I could feel the warmth of God filling my soul and an overwhelming reassurance that God was so proud for Katie to receive His body. This moment occurred on a recent Sunday as I pushed Katie in her wheelchair to receive Holy Communion. The feeling was surreal and truly difficult to put into words. As we went back to our seats the feeling became even stronger, I could see it in the eyes of my friends and people I don’t even know. After mass a dear friend came up to me and said she was so moved as she watched Katie receive communion, she felt it too, the presence of the Holy Spirit.
I haven’t always been so open with sharing Katie. When she was younger I truly just didn’t know how to handle public outings, pushing her wheelchair to the altar wasn’t something I would have even considered. At that point in my life the constant stares cut right through me and I just didn’t know how to handle that pain. But today the Holy Spirit gives me courage.
I remember the day I first received that strength. When Katie was 8 years old she started preparing for her First Holy Communion sacrament in Sunday School. This is when children learn about the true meaning of Jesus’s body being present in the Eucharist, after 9 months of preparation they receive His body for the first time. It was a very special day, but it was the first times we pushed Katie to the altar in front of our entire church. It seems so silly now after doing it a million times, but then I wasn’t where I am now. At that moment I had to get passed some real fears, I had to stop worrying about what other people thought. I did and that day the Holy Spirit paid me a very special visit, giving me the courage and strength I needed to start sharing Katie more with others.
“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” Acts 2:1-4
After Jesus’ crucifixion the disciples were hiding in the upper room fearing for their lives until The Holy Spirit came upon them. They needed this gift of courage to go out and spread Gods word to the world. We also receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism for the same exact reason. It stays with us forever, but I sometimes forget. Before this moment I was like the disciples hiding Katie in the upper room fearing what would happen when we went out. But God was ready for me to start spreading His name through her life and as He always does, at just the right moment, He gave me what I needed.
I know it is no coincidence that these moments of beauty and strength have occurred during communion because Jesus is present and when we consume His body amazing things happen.
“Amen, Amen I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” John 6:53-54
I have to admit as a cradle Catholic I didn’t always see the Eucharist with the clarity that I do today. It is not something that is easy to understand. I remember learning in my own First Communion preparation class that in the middle of mass when the priest holds the large round piece of bread up over his head and repeats the words that Jesus spoke at The Last Supper, that at that moment God transformed that bread into Jesus’ body. But it wasn’t until I truly became mature in my faith that I understood this magnificent gift that God offers me every day of the year.
“For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” John 6:56
Many of Jesus’ followers left when they heard these words because it was just not something they could conceive in their minds. Some things are black and white and easy to understand. But the deeper truths that God wants us to see are not as easily believed. That is why God gives us faith, somethings I just have to trust.
The source of that trust comes from precious moments where I feel the Holy Spirit in a very tangible way, like this recent Sunday and the one on Katie’s First Communion. I hate to think of the times I missed the Holy Spirit earlier in life before I was paying attention. I believe God touches us all the time in ways like these, we just have to be present in the moment to recognize that it is God. I feel so incredibly blessed to have those moments where I feel God wrapping his loving arms around us and confirming that we are on His path.