“I know who she is”

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I’ve been reading this book by Fr. Stephen RossettiBorn of the Eucharist: A Spirituality for Priests. Here  below is a beautiful entry by one of its contributors: Most Rev. Victor Galeone.

The following is an entry from journal in 1996 while I was the pastor of St. Agnes Church in Baltimore:

Yesterday, after an emergency call at the nursing home, I was about to exist when I noticed a man in the hallway. He was sitting next to a woman in a wheelchair, tenderly holding her hands. Not a word was spoken. Not a word was spoken. He just sat there, looking intently into her eyes. I walked over and engaged in in conversation:

“Your wife, I take it?”

“That’s right, of forty-seven years.”

“Do you visit her often?”

“Every single day. Haven’t missed a day in four years, except for that blizzard last year.”

(During the exchange, his wife kept staring blankly into space.)

“She’s not saying anything.”

“That’s right. Hasn’t been able to for the last eighteen months—ever since her stroke. She has Alzheimer’s too.”

“Alzheimer’s! Does she know who you are?”

“Not really. But that doesn’t matter. I know who she is.”

What an indictment against me, Lord Jesus! How often during my quiet time in your presence, I’ve kept one eye on the tabernacle and the other on my watch. Don’t I deserve the same reprimand that your chosen three disciples received in the garden, “Could you not watch one hour with me?” Where is the love that should be animating my heart just as it did that of Saint Edith Stein when she remarked so lovingly, “He is truly there—and he is there for me!”

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