A note from Fr. Larry on the Blessed Sacrament
Dear St. Theresa family,
I wrote this sometime back to awaken dormant attitudes about the Blessed Sacrament. I thought I would share it again.
I am willing to bet that just about all of us has one object or another in our possession that has significance far beyond what it appears to be. I’m looking at a small rug I pulled out of a box. My aunt Peggy made this rug for me as an ordination present. She was a very talented needle point artist and she was one of the most fascinating, delightful, eccentric and well-read persons I’ve ever known. Widowed young, she was a Presbyterian with an arid sense of humor, a formidable intellect, and a Daschund named Phippy.
She lived in a rambling old house that had belonged to her parents which had many years ago been moved off the campus at Texas A&M. By the time I came to know it, it had been added to many times and was nearly engulfed by bamboo. The house was filled with all the exotic remembrances of their travels. A huge brass samovar from Turkey, Indian pottery from the Southwest, Oriental rugs and antique furniture from a Southern plantation.
There were walls lined with books, almost none of them in English, as great uncle Charles had been a professor of modern languages. To me it was always a treat to visit her in that house with its musty smells, the silver in the dining room black with tarnish, the shelves of the music room packed with 78 rpm recordings and an ancient record player to audition them. I would spend hours playing those heavy old discs discovering talents such as Caruso, the operas of Puccini and the newest records in the collection which featured such up to date artists as Benny Goodman, Eddie Duchin, The Andrew’s sisters and Frank Sinatra.
I would gladly spend hours listening to her tell stories of the time they lived in Turkey or Central America. She loved history and she loved me, and it made me want to love it too. She could make history seem vital by the way she talked about ancient kings and their regimes, always loading my arms with volumes of Arnold Toynbee and insisting that I must distinguish between the Plantagenet’s, Tudors and the Stuarts. She was one of those people whose company you enjoyed, and you couldn’t be around her without wanting to discover something new. Her sparkling presence could be just the tonic for any dull day.
She was thrilled when I went off to study in the seminary. She would often send me letters reporting on what Dr. Leslie had preached on the previous Sunday at First Presbyterian Church. When I was ordained, she presented me with a small rug she needle pointed. And always referred to me as “father-baby” which she worked into the border. She died a few years later, with the local Presbyterian minister and me taking the graveside services.
Whenever I look at this rug it floods my mind with memories. I can smell the old books and feel the warmth that was our special relationship. And it never fails! I will be doing whatever, and then I run across the rug and instantly I am transported through time to that old house just a few blocks from the campus, I can still smell the aroma of old books and I’m back again sprawled out on the floor listening to Aunt Peggy give out her opinion on local politics or telling me about some historical tidbit while Phippy snores in the corner.
And once again I’m filled with her life.
Isn’t it odd how some simple, ordinary thing such as a rug can make such a living vivid connection? It can make what was important to her, important to me all over again.
I guess that’s the power of relationships. That’s the power such relationships can invest in something as ordinary as a rug or bread and wine.
In the sixth chapter of John we hear Jesus insisting that we eat his body and drink his blood if we want to have life in him. Makes perfect sense to me. God willed that his being should become flesh and blood. God wants us to be part of him. So, God gives us himself in the spiritual food of the Eucharist. His life all packed into the common elements of bread and wine.
Then Jesus said that we should do this in remembrance of him. Remembrance. That makes sense too. When we remember we re-member, we make the member present again. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the ordinary elements of bread and wine become by grace the very person of Jesus Christ. The God made man who told stories about Fathers welcoming back sons no questions asked, and who socialized with outcasts and pariahs. The one who stretched out his arms between heaven and earth in an everlasting sign of redemption. The one who said “lo, I am with you always until the close of the ages.” The God made human who forgives and shows compassion. That’s what we take in this Eucharist. That’s the life that becomes part of us when we receive the Body and Blood of our Lord. Each encounter with Christ’s Body and Blood is a moment of connection to Jesus wherein we are divinely embraced by his love, his forgiveness, his mercy and his presence.
When we are already in relationship to him it is our impetus to press forward in our apostolic lives of service. And each encounter revitalizes our lives with his life until we are filled with the life of God. And isn’t that the grace of Holy Communion, to make what is important to God, important to us all over again?
Grace and peace to all
on Saturday, October 17 at 9:00AM