On the day before I completed this column, I visited our local ‘care’ center - a place for mostly elders recovering from operations, falls and illnesses. But it’s also home for a lot of alzheimer and dementia patients. Each Thursday morning, I bring Communion to the Catholics - and I bring prayer and conversation to others.
Yesterday, as I entered the facility, Carol at the front desk gave me two names -- people they wanted the Catholic chaplain to visit. One of the names was a man, Francis who I had stopped to talk with in earlier visits. I knew a bit about him, and I wondered what was going on or why they wanted me to visit Francis.
Sometime later, I went to his room -- and the curtains were mostly drawn and there were a few nurses inside. I backed away and went about my other visits. I went back to Francis’ room - again it was somewhat darkened and the curtain blocked a good view into his room. An aide saw me and she said, ‘Come in ... come in.” I went inside and there were three staff women with this man - one was listening to his heart -- and she looked up at me and she said, “He’s about ready to die... his heart has been stopping...” They made room for me and I got down on my knee - took hold of one hand... put another hand on his head and I started saying the Chaplet of divine mercy -- quietly.
Some of the staff left -- and I continued to pray during Francis’ last efforts to breathe. It was a very holy and intimate and profound moment. Francis passed.
Later in the day, I came home and put words about this experience on the computer -- on Twitter. In a Tweet, I told about praying for this man as he was dying... and I said that all of our lives is preparation for that moment when we cross over. All of our lives ought to be preparation for that time when our soul separates from the body and goes to face judgment and eternity.
And so someone may wonder why I’m sharing a rather somber reflection like this? Let me start this way. I struggle - I am struggling with sin in my life. And I saw the words from Scripture “Let us be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed.” And then, it was Mark’s Gospel I believe where it is written that Jesus cured the paralytic that was lowered from the roof by four people of faith. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to him (the paralytic), “Child, your sins are forgiven.” The faith of those seeking to help brought forgiveness to someone paralyzed, as I am sometimes paralyzed by my sin.
This give me comfort because if I have faith and if I put it into real action - I can have great hope and belief in the Divine Mercy awaiting my moment when I pass over.
In this month of January, one way I can put belief into action is by my defense of life -- being pro-active and being pro-life. Listen to this, if you will: Just days before the 40th anniversary of the passage of Roe v. Wade... the legal decision which approved abortion in America -- who was the leader that has said words to dramatically inspire pro-life marchers around the United States? Not who you might think. Here’s what the leader said: “Can we honestly say we are doing enough to keep our children.... all of them safe from harm? If we’re honest with ourselves - the answer is no. if there is one step we can take to protect the life of one child, then surely we have an obligation to try it.”
Those words didn’t come from Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. Those words didn’t come from one of our bishops. Those words came from the President of the United States -- and they are igniting many of us who are pro-life. We want to demonstrate what it means to support all of life - especially the most vulnerable of life -- pre-born children in the womb. And to protect the aged and give them life till they are called to cross over.
Next week, God willing, I will go to the downtown Phoenix Rally For Life -- held at the US District Court Building. I hope and believe that many pro-life people from across Arizona will come to this rally. And of course there will be the big demonstrations in Washington, D. C. and San Francisco. Our Tucson Diocese will be having one in this timeframe as well. I hope you will put faith into action concerning pro-life matters. It may be - just may be the help you need when you, like Francis are taking your final breaths.
And it might be - just might be that 55,000,000 souls will join in interceding for you. They are all mature souls now and that’s a powerful intercessory prayer team to have on your side.
Are you struggling with some deep-rooted sins? The army of previously pre-born children, and perhaps Francis will all be interceding for us.
I like the odds.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “your sins are forgiven.”
About the Author
Deacon Tom Fox and his wife Dee are co-hosts of the CATHOLIC VITAMINS Podcast for over 6 1/2 years. Tom has also been a member of the Catholic Mom columnists team for eight years, and was a regular contributor to the Catholic Moments Podcast for three years. Most recently, Deacon Tom has been leading a project to bring Catholic radio to the north central Arizona community where he and Dee reside. Blessings!