Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I started this post 9 hours ago...

This morning a little before 8, I started a post; then the power went out. Not a busy, but an active day, intervened -- despite the nasty weather.

We are getting hit by the same storm afflicting much of the eastern U.S. There were about 4 inches or so on the ground at 8:30 am; the coordinator for our perpetual chapel recommended closing it -- meaning, letting adorers off the hook so they wouldn't try to walk, or worse, drive over; so with a small bit of ceremony, three parishioners accompanied me as we transferred the Blessed Sacrament from the chapel to the tabernacle upstairs. On Thursday morning, assuming all is well, we'll reopen the chapel. (We'll still have Mass there Wednesday evening, but since adorers were told not to return till Thursday morning, we'll wait till the morning to return the Blessed Sacrament.)

After that, the office; one of our dear Sisters of Charity -- who works for the two parishes -- made it over, walking 1/2 mile. The business manager also made it in. Good thing, as she was available to drive me to the hospital when I got a call about a dying man in ICU. Her car was ready, mine was two blocks away, covered in snow. Two people were better off, if we got stuck, than either alone.

That was the plan when a parishioner pulled up in a big, muscular SUV; I don't know what brand, but it's big and not easily intimidated by a storm. He volunteered to take me to the hospital. When I got in, I saw he had his wife, two girls, and the dog! So we all went down to the hospital; they waited as I went in.

The man was in bad shape; the wife told me they didn't expect him to live. So I "heard" his confession (I told him to tell God in his heart his sins, I said the Act of Contrition and his penance -- one Glory Be -- for him, then gave him absolution and the apostolic pardon, which is a plenary indulgence, then anointed him, then blessed him with the Eucharist (he couldn't receive it), then the prayers for the dying. I assured him, if he had faith, he had nothing to fear, he was ready, as ready as I could help him be.

When I got back to the car, I told the girls, one in 3rd grade, one in kindergarten, about the visit; that the man's heart had stopped five times before I got there! The Lord must have wanted that rendezvous -- perhaps that moment of prayer saved his soul; if so, they had a part in it (they prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet while waiting), and what's better than that? They liked that idea. Their dad drove me back to the office, and I went back to work. Answered some mail, made some calls, prepared some invitations for a dinner for some area priests, etc. Decided to go home way early, around 4 pm.

Walking home, I saw some guys valiantly trying to budge a car. I saw there was no way it was going anywhere, but I did my civic duty and tried to help. "Where are you trying to go?" Turns out he was just going to park it in a nearby parking lot. He decided it wasn't so bad where it was; hopefully, the city won't tow him. It was getting nastier this evening, more wind, and some ice pellets instead of snow. Some roads had been plowed, but can't tell if mine has.

A bit ago, a parishioner came by with a snow-blower to do my walk, which was not necessary; I was fixing to shovel it in the morning, which I will have to do anyway, but this makes it somewhat easier.

All meetings cancelled tonight; everything is cancelled tonight I expect, hereabouts. In the morning, I have Mass at the north parish, 1/2 mile away. Unsure if I'll walk, or drive. I'll be curious to see if anyone else shows up.


Anonymous said...

Father, it was very touching to read about the way you were able to reach the dying man via the SUV and its generous-hearted owners. This is the finest use of a SUV I've ever heard of!
This weather is so harsh - I worry about those who are alone, the sick, the elderly, the poor - and any animals who are outside without adequate shelter, as well. If there is anything good to be said about such weather, beyond its harsh and dramatic beauty, it is that it can bring people together and make us aware of our dependency on one another and most of all upon God.
Your visit to the dying man seemed to me to personify God's mercy and providance. A death at such a time is hard for the dying and his/her family (I know because my own mother died in a terrible storm like this) - but focussing on the spiritual is so uplifting, and transcends the fear of death. Your pastoral care of this gentlemen,sending him on his way well prepared to be received into heaven, witnesses to the deepest level of ministry: giving the individual over to God, body and soul, in his final moment. How edifying that must be.

Anonymous said...

Annie, you are so right in your thoughts. So many times we see this -- people are at their best in such difficult situations. And it's truly wonderful how God uses everything to achieve His purposes, in this case speeding a soul along the way to heaven. God bless you, Father, for "being there" as a true pastor. As for the storm, we're supposed to get it tomorrow morning here in the Montreal area. Not looking forward to it! Take care, and keep warm.

Pat Gonzalez