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Sunday, April 30, 2017
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Holy Spirit Interactive: Deacon Thomas Frankenfield : Visiting the Sick - The Gift of Being Ministered To

Visiting the Sick - The Gift of Being Ministered To

by Deacon Thomas Frankenfield

The Journey

This week I am taking a short break from my reflections on the Spiritual Works of Mercy to share with you a simple event in my life that has made a profound and lasting impact.

The past few weeks have been a real struggle for my family and me. I had routine knee surgery on the 9th of June and truly expected to recover quickly. In fact, I was back on the Altar assisting at Holy Mass, the Sunday about 9 days after the operation. My community praised God for my quick recovery and once again, I began to fill my appointment book with meetings; serving the People of God—those I love deeply.

However life always has its twists and turns. Suddenly, there were complications and before I knew it, I was being swept back into the operating room the following Tuesday. (How quickly life can change.) Now about 12 days later all seems well and back on track.

During this emergency, some amazing things happened that are important to share. So, this week, the story I will share is mine. How God touched me deeply through the love and care of His people.

How God Ministered To The Minister

My Tuesday seemed normal. I finished Morning Prayer, had my coffee and was soon on the way to the hospital for a routine appointment. (Thanks to God that I remembered the medical staff in my morning prayers. I also blessed our Chapel staff who was smoothly running our “priest-less parish” in my absence.) I entered the hospital proudly using my new cane which I had graduated to after stumbling for a week on crutches.

In serving God, I have spent lots of time at the hospital (both as a patient and in ministry) and thus have met many fantastic people. So on this morning, I took time to visit many of the offices on the way to my doctor. Visiting people is one of God’s gifts in my ministry. I love it because I firmly believe that a large part of ministry is not as complicated as we make it –it is as simple as just being present to people, so God can work through us. (Now, that would be a great article for another time.)

Finally I finished my visits and met my surgeon. With this great start, I had a vein of cheerfulness running throughout my system. (That was about to quickly change.) The first sign of difficulty was how my surgeon’s face changed from a smile to a furrowed brow. Next, he informed me that my incision was seriously infected and immediate action was necessary. Thus, in the time it takes to say a rosary, I was on my way to surgery. It was so quick that I barely had a chance to contact my wife. I was alarmed I would not see her and feel her comforting touch.

Alone in the operating prep room, I took the opportunity to drift off into centering prayer to help calm my nerves and to draw strength from the Lord. During the peace of that moment, I was suddenly touched by a hand. I thought, finally my wife was here. No, it was not my wife but one of my colleagues, a chaplain. Tim was notified of my situation and rushed to the hospital--just like I have done for others many times, Tim took my hands in his and together we prayed. He shared God’s love with me and blessed me. Soon he left me to visit with my wife who had also arrived. It was so quick and so gentle but so important to me in that time of personal pressure.

A Reflection on these Events

When I reflect on the events, it is unmistakable that God reached out to me in my time of need. He called Tim forth and Tim said “Yes.” Praise God for his love and Praise God for people like Tim.

Over years of my ministry, I have visited hospitals many dozens of time. Some times I have grumbled when a hospital visit might not have fit to my schedule. Of course, I remember those times when the situation called for special treatment when I have spent days and weeks with families. Each has been a reflection of my personal relationship with God and the People of God.

But today I focus on those simple, “five minute” visits like the visit by the chaplain, Tim. With all that experience, it is clear to me that I still do not fully appreciate the impact these simple visits have on people’s lives. The peace that Tim’s prayer and presence brought to my heart in my time of uncertainty was a powerful sense of healing. I am very thankful that he said “Yes” to God’s call and took the time to visit with me.

Touched by the Divine

Over the past week I have begun to regain strength and everything is close to normal, except for the change to my heart. I was touched by the Holy and I am changed. On my part, I recommit myself to take more time with the People of God and bring the presence of Jesus to them wherever they may be. I have a deeper realization of how much God is truly in charge of my life. Daily, I ask Him to be My Lord and My God. I also ask you to join me in doing the same. Take time for those who need you. From the sick to the lonely, God is calling each of us to take His love to them. Please be like Tim…say “Yes” to God’s call.

May God bless you all and may you have the courage to continue to say a loud and loud “yes” to the Lord.

I would love your feedback, thoughts, stories and ideas. Please email me.

Deacon Tom

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