Now, let me bring to up to date. As I said in my last installment, I was longing to have the Eucharist back in my life. I no longer wanted a symbol of Jesus Christ with me, I wanted Jesus Christ with me! And it happened with a call from a friend from my past who remembered me from twenty-five years before. She knew I was a Catholic. She knew I used to attend Mass regularly and she simply said, "Why don't you come to Mass with me some morning?" I did just that. I travelled about two hours to the church I grew up in to go to 7:30 AM Mass. My eyes were riveted on the priest as he stood before the altar and spoke the words that changed this simple bread and wine into the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
My friend understood my position and she knew I was going to be divorced. She also knew how I left the church. But, she also told me I should speak with a wonderful priest she knew who was very understanding and very good in explaining the real stance of the Church on many issues. It was true! I had never bothered to get the Catholic Church's stance on anything. I made many decisions about what I could and could not do on the preconceived notions that I had.
This very gentle and caring priest met with me and I told him my whole life story in all its tragedy, grief, sin and pain. And in the midst of my story, I looked into his eyes and I am certain I could see Christ smiling back at me! The priest allowed me to finish and said very clearly to me, "You are most certainly welcome to come back to the Church! Its been twenty-some years now, would you like to make a confession and start again fresh?" WOW! Start fresh! Twenty-five years of sadness, loneliness, pain, confusion, loss melted away. Yes! It really did. It was a moment that was literally life-saving! I was a Catholic in good standing again. The issue of divorce still needed to be addressed, but as long as I was not re-marrying at that moment, I could still receive the Blessed Sacrament!
I was home again in the Catholic Church. I knew I could no longer be a pastor in a place where I no longer had the same theology of the Eucharist. It wasn't fair to that church or me. After a discussion with the council of that church, I left them and returned to the Catholic Church.
My eyes are now wide open in the Church today. I now see so many things available to me that I never noticed before. I said to my friend, if I had known so many of these ways to serve the church were open to me, I doubt I would have left. One of the things I wanted was to grow spiritually. I began to look at the Catholic ways to grow. And I discovered the Benedictine Oblates. This is a group of women and men who associate and support a Benedictine monastery while living outside the monastery and living a secular life. The difference is an Oblate will follow the Rule of St. Benedict, pray the daily prayers of the Church, and learn to seek God's presence in various ways. But this is for another installment.
Ok! There you go! That is my story. I re-discovered my love of the Eucharist and I found my way back home. I mentioned in my first installment that I am sure my mother had something to do with my return. Let me say this very clearly. I am 100% certain that we can pray others back to the Faith. When I left the Church my mother wanted me to be happy, but she knew that the Truth (note capital T) lay entirely in the Eucharist. She prayed for me to re-discover that Truth for which I throught was outside of the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, my mother died five years before I returned to the Church. But, it was near my mother's birthday on a warm and sunny May morning that my friend took me into Mass in my home church. I think it was a happy birthday for my mom that day! Her prayers were answered!
You know, everybody has a unique and beautiful story about their coming to the Catholic Church. There are so many people like me who are genuine in their search for Truth. I have learned the tragedy of taking the Eucharist for granted, and I have learned the indescribable joy in meeting Jesus Christ again in that Most Blessed Sacrament.
It is my hope that this blog will be a way for everyone to learn the true teachings of the Catholic Church. I hope that everyone will discover ways to bring family and friends who left the Church back into the fold. I hope this blog becomes a way for anyone who is away from the Church to find a way to at least re-connect with their heritage.
God Bless You!