Sunday, November 18, 2007


Humility, humility, and ever more humility.

Toward the end of Miracle on 34th Street we see a little girl in the back seat of a car saying about Santa, “I do believe, I do believe, it’s silly, but I do believe*,” and her persistence pays off when Santa makes her wishes come true. That is a bit how I handled prayer for my father.

I’ve shared in past that my father has no time for religion. When I said I wanted to go into the seminary he said that, “Religion is for weak people.” I could count on one hand the number of times he has been in church. If you stuck the word “voluntarily” in that sentence, I would not even need one hand.

I don’t tell you this simply to defame my father but to tell you never to give up on prayer. I prayed for my father daily for years. At one point it became apparent that he had Alzheimer’s and had to go into the nursing home. I asked him occasionally if I could anoint him and he steadfastly refused. I resorted to bribing another priest to try his best at it thinking it might just be me, but no.

I continued to pray for him but as half heartedly as the girl in “Miracle,” “I do believe God can move mountains, I do believe God can move mountains, it’s silly, but do believe God can move mountains.” Once he entered more deeply into Alzheimer’s I figured that it was too late. Before when he was rational there might have been an opportunity but now, even if he did at some enlightened moment decide that he wanted to get to know God a little better, two seconds later he would thoroughly forget the desire and anything about which we had talked. I stated this publicly from the pulpit.

Still people would say that they were praying for him. I would smile and say thank you and figure even it were a waist of time at least people were praying and maybe God could apply it somebody else or something.

It turns out that the one who needed conversion was I. I am the one who needed to be reminded of the power of prayer. My Dad had to go to the hospital for a relatively minor “incident” and my sister and I were sitting with the anxious Alzheimer’s patient in his room. “I could anoint you Dad if you think it might help or make you feel better.” I was waiting for the blow off when he said, “Yeah. Sure!” After my sister and I scooped our jaws up off of the floor we engaged in the sacrament as quickly as possible just in case the moment might pass. But he stuck with us through the whole thing even fumbling through the Our Father with us. Minutes later sitting in the glow of being able to give my Father what I believed was one of the most valuable gifts that I could give him I was in for an even greater shock. After some quiet time had passed he offered a very sincere thank you. A thank you from a man who at times cannot remember that there was a person in a room 10 seconds after they leave.

I do believe in prayer.

Thank you.

*Or it is close to this. I’m sure someone out there knows the exact quote.


Adoro te Devote said...

Wow. Really. Wow.

Hmmm...I got a LOT of prayers to say....

Anonymous said...

YAY!! Oh, how God's every gift blesses two or more! That gift of grace was three-fold, and perhaps today (after your sharing it with us), a hundredfold. Jesus has always wanted to bless your father, and you have always so wanted that blessing for him, you didn't care which priest administered it. You were prepared, however, to surrender him unto the Lord, as is. God said, "I appreciate that trust. Here: may you (all) know how much I love your father."


uncle jim said...

and I am at a loss for words.
ad majorem dei gloriam - amen!

Anonymous said...

Amen to that, too!

Gabor said...

What a wonderful story! Brought tears to my eyes. my mom recently passed away and although not being a priest it was gut wrenching to say good bye to her.
I guess the lord does work in mysterious ways and eventually does answer our prayers.
Thanks for sharing!

Adrienne said...

I know you are young, Father, and in time you will come to believe without having to see. Your father was always in God's hands.

What happened with your father was just as much for your benefit as for his.

Melody said...

What a beautiful story; sometimes miracles happen! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the beautiful testimony, Father. You are a holy and humble priest and a great blessing to us personally and to the Church.
Your sharing was an encouragement to all of us to persevere in prayer and not to give up on anyone. God is good and makes all things beautiful in His time. Be assured of our continued prayers for you and your father.

God love you and bless you.

Anonymous said...

*happy tears*