Monday, 24 March 2008

Let Yourselves Be Fed

I just read the following about Fulton Sheen on Paul's blog -(

A couple of months before his death Bishop Fulton J. Sheen was interviewed on national television. One of the questions was this:"Bishop Sheen, you have inspired millions of people all over the world. Who inspired you? Was it a Pope?"Bishop Sheen responded that it was not a Pope, a cardinal, another bishop, or even a priest or a nun. It was a little Chinese girl of eleven years of age. He explained that when the Communists took over China, they imprisoned a priest in his own rectory near the Church. After they locked him up in his own house, the priest was horrified to look out of his window and see the Communists proceed into the Church, where they went into the sanctuary and broke into the tabernacle. In an act of hateful desecration, they took the ciborium and threw it on the floor with all of the Sacred Hosts spilling out. The priest knew exactly how many Hosts were in the ciborium: thirty-two.
When the Communists left, they either did not notice, or didn't pay any attention to a small girl praying in the back of the Church who saw everything that had happened. That night the little girl came back. Slipping past the guard at the priest's house, she went inside the Church. There she made a holy hour of prayer, an act of love to make up for the act of hatred. After her holy hour she went into the sanctuary, knelt down, bent over and with her tongue received Jesus in Holy Communion, (since it was not permissible for laymen to touch the Sacred Host with their hands.) The little girl continued to come back each night to make her holy hour and receive Jesus in Holy Communion on her tongue. On the thirty-second night, after she had consumed the last and thirty-second host, she accidentally made a noise and woke the guard who was sleeping. He ran after her, caught her, and beat her to death with the butt of his rifle. This act of heroic martyrdom was witnessed by the priest as he watched grief-stricken from his bedroom window.
When Bishop Sheen heard the story he was so inspired that he promised God he would make a holy hour of prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament everyday of his life. If this frail, little child could give testimony and witness to the world concerning the real and wonderful Presence of her Savior in the Blessed Sacrament, then the Bishop was absolutely bound by all that was right and true, to do the same. His sole desire from then on was to bring the world to the burning Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

When my son was about two and a half years old, we were in the Chapel of an elderly people's home that we used to frequent for Holy Mass. Some of the children from the Catholic primary school next door had attended Mass on this particular day, it being the Feast of Corpus Christi. My little boy liked to help clear away the hymn number cards, so we were on our own in the Chapel carrying out this task after Mass, when suddenly he said "Mummy, here is a Body of Christ", and, to my horror, he was holding a host in his hand, that one of the children must have dropped - we were half way down the Chapel - it was not as though the child who had dropped it had attempted to consume the Host anywhere near the altar. There was no-one else around, and I suppose I was worried that he might be tempted to eat the host, so I told him to bring it to me; I took it from him, and I knelt down, and consumed Our Lord. I was pleased that he had an idea that it was something special, and that he should tell me about it, whilst being sad that the child who had been given Communion had no idea that they had dropped Our Blessed Lord on the floor. I'm not sure, in the light of what I've posted above, that I should have touched the host, but those were the days when I still thought receiving Communion in the hand was ok under certain circumstances. I wish now, that I had got my son to place it on my tongue. I no longer believe that lay people should receive in the hand - the Priest's hands are consecrated - I've read plenty of stuff on the internet and elsewhere, to convince me that there is no need for lay people to receive on the hand. I remember when I was made a "Eucharistic Minister" at a Church in London, many moons ago, (I was young, and enthusiastic, and wanted to be involved in my parish, so accepted when I was asked to be one). It never felt right. I almost lost my faith in the Real Presence. It was a horrible experience. I didn't do it for long, and I never felt inclined to offer my services - or desired to be asked, when I moved on to other parishes. When I read about that little girl, and her tremendous faith and courage, and then think of some of the First Communion Masses I've attended where the children return to their seats after taking Our Lord, and immediately spend their time chatting to relatives, and posing for photos, I see how devastatingly the loss of belief in the Real Presence has taken hold. When I think about children dropping hosts, (or receiving Our Lord whilst still chewing gum) and the casual attitude towards Holy Communion so evident in many Churches today, it makes me want to weep. I weep for my casual attitude on so many occasions. I weep for any time I have dared to touch Our Blessed Lord with my unconsecrated hands, and I want to make reparation by kneeling, and receiving on the tongue, and by recommending that every true Catholic with faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord God Almighty, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Sacred Host, stops continuing the practice of receiving in their hands, and encourages every child to receive on the tongue. Only in this way will the loss of faith in the Real Presence be reversed.


WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

God bless you at this wonderful time. He is Risen Alleluia!

I receive on the tongue and encourage my children to do the same. I am not against receiving in the hand if done as a 'throne for Christ'-but I am so concerned about the number of Hosts dropped, misused or stolen that I think it best to receive on the tongue now.

I am grateful to the EMHCs though because many of them visit the sick with Our Lord.

MaggieClitheroe said...

Yes, I thought after writing this post, 'but what about those who bring the Blessed Sacrament to the sick ?' - I'm still uncertain about that one, but I'm sure there are far too many Extraordinary Ministers being used unneccessarily in the parishes. And I have a very strong feeling about the need for consecrated hands to be handling Our Blessed Lord.