Nov 02, 2020 986 Joan Harniman,

The Greatest Lesson

How can hardship itself be a teacher—from the loss of simple freedoms, like leaving your house, to the most tragic loss of life?

Can we refer to the Holy Mass as ‘The Mundane Miracle’? This Catholic oxymoron could describe the beautiful sacrament of the Eucharist. After all, we are able to receive Our Risen Lord in this sacrament daily. Catholics, in a state of grace, can receive this extraordinary gift by simply joining the Communion line, after fasting for at least an hour. No admission ticket or proof of authenticity is needed, just our conscience telling us we are free from serious sin. Thus, the God-given miracle of Himself is received mundanely. Then, Covid-19 entered our world.

In your wildest imagination, did you ever think that churches would be ordered to close their doors by our government? That there would not be Sunday Mass, not to mention daily Mass in our parishes? But, thanks be to God, technology enabled our brave and resourceful priests to live-stream Masses. My kitchen table became my sacred space where the Word of God was heard from my phone. Our priests preached their homily, consecrated the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord and allowed us to receive spiritually all in our own domestic churches or homes.

But the days became months and a hunger developed. It was a longing for the sacramental reception of the Eucharist that could not be satisfied. For the first time in my life, and I daresay yours too, we became aware of just how the absence of the Eucharist could affect us. The mundane miracle became the missed miracle.

Though restaurants were closed, take-out food could be ordered. Slowly, under strict state guidelines, indoor eating was allowed. More wonderful than that, daily Mass, then Sunday Mass resumed with masked and socially distanced churchgoers. After eighty-eight days of not receiving the Eucharist sacramentally, I was starved for our Risen Lord. I, along with many others, received the Eucharist with teary eyes and a longing that was finally satisfied. I was so grateful to be reunited with my dear Friend who laid down His life for me. Just a few short minutes meditating on His gift of the Himself to me in the Eucharist melted away our time of separation.

Then I realized the greatest lesson from Covid-19: the Eucharist was the greatest take-out food ever. Fully received and fully consumed, the Eucharist satisfies a hungry heart who walks out into the world at the end of Mass. And this take-out food was meant to be delivered. I pray to God that I will give Him to others in the ways He prompts me. Again and again, the process can be repeated: receive, take out and deliver to our hungry, needy world.

After the priest gives the final blessing, we are “good to go.” No correction. We are “God to go”—ready and able to deliver the best take-out food ever. So be ready to deliver a smile, a kind word, a helping hand, a necessary gift of food, comfort and heartfelt help. He will help us see where the special delivery needs to go. It’s funny how we learn from the strangest life events. Or perhaps, in the darkest of days, we search as hard as we can for the light and He shines His understanding upon us.


Joan Harniman

Joan Harniman is a retired teacher. She has co-authored two books of Biblical plays, skits, and songs, and has published articles in Catechist and teacher magazines, as well as Celebrate Life magazine. She lives in New York with her husband, children, and five grandchildren.

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