I may have a 'Vocation', but there is one thing that would impair my ability to enter the Priesthood or even the Deaconate. Although I am not married (being a widower) I am too old; by the time I finished my studies I'd be in my late 70s and would only be of service for, at best, another 10 years.
So what to do?
Well, the Parish I attend is in a rural area of North Florida in the Diocese of St. Augustine. We are a quite small Parish of only 350 people and the vast majority of us are elderly, as in retirement age. Many are unable to come to Mass and are bedridden or in someway, housebound. Our priest is very busy managing two Parishes, ours and our 'Mission' Parish. We have three Deacons, one is full time, essentially, at the Mission and the other two are gainfully employed in a secular job and have families and busy with those tasks most of the time. What to do about our poor disabled Parishioners?
Well, there is a Ministry that sees them, but there are only a very few who can see them and I am now one of those. I have received a Commission from Bishop Felipe J. Estévez, of St. Augustine Diocese as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. It has been my honor to bring Jesus to the sick, injured and housebound Parishioners for about 3 years now. I drive about 350 miles and bring Holy Eucharist to about 35-40 people a week. I am a retired Nurse of 40 years experience and often in the Hospital setting, I am able to give Communion to even the unconscious people I see. It is the Spirit of that person that benefits the most, after all. The body need not acknowledge in these cases.
I find a great Blessing from my Ministry, personally. In the hours I drive around, I am in constant prayer and it is akin to being at Eucharistic Adoration. I even marvel at how much easier the traffic seems and how I tend to catch the lights or openings in traffic with relative ease while I travel about carrying Jesus with me twice a week. I know it would be preferred to have a Priest perform such duties, but it isn't possible under current circumstances. I very much am humbled by the thanks and gratitude that those I minister to show me as well. It is 'the icing on the cake' as it were.
I really had some doubts and trepidation before I started this Ministry and that first day of touching the Host was a challenge (I had always take the Host on the tongue) and my very Traditional Catholic upbringing was quite at odds over it all. I grew up in the preVatican II Church and I recall very vividly, as a High Schooler in a Catholic HS, when they ripped out the Tabernacles and put them somewhere lower than the Altar or in a side covey hole and when the Nuns came to school one day in regular cloths and in makeup (both done badly, generally, BTW). It was a genuine shocker! I studied to become an Altar Boy (some of us made Acolyte) and I spent a long time learning the Latin responses of the Mass and then, all of a sudden. There was no Latin! A double whammy!! I left the Church after HS and returned when I wed my wife and we had children. They were all brought up Catholic and, thanks be to God, are all practicing Catholics to this day.
I say all of this because I know how many feel about the Novis Ordo Mass and the other issues surrounding the Post Vatican II liturgy and the Church in general. I agree with almost all of these concerns, but there is one thing that sticks in my craw: If we stay away from the Church, it will never heal and there are all those souls ou there who need attention. It seems to me, that to stay away and seek out an alternative to the NO is often way too impractical. In many places, like mine, they are rare. So what are we to do? I truly believe that our priest, a Carmelite, is providing me with a true Eucharist to distribute and that the Mass he celebrates is true and valid. I am not going to give in to Satan and basically take his side and shun the Church. It would be like being one of the 10 Apostles that fled from Jesus at His Crucifixion because they were afraid of retribution and were scared of what they saw when the saw him on the Cross. The 'Mainstream Church' essentially ran from Jesus that afternoon.
I have been up to my neck, literally covered in bodily fluids, trying to care for or save a life many times. So, I am not like that. I would not have run if I were there that afternoon and I would have been there at the Cross, with Mary and John and the women. Just like those in Hospital and Nursing Homes and in private residences that I see, they don't look as good as they once did, but they still need attention, they still need Jesus and I am Honored to bring Him to them, because there is no one else to do so.
This is my "Vocation" and I am quite sure, that Jesus is happy with what I do, despite the controversial nature of what I do to some. However, to run away and complain from afar is not as effective or appropriate as standing ones ground and supporting our Parishes and people and protesting what we see as counter to proper Catholic Tradition. I am quite sure My Savior will be pleased with me and that stance.
This is my second post hereabouts and I hope it made some think and I am sure it made a few angry or at least PO'd. So be it. There are some things that transcend activism and necessity is one of these.