The stories of transformation are real and heartwarming. It is well worth the read.
I want to share an excerpt that beautifully illustrates who and what the church can be.
The church that Father Boyle pastors made a commitment that they would stand in solidarity with undocumented workers. So one of the decisions the church made was to use the sanctuary as a shelter for the undocumented workers.
Having undocumented workers was a great idea. But it also came with the particular odor of about a hundred or so men sleeping in their sanctuary every day.
Well, people started to complain.
It was too stinky.
Father Boyle decided to tackle the odor issue in one of his homilies. This is what he writes:
I start the homily one day with, "What's the church smell like?"
People are mortified, eye contact ceases, women are searching inside their purses for they know not what.
"Come on, now," I throw back at them, "what's the church smell like?"
"Huele a patas" (smells like feet), Don Rafael booms out. He was old and never cared what people thought.
"Excellent. But why does it smell like feet?"
"Cuz many homeless men slept here last night?" says a woman.
"Well, why do we let that happen here?"
"Es nuestro compromiso" (It's what we've committed to do), says another.
"Well, why would anyone commit to do that?"
"Porque es lo que haria Jesus." (It what's Jesus would do).
"Well, then...what's the church smell like now?"
A man stand and bellows, "Huele a nuestro compromiso" (it smells like commitment).
The place cheers.
Guadalupe waves her arms wildly, "Huele a rosas" (smells like roses).
The packed church roars with laughter and a newfound kinship that embraced someone else's odor as their own. The stink in the church hadn't changed, only how the folks saw it.
I love that!
That's the smell of church.
That church smells like Jesus!