The Floating Host
What I’m about to relate is a true sequence of events that happened last Sunday, and how the Lord brought His encouragement in a very unusual way. I hope this story will encourage you, as well.
Here’s what happened:
After a weekend of driving from place to place with a van full of less-than-compliant children, I landed at Sunday evening Mass, and feeling like I was only there to fulfil an obligation.
Sad, but true, I’m afraid. I was quite discouraged - from nasty online comments suggesting it is pharisaical to point out abuses in the Liturgy, from knowing there will always be people in the Church who only value the opinions of those they deem ‘qualified’, such as theologians and academics, and also discouraged by the fact that so many Catholics use contraception and just go about their lives, being active in the Church, without any apparent fallout.
I knelt down to pray and started to ask God an avalanche of questions that had been on my mind:
“Lord, are you sure it’s so important that we pay attention to small details of the Liturgy, such as not raising our hands during the Our Father? I mean, does it really matter?
These people around me are all good people, aren’t they? Do you really care if 80 per cent of them are using contraception and in objective mortal sin? Aren’t You going to forgive them anyway, especially since it’s not really their fault for not knowing the Catechism?
And those priests who preach about social justice for the poor refugees - aren’t they also doing their best? I mean, parishes like this one are helping a refugee family with genuinely practical assistance. Isn’t this what you want?
Maybe it doesn’t matter if there are too many Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist.
Maybe I’m way too concerned about stopping abortion and other moral problems.
Maybe I’m just being judgemental and intolerant and only want people to see things from my point of view.”
And on I went. You can see I was in a bad place.
As Mass progressed, some thoughts started to come to me, which I know were from God, reminding me in His usual loving way:
When people are using artificial contraception, they are receiving the Eucharist sacrilegiously.
If they are using abortifacient contraception, then they are committing murder as well.
Condoning contraception will inevitably lead to tolerance of abortion and women who procure abortions will never be led to repentance if they are not told they are sinning.
They will take their daughters for abortions; pre-marital sex becomes acceptable.
Pornography and adultery are tolerated; Communion for divorced couples becomes commonplace.
Same-sex ‘marriage’ is advocated for in Catholic parishes, since there is no longer any sense of moral absolutes.
Faithful Catholics become victimised and branded as intolerant.
Charity takes on a new form - that of merely practical help, while forms such as charity in mind and speech, or concern for eternal salvation become a thing of the past.
All this is the fruit of an imbalanced approach to social justice; one which ignores fundamental Catholic teaching - which is also Scriptural teaching.
So many of these sensible arguments that came to my mind revolve around correct dispositions for reception of the Holy Eucharist. Still, I failed to see entirely the significance of where these arguments were taking me. I hadn’t learned my lesson yet; God had saved His biggest teaching for last.
Mass finished; we said the St. Michael prayer, and left the body of the Church. In the foyer, I stopped with my children to bless myself from the Holy Water font. As I dipped my hand into the Holy Water, what should I see, but something that appeared to be half a Host?!! It was floating there in the water!
It was bewildering and shocking. The priest who had given me Communion was on his way towards me with an older woman. I showed him the Host at once. “You should tell Fr. X”, he said, irritably, not bothering to stop.
I went to the sacristy, which Fr. X was leaving, dressed in his civvies.
He immediately came with me and assured me that it was a Host in the water. He said it was very strange, remarked how much water had been absorbed, and assured me that he would ‘dispose of It’, as he said.
It had certainly been a strange experience. I wondered why, of all people in that church, I had been the one to find the host and alert the priest.
When I got home and had a chance to let things sink in, I remembered that I had gone to Mass with a lot of questions for God. And He chose to answer them in a way that was unusual, but also very definite.
The Catechism tells us that the summit and source of our lives is the Eucharist. Not charitable works, not social justice, not ‘getting on’ with everyone. These may be fruits, but they are not the source.
The Eucharist alone is the source - when we get that right, everything else falls into place. But when we get it wrong - omitting reverence, decorum or liturgical norms - there is no amount of charity that can make up for it: the charity we show for humans becomes a mockery if it isn’t first shown for our Creator in His Eucharistic Body.
And it is the ultimate lack of charity to our Lord, to receive His Body in a state of mortal sin, whether that be a sin of commission, such as using contraception, or omission - such as failing to teach adult children about their moral responsibilities.
But if you’re reading this post, you probably already know all this. So here is something just for you:
God knows we can become discouraged with pro-life work.
It can be a very lonely life, especially when we have to deal with indifference from within the Church, as well as antagonism from outside.
But, look at what the Lord has done: He allowed His Body to endure the indignity of being left in a holy water font, in order to encourage me. He knew I would write about this to encourage you.
He allowed uncaring priests to ignore Him and possibly mishandle Him, because He knew that those who love Him will more than compensate for that lack of love. And He knew we would pray for those priests.
He trusts people with wavering faith to persevere, to keep telling the whole truth of the Gospel, to cling to Him when we feel desolate.
He trusts us, because He is faithful.