Thursday, 30 July 2015


It was a glorious day that promised to be completely satisfying and gratifying! I was in Paradise – the kind of place people choose for their vacations - Grenada, a small island in the southern Caribbean; Grenada – the place where I, an English priest, was happily exercising my priesthood.

The sun was shining as I set out to take Holy Communion to the sick and the aged in their homes. I planned to round off the morning with a visit to the General Hospital where I would administer the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick to several patients.

This ministry means a lot to me. I see myself sharing in the healing ministry of Jesus. Through my administering this Sacrament Jesus extends His merciful, caring love.

Many are the times I have witnessed the consolation this Sacrament brings. I am moved and inspired by the vivid faith of those who have been anointed, as well as the faith of friends and family at the bedside.

Several times I myself have been seriously ill. I’ve been so greatly comforted when a priest has brought to me Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and when he has seen fit to anoint me.

When possible I try not to make very many calls on one outing. I want the leisure to involve members of the family and friends in this most intimate, sacred, event in the life of a Catholic family. Over and over again they have told me how much they have been comforted by receiving these over-flowing graces of the sacrament.

I can identify with Mary who carried Jesus in her womb when she visited the home of her cousin Elizabeth. I am carrying Jesus in the Eucharist whenever I visit the sick at home or in hospitals. As with Mary so with me the Visitor Supreme is Jesus Himself.

A family really displays the strength of its Catholic Faith when it attaches importance to the spiritual needs of its ailing members. In the Gospels we find people imploring Jesus to come to their homes because someone is sick. In our time we should call for the priest to bring the healing of Jesus to their homes through the Sacraments of the Church.

My priesthood has been one of surprises and unsuspected challenges…not necessarily heroic ones but sometimes ones that were painful nuisances!

There I was of a ‘sunny disposition’ leaving the last house of my rounds. I’d experienced so much grace, so much peace touching so many lives. I was pleased with life; I was pleased with myself.

My serenity was shattered when a vicious little dog rushed out from beneath the house. Without any provocation from me it snapped at my leg.

In my dreams I’m a talented footballer. I took a goal-scoring kick at my assailant - but missed it. My startled, angry yell sent my tormentor scurrying away at lightning speed.

Look at my trouble! Where was God in this! What was He saying to me? How did He expect me to reach Him in these circumstances? Did I now have to factor dog bites into my pastoral curriculum?

No way can I subscribe to the popular piety that a dog is man's best friend -certainly not mine! Not this particular dog, anyway!

The aftermath was the tedium of countless visits to the nearby Medical Station to have my wound dressed, and then the sense of frustration of having all my plans put on hold while I had to spend a few days in hospital to have the wound thoroughly cleaned.

The tables had been turned on me. I who had been the healthy, energetic, spiritual, priestly caregiver had become one with suffering humanity needing to be cared for. God had made me travel a journey of self-discovery.

Do I set out to pat the head of this dog that started it all. I think not?
Next time it might bite off my hand!!!!!!!!!!

Peter Clarke, O.P.

No comments:

Post a Comment