The Holy Eucharist: Directions for the Journey


I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

–John 14:6–


Asking for directions can be a futile undertaking.  Recall, for example, the opening scene from the 1952 academy-award-winning movie The Quiet Man:


Sean Thornton:         “Could you tell me the way to Inisfree?”

Train conductor:       “Do you see that road over there?”

Sean Thornton:         “Yeah.”

Train conductor:       “Don’t take that one, it’ll do you no good.”


Then, of course, there is the exchange made famous by the comedians Marshall Dodge and Bob Bryan (Bert and I):


Summer tourist:          “Which way to Millinocket?”

Mainer:                       “Well, you can go west to the next intersection.  Get onto the turnpike.  Go north through the tollgate at Augusta till you come to that intersection…  Well, no…  You can keep right on this tar road.  It changes to dirt now and again.  Just keep the river on your left.  You’ll come to a crossroads and…  Let me see…  Then again, you can take that scenic coastal route that the tourists choose, and after you get to Bucksport…  Well, let me see now…  Millinocket…  Come to think of it, you can’t get there from here.”


Men, as opposed to women, are particularly unreliable in giving directions.  Why, some of us, rather than display our ignorance, have actually been known to fabricate directions if we do not know the real ones!  No wonder so many drivers today have purchased a global positioning system (GPS)!

In Exodus 13:21, we see how wonderfully God led His people Israel to the Promised Land, guiding them “in the day-time by means of a column of cloud to show them the way, and at night by means of a column of fire to give them light.”  No need for the ancient Israelites to stop and ask for directions!  They had divine guidance.  The Lord was their GPS.

Similarly, Jesus leads us Christians to Heaven, and one way He does this is through the Holy Eucharist.  When we receive Holy Communion worthily, the Blessed Sacrament acts for us as an internal global positioning system.  Jesus’ Eucharistic grace in us is our GPS.   No need for us to follow the mixed messages of the world.  Using Sacred Scripture as our roadmap, following the signposts of Church Teaching, and taking the Blessed Sacrament as our GPS, we will be sure to find our way to heaven.  We have divine guidance.

The same egotistical pride which often prompts us men to lie in giving directions makes us especially reluctant to ask for them.  Revealing our ignorance to others, along with the possibility of being laughed at or scorned by a potential direction giver, is frequently enough to deter even the most hopelessly befuddled masculine motorist–hence another reason for the popularity of the global positioning system.  How fortunate that a GPS never mocks or ridicules us when we, either deliberately or accidentally, disregard its instructions.  Nor does it even reprimand us.  The only feedback we get are the words “Recalculating route.”

In like manner, when we find ourselves lost because of our own sinfulness, Our Lord does not belittle us or make us feel stupid.  He does not reprimand us.  All we need do is go to confession, and He will recalculate our route.  If we persevere in following His directions, He will guide us home.




The Holy Eucharist – Exodus 13:21 – John 14:6