John Paul II and Ronald Reagan

Reading a book in my car in the parking lot at Home Depot and an older unkempt Hispanic gentleman approaches the car and asks me if I am a seminarian.

He’s speaking Spanish – here again is the Lord reminding me that I should be devoting more time to expanding my Spanish vocabulary and memorizing more prayers and blessings in Spanish.

He thinks I’m a seminarian – probably partly because I’m so young and wearing the collar and partly because we’re down the street from St. Patrick’s Catholic Seminary.

He’s wearing a small brown scapular so I ask him to pray for me. He flips it around a reveals the image of Pope St. John Paul the Great (JP2) on it. He tells me that he’s from Nicaragua and he wears the Scapular because he loves JP2.

He tells me that he was there when JP2 visited Nicaragua in 96 and recounts the crowds and people singing in the streets. He waves his hands in the air and begins singing in Spanish.

My mind went immediately to the history of the Nicaraguan Civil War and its battles with Marxism.

The Nicaraguans had largely embraced liberation theology and during the Pope’s first visit to Nicaragua – he was even shouted down during the celebration of the Mass. (Perhaps you also have in your recent memory Reagan and the Contras.)

Yet here’s a man that carries the hope of the Church with him daily – as someone who experienced the evils of Marxism in war and famine.

Would only our Protestant communities have such hope for the Church as an institution of hope in times of struggle. Who are our leaders who go to preach to the people against the evils of what JP2 called, “Godless Communism.”