Say one for me

I was talking to an older woman recently about her experience of being a Catholic. She told me that she was a ‘convert’ and had come into the Church soon after she married her Catholic husband. She still practises her faith, while her husband has become content to watch her head off to Mass alone each Sunday. As she heads out the door he says laconically: “Say one for me”.

She can’t explain why she keeps coming along. The liturgies in her parish aren’t great and the parish community, although friendly enough, isn’t effusive in its welcome and support. Her reasons go deeper than that. In her early years she discovered the wonder of being invited by God into an intimate relationship with God. She decided to take seriously Jesus’ promise to feed her with his Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

She wonders about the almighty and eternal God, who can be so enormous as to defy comprehension, while at the same time so small that he can fit in her hand. How can God be at once so beyond us and so accessible, she wonders.

She doesn’t really know how this happens. She can’t explain how the bread and wine becomes Jesus’ Body and Blood. Big words like ‘transubstantiation’ mean nothing to her. All she knows is what she has experienced: that she finds herself deeply nourished when she participates in the Sacrament. After every Communion she sits with God as part of the community to which she belongs, aware that she needs God’s love and mercy. She quietly and thankfully receives the gift that Jesus died to give her. She knows that not every Catholic takes ‘the Body and Blood of Christ’ literally anymore, but she does. “If anyone can make it real,” she says, “God can”.

In my work of faith formation in this Archdiocese, I often find myself learning from the women and men whose paths cross mine. I know how to talk the talk but I often find myself rendered silent by those whose faith goes beyond words. I too find myself asking them to “Say one for me”.