About 10 years ago, there was an invitation at St. Clement’s Shrine where I was going to Mass. The priest was looking for Eucharistic Ministers, to visit the hospital. So I was excited to volunteer. I thought, what better than to bring people the Lord when their at their lowest point?
So, at the first training period, there were about 15 young adults. It was exciting. Then there was a training period for several weeks. Then there was a lot of paper work at the hospital, and medical check ups, and tests that we have to pay for, and meeting with staff, and training sessions at the hospital. Oh, and the ministry would be on weekend afternoons. By the time I had gone through all of it, do you know how many were left? Two. One young woman and me. After a year or so, it was only me. I stayed 6 years. Now, why did I put up with the little classes and the medical checkups and the hospital training when everyone else dropped out? Why did I put up with the awkward moments, the rejections and looks, heartbroken family members, the parking problem, the smells and sometimes gruesome sights, all the loneliness? Why did I walk into trauma, and intensive care units, and the psych ward, why did I stand face to face with death, and get no pay, never a pat on the back, and it seemed like no one even knew or cared?
Because I was serving the best. That is all I want.
Another story …
When my sister was born, she didn’t receive enough oxygen to her brain, and she was left with severe brain damage. She never matured in life, either physically, emotionally, cognitively. So my mother gave her all of her care for the first 23 years of her life, and then most of it for the next four years. It was like having an infant for 27 years. Every day, she had to feed my sister all her meals, change her diaper, clean her and clothe her, and on top of all that, most nights she had to get up in the middle of the night to give her something to drink. That doesn’t include all the various unknown medical problems that would pop up from time to time. And then, on top of that, everywhere we went, we were a spectacle because my mother holding my sister looked so strange. The looks, the comments. And then, because of her condition, my mother wasn’t comfortable traveling long distances, and because she was so immobilized and had such low consciousness, it was nearly impossible for anyone to take care of her.
Now after all this, you’d think my mother would have every right to be angry and resentful, angry at everyone, angry at life, angry at God. Well, if you look at my mother’s tombstone, on the base facing upward, you will see engraved the quote we always heard her say: “Thank you God for everything.”
She was serving the best. And that is all she wanted.
A month or so ago, here at the seminary, we found out that we would have summer assignments in local parishes. So I met with my advisor and he told me what was happening. I figured, even though I wasn’t asked, that I would tell him what my preference was. “I would like to be in a poor parish where there is a hispanic community.” My advisor mentioned that there aren’t any that they’re assigning, because the seminarians are getting a stipend for their summer assignments, and the poor parishes can’t afford it. So I said, “I’ll take whatever they can afford.” Now, I don’t have any money left, and I could really, really use a stipend. I don’t know how the bills are going to be paid, and I don’t have any trees that grow cash, because I would need one without a job anywhere on the horizon. But you know why I would do it? Because I would be serving the best, and that is all I want.
On Divine Mercy Sunday, I received my summer assignment. It is for one of the largest parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston in what the numbers say is the poorest city in the state with the largest hispanic population. That good priest, my advisor, also found a way to get some other funding source so the parish doesn’t have to pay. So if you see a big smile on my face these days, it’s because I’m getting my wish. This summer I am going to be serving the best. And that is all I want.
What is Divine Mercy?
It’s when you can go into the places where no one wants to go, say the unspoken words, do the unpleasant tasks, because there is someone very, very important there to be lifted up.
It’s when you go to serve the Best.
And that is all you want.
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’” (Mt 10:40)