I Believe Therefore I Speak
The events that led my family and me to the Catholic Church are truly the result of God’s goodness and mercy! It is not unusual to feel an inner need for God. Unfortunately oftentimes one is unable to put a name to that longing. I remember driving around town with an inner empty sensation that seemed to emerge from the core of my being. Feeling misguided and without any direction, I would listen to the various songs on the radio, inwardly crying with the shallow words as I traveled along the highways. St. Augustine has said, “Our hearts are restless until we rest in Thee.” I could not find any good object to satisfy me; though God had blessed me with many wonderful and fine things. At this point, I did know that the Eucharist, which means, “good gift,” is the “source and summit of the Christian life.” (CCC, 1324).
The occasion of a high school reunion led to the discovery of an e-mail address of an old friend, I sent him a message through the internet. Much to my surprise and delight, on August 15, 2001 (I was later to learn that this was the Feast of the Assumption!) he responded informing me that he had become a monk in the Maronite rite of the Catholic Church. In the course of catching up with 22 years of life, he happened to mention the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. I did not feel that he was trying to convert me. I honestly did not know that modern people became monks and nuns. I was actually just curious about his lifestyle.
I had never heard of the “worship of bread.” I wanted to know when, why, where, and under what circumstances adoration would be given to a piece of bread. He told me that Catholics believe that when the ordained priest pronounces the words of consecration, the bread and wine are transformed into the very Body and Blood of Christ (Transubstantiation!). As the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Christ is rendered the adoration and worship due to God alone. He told me that Catholics WORSHIP the Eucharist. Later I would learn that Jesus is present in Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance.
Somehow my heart had never heard of this very basic and essential doctrine of the Christian faith. Even if I had been presented with it in the past, I had grossly overlooked it. From that point on, I was taken in with the thought of the wine and bread becoming the Body and Blood of Christ. I felt that if Jesus is really present on the altars of the Catholic Church, then I wanted to know more! I wanted to be there!
From the time that I was a little girl, I wished that I had been alive when God walked the earth as a man. I remember watching the “Jesus” movies on TV. I was suddenly thrilled at learning that I could experience “Jesus” and be near Him in the Catholic Church. I had often wished that there was a place to go and talk to Jesus as one would go to be with a friend. I knew that our omnipresent God heard me wherever I went. I also knew that He said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them “(Mt18:20). He also could dwell in the temple of our hearts. However I still had a deep craving to somehow be nearer to Him. The sanctuaries of the Protestant churches in town that I was familiar with were closed most of the time except on Sundays and Wednesday nights. I didn’t know what a tabernacle was then and these churches didn’t have one anyway, so praying at home, in a park, or even in the closet seemed to be just as adequate. Yet, I wondered if there was something more. I kept asking myself, “Is that all there is?”
I had been sprinkled a Presbyterian and immersed a Southern Baptist. I had also attended several nondenominational charismatic churches of some very faithful people. I had attended Communion services and Lord’s Suppers in many different Protestant denominations. However in recent years, I started to wonder about the true meaning of the Sacrament in these churches. It seemed to be such a nice gesture to “remember” Jesus in such a way. Often I would see people get teary-eyed and sentimental, but I just did not get the point. I even felt ashamed of my own ignorance, indifference and outright lack of respect. Somewhere in my effort to find the true Church, I became frustrated. As much as I wanted to attend services, I looked at most of my experiences with disappointment. I did not want to be entertained. I did not want to join a social club. I did not want to be brainwashed. I wanted the fullness of the Truth and a way to worship God. Scriptures say that “the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth” (John4:23). I felt a longing and craving in my heart – but I could not figure out what it was that drew me.
Significantly, at about the same time that I discovered the Eucharist, an attraction to Mary emerged. In many ways this may seem amazing, but should not be surprising in seeking the true Church, since she is there whether or not one decides to acknowledge her presence. She is the Mother of the Savior who lives in the Eucharist. I would later realize that the grace of the Eucharist comes to us through Mary, since she is the Mediatrix, or channel through which God’s grace reaches us.
Upon learning about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist of the Catholic Church, I immediately started researching and reading all that I could off of the internet. I exhausted my poor monk friend with questions. Eventually eye strain set in from looking at the computer screen so I started purchasing Catholic books. One night while re-reading my friend’s letter about the Eucharist on the computer, my husband (married since 1985) became curious as to what I was doing.
We had officially joined a Methodist Church that fall. My husband was from a very strong fundamentalist, Baptist, and Church of God of Prophecy background. We lived in a small community in North Carolina in the “Bible Belt” of the South. There was only one Catholic Church in the entire county. My husband was content with the congregation we had just joined. He voiced very strong concerns about my interest in Catholicism. The more I read and learned, the more I wanted to join the Church. However I could not see how this would ever happen. I finally prayed a prayer to become Catholic. I remember simply asking, “Dear Lord, I believe the Catholic Church to be the True Church. I want with all of my heart to become Catholic and receive the Sacraments of the Church.” At that point I had never even attended a Mass.
On December 7, 2001, the afternoon after praying the short prayer from my heart, I received word about an unexpected change in my husband’s employment situation and a job offer in another state. Through a series of events we relocated. Through all of this, I started attending masses. My husband attended his very first mass in June 2002 and was converted! After his first time ever seeing the Elevation of the Host, he told me, “I believe that Jesus is really present in the Catholic Church!”
On December 7, 2002, exactly one year after my short prayer and a series of “coincidences”, my husband and I were received into the Catholic Church at St. Peter’s Church in Volo, IL. On that day, my two children were also baptized. My husband and I were confirmed on May 17, 2003. We also became members of the Militia Immaculata, in consecrating ourselves to Jesus through Mary on March 24, 2003.
Lately I have been remembering to thank Jesus for His Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. I feel so glad that He remains with us in His Sacramental garment, so that generations of believers since His incarnation still have the opportunity to adore “God with us” here on the earth. Like the bright shining star that drew the Magi to the Infant in the town of Bethlehem, meaning “house of bread;” the Catholic Church draws my heart to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.