by Kathy McVady.
One day when I was a new staff worker and newly assigned to the Casa, my director sent me out visiting for the afternoon. She assured me that nearly everyone in Southside (the area in which we lived) would recognize my Madonna House cross. So I wasn’t to fear simply introducing myself.
Off I went not knowing exactly what to expect, and after I had knocked at the second door (no one was home at the first), I heard a muffled response.
Doña Francesca opened the door—and when she saw the shiny new Madonna House cross around my neck and heard the words, "Madonna House," she opened wide her arms in welcome.
There was just one problem: my Spanish was extremely limited, and so was her English.
Nonetheless, she brought me to her bedroom and introduced me to all the saints (santos) decking her home altar. Then we returned to the living room where she introduced me to all the members of her family, living and dead, whose photos lined the walls and table tops.
Finally she shared with me the joys of her crochet work and her quilted pillows. By the time I left, we had laughed, wept, prayed, and enjoyed one another for over two hours! Somehow a deep bond had been formed through the sharing of very ordinary things.
Many years later, as I remembered this, it brought to mind the many times I had formed friendships with people in different houses of Madonna House as we sorted beans, painted walls, de-boned fish, made tamales, and learned music together.
We are so dazzled by the extraordinary. Yet Catherine Doherty so often reminded us that Christ most often comes to us in plain, ordinary ways—in bread and wine, water, oil, and through the simple gesture of the laying on of hands.
He reveals himself, too, in ordinary encounters, through handicrafts and santos, through gardening and fish-cleaning.
His glory permeates all.
— From Restoration, Jan 1997.
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