An accident in the middle of the desert paralyzed one of my legs. When the doctor arrived–eight days later–it was too late; I shall be lame for the rest of my life.

Stretched out on a mat in the cell of an old Saharan fort, I looked at the marks made by time on the mud wall, whitewashed in lime by the soldiers of the Foreign Legion. The heat made it difficult to think... I remained silent, trying mentally to take my soul beyond the compounds of my room into the little Arab-style chapel where I knew the Eucharist was... My leg was hurting terribly, and I had to work up the force to stop my mind wandering. I remembered Pius XII once asking in one of his audiences, "What does Jesus do in the Eucharist?" Even today, after so many years, I do not know how to reply.

In the Eucharist Jesus is immobilized not in one leg only, but both, and in his hands as well. He is reduced to a little piece of white bread. The world needs him so much and yet he doesn't speak. Men need him so much and he doesn't move!

The Eucharist is the silence of God, the weakness of God.

It is as though the world and the Eucharist were walking in opposite directions.

One has to be courageous not to let oneself be carried along by the world's march; one needs faith and will-power to go cross-current towards the Eucharist, to stop, to be silent, to worship. And one needs really strong faith to understand the impotence and defeat which the Eucharist represents and which is today what the impotence and defeat of Calvary was yesterday.

And yet this powerless Jesus, nailed down and annihilated, is the God of the Impossible, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

Letters From The Desert
Carlo Carretto

Reprinted from Witness Ministries, a lay apostolate dedicated to renewing appreciation for the Mass as the greatest gift which God has given to His beloved spouse, the Church. Their mission is to show how, in the Eucharistic Liturgy, Jesus renews and transforms us–and the world–in His life and love.