As a Catholic, I have the opportunity to go to church on Saturday evenings &/or Sunday mornings. I love my home church, but I also feel like I want to step out & see how other folks do things. We are, afterall, part of the same "holy, catholic & apostolic church". While I've attended Mass at various churches before, lastnight was my first Eucharist away from home. At first, I thought "I don't know these people, I have no right to partake with them"... but in reality, I DO have that right, by virtue of my confirmation 43 days ago.
I'm discovering that attending at different communities takes some flexibility. While every Mass is the same in content, each is unique to the congregation in which it is celebrated. Most of the variation seems to happen with the musical arrangements, as in how the Gloria or other things are sung. Other differences come from the personality of the people &/or priest. Lastnight I was greeted warmly & took a seat near the back. While I was aware I was in a new place, I found the familiarity of the Mass most comforting. When it came time to get in line for communion, I paid no mind to the people around me. I partook with confidence, went back to my pew & had the exact same response to the Eucharist that I have at my home church. This actually surprised me. I didn't really "feel" much of anything all through Mass. I was just there, listening & responding, taking in the stained glass & marveling at the strangely burly Christ on the cross above the altar.
But each time I approach the bread & the cup, its as if everyone else melts away. My heart races & the walk back to my seat seems long & arduous. Its as if Jesus & I are making our way hand in hand past the crowds, looking for some alleyway to duck into. Getting on my knees & burying my head in my hands is a small refuge... a hiding place. Its a place to breathe, a place to just "be" for a moment. Its a place where I sense His embrace, commitment & love for me in a ridiculously real way. How does this happen? I have no clue. Maybe its mind control. Maybe its superstition. Or maybe its the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It doesn't matter whose parish I'm in or what the particulars of that community's Mass are... externals are inconsequential. Its what happens in the trysting place of my heart that makes the difference.