Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Ash Wednesday! Finding True Gold in a Bank Vault!
My former pastor Father John Giacopelli, who retired in 1992,once told me about his first Ash Wednesday experience after his retirement, in New Jersey where he retired to. He was originally from NY, but had spent his active ministry years in our diocese. Today, contemplating this Ash Wednesday, and how it is the beginning of our time for cleaning our spiritual homes, I once again got a chuckle from the memory of Father John's story.
Father John was one of those priests who people were naturally drawn to. Even in retirement, he never left the house without wearing his clerical suit and his Roman collar. On this particular Ash Wednesday, he decided to stop by the bank on his way to visit the local nursing home after having attended Mass. Along with his clerical garb, this day he sported the Ash Wednesday ashes on his forehead.
As he approached the teller, she exclaimed: “Oh! My goodness today must be Ash Wednesday. I have not been to church in years! Father, could you hear my confession? “
Father John…never one to miss an opportunity to bring in the stray sheep, of course said; “Sure, is there a quiet place where we can go for your confession?” The woman thought for a minute, and said:”We can use the bank vault.”
So, off they both went to the bank vault for confession. Father John related as how that was not the end of the story though. When they had finished and exited the bank vault, there was a line of about twenty bank employees, including the President of the bank…waiting to have their confession heard.
The rich symbolism of Ash Wednesday still reverberates across the centuries to this present day. May you all have a beautiful cleansing Lent, and everyday experience the Love and Forgiveness of Our Heavenly Father. Chances are you will not find such riches in a Bank Vault, but who knows...with God anything is possible.