Seeds of love
By Pedro A. Moreno, O.P.
Director, Office of Hispanic Ministry
This column has been a long time in the making. You can even say that my previous columns on saints and martyrs have been leading up to this one. My theory was that by understanding other saints and martyrs I would better know and understand Father Stanley Rother.
Each one of them is a model of Christian living. Each one of them shines because they reflect the love and presence of God to us. They are friends of God and they show this by lives of loving and sacrificial friendship to those they ministered to.
Holy men and women not only love God intensely, they also want to share their God of love with others and help them fall in love with this wonderful God who is love and has shown us His love in His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. To have this strong desire to share Jesus, to share God’s Good News of love is the heart of true discipleship.
And let’s be honest here, there is no greater sign of being intentional in your discipleship ministry than being willing to give your life for the sake of the Gospel. Father Stanley could have come back to Oklahoma, but as our friend from Okarche has so clearly stated “The shepherd cannot run.” That is intentionality.
I find in the life of Father Stanley Rother the example of an intentional disciple. The greatest example of this passion to share Christ, this passion to “Go Make Disciples,” is his love for the Word of God and his desire to share Christ, the Living Word of God, with others.
The people he served in Guatemala spoke a unique language, Tz'utujil, and they couldn’t hear God’s loving words from scripture because there was no Tz'utujil New Testament or Bible. He was convinced that this was necessary and continued the project to translate the New Testament.
He would be martyred before he could see the project come to completion, but the project was completed. Today, many can read about Jesus Christ in the Gospels because of what Father Stanley worked on so many years ago.
This intentional disciple is God’s instrument in going out and making more disciples through the Tz'utujil New Testament, which is still in use today!
His desire to share Christ with the Guatemalan people also was manifest in his love for every liturgical celebration. I love the pictures of Father Stanley baptizing children and celebrating Mass.
Every sacrament we celebrate is an encounter with, and a sharing of, our loving and life giving Christ! When a sacrament is celebrated well we are witnessing a unique disciple-making moment. Father Stanley did this well and did this often.
Father Stanley Rother was open to God’s loving presence in His Word, in the Eucharist and open to God’s loving presence in the community of faith he so loved and served. In a letter dated Nov. 16, 1980, that begins “My Dearest Frankie,” I found a sentence that for some unknown reason has resonated in some way within me.
“When I hear the people during Mass here on Sunday or Thursday, the cacophony of prayers going up to the Lord, His presence must be there. I am delighted to be a part.”
Father Stanley Francis Rother – the Word of God delighted him because there is love in that Word. The sacraments, and above all the Mass, delighted him because God’s love is present in every sacramental celebration. The people he served delighted him, their prayers delighted him, because God’s loving presence is there. His priesthood delighted him because it gave him a unique opportunity to respond to God’s loving call and to love others in a special way. Christ delighted him because Christ is love incarnate.
Stanley Francis Rother – a model of Christian living and an intentional disciple.