On Bread and Wine. Bear With Me Please.

Yesterday I started attending a Bible study with a group of moms who have been meeting for over a year now. I was excited but also very nervous about attending.

In the group there are three (maybe four?) moms who are “cradle Catholics,” a term I have learned to mean those who were born and raised Catholic. There are two women who converted to Catholicism as adults. And then there’s me, in the process of converting.

So, yesterday was my first day.

Please forgive me for what I’m about to write. I’m no apologist. I know I won’t say all the things quite right. Bear with me.

Anyway, this study is focused on the Mass. We started by watching a video in which the author of the book we’re using discussed the Eucharist, including the fact that Catholics believe that through the process of consecration during Mass, the priest actually transforms the bread and water into the body and blood of Christ. While other religions typically see the bread and wine as symbolic of Christ’s body and blood, Catholics say they actually are these things.

This is a tough thing to understand and, for many, hard to believe. And yesterday we talked about how, of course, the Catholic Church does not say that the bread and wine actually undergo a chemical change of any kind. Under a microscope, for example, they still look like bread and wine, obviously. But through transubstantiation Jesus becomes present in them, and then present in us through the Eucharist. I think that’s right, anyway.

So as I was watching the video, a thought occurred to me that seemed so important. It was like a little “Aha!” moment for me. I wanted to share it with the other ladies. Then I had a little conversation with myself that went something like this:

Me: “When the video is over, I should share this interesting thought that I just had.”

Me: “Don’t do it.”

Me: “But I just had an epiphany of sorts!”

Me: “Don’t do it.”

Me: “But I should say something so I don’t just sit here like a lump the whole time.”

Me: “Don’t do it. It’s your first day. You don’t know what the heck you’re talking about. Just keep your mouth shut.”

Me: “Okay.”

Then the video ended and we started discussing. Guess what? I impulsively blurted out my “Aha!” thought. It really did sound intelligent and interesting in my head. Naturally, it didn’t come out that way at. all.

I said something to the effect of “So, while I was watching just now I had this thought, and  I guess this probably isn’t such news to you guys, but it occurred to me that when they’re talking about eating the body of Christ, well, you know, I mean, He was both God and man, He always has been, I mean, He was, and um… uh… well, so it’s not like eating His body is meant to mean chewing on His leg or something…”

Dear Lord, what???? No, that’s not AT ALL how it sounded in my head.

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What I meant to convey was basically that I had been contemplating how some people (myself included at times, if I’m honest) think that the idea of eating the body of Christ is kind of weird. I suspect this is because, well, it is not really a cool thing to eat a person. So that’s where my “Aha!” moment came in yesterday, because of course Jesus wasn’t just a person. Obviously, I already knew that. But my connecting the understanding of He was God and man with His presence in the Eucharist, while it may seem inanely simple to anyone else who knows about this stuff, was a cool moment for me (And of course I always feel the need to share such things… Why, oh why can’t I listen when I talk to myself?)

Anyway, in spite of the stupidity of my big share during the Bible study, it was fun, and I’m looking forward to the rest of it. The passages in the Bible that describe the Last Supper and the words Jesus said are really beautiful (i.e. Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-20), and I love learning about the sacrament of the Eucharist as a reenactment of the Last Supper. There is so much to learn. I’m learning so much.

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