Without the Eucharist, we find Christ in the Scriptures and in one another

While the presence of Christ is given to us most immediately in the Eucharist, Jesus is present in many other ways in our lives. Particularly, we should seek him in the Scriptures and in our family members, friends, neighbors and community members in need. (Archdiocese of Detroit photo)

One morning not long ago, I was feeling impatient with my students. As the frustration mounted, the Holy Spirit inspired me to open my “Educator’s Guide” for our Education in Virtue program to the page on patience and read it silently to myself. 

The definition of patience — “bearing present difficulties calmly” — struck me in an entirely new light. It explicitly acknowledges that there are difficulties. The difficulties are real, but I am not allowing them to rob me of my peace and composure. The difficulties and inconveniences outside of a patient person have no power to take away her Christ-given peace and serenity of spirit within.  

We have all been experiencing “present difficulties” lately with schools and businesses and churches closing in the wake of COVID-19. What do we do when everything in our lives seems uncertain, when we are unable to predict what the next day might bring? As Catholics, many of us turn instinctively to Christ’s Eucharistic presence during life’s moments of confusion and uncertainty. But what do we do now when so many of us are unable to attend Mass?

As I was pondering this, I had the sudden thought — surely inspired — “Go to the Scriptures.” Indeed, the early Church Fathers compared the Scriptures and the Eucharist: both are Christ Himself among us, Christ the Word of God and Christ the Bread of Life. 

I have heard it said that we should be careful not to let one word of Scripture “fall to the ground,” just as we would take painstaking care not to let a particle of the Eucharistic Host fall. But how often are we distracted when the Scriptures are read during Mass? Maybe one opportunity for grace that God is offering us at this time is to meet Him precisely there — in His Word. Perhaps you can more readily find time now to set aside during the day to read the Sacred Scriptures and let God Himself speak to you through them. The Bible is God’s love letter — to all people, yes — but also to you personally.

It has also struck me that at this time, many families are being “forced” by circumstances to spend more time together. How beautiful, then, to think right now of the family as the “domestic church,” the Church, the Body of Christ, at home!

Every Good Friday at the convent, the Sisters receive all the remaining Hosts, and the Blessed Sacrament is, for that one day each year, no longer in our house. The emptiness and loneliness is palpable. But, as some Sisters have pointed out to me, the holiest thing in our house at that time really is the Sister next to me. Christ is no longer in the tabernacle, but He dwells in her by sanctifying grace. So, when you are unable to receive Jesus sacramentally, look for Him also in each of the members of your own “domestic church.” He is there in your child, your spouse, your parent, waiting to encounter you.

As we work our way through the challenges of these times together, let us support one another in facing them with peace and serenity. Let us combat the fear we see around us with courageous patience. And let us seize this time as an opportunity to encounter the Lord anew — in His Word and in each other.

Sr. Mary Martha Becnel is a member of the Ann Arbor-based Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.