A few years after I came into the Catholic Church in 2004, I discovered in my dusty NIV Bible something of a treasure -- a prayer I had scribbled inside the cover more than a decade earlier. I had written it just before the communion portion of the worship service. The prayer goes like this:
Make my heart your home.
With your love inside me,
I can never feel alone.
Fill each empty longing
With your love
and joyful peace.
Jesus, live inside me.
May you be found in me.
Of course, at the time I actually wrote these words, I viewed them as a metaphorical expression of my desire to be more like Jesus. I had no idea that God could or would answer this prayer in a literal way. But He did.
Today, Communion is no longer symbolic. I have tasted the Love, the utter Light of Jesus who transforms bread and wine into His very own Body and Blood. Regardless of what I see and taste, I know now without a doubt that He is not only with me. He is inside me.
In fact, the moment I realized what was happening amid all the "excessive ceremony" (as I perceived it during the first few masses I visited) was an expression of what Catholics believe. We kneel. We genuflect. We honor God physically present among us in the humble disguise of bread and wine. But until the moment I "got it", the liturgy seemed overdone.
But then it happened. The priest elevated the bread as he said the words of consecration, "This is my body." Wait a minute, I thought. If those words were actually true, I'd kneel and genuflect too. That's when it hit me. I believed in a God who was all-powerful. Why couldn't it be true? And why would Jesus say those words if it weren't true?
Everything I knew of Scripture only supported the truth that confronted me. As the Church, we are Christ's body and His bride. How does that happen? By allowing Him to enter our hearts, not just emotionally or spiritually, but physically, in order to transform us. And once inside us, He accompanies us and helps us know His Father's will, while still allowing us the freedom to choose God's will for ourselves in every circumstance of our lives. He fulfills our longing and unites himself to us intimately in an embrace of pure and absolute Love that burns from within and radiates from us to others in love of neighbor.
Now, I am able to remember God's mercy and grace every time I receive Christ during the celebration of the Eucharist. He heard and answered my prayer, and I remember and cherish the words of this prayer as I savour the sweetness of His Presence within.