I did not expect to find Jesus so startlingly close at Mass. He found me. That he included me in His embrace through spiritual communion opened my heart to the Holy Spirit’s teaching.
I did not expect to explore the Passion of Christ. It explored me. What could I do but follow, seeing how great a salvation Jesus purchased with His suffering and death.
I did not expect to encounter the mystery and truth of transubstantiation. That mystery captured and transfixed me. Christ’s love melted my icy attitudes and set aside past perceptions.
Freed from the biases that had kept me from seeing, I could now, with open eyes, see the glorious worship of God inherent in the Mass. I began to participate with my whole heart, and as the Lord transformed my previous misperceptions into a clearer perspective, I reached out to my church “home” with opened arms.
I had once thought of Catholic worship as cold, devoid of joy, or personal interaction. I had experienced the camaraderie among Christians in Protestant churches we attended, but now, my experience in church was not primarily horizontal but vertical in emphasis. Here I had an opportunity to be alone with the Savior in a sanctuary where He resided not only in the person of the Holy Spirit but also in the consecrated host within the Tabernacle.
I admit my fervor to understand what my husband and others saw in the Mass drove me to scrutinize everything I encountered in the Catholic services. This investigation, and my longing to know truth, led me to pray that I might comprehend what I intellectually knew occurred at the consecration. And God answered my prayer. I suddenly grasped the authenticity of belief: the bread and the wine change into the body and the blood of Messiah Jesus.
This was no superstition or wishful thinking. The Holy Spirit impressed upon me this truth in such a way that I became convinced and now fully believe. Oh, how precious is the gift of Christ’s presence to the church.
Before the anniversary of Rich’s entrance into the Catholic Church, I was reformed too, into the renewed Christian I am today.
The Mass begins for me at home as I prepare to meet Jesus. I pray and often read my Bible just as I have done for many years. I also attend to one small gift that I have not had the occasion to give Him before. I make sure my hair and forehead are clean in anticipation of the blessing He bestows.
Time stands still the moment I step into the entrance of the church and dip my fingers into the font of holy water beside the door. I make the sign of the cross, reminding myself of my death and burial at baptism, and of my new life in the risen Christ. In some mysterious way, as I move my hand across my chest to make the sign of the cross, the crucifixion becomes terribly real and personal.
As I walk to my pew, I am greeted by silence – a holy hush that is found where the Infinite is revered. It is not simply stillness, or emptiness. It is a purposeful silence, a silence disturbed only by the echoes of kneelers lowered to the floor. It is silence broken by the soft wrap of Rosary beads against wood as the faithful pray. It is the silence of footfalls as priest and choir prepare to serve. It is the deep breath before the glorious beginning of the Mass.
I look for the golden Tabernacle because I know within it lies the bread made flesh, and I rejoice in Jesus who graces our church with His presence.
Genuflection is no longer a polite adaptation. Instead, it is an act of love for my Lord, the King of Kings. Too quickly, we have found our seat and I am on my knee, reminding myself with the little prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. --Touch my forehead, fountain of all wisdom clear my mind of worthless thoughts; touch my chest, wounded Savior I am yours; touch my left and right shoulders, teacher and comforter give me wings to rise above my sinful self.
Thus begins the Mass for me – no longer ritual, but an opportunity to make an endless prayer of worship to the Trinity.
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