test of faith.
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