By BRENDA HOPF
CONNECTING FAITH AND LIFE
One weekday evening during Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction at our parish, something happened that really took me off guard. As we sang the hymn we always sing as we begin adoration, “Down in Adoration Falling,” I was barely paying attention to the words coming out of my mouth as I half-heartedly mumbled the first five lines. What happened as I finished the sixth line of that first verse is hard to describe. It was like time stopped and I could not get past the words, “When our human senses fail.”
I sat there staring at that line as I heard everyone else singing the next verse. I was stunned by what just happened. Jesus certainly had my attention!
As church became silent, I focused on that line and I looked at the preceding line to see if I could figure out what this all meant. It said, “Faith will tell us Christ is present.” It made sense as I put those two lines together: “Faith will tell us Christ is present, when our human senses fail.” Only through faith can we come to believe that a wafer of unleavened bread can and does become the Body and Blood of Christ.
Even though this made sense to me, I found myself continuing to question. Yes, faith will tell us Christ is present; but where does that faith come from, and on what is that faith based? What is missing for so many who no longer, or never did, believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?
I began by looking deep into my heart and asking myself, where did my faith start? What was its source? Where did it come from? And how did it change and grow to become what it is today? It began as a gift from God shared with me at baptism when I was just an infant. Over the years, it was nurtured and sustained by the witness of my parents, grandparents, former teachers, former pastors and so many others.
As I have grown older, while continuing to rely on the witness and support of others, I have been called to assume greater and greater personal responsibility for the nourishment and growth of my faith. Scripture has certainly helped me with faith in the Real Presence because it was Jesus himself who very clearly told us so as he blessed the bread, broke it and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.”
There are other scripture passages that could be quoted. I could cite thoughts and teachings from all kinds of theological sources. I could refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I could even share stories of the Eucharistic miracles and offer them as signs of proof; but faith is not a course in school that we study and then take a test – nor is it an investigation in which we put together pages of facts to support our case. How a wafer of bread becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus is a miracle, a mystery of our faith, a mystery that will never be satisfied by our human senses or solely by any of the proofs I mentioned above.
Faith is a mystery.
I honestly think many of us have lost our sense of mystery. Opening ourselves to a deeper sense of mystery is not easy. It takes time and effort – time and effort that, perhaps, some us are not willing to give. Some scorn the actions of the great doubter of Jesus’ time, Saint Thomas; but in my opinion, he is an excellent example to follow. When you doubt, get out there and question. Take the time and make the effort to dig into the mystery. Pray about it; then listen. You may just hear:
“Faith will tell us Christ is present, when our human senses fail.” Amen!
Brenda Hopf is a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Dubois County and also contributes to the “Sharing the Load” column in The Message.