Blessed Are the Fools for Christ!

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20 April 2023
Maria Porta Coeli, SSVM

Dear Religious Family,

From our mission in Stykkishúlmur, Iceland, we send a short chronicle with some reflections about the Stations of the Cross that we prayed on the third Friday of Lent with our parishioners.

While we were praying the Stations, the following thought crossed my mind several times: “We are crazy.” This is not a very common thought to have when praying the Stations of the Cross, but, on this situation, I consider that it was simply recognizing reality.

This year, the parish priest of the mission in Stykkishólmur, began to make the Fridays of Lent the “Extreme” Stations of the Cross. This means praying outside, walking long distances to overcome oneself, and to offer a great sacrifice, something personally difficult, in reparation for sins and out of love.

This third Friday of Lent brought us a day of gluggaveđur. This Icelandic word translates as “window climate” (glugga  = window, veđur = climate) and means that it is very sunny, but also very cold; So, better enjoy  the weather from the window of your house. On the days of gluggaveđur, everyone avoids being outside, even for a short time. Since heating in Iceland is very good and cheap, this is not so dramatic, and, with cars, one can easily avoid being outside almost completely and enjoy the beauty of Iceland from the window.

On this occasion, the “Extreme” Stations of the Cross took place in Grundarfjörđur, a small village in the parish, about thirty minutes by car from our village of Stykkishólmur, on the Snaefellnes peninsula. We began the Stations of the Cross in the port and in the introduction, Father invited us, the “fools for Christ”, to take advantage of this moment to offer the sacrifice of the Stations of the Cross in union with the Cross of Christ, reminding us that we had the opportunity to offer something truly courageous. It was just the beginning and I was already freezing to death. Then I thought: “Am I going to be able to last an hour like this? This is not done in Iceland… We’re crazy.”

We followed Father, who was wearing his cassock, a hat and stole and carrying a 2.5-meter cross, carrying our own small crosses as we walked through the streets of the village. At each Station, Father offered a small reflection on the love of Christ Crucified, of not growing weary of asking forgiveness for our many sins and always trusting in the mercy of God, who wants to forgive us. Encouraged by the words of Father and meditating on the Love of God manifested in the Passion, we found the strength to continue and also to want to continue, to want to walk, pray, sing, meditate and offer so many sacrifices while losing the sensation in our feet, hands and noses. Blessed are the fools for Christ!

Another aspect to highlight was the issue of human respect. The “Extreme” Stations of the Cross was very public. We walked in the middle of the village, where everyone knows each other. Outside of us, no one was outside. Only two boys passed us, one on a bicycle and a girl on  an e-scooter. No doubt, the two were on the street for only five minutes in total, the minimum necessary to get home and take refuge. Everyone was in their homes, enjoying  the gluggaveđur, inside, with the heating on and from where they could see us and our crosses and hear the songs and prayers. They undoubtedly thought, “They’re foolish.” And they were right. Who will pray outside in gluggaveđur? Only the fools for Christ.

The Directory of Spirituality speaks of us: “Blessed are the fools for Christ! They will be pushed around, laughed at and considered awkward, slow and even mentally weak. Theirs is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are the fools for Christ! Because they have stripped themselves and stand before God in their nakedness. Blessed are the fools for Christ! No wisdom of the world will ever be able to deceive them” [1]

At the end, after an hour, seeing the very determined and serious faces of the beginning, I was surprised to see how they had transformed into smiles. The air was filled with the laughter and words of thanksgiving addressed to Father by our parishioners. They thanked him for having had the opportunity to contemplate the Passion, pray the Stations of the Cross and offer something of value to God. Their radiant faces showed a completely supernatural joy: impossible to rejoice for having spent an hour suffering in the cold, if it were not for understanding what it means to suffer with Christ and for love. There reigned a deep joy that the world and comfort cannot give. Blessed are the fools for Christ!

We ask for prayers for these parishioners, so that the “Extreme” Stations of the Cross may bear much spiritual fruit, that they may grow in love and trust in Divine Mercy and be true apostles in these cold lands, bearing “foolish” witness to the fire of faith, hope and charity that they carry within, the only thing that is capable of giving meaning to human life, to suffering, and which gives us beatitude here and for all eternity.

What a grace to be a missionary of the Family of the Incarnate Word here in Iceland, where there is an opportunity to taste the beatitude of the “fool for Christ”!

¡Viva la Virgen y viva la Misión!

Maria Porta Coeli and sisters of the Santa Barbara community,
Stykkisholmur, Islandia

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