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.