Note: This is the fifth and final part of my series on “Feeding with Love”. Also, my apologies if I have offended anyone with the religious discussion – that was certainly not my intent.
When I started this series on “Feeding with Love,” I thought that Communion might be a good topic for Christmas. But as I started thinking about what I would write, I quickly realized that I didn’t know enough about it. My family left the Catholic church when I was eight, so while I remembered Communion being important, I couldn’t have said why.
After some asking and poking around, I found this description online: “The sacrament of the Holy Eucharist was instituted as a food, a spiritual food…. When we eat physical food, it becomes united to us…. In Holy Communion… [we] become one with Christ…. [It] is a mystical and spiritual union of the soul with Jesus.”
And my minister (also a former Catholic, although for much longer than me) sent me this description: “Sacramental communion… was a chance to experience our oneness with Jesus, and thus with God. You might say it was meant to feed the life of the spirit.”
This resonated with me more than I expected. Previously, my only real memories about Communion revolved around transubstantiation, but this definition made more sense to me. After all, both “Am I Hungry?” and my health counseling program stress the importance of feeding other areas of your life, including your spirit, recognizing that in many ways this is more important than what we physically consume.
In fact, to me, this seems the ultimate expression of feeding with love because it is honoring what we truly care about. We may not think about it very often, but we all need food for our souls. Some people find this in sacramental Communion, in accepting the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ. Others may find it in a different type of communion, in connection with nature or other people, or whatever it is that moves them.
What I find fascinating is how feeding this other hunger can nourish the rest of our lives. When we are satisfied spiritually, the whole world may seem brighter, everything more vivid and engaging and exciting. We may find that we don’t crave physical food as much because our deeper need has been acknowledged and assuaged. We may go about our day with a lighter and more loving heart.
So this Christmas, whether you celebrate is as the birth of Jesus or not, or even if you don’t celebrate it at all, I invite you to consider his example of providing food for the spirit. And perhaps that nourishment will allow you to celebrate the holidays with less focus on the food on your plate, and more on the people, places, and traditions you love.