Today is Holy Thursday. On this day, in countless churches and cathedrals, in fields, in prisons, in underground caves and forests, the institution of the Priesthood and The Eucharist is represented. The source and summit of our Faith, as Catholics, was given to us by Jesus Christ Himself so that His promise that we would not be left orphans would be fulfilled.
This day, more than most, I reflect upon the countless Catholics who have died protecting The Eucharist. It is a testimony to the fullness of Faith that even the worst Catholic knows The Eucharist matters - it is something different. It is not just bread and wine - it is HIM...this IS my body, He told The Apostles. He did not say, "This is a symbol of My Body and don't worry about it if you walk away from This". St Paul cautioned us that receiving unworthily is tantamount to a death sentence upon our souls. Try and explain to me why that great saint would teach members of the early Church that if it is just a symbol?
My heart always breaks for those Catholics who have walked away from The Eucharist. I hear their reasons - scandal, politics, the priest at my parish hurt my feelings - and I think of the reasons I had for being away for so long. Mine were just as immature, just as selfish and self centered. I wanted to live my life a certain way and The Church said I could if I wanted but it would mean I could not receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Declaring my 'liberation from tyranny' I ran headlong into the world and I got just what I deserved. I got smashed in the face with heartache and loneliness and feelings of emptiness.
I never understood why anyone would ever identify themselves as a grateful alcoholic but today I get it. Without alcoholism I would not have found recovery. Without recovery I would not have been reintroduced to God. Once God was back in my life I could not settle for lukewarm, baby food style Christianity - I wanted it all. I wanted Him.
Tonight I will present the Oil of the Catechumenate to my priest. I will participate in the Liturgy. I will help celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of The Mass as a member of the Laity. I will, once again, marvel and the words of Jesus and wonder how I could have ever walked away for so long.
And I will pray for all those who have - I will pray that they will come home, before it is too late.