Friday, April 15, 2011

Communion: Could Transubstantiation be in Play?

I remember the first time I went to the altar of Lutheran Communion with my mother and sister. I was ten my sister was five. I think we were made to go to the front because my sister and I were misbehaving, therefore we could not be left in the pew to our own devices. As we knelt at the alter/communion rail with the wine and wafer before us, I remember my sister saying, “MmMm, smells like grape juice”- to which I started laughing uncontrollably, (to this day I don't know why?) My mom countered my ill timed laughter with her patented pain-maneuver which consisted of her digging her stiletto-like fingernails into the soft flesh of my upper arm, all while maintaining a glorious smile on her face. This was all accomplished with the speed and silence of a ninja assassin. I must say, nothing will stop a wayward child in mid-cackle faster than the searing pain of acrylic knives piercing their young tender flesh. Holy, Holy, Holy-crap that hurts!...well played mother.

Over the years I gradually came to understand what communion was, though I really did not see what all the to-do was about? I supposed I would have learned more as a teenager had I not been booted out of confirmation, but such was not to be. (you can read about that here if you missed it)

As an adult Christian, I have taken a lot of time to study the scriptures regarding communion. Now I’m not going to show all the scriptures in their entirety, but you can look them up: Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17. I know we observe communion because the Lord Jesus Christ told us to. I also know that we do this in remembrance for all the things HE did for us. It is also a time for examining ourselves, as well as proclaiming His death until HE comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). That being said, is this the full extent of communion…or is there something more?

Let me explain:

My wife was born and raised Catholic; as a matter of fact, she was a model Catholic. She was to Catholicism everything I wasn’t to Lutheranism (which is saying a lot!) While we were dating I decided to tag along with her to a few Catholic Masses. I found that I enjoyed the structure and discovered the Mass to be biblically sound. I sang the songs, kneeled  for the prayers, and had an over-all pleasant experience. However, one thing I did not participate in was the Holy Communion (Eucharist). In the Christian School I attended growing up they equated the Catholic Eucharist with the black mass of Satan. So not wanting to trespass on the Catholic prerequisites, or confront my past indoctrination, I elected to pass on the wine and host. Now after about five or six services I was beginning to feel a bit tired and extremely awkward about just sitting in the pew while everyone else went up. I felt like everyone else was able participate in the big game while I was left in the basement listening to the broadcast on a transistor radio! Finally I told my then girlfriend, “screw it! Next Mass I’m going up to get my treats too!” She said that was fine with her. She knew that I had a firm biblical grasp on Communion; she also knew that I understood the Catholic belief/doctrine of Transubstantiation…Therefore she was not worried about my eternal soul, or the church roof falling in on me as a consequence of my insolence and ignorance. 

The next weeks Mass, before communion, I prepared myself like always: I confessed my sins, and examined myself via the Holy Spirit to expose any grievances or impurities. When the time came for my row to be called, I got into line with all the other Catholic parishioners. I must confess I was a bit nervous. I felt like I was walking through the airport metal detector carrying a shiv, thus, I was half expecting a Catholic-Poser-alarm to sound and be tackled by some secret division of the Vatican! Hey, I seen the Da Vinci Code…some of those can guys play rough! But to my surprise no alarm bells, or buzzers went off and eventually found myself standing before the priest who was dispensing the Body of Christ. Over the past six weeks I had gotten pretty good at the Catholic protocol, so I placed my overlapping hands out and the Host was placed therein. I then praised the Lord for His sacrifice and put it in my mouth. Immediately after biting down I felt a strange, powerful sensation…however, there was no time for reflection because I still had the wine/blood to partake of and there were 50+ people behind me waiting to get their goodies. I then stepped up to the Cup, where the priest said “The blood of Christ”. After I took a drink for the cup I felt an overwhelming sense of warmth and absolute love. This feeling was so strong I almost forgot where I was! and it took everything I had to make the trek back to the kneeler. By the grace of God I did finally get back without falling flat on my face, or plopping down in the wrong row. Once prostrate, I thanked the Lord for His blessings and mercy and thought-WOW! Since then I have probably taken Catholic Communion 9 or 10 times…and every time I have a similar, albeit not as intense, experiences. I have also taken many Communions at other non-Catholic churches, but without near as much fervor. I understand that I take Communion as an act of obedience...but some things cannot be ignored.

So in closing:

Do you think there is something to Transubstantiation? Could it be a mystery of faith that the Protestant church is ignoring? Do you think it is sacrilege? Let me know…