As a priest, I find extreme joy and peace in the celebration of the Eucharist. I truly feel the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through me. It transports me to a different level. I just feel different; I feel the Holy Spirit come upon me and transport me; part of me is here and the other part is there before the throne of God. Words really cannot explain it without sounding like a total whack-job nut case! (no comments from the “peanut gallery”…)
Having grown up in a liberal protestant church, I had no conception of transubstantiation. The church that I grew up in used cubes of white bread for communion. As a child, I knew however that little cube of bread was something very special. Because it was on a silver plate in church, it somehow was not “just bread”. We were taught that the communion elements represented the body and blood of Christ, but no mysterious change in substance happened. It was a simple remembrance. I however still felt that that simple bread cube was something more, something special.
As I got older, I came to the realization that other faiths viewed that bread differently. I learned that it was through something called transubstantiation, that mysteriously the bread was transformed into something special. I had the answer to my question: “Why is that simple cube of bread on the silver plate different from any other cube of bread?” It was the Body of Christ!! I knew it was not just a cube of bread. I would always pray and meditate with that cube of bread in my hand waiting for all to receive one (as was the custom in that church).
I remember one Sunday when my prayers were interrupted. It so happened, that on that particular Sunday, they did not use the usual white bread, but rather cracked wheat bread. A friend of mine, not a regular churchgoer at the time, accompanied my mother and I to church. He commented to my mother about the “cube of bread”, “It has bones in it”. My mother, who was sitting between us gave a muffled chuckle (that darn near shook the pew). I flashed them a nasty glance but could not hold back my amusement at my friend’s comment. To this day, I remind him about it and am glad that we use wafers!
The solemn Sacrament of the Eucharist brings us closer to God. Through the workings of the Holy Spirit, we are brought, in our hearts and minds, to that place where all are equal. We are brought before the throne of God. We partake of the body and blood of the Christ and are ourselves transformed.
So, back to my main point. Question: When is a cube of bread not a cube of bread? Answer: When, through the great mystery and the workings of the Holy Spirit, it becomes the Body of Christ, the vehicle of our salvation.