I did have a lot of unexpected surprises while in the hospital. The free wi-fi. Bacon and eggs for breakfast followed by fried chicken with gravy for lunch followed by a cholesterol test. (Really?) But the biggest surprise was one I should’ve seen coming. I was visited by a local priest. He was doing his rounds and seeking patients to comfort. I grew up a Catholic and should’ve remembered this, but it’s been so long I forgot about it.
It’s also interesting to see a priest younger than me. Instantly my mind raced back to the scene in Grand Torino where Clint Eastwood’s character is talking to the new priest of his church. I was much friendlier and more polite than Eastwood was and let the man talk.
He started up with the usual roster of questions:
Was I Catholic?
Why did I leave?
Did I know I could come back?
It was interesting to watch him as he asked these questions. He was genuinely concerned with my answers and wanted to reach out to a “lost spirit”. He never called me that. It was subconscious to him. It showed in his manners. He truly wanted to evangelize me back into the faith. This wasn’t out of pride or power either. It was concern for my soul. It bothered him to see me not in the church.
I didn’t tell him that my relationship with the church was always tenuous at best. I had been an altar boy and was friends with the Priests and Deacons. In fact, one of my best friends is the son of the Deacon and we still talk every week.
The problem for me has always been the rules and regulations. The idea that thinking of committing the sin is the same as actually committing the actual sin physically. That women are not as equal as men in the eyes of the church and can’t become priests. That priests can’t get married.
These have always been my personal questions and doubts about the whole concept. Throw in a little experiment with the liberal Lutheran church. (No pictures or statues?) Keeping up with the politics of the Roman Catholic Church, and it’s just not going to happen for me.
But here’s this man that truly believes. He honestly and completely thinks this is good for everyone. That inner peace, comfort, and wellbeing can be found through the church. He wants people to see how good the church can be and how, though it, he can be as a representative of the faith.
It seemed to me the man needed a little comforting of his own. To be recognized for the work he was doing and that it wasn’t all in vain.
So we prayed. While he prayed for my peace and comfort during my illness; (He never did ask what I was in there for.) I prayed for his comfort and peace of mind in his search for enlightenment.
Faith is a unique thing. Sometimes you can find it in others. Sometimes you can find it in yourself.