“My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.” Psalm 51:19
A Hospice, Downtown Naples. Mary had one last stop of the day, Fred. A little worn out, she thought briefly at postponing the visit until tomorrow. But she pressed on. She’d been bringing Fred Holy Communion for several months, and had come to love the soft, huggable teddy bear of a man she had eventually found within his gruff macho exterior. After he received communion, they would pray together briefly, and then chat. Usually about his glory days, when he was building his own business and raising a family with Martha, his deceased bride of 55 years. So worn out or not, Mary felt the tug to make it to Fred’s bedside.
When she arrived at the threshold of his room, Mary found one of the hospice aides already at his side, changing his IV bag. “Out! Out! Damn it girl, can’t you see I have more important things to do here!” She quickly made an about face, preparing to make a speedy exit. “Not you Mary! Her!” The aide efficiently finished her task and departed stage left. Mary delicately approached the bed. “Mary, I have a question for you.” “You know I’m not too good at questions Fred, but I’ll try. What is it?” As usual, he went right to the point. If I said “God damn it”, can I still receive Holy Communion?” “Oh boy!”, Mary thought to herself. “Where is a priest when I need him?” “Well Fred. I’d guess it is all about the your intent. If you really meant it, that would be pretty bad. But if you kind of blurted it out without thinking, which you sometimes seem to do, we’d call that a venial sin. You’d have to plan on confessing it when you got your next chance with a priest, but if you planned to, the Lord would forgive you.” “Well, that’s a load off my mind! I was worried about that.” “You know Fred, you are a beloved child of God. He loves you like his own son.” “Thank you Mary. Through you, I feel that. I really do.” Then Fred took Communion, and they prayed.
Two hours later, Mary got a call from the hospice. “Did I forget something?” “No Mary. We just wanted you to know that Fred just died. He fell asleep just after you left and then soon after his monitors went flat. He’s gone.” She didn’t know it at the time, but that day, Mary had been Fred’s last chance. Last chance for Love.
In SoHo this Holy Week, someone will be waiting for his last chance for Love. Will we be there to offer it?