A little girl was born in Lima, Peru, in
August of 1586. She was named Isabel for her grandmother.One day her nursemaid looked into her crib
and marveled at her beauty. The nursemaid told everyone the baby’s face looked like
a beautiful rose.
Everyone, except the grandmother, began to
call the child Rose. Grandma did not like that, but soon everyone called the
little girl, Rose. Rose was not only pretty; she learned all about Jesus. And
she truly loved Him.
Rose grew up in Lima at a time when
terrible things were happening. Many people were very poor, and the officials
were often cruel. Rose saw this and she wanted to do something about it. She
built herself a little room in the garden of her house. It was like the size of
small closet. It was just big enough for her to enter and pray there. She spent
many hours telling Jesus about her people and her love for Him.
‘Rose not only
prayed, she also visited the sick. She prayed often at Santo Domingo Church.
She had a special devotion to the Infant Jesus. She called him her “Little
Doctor.” She asked Him to help her heal
Rose had many friends especially among the
poor. It is important to have good friends. Rose had two Saints as friends.
Her neighbor, who lived down the street,
was a boy about her age. His name was Martin.Today, we know Rose as St Rose of Lima. Her friend Martin is called St.
Martin de Porres. She was baptized and confirmed by another Saint who was much
older. He was the Archbishop of Lima and today we call him St. Toribio.
All three loved the poor.Rose and Martin both healed people. Toribio
was appointed at the request of King Philip the Second of Spain. Toribio
traveled from Ecuador to Argentina and wherever he went he helped the poor. He
is known as the Defender of Native Peoples.
Even today, these friends are remembered
in Lima.Rose and Martin belonged to the
Dominican Order. They wore white robes like priests and nuns when they served
the sick or went to church. Even today, boys and girls in Lima dress like Rose
and Martin on their First Holy Communion Day.And the Seminary there is named for Toribio.
Good friends help us follow Jesus. I hope
you have good friends who help you be good and help others around you like
Rose, Martin and Toribio.
St Rose of Lima’s Feast Day is celebrated
in Peru on August 30, but in many countries it was changed to Aug 23 when the
Roman Calendar was revised in 1969.
The day was hot and muggy. University students and old men sat languidly in the shade of the main plaza of a little town in the coastal desert of Peru. The Cathedral bells rang twelve noon.
Santos, a swaggering, tough 13-year-old shoeshine boy was giving some advice to “The Mummy.” Mummy was his skinny, coughing, barefoot nine-year-old friend. Suddenly, Santos whispered, “Quick! Here he comes!”
The two boys scurried in different directions. They clutched their boxes of equipment tightly so nothing would fall out.
A fat, angry, plaza guard, waving a stick, chased after them. The guard chased after one, and then the other. But the boys were too quick. Breathless, sweating, and fuming,the guard gave up.
The boys, laughing and puffing, soon found one another again and sat down to rest. “That’s the third time this morning,” Mummy gasped. A fit of coughing prevented him from further conversation.
Santos begged a glass of water from the woman at a nearby fruit stand. He offered it to Mummy. “Here, take it easy. We got away, didn’t we?”
Mummy said nothing. He had been shining shoes for two years, ever since he was seven. He had learned a lot of things and now he sat with his elbows resting on his knees, his chin almost touching his knees, almost like the ancient Peruvian mummies. He had been sitting like that the day the boys gave him his nickname.
Just then, a big man in an expensive grey suit came along. Mummy called out, “Shine, sir.” The man stopped, looked at his shoes and then put one foot on Mummy’s box.
Business-like the boy set to work. First, he brushed off the dust; then he carefully applied a little polish. Mummy protected the man’s sock by running his little finger along the top edge of the shoe as he put the polish on.
Next he splashed a few drops of water from a little bottle. The drops rolled around on the shoe and Mummy massaged them into the polish with his fingers.
Then came the shine with the special rag his mother had made him from his father’s old trousers. Mummy seemed to be attached to some source of electric power as his arms moved the rag over the shoe like a continually reversing conveyor belt. At last, the shoes shone like new mirrors. Mummy slapped the tow of on shoe and held out a polish smudged hand for hit tip.
Santos had a customer too, so Mummy waited and survey the world through two pensive brown eyes.
For two months the battle had been on. It had all started with the Mayor’s Clean Up Campaign. The plaza guards had been ordered to chase the shoeshine boys out of the Plaza. They might hurt the tourist trade.
Santos finished and rejoined Mummy. “Let’s get something to eat,” he said.
“If I eat, I won’t have much to take home,” Mummy said.
“Well, you have got to eat something,” Santos ordered. “That’s why your cough hangs on. You didn’t eat anything yesterday. C’mon,Doña Rosa will give us a saucer ofseviche for five soles.(Peruvian currency at the time of story) We will split it.”
The boys shared the seviche (a popular Peruvian dish of raw fish marinated in a sauce of lemon juice, onions, and hot pepper). Santos continued to counsel Mummy. “We have to fight the Mayor. The good guys want to change things. Before, the Mayor could live in town and go out, when he felt like it, to collect from the guys who worked his farm. Now absentee landlords are having trouble. He afraid he will lose the farm, so he is trying to get an edge on the tourist trade.
“My dad says we have got to stay in the Plaza. Nowadays, poor people have rights, too, but we have to fight for them.”
Mummy counted his earnings. He held out his hand for Santos to see how little it was.
Santos insisted, “Yeah, I know. We are losing the fight, but just the same, we have got to fight.”
Mummy handed back the plate toDoña Rosa, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and rubbed his hands on his trousers. Suddenly, he darted across the street and pounced on a boy his own size. Soon the two were down on the pavement, locked in a vicious struggle. Mummy was searching the other boy’s pockets. The victim pushed and kicked trying to escape, but Mummy was on top and would not let him go.
Santos caught up and tried to reason with Mummy. “Mummy, what did the kid do to you?”
“He borrowed ten soles a week ago. I have asked him for it three times,’ gasped Mummy.
The boy on the ground blinked back tears as he said, “As soon as I get it, I’ll give it to you.”
“Aw, let him go, Mum. He hasn’t got it,” ruled Santos.
Mummy’s eyes showed a moment of indecision, but with one last punch, he said, “Okay, but tomorrow.” The debtor, after a grateful look at Santos, scampered off.
Mummy poked his friend in the ribs. “Santos,” he said. How come you want me to fight for the plaza, but not for my ten soles?”
“Listen. All us shoeshine kids have to stick together. The bad guys like it when we fight one another. It means we are not fighting them,” Santos explained. “The plaza belongs to everybody.”
Mummy thought about this as he always did anything that Santos said.
When night came, the two boys went their separate ways. Mummy dragged his feet because the day had brought only fifty soles. What can Ma do with that,’ he asked himself.
As he walked home, he wished with all his heart that Papa was still with them, but it had been two years since that night when he stopped coughing for ever. Since then, Ma sold fruit in the market. Elvira, Mummy’s eleven-year-old sister, watched the house and took care of their baby brother.
At last, Mummy reached the dark narrow alley and found his way to the piece of corrugated zinc that served as a door to the one room that was home. As his eyes got used to the candlelight, he saw Ma at the wooden table mending an old shirt.
Mummy placed his earnings on the tableas Elvira brought him the dish of rice she had saved from dinner.
As Ma gathered the soles, she said, “You look all tuckered out. You are working too hard.” Ma made made you feel proud of whatever you did.
When it was time for bed, she unrolled the lambskins and the boys settled down for the night under one blanket on one side of the room, Ma and Elvira on the other. For a few minutes Santos and his baby brother wrestled one another. Soon all were quiet.
Mummy awakened early the next morning. He stole out before the others wakened. He wanted to get to the plaza and do a few shines before it was time to go to school.
For five months he had struggled to earn a little every day. His cough got worse and worse. Ma took him to the government clinic. The doctor gave him medicine and told Ma to see that he got lots of milk and meat.
As the days went by Mummy got less able to run from the plaza guard, but Santos looked for him when it was time to eat. Often they split a saucer of seviche.
Then, one day Mummy fainted and a policeman took him to the hospital. The doctor told Ma that he was very sick. Santos visited him every day. On the third day, Santos saw that Mummy was trying to say something.
Mummy was very weak, his voice was a hoarse whisper, his hospital gown was damp with perspiration, but he struggled to sit up.Just before he fell back on the pillow, Santos heard him say, “Shine, sir.”
Kamau wanted to be a long distance
runner. He lived in the Kenyan Desert near the city of Bura and he practiced
running every day.His friend, Abiria, often ran with him.One day, as they were on their way to school,
Kamau said, “I saw the new teacher. He looks mean, and he is missing one leg.”
Abiria’s eyes opened wide. His
mouth was wide open too. “How will he teach us Physical Education without a
leg,” he asked.
Kamau shrugged. “I don’t know, but
we are scheduled for his first class.” The bell rang as the two boys stepped
into the school yard. They hurried to get in line where the new teacher stood.
“Straighten your line,” the new
teacher barked in a loud voice. “March,” he bellowed.
Kamau marched tall and confident.
He was the best marcher in the school. Abiria trembled, but tried to keep in
step with Kamau. When they got to the field for exercise, the new teacher,
“I am your new teacher. You will call me Mr.Johnson. Yes, I have a prosthesis
for my right leg. I have learned to use it for many things.So, don’t try anything.”
After class, Abiria said, “Wow,
Kamau! How did he get us to do all those stunts with one leg!”
Kamau made a face. ‘He scowls at
us. Why can’t he be jolly and laugh once in a while.”
“I don’t know,” Abiria said.“Maybe the leg hurts.”
Next day, Kamau asked the teacher
a question about the exercises? “Sir,” he asked. “Why are we doing this
exercise first?The other teacher did
this one after we practiced running.”
“I am not the other teacher. We
will do it this way,” Mr. Johnson said. Kamau saw the teacher was string t him
and waiting for something. Kamau stood still. The whole class was quiet. Mr
Johnson stared at Kamau.
Then, Mr. Johnson barked, “Yes,
Kamau mumbled, “Yes, Sir.”
“Speak up,”Mr. Johnson barked at Kamau.
Kamau shouted, “Yes, Sir.” Mr.
Johnson continued the class.
On the way home from school, Kamau
complained to his friend. “Abiria, I don’t like that teacher.”
When he reached home, Kamau
announced, “Papa, I am not going to Physical Education class.”
“Yes, you are, Kamau,” his father
“But I don’t want to go while that
new teacher is here. He only has one leg and he’s mean.” Kamau pouted.
His father said, “Kamau, that is
not an intelligent decision. You need to learn the skills of Physical
Education.You don’t hurt the teacher by
skipping class. You hurt yourself.”
Kamau said, “I don’t like him!”
“Kamau, everyone likes to be
liked.Like him and you will see he will
like you.Do you know how he lost his
‘No, and I don’t care,” Kamau
said. But next day, Kamau decided to see if what his father said was true.
During recess Kamau walked over to
Mr. Johnson who stood alone near the school door. Kamau swallowed and tried to
keep his voice steady as he asked, “Sir, How did you lose your leg?”
“It is a long story, young man. I
wanted to be a runner. I did not have a teacher and I ran on a highway.I got hit by a car. Thank you for asking. You
are brave to ask,” the teacher said. He smiled at Kamau.
Kamau got all flustered. He said,
“Yes, Sir.” And ran back to where Abiria waited for him.
“What happened?” Abiria asked.
“He was nice. He didn’t yell,”
“But what did he SAY?” Abiria
“He got it running. He was running
like I do, on the highway,” Kamau said.
Next day, the teacher asked, “Who
wants to be a runner?”
Kamau and four other boys raised
their hands.Mr. Johnson said, “Meet me
After school, Mr. Johnson gave the
boys tips on what would help them to run faster. He taught them how to breathe
effectively, when to stop, and how much water to drink/.
Each day after school, Kamau and
his friends ran. They practiced hard. Mr. Johnson selected Kamau and Abiria to
run in the District Competition.
They practiced everyday. They
could not wait for the day to arrive. “Tomorrow we run,” Abiria said to Kamau
on the eve of the District Competition.”
Kamau said, “Yes, and my father is
going to take us there.”Kamau could
hardly sleep that night with excitement. In the morning, he jumped up, ready to
go to the competition., but his father was very sick. He seemed to have some
acute pain in his right side.
Kamau, s mother said, ‘I am sorry,
but you must stay here to care for your little brothers. I must take your
father to the hospital. “
When Abiria arrived to travel to
the District Competition, Kamau told him to go to the school. He could travel
to the competition with Mr. Johnson and the other boys.Abiria was very sad. He did not want to go
Kamau insisted and Abiria went off
Kamau held back his tears until
his parents had gone to the hospital. He sent his little brothers out to play.
Then, he sat in the doorway watching them. Tears flowed down his cheeks. He did
not weep about not going to the competition.His fear was much deeper.How
could he go on without his father?
When his mother returned, she said
his father would stay in the hospital for a while, but he was going to
recover.“Kamau,” his mother said. “Your
father has pain, but he seems even sadder that you had to miss the competition
because of him.”
Kamau swallowed hard. He said, “Mama,”,
“There will be other competitions. Papa is more important that a race.”
Kamau’s mother patted him on the
head. “Your father will be happy to hear that you said that.”
Next day, Kamau went to class. Mr.
Johnson announced to the whole school that Abiria had done very well in the
competition.“We must practice now for
the National Competition,” he said.
Abiria whispered to Kamau, “I
would not have won, if you had been there. Practice, you can win the National.Kamau slapped Abiria on the back. You are a good runner, Abiria, and YOU
won, but thank you for being such a good friend, too.
The boys continued to run after
school. Mr. Johnson coached them. They won many competitions, and their
friendship endured.When they finished
school, Kamau went on to join and win many races. Abiria became a doctor,
specializing in Sports Medicine. When Kamau competed in a race, Abiria was
always there to cheer for him. Abiria married first. He named his first child
Kamau. When Kamau married he named his first child Abiria. Mr Johnson was
godfather for both children.
Jane Shares her Religion Lesson with Her Little Brother
When Jane came home from school, Billy pleaded, “Jane, push
me on the swing Dad made for me.”
Jane said, “Okay, and I will tell you a story, too.”
She took Billy by the hand and walked him to the back yard.
Jane lifted Billy into the swing. She
pushed it gently.
Billy said, “Tell me the story!”
Jane said, “Jesus was going around his country telling
people about God, his Father.
Crowds gathered wherever he went. And people wanted to get up close to see and
“Billy, Jesus cured people of all kinds of things. He could make blind people see, and he fixed
the ears of people who couldn’t hear, so that they could hear everything. He
even brought people back to life.
And one day, people were crowding around him. The Apostles,
his closest friends, were trying to keep people from pushing and shoving. Some women wanted Jesus to bless their
children. I guess they were really
pushing their children up front.
So, some of the apostles, stopped them. They told them to
get away, because they were crowding Jesus. And do you know what happened?”
Billy, wide–eyed turned in the swing to look at Jane behind
him. “What happened?” he asked.
“Jesus said, ‘Let the
children come to me.’ Jesus really likes children. He talked to them and he
“And Mr James, my catechist, says Jesus loves us, too. And
we can tell Jesus anything at all and he will listen. Right now, we can talk to
Jesus because he promised to be with us always.”
Billy’s eyes opened even wider. “You mean Jesus is here
“Yes,” Jane said, “And he likes to be with us. Want to tell
Billy said, “Oh, Jesus, THANK YOU for this swing Dad made
Jane came running in from school. She wanted to find her little brother Billy, but he was playing in the back yard. "Billy, Billy? Where are you?"
As she ran through the house, she grinned from ear to ear. She opened the screen door and ran into the yard. "Billy," she said. "I am going to make my First Holy Communion!"
Billy was busy filling his little pail with black dirt. He was going to plant flower seeds his mother had given him. When he saw his sister, he looked up.
Jane grabbed him by both shoulders and repeated, "I am going to make my First Holy Communion!"
"What's that?" Billy asked.
"Billy, you know. You see Mom and Dad going up to the front of the church every Sunday. They are receiving Holy Communion, and I am going to do it, too.
"But Mom and Dad always tell you to stay with me. Am I going to be all by myself now?"
"No, Silly! Mom and Dad will figure out something." "Jane, what's Holy Communion? Why can you and Mom and Dad get it and not me?" "First," Jane said, "You are not old enough. You have to reach the age of reason." Billy made a face. "Age of reason?" "That means you have to be at least seven and understand what's right and wrong." "I am five and a half, and I know what's right and wrong." "Well, sometimes you do, but not always. Like the other day when Dad saw you sitting in the car and trying to start it.." "Dad was mad about that! But he said he will teach me when I am old enough to get a license. There are a lot of things only old people can do." "Billy, I am not OLD! I am just old enough to receive Jesus." "You are going to receive Jesus? How?" "That's what I'm telling you. Jesus is going to come to me in Holy Communion? And Mr. James is going to prepare me." "How is he going to do that?" "I don't know, but he said the first thing is to tell Jesus everyday that I want Him to come to me."