This past Sunday the Gospel reading continued it's journey through John 6. This multi-week emphasis on the Bread Of Life discourse should help us reflect more deeply on Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist. As I shared previously this is the font & summit of our lives, both individually and as a catholic community. It is the principle source of spiritual nourishment for our souls. Yet, not everyone is a big fan.
I'm not speaking here of Fundamentalist objections to transubstantiation, but about the very real spiritual world in which we live. This was brought home to me in a very personal way this past Sunday. While attending mass with my two oldest daughters I noticed a young woman sitting in the very front acting very strangely. I had discerned that she was under the influence of an evil spirit, particularly of a sexualized and sacrilegious one (for more on discernment of spirits see 1 Cor. 12). I had the very distinct impression that she was going to do something at communion, but I wasn't sure what it would be.
At communion I was kneeling at my pew and had a clear view of this woman. I watched as she went up to receive the Eucharist and observed that she did not consume the host but brought it back to her seat in her hand. Someone sitting next to her noticed this and apparently leaned over and told her to eat the host. By this time I was in line for communion myself but still able to watch her. As I received the Eucharist she got up from her seat and began to walk towards the back of the church. I followed. I watched as she exited the lobby of the church and through the glass doors/windows was able to see her look around then spit several times into a trash can.
After mass I pulled aside one of the parish staff that I knew and explained what happened. She too had seen this woman initially not consume the host and then walk out immediately after putting it in her mouth. A search of the trash can was unable to find anything of substance resembling the host.
It's ironic that our priest had devoted his homily to expounding upon the Eucharist as our best weapon against the Culture of Death in society while a real spiritual battle was taking place at that very time. I'm not one for seeing demons behind every rock, but I do believe in their existence and their ability to harass and influence people. St. Paul had this very reality in mind as he wrote in Ephesians 6 that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
I ask for prayers for this young woman that she may be set free from the spiritual bondage she is under, that she might know the love of Jesus, the very one she spit from her mouth, and the power of his loving mercy.