St. John’s Cathedral is a sponsor to Madeline Alles, a young parishioner who is currently on a mission with Heart’s Home in Buenos Aires. Below is a letter she sent to her sponsors entitled “We Belong to Each Other.” If you would like to support Madeline on her mission, or would like to learn more about Heart’s Home, go to heartshomeusa.cividesk.com.
I hope this letter finds you well as the pace of life picks up again and you adjust to all the changes that Fall brings. I'm writing again to share with you a little of my life trying to live this charism of Presence and Compassion in the Heart's Home of Buenos Aires. The way we live compassion is very simple, and often is nothing more than entering into a space with a person just to be with them, listening to whatever that person is moved to share with us, offering them our nearness, our attention and our presence. In addition to cultivating relationships with and visiting the people who live in our neighborhood, once a week we visit the Muniz Hospital for infectious diseases. The majority of patients are there receiving treatment for weeks or months. Most have HIV. We go from bed to bed, introducing ourselves, gently ask permission to enter into their space, into conversation. Then we sit, maybe ask questions, listen, maybe say a prayer at the end. I was thinking of the many things I have heard these past 8 months - from our neighbors, our friends in the barrio, from these woman in the Muniz Hospital. I was thinking about this, how heavy the things I've heard, and asking myself: Why? Why do some people suffer so much? Where is God? Why does it matter that I enter into their space, that I receive their stories, their confidences? In the end, why bother if there is nothing I can do to take away their suffering? I want to share a small part of a reflection I wrote the other night of the experience of listening, of receiving the stories that people share, and of the questions I have found growing within me:
* I don’t know why God is so hidden. But I know God—He is in the church building, yes. But God is Love. God is present in all of existence. So when we say to each other: “Yes—I claim you, we belong to the same existence, I’m connected to you, I will not leave you alone” - we enter into the Unity of God.
* We enter into God’s own claiming of the consequences of our love lack, our sin—“I claim you!”—on the cross. You’re mine, you belong to me, so I give myself to you, I’m yours: “I know mine and mine know me; and I lay down my life for my sheep” (Jn 10:14)
* I choose my freedom to give myself to you. I belong to you. You belong to me. We belong to each other.
* “...to accept the “other” who suffers, means that I take up his suffering in a way that it becomes mine also. Because it has now become a shared suffering, in which another person is present, this suffering is penetrated by the light of love... Con-solatio, “consolation,” being with the other in his solitude, so that it ceases to be solitude” (Pope Benedict XVI Spe Salvi)
... Thank you for your support, for your continued prayers. Thank you for helping me be here. Please know I am praying for you as well.
Un abrazo, Madeleine