December 19, 2010
Man, was I exhausted from serving for two long days at a retreat with Corazon Puro in New Jersey. But as I sat in the chapel with my eyes blood-shot red from no sleep, the Lord showed me a river of amazing people – a beautiful group of 50 young people that were choosing to make a promise. A powerful promise. A promise to be chaste, obedient and faithful to our Lord.
Whoa, it hit me! There really is HOPE! I realized that New York really DOES have soldiers willing to swim against the current…. Oh, I wish I could show the world who each and every one of them are – for they inspire me to keep fighting! It’s NOT easy to live a chaste life in NYC….we are in (for better or worse!) the center of the world! These young people are the TRUE NY heroes!!!
But….back to the story….and MAN was I tired! (Yes, I am a complainer…. but I promise I’m trying to work on it!) It was around 10am and my honey-bunny came up to me and said “So baby, I offered to help set up the church and basement back in the bronx, so get your stuff ‘cuz we’re leaving in 20minutes…”
I looked at him with this – are you freaking KIDDING me – kind of face and said “What?!” But he repeated it…. I replied, “Babe, I’m EXHAUSTED, I don’t want to put up chairs…. ” and he said with his calm attitude – “Honey, let’s just offer it up!”
So I rolled my eyes and whipped my hair (the way I always do) saying “fine” but thinking to myself “Ohhhh sweet(and sometimes sour) submission”. And we headed back to NYC.
I got in the back seat, we said a prayer and drove off…… and there we were driving from NJ to ” Da South Bronx“…..and yet my heart felt very warm, but I did not understand why…..
Then we made it to the Bronx at St. Crispin’s Friary, down to set up tables in the basement and before we knew it, it was done! Ohhhh what JOY and “Hallelujah” that came out of my mouth! I yelled out – “Yes! I have time to take a nap. I am SO tired!” (but I promise I wasn’t complaining!)……or NOT!
Mr. Andrew(trying to be all sneaky) told us that he got a call to intercede for the youth/young adults that were on their way back from New Jersey… So of course Andrew and I volunteered to go up to the small chapel that the CFR’s have in their youth center. (A few floors above the basement we were setting up)
Ohhh my heart!….This was the SAME chapel where for so many days I cried my heart-out to my Beloved Jesus…… and now my Beloved Andrew and I together knelt before the ONE Love our hearts longed for……
My heart raced so rapidly as we both prayed together for all of the young people on the retreat…..and then Andrew praised the Lord for me…and all of the sudden, He gently stood me up as he looked deeply into my soul and he spoke gentle but very manly words of wisdom and LOVE that pierced straight to my heart, affirming me that I was/am loved. Then he knelt down on one knee to genuflect to Our Lord and then to me, while the words that I had always dreamed of, came out of his mouth begging ” Cristina, will you marry me?”
Father Agustino Torres CFR blessing our engagement ring
And then everything FROZE. For that very moment I had a flashback of my entire life…And finally it ALL made sense. This was not a fantasy.. I realized “This is real!” How I Praised Him, Our Lord, as I looked at Him through Andrew’s eyes!!!
I was in shock and answered him hysterically laughing, “Yes!! You had me at hello!!”
Oh, if I could only describe all that went through my mind and heart at that very moment!
After a while, we stepped out of the chapel continuing to hug and laugh… when all of the sudden, someone started singing a song to Our Lady as they came up the stairs (It was 12PM – the Angelus hour) What a beautiful song it was!!! As the voice grew closer and closer we realized that it was our dear friend Fr. Stan Fortuna!
He was the first to see us after we got engaged, and he asked us to give us our first blessing! As he prayed for us, he left us the words “That your YES to this ring and to each other in marriage be a YES to Our Lord. That through that Yes, you may say NO to the evil one!”
And now the countdown till the “two become one flesh”!!!