How often we are reminded that we are not incontrol. My laptop died, and all the alternatives are limited and very slow. I had planned a new post on current Eucharistic controversies this weekend, but it won’t be ready on time. Instead, I’m reposting a piece that was originally a talk on Eucharistic Adoration that I was asked to deliver in my then-parish a few years ago:
As Catholics, we are blessed to have some wonderful devotional practices that help us grow closer to Christ. One of the most profound of these is Eucharistic Adoration. My wife and I were recently asked to help encourage participation in Adoration in our parish, in the course of which we ourselves came to see dimensions of this great gift that we hadn’t considered before.
For one thing, we both thought immediately of scriptural connections. My lovely bride thought of the passage from First Kings (1 Kings 19:10-13) where the Lord tells the prophet Elijah to stand on the mountain, for “The Lord is about to pass by”. There’s a mighty wind, an earthquake, and a roaring fire, but God is not in any of those things; instead, Elijah encounters the Lord in a “gentle whispering”.
Just as God does not appear to Elijah in any of the grand and dramatic forms we might expect, so Jesus enters the world as a tiny baby, and continues to manifest himself to us as a simple piece of bread. Eucharistic Adoration gives us a chance to shut out all the storm and stress of our daily lives while we contemplate the infinite God embodied in that piece of bread, and hear his gentle whisper.
My own first thought was the passage from Luke’s Gospel (Luke 10:38-42) where Jesus is visiting the sisters Martha and Mary. Martha, who is “worried about many things”, is frantically bustling about the house, while Mary simply sits at the feet of Jesus, watching and listening. When Martha complains that Mary isn’t helping her, Jesus answers that Mary has chosen “the better part, and it will not be taken away from her”.
Most of us can probably identify with Martha: always “worried about many things”, and too distracted to notice the Lord. Adoration is a great opportunity to give our “inner Martha” a rest and, like Mary, choose “the better part”. After all, what is Eucharistic Adoration, if not watching and listening at the feet of Jesus?
What’s true for us as individuals also applies to us communally. However important, even necessary, all of our various activities, committees, and causes may be, they can overshadow “the one thing”, as Jesus tells Martha, “that is needful”. What better reminder that Christ is the Center than a parish putting aside twelve hours in the middle of the week to sit at the Master’s feet? It keeps us from becoming nothing but noisy gongs and clanging cymbals (1 Corinthians 13:1).
My brief comments here can’t even begin to explore the depth of meaning contained in the Eucharist. God who created us knows what we need; having given us both body and soul, he knows we need material means to understand spiritual realities. The opportunity to kneel in adoration before our Eucharistic Lord is a gift we can’t afford to pass up.
Featured image top of page: “Christ in the House of Mary and Martha” by Vermeer, 1655