Thursday, January 22, 2015

a touching moment

It was the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. I was doing a 'pulpit exchange' in one of the local Catholic churches. I began by talking about how much better relations were between the churches and went on to suggest that part of unity was showing solidarity with our persecuted brethren in other countries. The Mass continued. I sat quietly in the sanctuary during the consecration and administration of the Sacrament. As the Mass was nearing its close, the elderly priest who was my host stood behind the altar for the blessing. He paused.

'The Reverend Patrick spoke about how much progress has been made. And he's right. But more needs to be done. I just want to say how much real pain it causes me that he could not receive the Body and Blood of our Lord with me here at the altar today; and that when I go to visit his church to preach later this week, I also will not be able to partake. And I'm sure it causes him pain also; as it does all here and all in our two communities.' 

He continued with the blessing. When he had finished, he paused again. 

'I should have asked the Reverend Patrick to join me.' He gestured me forward. 'We'll do it again.' I rose and stood with him behind the altar. 'I'm sorry about that,' he whispered. I shook my head and placed my hand on his shoulder. He put his arm around me and we embraced. We then pronounced the blessing. The congregation applauded.

It was all very natural and spontaneous. And what both priests said is true. As I said, much progress has been made. And as he said, we have so much farther to go.

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