My daddy always used to remind us children of this wonderful story about Flannery O’Connor (this from a letter she wrote in 1955):
“Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. Mrs. Broadwater said when she was a child and received the host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the most portable person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.”
Because I think deep down we know we need something stronger than a symbol, something physical that gets under our skin and in our bones, something real to chew on, be incorporated into, united with. A strong drink, true love, salvation.