I remember watching in awe as my mother and the other grown-ups took communion while I stood with my finger pressed to my lips as Father Hayes blessed me. I so desperately wanted to be a part of what I was being taught was a miraculous version of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, my savior. My Memaw had been reading and teaching me Bible stories for as long as I could remember, so as young as the age of five I knew what happened at the Last Supper, and I was amazed that this was still going on, in a way, after all these years. What I was certain of though, was what Memaw told me on a daily basis, “Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.” If I put even a tiny amount of faith into God’s ability to make that bread and wine become what Jesus said it would, his body and blood, simply by praying it was bound to happen. All Christian faiths teach the power of faith and prayer, so since Jesus told his disciples to do that in memory of him I found no dispute with what my church taught me.
On Sunday mornings when my Momma couldn’t make it to Mass, she put me on the church bus that took me to the local Baptist church. Though the foundations of the beliefs are the same, there were some obvious differences, one of which being communion. When my teenage years came my family was going through many difficult times. I went to many different churches with many different families. The church I attended the longest was an Assembly of God church, which is just about as far from the Catholic faith as another Christian church can be. I liked my youth group, I liked studying the Bible, and I liked being able to feel the Holy Spirit move through the congregation. I didn’t really give going back to the Catholic Church much thought. I knew there was a process to “becoming Catholic,” which I had never completed. I had never made my Confirmation into the Catholic faith, which I didn’t fully understand the necessity of. I simply knew that it seemed like a lot of work when I could just as easily go to church somewhere that accepted any person that filled out a card to be a member of their church. There was one problem, and it was a big one. The problem was, I simply did not like sitting through church. I was often bored, and when I wasn’t bored I was slightly annoyed at the dear preacher yelling at me from the pulpit.
As I grew older I went to different churches and felt the same thing: bored.
Now I can’t say that I didn’t hear many awesome preachers, whose sermons I took so much from. The problem wasn’t in the lack of the Protestant’s abilities. I couldn’t say, even now, what the problem is, but any time I attend Protestant church, I find myself missing something. There’s always something I’m left wanting, and it wasn’t until I was twenty-four that I realized what it was.
Two years out of college I still wasn’t exactly sure what career-path I wanted to take. Having an English degree I’d considered teaching, but had never been crazy about the idea. After substituting a bit a friend called with information about a position at a Catholic school. I was intrigued, but not Catholic or an actual teacher, which I was told was no problem. I went on the interview, and found out the next week the job was mine. I was elated and nervous and couldn’t wait to begin.
The first day of school came, and everyone attended mass. The moment the children began to sing the first hymn, my tears began to flow. As I watched the alter boys and girls lead the priests in, and watched the reverence of every child in the room I realized how special this faith is. There was no special church for children to attend separately, and more importantly they all seemed to have a purpose there. They’d been taught how to respond, when to sit and stand, and, of course, the miracle of communion. We attended Mass as a school each Friday, and each Friday for at least two months I had to hide my face so my students wouldn’t see my tears. It was the most beautiful, awesome thing I could imagine and God had put me there himself, I knew that much.
The events that led to my getting that job were no coincidence. I had returned to the church where God had always wanted me. I was home, and there was nothing boring about it. I looked forward to Mass every week, and began attending Mass at St. Dominic on weekends as well. My second year as a teacher I began RCIA classes. I learned more in depth about why Catholics believe what we believe, why communion is so sacred and special, and why being confirmed into the faith isn’t something that you decide to do in one church service. With the help of my sponsor, my priests, a special nun, my students, and the rest of my church family I made the commitment, and on April 12, 2009 I made my Confirmation and took my first Holy Communion.
The sacred bread and wine that through the prayer and fasting of others had become my savior’s flesh and blood became one with my soul. I felt the Holy Spirit enter me in a way that it never had before, and I knew I could never get bored with that.