I asked Craig when we pulled into the driveway as we arrived home, "Will I ever make it through Mass without crying, ever again?"
And he said, "Yes."
Being Catholic is such a beautiful thing. I have told people in the past that sometimes, as a "Cradle Catholic" I tend to think I may have taken for granted all the blessings there are in our Faith. Now, as I experience the beauty of our Sacraments with a gaping wound in my heart, I feel more sure I must have taken some of the blessings for granted. Because if I hadn't, I'd probably never have made it through Mass without crying.
Receiving our Lord in the Eucharist, since losing Gregory, has been the most heart-wrenching yet comforting experience in my life. The Eucharistic prayers, the Sanctus, the Our Father and the sign of peace, the Agnus Dei have all touched me in some way over the past three weeks in such a way that I am overcome. I keep thinking it is grief that I am overcome with, but as I reflect on it, I'm not so sure. Yes, in the main, I am grieving a tremendous loss. But what I'm noticing is more of an awareness of the prayers I say and the fact that Jesus is fully present -- Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity -- to me at that moment. I am keenly aware that this is my one and only chance to be with our Lord and it's as close as I'm gonna get until the day, God willing, I can look upon His face.
The awareness is also connected to Gregory. I'd be a fool to think otherwise, since I never had this keen awareness until I experienced the loss of my son. I didn't have words to comprehend the awareness and what it meant with regard to Gregory until a woman who brought us a meal in the week following Gregory's death said this: "I bet you feel really close to him (Gregory) at Mass." And the tears came because my first thought was that I seem to feel separated from Gregory at Mass. The awareness that I am able to be one with our Lord in the Eucharist seems to illuminate this great chasm between heaven and earth for me right now. Because Gregory is in heaven and I can't be there with him, it feels incredibly far away. But her words made me think of it differently. Instead of feeling the space between heaven and earth, perhaps it fills that space and provides an avenue for me to be closer to Gregory, closer to Jesus. That makes sense because Jesus instituted the Sacraments to provide a way to be closer to Him.
The oh-so-close-yet-so-far-away effect creates the tears. It is almost as though I could touch my sweet boy, but...I can't.
Going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist have been an important, non-negotiable part of my weekend much of my life. It seems, however, that only now that I've lost something precious, do I even approach some sort of understanding. It's not that I didn't care before, it's more like I thought I DID understand it. It seems to me that I now have a very different level of understanding -- one with pain, suffering, loss, and tears.
My desire for the Eucharist was strong before.
My desire for the Eucharist is now urgent, or perhaps a bit more fervent.
It is almost like it's my lifeline -- even with the sadness it evokes and the tears that come that I cannot control.
The Eucharist is the way I feel connected to Gregory. It's the small way I get to be with Jesus -- just a little bit, just like Gregory is with Jesus. It's a time where I feel like I can hold his hand while Jesus holds my heart.
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