Reflections on Catholic Healthcare

He had never done this before. Quite frankly, he was as nervous as child on his first day of school. Slowly, he pulled on the fire-engine red pants. “How did I get into this?” he thought. Then he remembered the whole scene:

The day’s work was almost done. He wheeled his maintenance cart back towards the office, ready to head home for the day. Gazing across the vast green lawn as he walked, he let his thoughts wander. Looking up he noticed a tall sister in full habit cutting across the grass. She called out his name as she enthusiastically approached him.

“Just the man I have been looking for,” she proclaimed.

“Really?” He liked the idea that he was being looked for. He stood up a little taller, hoping to fulfill the great expectancy he saw in her eyes.

“Yes, I was wondering if you could do me a favor.”

“Of course, Sister.”

He smiled as he thought to himself, “Who could refuse a Sister who asks like that? I wonder what she needs to be fixed.”

She continued, “What are you doing on Saturday, November 23rd?”

Slightly confused and thrown off, he paused. “Let me check my calendar.” Pulling out his phone, he quickly selected the calendar app where he kept his schedule. “Well, it looks like I am free all day. What do you have in mind?”

Those same pleading eyes looked up at him with a touch of excitement. “Would you be able to be Santa Claus for us that day?”

Finishing with the pants, he reached for the large coat. The white curly wig and beard sat on the table beside him. “I never would have thought of doing this.” He heard a knock at the door.“Are you ready?” a cheerful voice sang out from the hallway. The same sister that had convinced him to try his hand at being Santa, peeked into the door. She came over and helped him don the boots and belt. Taking a deep breath, he looked down into her face. He thought out loud, “I hope I can do this right.”

She smiled confidently and gently assured him, “You will be great!”

As soon as the children came running towards him, all reservation was lost. He dove into the role with the ease of a natural performer and belted out the “Ho Ho Ho’s” with convincing enthusiasm. Approaching the Manor, he turned toward his Carmelite guide, “Can we go see the residents too, Sister?”

Her eyes lit up, “Of course!”

He walked through the hallways, ringing his bell. The minute each resident saw him, a child-like excitement filled their eyes as they called out, “Santa!” Some reached out their arms to enfold him in a warm embrace. Others laughed heartily and tried to figure out if they knew the man behind the fake beard. The day ended too soon. “I don’t know what I liked more: the children or the residents,” he exclaimed. “The look on their faces just made my day. I could think of nothing better to do than bring this joy.”

The fear had vanished as he entered into the joy of each person he encountered. But it was not only the fear he had that disappeared; he also witnessed the fear of loneliness melt away as he visited each resident in their room or in the hallways. In 1 John 4:18 it says that “Perfect love casts out all fear.” He never imagined that this scripture verse could come to life through a red Santa suit and a curly white beard.