Never Knew You Looked Like That

Today we drove to a Catholic Parish in a nearby town to visit with our friend Nic. He had a speaking engagement in the evening, so we thought we would catch up in person since it’s rare for us to be in the same part of the same state at the same time.

As we approached the Parish, I noticed that there were 4-5 Christian churches within a 2 block radius of the Catholic Church we were going to. Several different denominations were represented, each with their own building.

We spent a bit of time inside the beautifully constructed Catholic Church. Each of the stations of the cross was a hand-made mosaic, along with several other pieces of art on the walls- including a beautiful Mary mosaic above the tabernacle. That, and the pillars, and the stained-glass, and the wooden pews… just everything was so beautiful. We spoke for a few minutes with one of the priests of the parish and ended up talking about how that kind of ornament in a church building used to be offensive to me as a Protestant, but now I find it to be so beautiful.

We talked about Kreeft, and how he argues that only belief in the True Presence built buildings like this. And also how, besides, desiring for Christ to have the best we have to offer, that having beautiful churches and Cathedrals helps to make up for the scandal of the manger. Besides the church itself being beautiful, the very idea of those things is, also, beautiful.

As we left and drove by all those other churches, so close to the building that houses the True Presence of Christ Himself, and yet far enough away that they felt like they had to construct their own buildings to worship in, I wondered how that made God feel… and I was reminded of a song from a little-known Christian musician that used to play in Green Bay when I was younger. He wrote a song called “Never Knew You Looked Like That,” which isn’t about the Eucharist, but is about the many ways Christ shows himself to mankind, and how oblivious we are to it so much of the time.

But with all I’ve been through, I can’t help but see the connection to the Eucharist as well.

Some of my favorite lyrics:

“Does it make you sad that I never knew you looked like that? Does it make you laugh that I never knew you looked like that”

“There you are again, no matter where I turn. You wait for me to notice, wondering if I’ll learn.”

 

 

What does God think about those people who built those buildings, so very close to where he truly and really resides in a physical sense? Is he sad about it? Or does he shake his head and smile, much like I do when my son or daughter just doesn’t understand something that seems so simple to me?

How does God feel about the many, once including myself, that don’t recognize Him in the bread and the wine? I now believe it is no more shocking that God would appear to us as though he were bread and wine than it is to believe God was once a zygote in his mother’s womb.

But those buildings, so, so close to the Real Thing. And yet thick walls separate them. And there are so many Christians who desperately seek nearness with their Savior, too, separated by walls of disbelief in their hearts that His True Presence is here with us now.

Thank you, Jesus, for your True Presence in the gift of the Eucharist. And I pray that all Christians would be united to You, and experience the fullness of faith and life and joy through the Church you established. Please help us to all recognize you in all the ways you reveal yourself to us on this earth, including in the faces of the poor, the suffering, and in the Eucharist.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

Ashed

This was my first Catholic Ash Wednesday service that I can remember attending. I love it. The preparation. The somber acknowledgment of our own frailty and fallenness. All reminders of how useless everything is without what Jesus did on that cross and three days later.

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Ashed after a long day.

Saying, “Yes, God. I’ve failed you. I need your mercy. Even my best to you is imperfect while I am on this earth.” And then receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus right after acknowledging or own beginnings and physical endings as dust. Receiving Jesus and knowing that His sacrifice saves us from futility. That His sacrifice breathes life and meaning into our existence.

Even the small participation in fasting today. Feeling those moments of slight discomfort, of hunger, and being reminded to think on God and to pray. Thinking about how insignificant this fasting is in comparison to the suffering Jesus endured. Thinking about how our sacrifice is so, so small, but how at the same time, it also connects us with something so much bigger than ourselves and draws our hearts and minds to our Savior.

This is the God that makes beauty from ashes. This is the God that takes that which is broken and makes it whole again. This is the God that beat both sin and death in a single lifetime.

A beautiful season, this Lent is. And I’m really thankful and excited to participate in it more fully than ever before in the Catholic Church.

First Communion

Last week, I received my First Communion in the Catholic Church. One of the biggest moments for me was bringing up the gifts. We were asked to do that as a way to sort of help mark the special occasion, where JP was receiving communion for the first time in several years, and I was receiving my First Communion.

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I didn’t realize how cool that would be. To bring up the wine and the bread that would be used in the Sacrament. Just a neat moment where the significance of it all kind of hit me.

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Bringing up the Gifts.

Receiving the Eucharist was very emotional for us both. I think that stemmed from several things… what is happening in the Eucharist itself is enough to make one feel strongly, but that moment was rounding out a week that had begun with some very draining conversations, where we were feeling worn down, and the week ended with First Confession and First Communion for me. So quite a dichotomy! And it was just this whole thing about how on earth everything has changed for me theologically, and how now there is this access to Jesus on a completely different dimension than there was before, and how, in actuality, despite how I know and believe the theology of it, I understand it so little.

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After Mass. Lissie was in Sunday School enjoying her little self. 🙂

 

The nice thing about the Eucharist is it wasn’t a once and done deal… I can continue to grow in my understanding of it, and how it will impact my life. One of my favorite memories looking back will be seeing the emotion my husband was feeling at coming back to a fuller and richer version of his home faith community. And having his whole family there with him, participating in it as well. I don’t think JP knew what he was leaving when he left it, but he does know now, and it made returning that much more meaningful.

In other news…

The separation process in leaving our Protestant church has become very painful, in many ways. We are in such a limited position, and are just praying for some grace from our friends and for ourselves to do this thing we are doing.

 

 

 

How Interstellar Helps With The Eucharist

JP and I watched Interstellar a couple of months back. I was fascinated, and still am with how they depict the concept of time.

As a human, I have occasionally been irritated that we are confined to the dimension of time. Though a world where we are not would probably be very different than our world now. Probably very bizzare. To us. But just the idea that we can only go forward along this continuum at this pace, and the past only lives in memory for us is frustrating at times.

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Yes, this movie starring Matthew McConaughey has helped me understand what is happening in the Eucharist.

Except… when you think about how just because we are confined by time, doesn’t mean that time is the same everywhere, or even that everything in existence is confined by it.

Like God.

God is outside of time, and can do things outside of time. And I believe that he does.

Let’s go back to Jewish History a little bit, of which I know little. But we met a new friend last night- a great evening that I’ll share about someday- who shared with me that the Jewish understanding of the Passover, even when it was celebrated years and years after the original event, wasn’t that they were just commemorating what once had happened. No, they believed they were participating in that same exact, one time event. That the bounds of time were broken as the spiritual interfaced with the physical once in actuality, but for us humans over and over again throughout the years.

Because… time. Things can happen outside of time.

Likewise, the Eucharist is not simply remembering the Last Supper, an event that happened once 2,000 or so years ago. It is an actual particpation in. that. event. The same event. The same one that Jesus and the original disciples were at.

I’m sorry Catholics, but why do you not get more excited about this? No other Christian church has that! Not only do you get to enter into the actual physical presence of Jesus each week at Mass, but every celebration of the Eucharist is breaking us out of the confines of time for a moment and allowing us to participate in one of the biggest events that our entire faith hinges upon! The sacrifice Jesus willingly made for our sins by pouring out His body and His blood for us. This is no ordinary situation!

It is almost too much.

So, thank you Interstellar. Thank you for being a very thought-provoking movie. For allowing me to understand time differently. And for helping me to more greatly understand the significance of the Eucharist at Mass.