Sherry Antonetti discusses our call to be Simon for others, helping them carry their crosses.
When we face a cross, and we know it is our cross, the only thing that makes it lighter in the moment is grace.
Yesterday, after I finished my first treatment of radiation, I drove to my daughter's school. Normally I go to Adoration or sleep in my car before pickup. Today, I felt distracted and spent some time checking my emails, reading on my phone, not praying, not sleeping, just for some reason, awake. Recognizing the squandered time I could spend with God on my phone, I dutifully got out of the car. It would be thirty minutes, but something. As I punched in the door code for the chapel, I heard a cry, "Miss?" "Miss?" I have not been mistaken for a Miss for some time, so I didn't think it me, but looked anyway as the cry "Miss," came closer.
There stood a woman, about the age of my mom, holding a teal paper bag with masks, alone in the parking lot. "Do you know where the priest's office is?" I nodded, and recognizing the explanation would take longer than taking her, volunteered to lead her there. She took my arm. I looked at her, and something in her face told me, "Frail."
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"No." she said. In that no, there came a shaky ocean of feeling, a grief that suddenly exploded out. "My daughter is dead. She was a good girl. She was such a good girl." And she wept. We stopped walking, and I held her as she grieved.
"What was her name?" I asked. She told me. "How old was she?" she told me. "Her birthday?" she told me. I told her I would pray for her and her daughter as we walked. My brain thought, "Where are the others?" She should have others driving for her. Others walking with her, holding her as she makes these arrangements. I knocked on the office door.
The church secretary asked if she'd phoned ahead for an appointment and why she was here. She shook her head but explained, "This is my church."
I spoke as she sat and shook from the reality of it. We were her church right now, as ineffective as it felt. "I'll get her some water. I'll phone the priests. I'll look after you." the secretary said. I gave her a few pats and promised to pray for her and her family.
After Adoration, only fifteen minutes now, I tried to google her daughter from all the information I'd gleaned in our conversation. I couldn't. I would have to watch the notices in the bulletin to see who it was, and to try and come to the funeral Mass, because we are her church.
We are called in Lent and in all times, to harvest the fruit of love by our stewardship of others. I knew from my own experience of my father's death, from every death I've ever faced, that every soul present made it more bearable. This was also true about facing cancer, a son needing heart surgery as an infant, and revealed in the Stations of the Cross.
Embracing the Cross is the mission of every soul. Helping others carry their crosses is the proof of our love and the means by which we participate in the work of our salvation. So today, go and do what you do in an ordinary day, but ask God to show you where you can be a Simon for others. After all, we are His Church.
Copyright 2022 Sherry Antonetti
Image: Albin and Paul Windhausen, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
About the Author
Sherry Antonetti is a Catholic published author, freelance writer and part-time teacher. She lives with her husband and 10 children just outside of Washington, DC, where she's busy editing her upcoming book, A Doctor a Day, to be published by Sophia Institute Press. You can find her other writings linked up at her blog, Chocolate For Your Brain! or on Amazon.