Thursday, June 5, 2008

EUCHARISTIC HEROES

When I was disassembling the first of the Mass kits mentioned yesterday I found a half of a host. It was buried underneath the lining so it could have been there for years without anybody noticing it. The question became immediately, “Is it consecrated?” How would one know? So used the option of dissolving the host in water and then putting it down a secrarium. But I’ve known some men over the years who have surprised me with their natural reverence for the Eucharist for whom this would not have been an option.

When I was in the seminary I was employed for the summer at St. Gregory the Great parish (just down the street from St. Clare) and was sent in with a few other gentlemen to the old convent to clean it out as it was going to be converted to other purposes. Cleaning one cell out with me was a young man, a true guy’s guy, who I did not know to be a strong Catholic, at least not yet. We waded in through a carpet of dust on the floor and began by pulling the bed away from the wall. The dust was twice as thick where the bed had been and there were a couple of items discovered abandoned there.

The first was a holy water bottle with, presumably, holy water in it. I still have this bottle (albeit with fresh holy water in it) in my kit in the car. Sticking my hand in the dust I also retrieved a host. I remember being a bit stunned and holding it up in the palm of my hand said, “It’s a host. Do you suppose it is consecrated?” Before anything else could be done or said, this young man snatched the host out of my hand and consumed it. I was amazed and speechless. Friends, under all normal circumstances this was truly a disgusting event, but to him, all he could see was the glory of God.

Later, after the initial shock had passed, I asked him if he had ever considered becoming a priest and he responded by saying that he had thought of it seriously, but nobody ever mentioned it to him leaving him feeling unworthy. And then became pretty serious about a young lady. It was from that point that I started mentioning priesthood to any young man who showed the slightest interest or potential. I wonder if that young man who should be in his 30s now has any idea how deeply in that single action he had effected a future priest’s reverence for the True Presence.

A second story of an act of conspicuous reverence for the Eucharist concerns a priest of this diocese. On hospital rounds he gave viaticum to a patient that was so far on the road home that her body ended up reflexively rejecting the Eucharist. This priest, far more brave of a man than I, without thinking (which was probably best) consumed the host so that in no way could it be defiled. I don’t know that I recommend that (in fact I don’t, there are other reverent and safe ways to handle the situation) but the love and devotion to the Eucharist he displayed that day was a striking declaration of his belief in transubstantiation: that the Eucharist truly is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It just goes to show that you never know who you may be inspiring and how your example and story may be spread without your knowing it.

10 comments:

Kat said...

Wow, awesome!

within a couple of weeks I will be received into the church, I can't wait to receive Him.

Fr. V said...

Kat!

Welcome! You've got extra prayers coming today!

God bless!

Fr. V

adoro said...

Do you know the story of the Saint (maybe Blessed...I don't remember her name) who did this for something like 30 days?

I think it happened in Russia. A Mass was disrupted by the soldiers and the Bishop was imprisoned in his home adjoining the church. He watched as the soldiers desecrated the church and took the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle, dumped it out, and stomped on them before they finally left. After they were gone, a little girl (I don't know how old she was) crept into the church, and each day she would kneel down, bend to the floor and pick up a single host with the tip of her tongue, and consume it. She did this every day until they were all consumed, and we know about it because the helpless bishop witnessed the entire thing.

On the day she consumed the very last host, she was caught by the soldiers and they shot and killed her...before she could even stand up to leave. And again the bishop witnessed that event.

Anonymous said...

He mingles His very Body and Blood with ours; sometimes some of us mingle our very body and blood with His.

I'm glad to know there is a holy remedy other than consuming, for what to do with Hosts that have perhaps (or definitely) missed their mark. Because my mom had been vomiting just before the priest came with Viaticum, I was petrified that she wouldn't be able to retain it, and she'd have felt terrible about it. I was afraid to tell him, lest he not give Him to her, perhaps especially since he had just told me those 4 college kids who'd died in the most terrible accident around here for years, had known better not to drink and drive/ride that car. I had a towel ready nearby, 'though had my mom's unthinkable happened, I'd have later brought the Host to the Rectory and asked what to do.

Rob said...

Actually, I thought that the method used by the men in your stories was the only acceptable one. Is there some other?

Jeffrey Smith said...

You remind me of the fact that several churches in Toledo have had fires, over the years, including my own parish. Every time, a priest, nun, fireman, or police officer has risked life or injury rescuing the tabernacle. They always succeeded, with never more than a slight burn, even though the fire was often quite close. Two nuns did it in my parish, even though the whole roof was in flames.

Anonymous said...

Wow Jeffrey. Awesome story!!
Fr. V, our church does not have a working secrarium. Someone sometime ago, because the secrarium was having drainage problems, hooked the pipes up to the sewer system. In the case you described, dissolving the host in water, would you then pour it outside into the ground?

MJ

Fr. V said...

MJ, (& Rob)

Yes, a secrarium is a sink with a drain that goes directly into the ground. In this way we treat the Eucharist with the same reverence we would any body. THe dignified thing to do is to bury it in the ground. One reason the host is dissolved in water is to make it easier to pass through to the ground.

Jeffry - Wow. Thanks for sharing.

Padre Steve said...

Thanks for this post! It is a great reminder of the power of the invitation... and the power of the Eucharist! God bless!

Fr. V said...

Thank you Father.