by Fr. Robert McQueeney, M.GA.N.
Fr. Larry was just dozing off when he heard a voice. “Get up Father. Someone at 55 Water Street is in
desperate need of you.”
It was so bitterly cold! Fr. Larry rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. The voice sounded again! But
this time, it was like a trumpet blast. The urgency of it almost knocked him out of the bed.
He ran down the stairs, there was no one there. Not even footprints in the snow. He was amazed. He
knew that voice was real. It had thundered at him.
He dressed as fast as he could, took his little black bag and plunged into the midnight snowdrift.
At last he found the house. It was dilapidated with boards nailed across the front door and windows.
Still driven by the urgency of the message he had heard, he knocked and then pounded on the door.
There was no answer. A couple of windows were shattered. He looked into the darkness and called.
Still, he thought, I’d better try the back. The rear door was ajar, but stuck. He pushed it open finally and
In the white glare of moonlight seeping through the dirty windows, he could see a man’s body huddled
on the floor. Fr. Larry knelt beside him. The man was dressed in rags. He was a bum, a derelict. The
smell of stale beer was nauseating. The old man was conscious. He was trembling. Father wrapped
him in his overcoat.
He was able to hear his confession, gave him Holy Communion and the last rites. Afterwards, he told
the dying man how he happened to be there, how he was directed to this ruined house by a voice he
heard in the middle of the night.
Then he asked the man “You must have done something special in your life to gain this kind of
extraordinary intervention. What was it?”
“No. Nothing,” the man mumbled. “I’ve never done anything. I’ve wasted away my whole life, never did
anything for anybody.”
“But you must have done something?” Fr. Larry persisted. The old man just shook his head. “Nothing.”
“I’ll get help” Father started toward the door. As he reached it, he heard the man say, “Well there might
have been one thing, accept I don’t like talking about it, because, I didn’t do it well or nothing.”
“What was it?” Fr. Larry whispered.
“Aw, Father, I don’t like to mention it, because I did it when I was drunk, sometimes in bars, making fun
of it. I’d go to sleep in boxcars with other hobos, but I did it all these years, badly though.”
“What? What did you do?”
“When I was a little kid, my mom told me that if I’d say the “Mary Prayer” everyday as often as I would
think of it, I wouldn’t die alone; that I wouldn’t die without having a priest to confess to and to give me
the Last Rites. Oh, Father, I’m dying, ain’t I? And what my mom said was true.” He smiled. Then he
sighed a little and went home to his Mother, both of them.
The happened a long time ago. It was told to me by one of our priests who is now in Alaska. It was told
to him by Fr. Larry when he was a very old man.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, please, now and at the hour of my death.”
The “Mary Prayer”, what a simple, hope-filled petition of love, for all of us, everyday, ass often as we
think of it.
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