Saint John Vianney, known also as the Curé of Ars, writes this about Spiritual Communion: “There are some who make a spiritual communion every day with blessed bread. If we are deprived of Sacramental Communion, let us replace it, as far as we can, by spiritual communion, which we can make every moment; for we ought to have always a burning desire to receive the good God.”
During the week following my first spiritual communion, I wondered what was happening to me. I was tempted to doubt my act of faith, wondering if I had fooled myself into believing I was experiencing Communion. I was not sure. Yet, gone was the constant rancor in my heart. I was surprised, too, by moments of joy. However, I was so attentive to my preparation for an art show at the end of August that I took less notice of that joy than I should have. In my view, what was taking place at Mass for me was a great idea. I knew it was a gift, but I guessed it was more like a substitute, and not true Communion.
Not comprehending what the Lord had offered me, I remained satisfied that He had taken pity upon me. I had supposed He was letting me participate on a level that was more like seeing, but not tasting. I did not know this spiritual communion was much more than Jesus’ gift to help me feel at ease. I did not realize the magnitude. Like a toddler who sucks a pacifier, I was pleased to leave the church building each Sunday contented.
The next Sunday I again received my Communion by faith, as I had the week before, but this time during the consecration, my doubts vanished. As soon as I swallowed and said, “Amen,” after the elevation of the cup, I felt a wellspring of joy in my heart, and recognized the presence of the Holy Spirit. For the next few weeks, this became a pattern for me during each Mass.
Rich and I continued to sort out our new lives. We were not in perfect harmony, but at least he was not getting an ear-full of woe each week.
One Sunday in August he commented on the difference. I shared with him what I was doing, and he hugged me, encouraged that in a small way I was happier at Mass.
With the art show fast approaching, Rich also encouraged me in my artistic endeavor by helping with the housework so I could concentrate on the rubrics of my craft. Thankfully, he was satisfied with scrambled eggs or pizza for dinner on days I had spent hours in the studio. With high hopes of sharing my images in a large venue, Rich took me to the airport and sent me on my way to Atlanta during the Labor Day weekend. I sensed that this trip would change me, although I hadn’t a clue how that would happen - and I expressed that to Rich.
The first day or so of the art show was enough to convince me I would not participate in that type of venue again. I was not part of the Fantasy/Gamer crowd, and my art did not seem to appeal to them either. This was a great disappointment for me because I had hoped my unique work would fit well within this eclectic group.
On Sunday I attended a Protestant service with our daughter, who lives near Atlanta. My foray once more into an Evangelical congregation was not as satisfying to me as I had expected. After three years in sacramental churches, I supposed the difference of liturgy and unfamiliar songs left me with a spiritual emptiness. I came away confused by my attitude and disillusioned with what I had thought would be a very satisfying morning. What I did not take into account was how the small act of faith I had experienced at Mass had now changed me.
On the flight home, failure and self-pity engulfed me because of the disappointing reception of my art. The past year’s trials paraded before my weary thoughts, and I slumped in my seat.
After a while, I took out a drawing pad from my carry-on and made some notes about my emotional state. I was determined to keep up a good front of cheerfulness – but my heart had gone out of me. I had come to the end of my fortitude and I felt morose. Moreover, I wondered how long I would be able to be as supportive of Rich as I had been. I knew from experience that over time my resolve would languish, causing my cooperation to falter. I loved Rich, and wanted our covenant-marriage to succeed, but on that flight home, remembering the past months, we seemed sorely in trouble.
It never occurred to me that all the difficulty I had experienced, as well as the failure to prosper in my venture, was exactly right for me. I thought my eyes were wide open and I understood all that had taken place. However, I was still blind.
But Jesus was in the process of giving me sight.
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