I'm quite sure my readers are sick of hearing me complain that I can no longer get to early-morning Mass before work, but at least during Lent, I have somewhat of a reprieve. A nearby parish, staffed by some very humble and generous Augustinian priests offers evening Mass during Lent Monday thru Thursday. I break my neck to get home, get dinner for the family, and bolt out the door. Evening prayer precedes and then a simple Mass with brief homily takes place afterward.
Mass takes place in the lower church, which resembles so many "fixed basements" that we so often see in South Philly row-homes. Minimal furnishings but still comfortably and suitably appointed. No frills, to say the least.
Last night, after nearly giving myself a coronary to walk against the howling wind to rush there, I hurried to my usual pew and genuflected without looking up. When I knelt down at my pew, I looked up and realized the Monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament had been placed upon the altar. The priest was starting the Rosary and then the Litany of St Gianna Molla was distributed to be prayed following Mass. Apparently, the parish has a pro-life group that meets one evening a month for Adoration, Rosary and Mass, followed by confessions. Talk about good fortune!
Tonight, after nearly giving myself a double coronary to get there in time, I was again pleasantly surprised, this time to learn that on Thursday evenings, a novena to St Nicholas of Tolentine is prayed immediately following the Mass for the intention of the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
My prayer life has been turned upside down a bit, at least during the week, because the routine that was mine for the past five years or so is no more, at least for now. Rather than continue to beat myself up and complain unceasingly over something beyond my control, I've simply decided to make the most of everything I can do, which quite frankly, should have already been my approach. This means taking on menial tasks at work that are not my responsibility but provide an opportunity to practice humility and some measure of mortification. I try to regard the snoring that takes place next to me every night as music from Heaven. I must confess to having failed miserably thus far but there is ample time to keep trying. I try to exert great effort to demonstrate patience with people at work who, through no fault of theirs, possess habits that drive a curmudgeon like me to distraction.
Earlier this week, I received a call, quite out of the blue, that I have been identified as a potential match as a bone marrow donor for a young man who is battling leukemia and is about the same age as my oldest daughter. I nearly forgot that about 20 years ago, I took part in a drive to try to find a match for a young woman in my neighborhood who was deathly ill and needed a transplant. Sadly, she died before a match was found. I got a letter once, about 10 years ago, telling me I might be a potential match for someone else but then a closer match was found and I was off the hook. This time, it seems like more of a possibility I could be the one who is the closest match. I've already submitted to a lengthy interview and other paperwork and have consented to further testing. My concern is that if this comes to fruition, it might happen around the time of my daughter's wedding. I did ask that if this works out, we could do everything possible to avoid having this coincide with the wedding.
There are two methods for donation. One takes place under anesthesia and the other doesn't and involves daily injections for four days that have some unpleasant side effects, followed by a 4-6 hour process called plasma phoresis. Part of me is hoping that if donation does happen, it happens during Lent. I know it's selfish on my part, but how many opportunities do any of us get to do something to directly give life to someone else who is not part of our family? What joy to be able to offer a little bit of suffering to give someone a new lease on life!
Of course, after all of this, I might not be a match at all. As God wills.
Can I ask that in your charity, we pray for this young man, whoever and wherever he is, that God may see fit to provide the cure he needs? If you're part of our on-line Rosary community, please offer this as one of your intentions.