Updated: Dec 7, 2022
Story by Michele Rose
If a priest invited you to sit next to him at the altar in front of a fully packed congregation, would you accept? The church I attend, Sacred Heart, is usually packed during the 11:00 a.m. service. With this large amount of people in attendance, I often felt like we were all packed --- like sardines --- in the pew seats. To allow extra room, I kept my purse locked in my husband’s SUV. Like routine, Paul drops me off at the front of the church and then parks his vehicle about a half-block away before he joins me in my most preferred seat in the church. The story I’m about to share happened before I had a cochlear implant, back when I wore a hearing aid.
Father Jerry was about to begin mass when he looked all around and saw the jammed packed gathering. Every available seat in the entire church was occupied. People were standing along the back wall. The pastor said, “This pains me to see people standing. I’d like to invite two people to come forward and sit with me at the altar.” I understood the logic behind his request. It would have given two people an opportunity to sit during the hour-long mass. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched with anticipation, to see who’d be the first to accept this brave opportunity. I saw no one leap up to take the pastor up on his invitation. So, that’s when Father Jerry decided to take matters in his own hands. He walked down the steps of the altar. He walked toward the parishioners. He then reached out for my hand. It wasn’t like I was easily accessible like some of the folks who sat in the first pew or row. I was actually seated in my favorite third row seat. And it wasn’t like Father Jerry knew me personally. In fact, he has never met me before. He may have recognized my face from my weekly attendance. Anyway, Father Jerry had a gentle, but firm, grip on my hand. He said, “Please come with me.” My initial reaction was to wriggle out of his firm grasp. But I could feel the surrounding churchgoers’ eyes watching us --- intently. Needless to say, I felt uncomfortable. I definitely didn’t want to behave like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum. Throwing a fit was the last thing I wanted to do. But I most definitely did not want to sit at the altar in front of all these people in this fully jammed packed church, either. I knew if I kept resisting, I’d be causing a scene. So, I accepted the invitation, reluctantly. As I followed Father Jerry, he asked Ray (Grand Knight at Knights of Columbus) to come forward as well. At the altar the priest offered me the seat to his left.
After the three of us were seated, I kept my eyes focused on my hands that were folded in my lap. In a hushed whisper Father Jerry asked, “Are you going to be okay?” When I glanced up and saw over 2,500 pairs of watching eyes, I felt my face turn a few shades of red. I nodded my head affirmatively. I then said in an equally soft voice, “I feel humbled.” So, then the mass began. Just before Eucharist (when the presentations of the Gifts were being prepared) was when I first heard it. Father Jerry stood at the altar with a host in his hand. He raised it up above his head and said, “Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which will be given up for you.” I heard a knock. Not just an ordinary knock, you see. It was a knock from my digital hearing aid indicating that the battery was about to go dead. The “knock” informed me that the battery would die within minutes.
My heart leaped. I carefully leaned around the altar to search for my husband. But that’s when I realized my hubby doesn’t read lips, like I do. I had no effective way to let him know about my soon-to-be-dead-battery situation. What good it would have done me anyway, I thought to myself. After all, the spare hearing aid batteries were in my purse. My purse was in the locked SUV. The vehicle was parked nearly a half-block away. “Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood,” I listened to Father Jerry. Then I heard, “Knock knock.” The knocking had become more persistent. This is what my hearing aid did if I didn’t change the battery immediately. The hearing aid “thinks” I can’t hear the notification (knock knock sound). So, the knocking becomes much LOUDER. If I continued to ignore the warning, the knocking would become so loud that anyone nearby would hear the racket. Lord only knew I didn’t want to interrupt the priest. So I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed.
My prayer went something like this, “Lord, You know my battery is about to go dead. You know where the spare batteries are and the situation I’m in. Please extend the life of this battery. Amen.” The knocking stopped instantaneously. Just like that. There wasn’t another single peep heard from my hearing aid for the remainder of the mass. During the recessional and closing song, Father Jerry asked Ray and me to follow him as he exited the church. Once outside, I had to wait awhile before my husband joined me. It would take some time for him to exit the church from the third row. Once he reached me, we walked to his SUV. As soon as we approached the vehicle, I heard a double-chirp sound when Paul used the handheld remote control to unlock his SUV. Just as I reached out to grasp the door handle I heard, “Knock knock.” This was proof God hears and answers prayers.
Postscript: Michele Rose recently retired as an interior designer but has had various jobs in her lifetime. However, for as long as she could remember, throughout those various jobs, her creative skills and passion for writing was screaming to be unleashed. She has proven her writing skills here with her first story - “Knock Knock,” She also has her own website https://designsbymichelerose.com
Michele has graciously consented to correspond with anyone that has questions or would like to learn more about living with a hearing impairment like hers.
Thank you, Michele, for sharing your story.
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