Tears of Gratitude

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What is the use of  tears? St Padre Pio would answer; it  is to be shed in gratitude for the  greatest  gift on earth, the Holy Eucharist. He used to cry  with  tears rolling down his cheeks while  celebrating  Holy Mass.  Not only Padre Pio, but many other  saintly priests had the same experience. Millions of  believers  through  centuries experienced the saltiness of their own tears during the  celebration of  celebrations called Holy Eucharist.

If we have not yet  experienced it, it  is indicative of  a serious  problem; that we do not understand the  true value of  the Holy Eucharist. Nor do we understand the purpose for which  the Lord  ‘humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross’ (Phil 2:8). The thought that we are supposed to be  united to the crucified Lord during  Holy Mass does not  disturb our  hearts.  It is a really serious issue.

We have read of priests who attached a piece of  cloth to their priestly mantles, the purpose being to  wipe their tears while celebrating the Holy Mass. Nothing else could  express their gratitude towards the Lord who gave them this indescribable  but precious gift. The very memory of what  our Lord did for us should make our eyes watery. 

While  instituting the  Sacrament of  Eucharist, Jesus stated that   it was  his body and blood. His words were  crystal clear so as to leave no room for any other  interpretation. What greater tragedy is there than  receiving the  Holy Eucharist without the conviction that  it is the bread of eternal life and the chalice of eternal salvation!  St Paul has  warned  us  to be prudent in approaching this heavenly bread.  ‘For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves’ (1 Cor 11:29).

Catechism teaches us that  ‘in the most  blessed sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore the whole  Christ is truly, really and substantially contained’ (CCC 1374). The Church further teaches  that  the Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the  species and whole and  entire in  each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the  bread  does not divide Christ’ (CCC 1377).

It means that  if a tiny bit  of the consecrated  host falls to the ground, Christ is present  whole and  entire in that  part too. If this is the case, how can we stand before this sacrament of sacraments  so casually and  allow minute particles of  the  consecrated  host to  fall to the floor?

We receive the Lord without any  respect, then move from there keeping the host in our hands and  consume it  with the same indifference with  which we  received him.  Once we leave  with the  satisfaction of  having  received the  Communion, Christ  cries silently from the floor of the  church; ‘please do not trample me’. But we have  no time to listen! Christ remains there  unattended, suffering the pain and indignity of not being recognized by the same people  for whom he served  his  body and blood!

We will have to pay  a heavy price for the indifference and  irreverence that we exhibit at the time of receiving the  Holy Eucharist. The practice of giving Holy Communion on  the tongue was introduced with the  noble intention that  no room should be given to the  sacred body and blood of  Christ to be  profaned. The Church still continues the same practice out of reverence to our Lord lest the consecrated host may fall, though unintentionally, to the ground. As far as Oriental Catholic  Churches are concerned,  giving Communion in both species, and indeed on the tongue, has been stipulated as the  ordinary method of  receiving  Communion (CCC 1390).

If we  forget so fast what our Lord said, and what the apostles instructed,  and what the Church teaches, we will have to pay dearly for this forgetfulness too. The permission to give  Communion in  the hand given during the pandemic was  an exception, but unfortunately,  for many Catholics it has now become the rule.  They do not  mind, even if  the priest is ready to give  the  Communion on their tongues!

We should introspect. How do we participate in the Holy Mass? Do we really understand the  true value of   the Holy Eucharist? Do we  receive it in a worthy manner? Do our attitude and body language reflect our reverence towards the greatest gift  that God has ever given us? Do we take utmost care not to allow even a minute particle from the  consecrated host to fall to the floor?

Let us pray for the grace to  be transformed  into worthy vessels to receive the  body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Surely, when we receive the  Lord in a befitting manner, we will not be able to contain  the  tears  of   joy and  gratitude for this most precious  gift from heaven.

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