Sunday January 29, 2017
I was in Toronto this weekend to visit friends and family. Last night when I got in from dinner, I prepared myself for bed. I had a bit of wine before dinner but hadn’t drank with dinner. Everyone was asleep when I got home after midnight. Oddly, as soon as I stepped into the washroom to get ready for bed, the toilet tank began draining a bit of water into the toilet, as though someone were partially flushing it. Then it stopped. I got ready for bed without giving it too much thought, and I fell asleep for the night.
I arrived at Holy Name parish for 10:00AM mass this morning.
When I arrived, I learned that mass time had been changed to 11:00AM because the bishop was to celebrate mass in honour of the completion of the renovations of the Church.
So I poked around the Church, and I found a clunky wooden door off the indoor stairwell. I opened it and found a tiny chapel inside. When I entered the chapel I noticed a small metal holy water font that was suspended to the wall at about waist height inside the chapel near the door. I looked inside it intending to put my fingers in to draw water from it and bless myself, but I noticed it was bone dry and I could see dry grains of sand or tiny rocks at the bottom. I figured this little chapel’s holy water font had been neglected for a long time and needed to be refilled.
I entered the chapel and was all alone. There were two doors to the place. The one I had entered, and another that led directly to the church’s alter. I closed both doors completely, recalling Jesus’ teaching that when we pray, we should close and lock the door.
In the chapel there was statue of the Virgin Mary and it moved me. I knelt down before her to pray. Then I looked up to her merciful eyes and my gaze was directed involuntarily further to the right and up a little. My eyes were directed to a statue of Christ hanging from the cross, just five feet away from me. I thought lovingly “yes Mary, you always guide us towards your son, Jesus Christ”. Then my eyes were involuntarily led away again, this time further to the right, but a little downward. I was just “in the moment”. My gaze stopped upon the tap of a sink in the corner of the room, about ten feet away from me. I gazed at it for less than three seconds. I thought, “hmm, what could the meaning of a tap be?” No sooner had I had that thought than a single drop of water escaped the tap and fell into the sink. To this I thought, “yes Jesus, you wash all things with the water that gushed forth from your side with your precious blood when you hung from the cross.” I stood up, walked over to the sink, and touched my index to the tap to take a bit of the water, and blessed myself with the sign of the cross.
Then I walked to the back, and noticed a statue of St. Francis, and near it suspended on the wall, his prayer. I read it in full:
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”
Now I recently finished a book on Catholicism which inspired me to read more about the saints. And since finishing that book, my wife took out a biography of Saint Francis of Assisi from a box of books on the floor, a book that I didn’t know we had, and she placed it on the floor as a door stop to our home office. When I found it last week, I picked it up and have been reading it since. St. Francis has for a long time been my favourite saint, and my wife and I gave our first-born the name Francis as a middle name.
St. Francis once prayed in a dilapidated San Damiano chapel beneath a life-sized crucifix of Jesus, when he heard Christ telling him “as you can see, my Church needs fixing. Please rebuild my Church”. And so he did. It’s interesting because today, the mass was a special celebration with the bishop to celebrate the recently completed renovations of the church.
After blessing myself with water from the tap, I knelt on a small prie-Dieu that was in the chapel. It stood beneath a small painting of the life-sized crucifix under which Francis prayed that one time. I recognized it as the San Damiano cross. I realized this chapel may be dedicated to Saint Francis. As I knelt on the prie-Dieu and prayed, my forehead rested on a small tabernacle that stood on a small tablette in front of me, which contains the Holy Host, or the transubstantiated body of Christ. My thoughts of faith felt as clear as they have ever been, and my faith felt purer and crisper and cleaner than ever before. It was not littered with any nagging or straggling thoughts of doubt here or there. My prayer was perfectly uninterrupted and I felt at peace, perfectly at one with Jesus.
As I left the chapel, feeling refreshed, I went through the same door through which I had entered. Upon leaving I looked down to the same holy water font. As God is my witness, now it was filled with water. Still alone in the chapel, I blessed myself with it.
I know what I saw, and the font was bone dry. But even if I grant that there was water in the font when I got in but that I couldn’t see it, despite having taken a good hard look at it, I conclude that my sight of the water had been removed, and on account of the Holy Spirit, so that, when again I looked, I would see the water, and its significance would jump out at me. And what was the significance of the water to me at that moment in time given all else that is going on in my life? I have been called to spread the Gospel message of Jesus Christ our Lord and have been doing so carefully, respectfully, kindly, tactfully to people whose trust I earn and who are unfamiliar with it, including through this blog. And holy water baptises, sanctifies, through Jesus Christ’s eternal message of salvation through repentance, turning towards God, away from the way of the flesh, and in favour of the spirit.
If you desire the healing grace of Jesus, pray this simple prayer to him: Sacred Heart of Jesus, I welcome you into my life. Heal me with your love and grace. Show me the way to peace and fulfilment in you.