November, 5, 2014
Before Mass, I stopped in the main church to chant vespers in front of the tabernacle. Then I sat out in the vestibule to quietly finish reading a chapter from the documents of Vatican II. It was my aim to re-read the documents for the second time so I may understand the Church’s teachings better and perhaps gain more charity towards our struggle in modern times. I’d arrived very early. Though the church remained silent, little movement here and there, I couldn’t concentrate. The words clumped on the page like a thick cord, tied together, tedious and undecipherable.
Suddenly, I saw my parish priest. He entered the sanctuary and the door closed behind him. After several minutes I decided to go visit with Our Lord again. Upon opening the door, I saw Fr. knelt down in a far pew, his head bowed in prayer. Happiness shot through me like a current of electricity. It was quite unexpected for me to see him praying silently before Mass- in fact this was the first time. I dared not enter and disturb him!
From behind the glass doors of the church, I gazed on his lonely figure, hunched over, exhausted, and surrendering. Though he was an oft proud and talkative man, I couldn’t help but feel a deep empathy for him. Yes, he once fought my suggestion to go visit Jesus in the tabernacle, claiming that Our Lord was everywhere- but now he was doing it! His lips were silent. His weathered, tan hands folded gently. His appearance under the gauzy light of the setting sun, wearing lay clothes- but a priest nonetheless, reminded me of Christ’s lasts moments in the garden. There, he pleaded with his father. There, the restless one rested from his labor. There, he would, at last, find strength.
A great anticipation seized me. My head swam with thoughts. My heart pounded. For so long, I’d prayed for this, that Christ would draw this priest to him and speak to his heart. I begged the Lord to make him stop and visit. If I had to suffer the pains of poverty, emptiness and sharp loneliness of this past year just in order for this moment, perhaps it was all worth it. Perhaps his emptiness would be filled because of mine? I wanted desperately the salvation of this man’s soul and felt that perhaps now, a hulking milestone was being removed, a great mass of ice being slowly softened. There are seldom prayers more fervent than the ones I prayed in those next minutes. Prayers of relief, gladness, thanksgiving and intercession.