I've greatly enjoyed being Catholic so far, I'm getting comfortable with the new phraseology , instead of "as believers" I hear "by virtue of our baptism", etc. I feel like God has been teaching me very new things, different from what I am used to. I don't feel like he's teaching me theology so much as he is giving me experiences. I've been reading the parables more and I've found it amazing how important images were in explaining God and his Kingdom. I've therefore been trying to dig deep into the blessed sacrament and understand what it means to me.
I've been learning recently, what is commonly called in the Anglican and Catholic spheres "Eucharistic Faith". It's a faith fed by the Eucharist - Christ himself. As much as I love Aristotelian Metaphysics I don't like talking about Transubstantiation - though I believe it - but I like talking about 'The Real Presence' and how I meet Jesus in the sacrament. Instead of going into a hack job defense of transubstantiation, I'm just going to leave that to the Catholic apologists and tell the stories.
This morning at mass I was feeling a little cynical, I was feeling as though God would never talk to me or care about me, and at the same time praying that he would. I felt as though my prayers were screamed at a wall or lost somewhere in the space between earth and heaven. And in honesty when the Priest holds up the host and says "behold the lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world" my first thought is not usually "amen", but "I do believe, Lord help my unbelief". Today as the bishop consecrated the hosts I looked up at a picture of Jesus at the last supper and remembered in my mind the words of St. John Chrysostom that the banquet we celebrate now and the banquet of Christ's last supper are "in no way different". I love those words "in no way different". And I imagined that as I took the communion I was sitting at the table with Jesus. As I received Christ physically I knelt in my pew and closed my eyes. I began to pray to Jesus and it felt as if he was right there, words fail me in describing it, other than to say RIGHT THERE, within me, as if I was whispering my prayer into his ear. I felt like I was in another world as I made my words known to the Word of God and when I finally opened my eyes, suddenly I felt back on earth. I can't explain it, no one will probably understand it, Protestants will probably find it blasphemous and from Satan, and Catholics will probably find it trite and stereotypical.
But it was the most real spiritual experience I've had in a while. And so I understand the Eucharistic faith, and Holy Communion remains for me a light in the darkness. I was thinking today of the spiritual depression I'd had and then thinking about 2 lines from Tolkien "in the darkness a light still shines" and "may it be a light to you, when all other lights fail". So I've felt incredibly blessed to be Catholic - not to say others can't have meaningful experiences, maybe I'm missing out on the way God is speaking to them. However for my part, I'm learning to love the Eucharist and to meet Jesus there, and it fills me with hope to think that my faith can physically be fed in communion and that it remains a sign that God has not abandoned us, and that Christ will be with us, until the very end of the age.
May the Lord grant you an encounter with the risen Christ in the Eucharist, the good gift, the mysterium fidei.