October 24, 2013
The Fulfillment of Encounter: When the Eucharist Became Real For Me
Surprisingly, I don’t remember much of that day. I remember the church, and I have an image of me sitting towards the back—wooden pews peppered with college students and townsfolk, and I, among them, heart pounding and eyes wetting, am sitting—or am I kneeling? Either way, my head is certainly buried in the palms of my hands and quietly, maybe even inaudibly, I am tearful. Jesus Christ is somehow inside of me. He was placed in my hands and I put him on my tongue, chewed him with my teeth, and swallowed him. It was the first time ever that presented to me, I recognized him—his sacramental presence—and it was the first time I ever held, tasted, and consumed him with understanding; and that encounter would go on to change everything. Yet for now, I am seated in a place of wonder wrapped in a blanket of trepidation, for he has captured me and I have allowed myself to be caught. Only he’s not who I thought he was; no, he is more intimate and more radical than I had ever dreamed. I would go on to learn three things from this experience.
1) I had been worshipping God as if in exile; 2) His flesh, as he says, is in fact, true food; 3) He sees me as would a bridegroom his bride; which means that 1) I have not only returned to the temple but have become the temple; 2) eternal life begins right now; 3) there is nothing I could ever do to cause him to look away and cease loving me.
Surprisingly vague is my memory of that day, but I can say this: I left the church after Mass stepping into a world where the sky was bluer and the leaves greener on trees that seemed almost to breathe, and I, with a ball cap snuggly fit, walked home on my hands—or was it that I could now see how everyone else in the world was living standing on their heads?
+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Saint Michael Friary, Paterson, NJ