I Blame Bagels

2015_Lenten blog 3 (image)My memories of Sunday school from grades second through eighth are vague. I went for exactly two reasons: one, my mother made me, and two, the free bagels and cream cheese.

Cream cheese made rare appearances in my childhood, and when it did magically find its way into the fridge, it was the fat-free stuff that came in a hard block. Sunday school, however, held the promise of fat-filled strawberry cream cheese with the texture of frosting. It was glorious.

My memories of bagels and strawberry cream cheese are sharp; memories of Catholic teaching are less so.  Perhaps this explains my inability to grasp really important parts of Catholicism, like transubstantiation.

Yes, I actually didn’t know what transubstantiation was because I was too focused on cream cheese, and I didn’t learn what it meant until I was 20 and volunteering with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks* for a summer. It was a transformative summer for many reasons. Basically I learned that I knew nothing about Christianity, much less Catholicism.

Eric the Anabaptist was responsible for teaching me lots of important things that summer, among them being:

  • how to hitchhike
  • the punk stitch sewn with dental floss
  • that transubstantiation is actually a really big part of Catholicism

I didn’t believe him at first.

“Is that even a word? That really doesn’t even sound like a word.”

Eric the Anabaptist assured me it was and went on to define it.

After he finished defining it, I was still incredulous. “Lies. We don’t believe that.”

(We totally do.)

Five years later, I’m still trying to grasp it. Sometimes I get dizzy if I think about it too long and then I have to sit down. None of this would ever have been a problem if I’d just put down the strawberry cream cheese bagel.

But I didn’t put down the bagel. So this Lent, I’m focusing some of my prayers on transubstantiation in hopes of trying to understand it a little more. Sometimes people help me during my little journey, which is really great. A few months ago, Liz the Couchsurfer stopped by for an evening and heard of my struggle. A week or two later, I opened my mailbox and presto! A book called Eucharistic Miracles. (Thanks Liz!) I look forward to adding it to my daily prayers and seeing how my perspective changes as I learn more about the Eucharist.


In the meantime, though, where is that strawberry cream cheese?


*(This is totally a plug: If you’re Christian, have a free summer and love the outdoors, I highly recommend applying for one ACMNP’s volunteer positions.)