November, 19, 2014
A sting of pain plucked my heart as I looked at Father more closely. Hunched over in his chair, his vestments falling in droopy folds, he listened calmly to the Old Testament reading. He looked too calm, indeed weary and beaten down, his hands limply folded over each other. Those hands reminded me of every crucifix. I gazed at them intently, seeing each knot, strained vein and muscle beneath his tanned skin. At the curve where his thumb touched his wrist was a long, dark shadow. I imagined it to be a nail-mark. Half-closing my eyes, I fought the urge to run to him. Knowing there was nothing I could do for him nearly put tears in my eyes. I looked down at my legs then the person in the seat in front of me and prayed: “Dear Jesus, give him peace.”
Twice during the Mass, he lifted his head and smiled. The glow in his eyes faded soon as it came. Twice he fought his urge to change the words of the Mass prayers as he so often did. Initially, he spoke correctly then the second time reverted back to his changed version. There seemed to be resistance, hesitation, even a twinge of guilt. For the first time, I wondered if something evil caused this behavior. But I shoved it from my mind, far from being an expert on this sort of matter.
Holding up the host, he cocked his head a little to the right- as he always did, reminiscent of a boy examining some wondrous trinket he’d pulled from the earth. His one hand remained steady, not lifting very high. It seemed instead of the Lord’s precious body, he held a five-pound weight. This was his struggle and it hurt so much for me to watch it. So badly, I wanted him to find peace and to love every part of himself- even the part that was being crucified.