I struggled early on after my conversion to Catholicism with whether to soldier through some of the challenges I was experiencing or whether to revert back to Anglo-Catholicism. I read whatever I could find to help understand what belief or lack of belief the Anglican martyrs held so strongly that they were willing to be tortured, burned, quartered…horrific atrocities. For most of them it came down to their disbelief in the Real Presence of God in the host and wine of the Eucharist. Many Anglicans also struggled with Marian devotions, but the central issue for most was whether and how God is…how He becomes…present physically in the host and wine. I felt convicted about the Anglican view for some time, and yet, periodically I continued to entertain conversations and prayer about the subject.
Finally, in the local grocery store one day I ran into the woman who had been my RCIA sponsor. We agreed to have lunch and, not surprisingly, the subject came up. There was the predictable back and forth, but I finally asked something like, ‘how can you believe in this?’ (I don’t remember my exact words.)
She said, ‘It’s the mystery. You have to leave room for the mystery of God’s presence.’
Well, I don’t know what it was about her words exactly, but something in me at that very moment just ‘got it.’
God is God. We aren’t.
We aren’t given to understand everything He knows with our rational minds, but we are able and are called upon to believe with our spiritual hearts.
I still don’t understand the Real Presence, but from that moment, I believed. And with that belief I was immediately awestruck with the incredible grace of this deeper relationship. Even today, it’s enormity thrusts me to my knees in praise and gratitude.
And, just one post script: more recently..a few years ago someone…maybe Bishop Barron…described how continual reception of the Real Presence changes one’s spiritual DNA. I’d go a step further to a belief that as my spiritual DNA has been altered over the last 15-20 years, my physical DNA has likely changed as well. It’s nothing I feel moved to test or prove or argue, but it’s one more of those things that I have complete faith is true.
Have a Holy Thursday and Triduum.