Yesterday I was searching in the bag I carry with me when I take Communion to the Elderly for a little St. Anthony chaplet that had been sent to me. There, lying in the bottom of my bag was a broken Consecrated Host. I was horrified! For weeks, perhaps since the last time when I last went “out” a few weeks ago, the broken Host had lain there, without my knowledge – the Body of Christ, broken and abandoned in my bedside table at the bottom of a bag. Oh Lord, how could I do this to You? I don’t even know how that Host could have fallen out of the Pyx. The lock on the Pyx seems secure. I never noticed when the Pyx was in the bag that it had come open. But there the Body of Christ was in the bottom of the bag – waiting for me to find Him.
All these months that I have carried the Eucharist, I have thanked God for giving me the honor and the joy to do this. I have prayed for protection when I have carried Him to the nursing homes. I have prayed that I would be more reverent toward the Eucharist, that I would show more reverence toward the Lord’s Body when I visited the people in the nursing homes and when I was in church. I have been careful when distributing the Body of Christ that the recipients who receive know that this Host is truly Jesus. I have reported to the director of the ministry when I thought someone was no longer able to receive, for they no longer recognized the Host as the Body of Christ. I have carefully observed the recipients to make sure that they were safe in their environments. And yet I left my Lord alone, in the bottom of my bag, in my bedside table. It seemed to me that just like the Apostles, I had abandonned Him in His hour of need. How could I have done this?
The experience has left me humiliated, frightened and feeling a bigger screw-up than I have ever felt. I fail so often, and I fail most often and most horribly those whom I love the most.
Every time I go out to the nursing home, there will be something that I have forgotten to do or say, or someone who requests the Host, but is not Catholic; someone for whom I have forgotten to leave a bulletin; some person I cannot find to share Christ with him or her – each time I go out I wonder if this ministry is not an opportunity for me to learn humility, thanking God for showing me that I should be more careful, more observant. Is this event, too, a lesson in humility?
Sometimes when I go “out,” I carry only my small Pyx which hangs in a burse around my neck. If I have a larger number of people to visit, I take one of the large Pyx’s. I put the larger Pyx in my bag when I walk around to visit the sick. The larger one must have come open in the bag at some time during my visit.
I don’t know how this could happen. The lock on the Pyx seems secure. I remember recently after I returned to the car knowing that I would have to consume the left-over Hosts, that I was surprised when I opened the Pyx — there was only one Host left when I thought there should have been two. I went over the list of folks I had visited, recounting the number I had given out. I thought maybe there had been one less Host than I thought there were. I watch each time when Father counts out the Hosts, so that I am sure that I have the correct number. Each time I had gotten the Pyx out of my bag, the lid was closed. So when did this happen? I have tried to be so careful when I carry the Lord. I know how precious He is, and yet I failed Him!
For two plus weeks – maybe more – I left the Lord alone in my bedside table – He waited patiently for me to find Him, just as He waited patiently all those years when I abandoned Him and His church. He was here, next to my bed while I slept, and I didn’t even know it. Can I ever forgive myself for what must have been carelessness on my part?
I talked with Janet this morning and told her what had happened. She said that the larger pyx’s are old and that the latch may not work right. She will check them and order new ones if necessary. She understood how devastated I was about what happened, but did try to console me, saying that she knew that I was careful and not in a rush to finish my rounds. She suggested that I make an appointment with Fr. Tim and speak with him about it.
I did have a meeting with Fr. Tim this morning after Adoration. He said that I did everything that I was supposed to do after finding the Consecrated Host. I was so distressed about why it happened and how long it took to find it. He suggested that maybe Jesus decided that He needed to be with me for a while. How beautiful! I left feeling relieved. I saw Janet at Mass and said that I wanted to get a burse for myself for the larger Pyx’s. I bought one today when I visited the Catholic store with Karen.