A Groundskeeper, Holy Communion, and a Hug

Today I have a great story.

I went to Father Ray’s home to pick up the hosts, but no one answered. Usually he holds Mass at his home on weekdays– I haven’t been yet, except last week when I got there by the end to pick up the hosts.

I was disappointed– I thought I would have to call and cancel again. I didn’t want to let this woman down.

But a man who appeared to be some sort of groundskeeper saw me standing outside the house.

“You lookin’ for Father Ray?”

I told him that yes, I am. I explained.

He said he had keys and could let me in to get the hosts for me.

At first I wondered if it that was all right– I thought only priests could do that!

But he was very confident about this offer, so I took it as a sign it must be all right.

The man let me into the church,  and went straight to the Tabernackle.

He opened it up, and offered me the chalice (is that the right word?) full of hosts.

In that moment, I couldn’t believe that I was about to touch the Eucharist, directly in the Tabernackle.

I’ve been a Eucharistic minister before– but always under the usual circumstances at Mass. To be there, reaching to gather two hosts on my own, felt entirely sacred on a new level.

Gingerly, I took two from the cup, and deposited them into my pix for safekeeping.

This is what a pix looks like, along with the two books I bring with me each time to perform the rite:

Image

I chatted with the man, who said he opened up a Catholic Workers House of Hospitality in Joliet. He’s a good man, with soft white hair to his neck, mostly bald on top. He had tattoos on his forearm. He said he had seen me at Mass– I had briefly, I remembered.

I was glad for the chance to get to know this man briefly.

I thanked him and then went on my way to bring Holy Communion to the woman and her daughter.

I had called her yesterday to reschedule for today, because I wasn’t feeling good. I had gone out Saturday night without a jacket, and was having chills and aches all day. I suspected if I got extra sleep it would help, and it did.

Today I was rested and ready.

She had told me to just come in, and when I arrived the glass door was shut by the inside door was open. Her daughter met me at the door when I stepped in, and wanted a hug.

It felt wonderful, to know that they were expecting me. To know that her daughter feels comfortable enough to hug me, after I’ve only visited a few times.

I didn’t bother with most of the technicalities this time– just kept it very simple.

And the woman who lives there asked about my upcoming vacation to visit my family in Kansas– I was touched that she remembered. She asked about the next time I’d be coming–and I made plans with her for when I return.

When I was about to leave, her daughter squeezed my hand and told me goodbye. That small gesture of affection did so much for me. I just wish I could have begun this sooner.

It feels good to have this simple routine. To know that, week by week, I am building relationships within this family.

Her adult son takes care of her and all her needs– he cooks for her, takes her where she needs to go, cleans. Even he is beginning to talk to me– I chatted with him in the garage for a couple minutes before I left.

He said my name when I was leaving.

Right now he doesn’t receive Holy Communion, but I think I’ll start bringing an extra host with me. Maybe if I get to know him and start asking each week, one day, he’ll say yes.

I continue to be in awe of how good this makes me feel. And I know it was no coincidence that I was able to give Holy Communion today, in spite of Father Ray being gone.

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