This Week's Story

TODAY: violence and compassion THEN: Conquistadores stole and New World priests served

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Not Looking for Gold ? & !

A student stepped into my senior English classroom. “Mrs. Steiner, there’s a fight out here.”

I quickly stepped outside and saw two boys. One lay on the sidewalk, moving little. Another boy was banging the first boy’s head on the cement pavement. A student walked by. I said, “Please, get help!” He looked and did nothing.

From past experience I knew that it was not smart to attempt to break up a fight among students, who were not my students. I called a staff member, who ran to get assistance. The fight was stopped.

I wondered, “Didn’t that boy care that banging a human head on cement could cause death or permanent brain damage? Did he have no brakes on his anger? What caused him to ignore consequences?”

Cruelty and compassion have often surprised me as I have read about them in history, and have watched them.

One Friday my seventh graders and I were outdoors playing softball. It was Andrew’s turn to bat. He did not know how to hold a bat. He swung at a ball as though he was chopping wood with an ax.

He struck out. A second time he was up to bat. He was ready to chop wood, when two seventh grade boys, Bobby and C.J., went to him. I don’t remember if they were on his team.

I heard Bobby say, “Hold the bat like this and swing like this.” He demonstrated and gave the bat back to Andrew. Then he put Andrew’s hands onto the bat and showed him how to stand by home plate.

C.J. added, “Yep, like that. You can do it!”

Time to play! The ball came and Andrew hit it. It was a grounder and miraculously Andrew got to first base. I was ecstatic and so proud of Bobby and C.J. With the boys’ example no one had ridiculed Andrew. All of us won that game.

Recently when I read about the early Spaniards and Portuguese, who came to the New World in the 1500’s, I thought, “Here is a story of merciless head-bangers.” They wanted gold; they wanted territory; and they were going to destroy anyone in their way. Their cruelty was only matched with the cruelty of some of the Indians, who practiced cannibalism, ritual murder, and blood sacrifice.

As I read I also met young men, priests, who came to the New World with the Conquistadors. They loved God and wanted more than anything else in life to serve Him. In Europe they were repeatedly blocked by corruption in the Church. Much of the Church was busy selling fake relics and indulgences, whereby people could pay to have their sins forgiven. People who did not agree were being arrested and tortured in the Church’s Inquisition.

Such young men, whether wealthy or poor, had found that their best door for service was to become a Catholic priest and enter either the Franciscan or Dominican orders. These groups focused upon service and obedience. No member was to have personal property or to marry. They were to be servants, not masters; givers, not takers. They were to teach, establish missions, and practice charity.

In the New World, including what is now southwestern United States, they established missions with orphanages, schools for the Indians, and places of refuge for people who were poor and hungry. Hostile Indians killed many priests, but more kept coming to take their places. Thousands of Indians realized God’s love as they witnessed the service and suffering of the priests. While the Conquistadors, such as Cortez and Pizarro, came murdering and stealing, the priests came and accomplished what thousands of soldiers could not do.

This is Barbara Steiner, appreciative of these young priests of the 1500’s and 1600’s. Please check out thisweeksstory.com.

<< previous story]


Facebook Join the conversation.

This Week's Story is a non-profit supported by listeners. [click here to make a donation with ]