Corpus Christi: On Eucharistic Adoration

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi forces us to take a deep look at our belief in the Eucharist as well as our participation in the Eucharistic Community that is the Church.

Jun 05, 2021

The Body and Blood of Christ
Readings: Exodus 24:3-8;
Hebrews 9:11-15; Gospel: Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

Since last Friday was a First Friday, we had, as we always do, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in our chapel. So, I went to the  chapel to spend a little time before the Blessed  Sacrament and to hear what the Lord wanted  me to present to you in this homily. As soon as I walked in, I was confronted with the question: Why are you here? It was clear to me that  I was not being asked why I was here on earth,  or why I was here in Florida at St Ignatius, but  why was I here before the Eucharistic Presence  of the Lord? I didn’t have any deep theological  answer to that question, just, simply, that I was  here, there actually, to look at the Presence of  the Lord in the Eucharist and to know that He was looking at me. I was there to pray, to talk  to Him and, hopefully, to quiet my mind down  enough so that I could listen to Him. 

I know that many of you go to Eucharistic Adoration on First Fridays, when we have 40  Hours during Lent and on retreats. Eucharistic  Adoration is a highlight for our young people on  our December Retreat.

Recently, there have been concerns voiced  that perhaps for some, Eucharistic Adoration detracts from the Mass. For example, many times  our young people will be asked, “What was  the highlight of the conference, or the week?”  and they often respond, “Eucharistic Adoration.” Some are concerned, thinking that their  response should be the Mass. They are correct  in affirming that the Mass is the most important  action of the Church. But I do not share this concern regarding Eucharistic Adoration. Having  an experience of the Presence of the Lord in the  Eucharist is a blessing to be treasured, whether  this blessing is experienced at Mass or at Eucharistic Adoration, or at both. 

Is the grace received at Eucharistic Adoration  of the same dimension as that received at Mass?  Of course not. At Mass we join the Lord in renewing the Sacrifice of the Cross. Jesus is once  more offered up for us to the Father “for our sins  and the sins of the whole world,” as the chaplet  of Divine Mercy so elegantly declares. At Mass  we take the Saviour within us and are mystically  united to Him before the Father, offering Himself for us. Our union with Him as the Head of  the Living Body of worshipers, our union with  the community, our communion, is the great  gift that Catholicism has jealously preserved,  even in the face of persecution. In the history of the Church, including the present times, those  who attack Catholicism first attack the Mass.  Priests were tortured to death, hung drawn and  quartered for saying Mass in sixteenth and seventeenth century England. There are still many  places in the world where it is illegal for a priest  to say Mass. There are many places in our country where anti-Catholic bigotry is expressed in a  mocking of the Blessed Sacrament. Magicians used to use the term hocus pokus on the stage. That was a mockery of the word of consecration in Latin, “Hoc est enim corpus meum,” For,  this is my Body.” The mockery of the Blessed  Sacrament infuriates us because we treasure the  Mass. And, yes, it is and should be the highlight  of our lives.

Eucharistic Adoration leads us to a deeper understanding and appreciation of what we are  doing at Mass and Whom we are receiving at  communion. Should Eucharistic Adoration  ever replace Mass? Of course not. Nor could  it. Should it be disparaged in any way? What  a pity that would be. At the same time, care  needs to be taken that Adoration services don’t  become merely an emotional experience. Nor  should they be cold, dry experiences devoid of  human expression similar to the old pre-Vatican  Benediction services. With this said, I am saddened that anyone would want to take the experience of Jesus Christ at Eucharistic Adoration  away from anyone else, particularly the young.

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi forces us to  take a deep look at our belief in the Eucharist  as well as our participation in the Eucharistic Community that is the Church. The solemnity  reminds us: This is Jesus. He is present on our altars, offering Himself up for us to the Father.  He is present within us in the reception of communion. He is present at Eucharistic Adoration  looking at us as we look at Him. 

And He is present in our tabernacles. What  a pity it is that so many of our churches have  become social halls before Mass. Some people  even ignore the people next to them trying to  pray before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. Perhaps a good reminder for us all of  what a Catholic Church is would come if we  return to the fundamentals: genuflecting when  we enter the pew, right knee people, and kneeling to speak to the Presence of the Lord before  us. We should also genuflect or at least bow any  time that we cross in front of the tabernacle. By the way, we should be sure that there is as little  movement around the Church as possible during the Eucharistic Prayer. 

So what am I doing here? I asked myself that  question at Eucharistic Adoration. Ask yourselves: What am I doing here when I come to  Mass, when I receive communion, when I go  to Eucharistic Adoration. What are we doing? The Solemnity of Corpus Christi tells us what  we are doing. We are experiencing the Presence  of Jesus Christ in the Great Gift of the Eucharist.  — By Msgr Joseph A Pellegrino

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