One day St. Teresa of Avila heard someone say: “If only I had lived at the time of Jesus… If only I had seen Jesus… If only I had talked with Jesus…” To this she responded: “But do we not have in the Eucharist the living, true and real Jesus present before us? Why look for more?”
The “Real Presence” of Jesus, who is truly and substantially present to us in the Eucharist under the appearance of bread and wine, makes himself vulnerable and available to be consumed by those prepared to properly receive Him at Mass during Holy Communion. Jesus also humbles himself under the appearance of bread in the Eucharist for the purpose of allowing us to praise and honor Him in adoration outside of Mass too. Before we move further into the adoration of Jesus through Eucharistic adoration, we must first ask ourselves, “what is adoration?” The Catechism defines adoration as “the acknowledgement of God as God, Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists. Through worship and prayer, the Church and individual persons give to God the adoration which is the first act of the virtue of religion. The first commandment of the law obliges us to adore God (Catechism 2096, 2628, 1083), which we do at Mass and during other liturgical seasons of the year. For example, you may recall this familiar quote on Fridays during Lent at the Stations of the Cross in which we respond: We ADORE you O Christ, and we praise you. Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.”
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Eucharist began with the Feast of Corpus Christi (The Body of Christ). Eucharistic adoration in public can at least be traced back to the 13th century when on September 11th, 1226, King Louis VII of France ordered the Blessed Sacrament to be exposed for adoration at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Avignon, France in order to give thanks for victory after a battle.
What is Eucharistic adoration? It is the recognition and honor given to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. It is an encounter with Christ that strengthens our relationship with the Risen Lord in which we receive a sort of “suntan on the soul.” “In a deeper sense, it involves ‘the contemplation of the Mystery of Christ truly present before us.’ During Eucharistic Adoration, we ‘watch and wait,’ we remain ‘silent’ in His Presence and open ourselves to His Graces which flow from the Eucharist” (Source: http://catholic-church.org/kuwait/eucharistic_adoration.htm). Silence is key for this encounter to take place. Mother Teresa once said, “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers and grass grow in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” Silence is key. But what is the purpose of the silence and adoration in general?
There are three purposes for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. There are as follows:
- To acknowledge Christ’s marvelous presence in the sacrament;
- To lead us to a fuller participation in the celebration of the Eucharist, culminating in Holy Communion; and
- To foster the worship which is due to Christ in spirit and in truth.
When we participate in adoration by praying to Jesus, we don’t pray by ourselves. Though a community may join us along with the angels and saints, we need the help of the Holy Spirit who comes in “spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:23-24). St. Paul says, “the (Holy) Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groaning” (Rom. 8:26). How can I pray to Jesus during this holy hour? In other words, what kinds of prayer would you recommend? Fr. John Hardon, a deceased Jesuit priest, would say you can pray either by adoration, petition, love or reparation (prayers to repair for personal sins or the sins of the world). While I talked about the history of adoration, what it is, it’s purpose and how, stay tuned next week for further details about adoration at our parish on the evening of September 30th.
– Fr. Jeff