Phil 4: 4-8

Saturday, November 28, 2015

More Thoughts on Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament

The Eucharist—A Priceless Treasure
To continue our discussion on Eucharistic Adoration, let’s consider what Pope St. John Paul II had to say about it in his encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia:

“It is pleasant to spend time with him, to lie close to his breast like the Beloved Disciple (cf. Jn 13:25) and to feel the infinite love present in his heart. If in our time Christians must be distinguished above all by the “art of prayer”, how can we not feel a renewed need to spend time in spiritual converse, in silent adoration, in heartfelt love before Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament? How often, dear brother and sisters, have I experienced this, and drawn from it strength, consolation and support!

This practice, repeatedly praised and recommended by the Magisterium, is supported by the example of many saints. Particularly outstanding in this regard was Saint Alphonsus Liguori, who wrote: “Of all devotions, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest after the sacraments, the one dearest to God and the one most helpful to us”. The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: by not only celebrating it but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace.”

Perpetual Adoration
During the parish mission conducted recently at St. Francis of Assisi in Castle Rock, signup sheets were available for people to volunteer to spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament—face time with Jesus.  This is part of the ongoing efforts to generate a practice of “perpetual adoration.”  The goal of perpetual adoration is to have one or more people committed to one of the 168 hours a week to sit in the Real Presence and pray to Jesus.  To some that may sound like a hard commitment to make, but to reiterate a point from the last post on this topic, it’s only one hour a week.  Giving God an hour of our time seems like a pretty uneven swap when we think about what He’s done for each of us and His particular love for each and every one of us.

Lectio Divina
Starting with the first week of Advent for the 2015-2016 liturgical year, the USCCB has a downloadable guide for lectio divina (Latin for “divine reading”) prayer each week.  This is a great starting point for anyone who might want to expand their approach to prayer while in Eucharistic Adoration (or at any other time as well).  In his book, Praying Constantly: Bringing Your Faith to Life, the late Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F,R., provides a nice summary of lectio divina at pp. 94 - 97:

  • Calm ourselves—become silent and receptive to whatever God has to say
  • Begin to read a passage slowly—as slowly as possible, dwelling on words and phrases—NOT analyzing or interpreting, but remaining open to let God speak to us.  We don’t need to read too much
  • Pause when something speaks to us in a special way—stop to ponder it—this is the meditation part of divine reading
  • Repeat this over and over for the passage through which God seems to be speaking clearly to us
  • Slowly we move from reading—to meditation—and to prayer
  • In the  prayer part, we let God take the lead and we listen to Him, letting Him guide us in a gentle dialogue
  • Contemplation is the final stage, which involves letting go of words and thoughts, and comes from the grace of God, not from our efforts and happens according to His schedule, not ours.

Father Benedict closes by telling us, “The point of lectio divina is simple.  It is merely to be with God in a stillness interrupted by nothing more than the holy words of Scripture.  It is to let God remove the barriers between Himself and us, one by one, until we are as open as we possibly can be to the movement of God’s Holy Spirit…the rewards can be enormous.

For more information on how to use lectio divina, take a look at Dan Burke’s post at Catholic Spiritual Direction. 

There Are Other Ways as Well
If we don’t feel like doing divine reading, we can just go to visit Jesus and talk with Him.  We can let Him know what’s on our mind, and share with Him what we’re grateful for.  We can let Him know what’s troubling us and let Him help us: 

Jesus said to the crowds: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” – Mt. 11: 28-30

At the end of the day, it’s not so much how we pray but that we actually visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament routinely.  He’s waiting, and He wants desperately to see each one of us there.  Let us not disappoint Him.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Do You Want to Change Your Life?

To expropriate (and edit) a line from an old Clint Eastwood “Dirty Harry” movie, “Do you want to change your life? Well do you?” 

We probably all have an area or two in our lives that we’d like to transform, if only a little, but perhaps a lot.  The good news is that we can, in fact, make those transformations in our lives simply by changing the way we spend just one, or a portion of one, of the 168 hours a week we’re all given in this worldly life.  All it involves is getting face to face with Our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration. 

This last week at St. Francis Assisi in Castle Rock, we were blessed to have Fr. Lou Guardiola, C.P.M. conduct a parish mission on Eucharistic Adoration.  Through a series of presentations over five days, he provided us a great deal of spiritual food for thought on the Holy Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration.  Due to weather and other factors, many weren’t able to make it to all or some of the presentations.  Others may have some unasked and therefore unanswered questions about Eucharistic Adoration.  

What Is Eucharistic Adoration?
Simply put, it is spending time with Jesus—the Real Presence of Jesus—His body, blood soul and divinity.  Augustine Di Noia, O.P. says, “During Eucharistic adoration, it is not only we who behold Christ, but it is also He who beholds us. When we adore the Blessed Sacrament, we are not just gazing at a beautiful but inert object.”(1)  Yes, God is everywhere and yes, we can talk to Him from anywhere, but He is PHYSICALLY present in the Blessed Sacrament.  And as Father Lou reminds us, it was in His physical presence that Christ performed many miracles; it is in His physical presence in the Eucharist that He will perform many more for us if we ask Him.  Furthermore, spending quality face time with our family or friends is something that we routinely do, or should be doing.  Why wouldn’t we want to spend some quality face time with Our Lord and Savior, (and Friend) as well?

How Does One “Do” Eucharistic Adoration?
In short—we need to just show up—go to the Blessed Sacrament and spend time with Our Lord.  BishopZubik, from Pittsburgh, tells us, “There are many ways to pray. We may meditate silently by gazing on the sacred host.  We may silently speak to Jesus from our mind and heart.  We may also rely on devotions and prayers from Catholic tradition, such as the reading of Scripture, recitation of the Rosary, or the litanies.” (2)  In other words, there’s no one “right” way to adore Jesus in His Real Presence.  We each need to do what works for us. 

When we spend face time with family and friends, we talk and we listen.  That’s a good idea for when we spend face time with Jesus as well—we want to be sure we sit quietly and listen, and avoid what one writer calls the “gimme” approach to prayer.  Now, we shouldn’t make a fuss if we don’t hear a booming voice calling our name when we’re listening for God to talk to us.  Remember what the Bible tells us in 1 Kings: “…and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice…” (emphasis added) (3)  The key is to spend some quality face time with Our Lord and to set aside some of it to just listen and see what He puts on our hearts.  Even if we don’t feel or hear God talking with us at the time, we need to know that He is there with us, loving us with His particular love for each of us and hearing what’s in our hearts.

How Much Time Should I Spend In Eucharistic Adoration?
The bottom line: as much as we can squeeze out for Our Lord who came down to earth to live as a human being and die a horrible death to save us.  He suffered unimaginable agony for each one of us because of each one of us.  Can we honestly say we just don’t have time to sit with Him once in a while?  Is what He did for us less important than the weekly football game or the time we spend in our favorite pastimes?  Is He less important than the mind-numbing television shows and network news reports, or less important than the “friends” we have on Facebook or other social media?

More specifically, what did Our Lord ask Peter at Gethsemane?  “So, could you not watch with me one hour?” (4)  So, is that a hint for us?  Can we spend one hour a week with Our Lord?  That would be ideal—at least one hour a week.  But if we can only get away for twenty minutes or a half hour, we ought to do it.   

As the author at Catholic Bible 101 so eloquently tells us, “Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is one of the best ways to spend time with Jesus. There is so much noise around us these days.  Spending a quiet hour with Jesus in humble adoration will bring many graces and blessings to you.  Things that you have never even considered before will now be made present to you.  Bad things that would have happened to you will now not happen.”(5) 

And that, my friends, is an understatement!

(3)  1 Kings 19:12
(4)  Mt 26:40