promising and morally-oriented Christian healthshare plan, and they denied Chi Yu from the start. Think about that - our orphaned foreign-born son was rejected by an organization that claims the same book that says “He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing.” (Deut 10:18)
Now don’t get me wrong - I am not downplaying the role or importance of any kind of insurance as a safety net for many people. But, I am concerned when it replaces the trust that we should be placing in our Savior, or when it replaces the standards of charity that we are called to live by as Christian witnesses. Many of the now successful insurance companies were at one time just an organization of brothers who decided to care for the least of them when times were tough. But somewhere along the way to modern day maturity, they have instead become financial contracts of trust and safety that we have all learned to depend on religiously (most literally) to replace the trust in God and our neighbor. I can’t help but think that placing the phrase “In God We Trust” on the very dollar bill used to buy insurance is a powerful image of this idolatry.
For three months, we prayed for a miracle. We prayed that God would provide the medicine at a low cost or do the impossible - heal him completely. We knew this was God's mission not ours so we knew He had a plan for us to care for our son and to go on mission. We just had to trust Him, which was extremely hard. To be honest, the complete trust wasn’t there - we also kept worrying and working on our own solution in the background.
(Jessica): Over our Christmas break, we took Chi Yu to his gastro doctor for his regular exam and she was pleased by his growth. When I asked her to order a test to see if his pancreas had started producing the missing enzymes, she hesitantly reordered it but wasn't very optimistic of any change due to his birth defect.
Later that week, we were at the movies when a trailer for The Miracle Season caught my attention. My heart leapt for joy at the hope that this would be our family's season of miracles. Then my flawed human nature set in and I started to doubt. Would we be able to care for Chi Yu in missions? Or would we have to go home, find Jason a job and rebuy everything we had given away? My heart sank. Were our dreams of being Jesus's hands in the world serving the poor coming to an end?
After the movie, I turned on my phone and saw a voicemail from his gastro doctor. His pancreas was now functioning normal, and now we could wean him off his medicine! God had completely healed him!
What is impossible for human beings is possible for God. (Luke 18:27)
We can’t but think that this was yet another lesson for us in this season of formation - that true faith and trust in God leaves us free to do so much more for His glory during our limited time in the flesh.
“Do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides.
Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Luke 12:22~34)
by Jason and Jessica
Eight years ago, we remember thinking that our study days were over. We probably had the (wrong) assumption that enduring over four combined decades of classrooms and earning five degrees allowed us to say that we knew everything that we needed to live our lives together.
As usual, God proves us wrong.
It has been 3 weeks since we arrived at Big Woods, Louisiana, and we have been spending a lot of this time learning about our faith and how it applies to us as missionary disciples. Every day, we spend time in prayer, praise and worship followed by studies of Acts of the Apostles, Mission of the Redeemer, teaching workshops, and Sí Señor classes. Sí Señor covers a multitude of topics specifically about missions including Serving the Poor, The Call to Holiness, and Arrival on the Mission Field. This week, Grace has even decided to opt out of the kids ministry and is now participating in all of the mission formation classes with us. Next week, she will be delivering her own Kerygma in our teaching workshop.
After lunch as a community, we have time to work on chores and the kids work on their homeschool assignments. Jason spends his afternoons fixing up a missionary house.
Thursday is our service day. Our assigned ministry is visiting a nursing home. We pray a rosary in the lunchroom and then visit as many rooms as we can before lunch. It is such a blessing for us to be able to meet, pray, and talk with the residents. Chi Yu’s exciting personality is a natural ice breaker, allowing many to open up and tell us about their own children. One beautiful lady couldn’t speak, but her face lit up when she saw Chi Yu. She pulled up her blanket and revealed her feet which were formed as uniquely and beautifully as Chi Yu’s hands. You could see the joy on her face to be around him and to share that cross with him.
Saturday is our work day, desert day and Lord’s Day dinner. We work on cleaning the community or on the various projects around our community. Grace joins Jason on Saturdays to help with the house. This is followed by desert day, two hours of quiet prayer in the fields around the mission house. It is a time of reflection, study and prayer. In the evening we dress up fancy, break bread as a community and celebrate our Lord’s Day in fellowship. The Lord’s Day dinner follows a traditional feast day celebration, which always began at sundown on the night before. We light candles, bless the bread, share it and give prayers of thanksgiving. Then we bless and share sparkling grape juice. Afterwards is a time for fellowship.
As for the kids, Brecklyn has formed a band called the Ukeladies. It consists of Brecklyn, Libby (one of the girls that lives below us in our house) and a wonderful single missionary named Rachel. They have performed several times now, and it is a joy to not only see her pick up another instrument but to get in front of the entire mission community to play. Alex is in little boy heaven with all of the new kids to play with. Chi Yu has made friends with all the missionary girls. His favorite is Shayna; he calls her China. Grace has fallen deeper in love with Jesus and is eager to learn all that she can about missions.
by Jason Wilde
Getting a degree.
Finding a wife
Finding a job
Buying a house
Having a kid
Getting a graduate degree
Getting a promotion and a raise
Buying a new car
Opening an investment account
Having another kid (or two)
Becoming a doctor
Buying a bigger car
Finding a bigger house
Losing 40 pounds
Feet in the Sand
Making 6 figures
Paying off the car
Not worrying about money, but thinking about it all the time.
Living the American dream
Then why is it that I sit in our empty bedroom, staring at the air mattress on the floor, feeling happy and at peace?
I had it all, a textbook success story. No worries, Life is Good, Golden Happiness...so why does it feel like such a relief to give it all up?
Tonight we opened our last bottle of wine - a bottle that had quietly sat on the top of our mantle for the past few years as a celebratory goal - a trophy that was to be enjoyed whenever we reached the threshold at which I could retire from my engineering career and...well...do something else. Little did I know that this "something else" would come so soon, and that it would involve literally giving up everything we had thought made us successful (except the kids and wife, of course). Would I have believed if I knew my next employer's benefit plan included eternal success in the form of forgiveness, mercy, and personal sacrifice? And would I believe that I willingly, joyfully, and happily did it all without second guessing myself?
So, here's to my failure in the worldly sense, happily conceded for the least of my brothers.
Here's to constant prayer for someone with an impossible sickness.
Here's to sacrifice so that I can provide clothes for someone else.
Here's to the fear that I must fight in order to welcome the stranger.
Here's to the sickness that I will feel when I see the hungry child suffering.
And sadness when I see the tortured prisoner from the other side of the bars.
For I know that eternal success lies beyond our flesh, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where my treasure is, there also will my heart be. (Mt 6:20-21)
by Jessica Wilde
Last winter, we spent a cold, cloudy day at the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. We visited the shrine, went to mass and walked along the sidewalk through the pastures on the outside of town where the first sightings of the angel and Mary took place. The kids joyfully skipped down the path before kneeling before each statue in prayer.
Afterwards, we went shopping. I found a statue of Our Lady of Fatima with the three shepherd kids kneeling in front. It reminded me of my kids and my hope that Mary was gazing lovingly over them just like she did the shepherd kids and her son, Jesus. The statue was huge! Well, it was huge for backpackers traveling around Europe with 3 kids in tow. It was a little over a foot tall; after the sales lady lovingly boxed it up, Our Lady took up my entire backpack. That night, Jason shook his head as I tried to jam all of my clothes into the other backpacks. But I was determined to bring my Mary home.
My Mary sat on our shelf through Chi Yu's adoption and our first year home with him. Then one day, I received an urgent email from my friend, Christina, asking to borrow a statue of Our Lady of Fatima for the Schoenstatt shrine’s altar for the 100th Anniversary feast day. I instantly felt called to let them borrow my beloved statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Christina’s friend, Garciela, picked up my Mary statue later that night. The next day, my friends texted me pictures of my Mary at the shrine. My heart blossomed with joy at seeing her on the altar surrounded with flowers.
"Our Lady of Fatima look so pleased and beautiful!!!" texted Garciela.
A couple days later, I texted Garciela to plan a time for her to drop off my precious statue. She texted me more beautiful pictures of my Mary on the altar.
Then Garciela sent me this text.
"I am at the Schoenstatt Shrine right now and Fr Jesus is asking if they can keep the image on the altar until Saturday?"
How could I deny Fr Jesus my Mary?
Of course my Mary could stay there another week! But I felt the Holy Spirit pushing me to give more. Before I knew it and with tears streaming down my cheeks, I was gifting my precious statue to the shrine because she was never just my Mary. She is everyone's Mary.
I replied. "This was a special treasure from our pilgrimage to Fatima. But I think Mary likes it there at the shrine. ;-) Please offer her to Father Jesus and ask him to pray for us and our mission to serve the poor."
After sending the text, I remembered my kids kneeling in front of Mary's statue in Fatima. I sobbed and fell to my knees in a puddle of tears. For the first time since adopting Gospel poverty and selling all of our stuff to become missionaries, my heart grieved. I did not want to let my Mary go. Jason pulled me into his arms and told me it was "probably for the best" because she would have likely been broken on our international move anyways. But my heart still hurt.
At that moment, Jason's friend Lucy, with whom he was sharing the news of our call to missions, texted us this message.
"That is so awesome to hear!! I know the Lord is going to multiply everything you are leaving behind. He will never take something away without giving you more back in return. I can't wait to see His power unfold in your & your families life."
My tears dried up as I drew strength from my hope in Jesus.
Later that week, Alex broke my special coffee cup that I wanted to bring with us on our Mission. I had bought it with my Grandma in Montana when I was a little girl. Again, I was sad and upset. In a flash, the hope I had acquired was gone and was replaced with despair. I couldn't believe that I had lost Mary and now this! In my frustration, I grabbed my phone and told Alex to freeze so I could text Jason a picture of Alex with my precious shattered coffee cup.
I was so caught up in my loss that I failed to see the big picture. I checked the photo before I sent it and saw the kids' "Jesus I Trust In You" journal sitting right there above the shattered coffee cup. It was as if Jesus was knocking me over the head saying don't store up treasures here but give it all to me. Trust in Me. Hope in Me. Once again my tears turned to dancing.
We had a garage sale at a friend’s house followed by an end of the year party for our co-op. My friend, Christina, who initially asked to borrow the statue for the shrine was there. She was very sweet and said if Our Lady of Fatima was that sentimental that they would save her for me or my kids. I was tempted to ask her for Mary back right away since my parents could keep her safe at their house. But this was my own selfishness and greed seeping out yet again. I pushed this desire deep inside and refocused on my faith in God's eternal treasures. I needed to put my hope, my trust and my faith in Him.
My Treasure Multiplies
"If you would like a visit from the Pilgrim Mother of Schoenstatt (traveling mother) I will be happy to bring her to you, so she can bring the graces from the Shrine to your home and help during this transition. 🙏" texted Garciela
I told Garciela that I would be honored. The next day Garciela brought the Pilgrim Mother of Schoenstatt over to visit me. We prayed the prayer on the back of the statue. I asked the kids for their prayer intentions. Grace prayed for our mission. Brecklyn prayed for peace in the world. And Alex prayed for us all to go to Heaven. Afterwards, Graciela explained the mission of the Pilgrim Mother of Schoenstatt. She told me the story of Deacon John Pozzobon, who carried the Pilgrim Mother of Schoenstatt over 85,000 miles by foot to visit people in Brazil.
I became a little donkey that went about carrying the Mother. (Deacon John Pozzobon)
I asked her if I could buy a statue at the shrine to share with people on our mission. Before I knew it, she was offering to let us keep this statue. She then started planning our training, commissioning and a blessing by the priest at the Schoenstatt Shrine later this summer.
While in my naiveness I had thought I had "lost" my Mary, God was actually multiplying her role in my life. Now Mary wasn't just a statue on my shelf but my responsibility. In the image of Our Pilgrim Mother, Mary is holding Jesus bringing Him to the world. Therefore, our family was to be her feet bringing Jesus to visit the poor, the sick and the imprisoned just like Mary brought Jesus when she visited her cousin Elizabeth.
We started consecrating ourselves to Mary every day and I realized that she did not belong to me but that I belong to her. I am her daughter and she is my mother. She has always been there for me and always will.
My Queen, my Mother, I give myself entirely to you, and to show my devotion to you, I consecrate to you this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my entire self without reserve. As I am your own, my good Mother, guard me and defend me as your property and possession. Amen
by Jason and Jessica Wilde
One of our family’s favorite movies of all time is Up, an award winning CGI animated film about an old man who suddenly decides that he must follow through on his lifelong goal of an adventure to Venezuela, in a very unconventional way.
In the movie, we meet Carl as a little boy who is scared of his own shadow just as he meets a very charismatic and daring girl, Ellie, who introduces him to a new adventurous world. They grow up reading stories of a famous explorer who shows off the wonders of South America, and from these stories, the young couple dreams of visiting one day. They get married, buy an absolute dump of a house, fix it up into a very charming abode, and then they get jobs at the local zoo - a pretty predictable and typical lifestyle. But they yearn to fulfill their dreams of visiting the picturesque Paradise Falls in South America, and so they set up a change jar, and add to their “Stuff I’m Going to Do” adventure scrapbook. Inevitably, every time the change jar begins to gain some weight, it is smashed open for life’s unexpected detours - a flat tire at first, then a broken leg, and a new roof on the little house. As they grow old together, they eventually fall into a routine and enjoy their lives together, until one day Carl finds their travel dreams again and decides to book flights to Venezuela. As fate would have it, Ellie falls ill and is hospitalized before they can leave, and so the journey never happens.
Every time I see this movie, I think of our own journey and our dreams, and the graces that God gives us to make it all happen. I think of how easy it is to get swept up in everyday life and to stop thinking about our dreams and our real talents to help people. It is too easy to dwell on the risks and put everything off, waiting for some magical day in the future when the stars will align and everything falls into place. It is in these times that we fall prey to the selfish vices which give us the temporary happiness that we all desire. But, you can’t let your dreams always be in the future, and you can’t let your graces serve only yourself. At some point in your life, your dreams have to happen now. Sometimes, this means you need a catalyst, and usually, you have to make a sacrifice.
As we celebrate the one year anniversary of Chi Yu’s ‘gotcha day’ (the day we signed his adoption paperwork in China), we have been reflecting on what exactly brought him into our lives. As we’ve shared before, it wasn’t a single reason, but a cascade of events and rocks that led to our decision to adopt.
The problem with being graced with the love of God is that it seems that you can never do enough - once we suppressed our own personal ambitions and began helping people, we couldn’t stop. Even as we worked and sometimes struggled to help Chi adapt and learn about his new home, we found ourselves still on fire, wanting to help everyone around us and show them the love and grace that God had shown us.
We took the kids to our local homeless shelter to hand out water and hygiene kits. We joined our local refugee services organization after watching the horrible stories of migration due to wars around the world. We advocated for the undocumented families who were stuck in limbo nearby. It truly seemed like a never ending struggle, but it was a struggle that we had to keep fighting because of the infinite grace we were given - a grace that burned like fire inside of us such that the more we helped, the more work we found.
But even this wasn’t enough. We continued to pray every day for an answer - “Where did He really want us to go? What was our next step - or where should we look for it?” Every homily and every tweet from Pope Francis seemed to make us break down and cry for the poor, the homeless, the neglected, the forgotten, and the mistreated. We felt that there was something bigger out there that we were destined for, but it hadn’t yet been revealed to us.
In this movie, the symbolism of dreams and personal desires is thick if you know where to look. Carl faces a dilemma when he is forced to leave the life that he had become so familiar with. This is something he had dreaded all his life, and a court mandated order is exactly the catalyst he needed to literally rip up his entire house and fly it to South America. He refuses to let it go, and so his house provides a vehicle to travel in. The story focuses on the house that he drags along, with all of his personal possessions and memories. He holds on to this house while it slows him down and keeps him from really succeeding or helping others. Along the way, Carl has to throw all of his memories and possessions out of the house in order to keep it afloat, and still it weighs on him while he tries to fight for his dream.
So it is with our own lives. How often are our dreams held back by familiarity and possessions? What would it take for you to give it all up? What if it was necessary to give everything to save your life? To save the life of your child? What about a complete stranger?
In the end, Carl finds that his dream wasn’t just to have an adventure and live a quiet life on the top of a picturesque waterfall, but to help his newfound friends. In a final moment of triumph against his lifelong dream of personal happiness, he has to sacrifice even the house that he so painstakingly dragged across the world. But this sacrifice is what sets him free and allows him to devote his entire self and all of his talents to helping the vulnerable (a dodo family, a friendly talking golden retriever, and a nervous boy scout).
How often do we find ourselves lamenting the problems of the world, and then doing nothing to change it? Can our possessions hold us back, making us selfish about our own safety and greed? Even worse, do we find ourselves like Carl, sitting on the front porch of our own property barking condemnation at anyone who comes within steps of our property line?
I Found It!
Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain, that I can’t control. I want more of you God. I want more of you God.
Our fire burned so strong that when we heard His call, we were ready to act without hesitation. When we found Family Missions Company, an organization that trains and sends out lay missionary families to share the Good News of Jesus and serve the poorest of the world, it was as if we found our lost coin - we rejoiced and held our own party celebrating how we found our joy. It was a joy that no lottery or prize could give us, a joy that is only matched by the little picture of Chi Yu on the adoption list. With a big smile of sheer joy, Jessica shouted “I found it!”
In our hearts, we knew this was the answer to our prayers. This was God’s call for our family and the answer to the burning fire that was consuming our hearts. While we knew this was our path, we still spent the next 8 months prayerfully discerning this call and working through the logistics of a foreign missionary life. Is this really God’s plan for us? How do we live without a salary? Are we ready to sell everything we own? Are the kids ready for this? But every time we asked, God answered affirmatively, telling us to stop worrying, give up everything, and follow Him. We became even more determined after we attended the week long medical mission trip in the Philippines and the Come and See orientation in Louisiana for potential full time missionaries. These hands-on experiences helped finalize our discernment.
The Wilde family has committed ourselves to working for the Lord. We are already in the process of selling everything in preparation for Intake training, which begins in September. We are looking for mission partners, sponsors, and prayer support. If you are interested, please follow us using the link in the sidebar on the right, or directly invest in our mission at our Family Missions Company page (a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization). We will be sending out updates on our mission periodically, including our foreign post location once we are assigned in December.
Praise God and God Bless!
by Grace Wilde
We all love St John Paul II. Many knew what it was like when he was alive, but, others like me have never known what he was like as the pope. He died 12 years ago. A lot has changed since then. But, his message still relates a lot to today's world with refugees, war, peace and dialogue. His message transcends time with its roots in the Bible and its continuation with Pope Francis. Let us look at his message and let it guide us in our everyday life.
War is a fun game right? Never in the world as Pope John Paul II said:
"NO TO WAR"! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity. International law, honest dialogue, solidarity between States, the noble exercise of diplomacy: these are methods worthy of individuals and nations in resolving their differences. “
(Address of his Holiness Pope John Paul II to the Diplomatic Corps, 13 January 2003)
Even today, many people think that war is the only answer to quickly solve a problem. But, war only causes death, hate and unbalance in the world. As Gandhi said, domination is not the answer either.
But if Gandhi says that domination is not the answer to war, then what is? The answer is peace.
"Peace is a value with no frontiers. It is a value that responds to the hopes and aspirations of all people and all nations, of young and old, and of all men and women of goodwill. This is what I proclaim to everyone, and especially to the leaders of the world."
(Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 Jan, 1986)
As Pope John Paul II said “Peace is a value with no frontiers.” There is not an excuse for peace. Peace causes love between enemies so they become friends. Peace causes love for the weaker, so they become rich in spirit. Pope Francis said:
“Many religious traditions contribute by promoting compassion and nonviolence and protecting victims of injustice. For that reason, I emphatically reaffirm that 'no religion is terrorist'" and the name of God can never be "used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war!"
(World Day of Peace Jan. 1 2016)
But if Pope Francis says that “no religion is terrorist” why not welcome all religions into our hearts? John Paul II said this as his Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees in 1996
“Today the trend in migratory movement has been as it were inverted. It is non-Christians, increasingly numerous, who go to countries with a Christian tradition in search of work and better living conditions, and they frequently do so as illegal immigrants and refugees. This causes complex problems which are not easy to solve. For her part, the Church, like the Good Samaritan, feels it her duty to be close to the illegal immigrant and refugee, contemporary icon of the despoiled traveler, beaten and abandoned on side of the road to Jericho (cf. Lk 10:30). She goes towards him, pouring "on his wounds the oil of consolation and the wine of hope" (Roman Missal, Common Preface VII), feeling herself called to be a living sign of Christ, who came that all might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). “
This message was given 21 years ago but, today it's the same. Today “the trend in migratory movement” as John Paul II said is still upside down. Refugees and illegal immigrants come to America searching for a job, and a home. The Bishops are advocating for the immigrants and refugees. In a letter they wrote, mirroring Pope John Paul II,
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as immigrants and refugees sought for a place to live and work hoping for a compassionate human response. Today this history repeats itself; this morning we visited detention centers and respite centers for mothers and their adolescent and minor children traveling with them. These centers are described as places of intolerable and inhumane conditions. There we heard the evangelical call: “Because I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was hungry and you gave me food…” (Mt 25:35-36).”
(Statement of the Bishops “The cry of Christ and voice of the migrant moves us” 2/15/2017)
But what keeps peace and welcoming hearts together? The answer is dialogue. Pope John Paul II said this:
In the spirit of solidarity and with the instruments of dialogue we will learn:
- respect for every human person;
- respect for the true values and cultures of others; respect for the legitimate autonomy and self-determination of others;
- to look beyond ourselves in order to understand and support the good of others;
- to contribute our own resources in social solidarity for the development and growth that come from equity and justice;
- to build the structures that will ensure that social solidarity and dialogue are permanent features of the world we live in.
(Pope John Paul II, World Day of Peace, 1 Jan 1986)
Today we still have problems with dialogue with each other. If someone is different some people do not talk to them. If somebody does not agree with other people, some people will respond with anger, tearing people apart. These instructions that St John Paul II gave us can start a peaceful dialogue between friends and enemies. Even Pope John Paul II teachings mirror the Bible which was written thousands of years ago. Colossians 4:6 says:
“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
The Bible and other sources might have made way for Pope John Paul II, but, Pope John Paul II made way for Pope Francis and the bishops. They did not know it but their words were supporting each other. So, now they can all speak to the world for peace.
Do not be afraid to take a chance on peace, to teach peace, to live peace...Peace will be the last word of history.
St John Paul II pray for us.
On a Mission
Two passionate parents and their four children are excited to bring His Word to everyone in need while living a life of Gospel poverty as missionaries. They invite you to join them on a journey to encounter our global neighbors that Jesus commands us to love through works of charity and service.