“Let my prayer be directed as incense in thy sight; the lifting up of my hands, as evening sacrifice” – (Psalm 141:2)
St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897): “Do you realise that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart.”
I believe these impassioned words of St. Thérèse were written because she was saddened seeing Our Blessed Lord often left alone in tabernacles in empty churches and chapels, although the sanctuary light burned its red glow reminding men of the Sacred Presence within.
Saints and holy men throughout the ages have received abundant graces from silent prayer of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament – what we now call “Eucharistic Adoration”. It is impossible to over-stress the importance of this holy fount of heavenly blessings and outpouring of Divine Love. The God of all Creation, Who in His Trinitarian Perfection, has no need of Man, still humbly awaits our coming to spend a little time in His Holy Presence so that He may shower us with His Loving gifts. Who can resist the call? Thus, when kneeling in adoration before Our Lord and King exposed in the monstrance (or hidden within all the tabernacles of the world) our every holy thought, prayer and petition rises straight to His Sacred Heart. Our every concern for our loved ones, for all the needs of Holy Mother Church and the world, and indeed, for ourselves too, is taken care of. If we grow in the pious practice of this blessed devotion, we shall find that gradually our own self-awareness fades into the background as the glory and secret sweetness of God is revealed to us. (This is often known as “contemplation”.) We are never closer to the Divine Presence than when we reverently receive His Sacred Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion, and when we come to “sit and pray with Him a while” in Eucharistic Adoration.
Should we not drop everything to keep at least a few minutes of every day in such a hallowed spot as in front of the Most Blessed Sacrament? Jesus tells us this is “the better part“. Should this not be the most important part of our daily lives therefore, instead of making the effort only when we can fit it in around all our busy-ness and when we have nothing more pressing to do? I regret to say I am often foolishly guilty of choosing to be a “Martha” rather than a “Maria”!
Venerable Fulton Sheen, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St Padre Pio (to mention just three holy people of our own era) plus countless saints in the history of the Church, found the “pearl of great price“, to be found nowhere else on earth. They led some of the busiest lives of people anywhere, and yet they would let nothing deter them from spending a daily hour alone with Our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration. They reaped countless rewards for their unstinted loyalty and love.
(N.B. Even those who are truly unable to be physically present before the Blessed Sacrament may be spiritually transported to adore God in His Eucharistic Presence among us.)
St. Alphonsus Liguori tells us,”How great is the sweetness which a soul experiences, when, in the time of prayer, God, by a ray of his own light, shows to her his goodness and his mercies towards her, and particularly the love which Jesus Christ has borne to her in his passion! She feels her heart melting, and, as it were, dissolved through love. But in this life we do not see God as he really is: we see him, as it were, in the dark. ‘We see now through a glass in a dark manner, but then face to face.’ (1 Cor. xiii. 12.) Here below God is hidden from our view; we can see him only with the eyes of faith: how great shall be our happiness when the veil shall be raised, and we shall be permitted to behold God face to face! We shall then see his beauty, his greatness, his perfection, his amiableness, and his immense love for our souls.”
Q. Why does Christ give us His own body and blood in the Holy Eucharist?
A. Christ gives us His own body and blood in the Holy Eucharist: first, to be offered as a sacrifice commemorating and renewing for all time the sacrifice of the cross; second, to be received by the faithful in Holy Communion; third, to remain ever on our altars as the proof of His love for us, and to be worshipped by us. (Baltimore Catechism, no. 356)
Fr Willie Doyle wrote these endearing words in his diary shortly after his ordination: “Lord, You know I love you less than any other, but I long and desire to love You more than all the rest. Take my heart, dear Lord, and hide it in Your own. so that I may only love what You love and desire what You desire. May I find no pleasure in the things of this world, its pleasures and amusement; but may my one delight be in thinking of You, working for You, loving You and staying in Your sweet presence before the Tabernacle. Why do You want my love, dear Jesus, and why have You left me no rest all these years till I gave You at last my poor heart to love You, and You alone? This ceaseless pleading for my love fills me with hope and confidence that, sinful as my life has been in the past, You have forgiven and forgotten it all. Thanks a million times, dearest Jesus, for all Your goodness. I will love and serve you now till death.”
There are an abundance of passionate quotes from the saints expressing their awe, delight and love for Our Blessed Lord in the Holy Eucharist. Here are just a few examples:
St. Anselm (1033-1109), “O delicious Bread, heal my heart that I may taste the sweetness of Thy love; deliver it from lukewarmness, that it may taste no other sweetness than in Thee alone.”
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), “No one could express the ineffable sweetness of this mystery, by which we taste of spiritual delights at their very source.”
St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), “By virtue of this sacrament, my heart is so inflamed that material fire seems to me cold in comparison; I am so filled with joy that I can no longer contain myself, and I am astonished not to see my whole being dissolve.”
St. John Berchmans (1599-1621), “O Jesus, my dear Master! what is there after divine communion that can give me pleasure and content?”
St. Jean-Marie Vianney (1786-1859), “When we receive Holy Communion, we receive our joy and our happiness.”
From an ancient prayer:
O Divine Jesus, lonely tonight in so many Tabernacles, without visitor nor worshipper…I offer Thee my poor heart. May its every throb be an act of love for Thee. Thou art always watching beneath the Sacramental Veils in Thy Love. Thou dost never sleep and Thou art never weary of Thy vigil for sinners. O lonely Jesus, may the flame of my heart burn and beam always in company with Thee. O Sacrament most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and thanksgiving be every moment Thine.