In the Gospel on Low Sunday, we meet Our Lord as He appears to the eleven apostles in the upper room. This time, St. Thomas is there. Earlier in the day, he had said that he would not believe Our Lord had risen until he had placed his finger in His side and wounded hands. He doubted that the Resurrection had even occurred. Yet when Our Lord told St. Thomas to touch his wounds, the only words that St. Thomas could utter were: “My Lord and My God!”
It seems to me that many of us are in the same place as St. Thomas. We doubt our faith because we don’t see it. We doubt the efficacy of prayer and the Sacraments. We wonder if this whole Catholicism thing is really what it is made out to be. Yet all of us suffer those moments when we are prostrated before God’s majesty and all that we can utter are the words of St. Thomas, “My Lord and My God!”
In an old Benedictine prayer book that sits on my writing desk, there is a section which instructs people how to assist at Mass. At the Consecration, the prayer book simply says that we must utter over and over again, “My Lord and My God!” Of course, I don’t just say that. I also add the following lines from a famous Catholic prayer, “Body of Christ, save me; Blood of Christ, wash me.”
During Holy Communion, indeed, those realities about which we may doubt suddenly become real. In the hands of the priest, the host suddenly becomes Our Lord’s Precious Body and the chalice becomes His Blood. This is no longer mere bread and wine, but something much more different. Yes, the accidents still retain their appearance. Yet they are completely and utterly changed by transubstantiation. How this happens, of course, is a mystery and yet it happens every single day.
At Masses around the world, the transubstantiation occurs over and over again. Whether the bells ring or not, whether the priest just rolled out of bed or not, whether it is in a monastery church or in a private oratory, the same miracle happens over and over again. When it happens, we know Who is there and we know what He wants from us. Yet are we willing to sit there like St. Thomas and doubt or are we willing to do something about it? Are we willing to put our doubts on the line and receive Him who died for us?
In this mystery of the Holy Eucharist are also contained the words that Our Lord spoke to St. Thomas immediately after that most famous of ejaculations: “Thomas, blessed are those who have believed and have not seen.” Indeed, there are countless people in this world who believe the truths of the Faith without having experienced them themselves. They have not had visions or locutions. They were not in the Holy Land at the time of Our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection and yet they believe.
They believe because the actuality of those events is repeated every single day in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They believe because Our Lord is always present in His tabernacles. Yet they also believe because of the supernatural virtue of faith. At the end of the day, it is that supernatural virtue that is among the greatest gifts of the Holy Ghost and Our Lord.
Let us think about the many times when we have doubted God in our lives and when He has completed “floored us.” Let us also be thankful that He has given us this wonderful virtue and pray for those who have not received it.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Thomas the Apostle, pray for us!