As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday and the Advent season, I am reminded of a story from my Jesuit training that was full of thanksgiving and served as a reminder of Christ’s presence at work in my life. A year before I was ordained a Jesuit priest, I served as a deacon for a parish. When a deacon is ordained, he can begin to offer blessings. Throughout my service to the parish, I was approached by parishioners to bless all kinds of things—rosaries, bibles, pets, water, cars and more.
One day, I was invited by Ronnie, a parishioner from the parish, to visit for lunch and to bless his home. When I arrived to his home, I set aside my book of blessings and holy water, and he gave me the grand tour of his home. Then we sat down in the dining room for lunch. We began talking about the parish and sharing about our lives. As we were getting to know each other more, I asked him, “Ronnie, do you have any siblings?” And suddenly, he paused, and shared with sadness and disappointment. “Nick, I have a sister, but we have not spoken in a long time.” As we continued to talk, it was clear Ronnie desired a relationship with his sister, even though they struggled to get along throughout their lives.
After we finished lunch, I put on my alb and stole, opened up the book of blessings and picked up my container of holy water. I read through the readings and responses, and after a few minutes, it was time to sprinkle the holy water throughout the home. And just as I was sprinkling the holy water, Ronnie’s phone rang. It was his sister calling! She left a message, saying that she called to say hello and that she desired to catch up since it had been a while since they last spoke. Ronnie and I were both stunned, and believed it had to be the work of the Holy Spirit to reconnect him and his sister during this house blessing. He was full of thanksgiving, and a feeling of Christ’s presence at work in his life.
As we prepare and enter into Thanksgiving and the coming season of Advent, let us be attentive and grateful for God’s continual work in our lives.
Fr. Nick Albin, SJ