Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Priest Forever

Today, my mom and I went to the nearby hospital to visit a dear, elderly Franciscan who recently took a turn for the worse and now needs the constant presence of someone to help meet his basic needs. We sought to offer comfort in whatever small ways possible...food, water, and conversation being some chief ways. I sang and read from one of my sister's brilliant Scripture exegeses to help take his mind off the pain of his tired body. Despite his physical weakness, Father's famous wit was still strong, and spontaneous plays-on-words interspersed his dialogue in the charming way they always have.

It was difficult yet meaningful — and especially Lenten — to watch a dear one suffer and be able to do very little about it. I also couldn't think of a more grace-filled way to spend a Sunday afternoon than experiencing this spiritual work of mercy.

The thing that struck me most, however, was when this suffering priest of 80-something years imparted his farewell blessing to his visitors. Despite the fact that the littlest movement was torturous for him, he made every effort to raise the arm lying limp on the pillow in order to bless us not only with his words, but with his I.V.-laden hand. Such a picture of fidelity. Such a picture of a priest whose identity runs in every fiber of his being! Such a picture of Christ.

1 comment:

nccarter88 said...

What a beautiful example!! Some have said that the way a priest suffers at the end of life is his last priestly message to the world. Obviously, this priest sends a good message to all his children.