Today is the feast day of St John Bosco (1815-1888), founder of the Salesian Society, and a patron saint of children and young people.
“It is an embarrassing problem when there are not enough hosts to give everyone Holy Communion. Possibly it was Fr. John Bosco’s fault, but more likely it was another priest who said Mass before him and left an almost empty ciborium in the tabernacle. There should have been a note taped to the door of the sacristy.
If there was a note, Fr. Bosco did not see it. He was a busy man. When he went into the sacristy that morning, he saw the vestments neatly arranged, and he assumed that everything was under control. It was only at the time of Communion, when he opened the tabernacle, that he found the nearly empty ciborium. There were 500 boys in the pews and only a few hosts.
If a priest is aware of the need, it is not hard to set an extra ciborium on the altar, to be consecrated during Mass. However, if this is not done, there is one option. The hosts that are in the ciborium may be broken once or twice. Jesus is really present in the smallest particle, but there is still a need for reverence. The hosts could not be broken enough to satisfy this crowd.
Fr. Bosco bowed his head and offered a silent prayer of resignation. This was not something he could deal with at the moment. It would be best to give Holy Communion to a few boys and then tell the others to wait for another priest to offer Mass. As he walked along the communion rail, Fr. Bosco kept his calm. He gave Holy Communion to the kneeling boys, and then he walked back across the church to start on another row until the hosts ran out.
Fr. Bosco looked into the ciborium. There were still some hosts left, so he continued to distribute Holy Communion. Each time the priest reached the end of the row he looked down and made a quick count. It looked like there were enough, so he kept going. It takes half an hour for one priest to give Holy Communion 500 times. As the minutes passed, the altar boys became aware that the ciborium should be empty.
John Bosco smiled. Jesus was working a miracle, just like the multiplication of loaves and fishes. The crowd had come to be with Jesus and to honor Him. He was not willing to send them away hungry.
Only at the end of the line did the number of hosts really begin to diminish. When the last boy had received Holy Communion, there was one host left. With joy in his heart, Fr. Bosco went back to the altar and finished Mass.
Later, the boys in the sacristy asked him how he did it. Again, he just smiled. There really was no way to explain what had happened. He had not done anything; God had worked the miracle in front of his eyes.
The boys were not too surprised at this. They seem almost gullible in the accounts, but that is what happens when miracles take place too frequently. The human mind can accept almost anything as normal if it happens often.” (The Angelus Online)
St John Bosco, pray for us