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Why Did I Become Catholic? Because That’s Where the Eucharist Is

Why Did I Become Catholic? Because That’s Where the Eucharist Is

Priests prepare for the funeral Mass of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Jan. 5, 2023, in St. Peter’s Square. (photo: Franco Origlia / Getty Images)

 

Nearly all Protestant converts testify to the power of the Holy Eucharist in their conversion stories.

In my attempt to disprove Catholicism, I had only proved it to myself. My wife and I were members of an evangelical “non-denominational” church, and I was working at a Protestant high school. I knew that I would not be able to continue working at the school if I joined the Catholic Church. So, I remember sitting in church one week and thinking to myself, “I can be Catholic in theology and just still attend this Protestant church.”

Thankfully, that thought, a really dumb one, was recognized for its imbecility. I realized that it made no sense to believe the teachings of the Catholic Church and yet not worship at the Mass. If I believed that the Church’s teaching was true, then I believed that the Eucharist truly was the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. And if I believed that, then why would I allow anything to keep me from the Eucharist?

Now I am a Catholic.

It was the Eucharist that pulled me into the Catholic Church, something no amount of apologetics, history, evidence, Scripture or anything else could do, because the Eucharist is a physical thing — Christ on the cross and rising from the dead, drawing all men to himself. Scholarship can convince the intellect, but it takes a physical force to move a physical body. The Eucharist is a concrete object that pulls unceasingly on all those who see the Host for what it truly is — rather, for who it truly is.

I know that my story is not unique. Nearly all Protestant converts testify to the power of the Eucharist in their conversion stories. First, we come to recognize that we had been reading certain passages of Scripture through a lens, or else we were just ignoring them. In particular, Christ’s words at the Last Supper, Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel, and a few passages from St. Paul. Then we learn about the true meaning of those words. Usually, through reading the Church Fathers, we find out that Christians have always believed in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and then we desire earnestly to receive him.

In other words, we experience in ourselves a Eucharistic revival. The flood of converts to Catholicism is a revival of its own, and it appears to have been going on for decades.

The Catholic Church is currently in a year of Eucharistic revival, and I would dare to say that we former Protestants have some insight from experience of what a revival looks like, at least at the level of one’s heart. This is not to say that we all necessarily know the full depth of the meaning, the beauty, the goodness, the passion and the love of the Eucharist. I think I can safely say that part of our revival consists in recognizing that we can never know the mysteries of the Eucharist fully, because that would be to know the heart of Jesus completely.

And revival is not ultimately about knowledge, but knowledge is a place where a personal revival can begin. We former Protestants were drawn to the Eucharist magnetically because we came to believe that Jesus was truly present, but not only because we came to believe it. For example, I could have remained Catholic in my theology and remained outside the Church, but that knowledge combined with a sincere desire to encounter Christ is what drew me in.

We want to be close to Jesus; we want to be in his presence; we want him to show himself to us; we want him to see us; we want the concrete experience of looking at him; we want to participate in his divine life; we want to worship him rightly; we want to see his love. All of that would be more than enough, much more than members of a fallen race could even dare to ask for. But then, above and beyond our wildest hopes, Jesus wants all of this for us, as well, and he wants us to consume him, to eat his Flesh and drink his Blood.

Not every one of us former Protestants has experienced this personal Eucharistic revival in the same way, but we have all experienced it in some way. We have recognized that what is too good to be true is in fact true, and, having found the pearl of great price, we are willing to exchange everything, including for some of us our jobs, for the One Thing: Jesus.

 

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