Keeping God (by Carley Evans)

Driving by Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, I speak — to those in the car with me — of the blessed sacrament displayed in an antechamber to the right of the sanctuary, of how the ‘host’ is never left alone, because Jesus is believed — by many — to be present wholly in the wafer displayed in a gold circle on an intricately carved stand — this wafer having been blessed by a priest and so transformed from bread to body of Christ. And of course, as the actual body of Christ, the ‘host’ may not be left alone because God can’t be left alone in a gold circle on a stand unless the wafer is locked away in a cabinet behind the altar. Volunteers, therefore, sit with the ‘host’ usually for an hour at a time 24/7. I’ve kept watch — yes, as a non-Roman Catholic — while others, usually women, come into the antechamber and fall onto the floor before the ‘host’ to cry or pray or worship the God kept there.

If you are not Roman Catholic and have not been to high mass, then you may not realize the intricacies — the complications of the wafer and the wine becoming the actual body and blood of our Lord. The priest must wipe the chalice of all traces of the wine become blood — the wafer crumbs which are now flesh must be gathered together to be consumed by the priest. Any trace of Jesus must be taken care of, so to speak.

If in your mind, this sounds somewhat ridiculous and even a bit cannibalistic, it is!

However, today as we drive by, I also imagine — quite suddenly — how confining for God to be kept locked in a small cabinet in an antechamber of a building, even a building dedicated to Him. How disturbing to be kept for people to visit for a few minutes or a few hours. And, in my mind, I hear God say, “Sorry you guys, I gotta get outta here!”

God makes tracks! He is never confined.

Dragging Each Other To Hell

I’ve heard an urban legend that Martin Luther recanted on his deathbed and asked for last rites, so that he died a good Catholic. I’ve heard an urban legend that because he did not, in fact, recant he was seized by demons and dragged in agony to hell as a bad Protestant. What a contrast. Either he repented at that last possible moment and was ushered back into the true Christian Church under the earthly authority of the Pope, the Vicar of Christ or he was dragged off to hell — at least in the minds of Vatican I strict Roman Catholics.

How odd, to me, that persons who profess the same Lord and Savior have such evil thoughts regarding one another. One group claims if you refuse to attend to the Pope as the one and only representative of Christ on earth, then you are condemned. Another group claims that if you recognize an authority other than Christ’s, then you are condemned. After all, the papacy is the anti-Christ. Down to the wire, the Pope’s either the Vicar of Christ or he’s the Anti-Christ.

I grew up in the Protestant church, in several denominations. I’ve attended Roman Catholic masses, and committed the unthinkable (for many Catholics, that is and probably for some Protestants) — I’ve received the Eucharist. I’ve recognized the body of Christ in some churches; in other churches, I’ve accepted that the emblems only become the body of Christ within my own body, and in others I’ve agreed that these are just symbols of Christ’s sacrifice. Honestly, the Eucharist is the only time “communion” makes an emotional impact, even as I reject the words “accept this sacrifice at our hands” which makes no scriptural sense to me. The least effective “communion” is self-serve. Go up, take the little piece of bread, dip it in the grape juice, take it without a thought in your head and walk back to your seat. Too fast, too slick, rather pathetic for me, anyway. Like going to McDonald’s for a Jesus Happy Meal.

I probably seem a bit like the women Paul condemns — those tossed about on the winds of various doctrines. However, if you listen to Protestants speak of our Lord and then listen to Roman Catholics speak of our Lord and you do not know which person is of which belief system, you likely would not know which one — in your opinion — should be dragged off to hell on his deathbed.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the power, the glory and the kingdom forever. Amen.

Full of Grace

At breakfast today in a local cafe, I was glancing at the magazine ART and ARCHITECTURE, looking over beautiful images of Mary, the mother of Jesus, from a book entitled, at least in part, “FULL OF GRACE.”

In Scripture,”full of grace and truth” are descriptors of “the Word” who “is made flesh, and dwells among us.” He is the “only begotten of the Father.” (John 1:14, KJV) “Highly favored” and “blessed among women” are descriptors God — speaking through the angel Gabriel — uses of Mary, the mother of Jesus. (Luke 1:28)

The Word of God is made flesh within the body of the most blessed, favored woman of all time, Mary. She is possibly only thirteen when God the Holy Spirit “comes upon” and “overshadows” her so “that holy thing which is born of [her] is called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

Therefore, when Roman Catholics pray “Hail Mary, full of grace, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus;” these Christians are — perhaps unwittingly — stating that the grace, with which Mary is filled, is indeed the Son of God. This grace is not hers; she is not full of her own grace. Rather Mary is full of God’s grace for she is full of God Himself.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for overshadowing Mary and filling her with Your grace so that the fruit of her womb became our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May we worship You, and You alone. In Jesus’ Name, amen.