“The most holy Eucharist contains the Church’s entire spiritual wealth: Christ Himself”
– St John Paul II: ‘Ecclesia de Eucharista’
This is a beautiful time of year, filled with many wonderful feasts – Pentecost, the Holy Trinity, and the Body and Blood of Christ. In this latter feast, we celebrate and give thanks for the Lord’s greatest gift to us – His real and abiding Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. On that day, we consider this gift in a special way; however, we should be deeply aware of it every day, and give thanks accordingly. These days, the resurgence of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is definitely continuing apace; I have written about this previously in several articles – The Glass Chapel, The Hidden Jesus and The Days Of The Blessed Sacrament.
My favourite moments are those spent silently before the Tabernacle, usually when the Church is very quiet and still. Moments such as these are a little taste of Heaven. Everything else ceases, distraction is gone, and all that exists in that moment is the Lord before me. Nothing else on earth compares to this.
And I am in good company – it would be almost impossible to find a Saint of the Church or a Pope who was not deeply devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, so we can certainly learn something from this example. St John Paul spent hours before the Tabernacle every single day. He noted that the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest spiritual treasure of the Church, containing the Lord Himself. St John Vianney, the great patron saint of Priests, had this to say –
“There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.”
Our bodily eyes see nothing more than the species of bread, but the eyes of Faith perceive clearly that this is indeed the Lord before us, in the Tabernacle or the Monstrance, as He promised us in the Gospel.
If we truly believe what we profess – that the Lord Himself is there in the Tabernacle awaiting us – then what stops us from visiting as often as we can and keeping Him company for a little while? For some, it is time – or the lack of it. But while we make time available for so many activities every day, can we not spare a moment for the Eucharistic Lord? Or it may be that the Church doors are locked – perhaps it is possible to ask the Priest to arrange regular Eucharistic Adoration for the Parish? Failing this, there are many Churches whose doors are open – some on particular days, some every day.
Another reason that may limit our Eucharistic Adoration is not knowing how to spend time before the Lord. Particularly these days, we are used to being active, constantly on the go, always busy with something. This Adoration is precisely the opposite of that – it is a moment of quiet and stillness, of peace amid the madness of the world and daily life.
Perhaps what is most fundamental is that we simply spend time before the Tabernacle; this is the first step. After this, it matters less if we can spare only a moment, or an hour, or longer. The Lord will use this devotion and faith on our part to dispense His graces in a special way. But it is crucial that we visit Him in the first place. We can ask Him for the grace to love and adore Him well, and He will give this grace freely. His desire is that we offer Him our love and praise and gratitude, simply and with humility and faith; He will take care of the rest. And we can be certain of a warm welcome, as St Teresa of Calcutta tells us –
“Nowhere on earth are you more welcomed, nowhere on earth are you more loved, than by Jesus, truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.”
If we are able to make regular visits to the Tabernacle, or to spend longer with the Lord, it can be beneficial to purchase and make use of one of the many very good manuals available for Eucharistic Adoration. These offer various specific prayers and meditations designed to make our time there as fruitful as possible.
In her Diary, Saint Faustina wrote about some of the graces she received before the Tabernacle –
“I recall that I have received most light during adoration which I made lying prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament for half an hour every day during Lent. During that time, I came to know myself and God more profoundly.” (Diary, para.147)
Clearly, then, St Faustina was committed to this period of adoration; and for His part, the Lord granted her the grace not only to know Him, but to know herself better and more clearly. When we see ourselves more as the Lord sees us, His grace and mercy in our life becomes more apparent, as does our continued need for both. And in this case, that grace was obtained through Adoration of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
What is certain is that the Lord has particular graces He intends for each and every one of us; and those moments spent before Him in the Tabernacle are, not surprisingly, a powerful means of obtaining those graces we need so greatly.