Canastota, NY - I have grown to treasure our morning visit, Mass and the reception of Your Sacred Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity- so nourishing, peaceful and transforming. I have noticed over the years that on those days I am unable or foolishly choose not to start my morning this way, the rest of my day is often more hectic and stressful. I marvel at Your great Love and Generosity in making Yourself so available to all of us. We certainly are not worthy of that love and attention.
How joyful I felt as I drove up to Your place later that same day. I did not have a lot of time to spend with You, but You can do so much in such a short period of time. It is nice to end my day with You, however briefly our time together may be.
I began talking to You as I walked towards the Church door. As I grabbed the door handle, I was anxious to be with You. Suddenly, my peace was shattered. The door was locked. I could not get in. You were there waiting for me, but I could not get in. It was only 3:30 in the afternoon!!! Had others come and been denied admittance? So few ever visit You; how disappointed You must be when finally we come to see You but cannot get in.
This is not the first time that I have been locked out. I sometimes stop at Your other places during my travels but cannot get in. For so much of my life, I took You for granted and rarely thought of You. Now I am incensed when we are kept apart. You told St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that you have a "terrible thirst to be loved by your creatures in the Most Blessed Sacrament". You gave us this gift of Yourself. You long for us to visit and to show You heartfelt appreciation for all that You have done for us.
St. Andrews Catholic Church in Roanoke, Virginia.
I want to spend time in Your presence. I want my visits to be acts of reparation for the all the offenses against Your Sacred Heart, including those that I have committed. I know that You are with me wherever I am. But You are really, truly and most especially present in the tabernacles of all the Catholic Churches throughout the world, even if, in some of these structures, Your tabernacle is hidden. Like little Francisco of Fatima, I want to spend some time with my "hidden Jesus". You are the only thing of everlasting value in these buildings.
Why (as St. Peter Julian Eymard observed more than 100 years ago) do we have time for everything except for visits to our Lord and God, Who is waiting and longing for us in the Blessed Sacrament? Why do so few visit You? Why are those who try to so often locked out? Why are Your Church and its members so timid and so silent about this great mystery and gift? Why have we lost reverence for and belief in Your Real Presence?
Why do our activities in Church before Mass more resemble a social hour than silent preparation for the reception of Your Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity? How can we show You reverence when we sometimes have no kneelers? Why is there so often no silent time for us to thank You after receiving this magnificent gift? How can we adequately thank You over the music and singing? How can we demonstrate our reverence and appreciation for this Gift if sometimes we no sooner get to our pew than Mass continues?
Perhaps if silence were to return to our Churches before Mass, following the Eucharist and after Mass ended, reverence for You would be restored. Perhaps if the use of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist was not so ordinary and if we saw all of your priests and people handle and receive Your Body and Blood more reverently, we would have a greater appreciation for Your Real Presence. Perhaps if we were reminded each Sunday at Mass by words and by what we see that You are really and truly present in the tabernacle, more of us would come. Perhaps if we were encouraged to visit You, more would do so.
Perhaps if we knew that "every moment we spend in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament deepens our union with Jesus, transforms us into the very image and likeness of God Himself, and makes up for those who do not know Him or do not love Him", more would come.
Perhaps if we knew that our late Holy Father (John Paul II) had asked that there be Perpetual Adoration in every Catholic Church throughout the world, more of us would come. Perhaps if we were taught that "every holy hour draws the world and everyone in it closer to Christ", more would come. Perhaps if we knew that "every holy hour lifts up the whole world to the Father for His blessing", more would come. Perhaps if we knew that "every holy hour would save a soul from going to hell and bring that soul to heaven", more of us would come.
We are told that some seventy percent of those who profess to be Catholic no longer attend Sunday Mass and that only thirty percent of those who do actually believe that You are really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. How can that be in the Church You founded?
Why do we fail to "adore and visit Jesus, abandoned and forsaken in His Sacrament of Love"? Is not the time long past due for all in Your Church to teach more clearly and more emphatically of Your Real Presence and the need for us to spend time in That transforming Presence? Is not our wholehearted response to John Paul II's plea (echoed repeatedly by his successor Pope Benedict XVI) that we rediscover "a sense of awe and amazement in the Eucharist", also long overdue?
When I initially wrote this reflection several years ago, I humbly suggested that the Catholic Church respond to this sad reality by first unlocking the doors of its Churches and by reinstating "silence" as the reverent language spoken there. Small but essential steps, I thought then. "Jesus will be pleased," I wrote then. "He will transform our families, our Church, our communities and us." Unfortunately, not enough parishes have implemented these simple steps. Is there any wonder then that rampant disbelief in Your Real Presence continues, or that so many of our "locked Churches" have since been "permanently closed" and our Lord evicted? ___________________________________  Lest anyone feel that I am trying to impose my own personal preferences on the way we conduct ourselves and worship our Lord in our Churches, I would simply point out that much of what I have suggested here we are either already required to do under the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) or has been recommended in the Encyclicals and Apostolic Letters of our gifted Popes, living and deceased. [This article originally appeared on The Integrated Life Channel of Catholic Exchange on April 14, 2010]
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