I believe that a simple smile or kind gesture is far reaching and healing.
In 2008 I founded an organization called the Brothers of Padre Pio in order to bring hope to people when we are faced with a sometimes harsh world. I work on the streets of the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles sharing my story as an example of the power of unshakeable faith.
I am often asked, "Would you do anything different in your life if you had the chance?" I always answer with an unequivocal, "no." In return I ask, "If you could do anything different in your life, what would it be?" Most ponder the question and recite a litany of regrets and "if I only..."
In 2008 I was diagnosed with AIDS. I do not regret having AIDS, nor do I regret that I am gay and that my lifestyle was unacceptable to the church. For most of my life I felt like an outcast but never have I felt that I was not loved by God. At a young age, I questioned my sexuality and in turn my faith was questioned and I was considered "wrong" for allowing and accepting the truth of who I am. Although I strayed from the church my heart was always aligned with God and our Beloved Virgin Mary.
For 25 years I was in a relationship with my best friend, Robert. We still live together but we are no longer intimate. It was the perceived rejection by others that often drove me to lose myself in alcohol and drug use. I will never forget the day it was confirmed that I had contracted the AIDS virus. It was surreal. I remember thinking that I wanted to die; but that was not meant to be. At least not yet.
I found myself at St. Andrews on my knees at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and I asked for one thing; to be saved. In the following weeks I began to see these tragic afflictions as events meant as an awakening.
Terrified, I faced my death and as I faced the inevitable I began to live. Questions filled my mind as I prayed, "What of this life?" What would I do if I could do anything without failure?" An old feeling began to surface like a blazing fire. I remembered the feeling of loving God so much that I would burst and light began to shine through my darkness. I remembered that my greatest desire as a young boy was to serve God and to help people know that we are all loved. And so I fanned the flame within me until it became a fire and took to the streets of Pasadena and Los Angeles and began to minister and pray.
As I minister on the streets, it is my goal to offer hope to those who have lost their way; most of all their faith and prayer. For those who feel like outcasts in society, for the impoverished, the abused and those who abuse, I stand to remind them that everyone is forgiven. God never leaves us, it is us who leaves God. When we buy into the idea that God does not love us, we are being mislead. God loves us all and if we open our hearts and embrace the love of God, we heal.
Several bouts with pneunmonia have tried to take me out but God won't let me go. He picks me back up again when I am kicked to the curb by illness, ordained priests who look down upon me, judge me and see me as an outcast. I am reminded that I do not stand for prejudice but for God. In the faced obstacles I stand strong as a reminder to others that "different" is not different at all, just another form of God expressing through us.
Each day I awake, I am grateful and I kneel in prayer to give thanks. Prayer is miraculous and can be done anywhere and anytime. From your lips to the ears of God, take a moment and feel the power that can penetrate. Until my dying day and probably thereafter I will rally so tht others know, we are all one and loved my God.
I'm a huge promoter that God will pull a person from a dumpster to save them. I have people all the time telling me they're too far gone. I always tell them, "In the eyes of God no one is too far gone. I was in a canyon of sin and God dug me out one rock at a time." Life can really throw a curve ball. Maybe it was God recalling me back to where he wanted me in the first place. Who knows? It's really a mystery to me. However it's a mystery with a beautiful ending.
Br. Christopher Sale B.P.P.