Since converting to Catholicism, there have been times when I wanted to leave my parish. The reasons for wanting to leave have included the music at Mass wasn’t great, the curriculum for the Parish School of Religion (PSR) was less than inspiring, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) was boring, and the leadership of our parish was making decisions I didn’t agree with.
But leaving was impossible, not because there aren’t numerous other churches in the town where I live and not because I wouldn’t love to sleep in on Sunday morning and not because I don’t have friends whose kids would love to welcome my kids to their Sunday school. I could never leave the Catholic Church because Jesus is there. Jesus is there, body, blood, soul and divinity.
The source and summit of the Catholic faith is the Eucharist, the body and blood of our Lord, which is consecrated during the sacrifice of the Mass and distributed to Catholics during communion. Eucharist means “thanksgiving” or to “give thanks” which is exactly what we are called to do as we approach the altar to receive Jesus during communion.
I am convinced the people who are leaving the Catholic Church do not believe Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, because if they did, how could they leave? After having opened my heart to the truth found in scripture and tradition, the Eucharist has this magnetic pull on my heart. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe. I literally feel pulled to the church, I feel pulled to sit with Jesus in the sanctuary or in the Mercy Chapel during Adoration. I need Him. I need to be there with Him.
When I first entered the doors of St. Joan of Arc after realizing God was calling me to convert, my heart felt at rest, completely at peace. The feeling of “I’m home” is the only way to describe it. I believe this is because Jesus isn’t only present in spirit, He is present, FULLY present, in the Eucharist.
I have been healed spiritually, emotionally, and physically by the mere presence of the Eucharist and by trusting in the mercy and grace God extends to those who faithfully receive Him. I have seen men, women and children brought to their knees in His presence. Even if your mind can’t comprehend that this tiny piece of bread could be Jesus’ body, your soul can. Your soul knows, and if you open your heart and free your soul to accept the truth, your faith will soar to heights you never thought possible.
The next time you are at Mass and you witness the consecration of the Blessed Sacrament, ask yourself, “What if?”. What if it really is Jesus? What if Jesus left this most intimate gift to be with us here in this life? What if this gift would provide the grace needed to sustain a holy life? What if this gift could change the world? I believe it can.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” – John 6:51 – The Bread of Life Discourse, John 6:22-71
“I desire but this one grace, and long to be consumed like a burning candle in His holy Presence every moment of the life that remains to me. For that I would be willing, I think, to suffer all the pains imaginable till judgment day, if only I should not have to leave His sacred presence. My only motive would be to be consumed in honoring Him and to acknowledge that burning love He shows us in this wonderful Sacrament. Here His love holds Him captive till the end of time. It is of this one can truly say, ‘Love triumphs, love enjoys, Love finds in God its joys.'” – St. Margaret Mary
“The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time that you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in heaven, and will help bring about an everlasting peace on earth.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta