|By Bill Donaghy
Try to answer each of the following questions in five words or less.
1. What is the deepest desire of the human heart?
2. What is the center, the point, the meaning of life?
3. How I can be truly happy?
4. What does it mean to be a woman?
5. What does it mean to be a man?
6. What does God look like?
7. How can we bring about peace in the Middle East?
8. How can we end world hunger?
9. How can we know if there is life after death?
10. What is the greatest of the seven sacraments?
OK, I've deceived you. There is a one word answer for each of these above questions, and it's the same answer for each one. Can you guess it?
Some scientists and philosophers have been trying for years to compile one overarching, all encompassing "Theory of Everything." I believe we have it already in our midst. Present in millions of places worldwide, nestled in golden boxes beneath glowing candles that never go out, for two thousand years the secret has been with us; the center, the point of everything, the Answer to our questions. You've guessed it... the Eucharist.
"Here is the Church's treasure, the heart of the world, the pledge of the fulfillment for which each man and woman, even unconsciously, yearns."
- Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 59
This is the month in which the Church celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ. We've been celebrating it for years. We've been proclaiming the wonders of the Blessed Sacrament for centuries. We don't want it to be a secret! It's the elixir of life, the miracle cure, the fountain of youth! Hmmm, really?
So why don't people come a'runnin' to our churches and our adoration chapels? Why aren't the phones ringing off the hook asking for our daily and Sunday mass schedules? Is it poor marketing skills?
The following was supposedly overheard by a monsignor at a papal mass, who was standing beside our beloved Blessed John Paul II (though it sounds a little pessimistic for him). Watching thousands come to communion in St. Peter's Square he is supposed to have whispered, "So many coming to communion, so little change."
Ouch. Oh we of little faith.
I did some calculations in preparing this article and have deduced that since making my first Holy Communion at St. Anne's Catholic Church in Browns Mills, NJ back in the 1970's, I have received the Holy Eucharist roughly 4893 times. Wow. At this point I should be the spiritual equivalent of Chuck Norris, with the ability to roundhouse kick any temptation before it even rears its ugly head. Sad to say, most days I feel more like the spiritual equivalent of Napoleon Dynamite.
Nonetheless, the power for transformation remains, and is available at our neighborhood Catholic Church.
You know when you think you have an answer, you say "It's on the tip of my tongue!" Exactly. In the Eucharist, the Answer to our questions is literally in our hands. The Gift has been given, it's just that we have yet to fully unwrap it! But the saints and mystics are our examples here, for they are the ones who opened wide the doors to Christ, and He filled them to capacity. Being filled with God is our destiny in fact, for we are all capax dei - "capable of God." Dr. Peter Kreeft said it well, "Your heart is like an infinitely large hole, and only God is big enough to fill it." And in the Eucharist He has become just small enough it fill it.
Do we believe this? Do I believe this? Or do I keep trying to stick cheap imitations in the hole in my heart? C.S. Lewis called it the long, sad story of humanity, this attempt at seeking something other than God that will make us happy. The singer-songwriter David Wilcox has a verse that looks at this hollow in our hearts; "There's a hole in the middle of the prettiest life, so the lawyers and the prophets say. Not your father, nor your mother, nor your lover's ever gonna make it go away." But God can.
God has designed a way into these foolish hearts of ours. "Do I have to spoon-feed you?" a frustrated teacher might ask a stubborn student. Our God does this with delight. Psalm 81 sings “I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. Open wide your mouth that I may fill it. But my people did not listen to my words; Israel did not obey me."
Oh Jesus, Source of Joy, Filler of Hearts, Food of Angels, Drink for the Thirsty. Draw us to you, show us the way to this Table, this Banquet, this Feast of Love. Let us respond in a new way in this month of the Feast of Your Body and Blood, a way of absolute surrender. Give us a hunger in the pit of our stomachs, a yearning for You alone to fill us. For You are "the Church's treasure, the heart of the world, the pledge of the fulfillment for which each man and woman, even unconsciously, yearns."