Drawn into the Heart of Christ:

The Mistery of the Eucharist
by Amelie Torre | Source: Catholic.net

Cardinal Justin Rigali said recently during his homily for the 49th International Eucharistic Congress that less than 50% of North American Catholics attend Sunday Mass. On a positive note, however, Eucharistic adoration is on the rise. The fascination of the Eucharist for believers and non-believers alike still holds its powerful sway.

For those members of the Church who are in special situations and cannot receive Communion, Eucharistic adoration is a source of great consolation and peace as they prepare themselves to receive Christ again. Likewise there are many who are in the process of conversion who are able to adore Christ as they pursue full communion with the Church.

Christ is there waiting for all who are willing to approach him, whatever their faith or particular situation. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). But people are still indifferent about receiving him in the Host, or perhaps afraid. It is obvious that God is present there, body and blood, in all his human and divine splendor. Receiving him is a tremendous responsibility; to receive Christ is to accept becoming another Christ, entering into the mystery of Calvary and the resurrection with him.

It must wound the heart of Christ to see so many who would approach him but are so mired in indifference and a loss of the sense of sin. Some choose to receive Christ unworthily, and others are deeply aware of their unworthiness, and never dare to approach. Then lukewarmness and indifference seal their fate. The alternative, however, would be to be deeply aware of one’s total unworthiness, but still approach Christ to receive him. It would involve an honest examination of conscience through the sacrament of confession, and receiving the necessary grace and strength to avoid sin through the Eucharist. That is why Christ has made himself present in the Eucharist in the first place.

Christ did not institute the Eucharist to be adored from a distance, but to be welcomed into our hearts. St. Therese of Lisieux has written that Christ’s favorite tabernacle is the human heart, and not a golden ciborium. For Someone who is Love itself, all our indifference or reticent love becomes a source of pain. But it is a great sign of hope that Eucharistic adoration is enjoying an upswing. If souls are truly contemplating the mystery of love exposed on the altar, then they will naturally feel the desire and longing to receive him. All love tends toward union, and that union cannot be partial or platonic. Christ wants total commitment, since he has completely committed himself to us. It is perhaps fitting that in our sex-saturated age, physical union among imperfect beings is so rampant, but the union of the perfect with the imperfect, which is precisely what takes place in Holy Communion, is avoided, or watered down, or minimized somehow in its truly revolutionary aspect. But this is just the kind of pure and intimate union that souls need now more than ever.

Annie Dillard provides a masterful description of just how earth-shattering the Mass should be for us as believers, but isn’t because of our boredom, our routine, our unawareness of the incredible Power in front of us.

“Why do people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on
a packaged tour of the Absolute?...Does anyone have the foggiest idea
what sort of Power we so blandly invoke?...The churches are children
playing on the floor with chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT
to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats
and velvet hats to church; we should be wearing crash helmets.
Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should
lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day
(and) draw us out to where we can never return.” (from An Expedition to the Pole)

If the celebration of the Eucharist is ‘boring’ for some, that is not Christ’s fault but our fault. Jesus still sacrifices himself there in the most revolutionary act of love conceivable. Someone has described the person of Christ as being like a black hole, someone so attractive and arresting that it is impossible to resist him. The force of gravity is just too strong. So the more people adore Christ in the Eucharist, the more they will feel themselves attracted by a magnetic force to receive him.

Catholics need to realize the explosive power of the Eucharist which they have in their grasp, and to realize that receiving Christ as he truly is means embarking on an incredible adventure. It is the furthest thing from ‘boring’ that one can get, and the most satisfying as well.

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