Monday, February 9, 2015

When God Speaks My Love Language

Readers, I have a confession to make. 

I have an addiction. 

An addiction…

To adoration!!

That was awful. I'll never joke again. So, on to all seriousness: Eucharistic Adoration is probably my favorite thing in the whole world. It wasn't always, though. As a kid, I remember being dragged along to Adoration and feeling that it was the most boring thing anyone could possibly do. I didn't actually believe in the Real Presence back then. I couldn't tell that Jesus was there using my senses, so I couldn't really believe. Why would someone spend an hour in silence staring at a piece of bread, when she could be out climbing trees or playing kickball? 

That attitude got worse as I grew older. Due to some awful family problems when I was a young teen, I had all but lost my faith by the time I was fourteen. I didn't know if God existed, and I honestly didn't care — for all I could tell, He was distant and cold, and didn't care abut me, either. I didn't know how anyone could have faith in Someone that was unseen, untouchable, and silent. God's love was an abstraction. I stopped receiving Communion, which was, in retrospect, a terrible idea, since that meant abandoning the one physical link to God that I had. As a person whose love language is physical touch, I didn't feel loved by our spiritual God at all, so I assumed that if He were real, He just didn't love me. 

That all changed in March of 2011, when I (with the totally noble intention of proving to my crush how Catholic I was because he was into that stuff) went on a retreat with a local Catholic youth group. The time for Eucharistic Adoration came along, and I was prepared to be bored out of my mind for an hour, but I had a profound experience of the Real Presence instead. I saw a man's face in front of the monstrance, crystal clear and in all three dimensions. I was later able to compare the face to a painting of Christ that a girl made when she died for a few minutes and claimed to have visited Heaven. To my surprise (though probably not to anyone else's) it was the exact same face! It was my Saint Thomas moment: I finally believed because I had seen for myself that Christ was truly there, and I could call Him my Lord and my God.

That moment was a catalyst for me, and I started voraciously reading everything about the Eucharist that I could get my hands on. I took on a monthly Holy Hour and learned to love the Mass, especially Consecration and Communion. Receiving Communion was like getting a hug from God, a special time when I knew He loved me so much that He'd become man, then become bread, just to be physically present with me. I might not have known how or why Jesus was present in the bread and wine at Mass, but I knew He was. For the first time in years, I felt grounded and loved. The Eucharist quickly became my center; no matter how good or how bad I was feeling, I was able to take it to the Eucharist and just talk to Jesus about everything, now that I knew He was really listening. My entire life, everything I felt and saw and thought and did, became like the rays of a monstrance: shooting out from the center point of the Eucharist. I was peaceful and joyful, living out the words of Saint Peter Julian Eymard when he said, "Happy is the soul that knows how to find Jesus in the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in all things!" 

And there's nothing happier than happy Catholics.
A lot of people feel distant from God these days, and that's heartbreaking. Not to bash anyone, but I honestly don't know how non-Catholics survive without the physical, tangible presence of God in the Eucharist. All of our love languages are present there: He is physically touching us in Communion, speaking words of love through the Bible, serving us through His sacrifice on the Cross, giving us the gift of His body, and spending time with us when we just sit there together. It's one of the greatest things about being part of a universal Church — the Eucharist appeals to us universally, no matter who we are. The spiritually omnipresent God becomes physically present on the altars of every Church, ready to meet us and love us. All we have to do to claim that is visit Him there.


"We all know that Jesus is everywhere. But isn't it nice to know that he is somewhere?"
—Charles Alfred Voegeli, Episcopal Bishop of Haiti, 1943-1971

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