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So after using a lot of LSD and mushrooms a couple of years ago, I became very drawn to the Catholic Church for reasons I do not understand. It was LSD really, that made me feel as if I must become Catholic, whereas mushrooms had a more small town, simple farmer protestant church goer type feel to them. It was a very difficult decision for me, to actually join the Catholic Church as there are many aspects of its teaching I do not agree with (for example, I believe in reincarnation and generally have a more Eastern, mystical interpretation of the Bible than most Christians). I also found the church to be rigid and very medieval in its mindset. There are literally so many criticisms of the Catholic Church that I really dont even have time to get into them. However, despite the church's serious flaws and shortcomings, I was moved by the beauty of the Mass in a way that I just did not find at the other denominational churches I explored. The church's theology, while dated, is at least rich in complexity and backed by centuries of internal debate. This makes for a very interesting history regarding almost any doctrine. I was impressed enough by the wisdom of the saints and even some of the work of some of the more enligtened modern day catholic priests , to come to believe that there was plenty of genuine spirituality within the Catholic faith.
However,one thing which troubled me was the Eucharist, which is central to the Catholic Faith. I did not believe in transubstantiation. In my study of the Bible, I found no evidence that Jesus actually taught transubstantiation and was convinced that the Catholic church was completely misunderstanding what was intended as a simple metaphor, which is the position that many protestant churches take. For me, the protestants were right on some issues, while Catholics on others. I still feel this way actually.
At my confirmation a couple of weeks ago however, all this changed. My first communion had a profound affect upon me. Of course, skeptics will claim it was the placebo affect. I cannot prove them wrong. I only know for myself, that I do not beieve it was the placebo affect. First of all, I was not expecting anything to happen. Second of all, I was actually in a bored, depressed, non spiritual mood at the time and was not feeling at all moved by the Mass that had been going on and instead I was thinking about what I would do later that night after it finally ended. I casually strolled up without much reverence and ate my first "Christ cracker". Almost immediately after swallowing it, something happened to me. My consciousness was utterly transformed, it was as if I take mushrooms or something. I felt completely filled with spiritual energy and my eyes filled with tears. At that moment, I knew, I just knew that the Eucharist was real, that it possessed immense spiritual power. I dont know what it is, or how it works, or whether transubstantiation is a correct understanding. All I know is that I now beleive that religious rituals can actually work.
The whole experience reminded me of an episode of that show about that guy who goes around the world eating all of the worlds craziest foods. There is one where he in Africa I think, eating with a tribe of bushmen and they perform some sort of religious ritual in which he partakes and is caught completely off guard when it works and his conciousness is transformed by it. I felt just like that, total shock and amazement and then gratitude.
While the notion of bread and wine turning into flesh and blood but still retaining all the properties of bread and wine still sounds utterly ridiculous to me, I can no longer deny the significance of this ritual. Given how hard headed I am (for instance, when I am in a mood like I was in that night, even massive amounts of powerful can have a hard time uplifting me) the fact that that little cracker was able to rock my world makes it very difficult to entertain thoughts of it being the mere placebo affect.
Anywya, I just wanted to share my experience. I am not saying that my experience proves anything but I do consider it an interesting experience and wouldn't mind hearing some of your thoughts about this.