Thursday, April 01, 2004

I reached that point in the Catechism book that I'm reading where communion is discussed as the actual flesh and blood of Jesus. Methodists (perhaps all protestants?) believe that the bread and wine are symbols, not the actual body and blood of Jesus. When we had communion, (three or four times a year), the Methodist pastor would say, "ours is an open table, everyone is invited to partake." So, of course, everyone does (except for any visiting Catholics who know this to be wrong). Even little kids. In fact, my own little kids enjoyed draining the tiny little cups and eating the tiny 1cm x 1cm bit of bread. I am reading now what an affront this was and am rather ashamed of how I treated communion. I can see the path ahead and how I have to adjust my thinking. What will it be like on that day when I eat the bread and drink the wine and really believe the flesh and blood of Christ are in my body?

It's been difficult. We've been going to our Catholic Parish now for four or five months and I've been watching everyone take the bread of life while I, generally, kneel and wait. Over Christmas, I went on up and crossed my arms over my chest like the little kids and got myself blessed. Generally, I pray while I sit alone in my pew, since my wife is Catholic and can participate. I've read elsewhere, in Amy Welborn's blog, that perhaps it is wrong that I pray and should, instead, focus on what the priest is doing. My RCIA teacher said that is true. Even with reading and watching as closely as I do, I have so much to learn, so I watch closely: some people, mostly older people, let the priest put the wafer right in their mouth. Some people bow here and there in the process. Some people take the wine, some don't. Many try to pack the aisle where the priest is performing the ritual while others prefer the shorter lines.

When my RCIA class ends, we pray. All my life it was, "bow your head, close your eyes and pray." I notice that Catholics don't tend to do that... we keep our eyes open and pray almost conversationally. I rather like that.

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