Father Michael was so keenly aware of the Gift of the Holy Eucharist. We spoke of this in one our first conversations. I was talking about how much my view of the Eucharist had changed in my life. I spoke of how as a First Communicant, I was focused on meeting Jesus and having Him become part of me, a personal visit and union. Then I told of how, post Vatican II, the focus was so much on the People of God, Church as Christ’s Body and we its members, our neighbors, that union- I remember very little remaining of my childhood viewpoint. But I told Father Michael I felt that as an older person I had come back to my childhood view, but now keeping the community in the picture.
Father Michael just beamed as I spoke. I did some additional explaining of how I was thinking and Father became most serious as I talked. I wish I could remember what I’d said. Father M then stated “Well that is a beautiful explanation of amazingly sound Theology!!” with some surprise in his demeanor. I said “I know”, but wondered why he was so surprised. Father said “But you don’t realize how many people don’t have a clue!” I replied “But Father Michael, I have sixteen years of Catholic education, I should know this stuff.” He would often mention to me later, as he fought his cancer, that I was truly blessed with understanding of the Eucharist.
I was aiming to have Father Michael become my spiritual director at that point. He suggested some reading about St Charbel and to study some books on the Eucharist. We never got around to the direction because Father Michael’s cancer showed up. Father was too sick to have the meetings. For quite awhile I didn’t see Father Michael at all. What a disappointment!
But I remember Father M’s pure delight in distributing Holy Eucharist to all of us. He always smiled as we approached him, eyes gleaming. He radiated such warmth and reflected a quiet delight in giving this greatest of Gifts to us, his parish family. Today is Corpus Christi and I think of Father Michael’s love for the Eucharist. Father’s beautiful being and presence, his gentleness and holiness- all bore witness to the exquisite nourishment provided by Our Lord.
And through the same Gift, we are all still together:
He in us is present; we in him abide.
Members of his body, we in him are one;
Hail this sacred union, heav’n on earth begun!’