Once a week the pastor would take her communion. She was now an old widow living alone. One thing he noticed. She always kept an empty chair beside her bed. A very special chair because no one was allowed to sit on it. At first he paid little attention to his, but one day he asked her,
“What is that empty chair doing there, always beside you?”
“That is His chair! I keep it empty for Him!”
“Yes, for Him – for Jesus Christ. When I am alone I visualize Him sitting there. We chat and chat and chat. If you only knew what an enjoyable companion He is!” The woman said all this with great simplicity and conviction, but the priest was not too impressed.
“When we get older, our minds start playing tricks on us!” the priest mused to himself on the way home.
Hardly a week passed and the woman’s neighbor came rushing to the priest’s door.
“Come quickly, Father. I think the lady next door has left us!”
On their way to her home, the neighbor remarked, “By the way, Father, guess how we found her?!”
“We found her embracing that empty chair by her bed. She was resting her head on it. I wonder why?”
The priest smiled. He knew why. He looked upwards to Heaven and smiled again.
“Now who is going bonkers?” he wondered to himself. “Me or she?”
Before starting his work, the monk would always stop a few minutes and gaze up to heaven. Once his disciples asked him why he always looked up to the sky before beginning work. “Did you ever notice what a man does before shooting?” the monk asked. “He stops and takes aim. I do the same before beginning work. I stop and take aim at God. After all, I am working for His glory, no?”
This is why Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity’s advice is precious. She was a French Carmelite nun who lived in the time St. Therese of the Child Jesus. She wrote the following note to a friend who was complaining how difficult it is to live with God amidst the bustle of everyday life. “In life the important thing is to build within yourself a little room, into which you can enter frequently to speak to Him. If you only knew how much He understands us!”
St. Teresa of Jesus, the greatest expert on prayer, went so far as to guarantee that anyone will become a saint who spends but one quarter hour each day in quiet prayer.
This is how simple holiness is ….
Just a question of an empty chair beside you!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.