The Real Presence
by Jay Fadden
Last week, I wrote about potential in our faith life. But there is more than just potential; there is the desire and yearning to have God in our life. Many years ago, I heard a true story of a person who doesn't share our beliefs that puts into perspective how strong our faith life could be. I would like to share it with you now.
Many years ago, a pastor at a parish in the Archdiocese of Boston visited a third grade classroom and told the story of a lunch he had with the son of an old friend. The young man was not a Catholic. Apparently, in the course of their conversation he said: "Monsignor, I've never been inside a Catholic Church."
So, over they went for a tour. The priest showed him the holy water font and pointed out the stained glass windows and explained the Stations of the Cross. He pointed out the crucifix and the altar, and then, he brought him up to the Tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, the very real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
At that point, the man stopped the priest and he said, "Monsignor, you mean to tell me that I'm standing directly in front of God?” And the priest said, "That is what we hold dear; yes, beyond the shadow of doubt."
At that the young man said, "You know, if I believed what you Catholics believe, we shouldn't be just standing here. In fact, I should not have walked into this church. I should have crawled in on my hands and my knees!”
It is a true story that made me think not only of my commitment to the faith, but also my attitude towards the Eucharist. I do believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but do I always demonstrate that belief? I am not suggesting that I crawl, because at my age, I would have trouble getting back up, but I should be more cognizant that I am in the presence of Jesus in a real way. I should be more quiet and reserved. I should focus on Him and pray. I should not get caught in the trap that my time at church is to attend Mass and then leave, but to be with God in a special way. The story above certainly opened my heart and mind to the gift I can experience every time I walk into a church and that tabernacle candle is lighted.
One last thing that I think you would enjoy. The person that told me that story was Bishop Reed, who was one of the third graders sitting in that classroom that day.