Endurance is a gift from God
"You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised." (Hebrews 10:36)
Rachel left the Church many years ago. While still very young, she married someone outside of the Church. For her, it was a choice between practicing her faith and marrying the love of her life. So, she left her Catholic faith and practice behind to be with the man of her dreams. But something of being Catholic stayed with her, so she raised her children in the faith, sending them to Catholic schools.
Rachel's father never lost hope and did his best to bring her back to the faith. Now she is lying on a hospital bed, unresponsive and with her body ravaged by cancer. Thursday, I got the call. Could you please visit her in the hospital and bring her communion? I had a little time before an afternoon meeting so I rushed out of the house and drove to the hospital. I spoke with the father on the way. "I would like to have her marriage blessed."
"Well, she doesn't have much time left, does she?" "No, days..., weeks at most." "Ok, so getting the marriage blessed is not the priority. I have brought a host in a pyx and hope to get to Rachel before they move her to another area or to hospice care. I am still new to the area and have never visited this hospital. It is called "City of Hope," and the facilities are impressive. I wonder how I am ever going to find her. I make a couple of wrong attempts before I finally find a place to park the car. I go into reception and have to take care of the various protocols. I go through a children's cancer ward before finally arriving at the room.
I was hoping to speak to her. She has been away from the Church for around 20 years and I hoped to hear her confession before giving communion and dispensing the sacrament of the sick. But she is unresponsive, and I do not have certainty about what she would have wanted. The father wants her to receive the sacraments and the husband is respectful, but I do not know what she would want. So, I say the prayers and anoint her with the oil of the sick. I have already given her absolution, but decided to take the host back with me.
I called her father and told him how things had gone. Considering that she had been far from the Church for years, I consider it a great grace that she has received absolution and the sacrament of the sick. She is ready now to meet Jesus in Heaven. As I drive back to the city and to my next appointment, I reflect on the mystery of perseverance in the faith. I feel that even though she had left aside religious practice, somewhere within her was still a woman who wanted to be connected to God. And now, at the end of her life, He granted precisely that connection. It is a blessing that she received the sacrament before she died. She persevered until the end, not through her own merit, but through the grace of God.
May we all pray for endurance to do the will of God and receive what He has promised.
Do you ever see the fruits of endurance in your own life? Does it make you feel closer to God?