Many, many years ago, I was staying at my uncle’s summer house at the beach on the Long Island sound. This was perhaps the third or fourth time that I had the privilege of staying at a beach house. My dad, brother and I took a walk in the morning along the shore of the sound. During this walk, I found a clump of beautiful shells “glued” together. I thought this find was wonderful. I picked it up and thought it would be a great addition to the corner of my desk. Joyfully, I put it in my pocket and then I left them in the car to retrieve when we returned to New Jersey.
The shells sat in the summer heat in the car for an entire afternoon. As we packed up to go home, there was a fishy stench permeating from the back seat of the car. As I picked up the clump of shells and exclaimed, “You stink!” the shells moved! Inside was a small colony of sea snails. Some of them had perished because of the heat of the car, but others were still quite alive! I took a moment to apologize for the demise of their “brothers” or “sisters” and set them free back in the ocean.
I am reminded of this story as I continue my reflections on the Eucharist.
Recently, I came across a book called 7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn. As the introduction explains, [Within this book,] “there’s nothing really new here, no real secrets. The truths that I want to share … have always been at the heart of the Church, embraced as precious gems by theologians, saints and mystics. I call them secrets because, for some reason, they don’t seem to have been passed on to the average person in a way that would enable us to really understand them and incorporate them into our daily lives.”1
The first “secret” Flynn reminds us of is that the Eucharist is alive. As we approach to receive the Eucharist at Holy Communion, do we truly understand and reflect upon that we take into our bodies the living person of Jesus Christ, true God and true man? We are sacramentally one flesh with Him after we receive Communion. This means that He KNOWS our deepest desires, not just at a distance, but deep within His Heart. We too can know His deepest desires for us as well! The “trick?” One has to merely be receptive to Him.
But, rather, how sad “that we go up and get something and then go back to our seats – back to our daily routines – without any real change taking place, without a deeper union, [a deeper conviction] with Christ, without any new awareness of His life within us.”2
The Eucharist is alive! The Eucharist is the babe born in a manger, the teen who worked with His father, the adult who taught, died and rose from the dead. He is Christ who now reigns in heaven. He is alive! This is who we receive when we approach the communion rail.
His beauty, though hidden from us under the appearance of bread and wine, is far more beautiful than a clump of pretty colored shells!
We should stand in awe at this reality! It should bring tears to our eyes! God is alive! He comes to us in the form of food!
1 Flynn, Vinny. 7 Secrets of the Eucharist. MercySong, Inc., 2006. Pg. 2.
2 Flynn, pg. 9.
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, The Catholic Witness