Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Eucharist observation

In a day that has been inordinately joyous, I witnessed something absolutely astounding at the altar rail today. 

Serving as a lay Eucharistic minister has always been a delight to me; that chalice filled with wine really is the Blood of Christ, and giving it to all the people is, well, a numinous experience (what else would a religion major say?). 

But standing at the altar rail, handing the chalice to communicants, I watched a woman with her baby dip the host into the chalice and bring it to her lips. At first I wouldn't have thought of it much except that I heard the distinct sound of that crack hosts tend to make when broken. That I could hear it meant that she took a bite out of it like a cracker. 

I'll admit, the first reaction I had was "that's not just a cracker! It's the Body of God!" but then I noticed her take the tiniest morsel of the host and give it to her infant. 

Seeing that, it was all I could do not to cry for joy. To see a mother care so much for her child that she would share her "portion" of Christ was unbelievable. She was giving to her child the body and blood given her in the hopes that it would nourish her child's soul. 

How many people would think to share "their" share of the body and blood? To know that God is just as present in the tiniest piece of the host and wine as in the giant priest's host? 

And just like how a mother nourishes her child with her own body through her womb, her milk and her loving embrace, God nourishes us with his own body (note the play on gender here!). 

And even when we're not biological parents, how are we sharing God's body and blood with the youth in our world, seeing that they obtain the greatest nourishment of all: God's gift of Godself to us. 

1 comment:

Pat Klemme said...

What a splendid observation! You write about it so joyfully, I felt I was present. Thanks, Karl.
I've also spent time in Omaha; you'll live through it.