This insightful blog is from our sister priest, Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea of Colombia,South America. She wrote it in March of 2010 and shares it with us now. I have edited the English sometimes loosely but the thoughts are all hers.She is saying that all of us prodigal daughters, sons, parents, spouses, partners and friends are longing for love and affirmation from our loving God and one another. Thank you, Rvda. Olga Lucia!
As I read Olga Lucia’s beautiful words I thought about a young person who is part of my church. She rarely attends as she is fearful in crowds and was agoraphobic, remaining in her room for many years, until fairly recently when caring,love,began to thaw the iceberg that became her heart. She was abused physically and emotionally by an angry father until he finally left the home. She left school after the ninth grade. She began hearing voices in later adolescence. She hardly ever left the house. Her family attends our church and I had intermittent pastoral contact with her over the last few years. But something happened to bring us closer together. My surgery for the GIST(slow growing low level malignant tumor in my stomach) a year ago caused me to stop and reflect on many things. I reviewed my ministry and I identified that this one young adult was neglected by me in the midst of those clanging cymbals that made a lot more noise. I wanted to try harder to reach her-God laid her on my heart and I could listen to my heart because I was not very active nor running around with the ministry or life. I also realized that I could no longer take care of my large aviary adequately.
I guess that I had reached her enough for her to come out of her room to greet me and express her pleasure that I was getting better when I visited her family. That was a big step for her. I spent some time with her and asked if she liked birds and if she thought she could get to my house and help with the birds. We were both amazed as she thought she could, and she did come to learn how to do this. She was gentle and happy with the birds and she enjoyed this job. We talked a little each time she came. She was able to accept a referral to the Mental Health Center and also to begin seeing her general practitioner. She opened herself to the possibility of other friendships very slowly but surely. We saw the iceberg melt. We saw the fear recede. We saw a whole person developing with courage and in response to caring. Recently there was a setback when a physical problem required serious medical intervention. She tried to retreat and move back into the iceberg again. But soon she started coping with it “because you and my doctors and my friend are so persistent”. It is such a blessing to witness her growth into life. For Valentines Day we gave her a card with pictures of the kittys and birds in it. Today she brought me and Pastor Judy Beaumont a beautiful card that said “People as kind and as loving as you are God’s Valentines to the world. Happy Valentine’s Day”. And in her own hand she wrote:” thanks for all the help and support. You both are wonderful. Happy Valentine’s to both of you and the birds and cats are great, I love them.” Wow-unfrozen by love! How wonderful to experience it. Rvda. Olga Lucia is right!
love and blessings,
Pastor Judy Lee,ARCWP
The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida
The Hunger of the I Love You in The Parable of The Prodigal Son by Rvda. Olga Lucia Alvarez
This text ,Luke 15:11-38 would call it the hunger of the “I love you”. When you have never had the warmth of a hug, a kiss, a loving detail, we become sullen, hard, frozen as icebergs. But if you meet this friend / or that support, this companions kind hand, that solidarity , that fraternity, you realize what you’re worth when someone cares. If you were a block of cement you’d melt like the opening of a a dam. See it fall lovingly, soft or hard, crystalline buds cascade of love and “I love you” spontaneous, fearless, free as the wind.
Some have had the experience of being concrete blocks, others perhaps never were, but one day the love they lost or never had, for whatever reason, unfounded fears, frozen by fears, by blockages in training, block out the experience of love. But like the prodigal son, and others somehow recognize and realize that in the house of my Father/Mother there is affection, a party, gestures of love hugs and kisses, and large or small details in pretty paper the bonds of love are wrapped. After thinking a while, we push and we run, with an open heart willing to melt in the loving embrace that receives and welcomes us because we are their daughters and sons and to God we are alike.
There are so many heartbreaks, causes of many diseases, and family violence. There are so many broken homes that create icebergs. Yet God’s great love is without fear and without reserve. You are melted by it and you feel violence, hatred and revenge that has brought us so many dead giving way and relenting.
It is the responsibility of all of us, of you and I of all who were born to ask for forgiveness, because this world, this life, and being distracted in our internal conflicts, we have not been able to sweep, shake and make ourselves as new. If you are sensitive to what I am saying here, I say it is because you have encountered the love of God, sometimes in another person.
Women and men need affection,it is the love of God that moves us to love. But, just as we know it, we are afraid. We may need a messenger to show us the face of God.
You have to be hungry for the “I love you”, you have to give them to receive them, you have to break the ice.
Leticia, I care about you, Get well; William;! I love you, Teresa, you’re great! Laura, God gave you that smile, so beautiful!. David! I hug and kiss you, Maru, thanks for the “I love you” I love you too, Camilin, Maria; my teachers, I love them! Diego! You’re the most beautiful thing God has given me in life, your presence, your friendship! Machelina, sister and my friend, how nice to have you in this life. Camilo, Inés, Benton, were thankful for that company. Blanca, Catalina, Charo, although they are far they are closer.
My life wants to be a hymn to life, I ask forgiveness for the times I have not loved, and I’ve offended, for the times I made you suffer and grieve someone this close or this far. To my family, my ancestors, my mother Earth, Air, Water, Fire, because I have abused them by not loving them and taking care of them as I should. I love you, I love you and I thank you. My greatest expression of love, commitment and responsibility towards all , is to show the face of God, that you recognize and find. May we, as we are, big, small, old or young, see the face of God. Run eagerly seeking your love and experience “I love you” like the prodigal son.
Thank God my spirit, because as they say, that when someone writes the soul walks. Mine escaped and went to recess and enjoy this day. .
Olga Lucia Alvarez B Rvdas. Olga Lucia and Judy
Bogotá, March 9/10
Rev. Olga Lucia Alvarez, Roman Catholic Woman Priest from South America Attends Annual ARCWP Meeting and Ordination
Roman Catholic woman priest Olga Lucia Alvarez traveled from Colombia,South America to join twenty eight other members of ARCWP for their Annual Meeting and the ordination of five women in Falls church ,Virginia. The women came from all over the United States. Michele Birch-Conery, another international member came from British Columbia, Canada. The meeting was led by Dorothy Shugrue, of Connecticut, the Circle Leader. After electing Board Officers and welcoming new Board members, the large group broke into small groups and considered a series of Scriptural and theological questions related to call and justice and peace,the charism of ARCWP. The reflection was deep and the participation was full and enthusiastic. Olga Lucia challenged us to share our ministry with the poor and the outcast. Her ministry in Bogota and the Good Shepherd ministry of Judy Beaumont and Judy Lee in Fort Myers, Florida are two examples of justice oriented ministry. Judy Lee and Olga Lucia talked about the place of doubt and anger in developing the kind of love and compassion needed in service with the poor, especially in affluent countries. Janice Sevre-Dusynska attended two protests against Drone warfare and for peace during her time in the D.C. area. Her activism is an example of ministry risked for peace.
While in the D.C. area, priests Olga Lucia, Judy Beaumont, Judy Lee and Dotty Shugrue visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorials. These were profound meditations on the power and wisdom of gifted leaders in the fight for economic, social and racial justice. Olga Lucia reflected on hatred and the violence in Colombia and the violence in America as she visited the King Memorial and the graves of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. We reflected on the difficulty of justice oriented ministries and the challenge of living Matthew 25:31-46 and Luke 4:16-20 ministries. Throughout our time together it was affirming to be with those who share the charism and the charge of enacting peace and justice as we seek to love our neighbors as ourselves.