On Christmas day, I called a friend of mine from many years ago, whom I have written about here before. She worked in pastoral ministry for decades, with a special focus on the home-bound and those in nursing homes. I’ll call her Mary. Mary is magnanimous — “big souled” — and a brilliant woman who is open to the Spirit in ways I rarely ever see. In particular, when she speaks of her experience of God (which is often mystical) it is actually very difficult to notice she is talking about herself at all, as she sees all the graces she receives as always for and about others. It’s really amazing. I know many people who talk about their personal experiences of God, some mystical; but very few people I know describe the graces they receive in such a naturally selfless, other-focused way. If Christian mysticism can easily devolve into Mist, I and schism, this woman was a genuine Christian mystic, the real-time antidote to pseudo-mysticism.
Reminds me of the way my moral theology professor once explained holiness: “Holiness is the perfection of charity, loving like God. And charity is being all-about the other’s well-being. So when they angels sing before God, ‘Holy, holy, holy’, what they’re really singing is, ‘Other, Other, Other.’ Sounds like a Trinity to me!”
In any event, I wanted to share one insight she gave me in our brief exchange. Mary was in the hospital once for a procedure, and a young lady, who knew Mary had ministered to her father in the nursing home, found out from the parish that she was in the hospital for a procedure. This young lady’s father was dying. Well, Mary immediately got up and went to this man’s room. She said,
He was so agitated, afraid of dying. No one could calm him. When I visit the dying I usually bring a crucifix and tell them of Jesus’ nearness. But I sensed this man was too fragile, too afraid of the cross. So I felt God asked me to bring him Baby Jesus. So I told him, “Blessed Mother wants to give you Baby Jesus to be with you. He is so trusting and loving and gentle. All He wants to do is give you His joy and trust that all will be well in God’s hands and Mary’s arms. Let go.” Then I prayed over him and asked Jesus to reveal to him His childhood. And to St. Therese and asked her to lead him by the hand to the infant Jesus, so he could rest there with Him. And you know what, Tom? He calmed and relaxed and rested and a few hours later died peacefully.
At his funeral I imagined him playing with the child Jesus and laughing. Isn’t God so good, Tom?
Sometimes people who are afraid and are weak and vulnerable need God to come to them in the same way. Meet them where there at. And how good God is to have met us in every place we are in life. Don’t you think?