This past Tuesday, I came to Chapel fairly early to allow time to change the altar cloth and ambo covering back to green. It has been about six weeks since we last had Ordinary Time! (I serve as sacristan here our care home, St. Anne’s, and it is my responsibility to attend to such things.)
Before I could remove the white cloths, I had to unpin the decorative gold trim from them. I left my collection of pins in the sacristy to return to their little box in the office later in the day. After making the changes (including replacing the white tabernacle veil with a green one) and putting things away in the drawers, I took a seat in a chapel pew.
The Sanctuary Light Is Always Burning
During my time of prayer, I happened to look up and see the sanctuary light still burning near the tabernacle. I had lit it the other evening but had done nothing with it since then. I noticed that the flame was still burning, reminding me of Christ’s continuous presence.
The little flame was constant in its praise of Him whose love is truly constant. It reminds us that He does not leave us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains why Christ would choose to remain constantly present to us in the tabernacle:
1380 It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present to his Church in this unique way. Since Christ was about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence; since he was about to offer himself on the cross to save us, he wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which he loved us “to the end,”209 even to the giving of his life. In his Eucharistic presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us,210 and he remains under signs that express and communicate this love:
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.
His Love Endures Forever
Psalm 136 exhorts us: “Praise the LORD, for he is good; for his mercy endures forever.”
The psalms are plentiful in their references to God’s faithfulness. Verses 23-25 of the above-mentioned psalm are especially appropriate:
“The Lord remembered us in our low estate, for his mercy endures forever; Freed us from our foes, for his mercy endures forever; And gives bread to all flesh, for his mercy endures forever.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church confirms this, saying:
“When we say ‘God’ we confess a constant, unchangeable being, always the same, faithful and just, without any evil…He is almighty, merciful, and infinitely beneficent. Who could not place all hope in him? Who could not love him when contemplating the treasures of goodness and love he has poured out on us?”
Near the end of Mass, the priest puts any remaining Hosts in the tabernacle and turns the key. He need do nothing more. Jesus remains there. His love and mercy endure forever.
I find Jesus’ presence in our tabernacles so wonderful, so consoling. He is always there. Any time of day or night, I can come and visit Him. He’s always ready to listen to my concerns, to have me “pour out [my] heart before Him.” His love is constant; it endures forever.