The Gift of the Blessed Sacrament

A.M.D.G.
J.M.J.
A.T.C.

Laudetur Iesus Christus!

Memorials of Saints Nereus and Achilleus, martyrs; and Saint Pancras, martyr

I love Saturdays. The rhythm of the day is always a bit slower than during the week. I woke up at 6am (my usual weekday wake-up time) and sighed, “Ugh. I’m tired.” Fell back to sleep. 6:15: “Okay, Lord, if you want me to go to Mass, get me out of bed because I don’t have the will to do so.” Fell into a light sleep. 6:25: Something compelled me out of bed, I am convinced my angel did it because he has a tendency to do that. “Allie, you’re up anyway, you may as well go to Mass.” “Yeah, I’m up now, thanks.” Thank the Lord I did because I had to walk to get there this morning.

After my trek was finished, I walked into the church, there were some pews reserved where I usually sat so I found a spot on the other side of church (across the aisle). Perk: I got to receive Communion from the priest (I don’t go out of my way to do so but when I do, I like it … idk why but I just do). I found out the the pews were reserved for the First Communicants from our Exceptional Needs program at the parish. I was asked to help the two altar servers get ready so I got to do some of my old MC jobs (making sure their albs were right and that everything was just so). The boys did a wonderful job.

Once I was done with that, I walked back to my spot and finished Lauds just in time for Mass to begin. There were five students receiving Communion for the first time and they were all dressed in their Sunday best. There was even a First Communion dress and a veil. The kids used to ask me why girls wore what looked like bridal dresses on their First Communion. I would tell them because they are receiving Christ for the first time sacramentally and wearing a dress/outfit like that indicates that there is a special relationship being fostered now especially that the child can receive Him in the Blessed Sacrament.

These students have one or another issue/problem/disability (Lord knows the PC term for it nowadays) but one could tell they have a very strong faith and trust in God. While I was helping one of the young men get vested for Mass, he was telling me about how he and God have a very close relationship. It was beautiful, really it was. Some would be annoyed about it or would just ignore them but it was objectively beautiful to hear someone that society would consider a burden or whose life is “less worthwhile” because of his issue talk about how much they love God and how much God loves them. Heck, in he were still in utero, the doc would probably recommend abortion. Such is the dark place our society is in.

Then when it came time for them to receive Communion, they approached with love. They didn’t schlep up like I have seen so many times. They didn’t pop Him into their mouth like a consecrated Pringle. They received Him with love and reverence. What an example.

That got me thinking (I know, when am I not thinking … I can name a few dates and times *facepalm*) about the great gift we have that is the Eucharist and how we approach it.

I am an EMHC at my parish and being in that position can be altogether uplifting and altogether depressing. You have the people who sit in the handicapped pews so you bring the Blessed Sacrament to them. They are lucky … they can kneel without being conspicuous. After the whole “veil debacle,” I don’t think I have the cajones to try that … then people will REALLY start talking about me. I shouldn’t care but I do, call it vanity and pride. Though I would love to start doing that. I guess I’ll have to save that for TLMs along with wearing the veil. There are certain situations when I can wear my veil but those will be coming to an end soon *sad panda*. Meh, it’s an excuse to get me to Confession.

Then you have the the faithful Sunday and holy day Catholics who bow reverently and either clearly indicate whether they want to receive Him in their hands or on their tongue by clearly having one or the other out. It’s not a guessing game which I play more often than I should. The annoying part of that is when I have to guess and I get it wrong, I get this indignant look like I ought to have known. Sorry but you had your mouth open and your hands folded, therefore I assumed you wanted to receive it the ordinary way … on the tongue, not the extraordinary indulted way … on the hand. Whatev’.

Then you have the persons who, God love them, come to Mass either out of habit or occasionally. They tend to be the schleppers. They slouch and they almost always, without fail, have their hands down at their hips waiting to receive Communion. They are also the ones who tend to not say “Amen” or they mutter something else (one young guy told me I looked “very beautiful” once … trying to pick someone up during Communion … wow.) or they don’t really say anything and just schlep away. These are also the ones who have on occasion to walk away with the Host still in their hand. They rue the day they crossed Ms. Allie, no one walks away without having consumed the Host. I am sick to death of all the desecration and irreverence shown the Blessed Sacrament.

Then, my very favorite: the young ones. Most of the time, they are the ones who just made their First Communion or are still young enough to have that sweet piety that seems to belong to that time in childhood following first reception of Holy communion when they are so proud (good kind of pride) to be able to receive Jesus and thus approach and receive Him with love and reverence. They are the ones who bow the nicest. They are the ones who have their hands folded so neatly. They are the ones who carefully pick up the Host and place Him in their mouths soon after He has been placed in their hand. Along with all these actions comes a beautiful disposition, they approach with a smile, eyes sparkling. Like something out of a 1950s children’s missal but a bit more realistic. These are the ones I find the most beautiful.

What happens from about sixth grade on that makes piety such a “bad” thing? I notice it when the school has its weekly class Masses. The youngest students are the most participatory and reverent. Sure they have a tendency to slam the kneelers a bit and they can fiddle around but they pay attention! They answer the priest’s questions during the homily (at school Masses, the celebrants tend to walk into the nave and engage the kids) and they are so prayerful in their own cute young way.

Then you get the older kids, I joke that they must be mute because they rarely respond and getting an answer out of them is like pulling teeth. They don’t really pay attention because they never remember when to kneel (when the priest has to wait more than three seconds, there is an issue), they should know by seventh grade. They can schlep sometimes and they do this thing with the Host that can sometimes look like practice for pen spinning. Some just pop Him into their mouth and make some extremely sloppy Sign of the Cross (if you’re not going to do it reverently, don’t do it at all, it’s a sacramental, not a gang symbol).

I guess what I am trying to get at is we, as Catholics, have this ineffable gift in the Real Presence. Why is it that some of us treat Him like a common cracker rather than the very Presence of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ? Why is it that we do not visit Him more? Why is it that we do not bring Him every aspect of our lives and lay them at His feet?

Non sequitur: As I am writing this, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” came up on my iTunes player and I think, “This would be EPIC on Guitar Hero!” I need to play some soon. I am clearly going through withdrawals again.

Oh Lord, now it’s “My Guy” by Mary Wells.  I have stories of setting up for the 6pm Youth Mass at the parish singing motown with one of the adult volunteers who was very involved with the youth group during the “Days of the Giants” when I was in it in high school.  We were always the most reverent.  The pastor would just roll his eyes and laugh. lulz </non sequitur>

Sometimes, when I am “distributing” (idk a good term for it) the Precious Blood and there is a lull in persons receiving, I find myself looking down into the chalice. Sure it has the accidents (appearance) of altar wine but its substance (stuff-ness) has been changed into the Precious Blood of Christ. The same Blood that pumped through the Sacred Heart. The same Blood that dripped off the Lord in His agony in the garden. The same Blood that was shed so profusely in the scourging and crowning with thorns. The same Blood that gushed out of His side with water when the centurion ran Him through to make sure He was really dead.

I stand there holding Mercy in a cup. Sounds like some irreverent joke but it’s true. It was in the shedding of His Blood that His Mercy was shared with the world. It was in His shedding His Blood and giving His Life that we are redeemed and given new life free from the chains of sin and death. It was in the shedding of His Blood that we were/are strengthened to live the life He wants us to so that that we can live with Him and be happy for all eternity in Heaven.

It is in and from the Blessed Sacrament, the Real Presence, that we ought to derive our strength. We can try to get it from ourselves or others but in the end, our strength comes from God. Besides, we disappoint and fail ourselves (I know I do) and others are just as human as we are so, we can only trust them so much (Good Lord, sounds a bit Machiavellian … though he would say not to trust anyone). Any good that happens to us is by the grace of God.

I can say from experience that there have been times when I have confided in people and they have violated my confidence. Because of that, I have trusted them less. Not in that I don’t love them anymore but I just know that I cannot trust them with sensitive information (I told them things that while not too bad, I was more upset on the principle).

God will never do that to me. He will never do that to you. No matter how many times we sin. No matter how seriously we sin. Of course, we ought to go to Confession, especially when mortal sin is present, but God loves us regardless. We can trust and confide in Him absolutely. We can take all of our troubles to Him. We can lay them at His feet. No problem is too big for Him … He is infinite after all.

Why should we not come to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament during the highs and lows of our lives? Heck, even when nothing is really wrong, should we not come and spend time with Him? You know, just pop into church and say “hello” and spend time with Him. He waits for each of us at all times, just to walk in and spend time with Him and let our hearts be moved by His love. He wants us to come to Him with all of our crosses and sorrows, with all of our joys and happiness, with all of our doubt and uncertainty. Scared of sharing it with Him? Ha. Too late, He knew you were going to have it before He created you. He’s like the best confidante and friend to have.

And yet we can sometimes take Him for granted. We take the Real Presence for granted while in other parts of the world, Catholics are persecuted for their beliefs. Where Mass is illegal. Where priests are a rarity and Mass is celebrated very seldom and even clandestinely. How blessed we are to have the freedom we do … even though it is under attack as we speak.

All right. I think I kinda went off topic. <—- vast understatement  I think Imma take a power nap and then work on some more rosaries.  Spring Festival starts next Friday!!!  A week from today, I’ll be looking all cute and charmin’ in my white Festival shirt going on runs and answering the Festival hotline (yes, we have a dedicated hotline … we’re that legit).  That and I might even get to set up for the midnight Mass for the workers!!!  I love that.  Then I get to go for a late night walk around a quiet Festival and just stare at the stars.  I ❤ Festival time.

Have a wonderful Saturday!
-Allie

About Ms. Allie

I am a Catholic young woman who works as a Theology teacher at a Catholic high school in the Archdiocese of the Detroit. In Spring of 2015, I graduated with an MA in Theology with a concentration in Systematic Theology. My MA thesis was titled: "Mary as Woman of the Eucharist in the Theology of Pope Saint John Paul II." I also hold a BA in Theology (with a dabbling in Philosophy) and is a member of Theta Alpha Kappa (θΑΚ), the National Theology/Religious Studies Honor Society. Prayers are appreciated.
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