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|Sunday, 1-May-2005 00:00
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We are the Fruits of Medjugorje
"The major accomplishments of Medjugorje are its fruits, the most sure signs, according to the Gospel itself. The Medjugorje devotees have always proposed as their most cogent and convincing argument the abundance of good "fruits" supposedly emanating from Medjugorje as from "a locus of spirituality". ~ Father Rene Laurentin
God sent Our Lady to lead us to her Son. She did this in short order in Medjugorje, which in turn prompted our search for the Eucharist when we got home, which then led us to our Holy Family Church and our baptisms and first communions a year later.
These events are testimony to the powerful intercession of Our Lady. We are the fruits of Medjugorje. Our Lady is visiting Medjugorje for lost sheep like us. I cannot think of stronger testimony and witnessing than conversion, baptism and first communion as sequelae of a pilgrimage to Medjugorje.
Tonight, I spent some time remembering and preserving the joy of my first Communion by putting that experience to words, however inadequate, for such an amazing experience. Perhaps, it may trigger memories of your own first Communion as well.
I also would like to thank those of you who have been praying for us as we journeyed to Christ in the Eucharist. It has been a journey to Life and Love.
"He who eats my flesh abides in me and I in him." (John 6:57)
It was Easter Vigil, March 26, 2005. My husband in his white dress shirt and I in my white Hawaiian dress watched intently as Father Johnny lifted the Host before the congregation. The choir began to sing and a ripple of energy moved through the church. The 2005 RCIA class at Holy Family Catholic Church in Artesia, California was about to receive the Eucharist.
Fe, a holy woman who was called by God to volunteer herself to be my sponsor before I went to Medjugorje where I was converted, held my hand and squeezed it gently, signaling to me that the time had finally arrived. I had not decided how I would receive my first Holy Communion. I asked her how she preferred receiving Him, on the hand or the tongue.
"The hand," she replied. "I like cradling Him in my palm and adoring Him first."
I leaned back to catch my husband's eye to smile and wink at him. I could see that he was as anxious and emotional as I was. This was it! After watching others receive Communion countless times over the last year in other Southland parishes, in Medjugorje, and then in Artesia where we were led by the Holy Spirit to our parish home, our turn had come at last. I slowly rose to my feet, holding my palms together in front of my waist.
I walked toward the altar and Father Johnny in his white vestments. We were the last in the line of his newly baptized "kids" and I had time to reflect on what was happening and what it was that I was about to partake.
Last March (2004), we had responded to Mother Mary's call and she took us to Medjugorje in June. She led us to the top of a mountain named Krisevac where we were converted. Thereafter, how we hungered and thirsted for the Blessed Sacraments! Upon our return home, we actively sought out the Eucharist to do as she asked and to respond to Jesus' commandment: "Take, eat; this is My Body." (Matthew 26:26).
In a very significant way, this night, our life in the Church commenced just as the Church is living the special year dedicated to the Eucharist. With God, there are no coincidences and His Timing, impeccable. Mother Mary asked us to make the Mass the center of our life, as it is the Eucharist that makes Jesus ever present. He continues to give Himself to us through the Eucharist. We have been called to participate in the banquet of His Body and His Blood.
Here we are, Lord.
With each step toward the altar, my excitement increased. And then, the moment for my union with Christ came. Father Johnny held aloft the consecrated Host that had become the Body of Christ that I had waited so long to consume. I bowed and looked straight into his eyes, searching for Our Lord. For a split second, I caught the Eye of Christ, warm, loving, beckoning me.
"The Body of Christ," he said, as his holy hands placed the consecrated Host in my left hand held over my right, making a snug cradle for Jesus. I whispered, "Amen," then stepped off to the side. "This is My Body," He had said. My shoulders relaxed and my smile broadened as I gazed at Him in my palm. I picked up the Christ in the Eucharist with my right hand and took Him into me. From my tongue, He went straight to my heart and I was filled with an overflowing sense of gratitude and love.
I regained myself and slowly walked toward the Eucharistic minister who held the chalice full of wine. "This is My Blood," He had said.
I sipped from the chalice and once again, deep gratitude began welling up from my heart. "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant of My Blood. (Luke 20:22)." I murmured, "Amen."
I made the sign of the cross. I thought of how far we had come. A year ago, we didn't know how to do it. Before leaving for Medjugorje, we learned to do it from online instructions. Since then, we've crossed ourselves "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" before and after every prayer and every Mass, and doing so is now ingrained. Genuflection is another story!
It may been but a sip of His Blood, but it was a tonic to my racing heart and I felt Jesus's Love suffusing and radiating from within, calming me.
I returned to my pew, where I hugged Fe and thanked her, not only for being the best sponsor I could have ever hoped for. Now, she was also my dear, dear sister in Christ. My eyes welled up with joyful tears.
The waterworks were turned on, full-force, when I saw my husband return to the pew. He had walked every step of this journey with me and the words "All is well. All is One" had truly come to pass. Together, just seconds apart, we had become one with Christ.
This was a time of consummate joy. I looked over to the statue of Our Mother and thanked her with a "Hail Mary" for leading us to her Son that led to this grace-filled night when we not only became children of God, but were united with Him through the Eucharist.
I thought of my father who loved me so dearly and who I loved even more; I prayed for his soul that was rejoicing with us. He would be happy that I was no longer fatherless. This night, I gained three fathers while on this earthly pilgrimage: Our Heavenly Father, Our Holy Father in Rome and Father Johnny, my earthly father right here in the parish.
As our confirmation classmates were receiving the Eucharist, I fell into a prayer of thanksgiving that went something like this, except it was a lot less coherent at the time:
"Thank you, dear Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, for keeping Your Eye on me. This night, I have taken You in me. You are a big Part of me, and I am but a small part of You. We are One, just as you promised.
I love You with all my heart and I will keeping seeking You in the Blessed and Most Holy Sacrament. Yes, I will do this with love in remembrance of You for the rest of my days.
Thank you for loving me and for bringing me to You. Thy Will be done, not mine. Use me. Use me up. Use me all up. I am Yours, all Yours.
A month later, I am happy to report: All is well. All is One. And the Eucharist is everything that it is cracked up to be. As our nourishment and sustenance, it really is worth being brave for, living for and risking everything for. It is how we become Christ Within, how we become Love.
"For My Flesh is real food
and My Blood is real drink.
He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood
lives in Me
and I live in him.
As I who am sent by the living Father,
Myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats Me will draw life from Me."
>> On the Eucharist by Fr. Tommy Lane
>> Letter on the Eucharist (Ecclesia de Eucharistia) [/color]