Two years ago, during the Easter Triduum, I wrote about Margaret Ridgeley Partridge’s text, “Pilgrim Pavement,” which Ralph Vaughan Williams so beautifully set to music. My purpose was to try to illuminate the nature of our Holy Week pilgrimage.
During the time since that post, I have often meditated on the richest line of her text:
O changing wheaten wafer, that veils the changeless One!
Think, if you will, how often—and in how many ways—our Savior is veiled. I was reminded this morning, while reading Fr. William Barry’s, Finding God in All Things, that our Lord was literally veiled within the Blessed Virgin Mary: “Imagine . . . sending the Second Person of the Trinity to become a fetus, how tiny and frail the vessel of our salvation is at this point in time.”¹
Then imagine our Savior—The Changeless One of Eternity—veiled as a newborn in swaddling clothes. God in the flesh? Then imagine Him, veiled as a child, remarkable and seemingly precocious (Luke 2:41-50), but a child Who caused His parents to worry nonetheless. Our Lord and our God? Then imagine His glory, veiled during the years of His public ministry, standing in the temple declaring, “The Father and I are one” (John 10:22-31). One with the eternal I AM? “Blasphemy!” the religious elite declared. Then imagine His power, veiled, as He died on the cross in apparent defeat. This man was God? “If you are the Son of God, come down and we will believe!” (Matthew 27:40-42) Then imagine Him today—veiled in His Church, the mystical Body of Christ—at times frail, faltering, and even sinful. Really? This Church is really your mystical Body, continuing your work on earth, Lord?
Having pondered these things, is it so hard to accept that the true body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord is present in the Eucharist—the substance of the bread and wine transformed, as it was during the Last Supper and First Eucharist?
Thus we may pray as we approach the Altar, “O changing wheaten wafer, that veils the Changeless One!”
Jesus Christ. Christianity Richly!
¹ William Barry, SJ, Finding God in All Things (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1991), p. 81.