30 March 2007

St. Anthony of Padua Retirement Monastery

Yesterday afternoon I had the great pleasure of visiting a group of retired parishioners who live in one of those "retirement villages." You know, a dormitory for retired people. My grandmother lives in one and she absolutely loves it. They are great ideas, really.

I visited them to hear their confessions and to administer the Anointing of the Sick, my favorite sacrament, if I can choose one over the others. I go to these parishioners on my first Friday calls and once a month for Mass, as well.

One of them told me yesterday that they refer to me as their "child." I am, to be sure, young enough to be their grandchild. One of the gentlemen is 90 years old and one of the women celebrated her 67th wedding anniversary earlier in the week (her husband is - unfortunately - in a nursing home and she visits him when she can).

These are some of the most faithful souls one could ever meet. Some months back they gathered together to pray for one of their grandchildren, and then one of the nurses asked them to pray for someone, and their rather impromptu gathering became a beautiful scheduled time of communal prayer.

Every day - with the possible exception of Sunday (I'm not certain) - they gather in one of the common spaces at 10:30 a.m. to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and pray for each other, their families, the parish, priests, and whatever else comes to their minds and hearts.

They first told me about their shared prayer time and I reminded them of how so many of the early monasteries began. A holy man or woman - say, Augustine, for example, gathered people around him and prayed with them. Before long a house of prayer was established and a Rule was written.

One of the women then said to me, "I always wanted to be a nun."

Now, toward the end of her days, she has joined what I happily refer to as the Saint Anthony of Padua Retirement Monastery.

May their humble and loving prayers bring great and manifold blessings upon the Church! If you have a mind, offer a prayer for these prayerful souls.

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