A Eucharistic Reflection
by Christie Swanson
composed December, 2001
(Passionist Affiliate & Passionist Oblate-2013)
We Christians hear the exhortation to go out and proclaim the good news. I have asked myself many times, “What is the Good News of Jesus Christ that I would like to proclaim?” As a happy new Catholic who just entered the Church this last Easter Vigil, the best news I have heard in my entire life and that I wish to proclaim is that Jesus is present to us always in the Blessed Sacrament!
I am writing this having just passed through the Thanksgiving holiday and the Feast of Christ the King. I now look forward to next week when our parish will be blessed with the opportunity to come into adoration, thanksgiving, and friendship with our Lord during the First Friday exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Because Christ is present in the Sacrament of the altar in the celebration of the Mass, Christ is also to be honored with the worship of adoration. As Pope Paul VI wrote in Mysterium Fidei, “To visit the Blessed Sacrament is . . . a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord” (MF, 66). The celebration of the Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration are like Thanksgiving Day all over again! And what better way to live our belief that Christ is our King than to honor His presence every day at Mass and very specially on the first Friday of every month as our Eucharistic King?
In adoration, I can sit before the God of the universe, the God of all wisdom and love. He will bless me and guide me. I heard someone say once that sitting with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is like sitting in the sun. You really don’t have to do anything to receive its rays; in the same way, I cannot sit with Him without receiving His rays of glory and being changed.
“Lift up your heads, O gates; rise up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter. Who is this king of glory?” (Psalm 24:9-10, New American Bible)
I have to insert words from Sacred Scripture, because since finding the Church I can now see the solid reality behind the words of the Bible. I am still in awe of the goodness of our God and the great favor He has bestowed on His Catholic Church.
“Enter the temple gates with praise, its courts with thanksgiving. Give thanks to God, bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).
I remember very well my first experience of First Friday exposition and adoration while I was still living in Florida. It was in May, about a year before I was confirmed in the Church. During my journey into the Church, I studied from many Catholic sources, and I learned that Jesus is truly present during the celebration of Holy Mass and that He remains present in every tabernacle of every Catholic Church. I learned that there was a very special time when Jesus allowed Himself to be exposed in the monstrance—in essence, to be brought before us in splendor. I just couldn’t believe that the Jesus I had grown to love so much through the Sacred Scriptures would be truly present to us like this—just like He was in the days of the Gospel. I had been attending Mass on Sundays for a few months, and I picked up a bulletin from my parish in Florida that announced First Friday exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. I was so excited I didn’t know what to think, but I knew that I had to be there!
That Friday came, and I thought I was going to be able to share this wonderful time with many people, since the opportunity to see Jesus in this way came about only once a month. Although I really didn’t understand what “Benediction” meant at the time, I did know that the 6:00 PM Benediction was the finale of this great day. I planned to arrive at the chapel at 5:00 PM, as I had heard about the Holy Hour [“Could you not keep watch for one hour?” (Mark 14:37)]. When I entered the chapel, there He was, our Lord on the altar in the monstrance. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was right before my eyes, and I did not know how to act! I knew this was supposed to be an hour of adoration, but I didn’t know how to worship or adore Him. I sat down very quietly and looked to see what other people did before the Lord. I saw them kneel down and bow and just gaze at Jesus so lovingly.
“One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek; to dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, to gaze on the Lord’s beauty, to visit his temple (Psalm 27:4).
As I sat there, I told the Lord that I wanted to adore Him, but I didn’t know how. I asked Him if He would teach me how.
As the hour passed and the time for the closing Benediction drew near, I kept waiting for all the people to come to the chapel. This had been the most wonderful hour I had ever spent, and I was ready to show my appreciation with a whole chapel full of people. But not very many came. The Lord was right there, and I knew He was waiting too, but not many came. I was sad for Jesus. I didn’t understand.
Thinking about this makes he want to proclaim the good news again to everyone. Jesus is with us, and we can spend a very special time together with Him on the First Friday of every month! Our Holy Father, John Paul II, says in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
“The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease” (CCC, 1380).
O God, within your temple we ponder your steadfast love” (Psalm 48:10).
Now we are in the season of Advent and I have a bigger prayer: that every person in every Catholic Church will come to truly know the great miracle of this season – the Word was made flesh and continues to dwell among us – and that each may develop a loving, personal relationship with our precious Lord. Then, in turn, I pray that our hearts may be so filled with gratitude and awe that we will proclaim the good news of this miracle to all.
I am so happy and thankful to be in this Holy Church with our Lord, to finally know I have a heavenly Mother, and now to be here at Holy Name of Jesus parish with this generous faith family and our loving priests. May our Advent season lead us to a Christmas filled with joy and a deeper understanding that the presence of Christ is waiting to be born in our hearts.