Monday, October 9, 2017

"Eucharist in the Convent Basement" by Francine Dempsey

..."At an early-evening "midnight" Mass in the Syracuse jail, pieces of bread pass from hand to hand. The guitar intones, "Silent night, holy night."
All sing.
Pizza boxes carted into the jail and up to the tiers yield large slices dripping spicy tomato sauce and melting cheese. The volunteers' full hands reach through metal bars to the waiting hands of locked-in, grey-garbed men and women. The guitar plays "Jingle Bells."
All eat.
Holy Thursday supper, the opening meal of this year's Triduum retreat, loaves of bread in all sizes and shapes overflow straw baskets on each table. Hands, most gnarly from a lifetime of giving, break the bread and share it. Thus fed, we enter anew into the sacred days' rituals.
Sated, I return to my convent home. Built 60 years ago for the 24 nuns who staffed the parish school, this tired building today houses just four. All are approaching 80 years of age.
The convent chapel with its priceless stained glass windows, once a site of daily Communion, sits empty, hungering for bread and wine.
Down the hall, Marlene, Kathleen, Honora and I gather at the kitchen table to share the meal we take turns preparing for each other."

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