Only Say the Word


I am kneeling.  There’s a squirming child somewhere nearby.  If she’s not on my lap, she’s sitting right beside me.  Her sister is whispering to me, or looking through my purse, or reaching for something on the other side of me. And yet, in spite of the distractions in the pew with me, I feel the familiar lump in my throat.

C’mon! I shout in my mind. No crying!

And then it happens.

As I start to respond with the congregation, the lump lets loose.

“Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

It’s a rare Mass that doesn’t have me shedding some tears.  My husband once passed me my daughter’s Cabbage Patch doll when I was sniffing at the end of Mass and things were looking hopeless.  That doll’s dress saved me from certain snotty embarrassment.

Sometimes, it’s a well-chosen hymn.  Other times, it’s a baptism.  Usually, it’s just a regular old Mass.

I have a hard time explaining it.  I’ve been crying in Mass since before I believed there was anything important happening.  Is it a recognition of the Great or of Truth or of Something Bigger Than Myself?

Maybe.  I’d like to think so, anyway.

Even during Masses when I’m feeling pulled together, ready for the action, prepared for the miracle, I find myself somehow surprised when I kneel right before Communion.

“Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

I know I’m not worthy.  Oh boy, do I know it.  I yell at my kids, my husband, my friends, myself.  I whine and complain about things that I should see as blessings.  I sin and then, without blinking, I sin again.

And that’s a good day.

It’s not the recognition of my own unworthiness or even the realization that He doesn’t care that I’m not worthy, that He embraces me despite my unworthiness.

I think, after years of feeling tears course down my cheeks as I say this phrase, that it’s the healing I know is coming that makes that lump blossom in my throat.  It’s knowing that my arms are wide open, and so are His.  It’s knowing that I’ve been going along, not looking back or around, but when I come back, on my knees, He always offers me the same healing, the same peace.

“Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

He says one word, and I’m all better.  And in that series of moments, I can only cry.  I can only bare myself, offering Him the little I have, and ask Him to do with it what He will.

And He does.  With a word, I am healed.

Copyright 2009 Sarah Reinhard


About Author

When she’s not chasing kids, chugging coffee, or juggling work, Sarah Reinhard’s usually trying to stay up read just one…more…chapter. She writes and works in the midst of rural farm life with little ones underfoot. She is part of the team for the award-winning Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion, as well as the author of a number of books. You can join her for a weekday take on Catholic life by subscribing to Three Shots and follow her writing at Snoring Scholar.


  1. Hey Sarah – thank so much for this lovely column. I have been known to have many of your same thoughts at that moment during the Mass. Next time, as my eyes well up, I’ll be thinking of you! Thanks for sharing your heart!

  2. I often start crying or at least feel like it at Mass too. I think it’s due to the Lord’s presence and His ability to break through all the walls I build up to contain my emotions in “real” life. It’s nice to hear that others feel the same. Thanks for this column!

  3. Sarah,

    Beautiful column! I second the sentiment. It is ever so rarely that I get through communion without some tears. Lately, when I have the chance to be an Eucharistic Minister, and I present the cup to another person, chills go down my spine EVERY SINGLE TIME I say those precious words: “The Blood of Christ.” When I get back to the pew and kneel down, tears always come. The healing He offers us… the arms wide open, as you point out… WOW!


  4. Great article! I followed the link over to here from your blog Sarah and I have to say that I love just about everything you write. You always make me think after I have read your articles. Thank you so much!

    God Bless,


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