“The ‘uniform’ clued her in to what was happening.”

From a reader:

I wanted to let you know of something beautiful that happened just before my mother Alice passed away three weeks ago.  [Let us all pray for Alice and her family.  “Eternal rest grant…”]

Suffice it to say that she had been sick a long time, with dementia, heart problems, and kidney failure, the latter of which was the proximate cause of her death.

While in the hospital the week of October 8th, I decided to have her anointed. The priest who came did not know of her dementia, or of her severe hearing problem. Additionally, she had not called me her son in several months, referring to me as her brother.

Upon seeing the priest enter the room, she smiled. Not knowing of her hearing problems, he asked if she wanted him to hear her confession. She said yes! I left and returned later afterward. She then followed along through the rest of the anointing, and received communion, all while apparently understanding what was happening. After the priest left, she called me her son, and told me that she wished it was over. I had just a few minutes with her before she re-entered the fog of her dementia.

She passed peacefully on November 4th at the age of 88.

I tell you this because I believe it was the ‘uniform’ that clued her in to what was happening. Please make it a point to remind priests and seminarians to wear their collar and ‘uniform’ whenever possible. You never know when you, as a priest, may be the occasion of grace for someone because the person recognized you because of the ‘uniform’.

Yes, Fathers, clothing makes a difference.

This reminded me of an encounter in a hospital with a Hungarian man who was in extremis.  When he saw me come in, he became very agitated, because he knew why I was there.  He had slipped away from any use of English, and Hungarian is not one of my strong languages.  When I began prayers in Latin, he immediately calmed down, joined in with Aves and Pater Noster and made some responses.

This also ties into to the need to teach children prayer by heart, memory, by rote.   Once they are in there, they are theirs.


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  1. FrAnt says:

    On 15 November my parish hosted the United States Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima. She visited for 6 hours. On each hour we said the Rosary followed by a short talk about the apparitions and message of our Lady to the shepherd children. I thought this was a perfect occasion to wear my cassock. I cannot tell you enough of the glad comments I received from parishioners and visitors. I have plans to wear it more and more, not for the comments about how I look in it, but because the same people said that it made the visit more solemn and prayerful.

  2. youngcatholicgirl says:

    Nothing makes me happier than seeing a priest in cassock. After our diocesan ordinations last June, our bishop came to the reception a cassock, complete with the purple piping and buttons. Beautiful!

  3. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    Here’s another instance of a cassock paying off. Bishop Athanasius Schneider was recently in Buenos Aires. As he waited at the airport departure gate, an elderly gentleman approached and thanked him for dressing as a priest. (When traveling the bishop normally wears a plain cassock.) The man asked, “Where are you from?” “I come from Kazakhstan.” “Kazakhstan! Do you know Bishop Athanasius Schneider?” “I am Bishop Athanasius Schneider.” Then the gate agent said to the old man, “We are ready to board. You can go first. Is this priest with you? He can board now also.”

  4. What a sweet story with a happy ending. Rest In Peace dear Alice, and may the solicitous son and the family be comforted.

  5. iamlucky13 says:

    I wasn’t even thinking of the clerical uniform when reading the account. It sounds potentially like a small miracle – the grace of a few moments of lucidity to help her and her son prepare.

    Rest in peace, and God bless our priests.

  6. Rob83 says:

    Uniform is important. I recently had occasion to request anointing while stricken away from home. The priest who came to provide it was not wearing any visible mark of being a priest and neither did his hospital badge make it obvious. Since I wasn’t from the area, I had nothing else to go by other than that he was carrying oil for the purpose and seemed to know the appropriate ritual formula.

    I’ve already had 2 prior examples of family members in need of priests at the hospital be sent someone other than priests (and at a catholic hospital no less), so the lack of uniform is unsettling, since it is hard to know how hard the hospital staff tries to match patients with ministers from the same faith. Please fathers, even if you don’t wear clerical dress anywhere else outside of Mass, do so at the hospital, the last thing grieving family or dying people need is to worry about whether the clergyman sent is truly a Catholic priest.

  7. Ylonila del Mar says:

    Some weeks ago, I took my retired Jesuit friend to the monthly Missa Cantata at a beautiful Dominican parish. (It was his first Tridentine Mass in decades!) The morning of that day, he called me up to ask: “Would it be all right if I would come in my Jesuit uniform?”
    “Oh you mean in your cassock? Why sure! … That would be grand!” I gleefully said.

    So when I arrived with the taxi at the Jesuit Infirmary where he lives, he was all decked in his white soutane (white cassocks are often used in tropical countries like here). And would you believe that when we had arrived at the church an hour before the Mass, people kept flocking at us to get Father’s blessing. The same thing too after the Mass had ended. Some people specifically asked for Father to pray for certain petitions they had; from seminarians to parents. Some were surprised to find a Jesuit in attendance. The celebrant, a rather young exorcist, thanked him and gave him a blessing in Latin. When we boarded a taxi en route back to the Jesuit Infirmary, he said, “Never have this many people approached me in a single day!” From that point, I realized how clothes could actually make a difference.

  8. Semper Gumby says:

    Great post and comments.

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