Laudetur Jesus Christus! Gelobt sei Jesus Christus! Praised be Jesus Christ!
This weekend has been our Annual Forty Hours. Thank you to those who signed up for an hour, and thank you to those who helped promote Forty Hours.
Old St. Mary’s is blessed to have a lot of Exposition of Blessed Sacrament. A once regulated devotion, this practice has become widespread in recent years. This has had many blessings for the Church throughout the world and here.
This practice, however, is something that can be the cause of laxity. The Church regulated Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament out of a fear of carelessness around the Eucharist. Its regulations showed concretely that exposition was an extraordinary occasion meant to foster devotion and faith in the Blessed Sacrament. There is nothing more impressive than the display that we had on the altar this past weekend, which hopefully increased the faith and piety of the parish. If this happened too frequently, a careless mindset would creep in. A loss of the mystery of the Eucharist.
I wanted to use this Forty Hours as a means to mention some of these abuses so that we can ensure that this does not happen at Old St. Mary’s. Such abuses range from a loss of interest in Eucharistic Adoration, on the one hand, to the other extreme of pious selfishness and pride. These can become constant temptations in parishes promoting such holy devotions. Where anything good is found, we can be assured that the devil is not far and is working against the good, the beautiful, and the true.
With the conclusion of this Forty Hours, I offer this moment of reflection for the parish to consider where we place the Eucharist in our lives. Are we willing to embrace a Holy Hour? Are we willing to embrace the reality of a small parish struggling to ensure we meet the Church’s basic requirements? Are we open to changes that may be necessary to ensure that the Eucharist is treated with proper adoration?
If it were up to me, we would have Perpetual Adoration here in the parish. However, with so few people willing and able to take hours, this is not possible. Everyone here is supportive of exposition, but it is the responsibility of the priests to protect the mystery of the Eucharist and ensure that He is given the greatest honor. It is also our responsibility to remind the faithful that even if the Blessed Sacrament is not exposed in the monstrance, the Lord hears our prayers just as well. This form of adoration, with Christ reposed in the tabernacle, is what the saints knew as adoration. It was the form of prayer that fostered the saints in their visits to the Blessed Sacrament. They did not frequently experience what we do in our frequent exposition and benediction. A practice that become more frequent only in the late twentieth century. Our form of adoration would be foreign to the vast majority of saints, who knew it only as a visit to Christ in the tabernacle, with exposition and benediction reserved for Sundays and special feast days.
I offer these reflections in the hope that we will always give to Christ the greatest honor in the Eucharist. Being courageous to adopt an hour if possible, but also remain open to whatever changes may be necessary to accomplish this. We must remember that the Eucharist is not merely an object, but that He is a person, who desires our communion but also demands our respect.
Have a Blessed Week ahead!