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Guarding Our Vulnerable God

TabernacleI came across this article on the Anchoress' blog.  It is about a very recent instance of desecration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.  Whether you read the article or not, please do not delude yourself into thinking that these cases are infrequent.

But why is the Blessed Sacrament stolen from Catholic churches?  There may be a number of reasons - who can plumb the depths of lunacy in our world.  The most sinister, and perhaps one of the most common reasons for theft of the Blessed Sacrament, is for use in Satanic rituals.  Satanic masses, mockeries of the real thing, cannot cannot proceed without Hosts, properly consecrated by a Catholic priest, to desecrate.  I've heard testimony to this extent from ex-satanists; I could not find anything on the web that was not harrowing.

We have a very, very precious gift.  God has given us Himself.  He has bundled His infinite being, the majesty that made the worlds and the love that shapes each soul, the power the raises up mountains and has turned back seas and rivers in their course.  God has bundled all that He is first into a baby's swaddling, which at least has beauty to it, if not majesty.  But He has gone further: For love of us He has ground Himself up like wheat and consented to be bound, as if bread, in a box.

 

We must not treat such love, even from an interloping neighbor, carelessly, let alone callously.  How much more do we owe the Ineffable Majesty who neither interferes nor abandons, loves infinitely but never overbearingly, strongly, but always tenderly?

The law of the Church requires us, when we repose the Living God into His little dormitory, to do so with utmost care.  We should handle Him gingerly and guard Him securely.  These incidents, including this most recent desecration that may have involved forcing the lock of a tabernacle, should prick our consciences.  A simple test I have for my own conscience, and I invite you to try it out for yourself and see what you think.  "Would I treat a million dollars so casually?  How about a thousand?  How about a hundred dollar bill?"  If not I would not, I must wonder whether I love money more than whatever: in this case, God.  Would I trust that tabernacle and it's little lock to guard the Sunday offertory collection?  If I would not, then how can trust it to guard the Sunday Offering?  Do I love money so much or God so little?

Here's a second test, a test designed to overcome the devil's temptation to "let's be reasonable, now."  You know the temptation.  We resolve that something is the right thing to do, but is perhaps difficult.  We tell ourselves (or somebody else tells us) that we are being to extreme.  Too dramatic.  And of course, perhaps we are.  So here's the test.  "Would I be polite, sit still, dress nicely, cease this behavior or that, or whatever, if somebody were going to pay me a million dollars to do so?  Ten thousand?  Even just for a hundred?"  Usually, for me, the answer is yes.  Of course I would sit still through a homily for a hundred dollars.  Can I, then, bring myself to sit still through a homily for the love of God?

So now the question.  Suppose satanists are trying to break into our churches to steal the collection offering.  What do we do?  Well, of course we don't even let it sit overnight in the church except in the strongest safe we can afford.  How then can we leave the Blessed Sacrament so lightly guarded, so little cared for?  We must - except in extremis - keep the Sacrament in our churches for reverent devotion and pious visits.  But must we keep it in so frail a tin box as we often do?  Can none of us, the Christian lay faithful, volunteer our time to keep vigil with Him to prevent sacrilege?

Let's start praying for guidance and - more importantly - for a deeper desire to make an adequate response to God's love and self-abandonment into our careless hands.  Today is the feast of St. Clare of Assisi, who held aloft the Blessed Sacrament against marauding Saracen mercenaries and thus turned them back with a miracle that struck them with fear and blindness.  We can turn to her as an example of someone who unites herself to the power of the Eucharist to drive away its enemies, rather than abandoning it and her charges to them.  She was a woman deeply united to her True Greatest Wealth, the God-Made-Flesh-Who-Looks-Like-Bread.  We need to pray for such a deeply desired and felt union with Jesus Christ that we will never neglect Him, either in our hearts and minds, our conduct toward each other, who are His very images, or in the Sacred Species that He lets us store in a box.

Oh Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, help us to guard your defenseless Son as carefully as you did.  St. Clare, poor virgin of Assisi, help us to guard our greatest wealth as you did.  Amen.

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