The Institution of the Holy Eucharist
Fruit of the Mystery: Eucharistic Adoration
God With Us
by Cait Winters
No sermon has ever spoken as loud, no song of praise sounds as sweet, no mere human beheld as stunning as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, still and silent in the Blessed Sacrament. Emmanuel, God with us, under the appearance of bread and wine.
The greatest mystery of our faith.
People are always agonizing over where to find God. I know that myself, a once-lapsed cradle Catholic, had looked in all of the wrong places before grasping the reality of His true presence.
I told my brother one afternoon that I was headed to a chapel in the city. I explained that the Holy Communion placed on our tongues during Mass is more than just a wafer, but Jesus Himself. That in the most unbelievable yet most real way possible, these consecrated hosts of the Lord are there for us to adore! Waiting in tabernacles and monstrances around the world, beckoning all to receive His grace.
“God?” he said, smiling, eyebrows raised in surprise. “In Fall River?”
We both laughed, but the answer was an unequivocal “Yes!”
I was not surprised but no less wonderstruck at the thought.
He is here, in our cities and towns. He does dwell among us, and we can adore Him!
But, how do we do that?
Well, it’s more than a simple answer could convey but God, as He always does, provides us with some great examples. Jesus’ Blessed Mother Mary was the first human to adore the Son of God. She adored His holy presence initially, expressing her love through her “fiat”, after which all of Christendom would follow.
Mary adored her son year after year. His sparkling eyes and chubby cheeks. His little scraped knees. His lanky arms she tucked in while He slept. Do you think they danced at the wedding feast at Cana? I can picture them holding onto one another, fabric swaying about as they laugh and rejoice over all who had come to believe!
Every parent knows the feeling of pure love for their child. When you look into their face in awe, staring at the gift God gave you and marveling at His handiwork. I’m a mom of three and I love my children dearly but, I don’t adore them, I adore God within them.
Despite the informal, conversational usage of the word like “adorable”, the English word adoration is set aside for God. Adoration is a form of latria (derived from the Greek word for service, worship) in which we acknowledge our meekness before the Creator and reverently praise His exceeding holiness. This highest form of worship is due to God alone and also occurs at Mass.
Those around Jesus during His Earthly ministry had the chance to adore Christ as both God and man. Saint Joseph undoubtedly adored Him, chastely, in Mary’s blossoming womb and later in the embrace of family life. An unborn John the Baptist jumped for joy, causing Elizabeth to realize before whom she stood: the first Ark of the Covenant, holding in the most precious way possible, God incarnate. The Magi as well, came from afar to kneel before Him and offer their gifts.
When I started going to adoration regularly, I noticed that the chapels always had a crucifix and an image of the Blessed Mother nearby. I was praying in one of my favorites when my son, two at the time, discovered he could make a tapping noise with the crank of a stained glass window. I chided him at first but soon gave in, seeing no harm done besides an added obstacle to my meditation. Soon the noise became a part of the atmosphere and faded to the background.
When I am in adoration, I don’t only pray. I clear my mind, I listen, I sit with God in comfortable silence. I gazed at the small white host enthroned behind glass until my eyes began to play tricks on me. So, I looked to the side, to a carved likeness of His Mother, then to the crucifix on my right. I found myself stunned.
The babe, the Son of Mary, the God-man hanging from a tree, the Lamb who was slain so we could live, our Father who art in Heaven, the Holy Spirit, the Lover of my soul, the Word made flesh, and this small white host, were all one and the same! How can it be?
It’s a reality that’s hard to wrap our finite minds around. Yet the source and summit of our faith as Catholic Christians is this: that the very same Jesus encountered by the apostles is just as present with us today through the Eucharist.
If you’ve struggled to recognize Jesus, you are in good company! A Pew Research study in 2019 found that seven in ten professed Catholics believe that the bread and wine at Mass are merely symbolic as opposed to the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ as the Church has always proclaimed.
There is nothing new under the sun. Luke chapter 24 describes Easter Sunday, when Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. These disciples represent the first fallen away Catholics, leaving Jerusalem in doubt after Jesus’ death. They beheld His face, the beatific vision on Earth! But they didn’t see Him for who He was, thinking Him nothing more than a wise stranger.
They walked with Jesus for seven miles, conversing with Him and listening as He cited the scriptures that foretold His coming. It was not until He broke bread with these two that they saw Him for who He was. Once they did, they were reluctant to leave Him, but He disappeared from their sight and they returned to Jerusalem at once to share the news.
It’s a relatable feeling, this hesitation to leave His side. Adoration fills a longing so deep within my soul that I often have to steel myself before rising and rejoining the world. My daydreams see me staying there, setting up camp on this doorstep to Heaven, peering into the monstrance like a keyhole affording me a circular fraction of the longed for glory beyond the gate.
Emmanuel, God with us.
So, how are we to live armed with this knowledge?
We plant ourselves close to the living water by living a sacramental life. We respond to God’s love with relationship, for He made us to have just that with Him.
I try to visit Jesus multiple times a week, though at this stage of life with a young family it’s rare that I make a full hour. Still, I’ve learned where and when I can go and I steal time with Jesus whenever I can. Whether I pop in between errands or make a stop after school drop-off, He’s always there waiting for me.
Venerable Fulton Sheen in his speech on Adoration said that training our eyes to see the person of Jesus in the Eucharist makes us better able to see the image of God in human beings. When we can’t be near the Lord in a physical sense we can still adore Him through the people He has put in our lives by loving and serving our families, friends, and neighbors well.
Sheen prescribes an hour of adoration a day for religious but for the laity, at least fifteen minutes of silence with the scriptures, because “it is in the silence that God speaks”. We all have fifteen minutes to read during nap time, or to pray a scriptural rosary over lunch. If not, we must examine our priorities; we must make the time to simply abide.
It is essential, dear sisters, to proclaim these truths today, not only to the world at large but one another as well. We’ve been through so much as a Church the past several years: division, scandal, irreverence, being barred from the sacraments. It has wounded us and our witness but we already have the antidote to our woes! The bread and wine are transformed into Christ and when we receive Him worthily we, too, are transformed.
The Eucharist is the answer because Jesus is the answer.
He truly is Emmanuel, God with us.
About Cait: Cait Winters is the founder of Motherhood Through the Mysteries, the host of the Motherhood Through the Mysteries Podcast as well as a writer, blogger and aspiring author. She is a wife and mother of three children (from toddler to teen!) living the small-town life in Massachusetts and finding God in the midst of everyday moments. Her writing covers all things motherhood, womanhood and faith through relatable and inspiring short stories filled with humor and heart.