I lost something very personal and precious to me at church last week. It was a polka-dotted zippered pouch that contained my Magnificat, some prayer cards and pamphlets, and a small leatherette copy of the Book of Catholic Prayers.

Days later, I retraced my steps and found most of the pouch’s contents in the lost and found. The prayer book was not there.

I felt disappointed and violated to think that someone apparently went through my things and returned some, but not all of them. Perhaps the zipper was left open and everything that was found was returned. Most likely, I will never know.

That book was special to me for a number of reasons. I purchased it at the Immaculate Conception Church in Old Town San Diego,  site of the first mass in California in 1602. I visited there just two months after my return to the church. I carried that book with me almost every day since. It guided me on many trips to the confessional. I loved the heart-felt Act of Contrition printed there so much more than the rote one I learned as a child.

The most special parts of the book were those that were added. One was an old prayer given to me by a holy priest and written in his own hand near the back of the book.

Take my body, Jesus,
My eyes my ears my tongue.
Never let them Jesus help to do you wrong.
Take my heart and fill it
Full of love for you.
All I have, I give to you
Please give yourself to me.

He told me that sometimes he would pray to surrender other parts of his body to the Lord, and he meant it. A couple of years ago, that prayer haunted me.  I heard on the TV news that he had fallen off the 2nd story rectory roof. He was trying to make repairs to save the parish money. After being life-flighted to a trauma center for multiple surgeries, his life was saved, thanks be to God. There are much nicer ways to get a helicopter ride, and much worse ways to make the TV news.

He fractured his spine and is partially paralyzed. After 14 months of very hard work and rehab, he returned to his parish. He celebrates mass using a standing wheelchair and has given a entirely new meaning to the phrase, “the holy sacrifice of the mass.”

The prayer that my priest friend shared brought me great strength as I prepared to be a living kidney donor. That leads to the addition I made to that book.  I taped a florist’s card from my kidney recipient on the inside front cover. She couldn’t make it to a banquet that the hospital had to thank living donors, so she sent me a corsage. The card read something like this:  “Christening white is a symbol of rebirth.  May these white flowers remind you of my gratitude for the new life you’ve given me.”

white flowers old polar

I prayed that my book would be returned to me, but it seems that will not happen. Now I hope that the person who found the book and that they will treasure it as I did. I hope it will inspire them to go to confession. I hope that it will move them to sacrificial love. As my mom used to say, “perhaps they needed it more than you did.”

#prayer book, #lost, #sacrificial love