Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us...
The morning sunlight filtered from the choir loft, down upon the out-stretched bread. The words were familiar, but as spoken, struck me this time as odd: “This… is… the lamb of God… who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to His supper”. How could I have not heard this before; me, 35 years a Christian? How could such words be said… of bread?” I knew Jesus, but not like this. I was happy to be called...but, by what, by whom? What was this peace, this quiet, settling in my heart? I had the strangest sensation… a reflection from my boyhood; that I was on my way home, and I was “Late For Supper”.
It was this Mass, then the next, and the next, that led my wife and me to a richness and a depth in Christ that we never imagined possible. ‘Kicking and Screaming’ might be a better way to describe how God brought us to this place. It was the Spring of 2005, the week John Paul II lay dying. The tears of the world also seemed to be tears for us. My wife and I were in the middle of a season of extreme suffering, struggling with a broad, long-lasting family tragedy that had placed us in the role of long-term caregivers. That year, as we were hanging upon our cross, the Catholic crucifix above the altar spoke to us. (Perhaps it was that which what drew us to this place...) There, up on that foreign, Catholic crucifix, I saw a tragic man hanging upon it, (perfect resonance for my tragedy, perhaps?) This cross was not the familiar, joyfully empty ‘resurrection cross’ that I grew up with. With all due respect to my past, today in this place, I needed this cross with the bloody, beaten man hanging on it. It was there, that moment, that day, followed by the next week, and the next year, that The Spirit reminded me over and over that Jesus didn’t have his life taken from him. He laid it down for us. Perhaps His 'bread of life' would provide grace and help for my wife and me to lay down our lives for our shattered family members.
Sermons, Bible studies, fellowship, praise, worship, and small groups were good, wonderful, and thoroughly Christian, but still not enough for our situation. Why was God allowing such a desperate thirst? I needed food for the journey, marrow for my bones, because my knees were buckling, and my eyes were dim from the tears. I had lost all appetite for ministry and travel, and had shifted to a day-to-day trudge. As a result, over that year we rarely missed daily Mass, for to do so was to drown. As we read and prayed the daily readings, we were amazed that this “Church’ that we had been taught was so idolatrous and lacking in Scripture, was reading aloud three or four passages a day that were woven together like the finest tapestry. Then, when the 'Bible study' portion was over, now the person who is the Word of God, Jesus, would be eaten bodily in Sacramental form. (At that time, 2005, we 'ate' vicariously, not yet finished our year of preparation). It would be months before we would receive our first Communion with the Catholic Church, Easter of 2006.