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A knock on the door

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Knock knock. I heard some movement inside the apartment. A small elderly woman’s face peeked through the window, then pulled the door open. “Oh, Peter. I wasn’t expecting you to come today, but please come in.” She immediately ran over to grab some holy water and her Bible and brought them to the small table where we sat.

We then had our own “little liturgy.” We made the sign of the cross with the holy water, read from Scripture, and then after some time for reflection, we prayed the Our Father. I pulled out the small golden container and lifted the Eucharist. “The body of Christ,” I pronounced. “Amen,” she responded. After she received the Blessed Sacrament, she bowed her head and we had time for silence. She looked up with a beautiful smile and thanked me for coming. I ended up staying another 30 minutes to talk and laugh, but at the end, she again thanked me for bringing her Communion.

A similar scene played out many times as I drove up and down Interstate 81 during my seminarian summer assignment at St. John Bosco Church in Woodstock, bringing Communion weekly to 20-25 people who were homebound or in nursing homes. I remember the joy they would have each time I came, not just because they had company, but because they were about to receive Communion.

In those few minutes, one of the prayers we say at every Mass hit me in a new and profound way. “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.” We understand this “roof” to be our bodies. The homebound were welcoming him into their homes, their bodies, their “roofs,” to have a moment of silent intimacy with Jesus.

I recently got a taste of this myself when I was identified as a “close contact” and had to quarantine while at seminary. During those 10 days in my room — as so many faithful have experienced over the past year — I had to make an extra effort to pay attention during virtual Mass. After Mass, unlike so many of the faithful, I had a priest come to bring me Communion. The priest’s knock signaled Jesus wanting to come under my roof, just as my knock had during my assignment. I stood in my doorway receiving Jesus who had come to visit me, then I prayed in silence before the priest gave the blessing.

I was humbled by this experience during those 10 days, and it gave me a greater appreciation for the incredible faith of those who are homebound, not just during the pandemic, but those who were before and will be afterward. May we all grow in our longing for the Lord to visit us and come under our roofs.

Clem, who is from All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas, is in his third year of theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021