Yesterday while deep cleaning, I put on an old Michael Bublé concert from the mid 2000s as background noise. A little Fatima history lesson: I was a huge fan many years ago—so a big a fan I not only had a poster on my wall, but to take it further, when I saw him live in 2008 I ran to the front of the stage, making my way through the crowd in attempt to reach out for his hand during the final song. I did, twice.
After the concert finished, I waited near the back exit with many other fans hoping to get a glimpse or even an autograph. He didn’t end up coming by the time I had to leave, but I didn’t quite leave empty handed as I basically put to my cheek a face towel with Michael Bublé’s dried sweat (yes, you guys…you read that right). A fan who had caught this face towel during the concert was exuberantly sharing this with other fans nearby, myself included.
In retrospect, how unsanitary (it was definitely not 2020) and seemingly silly of me. I would be remiss not to say that at the time this little moment did mean a lot if I’m being perfectly honest. He was a star I really admired and his music made me happy. That night was a memory I carried with me for days to come.
So why do I even share this embarrassing story?
I recently learned from a Fr. Ripperger video about a cloth added to the communion rail of churches. Before 1965 in the Western Church, there was a white cloth draped on the communion rail of churches. In a church I visited over the summer, I followed suit and experienced this for the first time during a Traditional Latin Mass, though I didn’t know what it meant until I happened upon this video last week.
When kneeling at the rail to receive the King of kings in the Most Holy Eucharist, one would put their hands underneath this cloth as if they are touching the hem of our Lord’s garment – just like in the gospel where a woman suffering from hemorrhages said “if only I could touch his garment, I shall be healed.” She did touch his garment and of course, was healed.
This woman who had suffered for years sought help from many physicians for healing, but to no avail. She spent all that she said and received nothing for the better, but rather, worse. So when she heard about Jesus, it was by her faith that moved her to make way through the crowd to reach for a touch of our Lord in passing. She barely did as she was only able to just reach for the fringe of his robe, but He knew she was reaching out even in such a busy, bustling crowd. It was by her faith that Jesus made her well and said to go in peace, completely healed in her illness.
Whether bodily or spiritual diseases, we have the opportunity at each Mass to reach out to the Lord and be healed. In our heart we are physically receiving the Savior, the King of the Universe who gives us a gush of His powers. This is a touch that no celebrity, politician, sovereign ruler on earth, or any other person has the power to do. Only a King who is not of this earth can, and its impacts are far greater and more significant than we can ever imagine.
So at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, even if we don’t have a cloth or communion rail now, may we imagine touching the garment of the blessed Lord and let allow our heart be opened. Each of us has our own baggage of hurts, history of ailments, and fears of the unknown that continue to bog us down from our pursuit of perfect holiness, preventing us from keeping our eyes on the King of the Universe. Don’t let them.
With the same faith of the woman, may we resolutely make our way through a crowd and reach out to Christ the King—our Savior and Healer—throwing everything upon Him, casting upon Him all our cares, so we can be healed and move forward in our earthly pilgrimage in peace and trust.