September 26, 2008

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Is Jesus really present in the Blessed Sacrament?

Debra TomaselliWhile the thought of attending the weekday Mass kept popping up, I snuggled in.

The bedcovers were warm. My pajamas comfy. The morning light sleepy.

When the nagging idea persisted, I glanced at my bedroom clock: 8:15 a.m. Mass would begin in 15 minutes. I should go. But I rolled over. Maybe not.

A few minutes later, I rose for the day. I started making the bed then, right in the middle of straightening my blankets, the relentless voice renewed its appeal. The clock spelled out its sentence: 8:35 a.m.

I chuckled. I guess the decision has been made for me. It’s too late. As soon as that thought hit me, another surpassed it. I have to go to Mass, and I have to go now.

I abandoned the rumpled bedcovers, threw on clothes, raced a brush through my hair and jumped in the car. Why am I doing this? I wondered as I drove toward the church.

Once in the parking lot, I raced into the side entrance of the church.

I watched from behind the pews, somewhat removed from the congregation. The priest was whispering prayers. I paused in silence as he washed his hands, returned to the altar and genuflected in reverence.

He elevated the host.

It was then that it happened.

A mysterious presence surrounded me, although no one was standing next to me—at least not that I could see. There was a definite manifestation beside me, like the way you can tell someone is close by even when your eyes are closed. I knew it was Jesus.

Before I had entered the church, my arms carried heavy burdens. Months earlier, I had been diagnosed with lymphoma. My husband and I had planned to register our daughter at the Catholic high school, but this diagnosis raised doubts.

If I had to undergo chemotherapy, I might not be able to transport her to school or continue working. If she went to public school, she would be able to take the bus and financial issues wouldn’t be a concern.

Almost unknowingly, I placed these nagging concerns in the hands of my unseen Visitor.

A week later, I again found myself at a weekday liturgy. My mind wandered during the readings, but the last line of the Gospel came through loud and clear: “All who saw him were healed” (Mk 6:56). I snapped to attention. Stunned, I wondered. Had I seen him? Was I healed?

It took a leap of faith, but we enrolled our daughter at the Catholic high school. I drove her to classes, celebrated her graduation and sent her off to college.

I didn’t miss one thing in her life—or my own. Now, nine years later, I remain healthy, co-existing with the disease without ever having undergone chemotherapy treatments.

Is Jesus really present in the Blessed Sacrament? Undoubtedly, yes.

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Her e-mail address is

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