I came out of my prayer time in the chapel to find Father Jesse across the way, wearing a cope over his shoulders. I knew what that cope meant. I went into the church and sat down.
The children at Saint Louis Catholic School were having their monthly devotional. I’m really glad parents are allowed to come too. I spotted my seventh grader sitting in the back with her best friends among her class.
Father Jesse, preparing for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, urged the students (and their teachers) to see that this piece of bread that was about to be positioned before them was not the same as a slice of bread for a sandwich. This was their God. This was their Friend. Father Jesse was going to bring the monstrance to the altar and offer bible verses to help open minds and hearts to this reality.
Exodus 16:11-12 The LORD said to Moses: I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will have your fill of bread, and then you will know that I, the LORD, am your God.
I wondered whether the students were catching on. But I was taken deeply into the desire to have my fill of bread, and not the sandwich kind. I am deeply in need of fulfillment as a person, as a mother, as a wife, as a friend, as a minister of God in writing, evangelism and healing. I desire intellectual, emotional and physical fulfillment. I deeply desire spiritual fulfillment. I hungered for Jesus to fulfill me as only He can.
John 6:25-27 And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life…
I wondered again whether the students got it. But then I hungered deeply, not for myself, but for the community of Saint Louis. The bread that makes sandwiches cannot fulfill. We eat of that and become hungry again. I looked out at the students and begged the Lord on their behalf. They are hungry for knowledge, to explore the amazing world God made. They hunger for athletic fulfillment, to know their bodies are made well. They hunger to know what they are for. They hunger for happy, stable home lives and for friendships. Their parents and their siblings hunger. Their teachers and staff hunger. They hunger in their vocations, their own pursuits. They hunger for the healing of many problems. They hunger to know they are loved and to have authentic relationships.
I felt the hunger of the parish. There is a hunger in each person serving in ministry and in the people who come for fellowship and worship - whether they know God and are eager to serve Him or whether they just come out of habit. I felt the physical, mental and spiritual hunger of the homeless who come to the campus. I begged the Lord to satisfy the hunger of our clergy, who also need to know they are good, loved, protected and encouraged. The people who come to Saint Louis are hungry. Only Jesus can fulfill the hunger that regular bread cannot satisfy.
Matthew 26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
I wondered how the students took that in. But I felt the hunger of God’s people in Austin. Saint Louis, in two tabernacles and a monstrance 24 hours a day, supplies the bread that is more than just for sandwiches, fulfilling a hunger for the transcendent. Saint Louis is a beacon of light to the people of Austin, whether they are Catholic or not. We seem to innately know there is more than just this physical life. Jesus, coming to us in the physical, pushes us beyond that. We hunger for justice. We hunger for truth. We hunger for joy. We hunger for beauty. We hunger to be known and loved. The Lord God has written it on our hearts that we were made for more – that He can provide what we need on Earth and that we are called to life with Him forever in Heaven.
Could a sandwich fulfill any of those needs? No. Jesus is the Bread who is also our God and our Friend. The children at Saint Louis King of France Catholic School knelt for the Benediction, and I prayed in praise of the God who knows our every need and is eager to satisfy.
Blessed be God. Blessed be His Holy Name. Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man. Blessed be the Name of Jesus. Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart. Blessed be His Most Precious Blood. Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete. Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy. Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception. Blessed be her Glorious Assumption. Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother. Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse. Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints. Amen.