Holy Eucharist: February 2007 Archives

Wondrous Hidden God

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Yearning, I adore you,
wondrous hidden God,
Living Bread by bread concealed,
speaking heart to heart.
Give me now the faith that sees
darkly through the veil,
Let your presence draw me in
where my senses fail.

It being Thursday, the Most Blessed Sacrament was exposed in our choir within the clausura. Father Abbot posted a list of hours of adoration. The monks, clothed in the white cuculla out reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, kept watch in adoration all day. An indescribable fragrance of adoration seems to linger in the air even after the hours of exposition.

The practice of adoration on Thursday or, at least, of the holy hour of adoration of Thursday night, recalls the Great and Holy Thursday of the Lord's Mystical Supper and the gifts of the Priesthood and Eucharist. It introduces the weekly ascent to the Cross and the contemplation of the Pierced Side on Friday. Then, on Sunday evening after Vespers, it is good to remain before the Eucharistic Face of the Risen Christ, having recognized Him "in the breaking of the bread."


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The "Oversight"

I was made aware today that in a certain monastery the Blessed Sacrament (enclosed in a pyx) was left unattended on a shelf near the tabernacle for two days. Just left there. Forgotten. Neglected. "An oversight," they said. People came and went directly in front of the pyx. No one stopped. Priests and levites passed by and paid no attention. Finally, someone intervened and the situation was corrected. A few souls offered some hours of adoration in a spirit of reparation.

Loss of Faith

Would this have happened forty–five or fifty years ago? I think not. The loss of faith in the adorable mystery of the Eucharist, expressed in the way the Blessed Sacrament is now treated, or I should say mistreated, is directly related to the systematic dismantling of the Roman Liturgy and to the dismembering and mutilation of its rites that followed the Second Vatican Council.

Ritual Ruptures and Devotional Discontinuity

First communion rails were removed and tabernacles displaced. Then Holy Communion began to be given in the hand with the communicants standing. Then folks were instructed not to genuflect on two knees in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Then, first in one diocese and then in another, the wonderfully fruitful Forty Hours Devotion was suppressed; so too was Nocturnal Adoration. Then, especially in Western Europe and North America, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion — many of them poorly catechized and ill–prepared — began to invade the sanctuary — "to help priests," we were told. (I thought the permament diaconate was restored for that very reason.)

The Adorable Body of Christ

Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. As we worship, so do we believe, and as we believe, so do we live. Every authentic theology of the body derives from the theology of The Body of Christ and refers to it. Reverence for human life and for the human body is a consequence of reverence for the adorable Body of Christ. As we treat the Head sacramentally present in the weakness, vulnerability, and silence of the sacred species so will we find ourselves treating the weak, vulnerable, and silent (or silenced) members of His Mystical Body. It is all of a piece.

The Year of the Eucharist Sabotaged

The Servant of God Pope John Paul II attempted by means of his Year of the Eucharist to revive a sense of eucharistic amazement in the Church and to regenerate adoration, reverence, and holy awe. Admit it: the Year of the Eucharist was not a huge success; it met with indifference among many of the higher clergy. There were dioceses in which nothing was said or done in response to the Apostolic Letter, Mane, Nobiscum Domine. The Year of the Eucharist was sabotaged by indifference.

Adoration and Reparation Recovered

I have been reflecting lately on the charism of Eucharistic adoration and reparation given to so many outstanding souls in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Among them are Mechtilde de Bar (1614–1698), foundress of the Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration; Adèle Garnier (1838–1924), foundress of the Benedictine Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Tyburn; Théodolinde Dubouché (1809–1863), foundress of the Adoration Réparatrice; Hermann Cohen, Augustin–Marie du Saint–Sacrement (1820–1871), founder of the Nocturnal Adoration Society; Saint Peter Julian Eymard (1811–1868), founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament; and Blessed Marie de Jésus (1841–1884), foundress of the Filles du Coeur de Jésus.


The charism of Eucharistic adoration and reparation is being given again at the beginning of this new millennium. Priests, in particular, will find themselves drawn to Eucharistic adoration and to an ever deeper identification with Christ, Priest and Victim living forever before the Father to intercede for us. The "work" of Eucharistic adoration and reparation will go hand–in–hand with the restoration of the Sacred Liturgy and will complement it.

Like Men Who Are Waiting

In one of his novels, R.H. Benson depicts the Parousia of the Lord as a blazing "coming forth" from the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a monstrance, the rays of the monstrance becoming the light of the glorious Body of Christ filling the universe. "Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes" (Lk 12:35–37).

Eight Days Would Be Enough

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The Saints in Our Lives

The saints come into our lives, each one with a particular mission. We do not choose the saints to whom we are devoted in a special way; it is they who, in obedience to a mysterious design of God, make themselves known and devote themselves to us. This is something I have experienced over and over again. When a particular saint offers me the gift of his or her friendship, it is because God chooses, through this saint, to teach me something, to offer me a particular gift or, quite simply, to give me a heavenly companion for my journey, a counselor, and a friend.

Saint Peter Julian Eymard, Apostle of the Eucharist

Last December I was given a first class relic of Saint Peter Julian Eymard. Then, several trips to the Italian Consulate in Manhattan gave me the opportunity to pray in the magnificent Church of Saint Jean–Baptiste. The Church contains an altar dedicated to Saint Peter Julian and an important relic. Saint Peter Julian Eymard seemed to be approaching me with a message and with a gift.

I just finished reading two biographies of the saint; both books are in Italian. I found them here in the abbey library. San Pietro Giuliano Eymard, Apostolo dell'Eucaristia by Quirino Moraschini and Mondolfo Pedrinazzi, S.S.S. (Roma 1962), and Il Beato Pietro Giuliano Eymard by Paolo Dott. Fossati, Sacerdote Adoratore (Milano 1925).

What I found most striking is this particular teaching of Saint Peter Julian Eymard. Excuse my translation from the Italian, itself a translation from the French.

"The secret for arriving quickly at a life centred in the Eucharist is, during a certain period of time, to make Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament the habitual object of the exercise of the presence of God, the dominant motive of our intentions, the meditation of our spirit, the affection of our heart, the object of all our virtues. And if the soul is generous enough, one will come at length to this unity of action, to familiarity with the adorable Sacrament, to think of it with as much and even greater ease than of any other object. Easily and gently one's heart will produce the most tender affections. In a word, the Most Holy Sacrament will become the magnet of devotion in one's life and the centre of perfection of one's love. Eight days would be enough for a simple and fervent soul to acquire this Eucharistic spirit; and even if one should have to put weeks and months to acquire it, can this ever be compared with the peace and the happiness which this soul will enjoy in the Divine Eucharist?"

A Eucharistic "Conversion of Manners"

What exactly is Saint Peter Julian Eymard saying here? To use the classic Benedictine expression, he is talking about a conversatio morum, a Eucharistic conversion of the way one lives, a turning toward the mystery of the Eucharist. the first expression of this Eucharistic conversion will be the re–ordering of one's priorities beginning with the organization of one's day. He is suggesting an intensive eight–day exposure to the healing radiance of the Most Holy Eucharist.

Power Comes Forth From Him

I have always loved the Communion Antiphon Multitudo languentium (p. 471 in the Graduale Romanum). The theological and musical summit of the antiphon is in the last line: Quia virtus de illo exibat et sanabat omnes. "For power came forth from Him and healed them all" (Lk 6:19). The fact that the liturgy makes us sing this text during Holy Communion tells us that healing power radiates from the Body and Blood of Christ received from the altar, and contemplated and adored in the tabernacle and in the monstrance. Saint Peter Julian Eymard is suggesting that eight days of conversion, i.e. of turning toward the Most Holy Eucharist is sufficient to begin the healing of one's heart and the renewal of one's life.

Bringing the Messy Bits to Adoration

My friend Lisa H. is famous for counseling folks with problems of all sorts to bring them to Eucharistic adoration. Lisa is 100% right. Bring your whole life to adoration, especially the messy bits, the very parts that you would be tempted to hide or disown. Bring your broken heart and your wounds to adoration. Try it for eight days. It will be the beginning of a Eucharistic conversatio morum.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory