So I've been a little discouraged with life lately. Today I walked into church feeling sad, detached & lonely. I almost didn't make it because I couldn't find anything to wear. Nothing I had seemed good enough. Heck, I didn't seem good enough. I threw on some casual pants, a plain hoodie sweatshirt & hightailed it down the freeway. My hemming & hawing had made me late. Much to my surprise, I arrived before the precession & made a beeline for a seat in a far off corner. I sat among strangers. The little girl sitting next to me looked at me like I was an alien as our former deacon (now a newly ordained priest) began his first Mass with the sign of the cross. I went through the motions, trying to concentrate on the solemnity of the day- this was the feast of Corpus Christi- the Body & Blood of Christ. What does that even mean to me? Everything was a blur.
There were 3 other priests in attendance at the altar, along with a new deacon. When the new priest prayed the prayers, the other priests prayed the words also. When he raised his hands to consecrate the elements, so did they behind him. He was supported the whole way through. These were his mentors who had ferried him through his training & there they were, standing with him at his first Mass. What a blessing to have people surrounding you, supporting you.
When it came time for the Eucharist, I got in line & approached the altar with complete peace. For the first time ever, my heart didn't race, my hands didn't shake & my motions were sure. I walked back to my seat & knelt, still trying to get the wafer to go down. It had stuck with me for some reason. When I finally swallowed it, I suddenly "heard" the words of the communion song: "We are one Body, the Body of Christ & we do not stand alone. We are one body, one body in Christ & He came that we might have life...." I seem to recall that song from Easter Vigil or some other significant Rite. It had been playing all through communion, but when I finally got the wafer to go down, it was like a hammer that smashed through the glass bottom boat of my heart. The momentum came from deep within. As the tears began welling up through my cracks, I realized Corpus Christi had become real in me.
I'd like to say that I walked out of church leaping & praising God, but I confess that my spirits were only slightly lifted above the water line. I guess sometimes that's all one needs to stay alive...