For 11 years, I served as director of ministry at a large retirement center. The residents numbered over 700, and included all facets of retirement living: independent, assisted care, full nursing care, as well as a wonderful Alzheimer’s wing. Three times a week, we had Mass. And each day, with lay help, we distributed the Eucharist.
From time to time, someone would question whether our Alzheimer’s patients could understand what was going on around them. But I came to realize that, while such residents might not be able to communicate with us, as far as language was concerned, they were not isolated from the Lord. The simple truth is that God has no difficulty communicating with Alzheimer’s patients. The language that is used is far different than our human language. But those are our limitations, not God’s. And I admit that there is mystery here. There is so much we humans do not understand.
Communication without language is always taking place. The relationship of a mother with her newborn is filled with communication from both. The baby communicates with cries and cooing; the mother by touch and by voice. Who would deny that there is a great deal of communication going on between the two?
With Alzheimer’s patients, there is communication by the loving care they are given. But God communicates in ways you and I cannot understand. There is no child of God’s that does not have the opportunity of hearing God’s voice in some way.