So, our Missionaries of Charity friends could not be at our wedding. Despite many requests by the ladies in their home for a "ROAD TRRRIP!!!" the ladies and the nunlets stayed at home and gifted us with their prayers. However, they did request that we come to a special Mass in our honor when we returned home.
And a special Mass it was. Monday morning, 7am, in the pouring rain, Ross and I trekked down 75 to the Gift of Grace house. In the tiny convent chapel that holds their daily masses, we walked in surprised to see the ladies (patients) from the house awake, dressed, and waiting for us. I hugged their shoulders and thanked them for getting up in the dark and walking over to the convent in the rain just for us. Even our V, who no longer lives at the house but spent Sunday night there just to be there for our Mass.
On the chalkboard where the readings and music selections are written were the beautifully written words, "Congratulations Ross and Keri." Our sweet Irish priest friend said a Mass, encouraging us in our walk as man and wife, using Holy Scripture to guide us. During the prayers of the faithful, the sisters prayed aloud for us, for our marriage and our love. I slid my arm into Ross's, leaned my head on his shoulder, and wondered how in the Lord's name I got so lucky.
After Mass the sisters and the ladies huddled in the teeny tiny entryway as the rain poured outside. They gave us 2 rosaries that their friend Fr. Tim brought back from Calcutta, beautiful MC blue rosaries that had touched the tomb of Mother Teresa while he was there. They wrote a gorgeous card, with a prayer for families written by Mother Teresa herself, a beautiful prayer, written so simply and so honestly. Ross received a St. Joseph medal, one of his favorite saints for his devotion to family and I received a Miraculous Medal, blessed by Mother Teresa when she came to the house in 1995. Sweet Sister Brunetta, knowing my great desire for children (and admitted fear that medical issues will prevent them) gave me this medal that she believes helps women conceive. Then the ladies happily presented their gift from Kirklands home store. The sweet ladies picked out a candle holder of Mary holding baby Jesus. It is slightly large :) but precious, the way Jesus has his little hand cupping the side of Mary's face so gently. When I asked who picked it up, our smart aleck friend A, who is blind, joked, "I picked it out!!" We all laughed and hugged. And for the rest of the day, R and I remarked on how humbled we felt. Who are we that WE get THEM?
I think I have mentioned this before on here and poor R has heard it many times, but one of his many times of wisdom came many months ago when we were discussing where our church home would be. We had slightly different wish lists for our church family and couldn't find the best fit for both of us. And while I think we all get waay too caught up in trying to make church "fit us" instead of going, investing in the service, receiving the sacraments and letting grace do the work, we all want to feel at home at Church. So, I digress. Anyway, one day Ross said casually, "why don't we just stay at the Gift of Grace?" So stay we did. The ladies are no longer AIDS patients to us, they are our friends. The sisters are no longer just mysterious women of God, they are human beings, flawed and grace filled and lovely. And they are our friends as well.
And while our congregation on Sunday rarely exceeds 8 people, "where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:20). Where these women, and these holy sisters and that husband are gathered, I feel so incredibly at home. Where the priest knows our name and gives us a large, beautiful Bible commentary as a wedding gift and a CD of his favorite Irish hymns (hymns he frequently breaks into during his homilies!!), we feel known and humbled and so at peace. We are truly at home.
with their permission...