I met an old friend in the supermarket recently. I had not seen her in ages, though we were very close at one time. In the course of the conversation she said to me “You know I’m Anglican.” I actually had not known that. I had seen her at Mass a couple of times with her son and his family. During our friendship, which began when we worked together, we had never discussed religion, faith yes, but not religion.
She continued “I have a question for you. Do you think it’s wrong for me to receive Communion?” I was blown away by this question and struggled to answer. I know that our faith is particularly strict with regard to the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. A person receiving Him must have been baptized and instructed in the Catholic faith and received the rite of First Holy Communion.
This is my friend…I want to encourage her, not beat her on the head with all the rules and regulations. I did not know how to answer. She then said “I truly believe that I am receiving the Body of Christ.” My heart soared upon hearing this. Is this not what the faith really is? I wonder how many Catholics truly believe this. Though she followed up with the statement that she felt no need to convert to the Catholic faith, I gave her the name of a priest to talk to and prayed that she would be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
This made me contemplate more deeply the question I had been turning over in my mind for a long time. Do we Catholics really believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist?
Several years ago, I had a conversation with a close family member in which she stated that she would not receive the Blood of Jesus because of the number of mouths that touch the chalice and the inevitable saliva which may find its way in it. I responded that if she truly believed that she was receiving the Blood of Jesus, which is meant to heal and sanctify, how could it do her any harm. Catholics...do you really believe that Jesus is present in the Holy Eucharist? Do you believe that He is present in the tabernacle?
If you truly believed, would you:
Be more attentive?
Be more reverent and respectful?
I remember as a child hearing the story of a non-Catholic woman who declared that if she could truly believe that Jesus was present at a Catholic mass, she would walk on her knees to receive Him. That has always impressed me!
I truly regret that the Church has no longer considers it mandatory to receive Jesus on our knees and on our tongues. I feel there is so much irreverence in how people receive Holy Communion. It hurts me to see so many saunter away after receiving Our Lord, staring all around and chewing irreverently. How must Our Lord be offended!
Recently I have noticed some converts from the Hindu and Muslim faith. They are easily recognizable. They remove their shoes upon entering the church and I am reminded of Moses on Mount Horeb. Exodus 3:5 “Come no nearer. Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”
|Moses on Mount Horeb|
They also bow several times and kneel to receive Jesus, regardless of the stares they receive from others. It makes me think, would I have the courage to place my love and worship of God before the opinion of others? I do admire their faith, courage and zeal. To them the Church is a holy place and they are before God, therefore they pay Him homage.
Would that all people would so give to God his due!
What makes a Catholic Church, to a Catholic, more than just another building? It is the belief that there, in the tabernacle, resides Our Saviour. It is why we make the Sign of the Cross outside of our churches, why we genuflect upon entering and leaving. It is why we kneel at once upon entering our pews. We are acknowledging and worshipping the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
I have, many times before, stated my absolute belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. I have received both emotional and physical healing just by being in His Presence in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. When I receive His Body and Blood I believe that it heals, sanctifies and nourishes me with the graces which I need to grow spiritually. This is the basis of the Catholic faith…it is what defines us.
|Monstrance used to house the Eucharist for adoration|
Do we really believe?
Can you imagine sitting under a tree at the feet of Our Saviour, pouring out your broken heart and receiving His embrace and consolation? Can you picture yourself walking with Him in a garden, conversing with Him, receiving the benefit of His wisdom and counsel. Do you see yourself, kneeling in worship before Him at the foot of His Throne? What about sitting under His Cross, where He pours out His Life for you, crying tears of bitter remorse in reparation for the offenses by which He is so wounded? When I visit the Blessed Sacrament, I close my eyes and I am in any of these places because I sit or kneel in His real presence.
It is said, that each person who visits Our Lord receives His Kiss. He stays in the tabernacle longing for us to visit, longing to pour out upon us His Love and Graces.
If you are a Catholic…do not delay. Such riches await those who would spend time with Him. Remember His words to the disciples in the garden in Mark 14:37 “…could you not watch for one hour?”
My question for you…Catholics and non-Catholics…
What if you truly believed?
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