There is a moment in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when, after the gifts of bread and wine have been brought to the altar following the Liturgy of the Word, the priest or deacon mixes a drop of water into the wine which has just been poured into the chalice. He does this while quietly praying, “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”
Not only is this drop of water completely immersed in the wine, but much like the wedding feast at Cana, that drop of water can now no longer be identified as such, because it has been transformed into wine. While still less than perfect, my ever-growing love for the Eucharist can be likened to this gesture: where not only the bland water of “my will be done” is transformed into the rich abundance of the wine of “THY will be done,” but more importantly where the “droplet” of our humanity comes to share in the divinity of Christ. For in receiving Christ’s true Presence in the Eucharist, it is not so much that he is consumed by us as it is we who are consumed by him.
Having been raised in the Catholic Church, I always believed in the Real Presence of the Eucharist, but as a child, such belief was more so an adolescent trust in those authority figures in my life (e.g., parents, priests, etc.) and never my own direct assent to this fundamental truth of our faith. It wasn’t until I attended the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND, where my initial, more matured awakening to Christ’s Real Presence became a personal act of my own informed choosing. This began when I started to experience the reality of the Eucharist as being what the Church calls “food for the journey”—the journey through life to heaven and perfect communion with God.
As a result of what seemed to flow directly from attending Mass twice a week at the University of Mary, I began to experience a deeper spiritual nourishment in addition to the added gifts of joy, peace, community, and the goodness and beauty of an ordered life. I began to see a deeper meaning to the reality of life which greatly influenced the direction where I thought that I wanted to go, because after all, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). However, seeing how the emphasis was still placed upon drinking the bland water of “my will be done,” the Lord had other plans—“plans for welfare . . . a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11).
After receiving the call to discern the priesthood while at the University of Mary and subsequently entering seminary, Jesus began to show me that while it is indeed true that I can do all things through him who gives me such strength, it is just as true that without him I can do nothing: “I am the vine, you are the branches . . . apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). It was in his miracle of turning water into wine at Cana where Jesus first began to reveal his divinity. In a similar way, it was through his Eucharistic miracle at each daily Mass in seminary where he revealed to me that it is only in sharing his Eucharistic life that my life becomes full. Thus, through the daily reception of the Eucharist and silent prayer in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, the bland water of all my personal plans and endeavors—good and bad—have become immersed and gradually transformed into the full, rich, and abundant wine of a life that now seeks in all things: “Thy will be done.”
Throughout my time at the University of Mary and especially in seminary, I have found that it is essentially in the Eucharist, both at Mass and in silent prayer and adoration, where one finds strength and the necessary food for the journey. Without this divine gift, without his promised presence—real and substantial in the Eucharist—we would be lost. Our own plans and endeavors expressed as the bland water of “MY will be done” would remain unchanged. The fullness and richness of the divine plan that God was pleased to reveal in Christ are infinitely better and indescribably more joyous, and it is only in doing his will that one’s life and happiness are found.
As I approach the end of my time in seminary and prepare to become his priest, it is in Christ’s Eucharistic Presence where I now find his divine gift of friendship. It is a wonderful and mysterious friendship where I can taste and see his goodness (Psalm 34) and where I experience my humanity, that tiny drop of water, becoming transformed more and more at every Mass into the rich abundance of the pure, choice wine of his divinity. May his Kingdom come and his will be done!