For Catholics, Eucharist is the act at the heart of our belief and our practice.
The celebration of the Eucharist brings each of us into the grace of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, his suffering, dying, and resurrection. The Paschal Mystery is the concrete expression of the overwhelming love that Jesus has for us, that he was willing to become one of us, to live among us, to suffer and die, to be raised up so that we can be restored to the Father’s plan of eternal life in the Trinity.
Participating in the Eucharist is a great gift to us, the church. It saddens me that so many people choose not to participate at least weekly in this awesome gift.
In Eucharist the bread and wine is truly changed into the body and blood of Jesus. It is not a symbol, such as a crucifix, but it is a reality. Jesus is truly present under the appearance of bread and wine. We are transformed by our participation in Eucharist.
The church continues to invite us to prolong our intimate encounter with Jesus that we have at its apex in the Eucharist by also offering us the opportunity to pray before Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. Eucharistic Adoration is a way for us to be reminded of what it is we celebrate in the Mass and to continue to reflect on the sacrificial love of Jesus for each of us and for his body, the church.
To be able to pray before the Blessed Sacrament is particularly fruitful for the believing community. Eucharistic Adoration is not something that is separate from the celebration of Eucharist but it is a continuation of what has been celebrated each day in, with and for the faith community.
It is important for us as Catholics to continue to remember these acts of love that Jesus at the behest of his Father continues to show to us. Eucharistic Adoration is a practice that should keep before our minds and our hearts the reality of how much we are loved, the all-forgiving mercy of Jesus and of his desire to nurture us and to respond to our needs. There is a fruitfulness that has resulted from the practice of Eucharistic Adoration. It has led to an increase in vocations to priesthood and religious life. A recent study by the Center for the Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) indicated that the majority of young people now entering religious life had a positive experience of Eucharistic Adoration.
From my own experience, I’ve seen how Eucharistic Adoration has brought grace to families, been a comfort to those who are suffering, and strength to those who are weak. It continues to be an experience of hope to those who feel lost or abandoned.
I want to take the occasion while we are in the season of Lent to strongly exhort our priests and people to consider encouraging and supporting the practice of praying before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It requires at times a sacrifice of time, of presence, but that sacrifice offers an added grace. It is an opportunity for us to follow the exhortation to die to ourselves so that we may live more fully in Jesus.
It’s my prayer and desire that all Catholics would once again participate in at least the weekly celebration of Eucharist. It is my hope that those who already do participate might take advantage of Jesus’ presence in the Blessed Sacrament to pray for our sisters and brothers who, for whatever reason, are not present with us at the celebration. I believe that unselfish prayer to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament can be a means to win back our absent brothers and sisters.
We have a great gift in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus has not abandoned us. He is not absent. He remains present and waiting for us. We have a treasure in the presence of Jesus. May all of us grow to appreciate it and take full advantage of it.