I am a sinner. No questions asked. I am a sinner. The “I” in sin – that’s me.
As many of my CRHP Team brothers know who heard my testimony, for years I was scared to even come into a church. So the idea of even standing near the altar, let alone serving the Eucharist, was a recipe for God striking me dead right there in the Sanctuary. Forgiven is one thing, taunting is a whole other matter. Not happening. Nope. Not good enough, not pretty enough, not anything enough. This guy is definitely captain of the un-worthies when it came to Jesus in the flesh. The idea of doing that was right up with there with waving a seven iron over my head in a lightning storm. No way.
So for years I watched in awe of those I knew who served the sacrament as Extra Ordinary Ministers of the Eucharist in such a beautiful way. Amazing people. My heros. God’s gift to the Mass. True Saints. I…. I just couldn’t do it.
Then along came a roadblock in my life. Somehow I needed to figure out a way to get the Eucharist into another service component of my life that was causing me to miss Mass. So to solve my problem I explored the program of Eucharist for the Homebound as my solution. The only problem was….You had to get trained as an EME first.
So after some heavy breathing in a paper bag, I went through the training. After you go through training, Adam Smith’s invisible hand works you into the system and low and behold you are scheduled at a Mass to serve. It was at this point I verified my life insurance, left my living will open on my home office desk, told my wife and children I loved them one last time, and then went up to serve at Mass.
Standing on the altar my thoughts wandered for some reason to Simon, the Crenian, who was made to carry Christ’s cross to the place of His crucifixion. I always wish I could have done that. Probably sounds crazy I know, but I owe Christ my life, and to lesson His burden in any way on that journey would have been an honor I would have died for. That’s when it hit me. That is what I am about to do.
But it also became so much more.
Despite my nervous and shaking hands I managed through the experience. As I held the Eucharist high and proclaimed it the Body of Christ I began to notice some things. I began to see the people and the Eucharist as Jesus. All of the different faces were one face – even though they changed they were the same. And so much as I was helping Christ carry his cross, I was also helping all of these people carry their crosses to Christ. I began to see the truth of the reminder of the connection between the Last Supper and the Crucifixion; that if Christ really hadn’t instituted the Mass at the Last Supper then Christ’s Death on the Cross wasn’t truly a real sacrifice. But He did and it was; they are inexorably linked, and as we come into communion with Christ we share in that sacrifice and are born into the New Covenant.
There were smiles, there were anxious faces, there was somberness, and there was joy. People came as they were able and with all that defined them. The children, oh the children, all of my fears and personal anxieties faded away with the children. The opportunity to bless them in the name of Jesus Christ was an overwhelming joy to experience and share.
The line never seemed to end. I actually worried at first that I might run out of bread, but then remembered the parables of Christ feeding the masses and laughed to myself. After my line diminished I joined another, and then it ended.
Upon completing the service, I came down from the altar, bowed, and returned to my seat thankful the congregation was still in prayer because I needed to kneel. Collapsing in prayer I fought back tears. I thanked God for that amazing opportunity to witness His Grace being poured out unto others. It was amazing. Through originally an experience I feared greatly, I not only grew in faith but felt the blessing and joy of serving others like few things I have ever done.
Our CRHP brother Dan Lickel has adopted the motto, “If something scares me, that probably is what I need to be doing.” I am thinking he is on to something there.
Brothers, have you had opportunities to serve in your faith life that at first scared you, but later turned out to be an amazing blessing? What were they? How did it change you? Should we take Dan’s lead and follow our fears?