We Adore Our Eucharistic King
by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan
©Catholic Online 2005
The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is fast approaching. Now is the time for me to consider how I think of and treat the Most Holy Eucharist. The following list, by no means exhaustive, may serve as a kind of examen and inspiration for each of us.
1. To attend Holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, even daily if possible. Catholics are required to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass each Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. This serious obligation begins for children when they reach the "age of reason" (that is, when they can distinguish good from evil). To participate in the Mass during the week is an inestimable privilege and strongly recommended by the Church. We participate in the Mass--"the greatest communication between the Almighty and His sons and daughters"--by responding to the prayers, singing and listening attentively. We adore the Holy Eucharist by our full, active and conscious participation in the Mass, during which Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit and for the glory of the Father, is manifested on our Altar when the priest utters those indescribable words: "This is My Body . . . This is the Chalice of My Blood."
2. To prepare well for every Mass we attend. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, rooted in the Last Supper of Jesus that was celebrated on the evening of Holy Thursday, is "Calvary perpetuated" because it is the representation of Christ's Sacrifice on Good Friday. The Holy Mass extends to this very day the Calvary event--that selfless Sacrifice of Jesus to His Beloved Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. We adore Our Eucharistic Lord when we prepare ourselves, according to the practice of the Church, to receive Him worthily in Holy Communion. We abstain from food and drink (medicine and water may be taken) for at least one hour before receiving Holy Communion (the sick are excused from this ecclesiastical law). We also confess to a priest our mortal sins that we have not confessed before within the context of the Sacrament of Penance. (A mortal sin is a thought, word, desire or action that concerns grave matter with sufficient reflection and full consent of the will.) Here, we recall that only those persons who are practicing Catholics and whose marriages are recognized as valid by the Holy Catholic Church may approach the Altar to receive the Savior. (One's confessor will explain this matter more fully.) Frequent Confession of venial sins is highly encouraged. Many chose to avail themselves of one of the following spiritual "exercises" before Mass: reading the Sacred Scriptures that will be used during the Sacred Liturgy, reciting the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, making the Stations of the Cross (Via Crucis).
3. To demonstrate with our behavior that we believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. Whenever we enter or leave the church, we turn our glance to the Tabernacle where Jesus is reposed and we genuflect (those who are physically unable to genuflect may bows their heads towards the Tabernacle as a sign of reverence). We genuflect when we pass before the Tabernacle or the Altar on which the Body and Blood of Christ rest. To genuflect is a fitting act of adoration for the Blessed Sacrament. Our modest and decent dress (revealing clothes are inappropriate) demonstrates our faith in and adoration for the Holy Eucharist. We should dress as if we truly believe that Jesus lives in the Tabernacle and desires our love for His Sacred Body and Precious Blood. We avoid chewing gum in the church as a testimony to the unequaled splendor of the Holy Eucharist and in recognition that we are close to Emmanuel--"God with us." Finally, we should use accurate language when speaking (and singing) of the Holy Eucharist, thereby avoiding "bread" and "wine" to refer to the Sacred Species.
4. To enjoy the silence to which the Holy Eucharist beckons us. Whether grandiose or simple, an ornate basilica or a sparsely-decorated prison chapel, any space that hosts the Most Blessed Sacrament is more special and unique than every other. There, one acts differently. We maintain a respectful decorum in the presence of the Holy Eucharist. Before, during and after Mass, we refrain from useless chattering before the Tabernacle in order to adore and concentrate our attention on the Risen Lord Jesus. Christ invites each of us to reflect in silence on the mystery of His Body and Blood. "Who is He?" "Who does God want me to become?" Talking unnecessarily in the holy presence of the Word made flesh destroys a golden occasion to learn at the feet of the Master. There is a time to open our mouths: responding to the prayers, singing, greeting our brothers and sisters in Christ before or after the Mass outside of the church or in its vestibule. But when in the church proper, we demonstrate our love and adoration for the Eucharistic Jesus by opening our hearts and ears and closing our mouths so as to hear the "pearl of great price." Silence helps us to bask in the matchless glory of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
5. To receive Holy Communion with joy and fervor. The worthy reception of the Body and Blood of the Savior--the "taste" and the "pledge" of Eternal Life--impels us to be authentically charitable towards the poor, the weak and the needy and summons us to angelic chastity. Receiving Holy Communion should be the climax of our day, week, month, year . . . life! Preparing ourselves as indicated, joyfully and fervently, leads us toward the Altar. We receive Jesus on our tongues or in our hands (a profound bow before receiving Holy Communion is very appropriate), according to the local Episcopal Conference. When we receive Jesus on our tongues, we simply say "Amen" and permit the priest to place Christ there. If we receive in the hand, then we make a throne for the Lord, placing our "stronger" hand on the bottom and our "weaker" hand on top. Proclaiming "Amen," we receive the Host (rather than lunging for It), take a step to the side, stop and place the Host in our mouth using the stronger hand underneath. We must never receive the Sacred Host "on the run." If we receive the Most Precious Blood of Christ (an option in some Dioceses but never an obligation since we receive the entire Jesus--Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity--even under one species), then after saying "Amen," we receive the Chalice and consume the Precious Blood. Our diligent reception of Holy Communion demonstrates our love and adoration for Christ. With what dignity, adoration and love should we receive the Son of God!
6. To pass time with the Eucharistic Jesus outside of the Holy Mass. The Eucharist is always to be adored--before, during and after the Mass. During Eucharistic Processions, Forty Hours, Holy Hours and visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament (whether exposed in the Monstrance or reposed in the Tabernacle), we adore the Messiah, while simultaneously growing in His likeness. These precious moments with Jesus help to ensure that we will really be converted to Him and be able to accept His plan for us.
7. To make frequent Spiritual Communions. The beloved practice of the "Spiritual Communion," in which we invite the Lord into our souls in a similar manner as when we sacramentally receive Holy Communion, should be encouraged as a stellar act of love and adoration. Spiritual Communions, which may be made anytime and anywhere, signify the intense desire to receive Our Eucharistic Jesus when we are impeded from receiving Him sacramentally.
8. To cultivate a special relationship with Mary, the Woman of the Eucharist. Holy Mary, present with her Divine Son on Calvary, is present in some distinct way during each Holy Mass. True veneration of Our Blessed Lady leads us infallibly to genuine adoration of the Master. Our kind Mother teaches us to love, adore and receive Jesus in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
9. To develop a friendship with the Saints who are remembered for their incredible love for the Holy Eucharist. The history of the Church is filled with men and women, boys and girls who loved, adored and even died for the Most Holy Eucharist. To become aware of their affection for Holy Communion stimulates our capacity to develop in love for and adoration of Our Eucharistic Jesus.
10. To request the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to be offered for the living and the dead. There is no gift more beautiful and effective for the living and the deceased. Requesting Mass from a priest for a specific intention demonstrates one's own faith in the power of the Sacrifice of Calvary. Thus, the Holy Eucharist--the "Treasure of Treasures"--is further adored and enriches both those who arranged for the Mass and those for whom it is offered. Our attitude of adoration for the King of Kings present in the Most Blessed Sacrament compels us to respond to that alluring invitation: Venite adoremus--Come, let us worship!
[Adapted from Living the Most Holy Eucharist, Learning from Our Blessed Mother (Chicago: Institute on Religious Life, 2005).]
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Monsignor Charles M. Mangan - Official, 390 66616-1125
The Most Holy Eucharist
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