The Day I Hungered in a Hospital Chapel

By Jackie Mercado

Since my conversion years ago, Holy Communion has been my life-source. Many years ago, I made a promise to our Lord that I would receive His Precious Body and Blood daily, but that it is was up to Him to ensure that no matter where I was, I would always have access to Holy Communion. Sure enough, the Lord always delivers.

About two years ago, my husband, Alfonso was scheduled for surgery at the Veterans Administration hospital in northern Vermont. Because of the distance and time of his surgery (had to be there between 7:30-8:30 a.m.), I was not able to go to the 6:45 a.m. Mass that I usually attend during the week. Therefore, I said a prayer the night before and the day of surgery asking our Lord to remember my promise and that I needed Him to provide me with Holy Communion.

After the hospital staff had taken him into surgery, I found the chapel and checked the schedule and realized that Mass would be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Well, I had plenty of time left. I entered the chapel and began my prayers thanking the Lord for a safe trip to Vermont, and asking He and Our Lady to guide the physicians' hands so that all went well and that Al would have a speedy recovery. As 10:30 a.m. approached, there was no sign of the priest. Using the telephone outside the chapel doors, I called the receptionist and asked when the priest would arrive. To my dismay, I was told that Father was called away on emergency and would not be available to celebrate Mass. I asked if there was an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion available; there wasn't. The receptionist with whom I was speaking was an Episcopalian and offered to come down to the Chapel and pray with me. I offered up my suffering for not being able to receive Holy Communion, and waited.

When the receptionist arrived, we said an Our Father together, and for some reason, I just burst into tears. I just felt a huge hole in my heart. Not being able to receive our Lord had impacted me more than I realized. Well, I let the tears flow, and after we prayed together, the receptionist left. I stayed a while, praised and thanked the Lord for His goodness and love, and again asked for Al to be OK during surgery.

I started down the long corridor, heading to the elevator so I could grab some breakfast before going back to the waiting room. I had almost reached the elevator when I clearly heard someone telling me to turn around and head back to the chapel. I was tired from the drive and just wanted a coffee and a yogurt or something. I started talking out loud, trying to convince myself that I was imagining this. But somehow I knew Margaret (my guardian angel) was calling me to listen and head back to the chapel. Once there, I didn't know what I was supposed to do, but I prayed for patience and waited.

About two minutes later, in comes a priest. Father explained that he was en route to tend to an emergency when he realized he didn't bring Holy Communion with him. So, he had to backtrack to the chapel to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament. Father glanced at me and must have noticed the pathetic look on my face. All of sudden, before I could even get the words out of my mouth, he asked if I would like to receive our Lord. With tears in my eyes, I could only nod since I was so choked up and couldn't seem to verbalize the word "yes." When the priest placed our Lord on my tongue, it was as if the whole world stopped, and it was just the Lord and me in the chapel. I thanked the priest and remained in the chapel, praising and blessing God for His goodness to me! When I left the chapel, even my hunger had disappeared. I was on cloud nine, but above all, the Lord had nourished and rejuvenated my soul!

God is so wonderful! To top off my day and make it even more beautiful, the priest returned to the hospital later in the evening and administered Holy Communion to Alfonso! God is so loving and attentive to His children. God be praised!

Jackie Mercado lives in Pittsfield, Mass. She and her family have become familiar faces at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. Her son is an altar server, and she is a Eucharistic minister and lector, and they all take turns leading the Rosary on Saturday morning. If you would like to become a Shrine volunteer, please call us at 413-298-1118.

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