Falcone's Crossroads

Where This Meets That

My Faith Journey: The Everlasting Supper

I converted from Methodism to Catholicism in eighth grade.

I was drawn to the Catholic Church for several hard-to-define reasons. My mother is Methodist and my father Catholic. My father had, at the time, recently found new spark in his church. He and I didn’t have the best relationship then, and perhaps I saw an opportunity for deeper bonding.  At the same time, I didn’t feel like my Methodist Sunday School teachings were hitting an appropriate depth.  It’s hard to explain, since I was only finishing up elementary school, but I felt an intrinsic mystique from the Catholic Church whenever I happened to attend Mass.

One of the central mysteries of the Catholic faith – and one of the most impossible to “think oneself into” – is the belief of Christ’s “real presence” in the Eucharist; we Catholics believe that God transforms the bread and wine at Mass into the actual Body and Blood of Jesus.

Naturally, this is controversial in many ways.  Many dismiss it as silly, rightfully proclaiming that a simple scientific analysis would prove the bread and wine remains bread and wine.  Others accuse us of idolatry by worshiping something that is not exactly God.  Still others accuse us of actively re-crucifying Christ during Mass.  And these are not even to mention the more wild accusations that the Catholic Church promotes cannibalism as dogma and other such claims.

My goal here is not to argue the merits of the Catholic teaching on the subject of the real presence on this Holy Thursday but to reflect on my personal experience with that presence.

For the better part of two decades, I mindfully believed in the real presence.  But the distance between a disconnected mind and heart can be vast.  I never felt that real presence until one Sunday last year.

And it clobbered me.

A few nights before, I’d had a dream that I was climbing a hillside in the middle of a great, old city.  It must have been a steep climb, for I was on my belly trying to scrabble up it. There was a big event beyond the summit that I wanted to see.  Crowds were flowing around the base of the hill like rivers, murmuring like distant water. As I reached the top, there was a great radiance that I recognized as the Eucharist. I was excited and wanted to be there.

Then. Dream over. Wake up. Work. Parent. Husband. Play. Forget.

Until Sunday morning with my family at Mass.  We sat closer to the front than normal, but it was an otherwise standard Mass, with good but now forgotten readings, Gospel and homily.

A family I didn’t know brought the gifts (the bread and wine) to the altar, and they looked so . . . joyful.  As the priest and deacon received the gifts, my daughter Maddie stood and started to cross in front of me toward Christy, when I noticed the strings on the back of her dress were untied. Before I could reach to tie them myself, miraculously, (no, they didn’t tie themselves . . . not that kind of miracle!) my oldest son Aidan gently took the strings, tugged Maddie toward him, and tied them for her.

It might not sound like much, but for there to be such an unsolicited, gentle demonstration of cooperative partnership between them was giant, and it opened the door to something far larger for me.

It’s hard to explain exactly how it happened, but soft as dew, the world began to shift dramatically. My surroundings there in the sanctuary drifted from my immediate awareness, and I had the sense that I was in a golden field with my family. And just ahead was Jesus.  He was too radiant to define any features, but, my God, it was him.

He stood awash in perfect joy and love, his hands out low to his sides as though preparing for a child to jump into his embrace.

“This is my body, which is given up for you. . . .” the priest’s words penetrated the vision, bringing me back for a moment to the sanctuary, where my emotions spilled over from the field in tears.  I tried to grasp what had just happened, looking around at my kneeling family, looking at the priest.  Trying to see.  The priest continued, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. . . .”

It’s impossible to really explain, but I felt like the sanctuary had become the vision and the field had become the reality.  In the sanctuary, I felt Christ’s presence growing like light beyond an opening door, flooding his Spirit into the room. In the field, however . . . well, that was the source. That was the light.

We arose, joined hands and said the Lord’s Prayer, as always, then greeted one another with hugs and handshakes, as always. But this was different.  My focus was different.  My children were cooperating. Everything was beautiful.

After the priest announced, “Behold the Lamb of God . . .” and we returned to kneeling, I returned to the field, where Jesus remained as he had been. I could hear the Eucharistic hymn from the sanctuary beginning almost like a memory, real but from another time and place.  In the field, my children ran ahead of me toward Jesus, while I kind of hung back just basking in the joyful sight.  It reminded me of children running to a favorite uncle whom they had not seen in far too long.  And I could sense Jesus laughing in welcome.

I was profoundly moved by the sight of my children with Jesus and the sense that, despite all my countless flaws and sins, Jesus is happy with me.

By the time our turn came to receive the Eucharist, I felt outwardly a wreck.  There was simply no hiding it; nor, of course, was there any need to. Such are the tears we live for.

Then the hymn mattered. It was “In This Very Room”:

In this very room there’s quite enough love for one like me,
And in this very room there’s quite enough joy for one like me,
And there’s quite enough hope and quite enough power to chase away any gloom,
For Jesus, Lord Jesus … is in this very room.

And in this very room there’s quite enough love for all of us,
And in this very room there’s quite enough joy for all of us,
And there’s quite enough hope and quite enough power to chase away any gloom,
For Jesus, Lord Jesus … is in this very room.

In this very room there’s quite enough love for all the world,
And in this very room there’s quite enough joy for all the world,
And there’s quite enough hope and quite enough power to chase away any gloom,
For Jesus, Lord Jesus … is in this very room.

The thing about the “mountaintop” is that it’s small. Try as we might, we can’t stay there.  Likewise, as badly as I want to again feel Christ so vividly in the Eucharist, I am thankful to have shared even in that one moment of true communion.

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10 comments on “My Faith Journey: The Everlasting Supper

  1. rosesnearrunningwaters
    April 5, 2012

    What an inspiring story! It is hard to describe the wonder the glory surrounding the Eucharist but your story is very moving. Happy Easter to you and you family

  2. Grande Falcone
    April 5, 2012

    Thanks Roses! I wish you the same! Peace.

  3. Anonymous
    April 5, 2012

    This is powerful and I’m sure you felt the power and closeness to God as it happened. I remember your telling us about it.

  4. pouringmyartout
    April 6, 2012

    I am a recovering Episcopalian… nothing much is expected of us. I decided that I was too self-involved to have a relationship with any higher power.
    Now I worship good TV reception.

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  7. Grande Falcone
    March 28, 2013

    Reblogged this on Falcone's Crossroads and commented:

    Re-blogging this post in celebration of Holy Thursday, the day we celebrate Jesus’s institution of the Holy Eucharist.

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