As you may know, on the first Thursday/Friday of the month, at the end of the daily Mass at each of our parishes, I would expose the Blessed Sacrament for a few minutes while we pray together the Litany to the Sacred Heart to renew our parishes’ (as well as personal) consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. After the Sacred Heart devotion, I have also had Benediction before reposing the Blessed Sacrament back in the tabernacle. Over the last couple months, however, instead of immediately reposing the Blessed Sacrament at St. Mary’s on First Friday, we have had additional hours in which anyone has been welcome to come to pray in church before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, i.e., a period of Eucharistic Adoration.
I would like to again invite and encourage you to come at Adoration on First Fridays if you are able, but I realize you may have some questions first. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with Adoration and might wondering: What exactly is Eucharistic Adoration and why do we have it? Isn’t that just something they used to do in the Church many years ago? Why now? What exactly do I do when I come for adoration? These are all good questions and I will attempt to answer them in this and future bulletin columns. Also, I have invited Fr. Dan Thelen, associate pastor of St. Matthew’s and Holy Name Parishes in Wausau to come and celebrate our weekend Masses on November 26th-27th, the first Sunday of Advent. During the homily, he will speak about Adoration and share some of his own personal experience. (This will also give me the chance to celebrate Mass at my own home parish of St. Matthew’s in Wausau, which I have been unable to do in years.)
First of all, in order to understand what Eucharistic Adoration is all about, we have to understand what we as Catholics believe about the Eucharist; i.e., Holy Communion, as we call it in the Mass. At the moment of consecration in the Mass, the bread and wine on the altar are changed into the actual Body and Blood of Christ. As Catholics, we call this “transubstantiation,” which means that the bread and wine maintain the appearance of bread and wine, but their substance is changed into the actual Body and Blood of Christ. We also refer to this as the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Eucharist, because Christ is really and truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Christ isn’t just spiritually or symbolically present, but really and truly present.
Our Catholic belief about the Eucharist is a radical one, and is not shared to the same degree by many of our Christian brothers and sisters. But Christians since the earliest days of the Church have believed that Christ is present in the Eucharist in a profound way and that he desires to be with us in that way. In fact, Christ’s words in the New Testament fully support the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist. Just read chapter six of John’s Gospel, and you will see that Jesus speaks very clearly about the Eucharist being his Body and Blood, and he even acknowledged that many people stopped following him because it was such a hard teaching to accept. Jesus instituted the Eucharist in order to remain with us in a real, profound, and physical way. Adoration is a way for us to remain with him as he remains with us.