When we were at Tulane, and I went to daily Mass at the Tulane Catholic Center, there was an elderly gentlemen who came sometimes whom I only knew as “Captain”. I don’t know his name, or any part of his story. His face looked like he had been injured during his service, or it could have been scars from surgery, or cancer, I don’t know because I never asked. He walked with a cane, and when he finally stopped coming to Mass I think I remember hearing that it was because the steps to the upper room chapel had finally become too much for him.
The chapel, for those of you who haven’t been there, is very long and narrow, and the lecturn is set up at one end and the altar, tabranacle, and crucifix (if you could call it that!) were at the other end. Chairs lined the walls, all facing center. Captain always sat at the chair nearest the altar, on the window side. This was carefully planned, so that when we all gathered around the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, he was included in the circle. We would all bend down, on our way around the circle, to share a sign of peace with him. And at the Concecration, when the Host or the Cup was elevated, he would say, in a gruff but somehow gentle voice, loud enough for all to hear, “My Lord and my God.”
Why am I telling you all this? Because you never know whose life you touch, and here is a proof for that statement. Captain did not know my name, I don’t think. Nor Craig’s. But at every Mass we have attended for years now, his prayer has become our own. There, in the priest’s hands, is My Lord and My God. And “Captain’s prayer” is the clearest expression of faith in the Eucharist that I think I have ever heard.
And if two isn’t enough, I know of at least one more person who has taken up this prayer. How many are there that I have no idea of? And Captain didn’t set out to enrich our spiritual lives, he merely (although merely is unfair, because it was a struggle for him) showed up to daily Mass and spoke his faith. And did so simply.
It left me wondering, am I doing things that have a positive impact like this? Even little things. And what little things I do could be having a negative impact, particularly on my girls? I have to steal a line from Father R.B. here, I hope he doesn’t mind! But “It’s something to think about!”