13 January 2013

The mystery of the Eucharist and marriage

How I, a good Reformed girl, ended up marrying a Catholic is sometimes a mystery to many (including to me). Living in a different land - the Netherlands - where Christian faith, both Protestant and Catholic, is different from where I grew up - is part of the answer. Another part of the answer is that Matthijs takes his faith very seriously, something I love about him. We also agree a lot on how to read the Bible, how sin affects the world, and respecting church tradition worldwide - such agreement is sometimes lacking between me and some of the Protestants here in the Netherlands.
On account of us both being strongly committed to our own church traditions, we, out of respect for these traditions, do not take communion/Eucharist in each other's churches. This not being able to share together one of the more fundamental elements of Catholic faith is something that really disappoints Matthijs. It is, unfortunately, a disappointment that we both must live with as it can not be easily resolved.

At the same time, a story from Lauren Winner's book, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis (2012) brings a new perspective on our trying out our faith as a married couple belonging to two different church traditions.
I include here the version re-told by Ruth on her blog entry about the unity of church: 
"Winner tells the story of being the chalice bearer during the Eucharist at a small Episcopal church. Towards the end of the line, an elderly couple came and knelt at the rail.  Each one of them took a wafer from the priest. When she came to them with the cup, the wife dipped her wafer in and ate it.  Then the husband dipped his wafer in. But he didn’t eat the wafer. He handed 'the Body and Blood to his wife' and she ate it for him. 
After the service, the priest told Winner that this man had been suffering from a wasting disease for 12 years, leaving him unable to digest most food. But that wasn’t what Winner saw.  She only knew 'the couple’s hands and mouths, and that I am seeing one flesh. I have read about this, heard sermons about a man and a woman becoming one flesh; and here at the altar, I see that perhaps this is the way I come to know such intimacy myself: as part of the body of Christ, this body that numbers among its cells and sinews an octogenarian husband and wife who are Communion' (38-39).

The connection made here between the Eucharist and becoming one flesh in marriage has made me wonder more about sharing communion with each other. In some mysterious way, I participate in Matthijs's receiving the Eucharist and he is part of my partaking in the Lord's Supper. The mystery of it only brings me closer to the mystery of the Eucharist and of a man and woman becoming one flesh.

No comments: