If you walk into any Catholic church, you will immediately notice something unique. The tabernacle occupies a prominent place and the sanctuary lamp is always lit. The central positioning of the tabernacle bears testimony to the way the Church views the Eucharist in our life of faith. For us Catholics the Eucharist is the center and the source of our spiritual life. All that we do outside the church converges on the Eucharist. And it is the Eucharist that gives us the motivation and the impetus to carry on the mission of Christ In the world.
As we celebrate the tenth anniversary of our Perpetual Adoration Chapel, I would like to invite you to reflect on the role that the Eucharist plays in our life. The Sunday Mass must become the pivotal point of our week. It is not only recommended but required by our commitment to the Lord. The Sunday Eucharist must be a non-negotiable. Especially parents are obliged to bring their children to Mass on Sunday because that is what they promised to do at their children’s baptisms. We draw our strength for the entire week from the spiritual food that we share around the Table. The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares:
The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants)… Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin. (#2181)
In addition to the Sunday Mass, there are other devotions and practices that can draw us closer to our Eucharistic Lord. These practices have been in vogue in the Church for centuries, and saints and sinners have availed themselves of these fonts of spiritual energy. In this column I would like to recommend certain devotions to the Blessed Sacrament.
From the earliest times, the Church has reserved the Sacred Elements after Mass in order to bring Communion to the sick. Eventually there arose devotion around the reserved Eucharist. Realizing that the Eucharist is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to be with His disciples, faithful Christians began to spend time in the presence of the Lord to adore Him. As monasteries began to fill and the persecution of the Church by the Romans started to abate, monks and nuns discovered the spiritual power of the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Adoration of the Holy Eucharist is our response to the plea of the Master in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Can you not watch one hour with Me?” Pope St John Paul II spent significant amounts of time in adoration while Bishop Fulton Sheen attributed the efficacy of his preaching to the time spent before the Eucharistic Lord. Mother Theresa testified that she served the poor solely for the Lord Who fed her in Holy Communion. If we want to grow in our intimacy with the Lord, spending time in quiet prayer in the adoration chapel is a sure way.
Another practice that has grown around the Blessed Sacrament is the visit. Even if we are unable to spend long periods of time in adoration, we can always stop by the church to pay a quick visit to the Lord in the tabernacle. St John Bosco used to encourage his sons to pay visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament on a daily basis. Just as we call our loved ones during the day just to say hello, we can drop by the Lord’s house to stay in touch. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament will help nurture our familiarity with the Lord.
A third practice that has not caught fire in our country is the Eucharistic procession. I remember visiting Spoleto near Assisi that holds a phenomenal procession every year for the Feast of Corpus Christi. The custom dates back to the Middle Ages. The streets of the town are all decked out in colorful festoons, and children and young people prepare carpets of flowers on the pavement to welcome the Eucharistic Lord. The procession is the public manifestation of our faith in the Real Presence and a vocal declaration of our love and reverence for the Lord Who has given us Himself in the Sacrament.
From time to time someone asks me for tips to draw closer to the Lord. Nurturing our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is a secure way to grow in holiness. After all, the Lord has given us Himself as food for our journey. It is the Eucharist that will give us the necessary strength to fight our temptations and respond positively to the nudges of the Holy Spirit.
To conclude, I would like to quote once again from the Catechism:
The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through Him to the Father in the Holy Spirit. (#1325)
I would like to thank our committed adorers and our occasional adorers for all the blessings they bring upon our parish. Let us thank the Lord for the great gift of His Presence. Let us show our gratitude by living our lives centered on the Eucharist.
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...