Little Li: Reverence for the Eucharist

On The Patrick Madrid Show, Kimberly called in to ask Patrick about the correct protocol for when the Eucharist is accidentally dropped at Mass. She witnessed this happen at Mass recently and saw a parishioner bend down to receive Our Lord from the ground, and she wondered if this was appropriate.

Patrick responded by saying that mistakes happen. Our Lord understands that besides being morally imperfect, we are also physiologically imperfect. Our motor functions don’t always operate correctly, and we drop things. Hopefully, this doesn’t happen often, but sometimes the Eucharist is mishandled, and it ends up on the ground. While not ideal, as long as it was accidental, there is nothing immoral about consuming the Eucharist, especially if it would prevent Our Lord from being stepped on or kicked.

If the Eucharist ended up on the ground because of the intentional act of someone seeking to be irreverent or sacrilegious, that would be another matter altogether. Patrick recalled the story of a child martyr from China that illustrates the proper reverence for Our Lord and His Body.

There are 1.4 billion people in China, but of that population, only 12 million are Catholic (less than 1% of the population). For centuries, the Catholic Church has been seen by the Chinese government and communists as a way to indoctrinate people into assimilating with Western Christian values and traditions. And so, when communists occupied and took control of China, it was made clear that they would try to diminish, if not eradicate, Catholicism from the country.

The story takes place in the late 1940s or early 1950s, following the communist takeover of China. A commander and his four soldiers broke into a priest’s schoolhouse as he was teaching and they began stripping the building of all crucifixes, blessed images, and statues. One little girl, later given the name Li, refused to participate. The commander herded the villagers into the church where he forced them to watch the desecration of the Holy Eucharist. He busted open the tabernacle and stomped on the spilled hosts.

The parish priest was imprisoned in a room in the church, only able to see into the tabernacle from a distance. But, as the priest sat alone in his cell, he witnessed something amazing. That night, little Li, who had just received her first communion two months prior, snuck into the church and knelt before the Blessed Sacrament. She prayed for one hour. Then, she walked to the hosts and knelt before them as they lay on the ground. Prostrated, she received our Lord on her tongue without picking it up with her hands (as a layperson in those days, it was wrong to touch the Eucharist with your hands).

For thirty-one nights after, Li returned to do an hour of prayer and receive one of the hosts. On the last night, right before she was about to consume the host, a guard who had spotted her raised his gun, took aim, and fired, mortally wounding her. With her dying breath, Li crawled to the Eucharist and consumed what had become her Viaticum.

Without knowing that this priest had been watching her, little Li showed one of the most profound displays of reverence and humility because she knew what that piece of bread really was: the Body of Christ. And to show Our Lord the respect that he deserves, she died a martyr.

While that is an extreme example of the Eucharist falling to the ground, that is the level of respect and honor we should show for Our Lord. Protect it at all costs, be reverent, and understand the true presence in the Blessed Sacrament.

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.