Across the road from her lived a very successful lawyer, mid-thirties, married with children. The man had no religion and was particularly critical of daily church-goers. Driving home from a late night party at 5.00 a.m. one January morning, the roads were glassy with ice, he said to his wife; ‘I bet she won’t be out this morning’ referring to Mrs. Manning. But to his shock, there she was on hands and knees negotiating the hill up to the church.He went home, tried to sleep but could not. Around 9.00 a.m. he got up, went to the local presbytery and asked to see the priest. ‘Padre,’ he said, ‘I am not one of yours. I have no religion. But can you tell me what do you have in there that can make an old woman crawl on hands and knees on an icy morning?’ Thus began his conversion along with his wife and family.
What do we have in here that makes people come to Mass each week or even each day? And I feel the Sunday Mass obligation or the threat of not going to Mass being a sin is not a runner anymore. I believe that most people who still come to Mass do so because they always did. But there is still some hidden pull or some hidden desire for connection. What is it? And sometimes we can’t find words to explain why.
In conversations about football or sport, I’ve met people who are lifelong supporters of teams that haven’t won a big tournament for years, but they still keep the faith. One day it will come good. The real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is something that can’t be seen with our physical sight. We need a different sense of vision to see Jesus Christ present on the altar and at Mass; we look at Him with the eyes of faith. We can all identify with someone like Mrs Manning we know who will show us, perhaps without even saying a word, a great example of their strength of faith. In the words of the old Benediction hymn ‘Tantum ergo Sacramentum;’ ‘Sight is blind before God’s glory, faith alone may see His face.
(Story taken from 'The Good News of Mark's Year' by Fr. Silvester O'Flynn. Columba Press, Dublin 1990)