In Catholicism, there is a practice called Eucharistic Adoration. During this time, a consecrated "Host" (a.k.a. communion wafer) is placed in something called a monstrance for the faithful to see. It is typically "guarded" by one or two people in attendance. Curious, I made a point to attend a time of adoration at the parish. The Host was indeed "guarded" by one person, but there was no distinction as to who it was. We were not watched or exposed to threat. This "guard" was merely a presence. In an extraordinary situation, this person might even give their very life to ensure the safety of the Host. Its believed that the Host needs to be guarded at all times for fear that someone will desecrate the body of the Lord. Firstly, if Jesus is really present, why would He need us for protection?! If you knew how much one of those monstrances cost... well, I can't help but wonder what's really being guarded!
This wasn't some kind of science project for me however. I didn't merely go to observe, but to pray & wrestle with this concept of the real presence. I stayed for some time & watched people come & go. Some got on their knees to pray, some sat. All were silent. The feeling of peace in that room was profound. On either side of the monstrance was a single lit candle. The monstrance itself looked kind of like an ornate golden lamp without a shade. It was about 2 feet high with sunbeams radiating from the center where the Host was fixed behind glass. At the top was a simple cross. The whole scene was very stark, very simple. Within the monstrance rested this cracker- believed to be the presence of Jesus Christ displayed for all to see. It was, in effect, Jesus behind glass, like some kind of prized museum piece. I absolutely don't mean to be disrespectful to the Catholic faith or to Christ Himself in describing the host as a "cracker". I'm simply stating what my intellect saw. And yet, despite what my eyes beheld, something stirred within me the entire time I was there. I had been compelled beyond reason to attend & once I got there, I didn't want to leave. I couldn't understand what it was that made me want to stay. I prayed, I cried. I felt very... exposed, yet profoundly safe. Was it merely a symbolic experience or was it the real Presence of Christ? I can't say. But I do know that whenever two or more are gathered in His name, there He is in the midst of them.