Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mk 6:7-13 Take Nothing With You

Thursday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.  He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money in their belts.  They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.

I arrived at my new home, Getsemani, on October 14th, 1993.  The flight to Novara, Italy was long and difficult.  I was scared and felt completely out of place.  Just three months ago I had quit my job, broken up with my girlfriend and left behind nearly all of my earthly possessions, including my brand new car.  My destination at that time was Cheshire, Connecticut, and the novitiate of the Legionaries of Christ. 

I thought leaving my career and family was the toughest decision I would ever make in my life.  Little did I know I would be making tougher decisions, and sooner than I ever imagined.  For now, though, I was able to handle all my fears and trembling about my vocation to religious life.  I have no doubt in my mind I received a special "calming grace" from God. 

When I arrived in Connecticut, I did not immediately feel at home.  I knew in my heart this is where God wanted me to be, but it was and felt so different from what I had lived all my life.  There were no comforts, no privileges, no perks.  My room with consistent to that of a prison cell.  My clothes were numbered like a prisoner My day was dictated to the very last minute.  My mail was opened and read before I got it.  But somehow, I began to feel like I was part of a larger person, and so I fully embraced the fact that if I wanted to become a holy priest, then I would first need to become a humble man.  To this day I am still working on it. 

After two months in Cheshire, and to my relief, I began to sleep through the night. 

But on October 7th, 1993, I received news I was being transferred to a new location:  Getsemani, a former retreat center located nearby Novara, Italy.  The news stunned me.  And the way it was delivered stunned me even more.  I was called into the instructor's office (the superior's office) and was told to pack my bag.  He handed me an airline ticket and told me I was going to Italy.  He asked me if I had any questions.  Still in shock, I didn't - couldn't - say a word.  I thanked him the best I could and walked out of his office.  I shook my head in disbelief.  I was furious with God.  "I finally feel like I am home and now, after three months, you tell me I have to leave and move again???"  I went to the chapel to pray and for the very first time in my life as a seminarian I began to cry.  

After spilling my guts to God, I got up enough courage to go back to my superior and ask him why I was going to Italy.  He told me, in a very polite tone of voice, "Well, we don't send the best.  We don't send the worst.  So we are sending you." 

If there was any pride left in me, then it definitely got sucked out at that very moment.  But I left, vowing to myself, I would give my very best to God.

Take nothing for the journey.  I left for Milan, Italy, with no more than twenty dollars in my pocket.  Crazy!  But the amount given to me was the usual for overseas travel. Crazy!  As far as my belongings are concerned, well, everything fit in comfortably into someone else's old and beat up suitcase.  The brand new suitcases I bought and brought with me to Cheshire no longer belonged to me. I didn't mind.  It was part of our vow of poverty.  Nothing belonged to us, except for our Cross.

When I finally arrived to my new home, I had to look up to see it, literally.  Getsemani was "hanging" off of the side a huge mountain.  It over looked Casale Corte Cerro, a tiny industrial town situated near mountains and lakes.  But what really took my breath away was how my new home looked nothing like the old touristic postcards I had been shown.  It looked cannibalized and dilapidated. 

In the old days, there was a "funivia" or cable-car that would transport luggage and people to the front of the door.  When I inquired about it, the seminarians, who picked me up from the airport, laughed it off and said it had not worked in over thirty-years.  It was not the only thing busted.  I soon found out the furnace was not operational as well, and that meant there was no hot water for showers.  On January 16th, one of the coldest evenings I have ever experienced in my life, I wrote in my journal:  "I think I am going to die."

I didn't.  I actually grew stronger.

He instructed them.  There is so much more I could say, but for now I will simply say the two years I spent in Northern Italy will forever be very dear to me.  Yes, they were brutal years, but they were wonderful years: years full of tears and laughter; fears and victories, and moments of profound loneliness and camaraderie.  

The Lord knew what he was doing when He sent His men on their very first mission.  He was sending them as men, and hoping they would return as Apostles. 

They did.    


  1. Dear Fr. Alfonse,
    I have heard your story more than once and I am always amazed to see how strongly God must have been calling you. Thank God you listened to him and now we can enjoy a wonderful priest.

  2. Wow! Another beautiful, heartfelt testimony. I just love your personal stories, Father Alfonse. You should think about writing a book. Perhaps piece together some of your old journal entries.

    I can only imagine how tough seminary days were for you. But, look how all of those "brutal years" formed you into an amazing priest! (The Legionaries taught you superbly well.) I'm sure Our Lord is well pleased by your devoted service. I think of the thousands of people you've touched through this blog, homilies, and sacraments. What a blessing you are to the Church. We love you and think you're so inspiring!



  3. Your memoirs would be an interesting read!

  4. Wow. Very moving story. Thank you Father. Thank you Jesus for this beautiful man you have called to be our good shepherd. Mother Mary keep him under your mantle protecting him and loving him. Guardian Angle of Fr. Alfonse continue to light, guard, rule and guide him. Holy Spirit fill his heart with more and more beautiful inspirations to share. God Bless you Father Alfonse!

  5. Thank you Father for saying "yes" to God and for persevering. Yes, I, too, at the beginning of my religious life went through the "dark night of the soul" questioning God, but have not regretted any minute of it. I have been a religious for the past 36 years and am still going through a purification process as we speak. God does know what He is doing, even if we do not. He charts the course for us to walk, all He asks us to do is to follow Him. God bless you always and give you the grace you need to continue to minister to His people.

  6. Thank you Father Alfonse to be our inspirtation to live close to God, thank you for share all your wonderful stories. May God bless you and keep you close to him always.


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