By Deborah Kendrick
In my fortieth year of professing the Christian faith as a Pentecostal, I crossed over the Jordan River and entered the “Promised Land” of the Roman Catholic Church. While I cannot tell the whole story here, I can, however, recount how I was awakened to the truth of the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Holy Communion.
First, I want to describe for you what is was like to be asleep to the truth of this wondrous and mysterious gift from God. When I was 12, I went through preparation for Confirmation in a liturgical Protestant denomination. We were required to memorize the Creeds, the Ten Commandments, prayers and scriptures. My memory of the experience was lots of recitation. No one personally approached me about where my heart was in all of this, which, by the way, was aching. All my life I had hoped and prayed God would give me a sign He was really there. As confirmation approached, I was looking for something heavenly to occur when the bishop placed his hand upon my head. All I experienced was hollowness. I remember asking myself, Isn’t something meaningful supposed to happen? That void, I later discovered, was greater than a personal emptiness. Only after coming into the Church did I begin to discern what was missing.
Twelve years later, God answered the longings of my heart and I experienced a glorious encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. Not long afterwards, I received the blessing of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and entered into a life of Christian evangelization and ministry. My husband and I were privileged to live in France, Israel and England and spend extended times in North Africa. We have seen miracles, signs and wonders. Nevertheless, there was still a time on certain Sunday mornings when the emptiness of my confirmation would again visit me, causing me to question, Isn’t something meaningful supposed to happen? And that was how I lived through years of Communion Services, usually held once a month, when the grape juice and bread were presented as symbols of the Body and Blood of Jesus. In my heart, I knew something meaningful was supposed to be happening. Why was it not?
Again, God responded to the longings of my heart. One day during prayer, Jesus presented Himself, extending His arm to me. Ever so quickly I said to Him, “We are the works of Your hands.” Immediately, a loaf of bread appeared in His hand. Jesus replied, “You are also the work of My heart.” Instantly I understood that to eat the Bread was to surrender ourselves into His hands and to drink the Cup was to drink from His Heart. I knew Jesus was truly present as Flesh and Blood in the Bread and Wine. I did not yet know that this was the core of the faith of the Catholic Church and “the source and summit of the Christian life.”
It would be a few years later in France that God would open my eyes, ears, mind and heart to the Catholic Church. He did that through His Body present on the earth . . . . the French Catholics who loved Jesus so passionately and loved me so unconditionally.
Jesus, we are only alive in you. We wait for the sound of your voice, the smell of your fragrance, to feel your touch, to see you with our own eyes and to taste you upon our lips. Thank you for enclosing us in this mystery and revealing Yourself in us. Amen
Saint Augustine on the Eucharist: “I am the food of strong men; grow and you shall feed on Me; nor shall you change Me, like the food of your flesh, into yourself, but you shall be changed into My likeness.” Conf., vii, 10, 18
About the author:
Deborah Kendrick came into the Catholic Church in 2011 through her interaction with Catholics in ecumenical meetings though out Europe, where she was a conference speaker and led retreats for twenty years. During her testimony, she says, “The French Catholics just loved me into the Church.” Deborah’s heart is to see people know and receive the love God has for them which encompasses a New Pentecost for the new evangelization. “God is calling us closer in this hour. Open hearts bring an open Heaven.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Deborah Kendrick. Aviel Meyrieux receiving his First Communion, St Benedict Church, Richmond, VA. By Ruth Body. Used with permission. All rights reserved.