The Healing Mass A Divine Visitation
I had heard of "Father Fernando's Healing Masses" for some time, but only recently had the opportunity to attend two of these extraordinary masses on the same day.
In the early afternoon of December the fifth, Father Fernando Suarez CC offered a mass to Christ's poor at Our Lady of His Mercy Friendship House, on Wellington Street, in Ottawa. After ministering until 3am that morning and driving five hours directly from Toronto, Fr. Fernando with Fr. Jeff Shannon arrived at our storefront drop-in center in the west-end.
Noticeably tired and weak, with only a small trace of voice left from the late night before, Fr. Fernando, without skipping a beat, quickly slipped into his alb in our crowded kitchen and then stepped behind the makeshift altar set-up in our over-crowded front room. As Fr. Fernando began the mass, Fr. Jeff, his faithful companion and servant, sped-off to procure some wine.
The reading was from Isaiah chapter eleven, the wonderful prophesy where wild beasts will lie down with defenseless creatures "and a little child shall lead them".
The gospel came from Luke chapter ten, where Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit saying, " I thank you Father because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants…" Jesus was most identified with children and those who knew that they were little, poor and dependent.
The gospel and reading brought us to reflect on the child-likeness of Jesus and this beautiful quality so apparent in Fr. Fernando. Even before the consecration, through the joyfulness, littleness and simplicity of His priest, Jesus was already very present to us. At the communion, we felt a profound communion with The Kingdom and The King "at hand". The Infant King, The Christ Child, was with His little brothers and sisters around His altar on the street, in the marketplace. It was obvious how Fr. Fernando was completely at home with the poor. In the image of this meek and humble priest, this compassionate shepherd and tired servant, THE WORD sprang to life and astonished us. In Fr. Fernando's authenticity and transparency, the hidden mystery of the very person of Jesus Christ and His divine intimacy was revealed. In that hushed and crowded grotto of our broken humanity, we were touched and fed by the incarnate Emmanuel, who communicated to each of us, the sweetness of His intimate love.
A friend of mine, recovering from his battle with alcoholism, was last to receive communion from Father's hand. He came to me later to tell me what had happened.
As Father approached him, he clearly heard the words echo through his spirit, "…and the last shall be first". When he received Jesus on his tongue, surprisingly, Father gently stroked the side of his face, like one would a cherished son. With that unexpected loving gesture, his eyes welled-up and the personal love of Jesus Christ was deeply communicated to him. It was both a healing and a confirmation for my wounded friend. He had been telling us for several months, that the only reason he could remain in the painful process of recovery from alcoholism, was because he trusted that Jesus was a "gentle-man" and would not injury him further. Father Fernando confirmed him in that truth in such a way, that he will never forget. Many of us felt healing from the intimacy of The Lord's love that day. Later in the evening, I would witness this miracle repeated again, but this time with hundreds present, as Fr. Fernando stepped behind the altar at St Maurice Parish and communicated to yet another crowded room, through his personhood, priesthood and the Holy Eucharist, the same intimate and personal love of Jesus Christ.
Years ago, on several occasions, I had the good fortune to witness the powerful healing masses of Father Ralph DiOrio and had the privilege of ministering with him on one of those occasions. I also experienced there up-close, the tremendous healing power of Jesus through His anointed priest.
But as I observed Fr. Fernando at St. Maurice that evening and during the day at our center, I began to recognize a particular charism he had. AUTHENTICITY…an authenticity that makes true intimacy possible. In Fr. Fernando's child-like humanness and priesthood, the intimate love of the Person of Jesus Christ Himself, is manifested.
On that fifth day in December, in the course of twenty-four hours, Fr. Fernando celebrated three masses in three different locations, to hundreds and hundreds of people and each time and in the majority of those present, the experience was always personal, intimate and brought some form of healing. Fr. Fernando's healing masses and his apostolate to the poor, as I and others experienced it that day, was truly a miracle of divine visitation. Christ became powerfully present in our midst. Thanks be to God, for these days of His visitation, for Fr. Fernando, Fr. Jeff and for all His holy priests, who are living signs of His Mercy!Fred Schubert
Founder / Director of Our Lady of His Mercy
Friendship House Apostolate