Two days before our beloved pastor left for a new assignment, I was bravely surrendering all my attachment to him. Over many years I had come to love him. Memories of attending a 10-part teaching series on Spiritual Direction surfaced as my first encounter with him in 1994. He worked for the diocese for 25 years in the formation of priests, in marriage preparation and gave every kind of retreat. Our parish was his first assignment since the earliest days of his priesthood.
He came to us during a turbulent time in our parish. He was just the one to facilitate healing among factions. It is hard to imagine a better homilist. He prayed our family through many personal struggles and joyfully celebrated our victories. Even so, I bravely was prepared to tell him goodbye after five years of his devoted service.
I knew to focus on the Lord and not on Fr. Bob as I received communion from him that last time. In my hand, he placed a triangular bit of the large host he had broken and consecrated. As I put it into my mouth it’s sweet taste surprised me! Never had I experienced that! I felt the Lord was bestowing on me a special grace that I didn’t expect, but warmly welcomed.
It called to my mind how Psalm 19:11 describes the Lord as, “Sweeter also than honey or drippings from the comb.” I was experiencing exactly what the psalm described. Even the taste of the wine did not mask the sweetness of the host but only made it sweeter.
I knelt down in thanksgiving and heard Fr. Bob read the Communion Verse: “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord!” I smiled to myself. Only the Lord knew I needed a bit of consolation that day. He gave me a new taste of joy in the Eucharist and confirmed it in the Communion Verse.
After Mass, I told Fr. Bob about the unusual sweetness of the host. He stepped back in shock! He was just as surprised as I was that the Lord would use him in my life—again!
God’s consolations come whether we know we need them or not. He knows. And they come not only in times of great suffering, but in our every-day struggles to surrender to his will.
When has God consoled you when you most needed it?
(© 2012 revised 2017 Nancy HC Ward)