Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Sunday, Waterfalls, and Revelation

Well, yesterday was very emotional, to say the least. My father had come up for a visit, mainly to be a witness for the convalidation of my marriage. This past week was a roller-coaster of a ride as I went from thinking it could happen in time for me to receive the Holy Eucharist on Easter Sunday to being doubtful. My amazing pastor is just, well, amazing. This all happened during the busiest week of the liturgical year and yet he made it happen.

I spoke to him on Maundy Thursday to ask about the status. He told me he was waiting to hear from another pastor on the issue regarding the details. He assured me he would call on Friday. On Friday, I was home most of the day but needed to run to the grocery store. Of course he called when I was out. (smiling) After I returned home, I called him. He told me to come the next day to fill out the paperwork and we planned on having the marriage blessed on Saturday.

Except it was Holy Saturday, which meant that no sacraments were celebrated until after the Easter Vigil. Which foretold a very long night! (The Easter Vigil service began at 8:45 PM and usually lasted two hours.) So, at this point I had my father visiting and we were planning on attending the TLM the next morning at 9:00 AM. I mentally did the math. If we waited until after the service, we were looking at not having the marriage blessed until about 11:00 PM. Yowza!

My father agreed to do whatever it took and my husband, the same. Fr. L said he would check on the possibility of doing it beforehand and I expressed my gratitude. Later in the day, around 2:30 PM, the phone rang. It was my pastor who said he had "even better news" for me. It turned out our Bishop had released a retroactive blessing to the marriage, making it valid even from the very day I married! I was stunned! Not only that, it was not necessary for my husband, myself, and my father to travel to my pastor's office to have it blessed in person. It was done! Fr. L then informed me I was free to receive the Holy Eucharist the next day during the Easter service and I was to make sure I received it from him. (At times he has an assistant distribute communion but it turned out he was the only one on Easter Sunday at the Traditional Latin Mass.)

My father and I arrived at Holy Family at 8:50 AM. The church was gorgeous. The purple coverings, draped across all the statues and the life-sized crucifix were now gone. Flowers filled every spare area around the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph statues. Pink and deep pink flowers decorated the altar. There was a statue of St. Gabriel (I think) blowing the horn toward the direction of a miniature tomb, that had the stone rolled away and a small statue of our risen Lord.  Flowers draped from the tops of the pillars and the sun was streaming through the stained-glass windows.

The choir started to sing a joyous song and I gave thanks to God for all the wonderful events that made this day possible. Within a few minutes, the choir started to sing another song as the processional began. The melody was inspiring, full of exaltation. I felt my eyes well up a little with tears as I meditated upon Jesus' victorious battle with sin and death. Life won! And we were rejoicing.

The Mass went along beautifully. Finally, it was time for communion. I rose from the pew and along with my father, made our way to the communion rail. As I knelt and leaned on the rail, I again prayed with thanksgiving. Fr. L made his way to our area and I looked up with a big smile on my face and he smiled in return. I received our Lord and made my way back to the pew.

I knew I would be feeling something but truly didn't think I'd cry that much. I was just filled with joy. But then as I knelt and again thought of my journey, I started to tear up. Before I knew it, I was crying, and then, actually sobbing. Embarrassed? Yes, a little, simply because I don't like crying nor making a spectacle of myself, but I couldn't help it. I was just overwhelmed by God's grace. My father placed an arm around me and gave me a little hug. I whispered to him that I was alright and sniffled a little into a tissue I had brought. (Just in case. Good thing, eh?)

As I knelt and continued to reflect upon the Eucharist, I had a revelation. It suddenly dawned on me why there is such a battle over believing if the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. It is one of the most solemn things we do as Christians, partaking of the Holy Eucharist. Why? Because when we really believe in it - truly believe this is Christ that we are consuming and that He is filling our very being - everything changes. 

How much more are we committed to avoid sin at all costs? If we partake of the Body of Christ, do we want to ruin it by our own selfishness and insensitivity? Do we then live according to our own pleasure? Or do we remember Who it is that we were entwined, bonded, and joined together with during Mass? This partaking of the Holy Eucharist makes a huge difference in our lives and convicts us as well as nourishes us. We offer our lives up as a sacrifice and Jesus Christ, who sacrificed all for our sake, has assured us that He will help us lead holy lives as we continue to eat His flesh and drink His blood.

That is why there is a battle over transubstantiation. 

The enemy knows that once a Christian really understand it, he is lifted to a higher place, transformed and filled with God's grace and truth. That is a place the enemy cannot afford to have a believer to be. Because once a believer is in that place, all bets are off. The believer is then focused totally on Christ and all else fades away.

So. That revelation was a part of the reason I was sobbing. I cried for all the years I had believed it was "just bread" and that we were just "symbolically remembering" what Christ had done at the Last Supper. And my heart broke a little at the thought of so many other Catholics who had diminished the understanding of this very sacred and profound sacrament. But then I rejoiced quickly that God gave me this revelation, had placed it deep in my heart like a crown of gold and that finally, I understood. I wanted to understand for so long, but never did until the moment I received the Eucharist again.

My brother was amazed that I refrained from taking communion and wondered why I didn't go up in Mass to receive. I told him there were rules for our benefit and I was going to submit to them. What I didn't say to him was this: The attitude of "doing whatever one pleases" and basically telling canon law to take a hike is indicative of the selfish spirit that so plagues the world. Who am I to obey? My selfish heart or the wisdom of God? I'm not the one in charge. God is. And I've begun to trust again the Magisterium, knowing there is a reason and purpose for all things.

I do hope to share with my brother someday the revelations that the Lord has been showing me, but I need to wait until the Holy Spirit opens his heart. As joyful and passionate as I am becoming about such things, I know all too well that not everyone is in the same place, nor would they appreciate the lessons I've been learning. In time, perhaps.

So, that was my very eventful day! My father remarked afterward that he had never been to a Mass like that one. He couldn't believe how reverent the young boys were as they served. The choir sounded glorious and the church was filled with joyous people. He loved Fr. L (who doesn't?!) and I introduced them afterward. We also met a few other of my friends before heading home for an Easter lunch of slow-cooked ham, green beans, potatoes, salad and biscuits. The day was just perfect.

Another thank you to those of you who prayed for me, and sent me warm wishes and blessings. May God bless you richly upon your own spiritual journey. He is risen, indeed!


Chris said...

Mary Rose I am so happy for you- your story brought a smile to my face this morning!
You have absolutely hit the nail on the head- it's the Real Presence, and basically the entirety of our faith hinges on whether or not we believe that. It is the source and summit- without it we are not Catholic. I tend to worry about friends & family who don't take it seriously- I don't understand how you could NOT--- and I also regret the yeares that I treated the Eucharist so casually. How many hundreds of "lukewarm communions" have I made!
One of the things I learned at the Miles Christi retreat last month was that the devil likes to strike with temptations right before communion, because he hates it so much. He doesn't want you to be intimately united to God. The priest at the retreat encouraged us to make a point of expressing to God, right before we receive the Eucharist, our deep love for him and our ardent desire to receive Him. It makes a huge difference!
OK, I'll stop hogging your combox now. ;D

Shirley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shirley said...

(Wiping away tears) What a beautiful post, Mary Rose. I thought something profound like that would happen for you, and
I'm so glad it did.

Rachel said...

That was an awesome post to read! I totally understand what you say here:

"How much more are we committed to avoid sin at all costs?... The enemy knows that once a Christian really understand it, he is lifted to a higher place, transformed and filled with God's grace and truth."

That was my experience also when I joined the Catholic Church after being Protestant all my life. The stakes are higher; sin is worse, and the possibility of union with God is much more real and amazing. There's a lot more motivation to be holy and a lot more help to become so.

Redtabby said...

I am so happy for you, Mary Rose. And your husband must be a very fine man indeed to have been willing to obtain the annulment. I hope he will be drawn into the Church one day.

X said...

Your mom is smiling down from heaven! Her girl is Home!I am sure her intercession with Jesus and Mary was instrumental in bringing you to this day. God bless you!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Mary Rose! May Jesus be praised and glorified forever...I saw you Easter Sunday with your were beaming!! In the hustle and bustle of the morning I missed seeing you after Mass and had wondered whether the convalidation had been possible. Praise God for dear Father!! Isn't he amazing? Rest assured that all of Heaven was present for this exquisite event...such jubilation and excitement! What a witness to faith you've been and your telling, here, is so perfect. How I wish it were reading for all those struggling through a similar situation. You have carried yourself with grace, dignity and humility and have made at least three Fathers (your God, your dad, our pastor) extremely proud!

I'm proud of you too...and thrilled to welcome you back to the rail, sister! Thank you for sharing this beautiful, beautiful story...

Larry Denninger said...

Rose - what a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing it.

And Happy Easter season!!