So, a week ago last Tuesday, my air conditioning was repaired — a little over four days after it went out. I met the repairman that day — he arrived a little earlier than the two to five o’clock time period I was given. Before three o’clock, he was done and advised me it would take a few hours to cool the house back down — it was indeed 96F in the house. I checked my vents and confirmed that cool air was creeping back in — I was still breaking out in a sweat. Too late to return to work and not really wanting to wander around shopping, it occurred to me — the Blessed Sacrament chapel in my parish — that’s a cool place.
I grabbed my Liturgy of the Hours, my rosary, and a couple of books. I made the short 6 mile trip — it was even cooler in my car. Once inside the chapel, I challenged myself to take my own advice. I had shared with a group that, to really listen for God’s voice, try going to adoration without anything in your hand. I decided to sit there quietly. I was reminded of another cool Jesus moment — literally cool. A few years ago, my Secular Franciscan fraternity was asked to assist with the Atlanta Steubenville Youth retreat. It was held at Georgia’s FHA camp and had a beautiful chapel on site. One of our fraternity volunteered to set up the adoration chapel and I volunteered to keep the sign-up sheet for guardians. The wee hours of morning from one-thirty to five were a little sketchy. I was assigned to sleep in a room on the floor with other volunteers. I was glad to have my air mattress — until I realized I’d forgotten the plug that would keep it inflated. I was having a fitful time — too warm and hard floor. I had seen that there were a couple of hours without a guardian. I grabbed up my pillow and sleeping bag and headed to the chapel. It was a blast of cold air like opening the freezer door — it was heaven. I curled up on a pew and tried my best — the idea is to be awake — I was never alone in the chapel. Another friend had joined me and there was usually one or two others. I did doze. Lightning never struck me for dozing but it was blissful and the dreams I had were for me alone.
I am reminded of this time as I sit here in the Blessed Sacrament chapel — waiting for my home to cool down. I sat silently and was spoken too — I did take notes so as not to forget. I joined Evening Prayer and then went home after being gone for three hours. My home was 86F and the humidity was gone. I was many times better than when I left.
All that to be reminded that Jesus is cool.
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.
Fr. Leo Patalinghug and Me
I recently attended the Annual Regional Gathering of my Secular Franciscan region. I shopped in the Franciscan book store and signed up for adoration. We had perpetual adoration throughout the weekend. I bought a book, “Quiet Moments with Padre Pio,” and took it with me to adoration. I took several things with me to the adoration chapel — expecting to read, or, pray the rosary. But, I’d just come from a session that talked about the discipline of listening. Where best to listen than in the adoration chapel. I opened the Padre Pio book to the first page and read:
Don’t Worry About Tomorrow – July 4, 1917 letter to Capuchin seminarians
I recommend to you to have a firm and general proposal to always serve God with all your heart; do not worry about tomorrow. Think about doing good today. And when tomorrow comes, it will be today and then you can think about it. Trust in Providence. It is necessary to make provisions of Manna for only one day and no more. Remember the people of Israel in the desert.
I closed the book and looked at Jesus exposed in the monstrance before me — I thought of the living bread from heaven discourses in our Gospel readings. I began to talk to Jesus in my journal.
What if God has given me more Manna than I need? I desire to share my portion with those I love. But, what if I must hand them chopsticks with which to eat and they do not know how? Do I find the fork and a knife? Do I get a spoon and feed them like my child? How do I share my great portion with those who do not know how to receive it?
I wept bitter tears of sorrow over the things which I have no control.
Today we read John chapter 6 — “Eat my flesh” repeated over and over. “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” So, I recall the days when I tried to see this — to understand this — to realize that I already believed. Today, I realized in a different way what a special grace it is to move from symbols to True Presence. Today, I also learned the answer to my question; I use the spoon.
I guess I am making this a Rich Mullins trilogy. This is another favorite song. Whenever I hear this music, I am taken immediately to adoration of the Eucharist. My mind can travel right to the monstrance, or, I can bring to mind the procession of the monstrance at our Eucharistic Congress. The video below is a live version from a concert. In fact, it follows the other live video that I posted in I Belive What I Believe. This version is a little ‘unplugged’ compared to the CD — begins a little out of sync — comes together and builds. The version I listen to in my car — well — I turn it up loud with slightly more bass. The bass brings out the drums and this is why I also think of the Eucharistic procession.
The lyrics begin by talking about the way God made himself present in the Old Testament — “a cloud by day, and in the night, the glow of a burning flame and everywhere I go, I see you.” Lyrics