How often do we hear of a spouse (usually the wife) struggling in their marriage because of a lack of deeper, heartfelt connection? And the communion experienced is primarily physical and shallow. Of course, in right order, marriage is meant to have an emotional and spiritual intimacy that then leads to a very meaningful physical nuptial union. The Church teaches that marriage between husband and wife is meant to be a concrete sign here on earth (albeit limited), of the deeper espousal union to which we as the Church, as the Bride, are called to have with our Divine Bridegroom in the Eucharist.
Just as nuptial union between husband and wife is meant to consummate the marital vows, receiving Jesus in Holy Communion is meant to consummate our Baptismal vows, where we are invited into the full expression of our one-flesh union with God. Just as husband and wife can lack that deeper intimacy of the heart, we as Catholics can often fall into something similar with our Divine Bridegroom in the Eucharist.
Few Have Discovered This Great Pearl
Few Catholics have discovered this “pearl of great price” that is buried in the rich field of our Catholic faith, and gone to sell all that we have to “buy it” (Mat 13:45-46). Few have come to discover personally the truth expressed in Vatican II that “the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of the whole Christian life.” Yes, we may go to Mass on Sunday, and even possibly weekdays; but have we really put our heart into a personal relationship with our Divine Eucharistic Lord, in a way that we have come to share our hearts with Him intimately, and have come to know His Heart intimately as well. Some reading this may already be on this journey; but it is one that always calls us deeper still into God’s Love.
Furthermore, how healthy and solid would an earthly marriage be if the husband and wife only spent time together when they want to have sexual union? Would we say it is very lacking? In the same way, as Catholics, how often do we spend time with Jesus apart from Holy Mass, in order to foster a deeper communion of hearts, so that when we do receive Him, we are disposed to Him in an ever deeper and more profound way?
This is where we as Catholics are encouraged to spend time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration, to just be in His Presence, in any way we are inspired, exposing our hearts to Him as He exposes His heart to us.
The Feasts of His Flesh and His Heart
Jesus, our Divine Lover, sought consolation for His grieving Heart when in the thirteenth century he appeared to Blessed Juliana of Liege and showed her a vision of a moon which represented the Liturgical Calendar of the Church. Within the moon was a dark spot and He told her it was because there was a feast missing in the Church. He went on to explain that a special feast day would be necessary in the Church in order to remind people of His Real Presence, because, as the Church would progress in time, its members would decline in faith in His Real Presence. He asked her to tell this to the Pope and petition him for this feast day. Blessed Juliana responded, “But Lord, what about Holy Thursday? It celebrates your Eucharistic Presence.” He responded that this feast day also celebrates the holy priesthood and He desired a feast day celebrated solely in honor of His Eucharistic Presence. Through Blessed Juliana and Pope Urban IV we now celebrate the great feast of Corpus Christi.
Four centuries later, in the 1600s, Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. This time He came forth from the Blessed Sacrament. He appeared with His Sacred Heart exposed upon His chest and said,“Behold this heart which has loved men so much and which has spared itself nothing to prove to them its love… I thirst with such a terrible thirst to be loved by you in the Most Blessed Sacrament.”
Our Lord went on to ask her to have a feast day established in the Church Calendar in honor of His Sacred Heart. He asked her to have it fall near the Octave of Corpus Christi because He wanted people to know that the Blessed Sacrament is His Sacred Heart living among us. Pope Paul VI confirms this great grace when he writes, “The Blessed Sacrament is the ‘Living Heart’ of each of our Churches, and it is our very sweet duty to honor and adore in the Blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word whom they cannot see” (Credo of the People of God).
What the Saints Say
There are countless quotes from saints, popes and mystics which bespeak the tremendous power and grace received through spending time with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen encouraged all Catholics to make a daily holy hour in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist (if one’s other duties are too great, he says part of that holy hour can be the daily Mass). He says, “The purpose of the Holy Hour is to encourage deep personal encounter with Christ. The holy and glorious God is constantly inviting us to come to Him, to hold converse with Him… to experience what a blessing there is in fellowship with Him.”
Blessed Mother Teresa says of Eucharistic Adoration, “Every Holy Hour we make so pleases the Heart of Jesus that it will be recorded in Heaven and retold for all eternity. It opens up the floodgates of God’s merciful Love upon the world… Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth.”
We are told by St. Peter Julian Eymard, “I am fully convinced that if it were humanly possible to fully understand the value of a Holy Hour everyone would make time to do it…Let us never forget that an age prospers or dwindles in proportion to its devotion to the Holy Eucharist. This is the measure of its spiritual life and its faith, of its charity and its virtue. …Until we have a passionate love for our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament we shall accomplish nothing.”
St. Faustina tells us, “We are to be icons of mercy, radiating love and mercy to others. There is no greater way to energize ourselves to this task than by spending time in the Presence of the Source of Love and Mercy, Our Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist.”
In 1981 Pope St. John Paul II started a perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel in St. Peter’s, which continues today. His tomb is actually now placed beside the chapel. He strongly encourages youth and adults alike to spend time in adoration. He says, “The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: by not only celebrating it but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace…We must understand that in order ‘to do’, we must first learn ‘to be,’ that is to say, in the sweet company of Jesus in adoration.”
The Eucharist: The Heart of the New Evangelization
Truly, Jesus in the Eucharist is at the heart of the New Evangelization, and to the degree that we as Catholics fall in love with Him, and grow in deep communion with Him, is to the degree that we will bring Him to the world. Anyone who leaves the Catholic Church for another Christian denomination, I think, has probably not come to know Jesus’ true presence in the Holy Eucharist in a substantial way. Along with taking full advantage of the Holy Eucharist in our personal lives, may we not keep this “great pearl” buried in our Church. But let us “go out to all the world and tell the Good News”: that Jesus is living and present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in our midst!
+Holy Mother of the Eucharist, Spotless Bride, Star of the New Evangelization, intercede for us that we as Catholics will truly come to know and love your Son ever-more deeply as you do, that we may become one with you in being living tabernacles of His presence to the world.+