Yesterday was the feast day of one of my favorite patron saints, St. Francis of Assisi. Finding myself faced with a day full of errands in the big city with my eldest offspring tagging along, I searched for a Mass service that we could attend while we were there. Unfortunately the big city isn't really all that big and the available Mass times were either early morning or evening, neither of which we could make it too.
Instead we settled for stopping by Immaculate Conception to say our prayers and find a moment of peace and calm in the middle of an otherwise hectic day. My sidekick that day is also my most reverent child. He loves visiting churches, he never balks at going to Mass, and his sense of wonder and curiosity about our faith make for an always interesting time traveling with him.
We entered through the side door, and paused for a moment to speak with the woman who was cleaning the vestibule. As I waited for Eli to return from the restroom a young woman came through the door. Wearing sweats and a tank top, hair pulled back, very thin, stress written across her face. She stopped and looked at the woman who had returned to her cleaning and then she focused on me. She forcefully asked if there was church today. I responded that there had been an early morning service already. Looking a bit disappointed, she glanced through the door into the chapel and asked if it was okay to just go inside and sit down. I assured her that yes, it was perfectly fine. Thanking me, she tentatively made her way into the chapel.
A few moments later, Eli and I entered and took a seat at one of the front pews. Pulling out my prayer book, I withdrew my St. Francis metal prayer card that I had gifted to myself around the time of my baptism. Kneeling and reciting it, I suddenly felt a very very strong urge to give it to the young woman. I finished the prayer, got up and made my way to the back of the church where she was sitting. I knelt down beside her and explained to her that today was the feast day of St. Francis and that this prayer was one of my very favorite prayers. I put the card in her hands and told her that I felt like she needed it. I saw her eyes glisten and a smile flutter across her lips as she quietly said thank you. I returned to my pew and completed my prayers.
I've learned that the Holy Spirit is the force that drives us to do and say things that might not be in our normal character. I saw myself in this woman. I remembered nervously walking into St. Agnes in the middle of a weekday and just sitting down in the back pew by myself for quite sometime. I don't know what brought her to the church in the middle of the day, but I do know that I was brought there at that exact time to share something with her.