The Devotion to Christ – Going to the chapel…

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By Brian Cook

Continued from last week

In order to get to the chapel at the Eternal Word Television Network in Irondale, I had to exit the gift shop, walk outside and around the corner and enter through two beautiful wooden double doors with antique brass handles. The doors were perfectly balanced and impeccably quiet, which I appreciated since I was trying my very best to become invisible.

The small chapel was almost full. With pews on either side, the chapel has a center aisle that leads to a platform on which stood beautiful tables, chairs and a partial wall separating the musicians and choir. I admired beautiful statues in places of prominence along with 14 images – seven down each side wall – of Christ and His Passion. Setting over the platform was a large and shiny object flanked by two kneeling angels. The space held a large circular piece of unleavened bread for all the world to see. I say “all the world” for there were several professional grade cameras on the walls where the live Masses that are televised on EWTN are filmed.

So much for being invisible.

`There was a pulpit, but it was located off to the side from where Scripture was read and preached, but and center was an altar! For the first time I realized that in every church I’d ever been in, the central focus – from the construction of the building to the order of service – pointed to the preacher behind the pulpit. Here the preacher was called a priest, and his attention, along with everyone else in the chapel, was centered on Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Mary, the Pope, bishops and priests, all the angels and saints and “you, my brothers and sisters,” were all called upon to “pray unto the Lord our God.” All hearts and eyes were on Jesus.

The focus on Jesus Christ alone with His teaching, and His sacrifice, floored me. Mary’s name was mentioned only once. Based on the untruths I had learned, that was a pleasant surprise. As it turned out, that chapel service was one of the best Bible studies I ever attended. A reading from the Old Testament, a group recitation from the Book of Psalms and a reading from the New Testament echoed the same message and showed the congruency of Scriptures written hundreds of years apart.

With great reverence and attention, the book of the Gospels was carried to the pulpit, opened and read as we stood, much like in Nehemiah 8:5. I was far from entertained, as the reverence for Jesus Christ and the Gospel moved me deeply.

After the priest’s sermon, or homily, the Nicene Creed and the Lord’s Prayer was said together. It was a surreal John 17:13-23 moment. I experienced a feeling of identity with those around me and with the hundreds of thousands that had come before me, the millions of people all over the world and the hundreds of millions of people all the way back to the Apostles. My eyes started to fill with emotion – these are my people and we are His people!

We knelt as the priest recited the words of Christ. It was if Jesus had walked into the room, so we all took a reverent posture of humility. Much like the kneeling angels, whose eyes were centered on Christ in the form of bread, the attendees, along with the priest and the deacons and the altar servers, knelt before our King.

This was a strange and new experience for me. The Holy Spirit seemed to testify within me, and somewhere deep inside my heart I said “Yes, this is good, and it is right, as Psalm 95:6 tells us, to let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our God, our Maker.”

The moment was both exhilarating and frightening, for if the Spirit of the Lord was in this room and if Jesus Christ was present at the Table, there was no place for my addiction. Would I respond like Zacchaeus or would I feign loyalty like Judas?

To be continued…

Brian Cook is a Cropwell native and a graduate of Pell City High School, Gadsden State Community College and Jacksonville State University. He and his wife Hope have five children. A self-described “on-again-off-again bi-vocational part-time” Protestant minister for almost 20 years, Brian converted to Catholicism in April 2021. They attend Saint James Catholic Church in Gadsden. With no formal training (Acts 4:13), Brian active in the Catechetical training of children and adults. His book “The Devotion to Christ” can be found on Amazon. He is available for speaking and teaching engagements in any parish, church, or group setting. He may be contacted at thedtc@protonmail.com or thedevotiontochrist@gmail.com.

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