Robbers Steal Monstrance With Eucharist
From the Catholic News Agency (with my emphasis):
Two armed men entered a perpetual adoration chapel in in Mexico during the early morning hours on Feb. 29 and stole the monstrance containing the Eucharist.
“The kinds of acts undoubtedly manifest a lack of respect for God in his Church and a lack of values,” said the Diocese of Orizaba, which located in the Mexican state of Veracruz.
According to the diocese, the men overpowered the five people who were in the chapel and locked them inside before making off with the monstrance.
“As the Church, such a cowardly act hurts and concerns us, but what mainly disturbs us is what they are going to do with the Holy Eucharist, which as we Catholics know is the real presence of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the diocese added.
Diocesan spokesman, Marcos Palacios, said that the local Church doesn’t want “the monstrance back, we want the Host. We ask those who took it to bring back, even anonymously if they want.”
In the wake the incident, the diocese decided to close the chapel temporarily “to express our sorrow and offer this reaction in penance for the acts that were committed.”
The diocese also invited Catholics to join in a march of reparation on March 2 through the streets of Orizaba to the Cathedral. The Eucharist will be carried in procession after which Bishop Marcelino Hernandez Rodriguez will preside at Mass.
The diocese thanked local officials for their support and encouraged Catholics to pray “for the conversion of those who carried out this sacrilegious act. May God strengthen our Church in such a difficult trial.”
I couldn’t but help but feel that with all that’s been going in the United States regarding the government’s attack on the Church’s religious freedom, not to mention the ongoing assault by the world on our faith and values, this very sad incident in Mexico seems to exemplify the disregard (at best) and maliciousness (at worse) that our society has towards Christ and His Church.
Perhaps this profoundly sacrilegious and criminal act is a symptom of the current moral state of our world. Yet, it also may be a foretaste of the persecutions to come. In another case of sacrilege that hit closer to home, St. Anne’s Church in Union City, CA was vandalized, including spray painted satanic symbols and words.
Are these merely isolated incidents, or are they the beginning of something more sinister and brutal to come?
What I find quite hopeful and inspiring, however, is how the people of Orizaba have responded to this grave offense: prayer, penance, and procession.
I think this is a great formula for Catholics in the United States as well. We need to pray for all those who either out of ignorance or contempt oppose the Church and Her message of love, hope, and life. At the same time, we need to pray for grace and constantly turn to the sacraments that we may grow in virtue and become better witnesses to the truth of the Gospel.
In acknowledging our own sins, we must do penance for them and for all those who offend Our Lord. For example, we can give up something (traditionally, it’s meat) on all Fridays, even those outside of Lent. And on every first Friday, we can pray the Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and make an Act of Reparation.
Lastly, we should enliven the tradition of public processions that were at one time quite common in the Catholic culture of the United States. Processions of the Blessed Sacrament or of a relic or a special image of Our Lady or another saint not only help to strengthen the faith of the community, but they also act as visible signs that God is present in the world, that He is real, that He is relevant.