Broken body

When people come into the Church from outside her, there's a high probability it had something to do with the Eucharist. When people return to the Church after years of absence or even a brief period, it almost always has something to do with the Eucharist. When people struggle deeply with their faith, but decide not to give it up, it is likely that the Eucharist is what kept them from moving on to seemingly greener pastures. The Eucharist -- the true Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ -- is a magnet for the human soul.

Jesus draws us with a power only he can exercise fully, one that flows from the unique authority that originates in his total and sacrificial self-gift. Love like that commands attention. It also demands a response. Every time you and I receive the Sacred Host, we are invited to take one more step toward heaven. No one forces us to do so. But the invitation to follow Christ is refreshed with every Holy Communion.

I know I don't do a very good job of answering the call to Christian discipleship. I try and falter, falter again, and try again. My Christian life looks more like stumbling or teetering with God than it does like walking with him. At times, I've become more than a little discouraged by the depth and number of my own faults. "You are nothing but a fraud," that inner accuser likes to say, "a hypocrite, and a lazy one at that!" It's strange how much comfort I've found in the realization that I'm not a hypocrite after all -- just a failure! And then I receive Eucharist again, because somehow despite the poverty of what I bring to his table, God is so merciful, so compassionate, and so gracious that he still wants to place his Body into my hands.

Even when I want to give up, Jesus does not give up on me. Jesus, in fact, never gives up on anybody. Not ever. Instead, he just keeps giving himself to us, even when we least deserve it, least appreciate it, and least notice it. That is why it is so hard to walk away from the Eucharist, and so easy to run toward it. It is also why loving in a eucharistically selfless way is so difficult to emulate.

"What I received I have handed on to you." Oh, that every one of us could make an honest claim to St. Paul's words! I know I can't. I have known a few -- precious few -- who could do so. They are lights to everyone they encounter: the Presence of Christ in the world. I suppose if nothing else, the rest of us might be able to live the brokenness of Jesus. We can commend our shattered hearts and lives into his hands. We can allow the truth of who and what we are as well as who and what we're not to be given to the transforming love of God. We can trust more fully in his mercy, knowing that we depend completely on the fact that he is merciful.

O Lord, draw me to yourself -- even though I fail and falter. Strengthen me just enough to take the next step toward you. Come to me even when I push you away. Stay with me when I am afraid. Fill me with your love; forgive my willfulness and pride. Help me to aspire only to what you created me to be. Keep me from being an obstacle to your grace for others. Take my brokenness and make use of it according to your will. Lead me to the union you have desired and sacrificed for more than I.

- Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and serves as a senior editor at Ave Maria Press. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.