When I was about seven or eight, I had the most joyous experience of planting dahlia bulbs. As my dad supervised his “farmer-to-be,” I questioned whether something so dry and dead could turn into flowers. He told me that if I watered and took care of them, they would indeed become flowers. Believing in what my father told me, I dutifully watered the bulbs every single day. I watched them shoot out little green stalks that grew and grew. I can remember how much in awe I was during the process. I actually grew to love them because, I thought, their existence was linked to my care for them.
When they finally began to bloom, I was amazed not only but their height since they grew taller than I was at the time, but also their huge orange and yellow blooms. I was completely smitten by their beauty. I can remember trying to share their beauty with my grand-aunt, who was retired and living in Florida. I wanted to share with her the beauty that I discovered for the first time in my young life. What I did still makes me laugh at my naivety. I took a bloom from one of the plants that was just starting out and put it in a baggie with some water. I then put the baggie in a special envelope that could handle the bulk of the package, and mailed it to my grand-aunt with a note, in crayon, describing the beauty I had discovered. I eagerly awaited her response and appreciation for the beautiful gift.
To my naïve dismay, my grand-aunt reported that my beautiful dahlia arrived completely dead and brown in her mailbox. She was touched by my kindness, though.
I ponder on this memory as I continue my series on the Eucharist and reflect on the The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church, penned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The beauty and the love I felt toward this flower is, in a very limited way, like the stance of our Creator as He made the entire universe. Let me explain.
When God created the cosmos, it reflected His beauty and the love He had for it. Before the fall, there was indeed heaven on earth. Remember that Adam and Eve actually walked with God during the twilight hours! But sin changed all that.
“[T]he gift that is made present in the Eucharist, we must first realize how truly profound is our alienation from the Source of all Life as a result of sin. … Sin is an offense against God, a failure to love God and our neighbor that wounds our nature and injures human solidarity. … When we misuse the gifts of creation, when we selfishly focus on ourselves, we choose the path of vice rather than the way of virtue. This self-centeredness is an inheritance of the Fall of our first parents. Without the grace of Christ received at Baptism, strengthened in Confirmation, and nourished by the Eucharist, this selfishness dominates us.”1
By His passion, death and resurrection, Christ restored and renewed what was lost by sin. “By freely offering his life on the cross, Christ allows us to become children of God and to inherit the Kingdom of God. … Anticipating His passion in the Institution of the Eucharist, Christ has indicated the forms under which his self-offering would be sacramentally present until the end of time. … His blood shed for us is the eternal sign of that love.”2
We have been created out of love. We have been renewed after our fall out of love. The Eucharist is the way in which we are drawn back into the eternal love-gift of Christ. The beauty of the Eucharist far exceeds any created beauty! Let us marvel at the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our dearest Lord Jesus Christ in the tiny white host present in the tabernacles in the world; the beauty of eternal Love present in our time and our place. No wonder that is the object of Adoration!
1https://www.usccb.org/resources/7-703%20The%20Mystery%20of%20Eucharist,%20for%20RE-UPLOAD,%20JANUARY%202022.pdf – paragraphs 10-11
2Ibid. paragraphs 13-14
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness