Unnecessary Concern


Fr. Theodore has a cell immediately next to mine. Although he can walk for short distances, he uses a battery-operated cart to get around. Fr. Theodore is 102 years old. He is always early for any service and follows a rather consistent routine of coming and going from his cell. Although I do not set my watch by it, I notice whether the cart is outside his door or not.

It so happened I was rushing to get to church on time, one afternoon, when I was stunned to see his cart in place. At first I was going to ignore it, but I thought he might need help. He would normally be in church for more than five minutes by now.

I knocked on his door and went in. He was seated at his desk reading. He turned and gave me a rather perplexed look, like “what are you doing here?” After I had pointed out the time and he didn’t make a move, I concluded rather hastily that he must be slipping. It saddened me to see his slow response to my concern. He said, “I planned on coming a little later.” “But, Father, “ I said, “ It is three minutes to five.” Finally after a few moments of indecision he said that he would come. I hurried off just a little saddened by the developments.

When I got to the slype, the monks were not lined up to enter church as they would normally be before Saturday Vespers. Only then did it dawn on me, that this was the eve of Palm Sunday. As has been the custom in recent years, the community and guests had gathered in front of the lobby for the blessing of Palms and procession into church, a ceremony that takes about 15 minutes. Now it dawned on me that Fr. Theodore had been trying to get in a few more pages of reading. It was too late for me to join the community. I simply sat in choir rather stunned that in trying to watch over an old man, I had betrayed my own inattentiveness to the schedule.

My aged confrere, 21 years my senior, was more alert to the situation than I. It was a bit humbling, but a nice moment for all of that.

Copyright © 2003 Saint Meinrad Archabbey