”And How Are You Today, My Dearest, Dearest Darling ?”

A Simple Gesture

Father Michael loved his ladies. These for­tu­nate souls were usu­al­ly home-bound and received reg­u­lar vis­its from Father M. Some of them were quite elder­ly-in their nineties and even over a hun­dred years old. He loved bring­ing them Holy Eucharist and vis­it­ing with them. He admit­ted to being total­ly fas­ci­nat­ed with their life sto­ries and wise per­spec­tives. Father Michael often men­tioned how old­er peo­ple showed open­ly how their souls were prepar­ing to meet God. He told me that the vis­its tru­ly inspired awe in him. He approached them with rev­er­ence , respect and humor.

Father Michael had his own way of inspir­ing awe , to be sure. Many times I heard him say “And how are you today, my dear­est, dear­est dar­ling?” as he answered his calls or greet­ed some ladies after Mass. Father Michael was a preach­er to his very core. And I wit­nessed that charism spill over at times into reg­u­lar con­ver­sa­tion and every­day eti­quette. A few words from Father Michael could eas­i­ly be God’s grace to a needy soul. He just knew the right thing to say, or to make the sim­ple mean­ing­ful gesture.….always some­thing framed with love.

I once chal­lenged Father Michael about the “dear­est dar­ling” line. I said it kind of sound­ed like his Cana­di­an ver­sion of  Aun­tie Mame. Well, that didn’t change any­thing in his view; it stayed a VERY Father Michael turn of phrase. And he used it often-even on me! I have to admit that being addressed direct­ly like that  had its  warmth and charm . Those ladies were so blessed!

Father Michael con­tin­ued the vis­its to his ladies,as best he could, through­out his ill­ness. Call­ing on the lady friends while he fought his can­cer was priest­ly -and an effort­ful, holy thing. He cher­ished bring­ing them the Eucharist. He rel­ished their con­ver­sa­tions. Father Michael was always a priest, first and fore­most. Here is a text Father M sent me in Feb­ru­ary, about a month before he died:

I had a good nite! Thank God! I was tired after doing the funer­al of my 99 year old girl­friend. She and I were sup­posed to get togeth­er this Thurs­day since we hadn’t seen each oth­er since Xmas. Hope you are rest­ed as well. My objec­tive today is to go for a walk.”

Sec­ond nature to Father M; no big deal. Those dear­est dar­lings were sure­ly blessed. Yet they walked mean­ing­ful­ly with Father Michael in his ill­ness, and so blessed him.

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