When we wrote to Fr. Matt McGinnis last fall, one statement from Rich stood out more than any other: "I have to receive the Body and blood of Christ." That was one of the last things Rich said to Fr. Matt and then they made arrangements for him to do so within several days of that conversation.
When I think about Rich's words that day, I can't help but wonder what brought him to the point of such a bold proclamation. Rich had been attending daily Mass at the reservation. It is there that he experienced the Holy Sacrifice "re-presented" day after day. Did Rich hear Jesus beckon him to "Come all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest?"
Maybe Rich was reflecting on the writings of his hero St. Francis of Assisi who had a tremendous devotion to the Body and Blood of Christ. I wonder if he was pondering something like the following prayer of St. Francis:
Let every one be struck with fear,
let the whole world tremble,
and let the heavens exult
when Christ the Son of the Living God,
is present on the altar in the hands of a priest!
O wonderful loftiness and stupendous dignity!
O sublime humility!
O humble sublimity!
The Lord of the universe,
God and the Son of God,
so humbles Himself
that for our salvation
He hides Himself
under an ordinary piece of bread!
Brothers, look at the humility of God,
and pour out your hearts before him!
that you may be exalted by Him!
Hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves,
that He who gives Himself totally to you
May receive you totally!
I imagine Rich reading these words and inspired by the Holy Spirit, crying out to God "I want to receive you! I don't want to hold back anything from you. Receive me completely God." As evidenced by his songs, Rich was no stranger to the spiritual battle. I have no doubt he counted the cost of becoming Catholic. I am sure it took him years to come to that point of surrender turned to desire, turned to a cry of a heart that knows "I am nothing without you." Just as Peter said in John 6 after learning that in order to have life he must "Eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood," Rich knew there was nowhere else to go.
This struggle with total surrender is illustrated so eloquently in my favorite Rich Mullins song:
"Hold me Jesus"
Rich Mullins was such an example of faith and devotion to God. May you be blessed by his witness.