Tonight Paul, who looks a little like St Paul, came to the door asking for absolution, Normally he comes asking for a few pounds or sees me in town and asks for my blessing, something few of my parishioners ask for. Now, he has lost control of both his bladder and bowels, he is convinced he is dying, he is an alcoholic, he tells me he has sclerosis of the liver. He wanted me to pray he would go to heaven and go soon. He asked me to say that prayer which he couldn't remember but it had, 'pray for me now and the hour of my death'. I told him all that was necessary that he should say the words he remembered, with as much faith as he had.
I went into church for Exposition, he was kneeling there in the pew alongside Ann one of our parishioners. Even on the sanctuary, even with the incense, it was possible to smell his breath, he stayed there kneeling for about half an hour, got up and went to kneel on the sanctuary steps before the Blessed Sacrament where I had knelt, he got up and helped by Ann left as silently as he had prayed, going back to a shop doorway where he normally spends the night.
Pray for him that his prayer might be answered soon and that those words, "pray for me now and at the hour of my death", may indeed gain him heaven.
And give thanks that this priest was able to glimpse the great beauty of the faith of this poor man.