My husband and I have recently been attending a Catholic church near our home. He has belonged to the Catholic Church for almost twenty years, but everything about their church has been a new experience for me. I have been learning a little more about their church, and a little more about Jesus at each mass that I attend. Today was certainly a real learning experience for me. Not only do I want to tell the story, but I feel that I must tell the story!
It was Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost Sunday commemorates the day when the Holy Spirit filled Jesus’ disciples and it is considered to be the birth of the Christian church. The choir, which includes my husband, needed to be there a full hour before the service began so that they could rehearse with the orchestra.
Because of this, the early morning mass was leaving the sanctuary when we arrived. A professor that I knew from the department that I used to work in stepped out with his son. His wife is also a professor in the same department. If they had mentioned to me that they were Catholic, I don’t remember it. As a Protestant, I thought anyone who was Catholic was not a Christian and, therefore, was easily dismissed.
I am not quite sure where I came up with that Protestant prejudice, but so it was. Perhaps Martin Luther himself started that ugly rumor!
The Sunday Morning choir, along with the live orchestra, filled the front of the sanctuary and because of that, I had to sit in the back of the church. Two elderly ladies also came in; one used a walker and one used a cane. They sat down one row in front of me. Our church is designed so that those with mobility impairments, such as myself, can sit up front, but today we all had to sit in the back because of the orchestra set up for this special service.
When the congregation began to say the “Our Father” prayer (The Lord’s Prayer), a friend that I have recently met in the RCIA class (Rite of Christian Initiation) stepped over to me and clasped my hand. She and I began to recite this prayer together. The fellowship that we were sharing so touched my heart that tears came to my eyes. They were most definitely “happy tears!”
Many Christian churches, including Catholics, believe in the Real Presence. The idea of the Real Presence is the belief that in the act of consecrating the bread and wine, they truly become the body, blood, soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, even though the appearance and taste of bread and wine remain. In other words, Jesus is really present! This is a belief held, in some form, by most Christians in the world today.
Our mass had progressed to sharing in the Holy Communion. Typically, this is the reason that those with mobility impairments sit up front. It allows the priest to come to them and offer them communion. Everyone got up from the pews and began walking to the altar, all except for me and those two elderly ladies sitting one row in front of me.
Several of my RCIA instructors have mentioned the complete joy they often see in the eyes of worshipers when they receive Holy Communion. These ladies knew they were missing out on the highest point of Christian worship – to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ! It just broke my heart to witness their complete disappointment and total despair.
An usher came up to me and asked me if I wanted to receive communion. As a non-Catholic, I am not able to participate in the communion, but I told him that those two ladies sitting beside me wanted to. And with that, he was gone. I did not know what was happening, but in just a matter of moments, Father Tim, our priest, showed up and gave the host to both ladies.
Catholic teaching says that a priest is an alter Christus. That means that they consider him to be acting in the person of Christ at every sacrament, including mass. These two elderly ladies wanted to receive Jesus and Father Tim brought Him to them!
Once again, I was able to witness God at work through His earthly servants. It was simply astounding to get to witness this! I guess it was just another part of God’s special plan for me.
Have you ever considered going to a mass in your neighborhood? It is a most interesting experience and you will even get to meet Jesus there. Really! If you have a comment to share, please scroll down and leave your comment.