No, this isn't the Feast of Corpus Christi, but I’d like to chime in on a discussion. I want to respond to Elizabeth Scalia’s (The Anchoress, Patheos.com) challenge to present a cyberspace cloud of witnesses all answering one question: Why do I remain Catholic?
So here it is: Why do I remain Catholic?
The short answer is simple: the Eucharist. The long answer is connected to the short answer: because there’s nowhere else to go and nothing else in this life that I desire more.
Though raised Catholic, I came to a personal relationship with Christ in an evangelical Christian church in New Orleans when I was twenty-three years old. The invitation and subsequent decision to give my life to Christ was a total game-changer for me—one that radically altered the trajectory of my life. I am exceedingly grateful for the clear, concise call to conversion I received in that little evangelical church. I still maintain that we Catholics could learn a lot from our separated brethren about pure-D evangelization.
However…and there is a “however”… two church splits and an ego-showdown between pastors left me wandering around looking for a “church home.” Though I won’t tell the whole story now, suffice it to say that Our Lady grabbed hold of me and led me back to the Catholic Church, back to the family table. By the grace of God, I believed and was convinced that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, and there was only one thing left to do. To walk headlong with mouth and heart open to receive bread from heaven—real, living bread—His flesh for my life and the life of the world.
As an evangelical Christian, I had hung on each word that came forth from the mouth of my pastor as though my life depended on it. His sermons were my sustenance, and I gathered like a bird to its mother, wanting to feed right from its mouth. A good sermon? I’d been “fed,” and I’d come back for another. But as the division in our little church increased, the sermons withered, and I was hungry for something more.
I returned to the Catholic Church, no longer lost, but famished, thirsty, wounded. Christ nourished me with His flesh, slaked my thirst with living blood, and gave Himself over to me. Asking no money, no tithes, no payment, He came inside me, closer than I am to myself. For twenty-six years, I’ve consumed Him lavishly and freely, and I still can’t contain the awe.
I don’t pretend to understand the mystery of the Eucharist; I can hardly scratch its sublime surface. But this much I know: I’ve tasted real food and real drink, flesh and blood poured into me right from the Cross, and there is no turning back. I’ve departed the cult of the sermon and arrived at the heavenly feast. It’s a feast to which, while dim shadows exist, there is no counterpart on earth.
Christ feeds me, feeds us, His body formed and extended in time and space. His flesh is true food, His blood true drink; it is the life of the world.