Gabriela’s husband was a fishmonger. Every night Juan came home smelling like fish. She hated that smell so much. Sometimes it made her sick. But she loved Juan all the way to her deepest heart. He was a wonderful father to their baby, Pedro, and he had the kindest of hearts. She wanted better for the man she loved and for her son.
Gabriela went to see Father David. She told him how she felt about Juan and the fish.She picked up her baby who had been crawling on the floor. “Father, I cannot stand the smell.”
“That is a problem.” Father David did not have an answer for Gabriela, except to say she perhaps Our Lady would help with the smell.
On her way out, she lit a candle for Juan and prayed the Hail Mary. Then she asked the Mother for help.
Father David watched her walk down the dirt road back to the shack where she and Juan lived. He smiled. These were two of his best parishioners. Unlike the others, they never complained about their lives. Except for this once.
The next evening Juan came to see Father David.
“Father, I have a problem.”
“Yes,” Father David answered.
“It is Gabriela. I love her so much.”
“I know. I see you together.”
“It is the fish.”
Father David could smell the fish on Juan.
“They stink,” Juan said.
“Yes, they do.”
“Gabriela cannot stand the smell. And I do not blame her. Things were good when we first married but now. They are bad.”
“I am sorry to hear this.”
“I could get a job as a carpenter. I am good with my hands and I am good with the wood.”
“Wood doesn’t smell. It’s true.”
“But there is one problem.”
“There is always a problem. This is why God is there for us.”
“I’m afraid this one is not so easy to solve. Even for God”
Father David had seen God perform miracles. He had seen Him change hearts. So there was no problem God could not solve.
Juan hesitated, then he let out what was on his mind. “I am a sinner.”
“We are all sinners.”
“No, I am a sinner. I cannot resist temptation.”
Father David assured Juan, “You must pray to Our Lady. She knows your heart.”
“No, Father, my heart is wicked.”
Father David was taken aback by Juan’s insistence. “You must pray. What sin could there be Our Lady would not help you with?”
Juan’s voice went into a whisper as if others could hear him. No one could. The church was empty. “It is women. They love me. And I cannot resist them.”
Father David was floored. He choked down his response, then said, “Women love you? I don’t understand.”
“In the days before I met Gabriela, every night three or four women were after me. I was not a happy man. Then I met Gabriela. She was different than all the other women I had known. I had to come up with a plan. Even on my wedding night, there was a woman knocking on my door. That is why we left the city and came here. That is why I became a fish monger. The women now all turn and runaway when they smell me. I cannot go back to the days before. I love my wife so much. But I am about to lose her.”
Father David was stunned. He did not have an answer. Except one. “Let us pray to Our Lady and Her Son.”
The two prayed.
Our Lady heard Juan’s prayer. She went to Her Son and told Him the story. Her Son was taken aback. “Women cannot resist this Juan? That is a dilemma. Let Me give it some thought.”
That night the Lord couldn’t sleep. He lay tossing and turning. Juan’s dilemma was a challenge. He had looked down and seen Juan’s treatment of his wife and son. And how he even treated the beggar on the street. If ever there was a kind man, it was Juan. What could He do?
Like so many of His ideas, the Lord came up with a solution while taking a shower the next morning. He would send an angel. And so He did.
The angel’s name was Derwood. While Gabriela slept, Derwood sprinkled some stardust on her nose. The next morning Gabriela woke up bright and early. The birds were singing. The cat was meowing. It was like Gabriela was experiencing a whole new world. Juan came to the table for his usual breakfast. Funny thing was Gabriela couldn’t smell the breakfast. She couldn’t smell Juan.
That night when Juan came home, he wore his usual bad smell. But Gabriela couldn’t smell him. She realized that she couldn’t smell. She was so happy. She kissed her husband. And it was the best of kisses. Our Lady and Her Son had performed a miracle.
The next day, she and Pedro went to the church and lit a candle of thanksgiving. As she left the church, a beautiful woman approached her.
“Senora, you have a very handsome son. Can I hold him? He is so irresistible.”