Ink Slingers Michelle Schroeder

The True Presence and Our Conviction

There’s been a lot of talk lately about many Catholics not believing in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Certain I was fully convicted, I hadn’t given much thought to my own conviction, until we met with our confirmation class and the topic was the Mass. One of the other adults who was leading the discussion talked about what it means to wholeheartedly believe in the True Presence and he posed a question: Would you die for a consecrated Host? It’s one thing to ask if you’d be willing to die for Jesus but it’s an entirely different thing to ask whether you would give up your life for a little round, flat piece of bread that you believe is Jesus. The truth is, American Catholics probably don’t have to ponder that question often. That is not our reality. We are not attending Mass in secret or having to attend moving churches that change locations so anti-Catholic militia won’t find us. We don’t worry about being abducted walking from our car in the parking lot to the church door. We don’t risk our lives to receive communion. And as a result, it’s easy to say we believe. We haven’t been tested. That is not to say that I want to switch places with Catholics in parts of the world where there is a very real and very significant threat, today. At this very moment, there are people in other parts of our world who are risking their lives to consume that host. I am friends with one such person who lives in India and as a Catholic priest, he is in danger. I pray for him and I worry about him, but I would not want to be in his shoes. While I’m grateful to be able to freely live my life as a Catholic, I am also aware that I’ve never had to put my money where my mouth is when it comes to the Eucharist. I can go through life believing
that I am a believer, yet I never have to prove it. This is, most certainly, a true first world problem. So, let’s take it down a notch to try to evaluate our conviction.

Let’s put it in terms that may be more relevant to our experience by asking ourselves these questions:

  1. Am I always in a state of grace when I receive Holy Communion? Many of us perceive it as a walk of shame to go through the line and receive a blessing but no Jesus. The fear of embarrassment may actually cause us to sin again if we receive Jesus while having a mortal sin on our soul.
  2. Every time I consume the host, am I free from all distraction and I completely focused on receiving Christ? We may be wrangling kids in the line or simply allowing our minds to wander as we stroll up the aisle.
  3. If I saw someone in line slip the consecrated host in their pocket, what would I do? It’s not just the job of the ushers to prevent sacrilege but it would take courage of conviction to actually stop someone and ask them to consume the host or return it to the priest. We would
    possibly second guess ourselves either because we were unsure if we really saw them pocket it or out of fear of causing a scene. As I consider my own answers to these questions (#2 got me), I realize I have to grow in my conviction.

Fortunately for me, and maybe you, the way to do that is to simply ask God to help you. “Lord, I believe, help me to believe more,” is a simple, effective prayer that shows God our humility and desire to deepen our faith. May we all grow in love for the True Presence that we so freely receive at every Mass!

Splendid Sundays

Splendid Sundays – Fourth Sunday of Easter

Fourth Sunday of Easter

You can find today’s readings here.

Jesus is our good Shepherd, the one who will unite us, protect us, heal us, and save us.  I love how He says, in referencing His sheep, “I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”  For us to know Christ as He knows the Father, is so profound!  Christ and the Father are one with the Holy Spirit, they cannot know each other any more or any less, they are in perfect union.  And here Jesus says that we, his sheep, can know him with this sort of union.  Just how can we know Christ in this same manner?

During the Annunciation, when the Blessed Virgin Mary was approached by St. Gabriel and told she would bear a son, her response is often translated to, “How can this be, since I have known not man?” (Lk 1)  Here “known” speaks of a physical intimacy (hopefully coupled with an intellectual intimacy).

In the passage following today’s selection from the Gospel of John, Jesus says that He gives his sheep “eternal life”.  The last time Jesus spoke of giving his followers eternal life is back in John 6, during the Bread of Life Discourse, preparing the way for the Eucharist, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (Jn 6:54)

I can’t help but see the Eucharist being spoken of here, as the primary way we are to know Christ as Christ knows the Father, and as the primary way Christ unites us such that there is “one flock, one shepherd.”  Likely Christ was referencing bringing the Gentiles into the fold with the Jews.  However in light of the Eucharist I think of how at each mass, each day, around the world all of Christ’s flock on Earth is united in time and space to His Sacrifice on the cross in Calvary when, as Jesus foretold he would do in the gospel “I lay down my life in order to take it up again” At the mass we are a united flock, the entire Church, Militant, Suffering and Triumphant, to our one Shepherd!  Hallelujah!