This weekend I had the peculiar blessing of an experience of powerlessness. A blessing because it was an opportunity to see the goodness of God in action –
Sunday morning I woke up with a debilitating migraine. It was Sunday morning – Mass to get ready for, stuff to do, service at the nursing home in the afternoon – and I couldn’t do any of it. All I could do was sit and look out the window and hope the pain would pass. I remembered to be grateful that they’re not usually like that. Normally I take a couple of pills and the pain recedes, but not this time.
Look how good God is. This day when I could not preach or lead a service or even drive to church, was also the day that Rev. Patti LaRosa came to preside and preach for us in celebration of her recent ordination. (and she led us in a lovely Mass! The church has another terrific priest!) I was reminded of the story about the morning a priest in ordinary clothes knocked on the door at Mother Teresa’s convent, and the nun who opened the door said, “Come in, Father!” “How did you know I was a priest?” he asked. “The priest who was supposed to say Mass for us had to cancel, and Mother Teresa said not to worry, God would send us another one!” So you see, God does that for St Romero’s, too!
The other blessing in the experience was that it got me thinking about powerlessness. I’m a pretty busy person, always with a list of things to do. And here I was, unable to do a thing. One of the questions chaplains are taught to ask is, “Where is God in this for you?” Well, we who are Christian believe in a God who enters into our experience of powerlessness, who chose to become one of us, to suffer, to experience rejection and loss and all the pain of being human.
There is a woman at the nursing home where I work who also teaches me about powerlessness. She has lived her whole life with a brain injury and now has dementia on top of that. She doesn’t own anything, doesn’t produce anything, doesn’t accomplish anything, and as far as I know, she never has. But she loves God. One of the things that seems to mean a lot to her is receiving ashes, like we do on Ash Wednesday. I keep a little packet of ashes in my pocket so I can give her ashes whenever she asks for them. It’s a little ritual that moves me so much: I make a little cross on her forehead, and say, “remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return…and know that you are God’s own beloved.” And then she sings. Maybe she sings an Alleluia. Maybe “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know,” or “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” Whatever it is, it comes straight from her heart. She has never crossed an item off a “to-do” list in her life… but she gives God joy. I know she does. All of us give God joy just by being.
I hope your summer has included some time to just be! You are God’s own delight, just as you are.
Blessings and love to all,
St Joe’s carwash was rained out, two Sundays in a row. Stop by and get your car washed some sunny weekend day! Suggested donation $5 or $10 for an outside wash, $20 for inside vacuuming as well.
Our migrant masses continue… join us some Thursday night, leaving the St Joe’s parking lot at 7, best to let me know if you’re coming. Always looking for people to bake some cookies! …Which we promise to protect from the raccoons.
And many thanks to Rev. Patti for leading us in such a lovely Mass this past Sunday.
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Church in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620