St. Wilfrid's Roman Catholic Church

Toronto, Canada

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Wednesday, December 8, 2021 - Advent - Solemnity of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reflections

for Sunday, June 6, 2021

Since last Friday was a First Friday, we had, as we always do, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in our chapel. So I went to the chapel to spend a little time before the Blessed Sacrament and to hear what the Lord wanted me to present to you in this homily. As soon as I walked in, I was confronted with the question: Why are you here? It was clear to me that I was not being asked why I was here on earth, or why I was here in Florida at St. Ignatius, but why was I here before the Eucharistic Presence of the Lord? I didn't have any deep theological answer to that question, just, simply, that I was here, there actually, to look at the Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist and to know that He was looking at me. I was there to pray, to talk to Him, and, hopefully, to quiet my mind down enough so that I could listen to Him.

I know that many of you go to Eucharistic Adoration on First Fridays, when we have 40 Hours during Lent and on retreats. Eucharistic Adoration is a highlight for our young people on our December Retreat.

Recently, there have been concerns voiced that perhaps for some Eucharistic Adoration detracts from the Mass. For example, many times our young people will be asked, "What was the highlight of the conference, or the week?" and they often respond, "Eucharistic Adoration." Some are concerned thinking that their response should be the Mass. They are correct in affirming that the Mass is the most important action of the Church. But, I do not share this concern regarding Eucharistic Adoration. Having an experience of the Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist is a blessing to be treasured, whether this blessing is experience at Mass or at Eucharistic Adoration, or at both.

Is the grace received at Eucharistic Adoration of the same dimension as that received at Mass? Of course not. At Mass we join the Lord in renewing the Sacrifice of the Cross. Jesus is once more offered up for us to the Father "for our sins and the sins of the whole world," as the chaplet of Divine Mercy so elegantly declares. At Mass we take the Savior within us and are mystically united to Him before the Father, offering Himself for us. Our union with Him as the Head of the Living Body of worshipers, our union with the community, our communion, is the great gift that Catholicism has jealously preserved even in the face of persecution. In the history of the Church, including the present times, those who attack Catholicism first attack the Mass. Priests were tortured to death, hung drawn and quartered for saying Mass in sixteenth and seventeenth century England. There are still many places in the world where it is illegal for a priest to say Mass. There are many places in our country where anti-Catholic bigotry is expressed in a mocking of the Blessed Sacrament. Magicians used to use the term hocus pokus on the stage. That was a mockery of the word of consecration in Latin, "Hoc est enim corpus meum," For, this is my Body." The mockery of the Blessed Sacrament infuriates us because we treasure the Mass. And, yes, it is and should be the highlight of our lives.

Eucharistic Adoration leads us to a deeper understanding and appreciation of what we are doing at Mass and Whom we are receiving at communion. Should Eucharistic Adoration ever replace Mass? Of course not. Nor could it. Should it be disparaged in any way? What a pity that would be. At the same time, care needs to be taken that Adoration services don't become merely an emotional experience. Nor should they be cold, dry experiences devoid of human expression similar to the old pre-Vatican Benediction services. With this said, I am saddened that anyone would want to take the experience of Jesus Christ at Eucharistic Adoration away from anyone else, particularly the young.

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi forces us to take a deep look at our belief in the Eucharist as well as our participation in the Eucharistic Community that is the Church. The solemnity reminds us: This is Jesus. He is present on our altars offering Himself up for us to the Father. He is present within us in the reception of communion. He is present at Eucharistic Adoration looking at us as we look at Him.

And He is present in our tabernacles. What a pity it is that so many of our churches have become social halls before Mass. Some people even ignore the people next to them trying to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. Perhaps a good reminder for us all of what a Catholic Church is would come if we return to the fundamentals: genuflecting when we enter the pew, right knee people, and kneeling to speak to the Presence of the Lord before us. We should also genuflect or at least bow any time that we cross in front of the tabernacle. By the way, we should be sure that there is as little movement around the Church as possible during the Eucharistic Prayer.

So what am I doing here? I asked myself that question at Eucharistic Adoration. Ask yourselves: What am I doing here when I come to Mass, when I receive communion, when I go to Eucharistic Adoration. What are we doing? The Solemnity of Corpus Christi tells us what we are doing. We are experiencing the Presence of Jesus Christ in the Great Gift of the Eucharist.

 
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Exodus 24.3-8
Second Reading: Hebrews 9.11-15
Gospel: Mark 14.12-16, 22-26

This material is used with permission of its author, Rev. Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino, Diocese of St. Petersburg, FL. Visit his website

   

Reflections are available for the following Sundays:

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St. Wilfrid's Parish, Toronto