Friday, April 22, 2011

My Source of Strength, My Source of Hope

Today during Communion, I walked to the front of the sanctuary to be blessed during the Good Friday service at my parish.  A young man I had never met touched my shoulder and blessed me, and I said "Amen" and walked with my head low back to my pew.

I remember the first time I walked to the front with everyone else.  I had just started to accept that the little wafers the people in front of me were getting were the body of Jesus.  If you do not accept that, this will probably make little sense.  But if you do, you may understand how I felt as I approached the front.

The body of Christ was before me. Everything in me seemed to know it. I watched in awe as the person in front of me bowed and then held the body of Jesus in her hands.

I have loved Christ for as long as I can remember.  Achingly, I fought and studied and prayed my way into the deepest faith I could muster.  I had toyed with different theories about the nature of God, each one an attempt to somehow pull into my mind a God who is laughably far beyond its capacity.

Unlike Paul, I was not faultless.  But like Paul, my circumstances gave me every imaginable push into the faith.  At eight, I was baptized into the faith my family taught me.  I was the first person baptized in the new building, and the water was cold.
At nine, I began attending Christian summer camps.  These week-long retreats taught me some of my most valuable spiritual lessons.  Often, those lessons were far from what I was supposed to be learning; I never fit in well and so I learned to find company in God's presence, and friendship in the other nine-year-old outcasts.
At twelve, I received the small Bible that would carry me through the rest of my teenage years.  I had already read my old NIV cover-to-cover.
At fifteen, I heard the voice of God for the first time.

I began to ask myself, "If I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was in... China right now, what would my next impulse be?"  It became my way of checking my priorities.  I tried to let absolutely nothing stand in my imaginary way of leaving that instant, flying to China, and falling at His feet.  Sometimes I would have fallen at His feet and rejoiced.  Sometimes I would have fallen at His feet and cried.  But no matter my reaction, I wanted this to happen so, so much.  To finally meet the God who suffered for me, the object of my deepest devotion and greatest longing, was the cry of my soul itself.

At twenty-one, I walked to the front of a Catholic church and watched in awe as the girl in front of me held the body of Jesus in her hands.

Suddenly it was my turn.  Hastily, I crossed my arms over my chest.  Father David paused and blessed me, and that was that.  I turned away, slowly returned to my pew, and knelt and cried.
To approach my Lord, to be so close and then to turn away...  I was crying for everything I was and everything I was not, and because my choices had led me to the moment I had longed for, but had also turned me away.

Since then, I have cried during Communion many times, including today. But by the Lord's fantastic providence, tomorrow, at twenty-two, I can watch in awe as I hold the body of Jesus in my hands and feel the blood of Jesus run down my throat.

If I do cry, I will be crying for everything I am and everything I am not, but mostly for the grace that gives me the moment I long for and will never turn me away.

Have a blessed Triduum.

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