St. Isadore of Seville is one of my favorite saints. I think I have mentioned this before. (If I have, and I am boring you, feel free to skip down two paragraphs).
The only story I know of St. Isadore is the well-known legend of his habit of attending Mass every day, despite his occupation as an agricultural day laborer. In those days when they said they wanted a day-laborer, that meant they wanted you to work from the moment it was light enough to see, until the moment it was too dark to see, with maybe a quick break for lunch… if you had any food that is.
St. Isadore, however, had a habit of leaving his work to walk to Mass in the village. His fellow laborers noticed this and told the boss about it. The boss had never noticed any less work from Isadore than from any of the others, so he was surprised. Then he was angry because he realized he wasn’t getting his full 14 hours of work out of him. He went to the field one day to catch his hired-hand red-handed shirking his chores. He probably had it all planned out. He would be standing all impressive and frowning in front of the idle plow when holier-than-thou Isadore came waltzing back from his unauthorized ventures. However, he was in for a surprise when he arrived at Isadore’s little patch of field and found, as predicted, no Isadore. Instead, an angel was walking behind the plow, keeping up Isadore’s quota while he attended Mass.
A typical Army lunch break goes from 11:30 t0 13:00. (That’s right, civilians, it’s all right to be jealous). Today we shifted it a little bit because we had some events planned for early in the afternoon, so we left class at 11:15 and were supposed to be back at 12:45. This was a lucky break for me because on Wednesdays there is Confession, Benediction/Adoration and Holy Mass at the chapel nearby. It is not a long drive. It takes 8 minutes to go there, and about 11 minutes to get back (12:30 traffic on post is always a bit congested as everyone tries to get back to their units at once).
I made it there before the priest did. I attended the first half of Benediction, and then was first in line for Confession. I enjoyed the remainder of the Adoration period and Benediction at 12:00, but then I was faced with a problem. You see, Mass is supposed to start at 12:00 exactly. It typically lets out around 12:30, give or take a couple of minutes. It takes 11 minutes to drive back and 4 minutes to walk from the parking lot to the classroom. When lunch hour lasts to 13:00 that is not a problem. When lunch hour is over at 12:45, that is cutting it really, really tight.
Add to that I am acting class leader right now so I have to be there a little bit early to get accountability, and then Mass didn’t start until 12:07. All of a sudden the numbers weren’t adding up!
I thought about just leaving, maybe trying to catch an evening Mass somewhere later. But I didn’t want to. I wanted to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, and I wanted it right then. I didn’t want to wait, and I didn’t want to have to cut into homework and calling family time in the evening. So I said, “Whatever. I’ll stay at least until 12:28 and see if Father just does a short homily or something.”
But at 12:28 he was just finishing the Eucharistic prayer. By the way, trying to be present and collected at the Sacrifice of the Mass while also stressing out about a time hack is pretty much impossible. So I (mentally) tossed my hands up and turned off the stress switch. I was going to Communion, and let the chips land where they may. I said, “Jesus, don’t let me be late,” and stayed.
When I left after Communion I was late. It was 12:34.
But then I made it back to the parking lot in 6 minutes! Out of the dozen or so traffic lights I had to pass, only one was red, and it turned green as soon as I got to it. Every time I reached a stop sign, no one was coming and I had right of way. I made that trip in absolute record time, and even had time to stop by my room and grab a protein bar on my way to class, and still walked in with about a minute to spare.
This is a good thing for me to remember. I want to meet Jesus in the Eucharist on a daily basis, but sometime business gets in the way. However, sometimes I am being a little bit sluggish, and I secretly welcome business getting in the way. Or at least I stay on the conservative side, not taking any risks or accepting any discomfort to meet Jesus. I am afraid that I might miss a hit time (unless you have been in the military, you’ll just have to take my word for it how much the idea “missing a hit time” freaks me out). (Then again, Kathleen was never in the military, and she is just as serious about hit times, maybe even more so. Weird!)
But Jesus has ways and means. He can literally do whatever He wants. My experience throughout my life has been that He typically matches my efforts. Whatever risk I take or inconvenience I have to accept to make it to Mass, Confession or Adoration, He is several steps ahead of me, already doing one better. This is not the first time He has worked things like this for me, although I admit it has not been quite so spectacular. But I think of all the times during the Q course that I was almost late getting back from Mass, or was late, but then the instructor was later. Whatever time I offer Him, He always gives back to me. I have never lacked what I needed to fulfill my responsibilities.
Take the risk. Be bold. Jesus is waiting.