As a cradle Catholic I was raised in a devout family who attended Mass, prayed before meals and who overall set a good moral example for me. By the time I reached high school I wouldn’t say that I exactly loved my faith and its practices, but I wouldn’t say I hated it either. It was just something we did and I really hadn’t given it much thought.
As a freshman in high school, I met a girl who became a close friend and eventual girlfriend. We got along very well and had many things in common, with the exception of the Catholic Church and faith. This girlfriend really didn’t care for God, the faith, or the Church. She felt it was all a bunch of hypocritical lies and not worth the energy and effort. At the time I felt she was wrong but couldn’t express or defend the faith I had been raised in. I knew that if she was right, and the Church really taught hypocritical things and believed lies, I didn’t want to be part of it anymore. I also knew there was a good chance she was mistaken.
This tension led me down a path of questioning and curiosity, partly to prove my girlfriend wrong, and partly out of genuine seeking. As time progressed, as questions were answered, and as many debating conversations took place, I began to see the beauty of our faith and its consistency in teaching. I realized that we were dealing with something far bigger than ourselves.
The summer between my high school sophomore and junior years, my girlfriend and I found ourselves attending a Franciscan University of Steubenville Summer Youth Conference. I went willingly and open; she, however, remained skeptical and closed off. Truthfully, she really didn’t want to be there. Saturday night of the Conference rolled around and the time for Eucharistic adoration and procession began. I saw other teens having visibly powerful experiences such as crying, being slayed in the Spirit, and joy.
As I looked at my skeptical and downcast girlfriend, I can remember thinking, ‘God, I believe you are here, I believe that is you. Do something.’
Just around that time, the Eucharistic procession turned the corner and down the aisle closest to us. As Jesus passed by in the Eucharist, I made an act of faith and my whole being (heart, mind, and soul) was overwhelmed with the simultaneous revelation of being a deep, deep sinner and yet being even more deeply loved.
This revelation changed me from the inside out. It’s a conviction that sounds simple when written out but to feel and know these two facts in your bones is beyond words. The power of Christ in the Eucharist was further confirmed when I looked over at my girlfriend, the skeptic and doubter, and saw that she too was crying and deeply impacted by the experience.
This conference, this moment, changed the trajectory of my life. It led me to desire Confession, prayer, study of Scripture and even to work in ministry. For my skeptic girlfriend, it had an impact that grew slower and needed more time. She no longer doubted in the same way. She knew something had happened but she couldn’t fully explain it or make sense of it. It exceeded and went beyond reason and the scientific method.
It feels like a lifetime has passed since this experience. My girlfriend and I eventually broke up and went our separate ways, but remain on good terms. I am now in my forties and working in parish ministry, and the power of Christ in the Eucharist in this moment fuels me, drives me and sustains me through the highs and lows of life.
If you struggle to believe in the Eucharist or simply doubt it all together, I invite you to go before Him in adoration or in the tabernacle and pray the words that I prayed, ‘God, I believe you are here, I believe that is you. Do something.
Experience it for Yourself
Jesus is truly present. Jesus is always with you. Sit in his presence and open yourself up to his voice.