Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It's good to know we're not alone

I just finished reading girl meets GOD by Lauren F. Winner. I had read several good reviews of it, and when I just *happened* to see it at the Free Book Swap at my Church last Sunday, I quickly snatched it up.

It was a pretty good book. I am always fascinated by conversion stories, and hers (Reformed Jew to Orthodox Jew to Anglican) sounded like a fascinating route. I wasn't disappointed. Her studies led her on an amazing journey and enabled her to see so many connections between Jewish beliefs and practices and Anglicanism (which is very similar to Catholicism).

I found several chapters to be especially encouraging. Her chapter on confession (remarkably read the day after I decided that more frequent confession was a step I needed to take) was timely and well-taken. I feel ill-equipped to explain exactly why the Sacrament of Confession is needed, but the graces received more than make up for that. I recall one time in particular that there was one sin that I confessed and repented of over and over again to the Lord (in my own private prayer time). The memory of it haunted me, and I just couldn't shake it; however, once I took it to Him in the Sacrament of Confession, its hold over me was broken. I have never been haunted by its memory again. She likewise found confession to be freeing and a source of incredible grace for her.

I also found her chapter on the Eucharist encouraging as I found out, once again, that I am not alone. At the beginning of the chapter she says that receiving the Eucharist is "the most important thing I do each week." Sounds remarkably like Pope John Paul II's words that the Eucharist is the "source and summit of our faith." Soon after, however, she confesses:

I have never, not once, felt anything at the Eucharist. Not a thing. I have never felt stirred, or joyful, or peaceful, or sad. I have never felt closeness. I have never felt God at the communion rail...

I keep hoping one day God will give me some feeling at communion. In the meantime, I figure He is helping me become something else. He is calling me to know Him in the Eucharist even though I don't feel Him there. He is calling me to a place where He is truer than everything else, truer even than how I feel.

I am so thankful to hear someone else say that! For years I cried out to the Lord to give me those wonderful "wash over me" sort of feelings concerning Catholicism, so that I would know it to be true. "Just give me some goosebumps, Lord, and then I'll believe in the Real Presence!"

What an idiot.

As if the truth depended on my feelings.

I finally realized I was being an idiot and came back to the Church, completely "goosebump-less." I missed the wonderful warm fuzzies I got at my old church, but I had to (in the words of C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity) go through the door that was true, not the one that I thought looked nicer or appealed to me more.

I learned years later that Blessed (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta never "felt" anything either -- no goosebumps, no wild rollercoaster rides of emotion before the Blessed Sacrament -- and yet she remained faithful.

I am not alone. I am not a third-class Catholic because of my lack of emotions. I *knew* that before, but it was such an encouragement to hear that again tonight!

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