“If there were a saint here” – Tajikistan

23 March, 2020

Dear Religious Family, I would like to share a reflection with you.

Here, at the mission in Tajikistan, as in other missions, small miracles are at times experienced: little arrows from God, who, as an excellent archer, knows how to use these arrows to direct the hearts of those who are able to recognize them.

Children who draw near to Jesus for the first time, who stammer as they read the “Hail Mary” written in their notebooks, kneel in the Church without knowing who this “Mary” is or what these words mean… Youth who come here looking for answers, desiring to know what this Church is, “who is this man nailed to the cross?”, “what is the true religion?”… Adults who ask if they can be Christian and who seek books of prayers… In short, you can see the Holy Spirit is not idle!

There are at times drops of dew in the desert, and in many of our missions. Rays of light that break through the clouds. We think about the most difficult missions… these are the consolations that God has reserved for his missionaries, those which Fr. Segundo Llorente spoke about in his book.

I copy here a part from a letter written by the Blessed Fr. Clement Vismara, a great Italian missionary who evangelized pagan villages in the remote mountains of Burma, after World War I, when Jesus was still entirely unknown by the majority of the Asian peoples.

In his letter we find a little bit of what we experience at times in our missions, and there is also a profound reflection… It is titled: “If there was a saint here”.

[…] In all these little things, and I would write more if I was not afraid of boring you, perhaps you will think that we are not far from bringing all these Buddhist people to our side. If only! But I doubt, and it seems to me that I am far from my objective. Between words and facts there is in between the following. It is true that I do also have hope- the environment is certainly good, and if it were not so I would not have come here. Nonetheless, nonetheless, something is missing. Or better said, there is something that I am missing which I cannot find, and I do not know what it is- that which gives the final “push” and places these people in our fold.

What can it be? Not being able to find it torments me. Perhaps I have not even been able to convert myself yet? If there was a saint here, perhaps it would be nothing for him.

Maybe I am wasting time here? This cannot be true, the sick prove it to me, they come to be treated, the people who come to listen to me speak, those who are curious. It would seem that you should not come, that you should leave me to live in my element, but, they are coming closer to us, without their even knowing what it is that draws them. I do not go to them, but they are coming to me. In the twenty days I have been here, I have not called anyone. I do not even know them by name, and they call me “The Monglin priest” because they do not know my name.

In their eyes I can almost read: “your law is beautiful. We are afraid that it might be true, truer than our ways…” […]

Dear Friends, “if there was a saint here”… many more persons would soon draw close to Jesus. Yes. We are also to blame if many persons have not yet converted, become of our sins, our Luke warmness, of our fears of throwing ourselves into the void and risking ourselves for Christ

The Cure of Ars said to a priest who complained of his parish: “Do you sleep on the ground? Do you discipline yourself? Do you fast for these souls?”, we could add: “Do you celebrate or participate in the Holy Mass with the greatest preparation, devotion and recollection? Have you tried everything in this apostolate? Have you been faithful to your daily hour of Adoration?”

And despite our miseries, God, who is Good, allows us to see these marvels- small but grandiose if we take a good look at them. Small arrows of love and strength.

At times the Lord sends us souls “on a silver platter”. All we have to do to gather them in with love and sacrifice. Only desire to help them and… to die a little more to ourselves. And to encourage us to dream a little more… Yes, dream. Desire great things and pray that these dreams may come true, because, as we have heard so many times: “The dreams of God are always greater than ours!”

If we had seminaries full of saints, if we had holy missionaries, we could convert entire countries! It was already done by 12 fishermen! How? Do you think it was easier for them because they had Jesus with them? We also have Him, and we also have more means than they did. There was even a betrayer among them, one who was ungrateful, resentful, a calumniator, a tepid soul… and they still did it!

They were no better tan us, they had fears, they had neither philosophy nor theology, much of what Jesus taught them they did not understand, they only created more problems… but when they understood Who it was that they were following, when they understood the power of the Cross, they desired this cross, they desired to mount Calvary. They changed completely, lit candles and set out enthusiastically, without excuses, to face governors, kings, death itself, they did not budge an inch.

“If there was a handful of priests like this one”, a demon said to one person, “all souls would be stolen from me”. He was speaking about the Cure of Ars.

Dear Friends, we are more than a handful. And we have in our favor the fact that all is done with Mary, the “Omnipotencia Suplicante”, because we are slaves of her love. And we are in almost all parts of the world. And we have more means than the Cure of Ars had. And so… Take courage! Go forward in doing good!

The obstacles do not matter, the failures do not matter, those who want to keep us from doing good do not matter. Our holiness matters.

“If there was a saint here!”…

If here, in Tajikistan, in the seminary, in the House of Formation, if in Siberia, in Brazil, in Papua, in America, in Germany, in the Middle East, in China and in Africa… “If there was a saint here!”

The saints are always among us, at times they are before our eyes. We have heroic examples of every kind in our Religious Family! Courage!

Work hard and lose no time, for time is short!

Viva nuestra pequeña familia religiosa!

Fr. Lorenzo Senaccioli, IVE
Missionary in Tajikistan

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