By Father Roch Kereszty
Special to The Texas Catholic
The 20th-century liturgical renewal rightly emphasized the central importance of the Eucharistic sacrifice against the exaggerated emphasis on benedictions and other Eucharistic devotions outside of Mass. But it was a serious misinterpretation of the Second Vatican Council to neglect or eliminate the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Providentially, the practice of silent or solemn adoration is coming back with a new fervor in many parishes. Wherever it has taken root, the life of the parish, the sense of community and the nurturing of priestly and religious vocations has been rekindled.
To assess the significance of the practice of adoration, we need to see it in the context of God’s desire to come closer and closer to his people.
He wanted to be Emmanuel “God with us.” As a preparation for the Incarnation, He promised to be present in the Holy of Holies of the Jerusalem Temple and yet, as a result of Israel’s infidelities, He abandoned the Temple. It is only in Jesus Christ that he bound himself to us in an irreversible way. God the son cannot abandon Jesus the man since the man Jesus Christ IS God.
But his visible presence on earth lasted for only about three decades. In the Eucharist, however, Jesus continues his presence among us until the end of history. But now he veils not only his divinity as in his earthly life, but also his humanity. He becomes a thing, a small, insignificant thing, that can easily be thrown away or simply ignored. The words of St. Bernard shows us what our reaction should be to this act of self-humiliation: “ the more he cheapened himself for me, the more dear he became to me.”
People often ask what they should do during the time of adoration. I can offer a few suggestions: Strive for a real exchange of thoughts, feelings and intentions between Christ and yourself.
You start with adoration: acknowledge who He is and who you are. Then give him thanks for all you have received from him during the last day or week, pleasant or unpleasant. Thank him especially for what you receive from him unceasingly: the gift of your own self and God’s own self. Thank him for your family members and for all those entrusted to your care. Ask for mercy and pardon for the sins you and others have committed in daily life.
Then allow Christ to speak to you. Allow him to give you the springs of peace and love he longs to bestow upon you. Christ is longing to embrace you with his divine love.
Allow him to shine upon you and burn out all that is unclean or restless or agitated. Allow him to transform you. “The calm God calms down everything,” says St. Bernard. Ask him about himself: why is he here in the Blessed Sacrament. His plans, his joys, his concerns. As you have poured out your heart to him, allow him to pour out his heart to you.
Let there be a full and wonderful exchange, an admirabile commercium.
If you cannot speak, if no thoughts come to mind, just be there and gaze at him peacefully. This silence might be the richest way of communication. St. John Vianney saw a peasant come to his parish church every day and spend time there without opening a book or moving his mouth. One day he asked the peasant, “What are you doing in the church?” He said: “I look at him and he looks at me.” Blessed is a man who can have such intimacy with the Lord. You, too, may be given this grace.
My Dear Readers,
With this column I finish the series on the Eucharist and end my column at The Texas Catholic. It was a great joy for me to write for you, but I am convinced it is time to introduce the new generation. In the last 13 years God has given us 13 vigorous, devout young Cistercians. Two of them will continue my column: Father Thomas and Father John. Father Joseph may join them later. If you enjoyed my articles, I think you will enjoy theirs even more. Your own experience will confirm this in the next editions .
Father Roch Kereszty, O.Cist., is a theologian and monk at the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas in Irving.