Via the Salvation history.com blog
It was exhausting and exhilarating. Between the end of one semester and the beginning of the next, I spent ten days working to establish a more visible and permanent presence for the St. Paul Center in southern California—teaching, speaking, taping, consulting with bishops, meeting with scholars and Hollywood stars. At night I sometimes caught chill, and I had no appetite for eating. But I chalked it up to the frenetic activity.
I came home briefly only to set out again, this time to a conference in New England.
By the time I returned home, I could no longer blame my ill feelings on travel weariness. I had abdominal pain that grew more severe as the night wore on. I couldn’t sleep at all—though I felt completely worn out. At 3 a.m. the pain became unbearable, so I drove myself to the nearest hospital’s emergency room.
After a CAT scan, the doctor came to me with his brow furrowed and his tone urgent. He told me I had a perforated bowel, and it was leaking. Without immediate surgery, it would lead to sepsis within hours and most likely death. It was the first time I’d ever heard my death spoken of as being potentially imminent.
Soon I would experience a string of other “firsts”: my first overnight stay in the hospital (it stretched into several days) … my first reception of the Anointing of the Sick.
I called my wife, Kimberly, and Father Ray Ryland, and they both rushed to the hospital. Via my Facebook status, I sent out a plea for prayers and was immediately answered, even at that late hour, by so many friends and well-wishers. The attendants made haste with care, administered shots and scrubs, and made small talk with me. When they found out what I did for a living—even then—the conversation turned to the faith. The last thing I remember before the anesthesia took over was talking with the anesthesiologist about coming back into the Church.
Then I was under the knife and under the mercy. Hours later I came out of the fog feeling tremendous pain, but great gratitude, too. With time to think, I regretted the many “lost opportunities” for evangelization in the coming weeks. I knew I would be laid up, perhaps for a month, and I would miss classes and conferences and have to cancel speaking engagements.
It was hard to give in to self-pity, as I was the recipient of the finest professional care—from specialist doctors, nurses, aides, and orderlies. And it really was care. They cared. And each one had a story. And one thing led to another, and we talked about the faith.
What I soon discovered is that there would be no “lost opportunities”—just slightly shifted opportunities. I had to call Kimberly and ask her to bring a box of books to my hospital room, for distribution as the occasions called for them. And the occasions were many!
Even if you knew none of this till now, I thank you, because I know I am alive, and almost well, today because of the prayers of people who prayed for me. In less than a week I was back in the classroom. What a joy to launch my new course, “The Theology of the New Evangelization,” on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul. Two hours and forty minutes never went by so fast. I got to re-discover what St Paul taught and lived so well: “My grace is sufficient for you.” One week before it had not seemed possible.
I’ve now received a clean bill of health — stitches out and no further surgery required.
So, as you and I continue our Lent together, let’s remember God’s dual call to each of us. We share the vocation to holiness and to the apostolate. Like Christ, we grow in holiness by offering up our suffering. And, even as we suffer, we witness. Wherever we go, we witness. We don’t need pulpits or books or microphones.
We need God, and more of him. And we need one another. I need your prayers. And I promise you mine.
I’m glad Dr Hahn is better. Now, he must work really hard on finishing the Ignatius Study Bible… It is a much needed resource!
Dominus flevit. In the middle of the Mount of Olives lies the Franciscan sanctuary that preserves the memory of the place where Jesus wept over Jerusalem. It’s also an important place for valuable archaeological evidence about early Christianity.
UPDATE: Fr Marcel Guarnizo’s Response to the Eucharistic Incident here.
Barbara Johnson knew last Saturday, the day of her mother’s funeral, would be difficult. But she and her lesbian partner of 20 years had no idea that the priest at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Md., would be a source of her grief.
Johnson, 51, of Washington, D.C, walked into the church, mourning the mom she described to msnbc.com as “a really cool woman; she was 85 going on 58.”
When Johnson and her partner arrived at the church – which her mom had attended, and her dad, too, before he died years prior – they were summoned by Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, a man they were meeting for the first time. He didn’t express his condolences, Johnson said, instead curtly getting down to business.
Johnson had painfully written a eulogy; her niece had also penned one. “We only allow one eulogy,” Guarnizo informed them, despite the fact that the church’s music director had told them otherwise, Johnson told msnbc.com. Johnson said she asked her partner to plead with Guarnizo to allow for two while she was called away for her pallbearer duties.
The day, already tense, was about to get significantly worse. Johnson said the priest denied her Communion at her own mother’s funeral, telling her he couldn’t give it to her because she was gay.
When it came time to hand out bread and wine, Guarnizo “issued a strong admonition that only Catholics in a state of grace can receive Communion,” Johnson told msnbc.com. “I went up. I was standing next to my mother’s casket and he covered the bowl, and said, ‘I cannot give you Communion because you are with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin.’ I stood there with my mouth open in a state of shock for – I don’t know how long.”
But he wasn’t finished, Johnson said. Guarnizo had finally agreed to allow two eulogies, but she said family members told her that he proceeded to walk out of the service in the middle of Johnson’s dedication to her mother – something he didn’t do during her niece’s eulogy.
As the final insult, Johnson told msnbc.com, Guarnizo failed to attend her mother’s burial: “When the funeral home director appears, he says, ‘Father Marcel has taken ill. He says he has a migraine and is unable to accompany your mother’s remains to the cemetery.’ This was, for me and my family, his most egregious act.”
The Johnsons now want Guarnizo removed from his post, and are seeking an apology from him.
“You brought your politics, not your God into that Church yesterday, and you will pay dearly on the day of judgment for judging me,” Barbara Johnson wrote in a letter to Guarnizo. “I will pray for your soul, but first I will do everything in my power to see that you are removed from parish life so that you will not be permitted to harm any more families.”
Msnbc.com emailed Guarnizo on Wednesday but did not receive any response from him. Long videos online show him delivering anti-choice speeches, calling abortion clinics “veritable death camps.”
Priest doesn’t apologize, but archdiocese does Johnson, whose story was first reported in The Washington Post, said that Guarnizo has yet to apologize to her family or make any public remarks, but on Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Washington sent Johnson a letter of apology after she spoke with the secretary there…
Here it is:
UPDATE: Fr Z with The “Lesbian Denied Communion” issue: some posts and updates.