A Time of Visitation

A Time of Visitation

File:Chicago Harbor Lighthouse.jpg

 

 

Besides you know the time has come; the moment is here for you to stop sleeping and wake up,

because by now our salvation is nearer than when we first began to believe.

–Romans 13:11

 

Maybe it’s the season for angels. I don’t know.

I usually don’t have time to stop in the hospital chapel after my visits, but today was different. Today I sensed something in my spirit, something palpable, but hard to put in words; that still small voice gnawing at my soul, vying for my my attention, which for several hours had been preoccupied with the stories of God’s dear people. They, who are worn down with the afflictions of physical suffering are many times over my greatest teachers.

But today, I somehow knew I was not to pass up a visit to the chapel.

With each passing week, I’ve noticed in many patients another sort of fatigue has set in and it has nothing to do with their bodies..It’s as if through them, the Lord is trying to tell me something; they whose suffering leaves nothing to the imagination, yet whose smiles make room for me to sit– though their hospital gowns barely cover them– and nurses intrude on their tears as they bare to me the spiritual wounds of their heart. In almost every patient I’ve recently seen they are crying as if in imitation of Christ, not for themselves, but for us as a country and people who are turning away from the day of the Lord’s visitation.

 

Though I have much to learn by their humility, I have found a camaraderie among these dear souls.

 

Not all, but most see very clearly into our times because they have nowhere to run but to Christ. And it’s to Him they are looking for answers; yes for their physical healing , but more for family members, for a country and a church who they see as missing the moment of God’s visitation.

 

And there are three in the life of every individual and nation:

 

  • a time of visitation or privilege in the form of a blessing from God
  • a time of rejection in which the Divine is forgotten
  • and a time of doom or disaster   

 

Judgment (or disaster) is the consequence of human decisions and proves that the world is guided by God’s presence. His tears over the city (of Jerusalem, Luke 19:41-42) showed Him as the Lord of History, giving men grace and yet never destroying their freedom to reject it. But in disobeying His will men destroy themselves; in stabbing Him, it is their own hearts they slay;

in denying Him, it is their city and their nation that they bring to ruin.

Such was the message of His tears as the King goes to the cross.

—Life of Christ, Fulton J Sheen p 378

 

In every single room, I meet very similar requests: pray for my children and grandchildren, they have turned away from God and the church. From the veterans I hear, pray for this nation we are in deep trouble. And from committed lifelong Catholics I hear confusion. They don’t recognize the church as they once knew it, feeling as if the fullness of her truth is somehow being held hostage and those entrusted to teach it to us, in season and out, have retreated into political correctness.

 

The night is nearly over, daylight is on the way;

so let us throw off everything that belongs to the darkness and equip ourselves for the light. 

 —Romans 13:12

This present darkness, this evil age is on it’s way out….but it’s not over yet. Now is the time for conversion, the time for guarding against the devil and his wiles, the time for putting on the protective armor of Christ and fleeing the near occasions of sin.

 

But you can’t throw off the darkness if you don’t recognize it and you can’t equip yourself for the light if the truth has been veiled for fear of what it might cost to teach it. Under these circumstances, one is not prepared to fight the spiritual battles we will inevitably encounter until the night is finally over. Holding back the truth about sin which God has made plain to us in His Word, sets in motion a calamitous exchange:

the Glory of the immortal God, for an imitation. ( Romans 1:23)

So now the part about ‘the angel.’ As I mentioned, I don’t usually have time to stop in the Chapel, but somehow this day I was drawn there, weighed down by my own cares and those of my fellow Christian travelers.

 

The automatic door opened slowly like a harbor’s gate drawing my tiny boat in from being overcome by the mighty waves crashing about it.

And there she was at the podium, an impeccably dressed older Jamaican woman in a yellow floral head wrap and matching suit holding the oversized chapel Bible in her hands and softly reading aloud from the Scriptures. It wasn’t till I sat down a few rows back that I realized she was reading Psalm 23 which just happens to be the responsorial Psalm from the Fourth Sunday of Lent. It was only the two of us. She stopped momentarily to acknowledge me but then continued:

 

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

In verdant pastures he gives me repose;

beside restful waters he leads me;

he refreshes my soul.

 

He guides me in right paths

for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk in the dark valley

I fear no evil; for you are at my side

With your rod and your staff

that give me courage.

 

You spread the table before me

in the sight of my foes;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

 

Only goodness and kindness follow me

all the days of my life;

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

for years to come.

 

When she finished her reading she made the sign of the cross, slowly almost meditatively and then began the Our Father at which point I left my seat to join hands with her and pray.

 

After the Amen, she continued to pray and I must tell you, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard someone with such an extroidinary gift pray as she did calling upon God for the very things that disturbed my heart without ever asking me a question. As we walked out together I thanked her for being in the chapel that day and for ministering to my heart. We exchanged names..hers was Genevieve..and before we went our ways she once more took my hands and in her lullaby Jamaican lilt said;

 

Remember Miss Caroline….Fear no evil, God will one day come to separate the wheat from the chaff. He will set a table right in front of our enemies and we will dwell in the House of the Lord.

 

Keep your eyes and ears open. Though the hour is late and darkness still abounds God will continue to visit His people. Pray for families, our nation and the church, that rather than destroy ourselves by rejecting the Lord of History who longs to give us grace, we acknowledge His blessing of truth and ‘throw off everything that belongs to the darkness.’

 

+PAX

 

  • Photo: Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, Jauerback Wikipedia

 

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