Skip to comments.Eucharistic adoration: Intimacy with Christ
Posted on 07/13/2005 12:18:57 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham
Eucharistic adoration: Intimacy with Christ
By Roxanne King
In calling for the Year of the Eucharist, one of Pope John Paul IIs goals was to help Catholics deepen their understanding and awareness of Christs real presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
Proponents of eucharistic adoration, the practice of praying before the Eucharist, say the devotion does just that.
In the Year of the Eucharist, the Holy Father invited the faithful to start afresh from Christ by the faithful contemplating with greater perseverance the face of the Word made flesh, truly present in the eucharistic sacrament, said Deacon Chuck Parker, director of the archdiocesan Office of Liturgy. The Holy Father said that by that contemplation we will train ourselves in the art of prayer.
The eucharistic year, which began with the International Eucharistic Congress in Mexico last October and concludes with the ordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist in Rome this October, was set aside to deepen the importance of the eucharistic sacrament in the life and activity of every local church, Deacon Parker said.
Throughout this Year of the Eucharist, the Archdiocese of Denver in association with the parishes call the faithful to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, he added. Parishes throughout the archdiocese have made available adoration throughout the days at various times so that people can avail themselves of this great gift of Jesus present in the Eucharist.
Parishioners should check with their local parish to see if it offers the devotion. A list of those that do is available online at www.archden.org. (Click on the Year of the Eucharist link.) In addition, the Bulletin Board page of the Denver Catholic Register usually carries some listings. (See Page 13.)
Because of the eucharistic year, many local parishes that did not previously offer the devotion now do, Deacon Parker said, and among those that did, several have expanded the number of hours the devotion is available.
Often referred to as the cult of eucharistic adoration, the devotion has a long history in the Church, Deacon Parker said. Its always been part of Catholic piety that we would bow before the Lord who made us and worship him present to us in that great gift he left us, the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Father Ken Leone, new pastor of Risen Christ Parish in Denver, is convinced that 24-hour eucharistic adoration is the key to renewing the parish. As such, he is seeking to put it into practice at Risen Christ.
When people do adoration, theyre hearts are changed as they fall in love with Jesus, Father Leone said. A second benefit of the devotion, he said, is that the parish develops prayer warriors, as those praying before the Blessed Sacrament are asked to intercede on behalf of others.
Pastor a dozen years at St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Littleton, which will celebrate the 20th anniversary of eucharistic adoration in the parish this year, Father Leone begins his day with an hour before the Blessed Sacrament daily. He especially saw the healing power of eucharistic adoration at work in his former parish during the 1999 Columbine tragedy. He also credits the devotion with revitalizing the faith of parishioners, who then bring others into the church (100 people joined the Catholic Church at Cabrini during this years Easter Vigil). And he has witnessed its power to bring about radical conversions among people of all ages.
Among those is seminarian John Nepil, 21, who is in formation to become a priest for the Denver Archdiocese. Heres a kid who didnt want anything to do with the Church, Father Leone said.
Talked into attending a youth retreat while in high school four years ago, the then hard-partying Nepil took part in the eucharistic adoration offered one night. The prayer changed his life.
Its hard to explain what happened, Nepil said. But our Lord, who is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, gave me the grace to be convicted that this is the truth that Jesus Christ is truly God and is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament and that he came to redeem man. I realized that if that is the case, I needed to reform my life.
By the grace of God I was able to give up all that other stuff, drinking and drugs, he said. It was a real shocker to my family and friends. I didnt have anything to do with this it was all Gods grace. Thats the reality of it. The grace he poured forth that night was unbelievable. A year later I entered the seminary.
Nepil will begin his fourth year in the seminary this fall.
Both of the archdiocesan seminaries incorporate eucharistic adoration as an integral part of the mens spiritual formation. Nepil said he is grateful for that.
Its such a source of grace that a day without it is more difficult. Theres no other form of prayer that really comes close to it.
Academic dean and professor Anthony Lilles teaches the theology of the Eucharist and of prayer at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. During the Year of the Eucharist he is presenting parish retreats that focus on eucharistic adoration.
People are very hungry for prayer and they need to know about eucharistic adoration as one way to feed this desire, this need they have for prayer in their lives, he said.
Those new to the devotion, a form of contemplative prayer, should know that its simple to do. The devotion basically consists of sitting, or kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament and being present to the Lord. If one feels distracted, Lilles recommends that they pray the rosary or read Scripture, particularly the Gospels.
What proponents of eucharistic adoration like about the devotion is the tangible feeling of Christs presence it offers.
Whether exposed or in the tabernacle, whenever we come into the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, theres a grace for intimacy with Christ and the grace expresses itself, you feel his presence, Lilles said. John Paul II, in his letter on the Year of the Eucharist, talks about this feeling the love of Christ in the Eucharist, and that its important for the Christian life.
While Mass is the source and summit of eucharistic devotion, Lilles noted that eucharistic adoration extends that experience of Christ. Thats why it can help lead us into contemplative prayer. It deepens our intimacy with Christ.
Like Father Leone, Lilles emphasized the healing, intercessory and transformative powers of the devotion.
On healing: Its like what St. Theresa of Avila says, Jesus takes us where were at. If our hearts are filled with sorrow, He weeps with us. If our hearts are joyful, He shares that joy with us. This solidarity with Christ is perhaps one of the most healing gifts of all.
On intercession and transformation: Contemplative prayer with the Eucharist leads us into the mystery of intercession. This experience of intercessory prayer is a prompting of the Holy Spirit that happens subtlety in our lives. As we sit before the Blessed Sacrament loved ones come to mind and situations come to mind and we bring them before the Lord.
As this experience matures it can become very intense, Lilles added. Its always very fruitful it transforms not only our lives but the lives of everyone around us.
Fruits of eucharistic adoration include conversion, a return to the sacrament of confession, and a deepening understanding of different aspects of Christ, Lilles said. During his retreats, Lilles encourages the participants to reflect on Christ the Suffering Servant or Christ the High Priest.
All through our life, but in a special way before eucharistic adoration, Christ comes to us in ever new ways, revealing always new aspects of his life always revealing in a new way the face of the Father, Lilles said.
"Real presence" is a nice term, but even Lutherans and Episcopalians and Anglican believe in the "real presence."
The Catholic word and distinguishing mark is called transubstantiation.
Transubstantiation. The practice of the use of the term "real presence" without mentioning "transubstantiation" is condemned by the Council of Trent.
But who reads that, anyway?
Not all of them do, just like a lot of "Catholics" don't.
But who reads that, anyway?
Quite a few people do, including the authors of the Catechism.
1373 "Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us," is present in many ways to his Church:197 in his word, in his Church's prayer, "where two or three are gathered in my name,"199 in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned,199 in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But "he is present . . . most especially in the Eucharistic species."200
1374 The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend."201 In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained."202 "This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present."203
1375 It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion. Thus St. John Chrysostom declares:
It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God's. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered.204 And St. Ambrose says about this conversion:
Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed. . . . Could not Christ's word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature.205
1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."206
1377 The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.207
1378 Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. "The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession."208
1379 The tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of the Eucharist in a worthy place so that it could be brought to the sick and those absent outside of Mass. As faith in the real presence of Christ in his Eucharist deepened, the Church became conscious of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic species. It is for this reason that the tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in the church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
1380 It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present to his Church in this unique way. Since Christ was about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence; since he was about to offer himself on the cross to save us, he wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which he loved us "to the end,"209 even to the giving of his life. In his Eucharistic presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us,210 and he remains under signs that express and communicate this love:
The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease.211 1381 "That in this sacrament are the true Body of Christ and his true Blood is something that 'cannot be apprehended by the senses,' says St. Thomas, 'but only by faith, which relies on divine authority.' For this reason, in a commentary on Luke 22:19 ('This is my body which is given for you.'), St. Cyril says: 'Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in faith, for since he is the truth, he cannot lie.'"212
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more, See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art. Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived; How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed; What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do; Truth himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.213
197 Rom 8:34; cf. LG 48.
198 Mt 18:20.
199 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.
200 SC 7.
201 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,73,3c.
202 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1651.
203 Paul VI, MF 39.
204 St. John Chrysostom, prod. Jud. 1:6:PG 49,380.
205 St. Ambrose, De myst. 9,50; 52:PL 16,405-407.
206 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1642; cf. Mt 26:26 ff.; Mk 14:22 ff.; Lk 22:19 ff.; 1 Cor 11:24 ff.
207 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1641.
208 Paul VI, MF 56.
209 Jn 13:1.
210 Cf. Gal 2:20.
211 John Paul II, Dominicae cenae, 3.
212 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,75,1; cf. Paul VI, MF 18; St. Cyril of Alexandria, In Luc. 22,19:PG 72,912; cf. Paul VI, MF 18.
213 St. Thomas Aquinas (attr.), Adoro te devote; tr. Gerard Manley Hopkins.