In Advent the Church prepares for the three comings of Christ. She prepares for His coming as a little baby atChristmas. She prepares for His coming at the end of time, when He will come to judge the living and the dead.She also prepares for the coming of Christ in the Eucharist. Emmanuel means “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23). Inthe Eucharist Jesus is truly ‘God with us’. When Jesus came as a little baby He was vulnerable and weak; He hidhis divinity. In the Eucharist Jesus continues to make himself vulnerable and weak, and hides both his divinity andhis humanity. God came to save us from our sins 2000 years ago, yet He remains in the Eucharist to heal us fromthe effects of our sin.
Heaven is the place where we shall behold the face of God unveiled. On this Earth we canalso behold the face of God yet only the eyes of faith are able to recognize Him. St. Thomassays that on the cross Jesus hid His divinity but in the Eucharist He hides both His divinityand His humanity. It is only through faith that we can look upon the white host and recognize the Lord and giver of life, for “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen”—Hebrews 11:1. May we look upon our God with faith on thisEarth so that we may behold Him in His glory in Heaven.
There are many forms of prayer. We can offer praise to God for who He is. We canoffer thanksgiving for what He has done, but we can also pray for others and maketheir needs and concerns our own. This is called intercessory prayer. Often in timesof trial or difficulty the only thing we can say to someone who is struggling is thatwe will pray for them. We can place that person on our hearts and then go beforeJesus in the Blessed Sacrament and offer Him our hearts. He will hear our prayersand answer them according to what is truly good for us and for others.
Eucharist means thanksgiving. When we go to Mass we are offeringGod a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for all that He has done forus and all that He continues to do. In a special way Eucharistic Adoration is also a prayer of thanksgiving. When you find it difficult topray or do not know what to say to God why not count your blessings?Try to think about the ways God has blessed you today, in this week, inthis year. Once you begin to recognize the many ways God is alreadyblessing you, your heart will overflow with praise.
The Christian journey takes perseverance. Scripture says that even “the just man falls seven times a day” (Proverbs 24:16). Despite the fact that we seekto avoid sin and to practice virtue, our human nature is prone to weakness.Often we can feel this weakness as a great burden, yet Jesus is there to console us. In Eucharistic Adoration we come into contact with a God whohas made Himself ‘small and weak’ in order to make us strong-- in Him. Wecan come to Jesus with our burdens and ask Him to heal us and to give us Hisgrace to persevere to the end. God does not ask us to be successful but to befaithful. Then we can say with St. Paul, “When I am weak, then I amstrong” (2 Cor 12:10).
Jesus desires to be near us. What an incredible thought. Not only does He allow Himself tobecome our food, He remains ever-present in the tabernacle. But why does He choose toremain so close to us? The only sufficient answer is love. When two people begin to courtthey like to spend time with one another and learn about the likes and dislikes of the other.Yet there comes a time when love has matured and there is no longer a need for words.There is something profoundly beautiful about a married couple who have said all there isto say and simply wish to abide in the presence of the other. Whether we are beginning inour relationship with Jesus or have walked with Him for a long time—the language of love is silence and the mode in which He communicates this love is in His presence.
In November the Church commemorates the souls of the faithful departed. We recall that while the Souls in Purgatory are suffering in anticipation of their entranceinto Heaven, they can no longer pray for themselves. We are each called to pray forthe dead. In Eucharistic Adoration, we bring our own needs but also the needs ofthose who have gone before us. Praying for the dead is a powerful reminder that thislife is not our final destination. One day we will also need the prayers of thosewhom we have left behind. May we recognize the value of human life and feel compassionate for our brothers and sisters in Purgatory.
Jesus frequently came into contact with people who were considered ‘unclean’; He met lepers, tax-collectors, and prostitutes. The incredible thing is that once these people encountered Jesus theycould never be the same again. Yet they still ha d to decide whether they wanted to remain in their state of isolation-- an isolation due to either physical or spiritual sickness (sin), or be healed. Thesame dilemma is presented to each of us in Eucharistic Adoration. We approach the holiness of God,and in so doing simultaneously come into contact with our own sinfulness. Like the leper, the taxcollector, and the prostitute we must ask ourselves if we are willing to be changed by Jesus, to seenot only what we are, but who God has created us to be. May the grace which gave the leper thecourage to cry out to Jesus also be ours; may we be reconciled with God our Father.
Prayer can be a mixed bag. Sometimes there is deep joy and peace, other times there is dryness and distraction. Yet God is always teaching us something even if His method ofteaching changes. God’s ways can seem, not only mysterious but also ironic. We see God’ssense of humor most poignantly in the lives of the saints. In Abraham we see a man whowas to be a great nation, yet is called to sacrifice His only son. In St. Therese we see ayoung woman who desired to be a missionary yet died in a cloister. Even in Our Lady, wesee a woman called to be both Virgin and Mother. God transforms us little by little. But often it is not in the way we would choose. God’s ways are not our ways.
God does nothing unnecessarily. While it is true that we can access God present inour hearts and through our prayer, there is something profoundly necessary aboutEucharistic Adoration. As creatures we need something tangible to ‘hold onto’. Godaccommodates this ‘need’ of the human heart by making Himself the Bread of Life.We gaze upon Him with our human eyes and He gazes back. We can take God intoour hands, into our mouths, and into our hearts. God allows us to interact with Himon our terms. He is truly with us.
God’s Grace is Enough
Every day we encounter inconvenience, temptation, and the painful recognition ofour own weakness. These struggles can often feel like more than we can bear, sohow can we stay afloat? In Eucharistic Adoration Jesus strengthens us to ‘do battle’and to view the difficulties of daily life as a participation in His Cross. Not only dowe receive the vision to see reality—but also the hope necessary to endure faithfullyto the end. God’s grace is sufficient.
Distractions: Preparing Fertile Ground for the Lord
It is part of our struggle on earth to experience distractions in prayer and even toquestion God’s presence, yet we must be gentle with ourselves. Going over grocery lists, to-do lists, and thinking about what happened the hour before ourprayer time, will happen. Don’t be discouraged, just ask Jesus to help you ‘tokeep your eyes on the road.’ It often happens that when we feel scattered, Godcan use this to ‘scatter the seeds of life’ meaning, He uses our sacrifice of notfeeling like our prayer is ‘working’ to help someone else who is struggling. Wereceive simply by being present, and not just us, but everyone in the world becomes the beneficiaries of our prayer.