A few years ago, on Holy Thursday we gathered to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
I processed forward to receive Holy Communion. I didn’t look ahead of me. I walked slowly with my eyes lowered, and then it was my turn to receive Our Lord.
As usual, I looked up at the priest and opened my mouth. The priest looked a little confused and he hesitated and I wondered what was wrong. And then I understood: a small piece of bread was thrust awkwardly into my mouth, a small piece of leavened scone-like bread. Crumbs broke off and my eyes followed their descent to the floor. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the carpet covered with bread. Our Lord was there all over the floor.
I returned to the pew and knelt down, but I couldn’t pray properly. How I wished I’d never gone up to receive Communion. If only I’d looked ahead and realised what type of bread had been used for the consecration.
Mass came to an end. We stood for the last blessing and then everyone processed out, following the Blessed Sacrament on Its way to the chapel of repose. I stayed where I was. I didn’t leave with everyone else. Instead, I sank to my knees and prayed. Tears filled my eyes and I felt sick inside. Why follow Our Lord to the chapel of repose when He was still there, still there all over the floor?
I wonder what happened to Our Lord. Did someone walk carefully around the room on his knees, picking up every crumb of bread and disposing of it in a right and holy manner? Or was Jesus vacuumed up and added to the garbage?
How could this happen? How could we treat Our Lord in such a way? Have we forgotten about the Real Presence? Perhaps we no longer believe. Or is it me? Maybe I am making a fuss about nothing. If it were important wouldn't everyone have had tears in their eyes?
I was telling this story to a friend the other day and she questioned whether the consecration was actually valid. The priest seemed to have the intention to consecrate the bread. I don’t know what other conditions have to be fulfilled in order for transubstantiation to occur. But I really hope we all returned home without having received Our Lord that Holy Thursday.
And I hope that the carpet was covered with crumbs of bread, only bread…. crumbs that could be safely vacuumed up and disposed of. Because when I think of the alternative I still feel like crying.