From what I heard, it was a really good homily, too. One of our deacons was preaching beautifully on the bountiful love of the father in the Gospel story today, and how this love is a wonderful model for all parents.
Unfortunately, I was distracted by a couple of people who, ironically, are most in need of prayer, but who frequently have to be removed from the church and church premises.
They are not children.
They are a mother-daughter pair who live in the neighborhood and apparently suffer from mental illness. They have disrupted Masses before, as well as other parish events. At times there has been police involvement.
Before Mass, our college-student cantor walked in without her mother T, who usually sings in the choir as well. I asked where she was, and the answer was that these two people were in church today, and T had gone to alert the ushers. Later she did come and sit with the choir, but I could see that she was watching someone. Suddenly, during the homily, the daughter got up and walked down the aisle from the back of church to the front, past the pulpit, and out the door behind the altar. The deacon paused a minute (he's been confronted by them in the past) but she passed him, and he went on with the homily. T leaned over and asked if I had my cell phone, and I handed it to her. She quickly left by the side door. Her daughter followed her after a minute, following a whispered discussion among choir members about whether the sacristy was locked.
I spent the next few minutes completely ignoring the homily and praying the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, over and over. I saw the mother leave the church. Later, T came back in. They never returned.
My husband and Big Brother said the only thing they noticed was the daughter walking through the front of the church. We are thankful that there was no disruption, though T was subjected to plenty of verbal abuse outside.
St. Dymphna, patroness of the mentally ill, pray for them. I pray that the love of the Father, who as today's Gospel tells us loves us generously and without reserve, can touch and heal the hearts of these two souls.
St. Michael the Archangel, thank you.
UPDATE: I hope I haven't given the impression that I am condemning these folks (I worried about this all night). I know they are in a very unfortunate situation. I also know that I am powerless to change that situation and that the only thing I can do for them is to pray and to encourage others to pray as well. It truly is a shame that they cannot function as part of the church community at this time. But God's love is powerful and healing, and I hope they will be healed.