As the past week wore on, I felt like a pencil that was constantly being sharpened until I was so sharp that my point would break when I was put to the test, and even at that point, I would be too small to be useful to anyone. All week, I was mentally putting measures in place to keep myself positive until Friday, when I could let my guard down and collapse for two days, only to do it all over again on Monday.
So I went to Adoration, not really fully intending to but because I happened to be in the area, and this area’s parish has a Perpetual Adoration chapel.
When I entered the tiny room, five others were already there, but the silence struck me hard. I sat in the back row, fixed my eyes on the host in its monstrance of metal sunbeams, and listened to the ringing in my ears. I couldn’t yet concentrate to pray, so I thought of all the sources of the noise that contributed to my inability to “hear” the silence in the room.
The ceaseless whooshing of traffic. Music, loud and oppressive. As much as I love music, there are times when it becomes just noise and nonsense. The clatter of keyboards and the ringing of phones at work. Constant talking. Even my thoughts seemed to scream at me as I stared at the host.
It took a long time before my thoughts exhausted themselves and I was ready to pray. The prayer turned into contemplation as I remembered something in a book I had read. Something about how all the power in the world, in the universe, even, is contained inside a tiny consecrated host. Unleavened bread, so weak, so unassuming. It truly takes faith to believe that such an ordinary object, something so plain, can contain miracles and grant souls the ability to get into heaven. I don’t think I fully grasped the power of the host until a few years ago, and even now, I fail to understand it sometimes.
I thought about something I had read on Tumblr, about how someone who was angry at their parish’s priest had taken a host, taped it to a note filled with threats of blasphemy and desecration, and mailed it to the priest, who read the note in front of the appalled congregation. That parish then took measures to protect the Body of Christ from that anonymous parishioner or anyone else who would do it harm.
How easy it was to hurt the God of the universe when he was in human form. How meekly he submitted. How easy it is to take one’s anger out on a piece of unleavened bread, so fragile that it melts in one’s mouth. How meekly it dissolves, yet how powerfully does it banish sin. Science can’t explain it. To examine a consecrated host under a microscope would yield no surprises; it is composed of the same molecules as ordinary bread. But to examine it with eyes of faith reveals its supernatural power.
My throat swelled with pain and tears, but I didn’t want to cry because I didn’t have tissues in my purse, and the tissue box in the Adoration chapel was empty. I sat for what felt like a long time, until I believed I was ready to go out and face the world again.