We have a God who loves us so much that He not only sent His Son to suffer, die, and rise for us, but who continually cares for us and feeds us, not in some far off, hoped for way, but in a very real, very present way. The Son of God wants to be with us, to be a part of us that He continually gives Himself to us in the Eucharist.
Eucharistic Adoration is the adoration of Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist.
In the many churches that have this adoration, the Eucharist is displayed in a special holder called a monstrance, and people come to pray and worship Jesus continually throughout the day and often the night.
Christ’s great love for us was shown when He was crucified on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and give us eternal life. He loves us without limit, and offers Himself to us in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Implicit in these and similar provisions was the Church’s constant belief in the Real Eucharistic Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Thus, in the words of St. Augustine, “No one eats that flesh without first adoring it” (“Expositions on the Psalms,” 98:9). It was on this doctrinal basis that the cult of adoring the Eucharist was founded and gradually developed as something distinct from the Sacrifice of the Mass. At the Council of Trent, Protestants were condemned for denying that the Eucharist is at once a sacrifice and a sacrament; that it differs from other sacraments in not only producing grace “ex opere operato Christi” (deriving their power from Christ’s work), but containing in a permanent manner the Author of grace Himself.
In his 1965 encyclical “Mysterium Fidei,” Pope Paul VI wrote, “The Catholic Church has always devoutly guarded as a most precious treasure the mystery of faith, that is the ineffable gift of the Eucharist which she received from Christ her Spouse as a pledge of His immense love, and during the Second Vatican Council in a new and solemn demonstration she professed her faith and veneration for this mystery…
“No one can fail to understand that the Divine Eucharist bestows upon the Christian people an incomparable dignity. Not only while the sacrifice is offered and the sacrament is received, but as long as the Eucharist is kept in our churches and oratories, Christ is truly the Emmanuel, that is, ‘God with us.’ Day and night He is in our midst, He dwells with us, full of grace and truth. He restores morality, nourishes, virtues, consoles the afflicted, strengthens the weak. He proposes His own example to those who come to Him that all may learn to be, like Himself, meek and humble of heart and to seek not their own interests but those of God.”
Adoration means coming before the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. But what does that mean? What, or better who, is the reality of which we speak when we talk about the Real Presence?
This reality, as the Church has solemnly defined the truth for the faithful, is the “totus Christus,” the whole Christ: body and blood, soul and divinity. This is not a rhetorical expression nor a verse of poetry. It is an article of the undivided Roman Catholic faith.
There can be no doubt what the faithful are told when they are told to believe in this mystery. Once the words of consecration have been pronounced by a validly ordained priest, what used to be bread and wine are no longer bread and wine. Only the appearances or, rather, only the external physical properties of the former elements, remain. There is now on the altar Jesus Christ, true God and true man, full God and full man.
Does this mean that Jesus is present in the Eucharist? Yes. Is it Jesus in His divine nature? Yes. Is it Jesus in His human nature? Yes. But if Jesus in the Eucharist is really and truly present, is He there with all that makes Him not only man, but makes Him this man? Yes. After all, when God assumed human nature, He assumed this nature as a particular single human being. The divine Person of the Son of God did not merely in some abstract sense become human. He became a definite, historically specific human being.
Thus in the Eucharist is present the Jesus of history: the one who was conceived of His mother Mary at Nazareth; who was born in a stable at Bethlehem; who lived for 30 years in Palestine; and who walked and talked and wept and slept and ate and drank; who shed real red blood on the cross and who rose from the grave, and after His resurrection had the incredulous disciples put their fingers into His pierced side.
When, then, we speak of the Real Presence we imply that part of this reality, which is Christ, is the heart of flesh and blood that every human being has and also Christ has in the glorified body He now possesses since the resurrection.
Note what we are saying. We are affirming that the Sacred Heart of Jesus is not only a historical memory, as recorded by St. John when he tells us that the sacred side of the Savior was pierced on Calvary. Nor are we saying merely that, rising from the dead, Christ is now at the right hand of His heavenly Father in body and soul and therefore also with His human heart. Nor are we saying simply that in the Eucharist is some sort of abstract memorial of the real Christ, who is actually in heaven and no longer on earth. No; we profess on faith that Jesus is now simultaneously both in heaven and on earth; that He truly ascended into heaven and is truly still on earth; that although He left us visibly He is with us really.
This means that the heart of Christ is in our midst, because Jesus is in our midst. He is the same Jesus in heaven and on earth. So He must be present here with His Sacred Heart of flesh, living and beating in the bosom of a living human being.
He is present with His Sacred Heart, at once human and divine: human because He has a genuine human nature, like ours in all things but sin, and a truly divine nature, like that of the Father, with whom He is one God, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
But that is not all. We know that the heart of Christ is more than just a physical organ of His human body. It is also the symbol of God’s love for the human race, and, indeed, of the eternal love (that obtains) within the Blessed Trinity.
The important aspect of this is the fact that we have in the Holy Eucharist not only the physical Christ in His human and divine natures and therefore His heart of flesh substantially united to the Word of God. We have in the Eucharist the effective means by which we can show our love for God, since it is not just our own affections when we unite them with the heart of the Eucharistic Christ. It is His affections joined with ours. His love elevates ours, and ours as a consequence is raised to a participation in the divinity.
But more than that. By our use of the Eucharist, that is, by our celebrating the Eucharistic Liturgy and by our reception of the heart of Christ in Holy Communion, we receive an increase of the supernatural virtue of charity. We are thus empowered to love God more than we would ever be able to do otherwise, especially by loving the people whom He graciously – though often painfully – places into our lives.
Whatever else the heart symbolizes, it is the world’s most expressive sign of outgoing charity.
It is precisely here that the Holy Eucharist supplies what we could never do by ourselves: loving others with total self-sacrifice. We must be animated by the light and strength that comes from the heart of Jesus Christ. If, as He said, “without me you can do nothing,” it is certainly impossible to give ourselves to others, tirelessly and patiently and continually, in a word, heartily, unless His grace gives us the power to do so.
And where does His grace come from? From the depths of His divine heart, present in the Eucharist, offered daily for us on the altar and available to us always in the sacrament of Holy Communion.
— Jesuit Father John A. Hardon
Eucharistic Adoration is held at 10am on the first Friday of every month at Holy Name Church.
(Schedule not in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, check with the Parish office for more details)
- Adoration may be done both when the Eucharist is exposed for viewing and when it is not.
- At the beginning of the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a priest or deacon removes the sacred host from the tabernacle and places it in the monstrance on the altar for adoration by the faithful.
- Kneeling, sitting, standing, and even laying on the floor before the Blessed Sacrament are all appropriate forms of prayer. Let your posture reflect your worship of Jesus and do what is comfortable for you.
- You really don’t have to “do” anything during Adoration. You may just sit and behold Jesus.
Five Tips for Deeping Your Love of the Eucharist
Jesus and the Church want you to have a deep love for the Eucharist. It is good to remind ourselves of the many different ways to develop that love for the Eucharist:
1. Spend time with Jesus in the Eucharist: Go to Adoration, get to Mass early and pray in front of the tabernacle, go and visit the Lord. Jesus wants to have a relationship with us. It would be very hard to have a relationship with a friend if we always expected them to come and see us and we never went to see them. How much truer is that with Jesus!
2. Reflect on the Scripture: There are many passages of Scripture that relate to the Eucharist. The Bread of Life discourse in John 6 has been a fruitful place of reflection for Christians throughout the centuries, but there are others as well. Take some time to read and pray with the Scriptures and ask God to open your heart to what they are telling you.
3. Read about and pray with the Saints: There are many saints who had a love of the Eucharist. Spend some time praying with them and reading their thoughts on the Eucharist.
4. Participate in the Sacramental Life of the Church: The Church offers us Sacraments that can help nurture our love of God and the Church and in turn help us more fully participate in the Eucharistic life of the Church. Spend time reflecting on your own Baptism and Confirmation as the ways Christ welcomed you into the Church.
• If you’re married, spend time with your spouse and strengthening your marriage.
The Church calls the family the domestic church and is a primary way in which we grow in holiness.
• Celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We all need to be reassured of God’s love and mercy. We all need to be welcomed back and forgiven for our sins.
Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are given the grace to start again and try and live our lives without sin and in right relationship with God.
• Participate in other liturgical and sacramental rites: Weddings, funerals, baptisms, confirmations, and ordinations. They all help us unpack the work of Christ in our lives and in the world. They help us see more and more the importance of the Eucharist in all aspects of our lives and vocations.
5. Pray! To have a relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist, to grow in love of him, we need to talk to him. Spend some time in Adoration, get to Mass early if you’re able, pray the Rosary (especially the Luminous Mysteries), pray in the car, on the subway or when you walk the dog. The important thing is to take some time to develop a relationship, to talk and to listen.