By Lois Heron
I have not always been a confirmed Roman Catholic. I spent most of my life in the evangelical division of the Protestant movement, and I am forever grateful for the influence of my spiritual upbringing as a Christian in the Protestant movement. My husband and I served in Protestant ministry; I am thankful for those 34 years.
Along the way, we both started to hunger for more understanding, a depth of truth, and stability that comes from beyond the man-made foundations we knew in our experience and practice of the faith. So began a long journey in the same direction we had been on toward God. Thanks be to God, the journey led us to the Catholic Church!
It was the Church’s sacred authority, sacred tradition and sacred Scripture that prevailed for us. The sacramental faith that Christ authorized his disciples to build through the power of the Holy Spirit served the ancient Church so very well. And it continues to serve and to woo many into her loving care.
Early in our formal pursuit of the Catholic Church, I heard these words in a homily on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist: Christ is the bread that seeks hunger, and we are that hunger that seeks bread. Insight from the Holy Spirit invaded my mind and soul by asking a question I had not thought of before: Why was I hungry?
The answer led to another question: If the bread that the worshippers came forward to receive was indeed the body of Christ, then why isn’t everyone falling on their face before the very presence of Jesus?
What had drawn us to the practice of the sacramental faith revealed to us that we were hungry for a firm foundation of faith in God. G.K. Chesterton wrote in his book “The Well and the Shallows” that: “There is one thing that the world does, it wobbles.” He was referring to what the early protesters, of what is known as the Protestant Reformation, tried to formulate with man-centered authority and traditions. He wrote that protest “if left to itself, does not get anywhere […] it is the fashion of this world that passeth away.”
We were well acquainted with all the wobbling that has gone on since the protest against the Catholic Church began. The Protestant Reformation has disassembled into more than 30,000 denominations, affiliations or cohorts. When the ordained sacred authority of the Church was no longer trusted and revered, then mankind began to come up with new traditions of worship.
One of the many tenets of the faith that was replaced was the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. And as time has revealed, when mankind no longer reveres the body of Christ as the sacrifice in worship of almighty God, it comes up with all kinds of new methods to attract the culture. But, let me get to the point where the sacramental worship of the Mass drew us into our confirmation in the Church.
The best way for me to describe how that “wobbling” unsettled our spirits and drew us to the sacramental worship present in the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist is to compare the modern food court with ancient feasts. Food courts are popular because you get options, lots of options.
Options that fit our modern mindset are fast, cheap and convenient. When you tire of one option you always have another. And depending on the food trends of the culture, the options come and go in an effort to satisfy our appetites’ current fascination. That’s the nature of a “take-out culture” where a smorgasbord of grab-and-go options is preferred over the classic fine dining that takes more time and more money.
Fine dining in the manner of ancient feasting requires much more of you. You commit to it, reserving your place at a table that has been set with fine linen table cloths and exquisite place settings. The table has a fine bottle of wine that will be served to you by your host. A full-course meal will be served that will take time for you to eat. The host will not rush you for he understands that you have a sort of reverence for the act of feasting. It’s nearly impossible for you to step away from the feast hungry, or think you need to stop by another restaurant to top off your appetite.
When I entered the courts of heaven in the worship of the Mass, I came to a table set eons ago, for all people, in every generation—the eucharistic feast! My body, soul and mind knelt before the bread of life in the real presence of Jesus (his body, blood, soul and divinity). I feasted, I savored; my deep soul hunger was satisfied.