When I was a child our priest was from Ireland. I wonder now how he felt being sent to a small town in South Dakota. He was a kind man. I grew up with Eucharist Prayer One, Two and Tree. I never knew it was actually “three” until I learned to read.
Before first communion each child had to meet with Father P privately. He wanted to be sure that all second graders had been paying attention at CCD and could answer basic questions about our faith.
Of course I was nervous. It didn’t matter that Father P was a regular visitor at our house. He came for Christmas and Easter dinners and sometimes stopped by to play the accordion. (For years I thought all people in Ireland played the accordian.) But being in a room questioned by a priest was suddenly very, very scary.
My first communion was on Thanksgiving Day but I often think about that meeting with Father P at Easter. We talked about Jesus and communion. He asked me if I knew how Jesus died and expected to hear the answer that I had been taught as a young child.
I panicked. I looked around the room and saw pictures of the Virgin Mary, a crucifix (or twenty) and a painting of the Last Supper. That’s what caught my eye. To me that long white table looked like a hospital bed and I sat up a bit straighter looked the priest in the eye and confidently said, “Jesus died in the hospital…of old age.”