I had a moment of befuddlement after last night's presentation at the parish mission at Our Lady, Mother of the Church here in Chicago.
During my presentation, I shared very deeply about the ways that the Eucharist has been a source of strength through my own life's difficulties, as well as ways that the eucharist is a place of nourishment and reconciliation.
After the presentation, a woman approached me, telling me that she had been away from the Church for thirty years and that it was a serious illness that brought her back to the Church. Then she said that she was astounded at how enthusiastic my faith was and that she could "never believe like you believe."
I told her that I have struggles with my own belief as well; that there are times when I feel like I am in an area of darkness. She repeated that she just could never see herself believing like I do and said that she didn't think that she could ever be as enthusiastic about her faith.
I told her that God has so much more planned for her life. And I said that just sharing the conversation with her revealed to me how much God has been, and continues to be, present in her life.
I guess this conversation helped me see that much of what I share comes from a wounded place inside of me; a place where scars run very deep. But it is in that same place that I know the paschal mystery has really touched me and brought a sense of hope.
Last night I shared a section from St. John Paul II's Mane Nobiscum Domine, the apostolic letter that inaugurated the Year of the Eucharist at the end of his pontificate:
"It must not be forgotten that the Eucharistic meal also has a profoundly and primarily sacrificial meaning. In the Eucharist, Christ makes present to us anew the sacrifice offered once for all on Golgotha. Present in the Eucharist as the Risen Lord, he nonetheless bears the marks of his passion, of which every Mass is a “memorial”, as the Liturgy reminds us in the acclamation following the consecration: “We announce your death, Lord, we proclaim your resurrection . . . “ At the same time, while the Eucharist makes present what occurred in the past, it also impels us towards the future, when Christ will come again at the end of history. This aspect makes the Sacrament of the Eucharist an event which draws us into itself and fills our Christian journey with hope."
Not sure if this is too much of a theological leap, but, as one who has "put on Christ" in baptism, I wonder if some of what the pope says about Christ is also true of me? Since I have been baptized into the Risen Lord, I feel sometimes like I bear the marks of the passions that have occurred in my own life. And it is that last line that always inspires me: "fills our Christian journey with hope."
The final session of the mission takes place tonight, when we will focus on the Sacrament of Confirmation and end with a focus on the Eucharistic table as a table of mission.
Thanks for listening to my struggles today.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.