13 June 2009

Some Thoughts On Corpus Christi

Unfortunately for many Catholics, the sands of time and a secularized culture have buried the remembrance that a Catholic’s encounter with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is not intended to be at Mass alone, but also by frequent adoration and Holy Hours. Exercising our free will to make adoration a familiar part of our lives draws us to a closer union with our Lord. How could it not! It is always Jesus’ desire that our relationship with Him grows to heights of celestial intimacy. But He cannot force the issue, for that would not be an act of love. It must be our own unflinching desire conjoined with our Lord’s eternal desire that will ultimately strengthen our affection for Him and form an unshakable bond of love.

I heard a very alarming statistic the other day which stated that less than one percent of the world’s Catholics make Eucharistic Adoration a regular part of their lives. That statistic moves from alarming to horrifying when considering that priests and religious are among that statistical assembly of the world’s Catholics.

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, in his homily given on 3 May 2009 during the Mass for the Ordination to the Priesthood of Nineteen Deacons of the Diocese of Rome, said that the daily forms of prayer for a priest should be Holy Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, Lectio Divina, the Holy Rosary, and yes, Eucharistic Adoration.

As Cardinal Ratzinger, in his book titled, “God Is Near Us,” our future Holy Father wrote: “Communion and adoration do not stand side by side, or even in opposition, but are indivisibly one. For communicating means entering into fellowship. Communicating with Christ means having fellowship with Him. That is why Communion and contemplation belong together: a person cannot communicate with another person without knowing him. He must be open for him, see him, and hear him. Love or friendship always carries within it an impulse of reverence, of adoration. Communicating with Christ therefore demands that we gaze on Him, allow Him to gaze on us, listen to Him, get to know Him. Adoration is simply the personal aspect of Communion. We cannot communicate sacramentally without doing it personally. Sacramental Communion becomes empty, and finally a judgment for us, unless it is repeatedly completed by us personally. The saying of the Lord in the book of Revelation is valid not only for the end times: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My Voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him and he with Me’ (3:20). This is at the same time a description of the most profound content of Eucharistic piety. True Communion can happen only if we hear the Voice of the Lord, if we answer and open the door. ‘Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration and… [let] our adoration never cease’ (Dominicæ Cenæ).

Of course, the often haphazard ways of our modern day world have dictated that many of our churches have their doors locked during the week, making a trip to spend time before the tabernacle a bit difficult. Just as there are spiritual Communions, fortunately, there is also spiritual adoration. When you can’t get to a church or if it is not open during the week, you can adore our Lord spiritually by asking our Lord to spiritually place you before the tabernacle of your local parish or another parish. A priest friend of mine recently wrote in an email to me that before the days of living under the same roof with the Blessed Sacrament, as he does now, he would ask Jesus to spiritually place him before the tabernacle in the location of where our dear Lord is most ignored or rejected. What a brilliant idea!

Recently on the blog, Vultus Christi was a post titled, “Adoration at Home.” It’s about a priest named Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey (1875-1960). He and the blog’s owner, also a priest, offer some advice on being in spirit before the tabernacle. Please check it out!

Saint Jean Marie Vianney, the model which the Church offers us for the upcoming “Year for Priests” was no stranger to adoration. Read these astonishing words from the holy Curé d’Ars: “In times of discouragement when, after the Consecration, I hold in my hands the most holy Body of our Lord, seeing myself to be only worthy of hell, I say to myself: ‘Ah, if only I could take Him with me! Hell would be sweet near Him; it would not be painful to stay there suffering for all eternity if we were there together. But then there would not be any more hell – the flames of love would extinguish those of justice.’ ”

It was on a Christmas night at Mass, during the elevation, as he held the Host above the chalice, tears were falling from his eyes. Saint Jean Marie Vianney would later reveal that he was saying within himself: “My God, if I knew that I was to be damned, now that I hold You, I would not let You go again.”

Perhaps hell and thoughts of being damned crossed this great saint’s mind because of the frequency of Satan’s attacks on him physically, psychologically and emotionally. He was also verbally mocked by the evil one. But even when the prince of lies confronts a man who has such an intimate union with Truth, then the master of deceit must also speak the truth. This is what the devil said to the Curé d’Ars: “If there were three such priests as you, my kingdom would be ruined.”

Saint Jean Marie Vianney was a priest, he is a model for all priests, and he is the patron saint of priests. But his sanctity is contagious. May we all – Priests, Religious and Laity – be infected! And may our Lady, who is the perfect adorer, help us to adore her Son and guide our steps to a glorious intimacy with Him.