A True Mass?
On July 11, 2018, a friend who works in downtown Ottawa, decided to go to the noon Mass during his lunch break. Something he does from time to time. As he walked hurriedly toward Sacred Heart Church located on the campus of the University of Ottawa, a beggar stopped him on the Mackenzie King Bridge asking for money. “Usually, I don’t stop in these situations”, my friend told me, “but something made me stop and listen to the beggar. He asked for money to pay for food, but since I didn’t have cash, I offered to buy him food with my banking card.
He accepted. On our way to the food court, he suggested if we could go grocery shopping instead, as he could take the grocery home and have food for a few days.” My friend accepted and they walked to the grocery store at Cumberland and Rideau streets. On the way, they talked and the beggar shared what led him to be in his current situation.
After he was done grocery shopping for the beggar, they finished their conversation, then my friend walked up Cumberland street, as the Sacred Heart Church is further up on that street. It wasn’t a surprise to my friend, when he entered the church, that the Mass was almost over. It was after the Eucharist, and the priest as well as the faithful were observing a quiet time before the final blessing.
Ending the silence, and before standing up for the blessing and the “ite, missa est”, the priest said in a form of prayer: “On this day of the feast of St. Benedict, may we grow in the love of our brothers and sisters”, words that my friend said touched him deeply. The Mass ended and he went back to the office.
Later on, he shared the story with a Jesuit who offered the following interpretation: “When both of you were talking, you were sharing the Word of God. That was the liturgy of the Word. When you bought him food at the grocery store, you shared a meal with him. That’s the Eucharist. And you arrived at the church and received the final blessing. You attended a true Mass.”
Finding God in everything and everywhere can’t be more true as in that unexpected encounter.