Clearly, these were not people who were going to mince words.
At first, I was astounded by the boldness of that concept. The Fullness of the Truth? Everything that God has revealed to us stupid humans, all in one place?
I rejected it. Maybe those Catholics weren’t as horrible as the Chick Tract pictured them, but they were clearly insane.
I couldn’t let the concept go. Because if Catholics believed they held the fullness of the Truth, then there would be a Truth, right? There would be clear answers on things that Protestant denominations couldn’t agree on—even within their own denomination, right?
The thought was so radical, so foreign to a mind soaked in moral relativism, that I couldn’t grasp it. If these Catholics were going to make a claim like this, they’d better prove it. There had better be absolutely undeniable proof that what they were teaching was God’s Truth.
And so I started reading what the earliest Christians understood about Christ and the church He founded. I started down the path that is familiar to all Catholic converts—who decided what writings were Divinely inspired and meant to be included in the Bible, and which writings were not? How was information on this new religion passed along to the first adherents when literacy and books were not the common things they are now? I learned about the concepts of Sola Scriptura vs. Sacred Tradition. I was introduced to the Early Church Fathers. I figured I’d follow the history of Catholicism from the beginning until I found something I could use to discount it—a journey I expected to be a short one.
But then I learned about the Eucharist.
For me, growing up with the grape juice and spongy bread, passed from person to person along the pews, once a month at most, the concept of Communion was a muddled one. On the one hand, in the church of my childhood, there was a sense that Communion was expected to be something outside the ordinary, but there was nothing displayed to back that up. The grape juice was Welch’s, poured out into small shot glasses right before Communion services. The bread was actually Wonder Bread, cut into cubes by volunteers, and heaped into the centers of the passing dishes. When I learned that my best friend’s grandmother made the communion bread for their Methodist church, I was astounded. I couldn’t believe that someone would think to take the time to specially make the ingredients for Communion, and as my best friend and I snacked on leftover bread one Sunday after church, I couldn’t help but wonder why our church didn’t do the same.
Growing up, Communion was an odd mixture of stated solemnity coupled with the casually indifferent. Take this bread. Drink this cup. Remember Me.
So when I learned that the Catholics understood that they were doing something more than remembering, that they were actually coming into direct contact with the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ Himself, I didn’t believe them.
I figured they were making it up. No one could believe that.
But as I kept reading the writings from the early Church, I realized that this understanding was there from the beginning.
And, if what they understood was True, then I had my answer for “why do I need to bother going to a church?” If Christ Himself were actually there, actually, physically there inside Catholic churches, then that was reason enough for a person to drag their sorry, slothful, sinful butt to church. It wasn’t for the Bible readings, or the sermons, or the music, or the fellowship. While I could certainly see where all those things could contribute to a person’s spiritual growth, none of them were exclusive to a church setting.
But the Eucharist? That was a Game Changer.
And with that, I did what any sorry, slothful, sinful person would do: I stuck my fingers in my ears and pretended like I couldn’t hear anything.