My daughters and I were blessed to have had the opportunity to meet Fr. Max and the youth in his Study Program. In Central America, they live next to the parish of a small mountain village called La Florida, Honduras. They really do live a very simple life. They rely solely in the providence of God - every day.
When we visited Father Max we spent several days following in his footsteps. For Father Max and the youth, the days start very early in the morning, before the sun is out. We joined them in Morning Prayer - Liturgy of the Hours. Breakfast was either a small cup of coffee (delicious coffee) and/or a small plate of black beans, a piece of cheese and tortilla. If it is a blessed harvest, that is what they will eat for their meals. Usually, but not always there will be three meals a day. After prayers and meeting with the youth, Father sets out each day to visit the parishioners in his area.
Some of these areas or aldeas (mountain villages) are several hours away, some as much as eight hours away. He visits as many as he possibly can to bring them the sacraments and mass. We visited one aldea that receives mass only once a year. On that day Fr. Max held mass, baptisms, first communion, confirmation, heard confession and blessed the water and articles the families brought from their homes. It was a long day, but he made the time to visit yet another aldea. When it was dark, we headed back to the house. The youth wait for his arrival. They have a simple dinner, followed by praise, songs and evening prayer. He has a meeting with them and then they work on homework or chores before they go off to bed.
The youth in his study program work very hard. They study half day and the rest of the time they work at home or tending the fields of the crop they use for food. Fr. Max shared with us the many projects he is working on to help raise funds to run the study program. They all cooperate to make the program work. Some of the young girls sell snacks and drinks in a small convenient store behind the school, the older boys work in the crop field for consumption and sale. Still some of the older boys work making cement blocks to sell. It is hard labor indeed. Even as the day is preoccupied with studies and work, they take time every day for prayer, holy hour or mass and liturgy of the hour prayers. It is Father Max’s idea that these young people should develop life skills, have a school education and most important, faith formation.
They live such simple uncomplicated lives, and they are truly joyful and best of all at peace. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I guess I never really understood this bible verse, until now that I have met them. They sleep well at night. They work hard and they thank God for all of their blessings. They live truly appreciative of all that they have. I never heard one of them complain that they were bored
There is no time for boredom, because as hard as they work, Father Max also likes them to play hard. They often go rock climbing, without ropes! They go hiking and walk long distances to visit different mountain villages. The terrain is very rocky so just imagine when the sun goes down, without overhead lights, the roads become super dark and even more difficult to tread. They also take time to play their favorite sport, soccer.
Fr. Max and the youth truly enjoy life to the fullest. They value and admire God’s works in nature, in the quiet, in prayer and of course at Mass. Their chapel is small, but intimate. You truly feel God’s presence in this place. They are poor in spirit because they don’t attach themselves to anything, only to one, God our Father. He provides and blesses them. He prepares a kingdom for them.