The Presence of God

Mary Ann Collins
(A Former Catholic Nun)

June 2002

Some Catholics have asked me how I can have peace or joy without the Eucharist (Catholic communion).

The Catholic Church teaches that when a priest consecrates bread, it literally turns into Jesus Christ -- His body and His blood and His soul and His divinity. And so does consecrated wine. When I was a Catholic, I went to communion as often as possible. And I would go to Catholic churches and sit in front of the Tabernacle. (This is a large, ornate, metal box where consecrated communion wafers are kept locked up.) I believed that Jesus was in there. I wanted to be with Him.

When I was a Catholic, I sometimes attended special services called "Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament". A large consecrated Host (communion wafer) was put in a Monstrance. (This is a large, ornate, metal container, in the basic shape of a daisy with a stem, plus a base so that it can stand up.) The Monstrance looked like it was made of gold. It had a circular chamber in the middle which held a large, round Host. The front of the chamber was glass, so you could see the Host. Visually it looked like gold rays were coming out of the Host.

The priest put the Monstrance on the altar. We worshipped the Host, believing that it was Jesus. There were special prayers and special songs. (One of the songs was, "O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine. All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine.") At the end of the service, we had Benediction. The priest held the Monstrance and made the sign of the cross with it. We believed that Jesus Himself was blessing us.

There are two problems with this. First, there are some Biblical reasons for not believing that the bread and wine are literally transformed into Jesus. You can read about them in Jim Tetlow's article "The Eucharist -- A Biblical Review" which is on my web site. I only want to mention one thing.

Jesus often spoke in metaphors (symbolic language). For example, Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." (John 10:7-9) But we don't make special doors that represent Jesus. And we don't walk through them in order to be saved.

Second, even if consecrated bread really did turn into Jesus Christ, it would only bring His presence for a short time. This is what would happen when you took communion. You would eat the consecrated bread. Because of that, Jesus would be inside of you. But only until the bread was digested. Once the bread was gone, then Jesus would also be gone. If you only took communion at Mass on Sundays, then Jesus would be inside of you for a few hours on Sundays. The rest of the time, He would be gone.

This is not what we see in Scripture. Jesus promised to stay with us, to be with us all the time. He said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20) He said that a time would come when we would realize that He truly lives in us, and we truly live in Him. "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." (John 14:20)

Jesus told us, "Abide in me, and I in you." (John 15:4) According to "Webster's Collegiate Dictionary," the word "abide" means "to stay; to continue in a place; to dwell; sojourn; to remain". This is a command. Jesus expects Christians to dwell in Him, and to have Him dwell in them. Jesus should be our home. We should be His home. This should be a normal part of Christian life.

The Bible tells us that God will be with His people, and that He will be in His people. And it does not depend on circumstances, or consecrated bread. It depends upon our personal relationship with God. Look at the following Scriptures.

"Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God." (1 John 4:15)

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith..." (Ephesians 3:17)

"He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." (2 John 1:9)

"God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16)

"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16)

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20)

There are countries where Christians are being persecuted. Some Christians have been killed because of their faith. Others have been put in prison. If Christian prisoners are unable to take communion, does that prevent Jesus from being in them? Would He make His presence depend on circumstances over which they have no control?

Christianity works everywhere, for all people, regardless of their circumstances. It works for Christians who are in solitary confinement and have no access to communion.

Having God's presence in our lives does not depend on our circumstances. It depends on our relationship with God. If we truly love God, then He will be with us. He will abide in us, which means that He will take up permanent residence in us. That is why the Apostle Paul says that we are God's Temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16) God actually dwells in us.


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