I don’t really know how to react to the news of Father Ben Grist’s death. I didn’t know him. I only know of him from his having written to all the parishes in the diocese following his surprise ordination to the priesthood. Even then his letter assumed a degree of prior knowledge that I had to find out for myself – with the help of Father Tim Finigan.
Also, from Father Tim’s post I learnt of Teresa Higginson, the devotion to the Sacred Head of Jesus and the existence of a group of people praying to Teresa Higginson for Fr Ben. I thought it would be good for me to join them, if only in spirit, although I have to say that I did not keep up these prayers.
I was puzzled that, having a seminarian of the diocese who obviously needed prayer, Father Ben was not routinely included among the sick for whom our parish prayer during the bidding prayers. I found out how “the system” works and had his name added to the list, but only for that Sunday. The following week I forgot and no one else bothered to add his name to the list either. It strikes me as odd that we should neglect the future of our Church in this way. If when we come together as a community we choose to pray for the sick amongst the lay faithful of us, how much more should we be praying for a sick priest of the diocese – even if he is not directly affiliated to our Church?
By the same token I would also expect that if there were a seminarian hailing from our own parish Church that we would be supporting him in prayer also. That there were such a seminarian came as a surprise to me. That he were to favour tradition Catholicism and had had disagreements with the PP about the liturgy might explain why we are not also praying for him and why it was only by a chance meeting that I know anything about him. But I digress.
So my prayers for a miraculous healing to show the world God’s power and the sanctity of Teresa Higginson did not bring about the answer I had hoped for. But by all accounts Father Ben’s disposition in his final days will have had an effect (hopefully a profound one) on those that encountered him during his illness. It is not good for our diocese that we have lost one of our few seminarians but we must trust God since “we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to His purpose, are called to be saints”.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord. Let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.