Seeking the Sacraments Part 2
In our last “Spend 5 with Jesus, we focused upon the sacrament of confession as a way to enter into a proven relationship with God. One reason for starting with the Sacrament of Confession is because preparing ourselves for Mass is important. And, if we are aware of having committed a mortal sin, we should go to confession before receiving the Eucharist.
Today we are going to focus on the Eucharist. First, we will discuss the importance of going to Mass each Sunday (or Saturday night). Second, we will discuss the role that Eucharistic adoration can play in a strong spiritual life.
The importance of Mass
At the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, the Church reflected upon the nature of itself. This naturally led to a consideration of the role of the Eucharist in the life of the Church, since Catholics believe that the Eucharist is Jesus Himself, body and blood, soul and divinity. The document on the liturgy had this to say about the Eucharist:
Our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood
The Eucharist is the loving presence of Jesus. Let’s look at the various areas of what is written above. The first idea is that the Lord Jesus Himself instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) all have accounts of the last supper. In the gospel of John, Chapter 6 is we read that Jesus discusses the fact that He is the Bread of Life. (His account of the last supper focuses on the important role of service on the part of Church leaders and indeed all of us.)
We need to look no further than the Early Church to see how important Eucharist was. It was a profound belief that at the core of the worship in the Christian Church was the celebration of the Eucharist, the profound pledge that Jesus would always be with us.
The Didache is an ancient text believed by most scholars to have been written in the early second century, just a few years after the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Already by this time there are important principles that have established.
The Our Father as a model of prayer. Pray as the Lord commanded in His Gospel: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven; give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one; for thine is the power and the glory unto ages of ages. Pray this way three times each day.” (Didache)
The Offertory Prayers at Mass. “We give you thanks, our Father, for the holy vine of your son David, which you made known to us through your Son Jesus. Yours is the glory unto ages of ages. Then as regards the broken bread: We give you thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you made known to us through your Son Jesus. Yours is the glory unto ages of ages.” (Didache)
Eucharist only for the baptized. “Do not let anyone eat or drink of this Eucharist who has not been baptized into the name of the Lord, for concerning this the Lord has said, “Do not give the holy things to the dogs.” (Didache)
To Perpetuate the Sacrifice of the Cross
The Eucharist has a profound connection to the Cross. It was the night before his crucifixion that Jesus instituted the Eucharist. In that way the Eucharist, like the Cross, is a sacrifice. This is because every time the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the Church enters into the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus.
Because of the death of Jesus on the cross, we learn about just how powerful is His love for each one of us. The Eucharist is the loving presence of Jesus because it always brings to mind the the loving sacrifice of Jesus where he paid the price so that we could be saved.
Until He Should Come Again
The Eucharist also points to the end of time, to the Second Coming when Jesus will return at the end of time. We recognize this in the memorial acclamation at Mass. Two of the three choices in English contain the phrase “until you come again.”
So the Eucharist is both a reality we celebrate now, in real time, and also one that points to the future. It is a reminder of the ultimate goals in our life, namely, to live forever with Jesus in Heaven. Such is the reality of the Christian life. We obviously live in time today, but our lives are in fact always guided to the day of salvation, when Christ will return.
A Pledge of Future Glory is Given to Us
In so many ways, this is the purpose of all the sacraments. In each sacrament we celebrate we receive grace. This is the power of the pledge. Every celebration of a sacrament is the promise and pledge that Jesus will be with the Church until the end of time. Each celebration of a sacrament is a reminder of the loving presence of Jesus in our lives.
The challenge, of course, is that we are fickle. We do not always remember the power of God’s love because we sin. We need constant reminders of God’s love for us. This is why it matters so much that we gather at Mass each Sunday (or Saturday evening). This was the practice of the Early Church to make holy the Lord’s Day, Sunday, the day when Jesus rose from the dead.
One element of the continual reminder is the practice of Eucharistic Adoration. At its best, the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (another way to describe the Eucharist), is an extending of the Mass. It is a way to focus on the profound gift of Jesus’ love for us in an extended way.
Where do I find places for Eucharistic Adoration?
I mentioned before masstimes.org as a good way to discover times when churches, chapels and oratories may have adoration. You can enter your ZIP Code and find locations near you. Oftentimes church bulletins have information as to the times for adoration.
What do I do during adoration?
The time for adoration is a time when we are encouraged to enter into silent time with Jesus. If you are not used to silence, this can be a challenge since our minds are often filled with many things. Don’t worry. The more we enter into silence the easier it becomes. Remember that Jesus loves you more than you could ever understand or know.
Some people bring spiritual reading to the celebration of adoration. Remember you are in the presence of Jesus Himself! For others, they read devotional prayers. But my suggestion is that at least some of the time should be devoted to just “resting in the Lord.”
Deepen Your Devotion to the Eucharist
It is always an area of growth to seek to deepen your relationship with Jesus. He loves you without condition. He wants you to enter into this deep relationship because he knows what will bring you ultimate fulfillment. Even in difficult times, the presence of Jesus assures us that we are never alone, but always in his holy presence.