By Tom Quiner
I love being Catholic.
I’m a convert from mainline Protestantism. I have great respect for my Protestant brothers and sisters. There are some things certain slices of Protestantism do better than Catholics. There are some things Catholics do better.
But Catholicism, more than any form of Protestantism, allows me to have an intensely personal relationship with Christ.
The opportunities for this dizzying, irresistible relationship begins with Holy Eucharist. Catholics believe that the bread and the wine are more than a mere symbol. They are Christ: body, soul, and divinity.
Nothing is more personal than taking God into our physical bodies. It is the Bread of Life, Jesus, that we are ingesting, as Christ Himself said in the Gospel of John 6: 35 …
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
He continued in verse 53:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.54Whoever eats* my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.55For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.57Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.b58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
In the Episcopal church, from which I came, you can believe whatever you want about communion.
The Catholic Church is so much more specific and personal than that. As scripture tell us, “God is love.” At Catholic Mass, a priest ordained in a direct line from St. Peter, consecrates the bread and the wine.
It becomes Christ.
When we consume Eucharist, we are taking into our frail bodies infinite Love. An early Church Father, St. Ignatius of Antioch, described Eucharist as the ‘medicine of immortality.’
St. Paul talked of its deep significance for Christians:
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ.”
The Venerable Fulton Sheen calls it a romance:
“The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white Host.”
What can be more personal?