By Tod Warner
It was quite a few years ago when it happened. But, boy, did it make me angry. At the time, I was still Protestant and I was attending a Catholic Mass. The Liturgy of the Eucharist was well underway and I was about to participate in Communion. And then – BOOM – I was gently asked (not by the priest) to considernot receiving it.
Stunned and deeply fuming, yet trying to be respectful, I sat back down. I can still remember manically vowing to myself that I would NEVER allow anything to come between my God and me and how could anyone even THINK to suggest otherwise and what ARROGANCE the Catholic Church must have to suggest that I was not worthy to receive the Eucharist and so on and so on and so forth.
That was not a good day.
Now prior to this Mass I was deeply committed to my Protestant faith, if not a bit stubborn and overconfident. But subsequent to this experience, I doubled down on my arguments against becoming Catholic. I still remember the caustic words that poured from my mouth regarding the Church’s stance on the Eucharist.Exclusive. Elitist. Condescending. I felt wronged. Burned.
But years would pass. I would continue to attend Mass (my wife and I would alternate Sundays attending Catholic Mass one Sunday and Protestant services the other). And yes, in an act of smug defiance, I received Communion at both churches. Take that.
And yet, something was happening. As I attended Mass, in spite of my resistance, I began to see the Eucharist in a different light. While it was consistently valued at its monthly appearance at my Protestant church, it was always present at the Catholic Church. Every Sunday. Every Mass. And what’s more, the Eucharist was beautifully revered in the fashion described by the Second Vatican Council document Lumen Gentium. It is “the source and summit of the Christian life”. The entire flow of the Mass from the anticipation embodied in the Introduction and the Liturgy of the Word to the sated reflection found in the Concluding Rites points, points, always points to the “source and summit” – the pinnacle – where the bread and wine are consecrated to become the Blessed Sacrament and the Precious Blood of Christ. The Real Presence….