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[caption id="attachment_171266" align="aligncenter" width="1180"]"Fresh bread baked here daily" by Fr. Willy Raymond, C.S.C. (CatholicMom.com) Image: Pixabay.com (2020), CC0/PD[/caption]

Dear Friends in Christ:

First, a brief story; second, a stunning promise from Jesus; and third, a precious gift.

One day Francis, the poor man of Assisi went on a retreat alone deep into the forest and hills around Assisi. For several days, with no food, he fasted and prayed in the bright days and dark cold nights. After four days of prayer, fasting, and thirsting, he decided to make his way home through the thick dark forest. Soon he realized he was lost along with being hungry and cold. After much searching he came to a small clearing in the forest and was delighted to see a small house, and even more pleased to see on the house a beautiful sign which read, “Fresh bread baked here daily.”

He climbed the steps to the main door and knocked on the door. Promptly a rosy-cheeked, plump Italian grandmother appeared to greet him, a poor beggar. "What can I do for you, dear little brother of mine?" she chimed in melodious Italian.

Poor Brother Francis said, “Oh dear grandmother, it is so good to see you and your house in this forest. I have been fasting and praying alone in the forest. I am so hungry. I see your beautiful, welcome sign, which reads, Fresh Bread baked here daily. I was wondering, could you give this poor hungry brother of yours just a small slice, or even a small fragment of bread, to ease my hunger?”

The warm and gracious grandmother replied, “Poor little Brother Francis, I would love to ease your hunger. Unfortunately, we do not bake bread here daily, we just make the signs that say, 'Fresh bread baked here daily.'”

But wait: Good News! The stunning promise of Jesus is that at this altar, fresh bread is offered us daily. We who eat His flesh and drink His blood will have eternal life and He will raise us up on the last day. For His flesh is true food and His blood is true drink. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in Him,” says the Lord. This is no mere sign! This is real food to satisfy our hunger.

During these days of lockdown, most people cannot receive the Body of Christ. They truly hunger for this bread come down from heaven. One man begged me, “Can’t you have a Mass in the parking lot?”

Many of us who make receiving Communion a daily habit had grown too used to it and taken it for granted. This lockdown has stopped us in our tracks! It has forced our families, friends and whole parishes to long for the Body of Christ in communion. Imagine this: If in the whole world this most Holy Sacrament were celebrated in only one place, by only one priest, how great do you think people’s desire would be to go to that place and to that priest of God so that they could experience the Divine Mysteries being celebrated.

[tweet This lockdown has forced our families, friends and whole parishes to long for the Body of Christ in communion. By @FrWilly"]

Thank you, Good Jesus, Eternal Shepherd, for choosing to nourish our families with Your precious Body and Blood. We pray, through your Blessed Mother, that You will find a way to make this virus go away and let us be nourished once again as families with Your sweet bread come down from heaven. Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

Copyright 2020 Fr. Willy Raymond, C.S.C.