Thursday, October 2, 2008

Finding Peace in the Eucharist

When my oldest was 2, each time I would prepare myself to receive the Eucharist, I'd hear a little voice, whispering, "Peace." As soon as she would see the Eucharistic ministers take their positions throughout the church, she'd vibrate with excitement, her little body twisting and twitching like a dragonfly's wings, and would whisper over and over, "Peace!" Going up with Mommy to receive a blessing and watching me eat this mysterious piece of food was one of her favorite parts of Mass (it still is, although she no longer calls it peace; I miss that.).

I'm not exactly sure why she started referring to Communion as peace, but every time I'd hear her whisper that word, I'd think my child was on to something when she likened receiving the Body of Christ with a word that evokes inner tranquility.

By nature, I'm not someone who easily attains inner peace. Okay, so that's an understatement. I have to really work at it. I'm too often consumed by anxiety and worry. Some of my worries are trivial like when will I find the time to take a shower, or will both my girls ever sleep through the night on the same night? Or, does this [insert article of clothing] make me look fat?

Sometimes I worry about the big picture. How are we going to get through these years of residency (my husband is a radiology resident) on such a tight budget? Is my growing baby okay (our third child is in utero)? Is my mom okay (she deals with myriad health problems, although you wouldn't know it by her trusting and sunny disposition)? I seek solitude to work on cultivating trust, but when things get quiet, my mind starts racing. Too often these worries (most of them unfounded) take their grip on me even though I know that this kind of fear is an absence of faith. Which leads me to another worry: Why can't I be more faithful? What's wrong with me?

God, I know, would probably say nothing other than the fact that I am human. However, I know that one of my problems in my endless quest for inner peace is that I want something dramatic to happen in my faith life. A dove to descend upon me while I am praying. A vision of Mary to appear before my eyes. A moment when I literally feel Jesus' embrace. A clear voice to speak to me and to tell what I need to do to follow Him. A real, tangible sign as clear as a billboard on the highway so that I can't miss what God's trying to say to me.

But that's not how it works for most of us. There are no lightening bolts. There are no opportunities to place our hands in Jesus' wounds as Thomas did. There are no saintly apparitions to guide us in our decisions. Yet, that doesn't mean God isn't speaking to us. We may just have to look a little harder, pray a little more often and seek out the Eucharist as much as possible.

Too often I am waiting for this profound moment when Christ comes to me and rids me of my fears and anxieties. In my waiting, I grow more anxious, all the while forgetting that there's a simple yet deep-seated way to feel Christ's presence in my life. Each time I receive the Eucharist, I am inviting Christ into my heart and taking him with me. I am getting a taste of peace.

Recently, I was at daily Mass. I didn't hear Madeline whisper, "Peace," but I felt it nonetheless. I was glancing up at the Crucifix hanging above the priest's head as he doled out our daily bread, and I felt a warm rush inside of me. I've experienced it before, and it is just what Madeline used to call it - peace washing over me. I want to bottle up the indescribable feeling that seems to come from nothing (there are no flashing lights or booming voices speaking to me), but it's fleeting. I can't quite wrap myself around it, but I know that in that brief yet profound moment, I am drawn closer to Christ and experience true peace. And what's amazing is that God does speak to me - sometimes through my children and on this day through the symbol of the Crucifix. If only I listened and paid more attention to what he has to say to me every day.

What's keeping you from inner peace? Whether it's body angst, worries about money, or some other concern, why not offer it up to Jesus? Nourish your soul with the Eucharist and allow His peace to settle in your bones.

1 comment:

*Mia Jude* said...

Great post..wow..*sigh* I definitely feel this turmoil in my life..not knowing what God wants of me..or knowing what he would like for me to do...but not having the guts to do it...not trusting..and then beating myself down for not trusting..giving in to worldly things and worldly desires...it all gives me a headache..I just feel numb sometimes...i hate it