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Almost Baptist to Returned Catholic
- His Real Presence Saved Me.
I think many of us have difficulty relating to the "REAL Presence", especially in the world of today. Man is so used to thinking he can do all be all and God is just out there somewhere...like a little erran boy...if we think we need him.
For those who take Jesus at his word..."I shall be with you always...even unto the end of the age," it flows quite naturally that Christs words at the last supper were literal. Also, when one studies the scriptures it becomes quite clear. All of that said; it still takes a lot of faith and trust which only God can give to some of us. I say that, because I didn't believe it and was happily on my way to becoming Baptist...when Jesus decided to set me straight. I suppose his mercy extends to even those who are quite ignorant but sincerely seek to do his will.
In 1986, I attended a candle lighting service with my husband at his Baptist church, a few days before Christmas. I was seriously considering becoming Baptist because I had no understanding of my Catholic faith and my husband was solid Baptist. My catholic family were pretty much by rote..all show with rubics and outside of church you couldn't tell them from the general populace. Although my father was devout, he never spoke about his faith so I did not pick up much knowledge there. My mothers personality was all rules, rubics and no love of Christ or others, so again...I learned nothing.
As this night in the the Baptist church just happened to be one of the rare occassions where they celebrated what they term "The Lords Supper," my husband reminded me that (a) It was a symbol & (b) I could not partake until I became Baptist. That was fine with me of course because I had long ago forgotten anyone mentioning Christs Real Presence in the Eucharist. As luck would have it, the ushers passed the plate of little symbolic bread across from the left...the side I was on, and as the man next to me prepared to hand it off to me, the plate literally flew out of my hands...into the air and my husband scrambled to catch it. Just as he caught the plate, the little cubes of bread floated down like feathers back into the plate. Needless to say, I was so embarrassed I wanted to crawl under the pew. We were all stunned at this strange display because it was so sureal and seemed to happen in slow motion. It suddenly struck me that I should attend one last nostalgic midnight mass just to be certain that I should be Baptist. I was pretty sure...but just could not shake the inner call of one last time receiving the communion in the Catholic church.
The following Saturday was Christmas Eve and from childhood memories I knew they always had confession on Sat....So off to confession I went. As I entered the church there was no one around but a workman putting up decorations. I could not figure out where the confessional was and he evidently saw my confusion. He asked if he could help me and I explained I was there for confession. Needless to say, he gave me a very strange look. He replied; "We had general confessions last Tues.!"...and I knew I must have seemed quite purplexed as he continued. We don't do confession on a regular one on one basis during holidays anymore. OOOPS! Sorry I said, I'll just be going, thanks so much for your help! I turned to leave as fast as I could hoping the whole thing could just be forgotten and I'd get on with becoming a Baptist.
As I rushed toward the side door on my way out I ran smack into another workman. BOOM! He grabed my arm to keep me from falling and said: "Can I help you?" I replied in my embarassement..."Oh! No, I was just leaving, I thought they had confessions on Sat., I'll just be on my way." At that, out of his back pocket came the ole Roman collar and he said; "Come on, I'm Father Mike," and lead me to the confessional. As I was well and truly stuck I just stated the facts to get it over with and be on my merry way. I told Father, "Bless me Father, I came to have one last mid-night mass before becoming a Baptist. I forgot how to say confession but I just wanted to do the right thing as I remember from childhood, so I could receive the communion hosts." Father, was silent for what seemed an eternity, then he began to chuckle and led me through my confession. As he absolved me he said, "We are glad to have you here for one last mass, we hope you will stay though, God Bless You." Whew! With that experience out of the way I felt truly ready to proceed with my last visit to mid-night mass and on to becoming a Baptist.
That night at the mass, I was filled with such peace. The beauty of the mass seemed more alive, the liturgy so loving and so as I joined the communion line feeling quite secure in my decision to leave the catholic church. I truly felt God was blessing my sincere seeking of his will, and telling me it was OK to be a Baptist. All the way toward the front, I concentrated on how to receive...things had changed alot since 1965 and I was busy listening and learning the seemingly New Rubics. OK! I thought, that looks easy, place one hand on the other, say Amen to whatever the priest is saying to you. Take the host, eat and off I go...No problem!
Well, as I placed my cupped hands to receive the host...Suddenly it felt as though it weighed 150#'s or more. I hit the floor on my knees trying not to drop it. Again, I was so embarassed and confused I wanted to disappear...until that is I heard that Still small voice say to me, "It is I, your Jesus. I was not in the Lords Supper. I am here, Welcome Home!"
Yes, Jesus is truly Present in the Eucharist. I do not hear him, see him or have unusual experiences any more. Only once, but that was Gods mercy, seeking his lost sheep. Like all of us who receive Jesus, I walk by faith and not by sight...but I know that he is Real and he cares for each of us so very much.
Please thank Christine for sharing this insightful and moving story about her rediscovery of Christ in the Eucharist. Alleluia!
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