5 Times Jesus Revealed Himself in the Eucharist to Non-Catholics

‘And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.’ (Luke 24:30-31)

James Tissot (1836-1902), “The Road to Emmaus”
James Tissot (1836-1902), “The Road to Emmaus” (photo: Public Domain)

“What a strange feeling it is to be looking at what by all appearances is a piece of bread in a little glass compartment in the center of a very simple gold monstrance and feel like you are the one being stared at.”

Emily Bleicher shared this experience with the Register about her witness to the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist when she was a Protestant. Through a moment of grace, she recognized Jesus beyond her own understanding.

I met Emily last summer at a church event. She had arrived in town the week earlier to attend the University of Mary for graduate school. Emily calls herself an “accidental Catholic” as the result of an encounter she had with Jesus when a friend invited her to adoration. “If I had to put a hard date on when I started believing that the Eucharist is not just a piece of bread, but was God, the creator of the known and unknown universe, it would be that night,” she shared. From that experience, Emily entered RCIA and became Catholic.

“I unwaveringly believe that the Eucharist is God, the insight of which I believe to be a great gift to me,” she shared. “It certainly does not look like God, in as much as we actually have any idea what the Creator of the known cosmos looks like to begin with. But our lack of comprehension of the transformation of the bread and wine during the consecration does not diminish the reality that the Eucharist is God. “

Experiencing Christ did not mean all her troubles went away, yet she finds solace in adoration.

“I’ve felt joy more profound than I thought possible, and freer and more alive than at any point of my walk with Christ,” she said. “When I received the Eucharist for the first time at the Easter Vigil Mass, it was like nothing else mattered. All that was there in the moment was me and the one my heart loves. Leading up to this, a friend of mine said to me, ‘I know you are excited about finally receiving the Eucharist but imagine how excited Jesus is for you to finally receive the Eucharist.’ At every reception since, I try to retain that childlike wonder and faith of having the honor to receive the Eucharist, which is God.”

Former Protestant Pastor

Last fall, I met Barbara Heil, a former Charismatic Pentecostal pastor who spoke at St. Mary’s Church in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. She has shared her story on “The Journey Home” which is fitting since the Coming Home Network became a huge resource for her as she tried to reconcile her encounter with Christ in the Eucharist against her former beliefs.

Influenced by Catholics in an interdenominational program, she became curious about the Catholic Church and peeked into a parish retreat. “I was standing in the back of church after Mass, my chance to meet real Catholics,” Barbara explained. “On the last day, there was a procession. I’m in the back because I don’t want anyone to see me. All of a sudden, in my heart, I start to worship Jesus and give him glory. The presences of Jesus became so strong. I found myself bowing. I kept bowing. My eyes were closed, and waves of his presence were washing over me. I opened my eyes, and the priest was holding a gold staff with a glass window with a sunburst around it. I didn’t know what a monstrance was, but I knew Jesus was standing before me in that Catholic Church.”

Thus began her journey home. Surprisingly, unbeknownst to her, she had actually been baptized Catholic as an infant but never raised with any faith. She was confirmed in the Church in April 2013.

Post-Abortive Healing

Susan Marcy shared in Amazing Grace for Families that she married Bruce on Oct. 10, 1991. Neither was practicing any religion but wanted to include God in their marriage. They started praying and reading the Bible together. When a friend asked Susan to go with her to check out the Catholic Church, she readily agreed.

“I returned by myself the following Sunday,” she recounted. “During the consecration of the Holy Eucharist, I felt the love and forgiveness of Christ come through to me. I did not understand it all, but I made an appointment to see a priest.

“My fear was that the Catholic Church, known for being strongly against abortion, would reject me. Instead, the priest embraced me. He explained that the Church welcomes sinners and offers Christ’s forgiveness and love. I was euphoric and told Bruce that I was going to begin instruction to become Catholic. He informed me that he did not want to get roped into this church.”

“‘That’s fine,’ I said, trusting everything to God. After attending my second Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) class, Bruce joined me. ‘I’m just going to see; it does not mean I’m going to Mass every Sunday,’ he cautioned. But Bruce did start coming with me to Mass. Then, one Sunday during the consecration, Bruce felt an immense sense of Christ’s presence. On Easter Sunday, in 1997, we entered the Church together.”

From Bad Boy to Priest

Many know of Father Donald Calloway, author and priest with the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. He shared his conversion story in Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart.

Spiritual lightning struck him one night when he stayed home rather than partying. Out of boredom, he picked up a book about a Marian apparition on his parent’s bookshelf. He instantly fell in love with the Blessed Mother, never having known her before but saying, “Her God is my God.” He went to see a priest who had asked him to wait at the back of church during Mass and they would talk afterward.

“I watched curiously while everyone kneeled as Father raised a white circle,” he recalled. “At that moment, the depths of my being cried out, ‘There is my God!’ I was infused with the knowledge that it was Jesus Christ. I knew it, I knew it, and I wanted to receive him so badly.”

Afterwards, to the priest he said: “When you raised the white circle, that was God, wasn’t it! I know it, that was God! Tell me that was God!”

Six months later he was confirmed, 10 months later he left for the seminary, and in May 2003 he was ordained a priest.

Benedictine Monk

Dom David Watters grew up in Waco, Texas, and Katmandu, Nepal, the son of Protestant missionaries. His older brother converted to Catholicism after studying Church history led him into the Church. Experiencing Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist was so profound for Watters that four years ago, he become a Benedictine monk dedicated to perpetual Eucharist adoration.

He is one of 18 men as part of Silverstream Priory, Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration in County Meath, Ireland, 20 miles north of Dublin. They are dedicated to perpetual adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament in a spirit of reparation, particularly for priest scandals.

“Eucharistic adoration was a big part of my conversion,” Watters said. “For any convert, it’s something they’ve never known before.” Although his family took their faith seriously, he described discovering the Most Blessed Sacrament as “a great grace.”

“We live our life with the sole end of God,” Dom David said. “If we had a bad day but spent time with God and the Divine Office and in adoration, we still had a completely successful day. We are not necessarily on fire all the time, but the work is getting in. Souls are being saved. I go before Jesus, and he takes care of the rest.”