I love the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In that story, our hero has to save his father and find something I had not heard of until I saw the movie as a child: the Holy Grail. The Grail is the cup of chalice that Christ used at the Last Supper and it also supposedly captured his blood as it dripped from the cross at Calvary.
Since viewing that film I have encountered Grail lore throughout history and literature. In fact, the Grail has become synonymous with an object of supreme value, worthy of every effort to attain it. But the idea of going on a long quest to hold it is not necessary. I know this for a fact for one very important reason:
I have held the Grail.
Recently I became an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. The first time I was called to distribute Holy Communion, I was nervous to say the least. I reflected on my unworthiness of such a ministry. In addition, I was terrified that I was going to be a butter-fingers and drop the sacred vessels in the middle of mass. Regardless, I approached the altar and received the chalice to distribute the contents. I walked down and the first person to approach my station was my wife. I got nervous and when she bowed, I bowed back. Then I held up the chalice and said, “The Blood of Christ.”
We Catholics believe in some fairly strange things. One of the strangest of these is the belief that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus. We do not believe that the Eucharist is only a symbol of Him. We believe that the Eucharist IS Jesus Himself: the same Jesus who walked around 2000 years ago, who raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead, who calmed the storms by His word, and who told the crowd that He was the Bread of Life.
It is such an awesome thing to take in that the constant routine of weekly and daily mass can make it seem so commonplace. I heard someone once say that if we only saw the stars once a century, we would look up in utter awe. But because we see them every night, we forget what a miracle it is to see their heavenly light shining from billions of miles away.
Holding that chalice and saying, “The Blood of Christ,” was something that hit me like a ton of bricks. If I take my Catholic faith seriously (which I do), then when I hold up the chalice at mass to offer my fellow believers, then I truly am holding the Holy Grail. If the Grail is that which holds the Blood of Christ, and the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, then I must conclude that I am holding the Grail.
This thought left filled me with a wonderful sense of the significance regarding the role of Extraordinary Minister. What a humbling privilege to offer the Cup of Christ to others. The words of our Lord echoed in my head, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (John 6:53) To be even a small part of that experience is an honor.
But then I reflected on the fact that I do not need to be a Eucharistic Minister in order to experience this joy. A little while ago, my little niece made her First Communion. Afterwards, I came up to her and gave her a big hug.
I realize now that when I did that, when I held my little niece in my arms, I also held the Grail.
When any of us receive Holy Communion, the presence of our Lord resides in us. We become the sacred vessels that we handle with such care at Mass. We need to treat each other like those sacred vessels because we have Christ’s substantial presence in us. All of us need to treat our fellow Catholics as if Christ lives in them, because He truly does.
And that is the true meaning and message of the Grail.
Copyright 2019, WL Grayson