Tuesday, February 1, 2011

If Only We Could All Die This Way

From the National Post, a tremendously moving story of God's grace and mercy:

As Sergeant Ryan Russell lay dying on Toronto’s frozen streets in the early morning hours of Jan. 12, a local priest was running late for his morning mass.

Father Fausto Bailo, a chaplain at the downtown Ernescliff College student centre on the University of Toronto campus, recalls approaching the intersection of Avenue and Davenport roads — and finding an unexpected scene of chaos.

A police car in the middle of the road with its door open. A man lying motionless on the ground. A growing swarm of officers and curious onlookers. A tragic snapshot in time that would later form the heart of a bizarre murder case.

At the time, Fr. Bailo was not sure what he was looking at, but he knew one thing: The man on the road was not long for this world.

“I saw that he was badly hurt. It was so fast, the whole thing. I thought that he was dead,” the soft-spoken Catholic priest recalled in a heavy Spanish accent.

As more police cruisers screamed up Avenue Road, Fr. Bailo says his religious instincts kicked in, prompting him to deliver a final blessing.

“It was an instant reaction, the moment I saw him,” Fr. Bailo explained.

He performed what is known as a conditional absolution, a blessing to absolve the dying officer of his worldly sins, regardless of his religion. The ritual requires no direct contact, so Fr. Bailo was able to stand on the sidelines, praying for Sgt. Russell as panic and confusion reigned around him.

Nobody reading this should think, "Boy, that guy was lucky there was a priest around."

We do not call this luck. This is Providence.

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