The relationship between one's family members is always strong, but that between two sibling priests is a bond unique to this earth.
This letter was forwarded to us from Father Marcelo Cano, IVE, who received it from his brother, Father Diego Cano, IVE, after he was proposed to go to the Institute's mission in Tanzania. It is reprinted with permission, and we hope it will be beneficial to many.
Long live the mission!
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I hope that you are well.
Here I am writing and I have many things in mind, but the truth is that it is a little late and I am tired...and tomorrow I have to teach De Deo Uno [one of the seminary classes] for three hours, and I have to read what I'm going to teach, so I am going to have to get up early.
Well, the main thing is the subject of my new mission destination...as they have already consulted you. Yesterday I spoke very briefly with Father Ricardo Clarey and he told me what they had in mind for me.
Well, first of all, I am filled with joy! Hopefully it will materialize - I am praying. I tell you that I think that mother will be happy because she will also see how happy I am to be able to go on mission... and to what a place!
I had offered myself to go there (along with other destinations such as Papua, Guyana, Ecuador, and Peru)...and almost every year had repeated my offer after the Spiritual Exercises. Of course, I expressed what God seemed to be asking of me because I was inclined to it, but at the same time, I repeated to Father Walker [the General Superior of the Institute] that if God was asking me to remain, that I would do so with great enthusiasm. I simply expressed my availability and desire to do the best for the Congregation and for souls, ultimately.
I consider what they asked me yesterday as a very unmerited grace. I ask you to pray so that I know I am facing it with a supernatural spirit. After all these years have passed, even though I am not an "old priest," I am not inexperienced, and I know the difficulties. I do not have a rosy picture of the mission... I'm not going as a tourist. I'm not going in order to see places and exotic animals. Above all, I am a priest. Nothing is more important than this. I consider that it is providential that God has permitted all of these years to pass and that I don't have to go to the mission very "raw."
I ask you to pray so that I am strong. Not only physically, which in reality is not that important (but is influential), but also that I am strong spiritually and do not waver, so that I will be able to face the mission with maturity, for the good of souls, for the good of the IVE, and for the good of the Catholic Church. So that I will remain firm in all that I have learned in all of these years. So that I do not waver in prayer, nor in working for virtue, nor toward the community life, nor in living the vows accordingly. So that I persevere until the end, which is the grace of graces, and that I will ask every day for this unmerited grace: that of dying under the banner of Christ. So that I am able to fulfill the wish of St. Leonard: “I want to die on mission, with the sword in hand against hell.”
On the other hand, I feel a great responsibility, always, as we all do; that we ourselves are totally inferior in capacity and talent. But God chooses us and makes us more humble, seeing that we are a disaster. Yet the work of God is done because he makes everything prosper, and makes crooked lines straight, and is all-powerful. Incidentally, I believe that to live in Ushetu, to celebrate the Mass, to pray, to live in charity, to live simply does not require much talent, but only the grace of God.
I consider it to be a great responsibility, because I think that the mission in Africa is emblematic and that for our beloved Institute it is an honor to have missionaries there. It is the source of missionary vocations because many youth see the missionaries working for Christ. I want us to be a good witness and to show the joy and commitment of our devotion.
I think now of the grace that I have had all these years in serving in houses of formation... of all ages... Minor Seminary (2001-2002 in Ecuador; 2003-2012 in Argentina), Novitiate (1999-2001 in Argentina, 2001-2003 in Ecuador), and with the priests (2012)... and to think that now the rector, who is like a father, is able to leave for the mission in Tanzania... that they see that one does it like them. Toward the minors, the novices, the aspirants, and the sisters of Saint Catherine, to whom I am a chaplain... one feels also responsible for them. I hope to be a good example... but not for myself, but so that they will be great imitators of Christ... and that they continue the work.
I do not feel as if I am a missionary already, and I am not speaking as one who has already been and spent himself in those places. I demonstrate my desire to be a great missionary... not to be famous, nor to write chronicles, nor to do great external works, but only to be where God wants me to be. Some of our priests have already been in very difficult places... they are the titans... in Sudan; in Kenya... we are going where others have already suffered to plow the land.
I imagine that my first work in Ushetu will be to live a life of intense prayer, then from there will come charity and the uplifting of community life, and doing the apostolate that God wants, even if it is only humbly being present.... until I am able to speak to them, and they are able to understand me! And if not, at least I will be a support for the other religious... and saving even one soul, for whom Christ has given his life. And to die, crucified with the three nails of Father Llorente: language, disenchantment, and dissipation (a frequent temptation for missionaries).
Finally, I think not only of my religious family, but also of my blood family. I hope that this will be uplifting for everyone. No prophet is received in his own country. Being far from the country, our witness will be worth more, if we are more sincere. I've said many times in years past that if I went to a difficult and distant place, it would be especially worth more for them, not for me. For the uncles and aunts, the cousins, the nieces and nephews... the other relatives... in order to return to that faith which our grandmother Lucrecia, our maternal grandmother, taught us... that one returns to live with fervor in the midst of the family... and if not, at least, that we are able to die with fervor, united to Christ and his Mother. Many times I have hoped that we would be able to show our families what is our ideal. I wish to live it, and, if God grants me the grace, I wish to die for it. Life here on earth is worthwhile only in so far as we think of heaven. And see that one does not look to obtain treasures that corrode, devalue, are sold and are lost... and that one reaches the end of life with pockets full of things with no value and hands empty of good works. That they see that we are able to summarize our ideal in five words: "I believe in eternal life..."and this is not nonsense, it is not New Age, Yoga, or something else... they are not "cute words," but reality. And they know that for them also I offer everything which I have to suffer...
God has given me the opportunity of doing one more thing that is worthwhile, so that I am able to suffer for so many sins and damages that have been caused. May he give me the time to do it. It is a grace. I hope that it will be something that fulfills my priestly and missionary life. I ask you to pray for it. I place myself in God’s hands, for the time that he wishes me to be there... I pray to him, that if it is His will as always, that I be able to die in Africa.
Well Marcelo, I have given you a testament. You will see the enthusiasm that I have. I hope to be able to moderate it. Last night, I was not able to sleep until 4 in the morning. It is a very special joy, not sensible, but something else... since I entered the minor seminary, 14 years ago, I always thought of the mission... therefore, I very much enjoyed the years in Ecuador and also as rector of the minor seminary, and this year here among the fathers... with so many things learned.
I appreciate your availability and generosity. I have already thanked mother and Valery. I ask them to pray. I already know they do it, and I don't know why I ask. However, one must ask.
I want you to know that I am now more conscious of what awaits me, and because of this, I am content...but at the same time, I ask for strength. I don't believe that this is something grand for God... but that He does it for me, to grant me this grace. "We are useless servants."
May the Blessed Mary grant me this. We are under her maternal mantle.
May God bless you. Thank you again.
Firm into the breach!
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