Brother Lawrence and the Eucharist and Other Thoughts
Annette's comments in brown, mine in blue.
"Just a couple of questions (and these are just honest question--I'm not trying to challenge you): First, you mention that the Eucharist is very important to Catholics because it's the actual presence of Christ in the bread and the wine. But Brother Lawrence (whose book you mention as one of your favorites) talks about practicing God's presence all the time. He says nothing about the Eucharist or any other sacrament. Nothing distinguishes Brother Lawrence from a Protestant, because his book is all about an intimate walk with God in faith and obedience. Isn't that what it's all about, regardless of our denomination?
Yes absolutely! Our goal in this life is to become intimate with Christ through faith and obedience. I like how you include both. That is what I believe as well. But, Brother Lawrence was a daily communicant based on his belonging to a Carmelite order so the Eucharist was a daily part of his worship. I can't comment on why he did not emphasize it more.
Outside of receiving Christ in the Eucharist, we are all encouraged to spiritually commune with God all day as Brother Lawrence did. He perfected that ability to be with God in the present moment of everyday. I don't think that negates the value or importance of the Eucharist and the majority of saints and Catholic mystics do put a lot of emphasis on the Eucharist. Thomas a Kempis, not a saint, but a well loved mystic by both Protestant and Catholics devotes an entire of section of his book, Imitation of Christ to the Eucharist. Honestly, I think that if Brother Lawrence mentioned that he received the Eucharist daily, his Christian classic would probably not have crossed denominational lines.
In my experience as a Catholic over 5 years , I can tell you that indeed the Eucharist has become the most important part of my spiritual life. Daily receiving Christ in the Eucharist gives me the grace to continue that spiritual communion throughout the day. I have found my personal walk with Jesus to be enhanced by Catholicism, not detracted by. That being said, some days are better than others, (we are still in these flesh suits!) but if you ask my wife, she likes the Catholic me better!
If Christians of any stripe really believed that Jesus was just around the corner from them in their local Catholic Church, they would be regularly taking Him in physically through communion and adoring Him in Eucharistic adoration. Who doesn't want to get closer to Jesus? Why more Catholics don't take advantage of this is the heartache of the Church, in my opinion. But the failure of Catholics to appreciate their Lord in the Eucharist does not negate nor prove that the Real Presence isn't true. Every denomination has those members who fail to realize the treasure of truth that they have access to.
Oh, btw, Catholic belief is that the bread and the wine actually are changed into his body and blood but retain the appearance of bread and wine. God is merciful to us not asking us to chew flesh and drink blood which would be repulsive to our natural senses. (That's why so many walked away from him in John 6:66)
And, in your mind, wouldn't a Protestant who does this be better off than a Catholic who just takes the Eucharist faithfully?
Do you mean a Catholic who just takes the Eucharist in a rote fashion, not truly discerning the body of Christ? Yes!
I would certainly say that a Catholic who lives like Brother Lawrence is FAR better off than an evangelical who has just said the Sinner's Prayer.
Again I say Yes!
Second, when you were first born again as a teenager, you "were set free from much sin and bad life choices in just one night." I understand that to mean that you stopped sinning in those ways, and not just that you felt forgiven. You also say that your parents "didn't allow their faith to help them with their personal problems. They had a troubled marriage and alcohol abuse was a chronic unspoken demon in their lives." Later, you came to believe that you were misguided as a teenager. Why? Didn't Jesus come to take away our sins? Again, this is just an honest question, and I may have missed your explanation in the text.
Yes I believe that God did a powerful work in my life the night I surrendered to Him by praying and asking to receive Him. It was more than a feeling and lasted for 30 years give or take some definite dark periods. I say that I was misguided because the group of Christians were strong anti-Catholics exposing me to the most virulent anti-Catholic propaganda(Chick Tracks).
What if I came home that night, told some devout Catholics what had happened and they sat down with me to explain how Jesus really did touch me and then showed me how I could keep this flame alive via the grace available to me in the sacraments as a young Catholic teenager? What if I had a conversion experience during a Catholic teen retreat as sometimes occurs? I would not have thought Catholicism was evil but would have been overjoyed to know I could get even closer to Him by now understanding the grace of the sacraments. But I was misguided because these sincere Christian people had also been mis-informed about what Catholicism truly was and thought they were doing me a favor by pulling me out of it. I came home with Chick tracts stuffing my pockets and my parents were so troubled it was easy to just write off my version of Catholicism. But you can't judge a religion based on the lives of those who don't practice and live it!
So , yes I believe my sins were forgiven that night and that I definitely had a conversion experience, but I believe now that our lives are a series of conversions and transformations that begin with baptism. From glory to glory he's changing me, as we used to sing.
BTW, I totally agree with you that the Bible says nothing about the Sinner's Prayer (but it does talk about being born again), and we will be judged by our sins (including our sins of omission). But of course a living faith in Christ is the means to obedience, as Brother Lawrence demonstrates so well.
Yes we agree again, and Catholics talk about being born again as well but we base it on John 3:3 referring to born by water and the spirit which the Christians for the first 1600 years believed referred to baptism, not the reciting of a prayer.
I'm glad that your spiritual journey has led you to a place you feel home!
Thank you, yes it's truly God's kindness and mercy to us!
God bless you and thanks so much for spending the time reading my story.