Saturday, May 5, 2012

Scary Night

So tonight was a bit scary. I was having dinner with a couple I knew. A very nice, solid, Catholic couple. We were out at a restaurant. The little newborn cooing away as we talked about their lives and my life as a new priest...and then the husband looked distracted as he looked above and past me...

He said, "I think she's choking." I turned around and saw an older woman standing up putting a cloth napkin to her mouth. A gentleman from her table was behind her giving her the heimlich maneuver. I was stunned. "What...?" I thought to myself. Then a woman from her table got up to take up the process in relieving this woman. "She can't breathe," said a third person from her group. Younger and bigger waiters began to come up and assist. A few people began to get up from their tables to come over to help out. The husband got up to join the group.

"Call 911!" someone shouted. A waitress from the back shouted out, "They are on their way!" The poor woman started to lose color in her face. Push after push against her diaphragm you could hear a slight gasp for air as her throat opened up just enough to allow for a little bit of air to come in around the lodge piece of morsel.

Everyone in the restaurant began move their attention to this moment. People began to watch in horror as the morsel of food remained unmoved.

I thought to myself, "What...can...I do? There are so many people gathering around, I can't do anything else." I sat there stunned as I watched the foreseeable outcome approaching. My lips began to move in instinct, "Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee..." The prayer to our Blessed Mother was really a plea for her to hear my intention: Help her out, Mother! Pray to God to save her, please!

Then...everyone stopped...the poor woman stumbled a little. The waiter behind her moved aside. The woman stood erect and leaned against the waiter that had dislodged the piece of food. "Praise God! What a blessing," said the young man who had left our table.

After that moment I started to think more seriously about life. "We really don't know what it will be that takes us from this life, do we? Hmmm...will we be ready when it is our time?"

What a scary night...but what a tremendous blessing this woman had in being able to have the morsel dislodged. As we got ready to leave, I walked over to the group of four. In my clerics, I turned to the woman and said, "Are you okay?" She was...a little shooken-up but thankful. "I heard your friend say 'what a blessing.' This truly was a blessing." I offered words of empathy and mentioned that I would pray for her this evening. They were very thankful.



  1. I've choked for a long period of time before too. It is scary. But you did what you could and prayer is the best thing you could've done.

  2. In an unrelated note, my parents (from SC) vacationed in Savannah this weekend, and absolutely loved you. They went to daily mass and told me about this amazing priest who was so passionate, so on fire for the Lord. It was very encouraging.

    My family is a bunch of converts (my mom and I came into the Church this Easter). It's been a wonderful journey, but sometimes the emotions and heart get lost in the ritual. It's always refreshing to find a priest who reminds us that the Spirit is still here and strong in the Catholic Church.

    So thank you!

    1. Why thank you Chip. Yes, it was great to have your parents come to daily mass. It was nice to see a devout couple attending mass during their vacation.

      The Ritual can at times be a little...uh...what's the word? Stiffling? But really, when performed reverently, the Ritual lifts our hearts, minds, and our souls to God. I am happy to hear that your parents had a great experience of the Ritual and of the faith during their visit.

      Many blessings!

  3. Prayer is the most important thing that could have been done. As a paramedic I am reminded every shift that human interventions can only do so much, and life or death is completely out of my hands. Sometimes every medication and procedure is fruitless, and all that can be done is pray for the soul wrestling with death in that mortally wounded body. This weekend I had a very bad situation, lost a patient and I felt like God abandoned me. But sometimes even in the worst situation I can feel an angel over my shoulder to guide my hand, and I am thankful beyond words for it. This is a lovely blog Father, thank you for taking the time to write it.

    1. Jeannette, it is my pleasure.

      My prayers to you and to that that patient this past weekend.

      God bless.


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