I often speak of my conversion experience and my becoming a Catholic (many years ago now). A few months before “taking the plunge”, I was challenged by my RCIA Coordinator in a way that saw me almost walk away from my becoming Catholic right there. It was customary for catechumens, such as I was, to have a meeting with the RCIA team and when asked about my personal understanding and belief about the Eucharist, I could not or would not accept that the bread and wine actually and truly became the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. We had a very short conversation with follow-up questions but in the end I was told in no uncertain terms that “if I did not believe what the Church teaches here, I could not go forward and become a Catholic”. My sponsor helped me keep it together, one of my priests took the time to explain everything to me and to talk with me (for nearly three hours) and at the end of it all, I still did not believe!
Every explanation given, every logical argument made could not and did not bring me to a place of assenting to this truth. The priest left me with the linchpin for this dilemma or crisis I was having; he told me that he had given me all the apologetic and Scripture-based arguments and explanations that he could give me and he told me that I should not set my intellect or reason aside for this matter either, but that our logic, intellect and reason could only bring us so far. This was a matter of faith, and I had to ask God to take me the rest of the way. I had to pray about this and understand that love is at the root of the Eucharist.
For years, first as a seminarian and then as a priest I have told this story because I did not set aside my doubts or concerns, but I do know that the Lord gave me what I needed, as He will us all! I believe wholeheartedly in the Real Presence and I stake my life on it now. I can’t completely explain it but I believe it; on this among other things “I walk by faith and not by sight ( )”.
This was once again tested when I was a parish priest and one of the parents of a child receiving First Holy Communion told me that their child was told by someone that the Eucharist wasn’t really the Body and Blood of Jesus. In an instant and because there might have been others who heard the same thing, I had to talk about this with the children. I talked about prayer and asking Jesus to help them understand this. I also talked about how the Real Presence is rooted in Jesus’ love for us. We find real, physical tangible ways to express our love for those whom we love, and more than anything; this is at the heart of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity we celebrate each time we come to Holy Mass.
Jesus, Son of the Living God have mercy on me and continue to reveal to me and deepen within me a true devotion to Your Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist.