January 26, 2024

Be Our Guest / Maria Cossell

A ‘love story’: Teacher sees students develop an intimate relationship with the Blessed Sacrament

Maria Cossell

Tucked into a small compartment of my jewelry box is a folded up piece of paper. Every so often, I unfold it and re-read a letter a student wrote to me about her encounter with God in adoration.

During the time I taught her in sixth grade, she was bearing a large cross that was having a physical effect on her in a way that was noticeable to her peers.  Every time I read about how the Lord told her he wanted to heal her, I am continually reminded of the gift of the Blessed Sacrament in my life and the lives of my students.

As each school year progressed, I would become more aware of specific crosses my students were carrying, from hearing intentions shared during class prayer to reading concerned e-mails from parents and written responses on assignments. My heart would ache for them to be going through so much at such a young age. I desperately wanted to ease their load by completely getting rid of their crosses.

However, this was not something I could ever truly accomplish, and deep down I knew it. I had to lead them to the man on the cross. I had to lead them to the Eucharist.

It was in the Blessed Sacrament that my students began to realize that the Lord was meeting them in their suffering and ache. Their crosses became avenues to the living God.

The time they spent in adoration and Mass with the Lord during the school day was changing their hearts and became evident in their bodily actions. They radiated joy in a way that was not present at the beginning of the school year.

It permeated everything they did, from being fully present to the needs of those around them to being grateful for the little things in life. Their eyes were open wide as they grew in their awareness of God working in their day-to-day life.

They would become excited for First Friday adoration and beg to sing a song to start off our holy half hour with the Lord. I can still picture them giddily opening the song books and looking at me for confirmation that we could begin.

Being an extraordinary minister of holy Communion during school Masses started to take on a whole new meaning for me. I saw their open hands that they stood before me with as a sign of their inner openness and the expansion of their heart to receive the One who heals and equips us.

As I watched the body of our Savior enter into their bodies, I prayed for the desires and aches they had shared with me. I begged the Word made flesh to flood their whole being with grace beyond compare. My devotion to and love of the Eucharist was growing with my students. The Lord has chosen me, a sinner who was broken just like my students, to share the healing power of God. What a gift and honor it was to be used as an instrument of the Lord.

Every year, I would stand in awe of the intimate relationship my students had formed with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Nothing has ever been more beautiful to me as a teacher than to watch my students fall in love with the Eucharist. At times, it would bring tears to my eyes as I shared with others what I was experiencing, a front-row seat to a love story, the love story of God with his beloved.

(Maria Cossell’s reflection was written when she was a teacher at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Carmel, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese. She now teaches at St. Luke the Evangelist School in Indianapolis and is a member of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis.)

Local site Links: