Return to Me with Your Whole Heart

By Sarah Streitwieser 

Just as in Mass the few drops of water, which are poured into the chalice, are changed with the wine into Your Blood, O Lord, take my wretchedness, plunge it into your heart, make it disappear in you.

— Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

I gaze upon You on the altar in the adoration chapel, in the Blessed Sacrament where I know You dwell.  Here, You are easy to encounter, clothed in austerity and humbly hidden beneath the element of bread.  You make Yourself simple, that I might simply return to You.  I long to join You in Your sacrifice, but once again I find my heart slow.

Lord, how I long to return to You with my whole heart.  Your call is so simple, yet it confounds me.  If I am honest, I see how easily my heart is divided.  Over and over I run back to You like a child with arms open in simple trust.  Yet I easily become distracted and wander off mid-course.  I am lured away by my own want for comfort, or my own busyness and false sense of self-importance.  Why am I so easily diverted from Your embrace? Why do these contrary desires pull me away from You, whom I desire above all else?

During Mass I try to place myself in with the communion gifts.  I want to lay down my whole heart and my entire will; I want to offer myself with the bread and wine.  In some small way I want to give myself up for You, as You have sacrificed Yourself for me.  I hope that by this act I might give my whole heart to You, undivided, and that You might somehow transubstantiate me with You in Your consecration.

I look to the bread and wine, but find that I do not fit with them.  How I long to be like the simple wafers, laid low in humility, without the slightest trace of leaven.  I, who am often puffed up with pride, self-rising in my vanity – I am not lowly like the communion bread.  How many great saints have hidden themselves with You here in humility?  Like St. Therese of Lisieux, how many saints have found You in their smallness?  I look to the wine and find that I cannot place myself in the chalice.  I am not so grand, nor am I prized like the wine is.  I am no more a great saint than I am a small one.  I am not like St. George; I am not strong or bold enough to slay my own dragons.

My son nudges me just before the transubstantiation, with words that I know must come from Your divine prompting, Lord.  He asks about the few drops of water that are poured into the chalice with the wine.  He does not ask why water is added to the communion offering, nor does he ask what the water symbolizes.  He simply wants to know where the water comes from.  He goes on to elaborate, “Is it from the Holy Water font?  Is it special water prepared and bottled by some religious order somewhere?” “No, I think it is just regular water,” I respond.  “Like from the sink?” he asks.  “I think so,” I say. “And it will be changed into Jesus too?” “Yes,” I answer.  He concludes, “Well, that’s some lucky water.”

In these words, Lord, I hear Your simple invitation. If I am not as humble as the bread or as great as the wine, I can still offer myself to You, as ordinary as water.  You reach out toward me again, and invite me to Your table. You ask me to participate, undeserving as I may be, in Your transubstantiation.  Though I remain imperfect and divided, You make a way for me to return to You as I am, with my whole heart.