March 11, 2005

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

True stories aid understanding of Eucharist

Although receiving symbolic bread and wine as Communion in her own Protestant Church, a friend could not understand our Eucharist. “How can you believe that Jesus is in that piece of bread?” she would ask Catholics. She received many different answers.

Then one day an elderly lady told her this:

During World War II, as a young woman, she was engaged to a man in the Armed Forces. When he returned, she asked him if he still loved her. He said, “Yes.” As a test, she took gum from her mouth and asked him to chew it. Although startled, he put the gum in his mouth without protest. They married and lived happily ever after—and this is no fairy tale.

My Protestant friend and I shared this story with many others through the years. Most adults smiled when hearing it because they understand that kind of ­intimacy, whereas I’ve heard disdainful sounds from youngsters.

The point of my friend’s friend telling her that story was to convince her of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. If someone understands that the spirit of Christ can be within every person (even though often hidden by our human faults)—or believes in the theory of some scientists that the same or similar genetic molecular structures are found in all earthly substances—then how can one not believe in the Real Presence in the consecrated host?

Yet, even though not everyone believes all matter and everything spiritual is connected in mysterious ways, he or she can still believe in the Eucharist in what’s called “good faith,” trusting God to provide help in overcoming any doubts (Please read Jn 20:19-30 with regards to doubt.)

Another reality is that we are smack-dab-in-the-middle of the Year of the Eucharist, which began last Oct. 10 with the opening of the International Eucharistic Congress at Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. The theme for the congress was “The Eucharist, Light and Life of the New Millennium.” For more information go to

Also, read what’s available through and

Featured in these websites is an extraordinary book: 201 Inspirational Stories of the Eucharist: A Compilation of Stories by Priests, Religious and the People of God. St. Clare Sister Patricia Proctor gathered this collection of personal faith stories, making a “heart to head connection that makes the difference between mouthing our faith and living it,” according to Sister Patricia.

According to St. Clare Sister Mary Rita Dolan, the Abbess of the Monastery of Saint Clare in Spokane, Wash., their community was energized and enthusiastic about Sister Patricia’s project. Sample chapters in the book can be read on the “eucharistic stories” website.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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