Originally sent February 5th, 2008
I wanted to continue the conversation that we were having earlier tonight. I want to explain to you how precious His gift has been to me since I have come to believe in Him again. But I kept having to delve deeper and deeper into the story, trying to build a rock solid foundation that would make everything crystal clear. Instead I decided to cut to the chase and present the bare essentials. You know me well enough to fill in any blanks that I've left.
I love God and I am grateful that He didn't forsake me. I believe that He brought me to St. Matthews and put me (and Kavi) into the path of you and other spiritual mentors in this parish. He could have placed me anywhere. He could have put me into the Episcopal Church in Seattle or a Southern Baptist Church in Conroe, Texas, but he didn't. The place where I was to be redeemed was Saint Matthews. The place where I was to learn to love Jesus was at Saint Matthews. I don't know why. When I look back at the blessings that I've had in the last year and a half I cry tears of gratitude. To know that God not only loves me but that He has a purpose for me is almost too much to bear. When I think about how much I've wasted and how often I have rejected His love I want to be sad - but I can't because I can see His infinite love stretching out in front of me. To understand that Jesus died for my sins - including the sins that I'm going to commit tomorrow and next week and ten years from now leaves me with an incredible sense of simultaneous hope and unworthiness.
Going through the classes with RCIA my head believed that Jesus was present in the Eucharist. At the time I didn't understand what it meant for my heart to believe as well. It was a kind of 'yea yea, it's in there' feeling. But then one Friday I went to a kids mass and Mary F. presented me with the Eucharist. Only she didn't say "The body of Christ" to me. What she said to me had the same effect as if the Archangel Gabriel himself had been up there. She said to me, "Darren, this is the body of Christ." and I knew at that instant what it was like to believe from my heart. On several occasions I've tried to explain to Mary how pivotal that moment was in my life but I don't think that I've been able to do that very well. Perhaps one day I'll be able to explain to her how grateful I am.
What I know is that Jesus loves me and that He brought me back to His church. I know that Jesus died for me even though He could have stopped it at any point. I know that He has the power to be in the Eucharist if He chooses to be. I know that he promised to send the Holy Spirit to lead and guide his people. I know that His church teaches that He is present in the Eucharist. To believe all of that but not to believe in His real presence would be to almost suggest that Jesus is playing some kind of supernatural candid camera with me. "Ok, check this out. Remember when I told you that I could get 65% of the parishioners at St. Matts to believe in My real presence? Ha! I've got it up to 73%! Check out this dork - he's actually grateful for a chance to be in communion with Me. Ahhhh, these silly humans are so entertaining..." But of course we know that Jesus is not playing a prank on us. The question then becomes: why does he do it every week?
Think about how every part of the mass after the transubstantiation (the ringing bells) changes when we believe that Jesus is really present. Instead of singing "Lamb of God" to Jesus up in heaven, we're singing it to Him on His alter. The next time you sing it, imagine that He is on the altar listening to you literally sing His praises - and that He nods his head in acceptance and appreciation. Imagine that He's up there and He says to you that He loves you and that the sacrifice that He made for you was totally worth it.
When I was growing up, my favorite part of the mass was when we exchanged the sign of peace. For me it was a "Hey man, what's up? Watcha doin later?" kind of thing. But now that I believe in the real presence - it's totally changed. In fact, I'm not really talking to the person next to me anymore, I'm talking to Jesus on the altar and I'm saying "Jesus, please bring Your love and peace to this complete stranger. May he bask in Your glory and know the infinite love that You have for him."
A person doesn't have to believe in the real presence to love Jesus or to be loved by Him. You once told me "You get too caught up in all the Catholic things." That made my heart ache because I know that what I experience at a Catholic mass is only available at a Catholic mass. I want you to know and experience the happiness and gratitude that I feel during the mass. But the best part of it all is that I know that I'm only starting to scratch the surface. In the years and decades to come I hope and pray that I'll keep discovering more and more about God's love for me and how I can do His will here on earth.
In RCIA I learned the Catholic definition of love: To want the very best for that person. Jo, I do love and I want the absolute very best for you and your family. I want to guys to keep loving God a little bit more every day. I want to you come to love Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist as much as I do - even more! I promise you that God is not playing us for chumps.
Finally, I just want to re-iterate how glad I am that God put you into my path. I'm grateful for the love and kindness that you've shown to Kavi and myself. You've been a wonderful role model for me and you've taught me a lot about how to love God and how to not be ashamed to show that love for Him in my everyday life. To sum it up in 4 simple words, "You rock, Jo K.!"
Your brother in Christ,