Thursday, February 2, 2012

Feeling Humbled and Loved By Jesus At the Same Time

I enjoy being a Catholic press photojournalist and covering the news of the church, but I would be telling a lie if I said I approached every assignment with the same enthusiasm and zeal. On Tuesday night when I was asked to attend the second night of a three-night parish mission at All Saints Church, Dunwoody, featuring Sister of St. Clare Sister Briege McKenna and Vincentian Father Kevin Scallon, I saw it as a routine assignment. In my mind I was going to be there for the end of Mass and the beginning of the healing service. That way I could take my shots and be out of there. But it didn’t happen that way. Jesus had different plans for me.

God has a way to humbling us and loving us at the same time. I arrived at the church at 7:30 p.m., Mass concluded at 8:30 p.m., and the healing service started immediately afterwards. I was getting a little antsy. I thought I should have been finished at that point.     

I moved down to the front to get a photo of Sister Briege as she was praying, and at the same time I tried to get a photo of Father Kevin as he was carrying the monstrance up and down the aisles and around the church. I only took a few photos because I was trying to be selective, waiting for those moments when Father Kevin would walk out of the shadows and into the momentary pockets of light. Once I took my shots, I retreated to very back, left corner side of the church – out of the way I thought.

But Father Kevin made a left turn and began heading toward me and my corner. I was kneeling down with the camera at my side. He stopped right in front of me and held the monstrance above my head for a few seconds. I think Jesus knew what was on my heart before I walked in the church that evening. I felt embarrassed and guilty for having approached the evening with such a cavalier attitude.

With the real presence of Jesus in front of me, all I could think to say was a silent prayer: “You know what I’ve been thinking tonight, but while you’re here, would you bless and anoint my work tonight?” Needless to say, I stuck around for the entire healing service and benediction.

I confess that’s not the first time I had planned to “go in and get out,” but ended up staying You’d think I would know by now. Whenever Jesus is the main attraction and headliner, you can’t leave. Why would you?  As in Mark’s Gospel I had read earlier that day, the works and love of Jesus leave us “utterly astounded.”  

Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer

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