Yesterday I walked into an unexpected death watch vigil. Being present to someone who is actively dying is always very difficult and draining. I was exhausted when I got home. But during the vigil, God blessed us with an unexpected moment of grace. I had brought my communion kit, expecting to give Ellen communion. Instead, I ended up giving communion to six other people in the room in addition to Ellen. Included were a Catholic deacon and nun as well as a fellow Anglican priest and two other lay people. Why do I call this an unexpected moment of grace? Because Roman Catholics typically do not accept holy communion from other denominations.
I was therefore both surprised and delighted that our Roman brother and sister in Christ took communion from us and for a few glorious moments in sacramental time we all got a glimpse of what Christ’s one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church is supposed to look like. It was awesome. Simply awesome. And at least for me, I found much-needed nourishment and refreshment in the midst of decay and death because of it. Jesus has indeed overcome death in his own death and resurrection.
I am also quite sure our Lord was very pleased to see us all communing on his body and blood together. Surely it was an unexpected gift we were able to give to Ellen as she lay dying, something quite appropriate since she always delighted in bringing people together.
May the Spirit of our Lord continue to bless and heal his fractured and broken church so that one day we may all achieve the unity for which he prayed on the night before he died for us. Thank you, my Roman brother and sister in Christ, for your graciousness and love, and for your wonderful ministry to Ellen in her final days. May God continue to bless you and your work.