Some places don’t have perpetual Adoration. For those who only have Adoration for a certain amount of time, a ritual called Benediction takes place at the end. During Benediction, the priest or deacon kneels in front of the Blessed Sacrament and a hymn called the Tantum Ergo is sung.
In today’s passage, St. Paul reminds the people of Corinth to pray an examination of conscience before receiving the Eucharist or else there will be consequences. But why the harshness?
There is a beautiful hymn often sung in Communion that starts with “O Lord, you are the center of my life.” Today, I want to ask you: Is God the center of your life?
“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” - St. Francis de Sales
I first got introduced to Adoration when I was in college. It was held every Wednesday inside the campus chapel. I had no idea what to do at first because it was so quiet. Everything I learned up to that point involved either reading the Bible or saying a lot of prayers.
It almost starts out like a joke. Two guys are walking down a road away from where everything is happening to another town. Then Jesus walks with them and they don’t recognize him. I know the disciples aren’t exactly the brightest stars in the sky, but how could they not recognize him when he was right in front of them?!
Let’s play a little word association game. What word do you think of when you hear the word “promise”? You might think of words such as “believe,” “commitment,” “sacrifice,” and “love.” One such word that is also associated with the word “promise” is “covenant.”
My alma mater, The University of St. Thomas in Houston, was named for St. Thomas Aquinas. I studied the Summa Theologiae and the Summa Contra Gentiles as part of my theology and philosophy classes, but most of what I learned about St. Thomas came from outside of the classroom
The quest for immortality is something as old as time itself. We all want to live for as long as possible. I once read an article about a 91-year-old woman who asked her priest to pray that she may live a long life. It’s a bit shocking, but again, I watch a show where a 400-year-old vampire lamented that her life was too short.
First impressions are everything. My favorite novel centered on the importance of making a good first impression and the effects that a bad one can create.
I have a confession to make, ladies: I am allergic to wheat. I have been ever since college, but it feels like it’s been like this for a lot longer. In spite of my wheat allergy, I am still able to receive the Communion Host every Sunday. I think it says a lot that I can still receive the Body of Christ in spite of my allergy being so sensitive that I can’t even pig out on a sleeve of Ritz crackers
Sometimes in the Mass, after we recite the Mystery of Faith, the Priest will say one of four Eucharistic Prayers.
One Eucharistic Prayer includes this:
“Be pleased to look upon these offerings with a serene and kindly countenance, and to accept them, as you were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.”
One memory I have from my childhood was preparing for my first communion. I begged and pleaded with my parents to go to the Holy Thursday and Good Friday services. I honestly don’t remember much except that I felt as if I was witnessing the Institution of the Eucharist for the first time in history and then following the cross on Good Friday as we meditated on the Stations of the Cross. The Last Supper and Christ’s death and resurrection are linked together through more than just two feast days in Lent. They both have to do with the Passover meal and how Christ fulfills the purpose of the ritual that began long before he was born.
For the purposes of this particular meditation, I’m gonna be citing from Scott Hahn’s The Fourth Cup which I highly recommend that you read. In his book, Hahn explains that the ritual of the Passover involves drinking four cups. The first cup is a blessing cup. The second cup is shared at the beginning of the Passover ritual. The third cup is taken during the actual meal. The last cup occurs at the climax of the Passover.
At this point, Jesus has taken three of the four cups, the third cup being the one he consecrates as his Blood. His disciples sing the psalms as called for by the ritual. However, Jesus does not take the fourth cup. Instead, they go onto the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s basically the equivalent of ending a football game in the start of the fourth quarter or an action movie ending before the big fight scene.
What’s going on here? Keep in mind that before they left for the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said “I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until I am entering into the kingdom of God.” When he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, he pleaded with his Father to “take this cup away from me.”
So what is the fourth cup? According to Scott Hahn, the fourth cup that Jesus took to finish the Passover meal was the vinegar that was given to him when he cried “I thirst.” Then once he drank the vinegar, he said “It is finished,” took one last breath, and died. At first, like a lot of people, I thought that it meant that his mission to redeem us was finished. However, our salvation came from the Resurrection, not from his death.
Think back to the Passover sacrifice and then read the story of the Passion with Isaiah’s song of the Suffering Servant in mind. Jesus’s death ended the Passover ritual that he started in the previous night. Then let’s go back to John’s Gospel. At this point, the soldiers are breaking the legs of the two thieves next to Jesus in order to make their deaths quicker. But Jesus was already dead. Instead of breaking his legs, a soldier pierced Jesus’s side and blood and water gushed out of it. If you’re familiar with the Divine Mercy Chaplet, you may have heard this prayer: “O Blood and Water that gushed forth from the Heart of Christ, as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in You.” This is where that prayer comes from.
But the story isn’t over yet. As we know, Christ’s sacrifice was only the beginning. I hope that you go to Adoration today and meditate on Christ’s passion and death as you sit in His presence. God bless, my dear sisters in Christ.
After we give the sign of peace and before we kneel for communion, there is a beautiful hymn called the Agnus Dei. “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.”
When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming towards him, he knew what was to come for Jesus. When he called him the Lamb of God, he wasn’t saying that Jesus was gentle and humble. He was proclaiming that Jesus was destined to be sacrificed as an sin offering.
To understand what exactly John was talking about, we have to go all the way back to the time of Moses, when the feast of the Passover was established. The last plague that God brought upon Pharaoh and the people of Egypt was the death of all the firstborn sons. The ritual of the Passover called for a male lamb without blemish, killed in the evening. The people would then feast on the lamb’s flesh and the blood of the lamb would be sprinkled all over the doorposts so that the Angel of Death would pass over and leave the firstborn sons of that household alone.
There are many instances where Jews would offer lambs and other animal sacrifices in atonement for our sins. The lamb is unique because lambs don’t resist, run away, or cry out in pain. The problem, however, was that even with all these sacrifices, humanity was still separated from God. The sacrifices were imperfect because the sin was caused by a human being and only someone who is both a perfect human being and a divine being could bridge that gap. No human alive could work as a perfect sacrifice, so how can man ever be reconciled with God again?
The answer, of course, is Jesus. Take note of where the verse from the Gospel takes place. It’s out in the river Jordan, out in the desert, but also, more importantly, outside of the temple in Jerusalem. By preaching outside the temple, John is establishing that the animal sacrifices in the temple will become a thing of the past. Then comes Jesus, who John calls the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice.
How can this be, you ask? Jesus is both God and Man. He is fully human and fully divine. Crazy, I know. And definitely mind-blowing, in my honest opinion. As someone who is human in all ways except sin, Jesus can share in humanity’s sufferings and sins and take them with him as he carries his cross. As someone who is also fully divine, Jesus is able to forgive sins and also acts as the priest who offers himself as the sacrifice. Like the Passover lamb, he was killed under a darkened sky, his blood was shed so that we may not die for our sins, and we feast on his flesh to honor his sacrifice. Like the priest who offers the sacrifice, Jesus asks for the forgiveness of all those who sin.
When Jesus gave his life up on the Cross, the temple veil that covered the Holy of Holies, the presence of God within the Temple, was torn from top to bottom, symbolizing the fact that man and God are no longer separated.
For this Bible study, I have a challenge for you: Spend some time with the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration. Whether it’s for five minutes, fifteen minutes, or a whole hour, I want you to take what you’ve read and meditate on it in the presence of Jesus.
God bless, my sisters in Christ!
One wonderful thing about being a Catholic is that we have the Eucharist. Whether you’re a cradle Catholic who received communion at a young age or a convert who received communion for the first time during Easter Vigil, the Eucharist is a blessing and a grace that we Catholics are privileged enough to receive every Mass.
It seems a bit crazy at first because other denominations have something similar, but a small piece of bread or a cracker and some grape juice doesn’t do this sacrament justice. St. Maximillian Kolbe said
I once heard a story of a Chinese girl getting killed over struggling with a communist soldier to receive the Eucharist. There are saints who literally lived on Holy Communion alone. So given how much devotion many people have for this sacrament, is the Eucharist really just a symbol? To quote Dorothy Day, “If the Eucharist is a symbol, then I say to Hell with it!”
The Eucharist is definitely a sign, but it is more than just a mere symbol. Like the other Sacraments, the Eucharist is a sign of God’s grace. But to treat the consecrated host and wine as if they were just ordinary objects denies how much emphasis Jesus put when he said “This is my body; This is my blood.” The ritual of the Last Supper would later be echoed by St. Paul, continuing the tradition of Holy Communion.
The Eucharist reminds us of the Passover Meal all the way back in the days of Moses, but it also reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross thousands of years later. The Last Supper wasn’t just Jesus’ last meal with his friends, but the beginning of a new covenant between God and us. Instead of sacrificing animals, Jesus, who is both God and man, offers himself up as the perfect sacrifice.
The Eucharist is also a feast that brings Heaven and Earth, saints and sinners, together for the supper of the Lamb. We give thanks for the gifts of the bread and wine, but through the power of transubstantiation (1), the ordinary becomes extraordinary, changing its very substance into the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.
Not only do we have the blessing of receiving Jesus’s body, blood, soul, and divinity, but with Adoration, we get to be in His presence. Like the sacrament of the Eucharist, Adoration seems absurd: just sitting in the silence of a chapel staring at what looks like a piece of bread contained in a monstrance (2), but like every relationship, Adoration helps us grow in our love for God the more often we go there.
Sure we still have an end to our earthly lives, whether we receive the Eucharist or not, but the difference is that when we receive the Eucharist, even on our deathbeds, the Eucharist nurtures eternal life within us.
So the Eucharist is not just a piece of bread and wine that represents Jesus’s body and blood and it’s not something we receive out of mere obligation. It’s Jesus Christ giving Himself to us and we receive Him with the utmost reverence and adoration. I hope that through this study, we will all grow in our love for this amazing gift.