At the Foot of the Cross

Many years ago, when I had many small children and no one to really help me through Mass, I was blessed one Sunday to be able to attend Mass alone.  It’s not that I didn’t like going with my family, on the contrary, I find going to Mass as a family one of the highlights of my week.  But this particular time I truly did need some alone time with the Lord.  My children were all sick and my husband stayed home with them while I went to Mass.  It was a strange feeling walking in all alone.

I decided to sit in the front pew since I was alone.  Our front pews are smaller than the rest in the church so normally my family would need at least two of these pews.  I settled in and knelt to pray.  As I sat back I felt almost awkward being there all by myself.  Suddenly I wished for my tribe of children and my husband to be there with me.

As Mass went forward I was able to immerse myself into each and every word.  I sang every song.  I prayed every prayer.  Without the distractions of little ones I was able to pay attention to many things that I miss each Sunday.  While I still missed that my family wasn’t with me I suddenly felt very blessed that God had given me this time to just focus on Him and not the needs of so many others.   It was a beautiful experience.

As we moved into the Liturgy of the Eucharist I felt a tug at my heart even stronger.  We knelt for the Consecration.  Father held up the Host above his head and said, “Take this, all of you and eat of it, for this is My body, which will be given up for you.”  At that moment I felt dizzy and the lighting in the church changed.  I suddenly had a vision of being at the foot of the cross with Mary and John, but it was more than a vision… I was actually there.  I could see and feel the dust in the air, I could smell odors that were foreign to me, and I could see Christ on the cross, beaten, bruised, bloody, and dying.  I was close enough to reach out to touch him.  I heard Mary crying beside me with John’s arms wrapped around her.  In that one moment I knew without a doubt that the miracle that was happening in our own sanctuary was the exact sacrifice that happened so many years ago atop the hill at Calvary.   My heart ached and was filled with a heavy sadness.  Tears filled my eyes.

My eyes refocused and I was once again watching our priest hold the chalice above his head.  He offered the cup to us saying, “Take this all of you and drink of it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.  Do this in memory of me.”  My eyes filled with more tears for I knew that it was indeed the blood of Christ, shed for me.  I was overcome with emotions that I didn’t know how to handle.

Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi- a day to celebrate the belief in the true presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. I know that God used this Mass to show me that what I had been taught and believed was true.  He gave me the opportunity to sit at the foot of the cross alongside Christ’s mother.  I can’t begin to describe the sights and sounds of that experience except to say that I have no doubt they were real. To this day they are as vivid as they were that Sunday morning.

I believe that there are times in our lives when God blesses us in such a way as to renew our faith and to give us a glimpse of what His Son went through for us.  While the Church teaches us that these private revelations are not a part of the Deposit of Faith they are a deposit in our own faith banks. To be blessed with these deposits in our faith banks we must be open to receiving them.  I am thankful that I allowed my heart to be open that morning and because of this one experience I know that I will never leave my Catholic faith.

I have been blessed in so many ways throughout my life but to be present at the foot of Christ’s cross alongside His mother was truly the most intimate moment I have ever had in my faith journey.  In that brief time I understood the ultimate sacrifice that Christ made for us, for me.  How could I ever leave when I saw Him giving everything to save my soul?

Thank you Lord for all you have given me.  Thank you for blessing me with the understanding of your great suffering.  Thank you for my faith for without it I would be lost. 

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