Lord give me a sign!

05-19-2024Weekly ReflectionFr. Robert Aliunzi

Dear Friends,

Last week, I joined the Priests of the Diocese of Phoenix for a five-day silent retreat in Tucson. It was one of the best retreats I have had in recent years. One of my prayer focuses for this retreat was for our Perpetual Adoration Chapel whose construction has been delayed for nearly two years, to be approved by the City of Tempe. So, from the very beginning of the retreat, I asked the Lord to expedite the approval process for the building permit so that the construction of our Divine Mercy Adoration Chapel can commence. This was in addition to asking many of you individually and as a community to pray for this same intention for months.

On the second day of the retreat, I began to receive signs and indications deep within me that this prayer was about to be answered and so, I boldly asked the Lord to please give me a sign that this would indeed happen. I was inspired in this boldness by the book we were given to reflect on entitled: “Mary in the Bible and in Our Lives” by Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen. As I was reading a chapter on Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, in the context of going also to verify the SIGN of Elizabeth’s conception, I was struck by a sentence which read: “Mary wanted to see this SIGN not because she doubted it, but because it belongs to the nature of a sign that it should be verified”. Yes, whereas Mary’s primary intention was to go and assist her much older cousin during those months that preceded the child’s birth, she also went to verify the sign the angel informed her about Elizabeth’s pregnancy. So, I also secretly wanted a sign for our Chapel and the desire for this sign kept growing in me as the hours went by!

Then, something unexpected happened. At exactly 4:43pm on Tuesday, May 7, just as Fr. Jerome was preparing to expose the Blessed Sacrament for Adoration that day, I got a call from an unknown number and untypical of me, I felt compelled to step out of the Chapel to receive it and I did. It was from the Plan Review Manager in the City of Tempe’s Building Approvals Office informing me that he was aware of our Chapel Project and that he was going to find out how far the approval process for our Chapel had reached and if there were more things needed from us and he would get back to me the following day at 12:30pm. He apologized that the process took so long but that he was working on it. Just like that! Wow! Was this the sign I was waiting for? As I reflected on this, I now wanted some concrete confirmation of this and so I began to wait anxiously for that promised 12:30pm call the following day to confirm this sign.

The following day, Wednesday, May 9, I hurriedly finished lunch and stepped out promptly at 12:30pm to await the promised call from the city of Tempe. I waited, waited, and waited anxiously but no call came. At 1:45pm however, when I was about to doze off for a nap, a message popped up on my phone from Dave who I had just appointed the Construction Committee Chair the previous day. He was informing me and the newly formed committee that we have been approved by the City to begin construction of our Chapel. I could not believe it at first, but I was very happy, nevertheless. Things were suddenly moving so fast. In that euphoria, I finally drifted off into a deep sleep until at exactly 3.00pm I was awoken by a call from the City of Tempe office confirming that we have indeed been approved to begin our construction. The Plan Review Manager told me unambiguously that we can now begin construction. Thank you, Jesus, thank you Mother Mary. This was all I could exclaim over and over again.

As I pondered on this seemingly extraordinary event, I could not but wonder how God speaks to us always, and usually even through ordinary events. There was no doubt whatsoever, in my mind that Mother Mary who was the focus of our silent retreat did her thing. She definitely had a hand in this. Just as she told her son Jesus: “They have no wine”, I suspect she told him this time: “They have no Adoration Chapel”. That sent the City of Tempe into motion to expedite the approval process which had stalled for nearly two years.

Dear Friends, this is the good news I want to share with you as we celebrate this great Feast of Pentecost, the birth of our Church. It is a direct gift from the Holy Spirit and Mother Mary. As we receive this gift, let us continue to pray that the construction of our Chapel will go smoothly because as we know, Satan is never happy with projects like these ones associated with the Blessed Sacrament. It is not yet over until it is over. We look forward to breaking ground as soon as some of the pre-construction processes are concluded. For those of you who have not yet fulfilled your pledges, this is the time to do so. May the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon you today fill you all with power and boldness to go out and set the world on fire with love.

Happy Pentecost Day to you all!

I love you!