If the Spirit of the Lord were poured into me more than is now present
This being would burst into a flame of purgation and this body collapse onto the floor.
And, none could stir it into consciousness until that same Spirit revived it.
No, I am not ready for such an encounter.
Let my lips be touched by a burning ember, as You touched Isaiah’s lips.
As you spoke to Peter at the washing of his feet, telling him ‘this is enough’,
let the tiny fire of the ember at my mouth fully cleanse and purge my being of sin and make my
being worthy of serving You.
I found the above prayer while rummaging through my desk for insurance papers. It’s not a leap or even a large step to perceive the inspiration of God in this. Even secular coincidence cannot deny an intersection of thought in the universe.
I have struggled for some time to reconcile the power of the Sacrament of the Eucharist with my observations of the faithful (myself included) returning from receiving the Sacrament during mass. “How is it,” I’ve wondered, “That receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of God in the host does not immediately heal all maladies; physical, mental, and spiritual? Why are we not perfected in an instant? Why is there no miracle occurring routinely in the practice of the New Testament of Christianity?” These questions vex me (I like the word vex here. It’s discomforting).
Recall Isaiah’s recount of his vision of heaven in Isaiah 6. The thundering power of heaven and chorus of angelic praise shake him to fear. He knows of his unworthiness. He pleads to be cleansed. A six-winged Seraphim takes a burning ember from the altar with tongs and touches his lips, “now that this has touched your lips , your wickedness is removed, your sin purged” (Isaiah 6:7).
I’m a visual person. Art enhances my thoughts. A picture is worth a lot of words, whether a hundred, a thousand, or ten-thousand. A simple Internet search brings up a few recorded religious artworks, one of Byzantine origin. A click brings up another option and another click and I’m ‘in’ Dr. Scott Hahn’s theology school reading an article by Curtis Mitch (https://stpaulcenter.com/the-burning-coal-eucharist-in-the-old-testament/) Mr. Mitch points out that notable others have contemplated the same question. Mitch’s research brings the words of St. Cyril (5th Century Bishop of Alexandria) and St. John of Damascus (7th century monk). St. Cyril states directly that the coal is Christ. St. John says we must approach the Eucharist as if it is, in fact, a coal purging us as Isaiah implored.
5th century, 7th century, now in the 21st century, the relation of a prophetic vision some seven hundred years before Jesus came to us all continues to bring Him to us and remind us of the intense encounter that awaits us at the altar at mass. As we continue this year of Eucharistic renewal, let us proclaim the burning ember of God’s mercy that provides a renewal according to our frailty.