Sunday, June 18, 2006

Corpus Christi 2006

The Lord fed his people with the finest wheat and honey; their hunger was satisfied.
--Psalm 81:16

When I looked online to preview the readings for today I saw that it is the second Sunday after Pentecost in the Episcopal Church; for Roman Catholics, it's the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. I had been planning to attend the nearby Episcopal Church where I've recently been appreciating and learning from the preaching of a very spiritual priest, a former Roman Catholic, as it happens, but when I realized it was Corpus Christi I felt a deep need to be in a Catholic Church. This was more than the gentle tug of the invisible string that pulls me to morning Mass from time to time, but leaves me feeling like an outsider come just to observe. This time what I felt was a deep need to be in a Catholic church as if it were my place where I really belonged, and everything fell into place to make it happen, and so it was that I found myself sitting there in my local Catholic parish looking around and wondering if this is where I am going to end up after all.

For me, what being Catholic is most significantly about is this: Incarnation, Redemption, Eucharist--and Eucharist speaks to us about the first two and is the symbol/reality of God-in-the-World (not God-in-the-Book), the centrality of which is what makes the Catholic experience of divine presence closer to how Quakers understand it than to the ways I have seen it described by some other Christian denominations. To take things a step further, Eucharist to me is first about receiving and then about sharing. I long ago recognized in myself a hunger that only this could begin to satisfy, which is how I explained things to myself so many times in the past when I might have left but didn't.

I was thinking that it would be sweet if this were the last chapter in my story. Back at home, issues resolved, everything forgiven, fade to black, with maybe a little hymn-singing by angelic voices in the background. It would happen that way in an old black-and-white movie like Bells of St. Mary's, but the last time I checked my world was happening in living color and nothing was that neat and simple. I was hardly settled in my pew this morning before some of the things that have irritated or angered or disappointed me began popping up in my mind again. I managed to push them all back down again this morning (in a spiritual version of the arcade game Whack-a-Mole?) but I doubt this will last. I have, after all, spent the last year and a half practicing a different experience of God-in-the-World, and I'm getting better and better at it.

Anyway, from where I sat in church I could see two babies, one about 10 months old and the other a little younger. The older babe was dressed just like his dad in a navy blue polo shirt and khaki shorts, and he sat in his father's lap facing forward, pretty well behaved for his age. They were cute together, but I saw in them a vision of God the Father: I have created you in my own image. The message being that this father's love is deep and strong but comes with high expectations. The other baby was in his mother's arms, and as she bounced and kissed him her utter delight in him was movingly obvious, as was his delighted response. When he got fussy she soothed him, and when he tried to push her away she pulled him back and settled him against her chest with her arms wrapped around him. A vision of God the Mother?


At 12:52 PM, Blogger AC said...

I stopped by your blog and I feel as if we are dealing with the same issue.. I am a Catholic but lately, I have been feeling unhappy with the whole male hierarchy and being told not to think.. I'm thinking about joining the Episcalians also but not sure..

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Widening Circles said...

ac, thanks for writing. It's always comforting to know others are going through the same things. My advice is follow your heart, but be careful. Keep asking yourself where you really find God.

At 12:41 PM, Blogger Moneybags said...


As a newer Roman Catholic studying for the priesthood, I beg you to reconsider. Jesus Christ founded the Church on St. Peter. He founded One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. You experience only in the Catholic faith the authentic Eucharist - the true Body and Blood of Our Lord.

I appeal to you as a friend and servant of Jesus Christ to remain in His Church.

May God Bless you!


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