The Catholic Parish of
Saint John Henry Newman

 Covering most of East Leeds

The Empty Chair.

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A man’s daughter once phoned the local priest and asked if he would visit her father, who was quite ill at home and pray with him. When the priest arrived and was shown into the room, he found the old man lying in bed propped up by pillows, with an empty chair sitting beside the bed. The priest assumed that the man was expecting him and the chair had been placed in readiness for his visit, but when the man saw him he asked, “Who are you?” The priest introduced himself and said, “I’m sorry, but when I saw the empty chair I thought you were expecting my visit. The man collapsed into a fit of coughing before saying, “Father, I have never told anyone this before, not even my own daughter, but all my life I have never known how to pray to God. When I went to Mass I would hear the priest talk about the importance of prayer, not only in church, but in our own homes as well, but it went right over my head and after a while I abandoned all attempts at prayer. Then about four years ago I met an old school pal whom I hadn’t seen in years and we went for a celebration drink together and after several drinks I mentioned my problem to him”. He laughed and said that prayer was a simply a matter of having a conversation with Jesus, much as we are having with each other in this pub, and he suggested sitting in a chair, placing an empty chair in front and in faith see Jesus sitting opposite you and tell him your problems. “It’s not spooky,” he said, “Because Jesus promised “I will be with you always.”

The man continued, “So I tried it and liked it so much that I now spend about half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening, just talking to God. I have to be very careful though, if my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.” The priest was deeply moved by the man’s revelation and encouraged the old man to continue on his journey of faith and not worry about talking to an empty chair. Then they prayed together and the priest anointed the man, said his goodbyes and returned to his church. Two days later the man’s daughter called to tell the priest that her father had died peacefully that afternoon.

When we feel something is intuitively right, let it flow through you and don’t ruin it by thinking about it – just let it happen!

Published Fri 9th Aug 2013 10:44:51

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