The Reality of It All

In Catholic, Christianity on June 2, 2009 at 2:34 pm

While traveling in Italy near Montalcino, a group of us visited Abbazia di Sant’Antimo (Abbey of San Antimo). Even our non-religious friends immediately sensed and were silenced by a Presence in the Abbey.

Catholic Christians know, of course, that Christ is present. The Holy Eucharist reserved in the tabernacle is The Real Presence of Christ.  Our church buildings are not simply halls where believers assemble for fellowship and teaching.  We come to worship Our Lord; we come to be near Him; we come to pray, knowing that Matthew 28:20 (“I am with you always”) was inspired to communicate a much more profound truth than than that Christ is simply with us “spiritually.” The reality of it all! What joy; what richness.

After a difficult business meeting recently, I drove directly to church. Stepping into the silence, I touched my finger to the font, remembering my baptismal promises. I made the sign of the cross. I entered another world: my Lord’s house. “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord'” (Psalm 122:1).

After a gesture of reverence and humility, I was able to kneel in the presence of my God. “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” (Psalm 95:6). I touched the cool stone floor—it’s realness and solidity, a comfort. I gazed upon the strength of the ox under the pulpit, representing the third evangelist, but also speaking to the strength of Our Lord; of His sacrifice. “I think of the sacrificer in Leviticus who was charged with providing the high priest with the blood which he was to take behind the veil.”¹ I meditated upon Christ on the cross, pictured in the altar window. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).

And I prayed. I gave thanks for what had been accomplished that day. “Bless the work we have begun, make good its defects, and let us finish it in a way that pleases you” (Liturgy of the Hours, Daytime Prayer, Wednesday Midday). Real life. Real meetings. Real Presence. Real prayer.

God be thanked for the reality of it all! Christianity Richly, so very richly!

¹ Paul Claudel, A Poet Before the Cross, p.221.  Claudel’s book, translated into English by Wallace Fowlie (Henry Regnery Company, 1958), can be difficult to obtain. But is a treasure for the contemplative, prayerful Christian—or one who desires to be.  Search periodically, if interested. Claudel’s mediations (first suggested through a reading in Magnificat) have left a lasting, positive mark on my worship of Christ and my desire for time alone with Our Lord in His house.

  1. […] his book, A Poet Before the Cross, over the past six years. See Lenten Reading, Say What You Mean, The Reality of It All, No Forced Faith, Lent is Approaching, and Entering Holy Week […]

  2. […] See “The Reality of It All,” footnote number one, for more on Claudel’s grace-filled meditation. ▶ No […]

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