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  • Tarjei Straume
    Rudolf Steiner once said, when talking about the history of the Middle Ages, that when people begin to discuss something, they do not understand it. This
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 7, 2004
      Rudolf Steiner once said, when talking about the history of the Middle
      Ages, that when people begin to discuss something, they do not understand
      it. This utterance should be treated intelligently, because it refers
      specifically to the spiritual. Steiner was speaking about the
      Transubstantiation: "This is my body." When this became the object of
      discussion, it was because it was no longer understood, although it had
      been understood up until that point.

      My personal experience with churches and their rituals is limited, and my
      experience with Catholicism - apart from reading about it - is minimal. I
      grew up around agnostics for the most part, and churches were only attended
      for funerals mostly. But I did on one occasion experience the
      Transubstantiation in a Catholic church. It may have looked like fluke, but
      for me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime gift. It's not the precise season for
      this story now in the middle of Easter, but it will have to do.

      To the best of my recollection, the year was 1972, on Christmas Eve
      somewhere in London, where I spent five years as a student. I was going to
      spend Christmas day with friends of my family, but in Scandinavia the main
      focus of Christmas is on Christmas Eve, so I had joined a get-together in a
      Norwegian Lutheran church that evening. It was church coffee and cookies
      and chats, but I was longing for a Christ experience, and I was sitting on
      the second floor of a London bus on my way home - in those days, you could
      smoke upstairs; I don't know if that's the case anymore - the Beatles sang
      about lighting up a very potent reefer on the second floor of the bus in
      "A Day in the Life":

      Woke up, fell out of bed,
      Dragged my comb across my head
      Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
      And looking up I noticed I was late.
      Found my coat and grabbed my hat
      Made the bus in seconds flat
      Found my way upstairs and had a smoke,
      Somebody spoke and I went into a dream.

      (This song was initially banned on the BBC.)

      Anyway, I was having a smoke on the top floor of a London bus on my way
      home from Norwegian church coffee, and there was this bus stop across the
      street from a nice-lloking Catholic church with open doors and lights
      inside and people streaming in. I found my way downstairs in a second and
      got off the bus, as an instant reaction to the sight of that church. It was
      five minutes to midnight on Christmas Eve.

      I had never been to a Catholic service before, so I just "did as the Romans
      did", kneeling and praying and singing a hymn or two. It felt really good,
      I'm telling you. And then one of the priests came up to the podium, and the
      first thing he said just kind of knocked me out; he said: "It doesn't make
      any difference if you're Catholics or not," he said. "There is a spiritual
      awakening taking place in society, and it's for everybody." Imagine opening
      up with words like that; it sure made me feel I'd come to the right place.
      And then this other priest in the bacground started singing in Latin, a
      liturgy I guess, and it was amazing, because the acoustics rung right
      through the walls and roof and seemed to make the whole building
      transparent in an astral sense as if the voice of this priest was heard by
      the stars, and he was summoning Christ, and Christ came and filled up the
      atmosphere, and before I knew it, I was standing there in line to receive
      the holy sacrament, and there they stood, those robed priests, some with
      wine and some with bread, and I swallowed the wine and the bread with the
      words "The blood of Christ" and "The body of Christ" reverberating through
      me, and I experienced the miracle of the Transubstantiation.

      I tried to attend this kind of thing again in another Catholic church, but
      nothing of the kind was happening. But the point was that I had learned to
      understand the Transubstantiation Mystery through personal experience. It's
      something that no doctrines can teach you, and like Steiner said,
      discussions are only symptoms of things not understood.


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