Ash Wednesday with the frail and forgetful

Ash Wednesday is a time of solemn reflection, but the experience was considerably poignant for many rest home residents in Palmerston North, says Rev. Amy Houben, Elder Care Chaplain in the Manawatu Archdeaconry.

Rev. Amy travelled to three rest homes in Palmerston North on Wednesday the 1st of March, offering Ash Wednesday services to those who are frail, and sometimes forgetful.  One man made a significant impression on her, as she relates: “I’ll never forget one gentleman, a man living with anger and frustration at his loss of independence.  He received Holy Communion for the first time in 50 years and graciously allowed me to pray with him.  With hot tears tipping over the rim of his aged eyes, he said ‘this has brought me a sense of peace.'”

Opportunities to relinquish regret and receive assurance of God’s forgiveness is very timely in the lives of many older saints, says Amy.  The words “know that you are forgiven” uttered by the lips of a priest is deeply healing for the elderly as they journey into their latter years, bringing tears because God’s forgiveness is felt at the deepest core of their being.  “An open and contrite heart is beautiful to God,” shares Amy, who encourages all members of the Diocese to seek a deeper relationship across the generations in every parish this Lenten season.