Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Calling the priest - Rector's Rambling for February 16, 2014

Where were you a few minutes ago?” the stranger asked me in the lobby of Beaumont Hospital in Troy this past Sunday evening.  I was there because a parishioner had taken a turn for the worse, and had been intubated and moved back to Intensive Care.
The question caught me off guard.  I think they could see I was confused, and they continued, “he just died.”
Now my mind was racing.  Were these family members of our parishioner whom I hadn’t met yet?  I thought I had travelled quickly from Grosse Pointe to Troy.
Finally one of the group blurted out, “did anyone call a priest?”
Now I realized they were not the family of our parishioner.  After a minute or two of talking I discovered that 1) they hadn’t called a priest, 2) they weren’t sure which parish their dad/grandfather attended, and 3) none of them attended Church anymore.  But they knew instinctively a priest should have been there for Last Rites.
Unfortunately, it is not one of the charisms of the priesthood to read minds, although occasionally the Holy Spirit (or perhaps my guardian angel) pushes me into situations where He needs me to be without my knowing it.  And I hope that perhaps my assurance of prayer for their recently deceased loved one, Peter, and promise to remember him at the altar, will prompt at least one of them to practice the faith.
As the culture continues to change, and fewer and fewer people attend church, it is interesting to note how the sight of a priest at the hospital immediately brings up the realization that someone should have called a priest.
God willing, we will call on Him who is our health and life, Jesus Christ, before we are in that dire situation, so the calling of a priest will be a first instinct, not an afterthought.