Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fall On Your Knees

This evening I would like to meditate with you on two interconnected aspects of the Eucharistic Mystery: worship of the Eucharist and its sacred nature. It is important to reflect on them once again to preserve them from incomplete visions of the Mystery itself, such as those encountered in the recent past.

First of all, a reflection on the importance of Eucharistic worship and, in particular, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. We shall experience it this evening, after Mass, before the procession, during it and at its conclusion. A unilateral interpretation of the Second Vatican Council penalized this dimension, in practice restricting the Eucharist to the moment of its celebration. Indeed it was very important to recognize the centrality of the celebration in which the Lord summons his people, gathers it round the dual table of the Word and of the Bread of life, nourishes and unites it with himself in the offering of the Sacrifice.

Of course, this evaluation of the liturgical assembly in which the Lord works his mystery of communion and brings it about still applies; but it must be put back into the proper balance. In fact — as often happens — in order to emphasize one aspect one ends by sacrificing another. In this case the correct accentuation of the celebration of the Eucharist has been to the detriment of adoration as an act of faith and prayer addressed to the Lord Jesus, really present in the Sacrament of the Altar.

This imbalance has also had repercussions on the spiritual life of the faithful. In fact, by concentrating the entire relationship with the Eucharistic Jesus in the sole moment of Holy Mass one risks emptying the rest of existential time and space of his presence. This makes ever less perceptible the meaning of Jesus’ constant presence in our midst and with us, a presence that is tangible, close, in our homes, as the “beating Heart” of the city, of the country, and of the area, with its various expressions and activities. The sacrament of Christ’s Charity must permeate the whole of daily life.

Homily, Corpus Christi, 2012

Reflection – Ok, time for another series on the blog. This fine homily from the past feast of Corpus Christi is worth reflecting on for a few days anyhow. The Eucharist being the source and summit of Christian life, as the Second Vatican Council so well put it, it is something we need to contemplate over and over.

You know, if what Pope Benedict is saying here is true, and I don’t doubt it, it sure is a supreme irony. The best intentions of Vatican II were indeed to cultivate a sense of the living presence of God in our lives, to see that Jesus is not just in the church or the prayer book but extending out to permeate the work place, the school, the home, the street, culture and the arts, finance and politics—everything. Every aspect of human life is to be Christ-ified, informed, transformed by the Spirit of Christ. Everything is to ‘eucharistized’ in a certain sense – not in the metaphysical transformation that is unique to the Eucharist itself, but nonetheless a real transformation, a real change, a real presence of Christ, if not the Real Presence.

And so it is ironic that the denigration of Adoration, the restriction of encounter with Christ in the Eucharist to the Mass, has worked the very opposite. Thankfully, this denigration of Adoration is becoming more and more a thing of the past, but there it is: when we don’t fall to our knees to worship Jesus in this physical reality of his Presence among us, we do not, in fact, recognize his presence in the home, the workplace, the school, nor do we have any idea what to do about culture and the arts, finance and politics or much else besides!

Yesterday I gave testimony about that dark period in my life when everything in me opposed to God was raging strong (this was after I joined Madonna House, of course!) It was at that time that the community began to have, not perpetual Adoration, but daily Adoration roughly coinciding with our communal horarium.

When we began this, I was sceptical (young fool that I was). ‘I can find God in my work!’ I said (not that I… you know, was doing that or anything). But in my heart, I knew God was asking me to take it on and take part in this communal initiative.

So I went. Daily, as much as I could, for an hour. And as a result I’m still sitting here in the MH dining room tapping away on my laptop writing this blog. I seriously don’t think I would have made it otherwise. God is there; Jesus is there; and because He is there, His power does extend to our whole life. And we will continue to reflect on this for the next couple days.

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