You may heard of the August 4th car accident in which a critically injured woman requested a priest to absolve her of her sin, pray for her as she faced great uncertainty in Missouri. The remarkable story of a priest doing what he was ordained to do has circled the globe in a story of a “mysterious priest.” The priest is not an angel. He is a real person who is conformed to Jesus Christ as a priest. The man, Father Patrick Dowling, is a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City, MO.
The Mysterious Priest story is a terrific human interest story. BUT more importantly for me it is a true narrative about the work of Grace, especially the Grace of Jesus Christ working through the ministrations of a Catholic priest. What can we say about the Church’s sacramentality at work, the priesthood of Jesus Christ in action, and the power of prayer and human need. It is the beauty of simplicity!
Why is this important to me? Father Dowling’s approach is what is real to me: a recognition of another’s need, a priest who was motivated to respond and the action of the Holy Spirit sustaining all those at work. What struck me was the simplicity of Grace working for someone in need. It seemed like everything coalesced well: the first responders did their work, people cooperated with authority, and a priest responded to someone’s desire to be comforted with prayer, sacraments and companionship in the face of uncertainty. The love shown by the priest was concrete. Here I’ll define love not as a sentiment but as the Servant of God Father Giussani taught us, love is to have concern for another’s destiny. Indeed, Father Dowling had this concern for Aaron and Katie.
Additionally, that Father Dowling is not an angel but a human being, is important to me because it was another concrete example of the way God speaks through our humanity and not despite it. One last thing: I was struck that Dowling did not make himself the center of attention spoke –this spoke volumes. It is, hence, an irresistible and concrete example of what it means to be have an alive humanity rooted and grounded in Christ. How could one not be moved to the core???
Thank you, Father Dowling.