A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Why I’m Still a Catholic

By Teresa Rayner

A young person's perspective on the Eucharist

Recently my nine-year-old brother, who is struggling with being bored with Mass, told me that He keeps asking God to show Him He is real but isn’t getting any response. I asked him, “How do you know the wind is real?” and his reply was “because you can feel it and see it moving things.” Then I asked, “and how do you know love is real?” “Because you can feel it and see its effect on other people.” I finished our conversation by explaining that just because you can’t see or hear God, doesn’t mean He isn’t real. One way we can know His reality is through the way He moves and works through those around us.

We are physical beings. We like to be able to see, touch, feel, and hear the evidence for the existence of our God. Yet as Christians, we are ultimately called to have faith, which Hebrews 11 describes as “...the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I can understand why my nine-year-old brother, who is a cradle Catholic, is struggling with that! We are physical beings, and even if we’ve grown up hearing it all our lives, it is perfectly natural for us to find it difficult to accept and know a seemingly invisible God.

Put this way, you can see why our loving God would choose to send His only Son to earth to reveal something of Himself to us (John 14:5-9). 

I would like to particularly focus on another way God reveals Himself to us – through the Eucharist. 

In my recent conversation with my brother, I explained to him that the main reason I am still Catholic, still practicing my faith, and even actively discerning Religious Life, is because of the Eucharist. By the time I was 13 years old, I too, was in a season of doubt and boredom regarding my faith, and I was struggling to wrap my head around God’s reality. When I was younger, I used to pray, “God, if you’re really real, please may there be a kitten on the end of my bed when I wake up.” And there never was. So, I concluded, God wasn’t real. (Well, I still gave Him the benefit of the doubt, but for an all-powerful God, this didn’t help His case in my books!).

What if that’s not a piece of bread, but the body of Jesus Christ?

But my attitude towards God changed when my parents signed me up for a Catholic Camp – Jesus 4 Real – held in the Wellington Archdiocese. I wasn’t keen on hanging out with a bunch of hard-core Catholic kids for a whole week! But over time, I grew to like it because theirs was a faith that wasn’t hidden or full of doubt but shining through them in all they did. As I mentioned to my brother, just like ‘invisible’ love, my first encounter with God’s presence at camp was through those around me. 

On the final night, we all gathered for a time of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I’d grown up in the Catholic Church but had yet to make my faith my own, and I couldn’t understand why everyone was kneeling and bowing and staring in such reverence at a piece of bread. 

Yet, I so longed for that unshakeable faith everyone around me seemed to have, and so I allowed myself to wonder, “What if? What if that is really God, there on the altar, sitting in front of me? What if that’s not a piece of bread, but the body of Jesus Christ?” And suddenly, I was overwhelmed with a deep sense of love, like I’d never felt before. It’s hard to explain, but to put it simply - in that moment, I knew that God was truly present in the room with me, in the Blessed Sacrament. And I knew, without a doubt, that I was loved by Him.

According to the Catechism (CCC1131), “The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us.” To rephrase this in the simplest of terms, the Sacraments are outward signs of God’s love for us. I had a profound encounter with this tangible love of God through the Eucharist. 

Our good God doesn’t leave us alone in our search to know and to love Him. He was the one who made us humans. He knows we are physical beings and He has given us many physical reminders of His reality – if only we are open to noticing them. 

Teresa is 23 years old, from Wellington. She's the eldest of eight children, and has been involved in youth ministry for the past five years. She is currently taking a year off to focus on discerning a call to Religious Life. 

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