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My First Eucharist


Dovid Levi

I sat in a Catholic Church with my friend while the priest carefully prepared the host and the wine—the focal point of the Mass—the Holy Eucharist. When the appropriate time came, he raised the wine and repeated a similar variation of the “HaGafin”-- Blessed are You, O Lord, King of the universe, Who brings creates the fruit of the vine…" His had another aspect, “…and makes it for us the Blood of Christ.”

Then, he raised the host and said a blessing. It was one that I, as a Jew recognized, a variation of the “HaMotzi”—Blessed are You, O Lord, King of the universe, Who brings forth the bread from the earth...and makes it for us the Body of Christ.

Each time he said the Blessing, an altar server surreptitiously rang some chimes, suggesting the moment of a miracle, transubstantiation. He and his parishioners believed that, at those moments, the host and the wine became the actual Body and Blood of Christ.

Silently, without being told to do so, the people got out of their pews and stood in a line which quickly and reverent moved toward the priest as he repeated to each person in his thick Irish brogue, “The Body of Christ.” Some said “Amen.” Some made the sign of the cross, touching their hands to their foreheads, shoulders and chest. Some did both. All of them reverently returned to their seats and knelt. Each believed they had, in reality, ingested the Body and Blood of their God.

While this was happening, I turned my attention to the sheet of paper beside me. Silently, I prayed the prayer I had printed on it:

My Jesus,
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, came at least into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen

The prayer, which I had found on EWTN.org, a Catholic website owned by the cable network of the same name--Eternal Word Television Network, rang in my spirit. “I believe...You. I love You….I receive You…I embrace you…Never permit me to be separated from You.”

Again, the priest said, “The Body of Christ.”

My thoughts turned to an event two thousand years distant when a man was brutally nailed to two wooden planks and hung in the air. “Father,” He groaned, forgive them. They know not what they do.”

“The Body of Christ.”

I thought about how satan and his demons danced with glee.

“The Body of Chirst.”

I thought about the priests who stood there watching, guilty of His blood in a unique way. It was they who had handed Him over to Pilate to be crucified. I thought about the protest I have heard all my life, “The Romans killed Him.”

“The Body of Christ.”

I thought about how I, along with the rest of humanity, was there. How I, myself; how I personally, am guilty of tearing “The Body of Christ.”

I thought about how appropriate it was that the priest gave the sanctified Host to each person but how each person had to walk up to recieve it. We must be presented with the person of Christ, but we must each receive Him on our own.

“The body of Christ.”

I was moved. For years I have believed this Man, Jesus of Nazareth, is the Messiah promised to my people since there has been a Jewish people. In protestant denominations, I have partaken in “Communion.” But each time, it lacked the reverence, the conviction, the miracle of this Eucharist I now witnessed.

I had been excluded from actually partaking in it because I was not yet a Catholic. Yet, despite my participation in previous communions, despite my prayers, I longed to be in that line. I longed to receive into my body “The Body of Christ.”

A few short minutes later, the priest declared, “The mass has ended” and the people responded, "Thanks be unto God." How appropriate to end such an event!

I was silent. I walked behind them with my new Rosary in hand, feeling like I had taken part in a millennia old tradition that united me with the Apostles who had walked with the Master, had heard His teachings, had seen with their eyes that terrible spectacle when He declared, “It is finished." The mass had ended. The sacrifice has been re-presented. The Lamb has been slain, once--for all. The mission has been accomplished. Humanity has been redeemed.

The awe of the moment remained with me as my friend drove me home. I asked questions and made comments. Even as she drove away and I walked into my apartment, the awe remained. I sat in silence, Rosary still in hand, and reflected on this Holy Eucharist and all that it meant.

They tell me Eucharist means Great Thanksgiving. I give thanks. I give thanks for my friend who lovingly drove me to mass. I give thanks for the reverence of the people receiving the Body of Christ sacramentally, allowing the solemnity of the moment to overpower me. I give thanks to the Lamb of God for redeeming me that dark day when He allowed Himself to be placed on the altar as a sin offering—-as my sin offering--so I could be friends with God. I give thanks.

One day, when this journey toward Catholicism I am on reaches its conclusion, I will stand in that line that leads to the priest who will say to me, “The Body of Christ.” For me, that will be a special moment, a sacred moment; the first moment I open my mouth to receive His body. They will call that my first Eucharist. They’re too late. Today was my first Eucharist--my first Great Thanksgiving.

My heart is Yours, Lord Jesus. It always will be. You bought it with Your Own Blood.

Epilogue:

(I recieved Confirmation May 9, 2007. On that day, I recieved the Holy Eucharist for the first time. I elected to recieve it on my tongue because I felt unworthy to touch the Body of Christ. I was overwhelmed. Deo Gratias.)



Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, "I am the light of the world:
he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life"—John 8:12



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