Blogger’s Note: Awhile back I offered to Father to speak to the parish on the purpose of the Open Adoration events we have been hosting, and instead, he asked me if I would share a stewardship witness—a conversion story of sorts—on the Eucharist and Adoration. This short talk was delivered after all the Masses the weekend of October 26-27, 2019.
Brothers and sisters: I’d like you to ask yourself the following question: At this moment, who is the most important person in the room? Does everyone have someone in mind? OK, on the count of three, point to that person: 1…2…3…
Several years ago, I was helping to get our faith formation program going, and the director, Carol Freeman, asked a favor of me. During LIFT we were going to spend time in Adoration—silent prayer in front of the Holy Eucharist—and she asked if I would lead a closing prayer at the end.
I said I would—then spent the rest of the session trying to figure out why she asked me, of all people. I was on the Faith Formation Committee, but beyond that, I was nobody important in the parish. I looked around the church and thought, I’m not even the most important person in the room. Father’s here; he’s more important. Carol’s the director; she’s more important.
Then my eyes fell on the monstrance—the beautiful gold vessel that displays the Sacred Host, the Body of Christ, for us to see and adore. I knew the Church teaches that the Eucharist is truly Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity, in a real but mysterious way. I didn’t understand this teaching, but I knew it, and it dawned on me: The most important person in the room was in the monstrance.
And when the time came for closing prayer, I said so.
That was probably the first time I acknowledged the Eucharist as Him and not It. The Real Presence of Jesus was, and is, still a mystery to me, but over time I began to make a conscious effort to treat the Eucharist as a person—as Jesus. When I genuflected to the tabernacle, I did so as if the Lord of the Universe was inside—and lo and behold, He was! In the Adoration Chapel, I slowly quit bringing a stack of books and my own agenda, and instead acted as though Jesus wanted to spend some quality time with me—and what do you know? He did.
And at Mass, I began approaching Communion as though Jesus was waiting, beckoning, calling me forward so He could dwell specifically in me—as though I had been chosen for this. And after Communion, I began to look away from the crucifix, the tabernacle and the altar, into my own heart, as though Christ Himself might be there, in me. And He was.
Brothers and sisters, the most important person in the room is always Jesus Christ, and if you received Holy Communion today, He is in you—in whatever space you’ve carved out for Him to dwell.
When I began to treat Jesus as an actual person, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, He began to show Himself everywhere. Of course, He was there all along—the distance was mine. I wasn’t present to Him. When I showed up, He showed up—and began to show me myself: my weaknesses, my strengths, my gifts and what He wanted me to do. And as I got to know Him, I found the courage to try to follow Him, a little more closely, each day.
The goal of stewardship—of prayer, hospitality, formation and service—is to become better disciples, to grow in love of God so that we can spend eternity with Him. To learn to love someone, you have to get to know him, and the best way to get to know someone is to spend time with him.
If Jesus is not yet real to you, start small: Catch and correct yourself (even just in your head) when you refer to the Eucharist as “it.” Genuflect like the Lord of the universe is in the tabernacle. Before Communion, make room for Jesus by clearing out some of the other things that clutter up your heart, and after Communion, invite Jesus to make Himself at home.
Then, when you’re ready, spend some time in Adoration. Our chapel is open nearly 24-7 for you to come and pray. You don’t have to commit to a specific hour each week, and if you do take an hour, you aren’t committed for life. There is information in the Gathering Space if you want to learn more.
One last thing: If it feels to you as though I’m preaching to the choir—if you already know in your heart that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist and you love your Holy Hour each week—invite someone. Too many Catholics believe Jesus is here, in a real way, and come to bask in His presence…but tell no one.
Our stewardship theme this year is “Go Make Disciples.” The Mass is a hard step for lapsed Catholics or non-Catholics to take: It’s difficult to understand and follow if you didn’t grow up with it. But as one of our teens once told me, Adoration is beautiful opportunity to “get people in front of Jesus and let Him do the work.” We are hosting Open Adoration quarterly here at St. Michael, with periods of silence, praise and worship music, guided scripture reflections and individual prayer ministry. While any and all of you are welcome to attend, these events are not for youwho already know Christ. Invite someone. It seems hard, I know, but Jesus Himself gives us the words: “Come and see.”
Thank you all, and God bless you.