Many years ago I was with a Protestant friend who casually mentioned he had just met a priest from Africa studying at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He asked the priest what he was studying and the priest said he came to Washington to do his Ph.D on the Eucharist. My friend was speechless and dumbfounded, and thoroughly confused how anyone could study the subject, because to him it was a symbol and celebration of unity. He shook his head in disbelief anyone could study the Eucharist, and actually devote time and effort to do a doctorate on the subject.
As we move into the eighth full week of lockdown in the State of Virginia, churches around me have different levels of activity without the Mass at all. One nearby parish hasn’t opened its doors for any reason from day one of the lockdown. Other parishes are having Eucharistic Adoration in the morning and night for a combined several hours a day abiding by the social distancing guidelines and limiting people in the church. Some have confession when Adoration is going on. There are hours of Adoration on Saturday and Sunday for a portion of the day in one parish, and another local parish is broadcasting Mass on the internet daily with little else.
During the lockdown, I have greatly enjoyed going to Adoration daily. It is not a new practice for me, but I have never been as regular. I have never been so consistent as this period of lockdown. It has become a routine over the last five weeks where I enjoy waking up and going the first thing in the morning. What is most satisfying is sitting in the quiet of a large church listening to a Gregorian chant sung by a beautiful chorus of men. The serenity and contemplation is nothing I have ever experienced to this depth before. It is spiritually exhilarating to enjoy the stillness of the early morning in silence. I think one reason for my enjoyment is there is less havoc during this period of time, and it is a scheduled event for me with nowhere near the normal daily activity.
All during this lockdown a constant conversation has taken place why government authorities have locked down churches preventing worship. Other businesses have allowed social distancing of 6 feet, but not churches.
I live in a heavily populated area in Northern Virginia. From my home are ten Catholic churches within one to ten miles. Some are outright closed, others offering limited services. What I have noticed is that it is the same few people every day for Adoration. There is little variation in the number of people over a two-hour period in the mornings, and a two-hour period in the evenings. It is the same people sitting in their chosen spots each day. About thirteen to fifteen people attend over a two-hour period on average. As one of the most densely populated areas in Northern Virginia with thousands of families per parish, only a few go to Adoration. All the while people are often complaining Mass has been suspended due to state restrictions. It is an inconsistent view of who is before them in the Tabernacle, our Eucharistic Lord, Jesus Christ.
People like to complain, talk, and discuss philosophy, but few are willing to take the time, and do the work on their knees to change the culture. Saint Thomas Aquinas would spend two hours on his knees for every hour he spoke publicly. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen often spoke of doing a Holy Hour every day of his life. A commitment he made as a young priest. He once joked he fell asleep on a park bench in Paris and counted it is a valid Holy Hour. He said since he fell asleep thinking about the Passion of Jesus, it counted as a Holy Hour. The Tabernacle is a treasure waiting to be visited. Our excuses have dwindled for not attending Adoration during this period of lockdown.
Saints and scholars have had a lot to say about the important role of the Eucharist in the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. The other sacraments and indeed all the ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch” (CCC 1324).
On June 14, 1979 to the Marian Movement of Priests, on the Feast of Corpus Christi in a message titled, Jesus in the Eucharist, the Blessed Mother speaks about the importance of the Eucharist. She says, “…Beloved sons, in these present times the darkness has alas obscured even the Tabernacle; around it there is so much emptiness, so much indifference, so much negligence. Each day, doubts, denials and sacrileges increase. The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus is wounded anew by his own, in his own House, in the very place He has taken up His divine dwelling in our midst.
Become again perfect adorers and fervent ministers of Jesus in the Eucharist who, through you, makes Himself present, immolates Himself anew, and gives Himself to souls. Bring everyone to Jesus in the Eucharist; by adoration, by communion and by a greater love. Help everyone to approach the Eucharistic Jesus in a worthy manner, by cultivating in the faithful an awareness of sin, by inviting them to present themselves for the sacrament of Holy Communion in the state of grace, by education them the practice of frequent confession, which becomes necessary before receiving the Eucharist for those who are in mortal sin. Beloved sons, build a dam to hold back the flood of sacrileges; never before as in these present times have so many communions been made in such an unworthy manner. The Church is deeply wounded by the multiplications of sacrilegious Communions.
The time has come when your heavenly Mother says: enough! I myself will fill up the great void about
my Son Jesus, present in the Eucharist. I will form a barrier of love about His
divine presence. I myself will do this through you, beloved sons, whom I wish to
set up as a guard of love round about all the Tabernacle
s of love round
about all the tabernacles of the earth.
According to the Marian Movement of Priests on August 8, 1986, the Blessed Mother said, “… And He becomes present in order to continue the Work of the Incarnation and the Redemption and to accomplish in mystery the Sacrifice of Calvary, which He was able to offer to the Father because of His human nature… …today Jesus in the Tabernacle is surrounded by so much emptiness , so much abandonment, so much ingratitude.”
Saint Padre Pio of Italy would often say the Eucharist is more important to the world than the sun. We have Jesus waiting for us to be an Adorer all around us (not all churches are open) within a short drive with schedules not as hectic as normal. Make time to discern the days we are living and how we should act in these troubled times. Seek His thoughts. He thirsts for us.
Evil is being exposed now in every area — entertainment, sports, political, the Church, and commerce. The lockdown is slowing us down and many positive spiritual things are happening as a result of it. His ways are not our ways. We should be reminded good always wins. It may take awhile, but evil is always exposed to the light in the long run.
“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known and brought out into the open” (Luke 8:17).
JESUS I TRUST IN YOU