One of the things which I really struggle with in my faith, is the fact that I am not allowed to be united with my children or church family, in the receiving of the Eucharist. Holy Communion has been such a difficult part of my journey, sometimes it is painfully humiliating. There are several times I have thought of walking away and never ever returning, but that would of course throw up all kinds of contradictions for me and my children’s lives.
There are however precious times when it has been made easier for me to bear. Just once, when a priest blessed me, he lay his hand on my head and I felt wholly blessed in a different way. Another time an elderly priest, when he used to bless me, would look so deeply and earnestly into my eyes, his whole face took on a different characteristic, one of deepest peace and I would feel held and truly blessed. And sometimes my priest uses my name, and has a kindness in his blessing, which personalises the blessing and comforts the pain I can not hide every time I take the step forward. When your children are all allowed to take the body and blood of Christ, you have mixed feelings of pride at their reverence and pain at our separation. And I look at their little faces and they look at mine and we exchange a look of sorrow and kindness combined. I am so very proud of them.
I have had to learn spiritual communion and I have had to find another pathway to be in full communion with Christ. For a while I held a key to our little church. I would get my children off to bed and then Instead of my evening dog walk I would spend on occasions hours sitting in front of the tabernacle in the chapel, sometimes night after night, when I most needed too. Occasionally the priest would come in thinking he had left the lights on by mistake. Christ was an easy person to be in company with, but even though He didn’t always give me the easy answers I wanted, He was never absent. Even when others have found it awkward or difficult to sit in the void with me, He always did. One day I just didn’t feel the need to go anymore. I went so often in the end it felt as if He was inside of me all the time, anyway.
The blessing now is, I can be united to him where ever I am. Inside or outside of Church. I Love my Catholic Church, I want to soak up every opportunity she offers me. My faith I have realised, is an integral part of who I am. But I do feel denied by the Catholic Church, whom I embrace more than she embraces me. And this is so difficult because she denies me, where Christ does not deny me. Any sin for which I am being separated from full communion with Rome, was not considered a sin in the Church of England.
Although christened C of E, I spent my childhood without the privilege of a formal faith, but still with a feeling inside that I knew there was a God and that He knew there was a me. As a child I did not have a relationship with Christ. But as a child, God the word, the feeling, ‘the tangible man in my imagination, in the sky’ who a child relates to with no trouble at all, was more easily accessible. Faith was ever there, although undeveloped.
And now as an adult, to be denied the same privileges as others, to see new members appear from nowhere into our community, and be fully welcomed into the very heart of my little church family. For them to be officially received straight in with open arms, whilst I have to remain loved on the periphery, is so deeply, deeply painful. A Grace enforced which everyday so achingly hurts. The very public, visible, verbal and physical separation during the Eucharist, and especially at the Easter Vigil, is heart-breakingly pain filled, and makes you feel so obviously singled out and held up…… criminal. Yes that is how I feel on the bad days, like a publicly punished sinful criminal. Shameful.
My relationship with Christ, I have been forced to discover by feeling so isolated, abandoned and alone. Nobody I know is in my position. Nobody can take the pain away. Apart from Him, who in my deepest longing has nurtured, held and Loved me. I feel personally, especially, truly and intimately chosen by Him. Spiritual Communion is a blessing for which I am eternally grateful. A blessing that I may well have missed, if I had been given the Eucharist, and had never ever longed so desperately to receive Him.
The below links may help any of you who can not receive Holy Communion.