Category Archives: Eucharist

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Why I Kneel For Jesus

Receiving on the hand had long been part of my routine, before it finally came to my attention that there was another, more preferable way. I suppose I just hadn’t given it all that much thought, sadly. In grade school we’d been taught the proper hand positioning, but my generation missed out on the altar rails and their purpose.

Yes, intellectually, I knew that the Body and Blood of Jesus is truly made manifest in the Eucharist, but I’d adopted a “casual” reverence. Hands crossed I quietly waited my turn in the communion line, until reaching the Extraordinary Minister at which point I accepted the Blessed Sacrament in my palm.

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Miracles Abound, God Is Still Moving Mountains

Spying her from across the room at least half a dozen times in recent months, for some reason the connection was short-circuited each time. Either she was heading toward some other business or I was, or one of us was engrossed in conversation with some other confidant.
She’d been on my mind and in my prayers, this beautiful mother of six who is currently engaged in a fierce battle against breast cancer. I merely wanted to check in on her, but the timing made it difficult.

As Providence would have it, we finally attended the same retreat. The first sighting of her lifted my spirits higher, hoping we’d end up sharing the same table so I might get a bit of time to hear her sweet, gentle voice and soak in her wise reflections during the round table discussion. But once again the union was circumvented when she sat at the table on the opposite side of the room.
Oh well, I thought. My prayers are enough for her (and for me).
The retreat, on the seven last words of Jesus, began and my attention was diverted from the failed opportunity. Listening to the speaker, I recognized this day was far more than a social event, it was a chance for a personal encounter with Christ. Having never given much thought to Jesus’ last statements or the trouble it caused Him to make them, I was undeniably intrigued.
My focus was drawn to the speaker’s guided direction and to her explanations. As she recounted several anecdotal stories from her own life, the theme of miracles kept emerging for me. Miracles fascinate me as they seem to abound everywhere, but rarely do we take an inventory of them. Since the retreat subject wasn’t really about the miraculous, it seemed rather curious that I couldn’t keep my mind from wandering back to the idea.
The day ended with a self-serve, delicious lunch allowing women to circulate within the adjacent rooms, but I was tethered to my chair by a sleeping baby (trying to feed myself one-armed without dropping soup in my lap). That’s when she found me alone and the long-awaited connection fused. My dear friend sat beside me. We played a little catch-up and then she shared an intimate experience.
She and her children had attended a Eucharistic retreat for youth a few months prior. My husband was the food coordinator and our sons had participated, so she assumed I’d been there, too (just that the forces keeping us apart were at play that weekend as well). Apparently, during that event there was a period in which all of the attendees were seated in a large circle and Christ Jesus, in the Blessed Sacrament, was processed carefully and reverently around the room. She’d been seated beside my husband, positioned in a corner seat.
Just as the monstrance was rounding the corner, she said, it stopped directly in front of her and paused. She noted that the monstrance had been on the move prior to this specific moment when it stopped before her (the tiny hairs on my neck stood on end). That flush of excitement and awe overcame me as I envisioned Jesus walking straight up to my lovely friend, radiating His glory directly upon her fair countenance. Had He physical arms, I imagine they’d have been outstretched with His pierced hands cupping her tender cheeks while their eyes locked in communion. Chills tingled down my spine.
But then my friend did it (what we all do too often), she shrugged her shoulders and attempted to write this miracle off as mere coincidence or her own misinterpretation. Perhaps, the monstrance just seemed to pause by her because she was sitting in that corner spot. Maybe, it hadn’t really hung around any longer for her than anyone else, she reasoned. Now that theme, which had been entertaining my attention all morning long, seemed all the more relevant and reinforced.
Of course, not, I told her with all confidence. Of course, Jesus Christ had paused for her. Of course, He, knowing her heroic battle and obedient heart, wanted her to feel His very real Presence, to encounter Him in a tangible way. Yes, He was Present for everyone at that Eucharist retreat, but the miracle was for her just as the woman with the hemorrhage received a personal healing in the midst of the crowd. His power was not randomly seeping out to all those followers who were pressing in on Him No, it rushed out to one woman who dared to touch the tassel on His cloak and believe that would be enough.
My friend looked me in the eye and smiled, explaining that she hadn’t told anyone else about this encounter. She’d been pondering it all in her heart. It would seem, she said, that we were supposed to talk on this day precisely. All those missed opportunities to unite prior to this conversation were part of a bigger plan. God needed to prepare me before hearing her story so that I would recognize the miracle; and she needed to hold onto her private encounter until she could release her doubts and accept the full merit of the gift she’d been given.
Another talented friend, Suzanne Temple, is an avid photographer and a picture she snapped seems the ideal depiction of miracles in our world today. Through her camera lens, Suzanne reveals the hidden wonders which our naked eyes overlook. How many times I’d seen a dandelion puff ball, but never before had I witnessed the delicate interplay of its parts. Her photograph unveiled another layer of nature that I’d taken for granted.
photo can be purchased at istockphoto.com
Miracles are like that seed bearing helicopter. We generally miss them when we are focusing through the wide angle. And then we are habitually accustomed to dismissing them as insignificant and random, as though that which is difficult to see is simply not worth looking for. However, like that seed bearer, a miracle is a wonder capable to sprouting good things if it reaches fertile ground. True, miracles can effect our circumstances without recognition, but how much more awesome our world becomes when we look for God’s handiwork and find it all around us.

Sensing the Presence of Jesus

Halfway into my second round-trip drive of the day, I was sitting in the van with a sleeping baby waiting on my son’s confirmation retreat dismissal. Listening to some dull music on the radio while scanning statuses on Facebook, my thoughts weren’t concentrated on anything particularly weighty when suddenly my ears perked up like our puppy’s do if he senses something important invading his environment.

That familiar chanting of benediction sounded into the air as external speakers transmitted Father’s prayers to the world beyond the sanctuary walls. Though I couldn’t exactly make out the Latin from the seat of my van, my heart knew the words. Captivated, I recognized that my Lord was exposed inside. Without seeing, I sensed His true Presence. How beautiful it must be to live next door to that chapel, I thought. To hear that signal often, the melodic litany of praises, seemed to me an envious prize.
At the same time, a small cardinal appeared on the ground beside my vehicle catching my sight. It darted about before ascending bare limb by bare limb up the neighboring tree. That bird seemed an apt representation of my state as the words of benediction lifted my mind closer and closer to heaven along with my feathered companion.
The remainder of my waiting couldn’t extend long enough. I would have liked to continue resting at the foot of that unseen altar entertaining the meaning of that bird, but my son appeared signaling departure time. Back in the chauffeur business, I recalculated the GPS and my mind toward home.
Turning onto the main road, the spicy perfume of incense filled my nose reminding me of the chrism oil used to anoint the baptized and confirmed. Sniffing in an attempt to determine the source, I realized the sweet scent had attached to my son’s striped sweat shirt. The aroma lasted throughout the 50 minute trip home leading me right back to my daydream of His Presence.
Without a direct word spoken to me, my senses identified the Lord. It didn’t require an overt action or conversation to raise my awareness. So, too, it can be with us when we testify to our beliefs. When those around us hear our choice of words, watch our actions or study our demeanor they will form an opinion. If we speak with charity, move with tender purpose and love unconditionally they will sense the presence of Jesus.
While last week’s visible sign of ashes has been washed away, lent is the perfect time to ask ourselves if strangers can still see the marks of faith on our brow. Rather than attempt to be like the Pharisees who made a show of their penances and prayers, let our every day words be like litanies and our common place actions like prostrations that lead the observer toward home.

Healed by the Eucharist: How Jesus Removed My Depression


I struggle from time to time with depression. Sometimes there are triggers like lack of good sleep or hormonal shifts that stir-up those feelings of sadness and malaise. At other times it seems to strike me out of nowhere. Difficult to fully describe, it feels as though a phantom menace has leaped up behind me and laid a heavy weight upon my shoulders which I cannot shake off. 

Visualization helps me, so when that overwhelming sadness engulfs me, I picture myself swimming in the ocean of my mind. At times, the waves of tears wash over my head and I feel like I am drowning, but than I remember that waves ebb and flow and I simply need to float for a while until I gain the strength back to swim.

Off My Radar

Having been months since my last bout, depression was completely off of my radar when the kids and I enjoyed some vacation time with family. Then, a combination of triggers and circumstances left me vulnerable and the phantom seized the opportunity. 

Mothering and teaching seven children, running a household and being a helpmate to my husband keeps me busy enough, but those every day tasks become torturous when I’m bearing what feels like a 300lb. weight on my back. So it was this passed Saturday, talking myself through the day. “Get up out of bed, take a shower, vacuum the family room, dust the furniture,” I instructed me; keeping myself focused and pushing through the desire sit down and weep.

Dragging The Anvil

In the early evening, we readied ourselves for Holy Mass as a family, all the while I was dragging my weighty anvil of unidentifiable sorrow and silently sniffling back the tears. Sliding in the pew between two of my little ones, I began to breathe a little easier knowing that I could at least find a little rest while in my Father’s house. 

Then the Lord began to speak to me, through the readings and the gospel, and I listened intently to all He had to say. The Word reminded me of Elijah, who prayed for death (1Kings 19:4-8) before lying down under the broom tree. An angel woke him twice and told Elijah, “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” Yes, I understood Elijah, I’d prayed that prayer. I heard Jesus say He was the Bread of Life, Who had the power to raise me up. Transfixed by our priest’s homily on the Eucharist, my lethargy seemed less important. 

Approaching the Eucharistic minister, I could think of nothing else, nothing but Christ. I recognized that I, too, needed food for my journey. Eagerly, I dropped to my knees and received the Body and Blood of my Lord and my God, Jesus Christ. Walking to the chalice, I repeated, “Let there be more of You, less of me, more of You, less of me.” And I prayed for healing, again.

No Thunder Claps Were Heard

There weren’t any claps of thunder nor lightning bolts, but my smothering malaise disappeared. Unaware initially, I simply enjoyed the fellowship that followed Mass and it was my husband who pointed out the transformation. On the way home, he noted the change in my mood and I became aware that my depressive feelings were lifted. 

Realizing that God knew all along that I would need to hear those words of empathy and encouragement this Saturday evening, astounds me. In truth, He speaks to me every day, but perhaps I’m not always a good listener. Perhaps, I will be allowed to bear this cross of suffering again some other day, but today He raised up and I am thankful so “I willpraise Yahwehfrom my heart; let the humble hear and rejoice.” (Psalms 34:2) 

Christ fed me His Living Bread, He healed me and strengthened me for the journey. For truly, He is the Living God!

**I hesitated to label this healing as a miracle when I first wrote this post, but 3 years later I am confident that it was. Since receiving Jesus on that particular day, I have never again suffered from depression.