Another Atlanta Eucharistic Congress has come to a close. I’m always a little sad when it is over — a little glad we’ve been given next year’s theme — the promise of another congress next year. My experience every year is different. This year I was focused on not missing any of Fr. Leo Patalinghug’s presentations — he gave three different talks at three tracks — Young Adults — Teens — Adults. He was the keynote speaker of the Friday night Young Adult Revive track. I had a dilemma. Also at the same, Fr. Jack Durkin, Pastor of St. Monica’s in Duluth, was leading the Healing service. I’ve been following Fr. Leo for about two years. I was introduced to his Grace Before Meals mission at the first Catholic New Media Celebration in June of 2008. He was the keynote speaker. Fr. Leo has recently gained more recognition since beating Iron Chef Bobby Flay in a fajita throw down last Fall. I’ve known of Fr. Jack since the time I was newly Catholic and attending Catholic apologetics series at our Cathedral. He is a gifted speaker — a gifted homilist. I subscribe to his homilies and download them via iTunes. I was looking forward to hearing him at the Healing service — but, Fr. Leo is speaking at the same time. After the opening Mass, I decided to run down to the Young Adult track to hear Fr. Leo. As soon as Fr. Leo was stepping off the stage, I was off and running again — hoping there was still some Healing service to attend. I was not disappointed.
As I returned to the main hall, I saw people gathered up front as Fr. Jack was walking back and forth, holding a monstrance that must have equaled him in weight. He had invited those for healing to come forward and touch the humeral veil. He spoke of the woman with the issue of blood who had faith that, if she could just touch the hem of His garment, she would be healed. As the crowd pressed around Jesus — the woman reached out and did touch His hem. He felt the power go out of Him and he asked “Who touched me?” We were invited to be that woman and touch the humeral veil in the same manner. This is my most favorite miracle and I instantly choked back emotions that came to me. Jesus heals. I think this is the most astounding statement regarding His divinity — Jesus did not make eye contact with this woman. No prior knowledge of her illness is given. Jesus did not choose to heal her. He even asked, “Who touched me?, I felt the power go out of me.” By the mere virtue of His divinity, He does heal. The great I Am is the great Healer. And so, the ushers made a path for Fr. Jack to come down the middle row. With many of us lined up on either side, like Jesus, he made his way down through an ever pressing crowd — wielding the heavy monstrance — bearing a very large consecrated Sacred Host — the face of Jesus made His way down aisle. The monstrance was heavy and Fr. Jack seemed nearly to fall over with the people pressing close — he didn’t fall. On my knees, I prayed and thought of the woman — how her story has touched me for so many years — I reached out and gently fingered the hem of the humeral veil as Fr. Jack passed by with Jesus. This was such a precious gift to me. And so, Fr. Jack processed throughout the hall for quite some time.
I laugh to think my biggest Friday night decision is making up my mind on which priest to listen to. I think even if George Clooney had walked through the door as I was running down the hall — I would’ve kept going. My celebrities — my stars — are those that bring me bread from heaven — a Eucharistic meal.