Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Real Presence

There was no burst of light.  No angels heard singing.  I did not tremble.  My eyes remained dry.  I received the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ at the 2006 Easter Vigil Mass after two years of study and preparation.  Converting from pentecostal style protestantism, I was expecing some sort of emotional, physical response ; but quietly completed the proper postures.  Then, it was over.  Holy Communion continued that way for many months : attentive listening, participating, receiving, praying, and singing without the waves of emotion I'd been accustomed to.  Intellectually, I understood that feelings are not what my faith is based on, that dignified liturgy as the expression of our ancient, ever-new Holy Faith is deeply satisfying.  The Catholic Mass is always a "great service" because of the Eucharist, not because of the musical selections or sermon.  On some level, however, I missed the feelings.  I figured I needed to learn how to worship God in spirit and in truth, not in dancing and tears.  I figured I needed to learn how to worship God the way the Israelites did : doing the right duties for hundreds of years without necessarily experiencing miracles or emotional highs.  This was good for me.  In those quiet Sunday mornings, I was quiet, too.  Like the Israelites of old, I was part of something that, while not taking my breath away, gave me deep breath.

But Moses did come to them.  Nehemiah did build the walls.  Gabriel did visit Mary.  And so it came to me.  Leaving Mass to nurse our wiggly six month old, my return proved too late for reception of the Eucharist.  The extraordinary ministers had turned their backs to the congregation and were lovingly folding, stacking, and returning the sacred vessels to their places at the side table.  I had missed it.  Without warning, I burst into tears.  This response surprised me, as there was no logical lead up in my thoughts, no emotional work up in my heart.  It was quick.  It was powerful.  It shook me.  I stood outside the sanctuary, weeping and mopping up my face, waiting for the rest of my family to join me.

I have missed Holy Communion several times since that day, feeding hungry babies or removing naughty toddlers (sometimes both) and have never had such a fervent reaction again, but I will never forget it.  It is how I feel that I know that I believe that Jesus is truly present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.

Thanks be to God for such an unspeakable blessing.


  1. What a great post - very well written. Welcome (belatedly) to the faith; it's great to have you! Although I am a cradle Catholic, I had somewhat of a conversion in 2006 too. I fell in love with the faith and with Jesus. :o)

    I'm a new follower and fellow Catholic Mother Online. I look forward to reading.

    Feel free to stop by my blog!
    For Love of Cupcakes

  2. Beautiful, Allison. Thank you for sharing your heart. I miss you, my friend!