It was the last day of vacation and my final visit to the parish there. A substitute priest celebrating daily mass joked about the pastor chastising him for not ending the mass with a joke, which he then did. When mass ended, people began talking and laughing loudly while the sacristan cleared the altar and removed the undistributed consecrated hosts to the tabernacle. A minister opened the tabernacle to fill his pyx (the special container to carry the Eucharist to shut-ins). Three women stood in front of the altar gossiping about a parishioner.
I finally gave up praying and left in a huff, angry with those who were so disrespectful of the Eucharist. I was ready to condemn the entire congregation. Then I remembered to surrender my feelings and the situation to the Lord. He showed me that my relationship with him didn't depend on a quiet place to pray or what others around me did. I felt a release of my negative emotions.
As I walked toward the parking lot, three women coming from their cars pointed in my direction, exclaiming, "Look at that!" I turned to see what was behind me, and then realized my T-shirt fascinated them. "Proud to be a Roman Catholic" declared the front with words of the Creed covering the back.
They wanted to know where I had bought the shirt. When I said my daughter-in-law gave it to me for Mother's Day, one woman hugged me and said, "How blessed you are to have a daughter-in-law to give your such a gift."
One of the women planned to move to the Dallas area, so we talked about where I live and worship. All three were hospitable and friendly.
As we parted I thought how the Lord took my surrendered attitude, influenced by three gossips after mass, and turned it around through three affirming women outside.
My surrender changed my attitude toward the parish. The Catechism has something to say about my attitude and behavior after receiving the Eucharist:
The Eucharist, as a mystery to be “lived,” meets each of us as we are, and makes our concrete existence the place where we experience daily the radical newness of the Christian life. . . Day by day we become “a worship pleasing to God” by living our lives as a vocation. Beginning with the liturgical assembly, the sacrament of the Eucharist itself commits us, in our daily lives, to doing everything for God's glory. (CCC 79)
I could only repent and thank the Lord for giving me another chance to live in a way pleasing to him. The Eucharist gives me the grace to glorify God by my actions and not by wearing a slogan T-shirt.
(© 2014 Nancy H C Ward)