By Father Christopher Kubat
St. Peter Chrysologus said, “Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood for fasting.”
Not long ago, after exiting our main building dedicated to St. Joseph, I spotted a man who appeared to be homeless and in his mid-30s. After seeing him and since he was across the parking lot, I yelled out, “How are you doing?”
He replied,” Great! It’s been 92 days without alcohol!”
As we drew closer, I noticed his long, shoulder-length hair had not been washed for a while, and his sparse whiskers had not been shaved for months. In addition, I noticed he had lost most, if not all, of his teeth.
He is a tall man, and as we stood next to each other our eyes were on the same level. I noticed he was holding a lit cigarette butt and there were precious few tobacco leaf fragments left next to the filter. I asked, “Would you like to pray together and receive a blessing?” He immediately bowed his head, and put the butt down next to his side in order to guard it until we were finished.
Before praying, we introduced each other and after asking his name, I asked Our Father in heaven to help and strengthen him as I used his name in the prayer. After giving him my priestly blessing, he was so moved; he gave me a big hug. Lice or no lice, bed bugs or no bed bugs … who cares? He left with a big smile.
Like you and I, this man not only needs to be forgiven for all of the faults he may have committed against others; he likewise needs to forgive anyone who has offended him. Since love and mercy are inseparable, I pray that the little slice of love this man received will lead to an outpouring of mercy in His life.
Since God created us for Him and Him alone, St. Augustine famously said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
That said, it only makes sense that most of the people we encounter on the streets love to pray and receive priestly blessings. This makes sense for the only thing that will fully satisfy our hearts is God Himself. We try our best at Catholic Social Services to impress on those who come to us that they are children of God and we are all brothers and sisters in the Lord.
As we continue traversing through the season of Lent, let us be reminded that “Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood for fasting.” My prayer is that you take advantage of the extra confession times in your parish and seek God’s love and mercy in the incredible sacrament of confession (Jn 20:23). As you prepare for this sacrament of healing, if there is someone in your life you need to forgive, have the confidence that Jesus, Who said from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know now what they do” (Lk 23:34), will give you the grace to forgive. And for those who have forgiven. May you know that this is the source of true freedom.