Apostolic experience of Brother Daniele in Tlilapan - Mexico
Returning from Mexico has been like waking up from a dream that one wishes would never end. The challenge for me, now, is how to live from the graces I received during those two marvelous months. How did this experience become so impactful for me? I come back to that virtue that has always been a guiding light in my camino: trust.
I first experienced the joy and freedom of trusting in the Lord when I studied in Urbino, Italy, during my third year at Assumption College. In that handing over my plans, my desires, to God then, I began to see myself as His beloved son. He brought people into my life who freely rejoiced in my gifts and talents, who showed me that I did have something good to give to the world. This experience gave rise to a deep and enduring joy.
Mexico, for me, then became another experience of trust, since entering the Assumptionists, I've had a great desire in my heart to make a real difference in people's lives by leading them to truth and life in Jesus Christ as a religious priest. But I have also questioned, ''Does God want me to be a religious priest? Can He really use this young man, or is this only temporary?'' Was Assumptionist religious life and priesthood really my vocation, or was it just a mirage?
As I stepped off the plane in Mexico City, I made a vow to the Lord that I would give myself completely to this experience, to whatever His will had in store for me. And from the first day, this trust bore great spiritual fruit. I especially want to thank Padre Oswaldo for assigning me to be the pastor of San Andres-Tenejapan. With this assignment, Padre Oswaldo sent me out on to deep waters, as Jesus called Peter to follow Him in the storm in the Gospel of Matthew. I don’t think Padre Oswaldo knew how I respond to such a summons, but I thank him deeply for having faith in me.
His trust was the seed that lead to a great flourishing of trust in my own walk with Christ. I realized that whatever challenge He would call me to in my life, as long as I kept my eyes fixed on His love and mercy, I could walk over deep waters, as Peter did. It was when Peter looked at himself and his surroundings that he began to sink into the sea. Fixating on his own weakness and limitations kept him from trusting Jesus, and this is a common theme in my own life.
My life as an Assumptionist religious and priest must be one of trust in Jesus, at every moment. I marveled at how readily our brothers and sisters at San Andres embraced me as one of their own, how they were more than willing to see me as their “padrecito.” My homilies were certainly not remarkable, and I stumbled over words at times during the services, but that did not seem to matter to the faithful I met in San Andres and on mission in Cañada Blanca. They believed that God was working through me, and that was enough for them to have faith in me.
This taught me a great lesson: in religious life and priesthood, we are called to be God’s instruments. The words we say during celebrations are not our own words, but God’s words. We must be willing to be His instruments and to see ourselves as such. Everything we are, everything we do, is meant to be a reflection of God’s glory. Pride, that insisting on putting our own feelings, thoughts, and desires first, can suffocate this kind of life.
St. Ireneus of Lyon said it best: “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” My time in Mexico was an experience of feeling fully alive, and I knew that God rejoiced in that life with me. The fruits of ministry were proof that God does indeed want me to be an Assumptionist religious and priest.
Furthermore, he wants me to nurture and live from those seeds of enthusiasm and joy that He planted in Urbino. While He still calls me to conversion every day, He doesn’t want me to change into a completely different person. I want to thank all of the people that I met who affirmed this for me every day. I go forward in my camino sustained by the love that God has shown me through all of you.
Bro Daniele Caglioni, a.a.