Last Wednesday I drove to the church I normally go to for daily Mass. Sometimes on Wednesdays it is a communion service because the priest takes the day off. Last Wednesday, however, the deacon who leads the communion service was sick. I arrived, sat down in my pew, said my prayers and waited for the communion service to begin. Then, one of the old men (because I almost always seem to be the youngest person at daily Mass by a good 20 years) stood up and said that the deacon was sick and they were trying to find another deacon to lead the service and we should be patient.
I could almost feel my heart sink. I’ve become a daily Mass…addict. I sat there, hoping and praying that they could find another deacon. I sat there staring at the tabernacle knowing who resided in there and praying that today I would be able to receive Him, to take Him in and be a living tabernacle. The minutes slowly ticked by as we all sat in anxious silence. Someone suggested we pray a Rosary if we couldn’t have a communion service. One older lady wanted to open the tabernacle and have the Eucharistic Ministers give us communion (which you can’t do outside of a communion service or Mass). While I knew that couldn’t really happen, I understood where she was coming from. All I wanted was Jesus. I wanted Him who I love, I wanted to consume Him and be consumed by Him. Did it matter that I received Him the day before? Not really. I wanted more of Him. It was a new day with new challenges and I longed, rather desperately, for Him. We waited. The silence was real, and you could feel the desires of everyone there hoping we would be able to receive Him.
The old man returned to the ambo and apologized, they couldn’t find another deacon. The old ladies came up with more options or more ways that we could receive Him in the Eucharist (none of them liturgically appropriate, of course). My heart sank a bit. There He was, hidden, veiled in the tabernacle, just beyond my reach.
He sat enthroned, just beyond the doors. He was there, waiting in love for me, but that day I wouldn’t receive Him. There was a great sadness in my heart. All at once I was thankful for the gift of priests and deacons and their service to the church, thankful that they are able to open those doors so that I might consume the Love that consumes me. And yet, at the same time, I was saddened, realizing that so often we do this to ourselves. We want Him in the Eucharist but we close the doors of the tabernacle, we prohibit ourselves from being a living tabernacle by our sins. This wasn’t a Sunday Mass, I wouldn’t leave in a state of mortal sin, nor would I leave a sinner anymore so than I had walked in the doors of that church a sinner.* But still, I left saddened, as though I was leaving my love there. And I was. By not receiving Him into me, I left Him there. Yes, He lives in my heart, but as I left that day I felt like I left the Love of my life behind, and that I was somehow less able to take Him into the world.
We prayed the Rosary instead. It was beautiful to share such a wonderful prayer with so many others that day, but as we left there was a sense of sadness among us all. We had come to encounter Him who loves us unconditionally, and had come to receive Him, and yet we left without receiving Him, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. My point in all of this? Our burning desire should be for the Eucharist, whenever and where ever we are able to receive Him. The cause that day of not receiving Him was not my own, but there are days I’ve closed those doors. As I sat there wishing, hoping, praying, begging to receive Him, I also prayed that never again would I be the cause of those closed doors. May we always be a living tabernacle of His love and goodness.
*I am in no way, shape, or form, saying that if you don’t go to daily Mass you are a horrible person or a failure as a Catholic. Not everyone can make it to Mass every day. I’m grateful that I can, and I’ve seen the fruits of it in my life. Go if you can, go as often as you can, but don’t think for a second that God loves you less or thinks less of you if you don’t make it to daily Mass.
What I’m Listening To:
“Hard To Love” by Lee Brice
“Draw Me A Map” by Dierks Bentley
“My Last Name” by Dierks Bentley
“Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls