I woke up to the sound of a car horn blaring; it was my own. Apparently, in my foggy sleep my foot (or the coat that was covering me to keep the chill off) had caught the door handle and set off the alarm. Scrambling to find my keys was a chore in the dark of course, but the single lamp post under which my car sat made the task a little easier.
When the noise stopped and the silence took over, I glanced out my window to get my bearings. It quickly came back to me. I was on my way through Ohio at night when fatigue started to get the best of me and I saw the sudden need to pull over. I took the first offramp I saw and spying a dimly lit parking lot in the distance I decided that it was my best chance to catch a quick nap.
Normally I would have preferred a motel room, somewhere to stretch my legs, but I am a Catholic Lay Evangelist, a missionary preacher, and so I go where I am called, even when the parish cannot afford to get me there.
Just days earlier, when I got the email about this particular parish mission, the Pastor's words were the same I have seen numerous times, "Patrick, we need this." They certainly did.
You see, in an effort to rejuvenate their dying parish, the Pastor and his newly formed evangelization team had decided that a Lenten mission was just what their community needed. Their prayer was that the mission would breath fresh life into their lukewarm regulars, that the Spirit would call others to Church who had never given it a second thought, in short, that miracles would follow.
But they had no money, and now with the sudden illness of a local missionary priest, the one who was scheduled to speak at the mission, they were stuck. For though they didn't have these two things, God still found it fitting to pack the Church. If the signups were anything to go by, this mission was going to be their best attended parish event ever.
So while I couldn't help them with the money part, I could help them with the mission itself.
After a quick estimation, I realized that it would take me about three days to get there by car - which would have me arrive two hours or so before the mission was to begin. And though I had enough money for the gas to get to the mission, I certainly did not have enough to get back. "Details," I thought, and got into the car.