Thursday, April 28, 2011

Overview: On the Eucharist

Ironically, it was an atheist who first pushed me to Catholicism.

Several years ago, PZ Myers (a fairly notorious "New Atheist") decided, just for kicks, to desecrate the Eucharist. There was quite an uproar after he posted the pictures online. When I first heard about this incident, I was sickened, disgusted, appalled... words don't do justice to it.

A few months later, I overheard something that affected me deeply. I describe it in my note The Eucharist. In brief: a mother described communion to her young daughter as mere "pretending." Obviously this wasn't an accurate presentation of Protestant views of communion. But this incident, along with the earlier one, forced me to a realization. For the first time in my life, I recognized that there was something unequivocally sacred about the Eucharist.

I also recognized that this instinctual understanding was not derived from my Protestantism. Consciously, my theology was informed solely by memorialism. Communion was a remembrance of the Last Supper: a symbol of the faith and an ordinance to the faithful.

But this was not sufficient. That was the moment I realized my Eucharist theology was entirely and wholeheartedly Catholic. I already believed in The Real Presence; I just didn't have the vocabulary to describe it.

This discovery brought me to another. If Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, shouldn't that be the focus of our attention? Shouldn't it be the centerpiece of our worship? Isn't the Eucharist precisely the foundation to the Communion of the Saints?  Indeed, isn't the Eucharist central to our identity as a Church, as the Body of Christ?

The Eucharist opened the door to Catholicism. My next series of posts, On the Saints, would dismantle the first major obstacle that had kept me out in the first place.

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