Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Addicted to the Eucharist?

It's been...odd.

So I went to church on Sunday, having missed two weeks in a row (once for snugglings, one due to err oversleeping). Woke up in a crappy mood which promptly got worse. Instead of getting up early and getting a few things done before going, I go up late, flew around trying to get ready on time, and was frazzled and off-balance before I even left the house.

I did get here early enough to help set up before mass, which made me feel a little better. But then mass started, and I'd forgotten - Father's Day. I miss my daddy. It's been long enough that it's not the ongoing ache it was ten years ago, but it's still there.

Which led to me thinking far too hard -- Dad wasn't ever the churchgoing type. He'd show up if there was something special going on involving my sister and I -- baptisms, confirmations, and such -- and leave, slip quietly out the back, after our part was done. I never did get around to asking him his views on religion, and I regret that.

But it got me wondering what happened when he died. He was a good man. He treated us all well, he worked hard to take care of the family. He taught me a lot about working hard and gave me my first job. But he didn't believe in Jesus. And many of the people I'm currently sharing a religion with would say that when it comes to where he's gone, only the last part really matters.

I can't agree with that.

What with one thing and another, I just felt worse and worse. The sermon, about which I cannot remember a thing, was thoughtful and well-presented and only made me feel crappier. It got to where I was barely hanging on until the Eucharist.

One odd moment, though, came during the prayers, when the priest asked all the men in the congregation to stand up, and all the women to hold out their hands in blessing. (The same thing but reversed happened on Mother's Day; the congregation gets big, big points for paying as much attention to Father's Day as they do to Mother's Day. I felt pretty uncomfortable standing up for that, as I'm not and will never be a mother, and only feel like a woman maybe a quarter of the time...but more of that later.) I held up my hand with the rest, and repeated after the woman reading the prayers, and I swear I could feel the blessing going through me, all warm and tingly through my arm.


Then came the Eucharist. I barely held myself back from dashing up to the altar. I needed it.

A thing that I hadn't realized about my church until now (due to my own lack of knowledge, which I'm slowly filling in) was that the actual consecration of the Eucharist is one of the parts that the congregation says in unison. I'd been fairly firmly of the opinion that that's for the priest to do (and I still think you need one involved), but having tried it I kinda like the concept of it being participatory. And in anticipation of the time when I might be able to do it on my own, I decided to actively participate, instead of going along in a vaguely uncomfortable, this-isn't-for-me-to-do kind of way.

Some members of the congregation have always raised their hands during this part, in imitation of the priest holding aloft the paten and chalice. I did as well, this time, and said it like I meant it, and wow. Wow. I could feel it happening, and part of it was happening through me.

By the time it was done and we were lining up to partake I was intermittently shaking, hard enough that I'm surprised nobody noticed. I got back to my seat and all but collapsed in thankful prayer. And I was still shaking when I got home.

This is real. This is real. And I'm amazed and so thankful and still kinda boggled, and wondering if I'll be able to do mass myself without, y'know, fainting or I don't know what. That's some powerful juju. And some of that juju was in my hands.

That isn't supposed to be happening yet, is it?

I can't wait until next week. Or possibly tomorrow morning, Saturday evening, and Sunday morning.


Rae Trigg said...

Cool post. Can't say I've felt what you've described, but the Eucharist is one of the things that keeps me strong. I used to not go up when I was upset or angry, but then I realized I was going to the Table "for solace only and not for strength; for pardon only and not for renewal." So I changed my mind.

Mother Laura said...

Wow, Kate, awesomely awesome. Thank you for sharing and for your courage to help offer the living sacrifice as well as partake of the feast....

Kate said...

That's a neat thought, Rae, and one I might expand on later, if you'd be okay with that.

Laura, I still feel kind of odd about it; but manifestly it works, so who am I to disagree with the concept that I should be playing along?

Nina said...

Why shouldn't it be happening now?
You're part of it and it's part of you!

Rae Trigg said...

That's a neat thought, Rae, and one I might expand on later, if you'd be okay with that.

Yes, I'm absolutely fine with that. It's something I may touch on in a later post.

Kate said...

I don't know, I guess, Nina; it just feels...almost presumptuous, you know? I'm not a priest! I might be, eventually, but I'm sure not yet.

Thanks Rae. Looking forward to see what you write, too.

Mother Laura said...

You're part of the priestly people of God by your baptism, dear one. Ministerial priesthood comes from and is at the service of that, not the other way around. And you're part of the Body of Christ, the true and final high priest; the rest of us are just his friends and assistants, lucky enough to help in sharing his love in a special way with the world.

In the early church "Body of Christ" by itself meant the community, and "mystical Body of Christ" meant the blessed Sacrament; these default meanings came to be reversed later on but are so completely intertwined. Augustine (loose quote, don't have at hand) said when you stretch out your hands to receive Christ in the Eucharist you receive what you are, so you can become it even more. You are doing that faithfully and courageously, and it's such a beautiful thing to see.


Hedwyg said...

Oh how wonderful, Kate! I don't have anything nearly as great to say as Rae or Laura, so I'll just send prayers and happy hugs your way.

{{{{{{{{ Kate }}}}}}}}

Love and blessings,

Sally said...

what an amazing and wonderful post- thank you so much for sharing this.Peace and blessings