I grew up Protestant, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know Jesus. I’ve always had a close and confiding relationship with Him.
At first, I took a fancy to Catholicism because most of my friends in college were Catholic and they introduced me to some beautiful forms of prayer and liturgical worship. I liked attending evening prayer and Mass with them because the goal of my life was to draw closer to Christ and any new method of doing that was a good thing to embrace in my book!
My college had an Adoration chapel and I often went there to pray, feeling a deep sense of peace in Christ’s presence. One Catholic friend explained Adoration to me this way: “When I pray outside of adoration, it feels like talking to Jesus on the phone. When I’m in front of the Eucharist, I’m talking to Him in person.”
Her words struck me deeply. I loved Jesus more than anything but I thought He could only be present to me in a spiritual sense. Could it be possible to encounter Him truly in this life? It sounded too good to be true, and it took another eight years or so of reading, prayer, and fellowship with Catholics for me to become convinced of it.
I finally decided to enter the Catholic Church last September, and after almost 10 years of considering Catholicism, I wanted to enter right away. But RCIA at my parish was a nine-month process. During that time, going to Mass was very painful. I hated awkwardly sitting in the pew while everyone else took Communion. I hated knowing that Christ was present in the room and not being able to receive Him. I went to Adoration for hours each week during the month of November. I did a holy hour every day.
When I’m in Adoration, I enjoy sitting in silence just looking at Jesus and asking Him what He wants to tell me that day and then writing it down in my journal. It’s amazing how long we can go–days, weeks, months–without experiencing total silence, and that silence is so important for clearing our minds and making them a place of receptivity to God’s word. In Adoration, I also list all my stresses, concerns, and hurts and imagine myself placing them on the altar in front of Jesus and Him gathering them in His arms. I also bring a prayer book or two along: I love praying Catholic prayers like the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and also prayers from other church traditions, such as Eastern Orthodox hymns and collects from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. I have a heart for ecumenism and these prayers are a way for me to offer Jesus worship on behalf of the entire Christian church and my Protestant family and friends.
While I was going through RCIA, Jesus often spoke straight to my heart in Adoration, and I knew that short of actually receiving the Eucharist, this was the closest I could get to Him in this life. People ask me why I became Catholic, and the short answer is the truest answer: I’m Catholic because I love Jesus more than anyone or anything, and my deepest desire is to be close to the One I love. If the Eucharist is the closest we can get to Jesus, then I have to be Catholic so that I can receive Him in that way.
The night I was confirmed at the Easter Vigil this year was one of the happiest nights of my life. My Protestant family drove 10 hours to be at my Confirmation and throw me a party because they love Jesus, too, and were happy for me because they recognized that in becoming Catholic, I was drawing closer to Him. After months of feeling heartbroken about not being able to take the Eucharist, it was wonderful to receive Christ’s Body that night. I do have to admit that something still felt like it was missing because I still had a longing to receive the Precious Blood as well. When that finally happened a month later, I felt a deep sense of completion and wholeness, and I try to receive both Body and Blood every week.
After growing up without it, I will never take the Eucharist for granted. The Bible tells us that “we love because He first loved us,” and we draw closer to Christ through the Eucharist, because He first drew close to us by giving Himself up for us. Knowing His great love for us and His desire to unite with us in reality, how could we not receive this gift and ponder it with great joy and thanksgiving?
Experience it for Yourself
Jesus is truly present. Jesus is always with you. Sit in his presence and open yourself up to his voice.