October 29, 2016
As with all my stories, I tell this one to encourage us to see God’s work in our lives and to do away with the notion of ‘Godless coincidences’; that we may see His work in our daily lives, and even in the smallest events.
When I was a child, my parents brought my siblings and I to see the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima at the Portuguese church in Ottawa, Santo Christi. As we were getting out of our van in the church parking lot, I had the thought “you will receive a gift.” I was arrested and puzzled by the idea as I followed my family into the church. Shortly after entering the church, a woman picked me out of the crowd and said “I would like you to help carry Our Lady to the altar.” Young as I was, I put two and two together and felt blessed. I have since consecrated myself to the Virgin Mary.
Then in the Fall of 2016, I was informed by a family friend, who is from the Ottawa Portuguese community, that the same International Pilgrim Statue would be coming to Ottawa on Saturday October 29, 2016. So naturally I was excited to go see the Virgin Mary and pray to her. The thought had not crossed my mind of carrying the statute again. When the day came, I woke up early in the morning thinking I would go down to the church around 10AM. I went downstairs leisurely and quietly read the daily Church readings, which is something I like to do, while my wife and child slept. The Gospel reading was Luke 14: 1,7-11:
“On a sabbath day Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely. He then told the guests a parable, because he had noticed how they picked the places of honour. He said this, ‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take your seat in the place of honour. A more distinguished person than you may have been invited, and the person who invited you both may come and say, “Give up your place to this man.” And then, to your embarrassment, you would have to go and take the lowest place. No; when you are a guest, make your way to the lowest place and sit there, so that, when your host comes, he may say, “My friend, move up higher.” In that way, everyone with you at the table will see you honoured. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’”
In the middle of my reading, I received a text message from my mother asking me to call our family friend, but before I called her back, my mother called. There was a sense of urgency to her voice as she told me I needed to call our family friend, whom I knew would be in attendance at Church. So, I called her. She informed me that the organizers were short by one person to carry the Pilgrim Statue because someone had cancelled. Her son would be helping to carry the Pilgrim Statue in the procession and now she was enquiring to know whether I would be able to fill in. I accepted and in a rush I left to be on time for the start of the procession.