Posted On 2023-03-08 In Covenant Life

What would Conchita have done?

SPAIN, Luis Enrique Zamarro •

Leadership in the Federation is embodied in service. If they (we) are an elite corps, it is in the daily struggle for holiness, and for generous dedication to others. —

About three months ago I moved to a new place of work. From the car park to the office there is a church that is open (at least) at half past seven in the morning. Since then, I go in every morning and have rediscovered the Lauds prayer that I have always enjoyed so much; it is a wonderful way to start the day praising God with the Psalms.

On the way out, just outside the door, there is a life-size carving of Christ crucified. The feet, pierced by a nail, are placed at a height that allows them to be kissed or touched. At first, I didn’t even notice it. Gradually I made eye contact with the image and glanced at it. Finally, overcoming my natural reticence, I stopped for a moment and touched the feet (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me). Then I went out into the street to face the day.

On the pavement in front of the church I usually meet a man asking for help. He is relatively short, narrow-shouldered, bearded and looks a little over forty. At this time of year, he wears a hat of indeterminate color and a deep red mid-season coat that shows clear signs of not having been washed for a long time. I never carry cash, ever. So, I usually pass this man in a hurry, with a quick wave, a gesture of apology for not being able to help him; almost without looking him in the eye. If I couldn’t give him money, which he obviously needed, I didn’t know what else I could do.

But you can’t touch the feet of Christ and run away

Last Thursday, as I do every day, I went back to the church, prayed Lauds again and on my way out, as I do every day, I went back to touch the feet of the crucified Christ in the picture. At the door of the church, I found myself face to face with this man. There was no escape. I greeted him and stammered an apology for not being able to give him any money. Not knowing what to say, I struck up a conversation and told him how cold it was. He replied that yes, it was very cold and asked me directly if I could buy him a hot coffee.

There is a coffee shop a few dozen meters away that sells coffee to go. We walked there; it opens at eight in the morning, and we arrived a few minutes early. The conversation flowed naturally. She told me that she had four children, that she was from Romania, that she lived in a house in very bad conditions and that she had no job here because she was undocumented. That he would soon be going to Italy to work in the potato industry. The conversation was interrupted when the shop opened. I bought the coffee and said goodbye.

On my way to the office, like an inspiration from the Holy Spirit, a spontaneous thought filled my mind:

  • What would Conchita have done?
  • I would have asked her name.

In fact, Conchita would have asked him his name, the names of his children, and when she said goodbye, she would have told him that she was praying for him that he would do well in Italy and that he would be able to earn money so that he could have a better life. Yes, that’s what Conchita would have done….


Listen to the voice of God in the other, in the brother

When someone asks us what are the most characteristic features of the Federation, we talk about the spirit of communion and the leadership of its members.

The community, which in the Federation takes the form of the free community and the official community (the object of that creative tension which is so much our own), is the place where we are formed and educated.

The course, the free community, allows us to develop our personality with greater freedom and to open ourselves to others in a spirit of fraternity. The official community would be the place for work, but also for the meeting of generations and life experiences.

My official group is a blessing from God. It has allowed me to discover brilliant and committed people. Their talents enlighten, enrich, and inspire me. And what I tolerate less from them confronts me with my own personality, with what I see of myself in them, with what I need to improve and correct. They educate me to the extent that I feel loved by them, in that love of self-giving (agape).

For leadership in the Federation is embodied in service. If they (we) are an elite corps, it is in the daily struggle for holiness, and for generous service to others. They are leaders on the fronts where they must fight in education, in prisons, with the needy, at the feet of the sick, in humanising science, and literally on the battlefield.

They are for me, on so many occasions, a transparency of God. To live the experience of practical faith in Divine Providence is to open oneself to listening to the voice of God in the other, in the brother.

So, if anyone wonders why I thought: What would Conchita have done and not what Christ would have done, the answer is simple: for me it is the same…

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Original: Spanish. Translation: Maria Fischer

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