Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Rescue Drive.

For a few days Father Ignatius had been thinking over his conversation with Father Donald about the dream he had.

In the dream, St Peter asked Father Ignatius directly, ‘Have you done a good job of looking after Our Lord’s lambs and sheep?’

“What a challenge!” thought Father Ignatius, “St Peter himself asking me if I was a good priest!”

Jack lived a few yards down the road from St Vincent Church, just the other side of the Convent.

One Friday evening he was waiting outside the Fish and Chips Shop just opposite the church when Father Ignatius joined the queue.

“How are you keeping Jack?” he asked, “you look really miserable right now … just like a mile of bad road, I should say!”

“Hello Father …” mumbled Jack under his breath, “it’s a long story!”

“You’d better tell me about it … let’s move away from this queue …”

The two men left the queue and walked a few paces away from the shop.

“It’s this friend of mine …” Jack said hesitantly, “he’s over seventy years old, lives in Brintown, and he’s not too well. I think he’s dying. I spoke to the lady friend he lives with and she said the doctor is not holding much hope. I’ll go and see him tomorrow as I’m not working this weekend … I hope I get there in time …”

“I’ll pray for him Jack. I notice you said lady friend … is he not married then?”

“Oh … that’s another long story Father.” said Jack, “Many years ago, when he was thirty or so, he met this lady and fell in love with her. She was divorced and his priest would not marry them. In fact he argued the matter with the priest and the priest excommunicated him.

“I think he probably excommunicated her as well … I don’t know.

“Anyway, they’ve lived together ever since … that’s about forty years. I don’t know if they ever got married in the Civil Court.

“But the man kept faithful to the ban imposed on him. He didn’t move to another church and take Communion there, even though they moved town several times. In fact I believe he never set foot in another church ever since that day!”

“We’d better go and see them then …” said the priest.

“What now … it’s five o’clock. It will take us two hours to get to Brintown!”

“The sooner we start the better,” replied Father Ignatius, “you go to my office and phone them from there. I’ll get the car ready!”

Moments later Father Ignatius was driving up the highway as fast as the speed limit allowed.

They arrived just after 7:30 that evening. Father Ignatius went to see the old man in his bedroom whilst Jack stayed with the old lady in the front room.

They could hear talk, and sometimes laughter from the bedroom. The priest stayed there for a while. He heard the old man’s Confession and gave him Holy Communion. Then they chatted away about the past … the old man had spent some time in Italy, not far from where Father Ignatius studied for the priesthood, so they talked about Italy and all the places they visited whilst there.

Eventually the priest came out and asked Jack to go and stay with the old man.

He heard the old lady’s Confession and gave her Holy Communion.

Father Ignatius and Jack set off back home at about 10:45 that evening. In the car, on the way to St Vincent, Jack said, “Thank you Father … being with you is like being with Jesus!”

“Don’t ever say that,” replied the priest, “no one can possibly be like Jesus!”

The old man died three days later.

The old lady also died a few months after that.

(Based on a true story).

24 comments:

  1. I'm so happy to read that Victor. May we have more priests like that.....The Law, yes, it's necessary. The Love, yes, that's God.
    Andie

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  2. Yes, Andie. A good priest indeed.

    I knew that elderly couple very well and the priest went to them in their last hours on earth because he had been told about them. He did not know them, yet he decided to go all the same and bring them back to God. The priest is now also dead and I'm sure well loved in Heaven.

    What saddens me about all this is that for almost forty years that couple were denied Communion with God because they loved each other ... and because a priest said so. They faithfully obeyed the excommunication placed on them.

    God bless.

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  3. That saddens me as well Victor. We sometimes forget that Jesus offered Communion to Judas knowing full well what he was about to do. We are all sinners and therefore we should run not walk to Communion.

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  4. Thank you Andie. You don't know how much what you've just said means to me. Thank you.

    God bless you.

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  5. If you needed to hear that then they were not my words Victor

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  6. Both the letter and the spirit of the law is necessary. Without the spirit, we become the Pharisees.
    I am glad to hear that these people were able to come back to God with a repentant heart before they came face to face with Him.
    Thanks for this hope filled story, Victor.
    God bless!

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  7. Victor,
    Did the woman in your story attempt to get an anulment?
    I know many people who are in this position. As a matter of fact, I'll bet there are millions worldwide who are struggling with this. My mother's friend was married to a man for 25 years. They had 3 children. While they were married the man was living a secret life and eventually left her to live in the open with another man. He is also going through a sex change operation. The woman could not obtain an anullment, remarried, and can no longer receive Communion. Another woman I know has had 2 annulments, is remarried, and can receive Communion whenever she wants. She received her annulments for lesser reasons than the first lady I mentioned. It is so confusing for people who are "caught" in this position these days. Why can some people obtain more than 1 annulment and others cannot even have their marriage annulled for serious reasons? Maybe this should be one of the question here.

    I have to admit, all these things confuse me. My poor brain cannot sort them out so I simply place those I know in this position in our good Lord's hands. He knows the deepest thoughts of a person's heart and their motives. Your post brings a lot of questions to my mind as I didn't realize someone could even be excommunicated for such a reason. Did the first priest in your story even have the power to do such a thing? If so, I don't believe they do that anymore but I think they are supposed to provide pastoral care and help the people who find themselves in this position. It's very sad that the priest did not do so.

    You like to open up a can of worms, don't you Victor ;) Not everyone walks out of their marriages for good reason. Yes, some do. But there are also others who do it out of selfishness and sinful reasons and millions of children are left without their families intact. This may not be the case in your story but it does happen. I'm sure everyone knows somebody who has been abandoned for petty reasons. And then the person who has been abandoned is stuck in a mess through no fault of their own. It's heartbreaking.

    Sorry to use so much comment space up, Victor. I think your post has raised a lot of questions in my mind and I could take twice as much space up if I don't stop now :)

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  8. Oh yeah! And I forgot to add that I am sure glad there was a compassionate priest who helped them at the end of their lives. This is called mercy and Jesus is very fond of it :) Because I was thinking that even if they HAD done things for the wrong reasons (which I don't know because it doesn't say) 40 years is an awful long time to wait to receive absolution. It must have been hard on them and made them feel unwanted.

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  9. Mary has asked my question, I will add that I am very pleased that they received the sacraments before they passed.....:-)Hugs

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  10. Hello Karinann and Mary,

    Please feel free to use as much comment space as you wish.

    I knew this couple when they were already in their sixties; but I don't know the exact details. She had divorced years ago and had a son (now obviously grown up). She met man Number 2 and fell in love. Both of them were Catholics and could not get married because of her previous marriage and divorce. I don't know whether she tried for an annulment or not, but I know he was excommunicated and possibly her too.

    They did not go to church for over forty years and then just days before his death, miraculously, their story was told to a priest who made this mercy dash and gave them Confession and Communion.

    I have known some very good priests in my time, I can count nine right away. They are a mix which makes up my fictitious Father Ignatius.

    But I've known priests who, sadly, take it all as a job, with no care, love or compassion whatsoever. This couple probably met such a priest all those years ago.

    Mary, I'm very sad to hear your story about the lady who was married for 25 years to a man with a secret life. She could not receive an annulment although she did no wrong. She now cannot receive Communion.

    In such cases I ask myself: "Would Christ have loved her and forgiven her had she done wrong?"

    Of course He would. Yet our Church stands in judgement on her and shuts her out.

    As Andie said above: Christ offered Communion to Judas even though He knew what he would do.

    I'm sorry Mary to open a can of worms. Our Church has a lot to answer for over the years; and it saddens me that their ability to forgive is no where near what Jesus would wish. The Church does not excommunicate a murderer or a thief (both breaking the 10 Commandments); but it excommunicates a divorced person if they re-marry. This means "adultery" (in their eyes) is a graver sin than murder. And once divorced you have no right to love and marry again, "unless we say so".

    This, I believe is wrong.

    God bless.

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  11. Yes Mary and Bernie,

    Forty years is a long time without absolution; even if they did wrong by loving each other!

    They obeyed the ban and just kept away from the church. How sad! They would not go to another church and take Communion there because, being honest, they knew it would be cheating God. So they felt shut out!

    It was by pure chance that the priest was told that the old man is dying and he decided to make a mercy dash there and then! He did not know the couple and his church was quite a distance away.

    This priest is now dead and no doubt rejoicing with them in Heaven. God must give him a medal for what he has done!

    God bless.

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  12. You certainly bring up tough topics on your blog, Victor. I keep thinking of Jesus with the woman at the well when I read this post. He showed her mercy and He knew she had already had 5 husbands and that the man she was living with was not her husband. He started her where she was at and gradually shed light on her situation. He showed mercy FIRST before He tried to correct her. It has to start with love. Jesus knows what a mess things are in this world today and how confused and hurt people are who have been through a divorce. I cannot make sense of this world, that's for sure. But He can. I'm thinking that our priests are confused about how to handle these things, too. They are probably torn between compassion and Church teachings especially in those gray areas where there are no easy answers. Sort of like the Popes remark about condoms that is making such a big stink right now.

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  13. Mary, your care and compassion shows in the way you write.

    You're correct that Christ showed compassion and mercy to that woman at the well. And that's precisely my point - you made it much better than me.

    Our Church sometimes seems to lack the caring and compassion which is needed in such situations as the one you describe in your first comment above.

    The lady you speak of was not given an annulment. In other cases annulments take too long - sometimes as long as two years or more.

    This is too long for some couples to wait and some relationships can break down by the sheer waiting.

    In some cases, where for example the woman is in her mid/late forties and the couple wish to have a family together, waiting for two years or longer for an annulment is not an option.

    Some couples are either forced to move away from our Church to another denomination, or ignore the Church advice altogether. After all, who is to know whether a couple have slept together or not, pending an annulment!

    Some individuals do indeed obey our Church to the letter and wait for their annulment to come through - no matter how long it takes, or even if it does not come at all. Such people are in my view saints; and their Faith and obedience are to be admired. Yet, for many, such an option is just not feasible.

    Our Church would not treat a murderer this way. After Confession and absolution a murderer or thief can take Communion. I've not heard of a murderer/thief being excommunicated for killing someone.

    Yet, our Church treats someone whose marriage has broken down more harshly if they fall in love again and wish to marry before an annulment ... which may never come. Like the lady in your example; and the couple in my story.

    How is our Church portraying Christ's compassion and mercy in such circumstances? Why does it take so long for an annulment to come through? What really is there to investigate? A marriage has broken down, and whatever the reasons, if the individual truly repents, surely it should not take a long time to give them absolution.

    Is absolution ever held back for up to two years for any other sin in our Church?

    God bless you Mary for contributing to this debate. And for praying for the many people caught up in this situation.

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  14. Hello Victor, This certainly is a can of worms..
    I go to God's Word...It and only it, has the final word. If this were not so then Jesus would have died for nothing!!!
    Yes He brought a new way, and He said, "I am the WAY the truth and the light, NO ONE comes to the Father but by me." The first Christian Religeon of the Apostles were "The Sect of the Nazarene."
    Jesus did not say..."No one comes to the Father accept by a certain religeon, He said, "But By ME!" Himeslf!!!
    The priest who excummunicated that couple was acting in place of God. How Dare He!!!!
    Romans 8:1 Tells us, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus....
    And what that priest did was condemn that couple. Oh how terribly sad.
    This couple were in love. They proved their love by remaining together for 40yrs..how wonderful. So even though they had no piece of paper, they did make and keep, a covenant with God. He will bless them for that.
    The new will of God through Christ Jesus is the New Testiment.. We are given 2 reasons in the N.T. that a person may divorce.
    1. Adultery
    2. Desertion.
    And this was two thousand years ago. I feel violent physical abuse would be another to add today. As cutures and times change.
    The woman at the well. What was wonderful about this story was 2 facts.
    1. She was a woman (Note the feeding of the 5 thousand and the 4 thousand..we are told they were men.
    2. She was a Samaritan, a despised race.
    She had many husbands but Jesus counted her as special... He proved his Diety be telling her she had more than one husband. Yet, we are not told who those husbands were? In the culture of the day, if a man died his wife was given to the man's brother, so, she may have been handed down a few brothers?? who are we to say?
    Finally, I was a Catholic! I was a Catechist for many years. I still love much about the Catholic Church. I was never excommunicated. However, I chose to follow Jesus Christ First.
    When we stand before God on that final day, we will be accountable for ourselves. There is no excuse. We have His word to read for ourselves.
    God Bless you all.

    Now the woman at the well...

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  15. Oh I may add.
    Jesus put to death the Law of Moses (e.g. enmity) by the cross. Ephesians 2:16. Jesus “nailed” the Law of Moses “to the cross”. Colossians 2:14 ...
    We are under the cross of a risen Christ.
    Not under any church.
    This is, when we call ourselves Christians, (Christ followers).

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  16. Thank you Crystal Mary for your caring and compassion.

    Yes, that couple I speak of were excommunicated many years ago. I do hope things have changed now.

    I really don't know when/how people get an annulment from the Church these days; but I know it can take a long time. And in some cases, like the one in Mary's first comment above, some people don't get an annulment at all.

    I really don't understand this. Effectively, the Church in these cases is saying that although a marriage has broken down and the couple have divorced, in the Church's view the marriage is still valid and the divorce does not count. This then denies the divorced people, whether guilty or not, of any chance of finding happiness again with a new partner. Where is forgiveness and absolution in this stand by the Church? Does the Church seriously expect that in the cases where annulment is not granted the couple remain single, and do not have intimate relationships, for the rest of their lives?

    God bless you Crystal Mary.

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  17. The church loves God...it does want the best for Him and His people. HOWEVER, it cannot choose to take away from the Bible which is God's Word. Like I wrote before, there are provided 2 reasons for divorce.Annulment is ony when a marriage has not been consummated.

    Revelation 22:18-19 (The Bible)
    For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
    And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

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  18. Victor
    You have a special gift of getting people talking about our Lord ... and that is a wonderful thing.
    God Bless you

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  19. Victor, Michael is right, you do have a special gift!

    Thank you!

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  20. Greetings Crystal Mary, Michael and Daily Grace,

    Thank you for taking the time to visit me; and for writing and talking about our Lord. You and other readers please the Lord when we all talk about Him and Praise Him.

    Let us also pray for all those people like the ones mentioned in this post and in the comments who are "trapped" in an un-happy situation not of their making, where they are just innocent victims.

    God bless.

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  21. A great story and just what a good priest should do. I don't think Father Ignatius needs to worry about what St. Peter would say to him!

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  22. Hi Barb,

    Thanx for visiting.

    You know ... I wish there were more real priests like the fictitious Father Ignatius.

    God bless you and yours.

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  23. Excellent post Victor, glad my post backed it up!

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  24. Thanx Richard for your visit and comment. Best wishes.

    God bless.

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God bless you.

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