15 May 2009

Only Jesus Can Sanctify Us!

In a treatise from Saint Gaudentius, he reminds that: “One has died for all; that is, in every Church building, in the mystery of bread and wine, being sacrificed He restores, being believed He gives us life, being consecrated He sanctifies those who consecrate. This is the Lamb’s Flesh, this is His Blood.”

The heartbreak, sadness and bodily harm that is felt in this world inflicted by the hands of others could vanish or at least be minimized if we all understood that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

In the Mass held at the Valley of Josafat in Jerusalem, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the ancient prophecies which foretell a day when “God will wipe away the tears from every eye, and prepare a banquet of salvation for all peoples” (cf. Isaiah 25:6-8; Revelation 21:2-4). He also spoke of the sadness of “how far our world is from the complete fulfillment of that prophecy and promise.” He expounded on this by localizing it when he said: “In this Holy City where life conquered death, where the Spirit was poured out as the first-fruits of the new creation, hope continues to battle despair, frustration and cynicism, while the peace which is God’s gift and call continues to be threatened by selfishness, conflict, division and the burden of past wrongs.”

In the Catholic Church the banquet of salvation is offered daily. In fact, when taking into consideration all the world’s time zones, there’s never a time in our twenty-four day when that life-giving banquet isn’t being prepared. But it is not the unbelievers that are charged with the full blame of these wrongs, we must also consider ourselves who are believers but have dispositions that does not allow the Holy Eucharist to change us.

Surely it is God’s will that all who receive Him – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – would be able to look at Him with the intense gaze of Padre Pio; or that we could say with Saint Jean Marie Vianney that when we receive Jesus Christ, we “feel a new taste for heavenly things, and a new contempt for things created.” Of course, this does not speak of the beauty of God’s creation, but only of the evil that uses created things to turn us away from God.

Why then doesn’t the Eucharist noticably change us? For some He does indeed transform. Cardinal Ratzinger addressed this question and He answered it in this way: “The gifts of bread and wine, that are the gifts of creation and at the same time fruit of human labor and the transformation of the creation, are changed so that in them the Lord Himself Who gives Himself becomes present, in His gift of self-giving. The act of donation is not something of Him, but it is Himself. And on this basis the prospect opens onto two further transformations, that are essential to the Eucharist from the instant of its institution: the transformed bread, the transformed wine. Through them the Lord Himself gives Himself as spirit that gives life, to transform us so that we become one bread with Him and then one body with Him. The transformation of the gifts, which is only the continuation of the fundamental transformations of the Cross and the Resurrection, is not the final point, but in its turn only a beginning. The end of the Eucharist is the transformation of those who receive it in authentic communion with its transformation. And so the end is unity, that peace which we, as separated individuals who live beside one another or in conflict with one another, become one with Christ and in Him, as one organism of self-giving, to live in view of the Resurrection and the new world.”

Unity, peace, avoiding separation, avoiding conflict – these are things which point to “love”. In order to love fully, however, there has to be a full commitment to Love Himself. One hour a week at Mass cannot achieve this.

Saint Augustine said: “No one partakes of this Flesh before he has adored it.” A regular routine of Eucharistic Adoration whether at a church or a chapel, or in spirit within the quiet confines of home when one is unable to go to a church, allows the Lord to speak to our hearts. This is a transforming conversation of our God with His servant.

Again, Cardinal Ratzinger, reflects on Adoration: “The adoration of the Lord in the sacrament is also an education in sensitizing our conscience. Christ comes into the hearts of our brothers and sisters and visits their consciences. When the conscience becomes dulled, this lets in the violence that lays waste the world. Anyone who gazes upon the Face of the Lord, which the servants of the Sanhedrin and Pilate’s servants have spat upon, which they have slapped and covered with spittle, will see in His Face the mirror of our violence, a reflection of what sin is, and their conscience will be purified in the way that is the precondition for every social reform, for every improvement in human affairs. For the reform of human relationships rests in the first place on a reinforcement of moral strength.”

Pope John Paul II, in Domincæ Cenæ writes that in order for our Adoration to be authentic, “it must make us grow in awareness of the dignity of each person.” Thus, “the Eucharist becomes of itself the school of active love for neighbor.”

In summary, then, it is our own prejudices, our resistance to serve -- to be a slave for Christ, our sins which keep us from being transformed by the Blessed Sacrament. And what these holy men seem to be telling us is that the reception of Holy Communion must be accompanied by Adoration. These eventually will change us and lead us to be fully committed to each other and to the One Who is fully committed to us.

Interesting that Blessed Teresa of Calcutta saw Eucharistic Adoration as a means to end abortion – that is, if more of us spent time in Adoration.