The Eucharist Calls to All of Us

I am a reluctant church-goer.  Even now, after all I’ve learned and come to believe about the nature of God, it is sometimes still a massive act of will to drag myself out of bed Sunday morning, and get my sorry self to Mass.  Add the daunting prospect of clothing six children and finding matching shoes for all of them- all of them!- and that, my friends, is a recipe for defeat.

When I was cobbling together my own DIY New Age spirituality, things were simple.  There was no church other than what I said was a church, and so Sunday mornings were spent sleeping in.  It wasn’t until God started leading me back down the path of Christianity that the church issue reared its head once again.

As a petulant teenager, I was dragged to our Presbyterian church by my mom, in a dance familiar to every mother of adolescents, no matter what religious creed.  I didn’t want to go, because I didn’t know why I should go.  It was part arrogance, part human nature;  we were designed to worship God with our intellect as well as our soul- if the “why should I go to church?” isn’t logically answered, we recoil from the experience.

So, as an adult, once again inching my way toward Christianity, I kept asking myself why bother going to church?  I lived in Mississippi at the time, and as any Southerner can tell you, church culture is a VERY BIG DEAL.  “I don’t go to church because I don’t wanna” is not exactly something you can say to your neighbors.  Not unless you want to become their pet project and suffer the full force of their spiritual search and rescue efforts.

I didn’t want the full court press of my well-meaning neighbors, but I was curious about why they were so keen on getting me to church.  What was the source of this mysterious ambition that got them up out of their Sunday morning beds and into a hard pew for a couple of their hard earned weekend hours?

It didn’t make sense to me.  Some people would talk about the spectacular “music ministry” at their church, which is a different way of saying their church had a Christian rock concert every Sunday.  But as far as I was concerned,  I could rock out to KLOVE in the privacy of my own car and belt out  worship music with a sincerity I never could in public.

Other people would heap praises on their pastor and the newest “sermon series” that was going on, but thanks to YouTube, I’ve got a wealth of rousing reverends at my fingertips and on my schedule.  Shoot, I could even listen in bed!

Reason after reason that I was given for church attendance fell flat.  There was nothing that was a big enough payoff to get my lazy self out of bed and into a brick-and-mortar building.  As far as I could see, the church experience with its music ministries and sermon series and fellowship groups was nothing more than an extension of the Church of Me, and I’d hoped to find something deeper in Christianity.

And then I came across the scandalous, weird, deeply shocking and utterly Catholic concept of the Eucharist.  The teaching that Jesus was really serious when He told us to eat of His Body and drink of His Blood and that Catholics took Him at His word was so profoundly, unflinchingly bold that it took my breath away.  Certainly it couldn’t be true, God Himself couldn’t possibly humiliate Himself by dwelling among us as a fragile wafer and wine.  It couldn’t be true, but at least it was, for the very first time, a valid reason for going to church.

Not for me, of course!  That would be absurd.  But for those Catholics, those oddballs who believed the Lord of the Universe was there, waiting for them, at Mass; well, for those people church suddenly made sense.  It was the one place in the whole wide world where they could have a physical encounter with the Divine, and if that wasn’t reason enough to get out of bed on a Sunday, then you weren’t really looking to meet Him anyway.

But I was looking for God.  I’d been desperately searching for Him for decades, and suddenly, here were people claiming to offer a face-to-face meeting.  The Eucharist.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I read everything I could about it.  I was floored when I realized that from the beginning of the Church, the faithful understood the Real Presence to be true.  That worship flowed from and through this Eucharist- the “source and summit” of the Christian faith.

You can guess the rest of the story.  Once I had a concrete reason for church attendance, it wasn’t long until I joined the one place that could grant me access to it.  And that reason has been enough for me ever since- no matter how  bad the music or dull the homily or hard the seats or soft the bed.  I think about how Christ Himself is waiting for me in that Tabernacle, offering Himself to me, and my heart softens and I want to go and worship Him- even if it means overcoming my selfish, lazy nature and tracking down matching shoes for six children to do so.

Cari Donaldson

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Cari Donaldson lives on a New England farm with her high school sweetheart, their six kids, and a menagerie of animals of varying usefulness. She is the author of Pope Awesome and Other Stories, and has a weekly podcast about homesteading at ghostfawnpodcast.com

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  • A good article. It made me reflect on my years in Pentecostal / Evangelical churches: however, I never experienced your aversion or disinterest. But I had, before that, in my initial Christian years after conversion at 20 in Anglican churches – those bored me. Yet they were liturgical: and here I am now a devoted Catholic, going to my very liturgical parish Mass as often as I can…

    In those Pentecostal years I wasn’t simply going for a good music show or sermon. We were seeking an experience of God’s presence, voice and affective power upon us: and the sung worship and preaching was valued in that measure. I cannot foreswear the graces and godly things I received there, among those Protestants. Prophetic words I received and wrote down remain true and active, and have led to more words I’ve received since coming home into the Church.

    I can’t contemplate stepping back into those times, and when I’m with family relatives at similar Pentecostal meetings it all falls so vastly short of the perfection of the Mass that it now leaves me wholly unsatisfied; yet I cannot but accept the past with thanksgiving and recognition of God’s shepherding love. Nothing was wasted for me then, and so I trust the same for my wife and children now, hoping they too will eventually be brought into the One, True Fold of the Redeemer as I was.

  • BRIAN GREAVES

    Thanks Cari for expressing your search … since it comes down to what is the truth about the Eucharist and with truth comes our own response, our own responsibilities in this great truth. If it’s true that Jesus is really there bodily as well as spiritually, as his words in the gospels claim, as well as the teachings of his Church, as well as the many miracles around the world claiming verification, then our response to this truth requires our going to be with him bodily to worship … just to be with him every day if possible, meeting him at Mass as often as we can, if our faith is authentic.

  • Dawn O’Donnell

    Thank you Cari for your humble admittance of finding it difficult to get to church with 6 children. I think many parents struggle with this. My sister-in-law has 4 children and she also struggles. But in the end the reward of receiving Christ in the Eucharist is well worth the effort.

    As my husband and I approached our 10 year anniversary in 2015, we were attending RCIA. We have no children and have not been in a position to adopt. My reason for mentioning this is; I would welcome any help to Moms and Dads who need a hand at Mass with young children, or even to sit with older children if parents need to get up with a younger child. (I know this doesn’t help with the matching shoes at home). I’m just saying that I think there are people like me waiting around to be asked.

  • D.M.S.

    What is the ‘ True Fold ‘?
    Neighbor.

  • The Catholic Church. The phrase comes from a famous prayer by Blessed John Henry Newman

  • D.M.S.

    I serve Christ Jesus not a denomination.
    Take care, brother.

  • The Catholic Church is the Body of Christ founded by Jesus Christ and His apostles, united in Him through the Eucharist. Those who reject her, reject Him and cannot be united with Jesus. Your personal take on Who He is and how you should follow Him will not be sufficient. God will be merciful upon the faithful in separated ecclesial communities, like you, according to what you know or have had a chance to hear. You have now heard the truth from me, and much will now depend upon your response. I hope you choose obedience and salvation

  • D.M.S.

    That is a 100% Pure LIE.
    Christ Jesus did NOT found any denomination ever. You have been
    ” Brain Washed ” by a religious cult called the
    RCC.
    Christ Jesus is our Lord, Savior, and Teacher.
    NOT any denomination.
    We Christians serve Christ Jesus Only!!!!

  • The one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is not one of the numerous, separated communities who have split away – which you might call denominations. Of course Jesus is alone our Saviour; but He does that by making us one people in His Church. They were His words, that if we reject His Church (as then represented by the 12), we reject Him. That’s what you might find you’ve done – I pray not

  • I suggest you take your ill mannered polemics elsewhere

  • Tassieo

    His church are people, not a building. God looks at the heart, He doesn’t look at a building. So are you saying, because I have rejected the Catholic Church I am doomed? When Jesus returns, He will be coming for all those who have accepted Him into their hearts, He is NOT coming back for a particular church. I pray that the Lord opens your eyes to the truth. Blessings

  • You’re not bothering to read my comments. I said God gathers a people – who mentioned any building? I also previously said God will be merciful to those who find themselves separated out of ignorance. But you are now hearing truth. Fear God, and do not presume upon His mercy

  • Tassieo

    Forgive me, I just didn’t understand your post. What do you mean by ” God will be merciful to those who find themselves separated out of ignorance”?

  • If you live in a culture with either no Christian witness or no witness of the Catholic faith, then you will not be at fault for what you haven’t heard

  • Tassieo

    I am a Born Again, Spirit Filled Christian. Have been now for over 20yrs. God speaks to me through my Pastors and Prophets some times. Mostly He speaks directly to me. He is my encourager and strength in all things. Some people are led to believe that the Christian walk is easy, it isn’t it, not if you want to really die to self. From my understanding of the catholic religion, the Pope is your head guy (Jesus Christ is mine), you pray to dead people (I don’t), you venerate Mary (she was a sinner, just like us all). You bow to statues (I don’t). Communion is to be taken as rememberance of what Jesus did for us on the Cross, not to literally eat His body and drink His blood.
    Many years ago, before bringing Jesus Christ into my heart, did think about joining your church and becoming a nun (even tho’ I’m not Catholic),now God would have known that, so why do you think He didn’t impress it on me to join? I think it was because He had better things in mind for me.

  • You have a poor understanding of the Catholic faith. But you are clearly not disposed to learn otherwise. As I said, this is not the website for you. Posting anti Catholic comments on it is I think known as trolling

  • Tassieo

    I may not know a lot about Catholicism, but I know enough. And as for you calling me a troll, you had plenty of chances, but it’s not until I really denounced your religion, you call me names. Was you thinking you had a convert? I am sorry for you, I pray that God opens your eyes to the truth.

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