When the Spirit Speaks

God, I have found, is never outdone in generosity. Always the gracious giver, he longs to surprise us breaking into our everyday ordinary to do the extraordinary. And still how easily these moments could have been missed by our failure to respond. Ever have a day where an inconvenient appeal on time and energy turns into a unexpected source of joy and grace? Where had the answer been no that the loss, in hindsight, would have been great? Oh how precious are the lessons that our Father has in store for us! All that is required of us is our “yes!”..and then the Spirit does all the rest.

Recently called to the bedside of a woman actively dying, I unexpectedly felt unprepared. Tying up last minute details, both professionally and personally, in preparation for our family move and my upcoming pilgrimage to Israel, time has been elusive. Each minute spent planing ahead so that my absence is not severely felt and everything runs seamlessly. Yet, here I was sprinting to squeeze in prayer time on the way to another communion call.

With a bit of creative parking and magnificat left behind I resigned myself that the Spirit had this in hand. I had brought the most important part, I was reminded, clutching the pyx and proceeding ahead. Upon entering her room, I noticed there was not an inch of space unused. For, she was not alone. Surrounded by her family, she was being held and loved in these remaining days. Taking my place at her feet in her chair, I invited her family to pray together. The sound of their voices in harmony provided such a beautiful resonance, and it was clear that I indeed was witnessing a gift.

Closing in prayer and requesting the Spirit to intercede, I prayed for her strength for the next steps in the journey till at last she would meet Jesus face to face. Knowing how hard it was to leave this loving family behind, she needed assurance. For, they too had a journey.  Pouring forth an appeal for God’s grace, strength and peace to be felt among them in the coming days ahead, I said Amen. Glancing up, it was remarkable how her face had relaxed and her breathing eased. Softly, she whispered something to her son standing beside her.  “Wow,  that was beautiful wasn’t it mom?”, he said. “Yes.”, I thought, “the Spirit does beautiful work. ”

Having only brought one communion host, and surveying the room of expectant faces I suddenly was met with a joyful dilemma. “I only have one host…”, I said. “It doesn’t matter how small, we would all like to receive if possible” “Well, ok then.”, I said reminded of the loaves and fishes. Not even counting the members in the room, I stopped at 10 equal pieces. And wouldn’t you know, it was exactly enough with one piece remaining for “Mary”.

The family and I spoke for awhile about her life and how much her faith meant to her. A lifelong parishioner, she endeavored to bring each of them up in the faith. The children also added that they had all been baptized and married in the church. “Do you know what a blessing you are to her right now?”, I asked. “Do you know what a blessing she has been to each one of us?”, they responded.  Truly, this brief encounter with this incredible family would have been missed if I hadn’t responded to the Spirit that day.

Reflect:

Have I ever considered praying with someone in need, or that is dying? If so, what has prompted my words, or guided my actions?  If not, what has held me back from responding?

Peace,

Signature

 

Advertisements

Worth Revisiting: The Grace We Need

If she could stand, she would undoubtedly comprise all of 5 feet. Slowly, age and physical limitations have taken her ability to walk, then stand and the wheelchair that she once could move can no longer be done on her own. Yet on the inside “Grace” towers, a living witness to a profound spirituality, her inspiring reverence and appreciation for the Eucharist is faithfully compelling.  In her suffering, she has shared not only of her struggle but of the gift and essentialness of communion and community.

It was about 6 years ago in the beginning of our Eucharistic Ministry to the nursing homes, that my husband and I first met Grace. My husband, having left Harvard when our economy took a major downturn was initially unsure of this assignment but more than ready to feel of use again. While he was certain that he could impart a bit of company and joy to those he visited in fulfilling this ministry, he was not prepared for what he would receive in return. His week spent researching the classifieds and applying for new jobs, would prove relentless with the exception of Sunday. Always faithful, but at times lukewarm in intensity, Sunday was the day he reserved for God. Little did he know that God had so much more in store for him, by this simple step forward in faith.

While wanting to go with him in these first few visits, I prayerfully held back, feeling God was preparing John for something special. So, with pyx in hand and a head full of concerns I watched as John hurriedly left the house, unquestionably working on the following day’s to-do list. However, no matter how he left the house, one could not help but notice that he never returned the same. In its place, peace and joy had consumed his countenance and he practically overflowed with a renewed strength. For, during this otherwise incredibly stressful time, God had opened a window.

After a bit of time, of observing all of this, the day came when with hopeful expectation he suddenly  asked,  “Would you like to go with me today? There is someone I would like you to meet.”   This was the moment I had patiently waited for.  “Of course, lead the way!”.  Though he carried a handwritten list of names and rooms, with notes beside each, it would be completely unnecessary. He knew each one, and wasted no time in introducing me as we entered with a rap at the door.

As we neared the last room he paused, grabbed my hand and a huge smile overtook his face. This was the one he so eagerly had wanted to share, the one that had inspired the transformation that I witnessed.

“Hi Grace!”, it’s John from St. Peter’s, “I brought my lovely wife Elizabeth with me today..”
“It is really SO good to see you, thank you for coming and making time for me..I cannot tell you what this means”, she exclaimed.
Then chatting for a few min about our families, health and week, John asked Grace, would you like to receive communion?”
“Oh, Yes! I REALLY need that!” , with hands clasped and eyes closing immediately in prayer.
“We all do Grace, we all do..” he answered without hesitation.

Have you ever considered Eucharistic ministry? Be prepared, the life transformed by Christ today, might be your own!

Worth Revisiting:Saying Goodbye in Ministry

“I will sing of your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy” (The Valley Song- Jars of Clay)

The chalice of Eucharist, anchor and cross as three theological virtues of Love, Hope and Faith.

Those who know me or follow this blog have heard me speak often about the continual joy that I experience as a Eucharistic minister to the nursing homes. In bringing Christ to each of these faithful, the gift of grace that is experienced is immeasurable. There is both communion and community in these moments, a sharing of stories and of ourselves. It is an invitation into their day, their families, their sickness and joy. And I leave feeling God’s presence so profoundly at work and the gift of my time well spent.

Over the years, my husband and I have said goodbye to many very good friends in the course of this ministry. I call them friends because that is truly what they are. With each I cannot help but remember the little things, simple moments and conversations. Like putting on the shoes of someone who can no longer move their fingers or bodies they way they used to. We have been there in the last moments too, knowing that that this will be the last time we will probably see that person. So too is where God’s mercy and grace found me today.

I met “Joe” just days after he had arrived and had yet to get accustomed to his surroundings. My husband, who usually accompanied me was sick that day and could not go. Knocking on the door and introducing myself, I was invited to take a seat beside him. “I do not know how long I will be here…you see I fell and I need a little help for awhile.” “I see, well I am certainly glad to meet you and visit for as long as you are here.” There was a long pause, then he broke down and shared how he missed his wife, his home and familiar surroundings. “I feel so alone.” Listening intently, I knew how important it was for me to be there. “You are not alone today. Would you like to share in communion together?” “Then let’s begin with the Our Father.” Together as we prayed, and then spoke the words of contrition we felt Christ was indeed present.

This day was almost two years ago and I have joyfully watched as he settled in and found comfort in the loving care of the staff and his family who visited often. Several close calls in the past year have prepared me better for today, and yet I will miss him so. When we walked in, he was resting peacefully after hospice had visited. I hugged his wife and took my place beside her. “I’m afraid he may not be able to partake today..” “Well, how about a prayer together?.. The Our Father?” His family agreed and there we stood holding hands around his bedside praying the prayer “Joe”  and I had said  in our very first meeting. As we finished he opened his eyes and smiled! What a beautiful sight that must have been for him to see his family praying!

Saying goodbye is never easy, but I am so grateful for the time that God has given. In these privileged encounters where grace abounds, Christ fills the space of loneliness that those like “Joe” feel with unimaginable love. Though feeling loss, my heart too also knows the joy that awaits each one in the day they walk hand in hand with our Savior.

Thank you Father for allowing me to serve by bringing You to those who hunger and thirst for your presence. Help me to say goodbye when it’s time.

Peace,

Signature

Worth Revisiting: Invited into Community

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

Have an hour to spare and share on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon or weekday morning after mass?  I cannot think of a better way to spend such a short amount of time than bringing communion to others. These ineffable moments of grace are truly invitations to not only bring the body of Christ, but to recognize the fullness of being the body of Christ.  What if for reasons of health, age or circumstance, you could no longer receive communion? Hear a knock? Open your heart today..


Invited into Community: The Joy of Eucharistic Ministry

eucharist-2“The Eucharist is not something we do simply to commemorate what Jesus did for us. Rather it is something that Christ does for us, filling us with grace and nourishing us with His own life. Let us live the Eucharist, in a spirit of joy and concern for all our brothers and sisters in need”. Pope Francis

This morning, I was thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know) about how incredibly busy, but restful and fulfilling my Sunday had been. While it seems odd perhaps to hold these adjectives together I believe that they highlight what it really means, to me, to “work six and rest one” in keeping the Sabbath holy. As so often the case, in anticipation of Sunday, there was an extra spring in my step as I reflected and then prepared for the day ahead. You see, my joy is not solely in going to mass with my immediate family, but is found in joining my larger family in Christ, in sharing communion together. Here, I am graced with brothers and sisters from varied backgrounds, of all ages, and nationalities each praying to the same Father. Each resting the work of their own hands, to bring all that they are- to be blessed and broken and enjoined as one in the beautiful sacrifice of Christ.

As a Eucharistic minister, I witness this so profoundly as each person steps forward to receive Christ. Some hands are soft, others rugged and worn, nonetheless within their eyes, I see God…and what a beautiful sight that is to behold!  At times I sense their sadness, others times their joy and still others their deep appreciation for this moment to pause to recognize Christ present with us. Each carrying the deep imprint of God on their souls, and each with the invitation to make Christ visible today.

Yet, what of those in our community, who because of age, illness or injury cannot be with us on Sunday? While many of us were able to experience the beautiful mystery of Christ’s presence this Sunday in the Eucharist, imagine if you could not. So often we might take for granted the ability to come and partake in communion together, yet for so many of our “family” this not an option.So in reading this,  I am asking you to please consider offering your gift of faith, love and service  to bring Christ, made truly present in the Eucharist and in our community, into their lives as well.

I promise, the joy and love that God provides in this ministry is one that can forever change your own life and serve as a continual source of blessing. This has been the experience of my husband and I, who have been serving for the past five years. We feel graced to have been witnesses to the sacred, these moments of profound gratitude, and light of Christ’s love into their lives.

So, what does this gift require? Our time spent in total at a facility is about an hour, although admittedly quite often we choose to spend longer! Perhaps you may be able to go once a week, yet if you can only go every other week, or visit someone home bound, you will be providing an immeasurable gift that might make their reception of the Eucharist possible.

In faith and prayer, I ask that you consider this beautiful ministry. God Bless-


The Grace We Need

If she could stand, she would undoubtedly comprise all of 5 feet. Slowly, age and physical limitations have taken her ability to walk, then stand and the wheelchair that she once could move can no longer be done on her own. Yet on the inside “Grace” towers, a living witness to a profound spirituality, her inspiring reverence and appreciation for the Eucharist is faithfully compelling.  In her suffering, she has shared not only of her struggle but of the gift and essentialness of communion and community.

It was about 6 years ago in the beginning of our Eucharistic Ministry to the nursing homes, that my husband and I first met Grace. My husband, having left Harvard when our economy took a major downturn was initially unsure of this assignment but more than ready to feel of use again. While he was certain that he could impart a bit of company and joy to those he visited in fulfilling this ministry, he was not prepared for what he would receive in return. His week spent researching the classifieds and applying for new jobs, would prove relentless with the exception of Sunday. Always faithful, but at times lukewarm in intensity, Sunday was the day he reserved for God. Little did he know that God had so much more in store for him, by this simple step forward in faith.

While wanting to go with him in these first few visits, I prayerfully held back, feeling God was preparing John for something special. So, with pyx in hand and a head full of concerns I watched as John hurriedly left the house, unquestionably working on the following day’s to-do list. However, no matter how he left the house, one could not help but notice that he never returned the same. In its place, peace and joy had consumed his countenance and he practically overflowed with a renewed strength. For, during this otherwise incredibly stressful time, God had opened a window.

After a bit of time, of observing all of this, the day came when with hopeful expectation he suddenly  asked,  “Would you like to go with me today? There is someone I would like you to meet.”   This was the moment I had patiently waited for.  “Of course, lead the way!”.  Though he carried a handwritten list of names and rooms, with notes beside each, it would be completely unnecessary. He knew each one, and wasted no time in introducing me as we entered with a rap at the door.

As we neared the last room he paused, grabbed my hand and a huge smile overtook his face. This was the one he so eagerly had wanted to share, the one that had inspired the transformation that I witnessed.

“Hi Grace!”, it’s John from St. Peter’s, “I brought my lovely wife Elizabeth with me today..”
“It is really SO good to see you, thank you for coming and making time for me..I cannot tell you what this means”, she exclaimed.
Then chatting for a few min about our families, health and week, John asked Grace, would you like to receive communion?”
“Oh, Yes! I REALLY need that!” , with hands clasped and eyes closing immediately in prayer.
“We all do Grace, we all do..” he answered without hesitation.

Have you ever considered Eucharistic ministry? Be prepared, the life transformed by Christ today, might just be your own!

Saying Goodbye in Ministry

“I will sing of your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy” (The Valley Song- Jars of Clay)

The chalice of Eucharist, anchor and cross as three theological virtues of Love, Hope and Faith.

Those who know me or follow this blog have heard me speak often about the continual joy that I experience as a Eucharistic minister to the nursing homes. In bringing Christ to each of these faithful, the gift of grace that is experienced is immeasurable. There is both communion and community in these moments, a sharing of stories and of ourselves. It is an invitation into their day, their families, their sickness and joy. And I leave feeling God’s presence so profoundly at work and the gift of my time well spent.

Over the years, my husband and I have said goodbye to many very good friends in the course of this ministry. I call them friends because that is truly what they are. With each I cannot help but remember the little things, simple moments and conversations. Like putting on the shoes of someone who can no longer move their fingers or bodies they way they used to. We have been there in the last moments too, knowing that that this will be the last time we will probably see that person. So too is where God’s mercy and grace found me today.

I met “Joe” just days after he had arrived and had yet to get accustomed to his surroundings. My husband, who usually accompanied me was sick that day and could not go. Knocking on the door and introducing myself, I was invited to take a seat beside him. “I do not know how long I will be here…you see I fell and I need a little help for awhile.” “I see, well I am certainly glad to meet you and visit for as long as you are here.” There was a long pause, then he broke down and shared how he missed his wife, his home and familiar surroundings. “I feel so alone.” Listening intently, I knew how important it was for me to be there. “You are not alone today. Would you like to share in communion together?” “Then let’s begin with the Our Father.” Together as we prayed, and then spoke the words of contrition we felt Christ was indeed present.

This day was almost two years ago and I have joyfully watched as he settled in and found comfort in the loving care of the staff and his family who visited often. Several close calls in the past year have prepared me better for today, and yet I will miss him so. When we walked in, he was resting peacefully after hospice had visited. I hugged his wife and took my place beside her. “I’m afraid he may not be able to partake today..” “Well, how about a prayer together?.. The Our Father?” His family agreed and there we stood holding hands around his bedside praying the prayer “Joe”  and I had said  in our very first meeting. As we finished he opened his eyes and smiled! What a beautiful sight that must have been for him to see his family praying!

Saying goodbye is never easy, but I am so grateful for the time that God has given. In these privileged encounters where grace abounds, Christ fills the space of loneliness that those like “Joe” feel with unimaginable love. Though feeling loss, my heart too also knows the joy that awaits each one in the day they walk hand in hand with our Savior.

Thank you Father for allowing me to serve by bringing You to those who hunger and thirst for your presence. Help me to say goodbye when it’s time.

Peace,

Signature