Is laughing with the Eucharist in my mouth sacrilege or God’s way of telling a joke?

After celebrating the 5th anniversary of my matrimony to my wife and my daughter’s baptism, we woke up the next morning and realized that even by our mexican standards we would arrive late to our parish’s 11 o’clock mass.  When this happens, we take the opportunity to travel to our city’s Cathedral to celebrate the noon o’clock mass with the rest of the folks who were a bit hesitant to get out of bed.  This is where the following hilarity took place:

All was fine throughout the mass.  My youngest was chillin’ with her abuelita after being doused with chrism and holy water at her baptism roughly over 24 hours ago.  My wife was still a bit sleepy from a long night of baby watching and my two year old was gazing at the beauty of the Church’s architecture singing her own hymns “Ringo, ringo little star!” (A remix of the original version commonly titled Twinkle, twinkle little star) However, as soon as we went up to receive Communion, God got humorous.

I didn’t even see it coming.  She had been a bit sick the past week and her lack of food and sleep made her laxidasical at best.  But when the Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist placed Christ’s body upon my tongue, my little angel, now clinging to my shoulder, was inspired by the holy Spirit to say the first thing that came to her mind…

“Tortilla?”

Immediately, I almost burst out laughing, but I couldn’t because the host was still in my mouth.

She thought that Jesus was one of the corn tortillas we ate daily in la casa.  I closed my eyes to keep from crying with laughter and as I approached the chalice, I pulled myself together.

I mustered out an “Amen”, grasped the cup and took Christ’s blood into my soul.  He wasn’t halfway down when my daughter struck again…

“Juice?”

I. Lost. It.

When I got back to my pew, instead of the silent prayer I usually share with my wife, I attempted to explain to her what had just happened.  We received a couple of stares and shhhhs, but eventually died with that kind of laughter you can only make when you are unable to because of the “serious” environment you are in.

Regardless, I think God had a good chuckle too.

What about you, do you have any “dying of laughter but not culturally appropriate to laugh” church stories?  If not, here’s another one you might like.

Do you stink?

The other day my daughter was eating dinner on my lap and I caught a whiff of a disturbing stench.  Being the father of two kids below age three, these aromas aren’t normally a surprise, but this one was.  I checked my girl’s diaper, sniffed her sweaty head, and checked her arm pits.  Nothing outside of the norm.

Then I thought, maybe it is me…

When one sweats, it is because their body temperature has risen too high. The body’s natural defense against overheating is to release liquid though the pours of the part of the body that is overheated. This sweat acts as a refresher in that it absorbs the heat and provides the body with a cooler temperature.  I can safely say that the majority of Americans are quite overheated as this heatwave continues to roll on.

So when Jesus was praying in the Garden the night when He was betrayed, His body was overheated. This heat was not caused by an exertion of force. In fact, it was more likely that at the hour of His prayer, the temperature was probably quite cool. I would venture to say that He was not running a marathon inside the Garden. In fact, the Bible tells us He was “prostrate” and very likely immobile on the floor, during the cool nighttime hours. (Matthew 26: 39)

So what caused this immobile man to sweat that night during His prayer? Some say it was the pure stress and they might be correct. But, could it be possible that, like the transfiguration, Jesus, in this intimate conversation with His Father, was transfiguring Himself once again into the blazing fire, the heat that other Biblical authors refer to when they speak of the Cherubim angels (Ezekiel 1:13), or the Holy Spirit (Revelation 4:5) or even God Himself (Exodus 3:2)? Could it be possible that, because He sweat blood instead of regular sweat, He was bathing Himself in the purifying “blood of the lamb” (Revelation 12:11) prior to the ultimate sacrifice on the cross? Could this blood have anything to do with “spiritual overheating of the soul” that came to save the earth? Could this be the spiritual refreshment just as sweat is physical refreshment?

I believe that this “sweating of blood” is the Spiritual defense against the overheating of a perfect soul. I believe that this blood was an effect of the raging fire of burning love that dwelled inside the carnal body of God. I believe that this serene soul lives within those today who are able to hear the sound of His resurrected voice when He says “I came to set the earth on fire. How I wish it were already burning!” (Luke 12:49)

Finally, I believe that when we drink this blood at mass, we too cover ourselves in the sweat of our souls so that they might be cooled down from the temptations of this world. Better yet, this blood transfigures our souls to become more like the raging fire of burning love for others. When we are on fire and actively participating in the Will of God, it is then that we become Jesus for others in the most profound way: by accepting the Eucharist we become the fire!

It turns out, the combination of my daughter and I after a day of playing outside in the humidity was the source of the foul stench.  That just made me think about Jesus’ sweat.

I hope that both my daughter and I can stink like God too.

Rhythm and Rhyme

So many new sights and sounds have returned to us during this springtime. The sun shines brighter and longer. The birds sing earlier and more often. And the sky is a clear blue making the new greens on the earth glow with life. Perhaps that is why April is the official month for poetry?

Winter’s chill has come to a close, Christ’s resurrection is on the horizon, and the earth awaits this glorious rejuvenation. With that, the Guardian Angels of Education will take a page from our inspired Biblical authors and change the writing style to a more creative form. For the month of April, poetry will be the genre by which we will write. Perhaps in doing so, we might challenge our students to write in the same way, using their intellect and creativity to find the deeper meaning within every topic imaginable- especially God.

Adoro Te Devote
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart Lost,
all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight. Amen.

~St. Thomas Aquinas, Translated by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!