I attended a Knights of Columbus breakfast at Christ Our King Catholic Church in Wilmington, DE where a retired national union official shared that he was stressed out at the impending death of his mother because he felt hopeless in his ability to offer help to his parent. He continued that he only found relief in his plight when he started to pray to the Blessed Mother.
This chap was leaving the impression that he got fully enchanted by his praying to where he could finally accept the imminent death of his mother as a part of living. Yet he was now haunted by the need to give back for the help the Blessed Mother had given him. Hence this chap jumped at an opportunity to offer volunteer services at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.
One day when no priests were around, this chap says a man came into the Basilica saying he needed to see a priest to make confession. This chap commented that he knew he could not give this man Absolution for his was no priest. He was befuddled. The stranger continued to insist upon confessing to a priest even though this religious volunteer insisted that he was no priest.
This impasse between the religious volunteer and the stranger was finally broken when the stranger
challenged this Basilica volunteer to act as a religious person with whom he could share his crisis. Basilica volunteer said the man dumped his emotional bucket, then he walk out of the National
Shrine with his head up high.
I commented to the Basilica volunteer that he got to give peace to someone else with a mental
crisis comparable to his once crisis. As I tumbled this Basilica volunteer’s experience over, it became clear that he was able to pay back, in a few minutes, a debt he may have thought took a very long time of public volunteerism. This simple act of listening may have prevented the visitor from committing self-inflected bodily harm or at worst suicide.