The first "Saturday Sacrament" will be this Reese's Heart, which was a Valentine's Day gift I received. Chocolate which is a present from a loved one is particularly blessed, because while consuming it you may focus not only on your full sensory experience but also on thoughts of the one who gave it to you. The hoped-for result is to connect the potential ecstasy of the chocolate with the lover, urging your back into his or her arms again.
This single-serving Reese's Heart is wrapped in bright red waxy plastic, which ripped easily between my index finger and my thumb when I turned it over and focused on the seam down the back. On the back also is the "Nutrition Facts" label which, when we worship with chocolate in moderation and without trans fats, should not overly concern us. If you have allergies you must read all nutritional facts, for taking a substance that may harm you is not the way to approach the Divine.
The cover of this wrapping suggests that the heart inside will be wide, and yet when opened it reveals a greater length than width, giving the heart a rather narrow and small shape that disappoints the expectant eyes. We must, however, never allow our eyes to dictate whether or not a piece of chocolate is worthy of our use as a sacrament. To determine this we must use all our senses and free ourselves from polluting the experience with fantasies of what it may smell, feel, taste or sound like as we consume it.
For the sacrament you must make sure you partake with a clean palate, free of any other flavors or sensations. I gave myself a three-hour break between other food with only water to drink.
As soon as the wrapper is opened the scent of peanut butter and milk chocolate struck my nose, its tangy tingles coursing up my nostrils and even seeming to penetrate my eyes. When I bend closer and breathe in deeply, the chocolate's scent almost disappears as the nutty aroma overtakes it. All chocolate mixtures run this risk of an imbalance of scents.
The heart fits neatly into the palm of my hand, already a bit wet from anticipation. At this point, with the smell rushing into my mind and my skin in contact with the sacrament, I must consciously slow myself and not cave into hedonistic impulses that would distract me from the full appreciation of this gift. Calmly I refocus on my skin and feel the coolness and dryness of the chocolate outer layer, which begins to melt in my palm and under my worshipful fingertips.
Now is the time to take the first taste, so I approach it from the narrow tip for the smallest of samples. As I bite through the chocolate layer I hear the crunch of the peanut cream inside; the crunch continues with each chew. The tip of my tongue barely senses the chocolate and is quickly intrigued by the peanut flavor. The second bite is not quite as crunchy and less flavorful, both in terms of chocolate and peanut butter. Determined, I take the third bite and let it lie on my tongue, where the chocolate flavor is slowly absorbed and sends tiny flutters through my mind. All too soon, the bottom layer of chocolate is gone, and I must crunch the peanut butter again.
The fourth and fifth bite — this is a five-bite sacrament — has more chocolate layering and thus more of the perfect flavor. The fourth bite I crunch through, while the fifth I allow to melt again on my tongue, lapping at the sides until my eyes sparkle just a bit with that rush of pleasure. This time the peanut almost melts as well.
Afterward, there is a slight bitterness of peanuts in my mouth, so I rinse it out with clean, cool water. During this communion I spent five minutes just savoring the sensations, enjoying the moment, and remembering the look on my partner's face when he presented me with this small token of his love. It is a good memory and a good treat, but not the most chocolaty of sacraments we might allow in our journey.
Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.