I haven’t blogged in a while – but was inspired to do so by a blog written by a real blogger and my Brother In Christ, Carlos Espinosa. Visit him at “Living My Faith On A High Wire”. He wrote about the passing of our mutual friend Pepe Merino. What follows is my take on Pepe’s passing.
“My BIC, the biggest favor you can do for me is to find a way I can take the Eucharist; I will be eternally grateful.” On September 12th at approximately 1:00am, my Brother In Christ, Jose Pepe Joe Merino, passed to God’s eternal Glory. Almost exactly two months to the day he was diagnosed with cancer.
There are so many heart warming stories I could share about my BIC. Even though I am blessed with many Brothers In Christ, he is the only one that called me BIC and I always reciprocated. In the hospital he made the request I quoted above. I became a man on a mission. You see, Pepe had not partaken in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and consequently hadn’t received Holy Communion in 40 years! He had an impediment from a prior marriage and respected the Eucharist so much he refrained from accepting; no matter how desperate he was to do so.
We are blessed with many wonderful priests at our parish, the Church of the Little Flower in Coral Gables. I went to see Father Phillip Tran, ordained barely two years ago. With our Pastor Father Michael Davis’ blessing he agreed to visit Pepe at the hospital. Once there he determined Pepe’s terminal disease, along with other factors, made Pepe an acceptable candidate for both Reconciliation and Holy Communion.
After Pepe’s confession with Father Tran, I stepped into the hospital room with the Eucharist. What a momentous and overwhelming moment! With his wife Miriam by his side, along with his two oldest daughters and friends, I gave him the Eucharist for the first time in 40 years!
His facial expression was a mix of elation, awe and gratitude. He wept with happiness. It was such a humbling moment for me and one that deepened my love and respect for the Eucharist more than I could ever imagine. Pepe considered it such an honor and had so much respect for the Eucharist. It was truly a real treasure for him.
I am in the third year of a five year diaconate formation program. I know I will have other happy moments and some sad ones in my future ministry; if God allows me to complete the training. But I don’t think I will have another moment like the one my BIC and I shared!
I am blessed with being able to go to Mass most mornings. I don’t think I will ever feel the same about accepting Holy Communion ever again. My BIC showed me how awesome it is to accept our Lord in the form of the Eucharist. I will never forget Pepe’s expression of love.
Our pastor authorized a team of BICs to take the Eucharist to Pepe to his house on a daily basis. I was also blessed in being the last one he was able to take Communion from; since towards the end he no longer was able to swallow. Before his passing I heard the same priest gave his wife Miriam absolution and she also accepted Holy Communion for the first time since she married Pepe.
From a seemingly disastrous human experience, a wonderful spiritual gift emerged. Both Miriam and Pepe reconciled with our Lord and partook in Holy Communion. I will be for ever grateful to the Lord for allowing me to be a part of this beautiful pastoral experience. It is a lesson for us all.
Thank you my BIC. I will think of you every time I take Holy Communion to the sick or home-bound. And I will never take it for granted.