Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Skin of God

"I know that God will be here with me, but I need someone in this room who has some skin!"  
~Fr. Ronald Rolheiser

It's been six months since I began the practice of remaining for ten minutes after every Mass to offer thanksgiving for the gift of the Eucharist.  When I attend early morning daily Mass I usually extend that ten minutes to 45 minutes and include the Stations of the Cross in my morning prayer and then stop to light a candle for a friend on my way out of church.  My silent time with the Lord has come to be a daily treasure that I do not want to forgo.

And yet, there are times...

There are times when it feels so lonely.  There are times when I feel so anti-social, turning my back on my friends who are visiting and laughing with one another as I silently kneel before the tabernacle.  I long to join them in conversation but I can't bear to leave Jesus alone in His golden tabernacle.  There are times when I wish someone would join me, just silently kneeling beside me offering their own act of thanksgiving to the Lord.  And there are times when I wish someone would walk the Stations of the Cross with me, being my companion in that journey of loving prayer.

Sometimes I can almost sense the eyes of the maintenance man who busily cleans while I pray, and who is my silent company in church most days, looking at me as if I were nothing more than a pious old church lady, as if that were a derogatory term,  and it makes me feel even more lonely in my prayer.

But I want to be with Jesus.  I want Him to know that I love Him.  I want to feel that He loves me.  So I firmly commit to my daily time of prayer despite the loneliness that it entails.  Sometimes I feel sorry for Jesus, because even though I physically remain in His presence, my heart is often far away and my thoughts wander....

That's where I was this morning, full of wandering thoughts...thrilling for a friend who just brought home a beautiful baby from China...fearing for a friend who's son was undergoing surgery for a collapsed lung...worrying about all the daily tasks that await me at work and at home and about all of the problems that weigh heavy on this worn and weary mother's heart.  I wanted to share them with a real person, to pray about them with someone, instead of silently giving them to God who was only offering me silence in return.  With my face buried in my hands as I knelt before the tabernacle, I tried to give my day and my worries to God, and I barely noticed the soft footsteps approaching. I peeked through my fingers and saw my son, Joe, standing before me.

Joe has been working at our parish for the summer, helping with cleaning and yard work.  He told me that his job today would be to dust-mop the church floor, carefully cleaning between and beneath every pew.  His appearance felt like an answered prayer and even though he wasn't able to kneel beside me or walk the Stations of the Cross with me, just sensing his presence as his mop bumped around the pews, gave me peace and reassurance.  It was as if God came to me in the person of my son and accompanied me in my prayer.  Joe became the "skin of God" with a dust-mop for this lonely and pious old church lady.  And as my time of prayer was coming to an end, I embraced him, whispered my love, and then lit a candle for him in the hopes that the flame of that prayer would burn brightly for him throughout the day, assuring him of my gratitude for his presence within my prayer.


  1. Anne,
    This is such a beautiful and heartfelt post. I can relate so much to this. When I first returned to the Church, I attended in a parish where I did as you do. I remained a good half hour after Mass~saying the rosary or just sitting in quiet gratitude with Jesus. While I am unable to remain this long these days, I know He has poured out His grace during those days.
    You go right on being the pious church lady(I refuse to call you old!:)and maybe one day someone will join you. The chatter in the church after and before Mass drives me crazy; it just shouldn't be.
    Thank you so much for sharing this~perhaps it will inspire someone to stay with Jesus a little longer after Mass.
    God bless.

    1. Karinann, I will continue to be a pious church lady until I die-I wouldn't know how to be anything else! And I love it whether I'm alone or with others, but today it really was a special treat to find my son there! God must have took pity on my loneliness or maybe He was just tired of my whining and wanted to give me something to really thank Him for! I'm sorry that you aren't able to remain after Mass these days-maybe it still works for you on Sundays? Thanks for your kind words!

  2. Anne,

    Thank you for posting this. I've been feeling a "tug" lately after morning Mass, when I notice one or two people silently kneel down while the rest of us are leaving...I do believe that the "tug" has become a "pull".



    1. LuAnne,

      I'm sure those people who are silently kneeling will be glad to have you join them in prayer, and the Lord will be especially grateful for the extra time you spend with Him! Thanks for telling me about the "pull" that you have experienced! God bless you, my friend!

  3. I understand how you feel about this. It seems like nobody spends much time in thanksgiving after mass these days. I am always happy when the priest takes time for thanksgiving right after communion as a reminder to the congregation. Ususally I am the only one left in the pew when mass ends. I also feel like an old "pius" lady! But I guess the only thing that matters is what God thinks. And it is good to be a good example. I am glad your son became the "skin" of consolation for you.

  4. Monica, you are so right-all that matters is God's opinion of my prayer. I hope I don't disappoint him!

  5. You have great children, Anne :) I just finished reading your post about John and now I read this wonderful post about you and Joe. It goes to show the power of example - your example. And who knows who else is paying attention and wondering about the "pious church lady"? I left out the old because you are not old :)