A week or so ago I found myself sort of….well discouraged with my journey. I felt like I was in no-man’s land. I asked St. Therese to pray for me and if possible to send me a sign.
On Sunday we went to St. Therese church, as has been our habit. And the kisses from Jesus started coming. First we sat behind a whole row of Missionaries of Charity in the blue and white saris. They were so joyful and lovely I wanted to exchange a sign of peace with all of them. And resisted the urge to invite myself over after church. They were radiant. (They are like the rock stars of religious life for me.)
The homily was powerful, powerful, powerful and left me in tears.
When time came to receive communion we went forward for a blessing, crossing our hands across our chests and not receiving. Father Philip blessed us with the sign of the cross. I felt like falling on my knees and weeping, but I did not. The only thing that saves me from a puddle of mess in Mass is this: I am not worthy that You come under my roof. Only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
After church we greeted Father Philip and he introduced himself. “I don’t think I know your family.” he said. He asked each of the children’s names. Then he said, so respectfully, “I hope it’s OK that I ask, but I noticed that none of you received today?”
“No, we didn’t” I replied. “We are, I am…..on a slow journey to the Catholic church. We have been Protestants.” (I have such a hard time saying “I am Protestant” because I don’t feel Protestant and dislike the moniker and wish I could straight out say I was Catholic and have it be soundly true.)
“Oh,” he said, “I see. What has brought you to our parish?”
“Well, we love it here.” I said. “We come to Mass often and you have the Adoration chapel, so we come to Adoration as often as we can.”
“That’s wonderful!” he said. “Will you be here next week when we dedicate our new chapel?” He then asked if we would like to see it. He left the crowd of people waiting around after church to talk to him and walked us back to the new chapel for a private tour.
He described each feature to all of us, connecting each thing to Jewish tradition, Scripture, Sacred Church tradition. It was amazing. I felt like all these things were kisses from Jesus Himself!
“Most Catholics, don’t even get to see this,” he said, “Do you know why the altar is marble?” He explained the connection to the tomb as he lifted a secret compartment. “In here, we will place two relics and some incense.” He connected that for the children to the Book of Revelation and how the martyrs offer incense under the altar. He then talked about how the altar will be consecrated with the same anointing oil the priests get on the ordination.
He also explained how when a priest is ordained his hands are slathered in the anointing and then placed together. Then bound around with a special cloth, binding him to Jesus and the Church. That cloth is then given to his mother. (!!!!!) And when she dies, her hands are also bound with the same cloth and she is buried with it. “If there is a priest among all your sons, you’ll get to be buried with their cloth as well. Hey, you may even get two!” He said this with such joy, as if being a priest were the greatest privilege and honor he could receive. My heart melted.
He showed us the garden and reading room that connect with the new Adoration chapel. He then said, “Let me see if I get this right….” and he said all the children’s names right. (What?! He was really listening! He really cared!)
Then he asked if we had the book he had quoted from in his homily. I said no and he took me to the foyer and gave me two copies. One he said was for my husband and he would be praying for our journey. **kisses from Jesus** He asked if I had a Catechism. I said no. He gave me a copy of that, too. **more kisses!** I was walking out of church with all sorts of gifts and didn’t pay for any of them!
He said how much he loved having large families in his church and how we were always welcomed. He made a joke about my feisty little one and didn’t seem to even flinch that the little one kept trying to play with his vestments. And called him the Hulk, because it was green.
In a moment he offered himself to us as a pastor and we aren’t even members or even “officially” Catholic. There was no judgment, no awkwardness, nothing but welcome and love.
Thank you Jesus for the showers of love and encouragement that you are with us on this journey. Thank you Therese for interceding for us.
Pray for us, St. Therese.