“I went to prayer that morning with a demand for our Mother Foundress”, shared the young sister describing her recent prayer-time. ‘Mother Foundress, I want you to help me understand why the Eucharist was so important to you. Did you spend long hours in front of the altar? Did you really insist that accommodations be made to your room at Machiavelli so that when you were ill and needed to rest in your room you could see the tabernacle even from your private quarters? Why is the Eucharistic Presence so central to our lives?’”
A bit stunned by her forthright sharing, I asked the young CSFN, “Well, did our foundress provide you with answers?” With shyness and a gentle smile, this young religious woman responded, “Not an exact answer to the questions I asked, but what I did learn, speaks to my heart.” She shared, “After some time in the stillness of the chapel, I recognized the magnitude of the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Jesus was not bound by tabernacle doors. The love, the light and the energy of his Presence seemed to leap from the tabernacle and penetrate not just my own heart, but through the chapel and indeed beyond the walls of the chapel itself.” I continued to listen with reverence to this deep sharing of my sister in community. It is during this year, in particular, this experience has special meaning for me.
Because of the pandemic most of us will be celebrating this great feast of the institution of the Eucharist in places without the Sacramental Presence. By the science and the miracle of internet/television I will join in faith with my global community during this Sacred Triduum. But I will also remember Jesus’ promise to be always with us, indeed, even as I recall the words shared with me by that young sister. “I recognized the magnitude of the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist …not bound by tabernacle doors. The love, the light and the energy of his Presence seemed to leap from the tabernacle and penetrate not just my own heart, but through the chapel and indeed beyond the walls of the chapel itself.”
Together with my small CSFN community, I will be present to this sacred Holy Thursday liturgy. We will join with our global family brought together by the media. I will listen to the scripture passages, recognize Jesus’ love in the washing of the feet of his disciples and acknowledge the profundity of the Mystery of the Eucharist with Jesus’ invitation to “Do this in Memory of Me”. This year I will open my heart to receive communion spiritually, not sacramentally.
In the words of Pope Francis, this year we will fast from the Feast. Along with so many others, I will miss this Sacramental Feast as I have known it. But I choose to believe in the “magnitude of Jesus’ presence” who is always with us—even to the end of the world.