Sunday, 15 February 2015
One day he entered the church from the Sacristy and saw an elderly lady kneeling in the middle aisle right at the back of the church. He said nothing and proceeded to the Altar where he took away the candlesticks back to the Sacristy for Mrs Davenport to clean.
A few moments later he re-entered the church to find the same old lady still on her knees but a few paces further forward towards the Altar. He approached her gently. He hadn’t seen her before in church.
“Welcome to our church” he said in his soothing kind voice, “you’re new here … I haven’t seen you visiting us before …”
“I can’t get up Father …” she said looking up at him from her kneeling position.
“Are you in pain?” he asked, “Do you wish me to help you up?
“Oh no Father … I’m able to get up … but I can’t … I don’t want to upset God.”
“I’m sure God will not be upset if you have a rest for a while …” said Father Ignatius comforting her, “here … sit down for a while … and tell me all about it.”
He held out his hand and the elderly lady got up with some difficulty and sat down on the nearest pew. He sat down beside her and asked, “Why did you think God would be upset?”
“Well Father …” she hesitated, “my son is fifty years old, and he’s just lost his job … he has a wife and three children to look after … he won’t find another job at his age … not in the current situation. So I said to God that I’d pray the whole Rosary on my knees … walking one step at a time … from the back of the church to His altar. Then I’d do the Stations of the Cross on my knees … so that He would help my son get a job.”
Father Ignatius was touched by the love of this elderly mother for her son. He smiled gently and said “It’s good of you to pray for your son … it shows how much you love him and his family …
“But God does not want you to walk all around the church on your knees.”
“I’d do anything Father …” she said, “tell me what to do … and I’ll do it no matter how much it hurts me …”
“God does not want you to be hurt …” replied the priest gently, “God loves us and He listens to our prayers as long as they’re honest and come from the heart …
“He does not want us to beg like dogs … He does not want to humiliate us and make us lose our dignity …"
He stopped for a while and then continued.
“Humiliation and loss of dignity is the work of humans. See how we humiliated Jesus when we stripped Him of His clothes, we spat on Him, beat Him and mocked Him; and eventually killed Him most cruelly by nailing Him to the Cross.
“The Stations of the Cross are a reminder of how we humiliated Him and took His dignity away. And we still do so today when we hurt and hate one another instead of loving each other as He commanded.
“God does not want you to walk around in pain on your knees … He listens to your prayers no matter how or where they are said. Even sitting at home just say to Him in your own words how you care for your son and his family … ask God to help them. I’m sure He’ll listen and … in His own way and time … He will respond.”
“But I promised to do the Stations of the Cross on my knees …” she protested.
“Hey … trust me …I’m a priest …” Father Ignatius said with a smile, “I’ll pray to God for you and your family … Believe me, you don’t need to go down walking on your knees. Just sit here for a while and say a little prayer.”
“I’ll do that Father …” she said as the priest got up to go back to the Sacristy, “although I might stay on my knees for fifteen minutes to show God I’m willing …”