A test of faith.

    About 6 years ago I met Fr. Luis Aldape, a missionary priest. His mission is to bring Christ to the Aztecs in the remote mountains of Mexico. I received a phone call from an individual that I was acquainted with. He had told Father Luis about my collection of relics. He asked me if he could bring Father over for a private veneration of the relics. The only problem would be that Father doesn't speak English and I don't speak Spanish, so we needed quite a bit of translating.

    The visit was a beautiful one. Fr. Luis was so very excited. As he picked up relic after relic, he would start telling a new story in Spanish before he finished the one he was in the middle of. It was fun, we were in a story-telling frenzy stuck somewhere in the universal language of Spanglish.

    Weeks after our introduction, I received a letter from Mexico. Fr. Luis had written asking that if I ever had an extra relic of the True Cross would I consider giving it to him. At that time, I had an extra that I didn't tell anyone about. Well low and behold hold here come the two little visitors, one on each shoulder. The visitor on one shoulder said, "He's a good holy man, give your extra True Cross relic." The character on the other side said, "He's been a priest for 50 years, let him get his own relic." The battle was on, the good VS the bad. I think it was St. Ligouri that said (probably among others), go with your first instinct. My first instinct was that this holy priest deserved the relic of the True Cross. I boxed up the 12" oak standing reliquary cross with the relic enclosed in it for travel on a burrow for 12 hours in the remote Mexican mountains.

    The next time Father came to Los Angeles, I went to his Mass and had a Spanish speaking lady present the relic to him on my behalf. Father was overwhelmed. He returned to Mexico with his True Cross and sent numerous letters to me telling of the miraculous intercession of his holy relic. When Fr. Luis would get somewhere with a phone, he would call me with tales of his relic. The only problem was I never could understand the conversation. He would be all excited, telling me his stories, and then close with his traditional English phrase, " God Bless you, I love you." Sometimes he even left messages on the answering machine, at least those could be translated.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Fr. Luis again on a return visit to Los Angeles. He told a story in Spanish of how he now has the first Chapel in the remote Mexican mountains evangelizing the Aztecs, la Capilla de la Santa Cruz , the Chapel of the Holy Cross. During that visit I presented Fr. Luis with a reliquary containing a 1/2" x 1/2" piece of the Veil of Our Lady of Loretto.

    The Monday after presenting Fr. Luis with the relic of the True Cross, I received a package in the mail. The unsolicited package was from the Monastery of St. Joseph in France. Enclosed was a reward for realizing that the relic was truly God's, not mine. I was gifted with three nails; exact replicas of the nails that crucified Our Lord, with the authentics dated 1860. I am sure glad that I listened to the first voice, it was obviously an opportunity to test my faith.

  Chevalier Thomas J. Serafin,V.V.,GMK