Did you know that sunshine in Ohio is scarce? In case you didn’t, let me give you an example. We have had some monster winters and there has been an increase in the number of vitamin D-deficient people in our neck of the woods. For Spring Break, we traveled to the south, where we met many-a-folk who had crawled out of the woodwork in pursue of sunshine after a long, harsh winter. One woman I met by the poolside was from London, and had decided that it was either South Carolina, or northern Africa for vacation with her husband and two children. In case I was not getting the drift, she explained that they were, in fact, the same latitude. Many days I sat by the pool with a magazine, or saying to the kids, “That is great Sweety!” to the gang’s version of pool tricks, and soaking up the rays. It wasn’t tropically warm, but it was sun, and I spent about a week in its rays.
Two weeks later, I ventured for my annual checkup to find that after a series of blood work and the week in the sun, among other deficiencies, I lacked vitamin D. I was instructed to supplement my diet with vitamins, and it was prescribed to me to “sit in the sun” for 20 minutes a day, upon which I immediately called Daddy-O and said “Um, we need to move to Arizona…I need 20 minutes of sun a day!” (Anyone who lives in Ohio knows that cannot always happen).
After several months of supplements, and many attempts at “laying out” (or as I like to call it for us Irish girls, “Freckle Consumption”) I found it funny that the “sun” wasn’t helping me feel better. I was still tired, a bit down, and sleepy…all the time.
What I really needed, was 20 minutes of “Son.” You see, the only thing that truly brings peace, energy and beauty to our world, is Jesus. Namely, Jesus in the Eucharist. I help coordinate Eucharistic Adoration at our parish. It brings great peace and happiness to many of us who are regular “adorers” of Jesus in what we as Catholics call the “Most Blessed Sacrament”, because we believe in the “True Presence”, which is Jesus actually turns his body into bread for us to consume at the hands of a priest. We display this blessed bread or Eucharist, “(which means literally “thanksgiving”) in a beautiful golden “frame” type stand that is called a “monstrance”. We kneel or sit before Jesus on the altar in this monstrance, in the form of the bread (or Eucharist) and we love him. For some, perhaps we question him and this miracle (which can be found in John 6:22, or better know as the “Bread of Life Discourse”), wonder about him, pray to him, listen to him, or just be with him. Jesus says in this discourse “Amen, Amen, I say to you…” which means “It is true, It is true…” and then he goes on in a way that is kind of like “I am not kidding. I am bread. Eat of me, and you will live for ever. For I am the true bread. TRUE food,” etc. And he really wasn’t saying “This is just a symbol”. We as Catholics live on this bread of life. I didn’t always understand through faith, the mystery of this sacrifice. I once was before the Blessed Sacrament and prayed “Please Jesus, I really really want to see you in the Eucharist. I really want to believe. Help my disbelief…” and all of a sudden, it was like seeing Jesus sitting on the altar before me. Ahhhhhh…..safety, peace and love.
Our parish this past year held this beautiful devotion every Tuesday evening through May. With the end of the academic school year, and a long hot, buggy, humid…ah-hem….anyway, a long summer, Eucharistic Adoration had ended and I felt, well, like I was in the desert. (Only the real desert doesn’t have 90% humidity and gnats and mosquitos….okay, sounding negative again.)
So I found myself without Son. Blessed Theresa of Calcutta described her hour of devotion before the blessed sacrament each day (yes! She spent an HOUR each DAY with Jesus in the Eucharist!), to be resulting in a “Son-tan”. She felt that this time before Jesus was to be seen on her face in the form of a glow of grace she received from this time adoring Christ.
It is funny to me that my vitamin D deficiency and my loss of “sun” occurred at the beginning of summer, although it makes sense when you are away from the sun, that your tan will fade. My loss of time in the Son, has resulted in a fade of sorts as well. I am excited that we begin again to devote time and love to Jesus in the Eucharist this month. I am looking forward to my time before the Son, and I bet if you take my blood count in a month, I won’t be deficient in anything but my own pride, because before the Glory of the Son, who can be “Son-burned?”