Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Serving Up On the Altar

     Those gathered for daily Mass this past Saturday morning, January 12, 2013, witnessed a beautiful sign of love and dedication to the Church in the chapel at Little Sisters of the Poor.  The priest who usually celebrates Mass there wasn’t well enough to do it, so the 93 year-old priest who typically concelebrates with him and gives out Communion while sitting in a chair on the altar was asked if he would be up to doing it with help.  Fr. Paul agreed, and our best friend and dearest brother in Christ John, was summoned to come up to assist him. 
     It was deeply moving to see a very elderly, devout priest sitting next to a young only just finished his first semester seminarian.  John helped him find the right prayers, consecration, and blessings for the Mass.  The lady sitting in front of Kevin and me said it was one of the most beautiful Masses she’d ever been to.  Kevin and I definitely agreed.
     At the conclusion, we clapped for Fr. Paul and thanked him for being willing to celebrate Mass for us when it took a good deal of effort for him to do so, even sitting down the whole time.  As he slowly made his way back down the aisle with his walker (which of course has the standard two yellow tennis balls), he said that we should be thanking John.
     Many people did come up to John after Mass to talk with him.  The woman sitting in front of us asked Kevin if John’s our brother, because she could tell we were proud of him.  My husband ultimately said yes, with a little bit of explanation.
     When he was home for Christmas break, John served at quite a few Masses, so we’d gotten used to seeing him up on the altar.  It hit home that’s where his ministry is going, and ours will continue to be, at least in part, to love and support him on the journey—a blessing we are grateful to have.
     It has always moved me deeply to see Fr. Paul up on the altar concelebrating Mass at the age of 93, bless his heart.  There was hardly a dry eye in the place seeing him sitting up there with John seated at his side, helping him each step of the way. 
     Lord, thank You for the many ways that You speak to us through different circumstances as well as the sacraments of daily living.  Amen.  
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