From the Pastor – July 10, 2011

Thus says the LORD: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.  (Is 55:10-11)

In the First Reading for Sunday’s Mass, Isaiah recounts the words of the Lord (above), where the Word of the Lord is likened to water falling upon the earth. It’s an analogy that fits well for our summer, since it rains in New Orleans almost every day! The bad news is that we can get caught in the storms, and the good news is that it keeps our plants and trees and grass nice and green. After less than an inch of rain in May, June brought 5 inches of rain, which helped us out.

So if we understand what rain can do for our gardens and lawns, we ought to be able to understand how God’s grace acts upon our soul. It helps it to be healthy, and it helps it to grow. So where do we get that grace? One important way is the Eucharist.

On March 13, 2006 Pope Benedict XVI issued a document called Sacramentum Caritatis – the “Sacrament of Love” – in which the Holy Father offered some basic directions aimed at a renewed commitment to Eucharistic enthusiasm and fervor in the Church.  In the document, he explained that Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass prolongs the sacred action of the Eucharistic liturgy and allows the faithful to express and extend their love for Jesus Christ truly present in the sacred species. He also called for specific churches and oratories to be set aside for Perpetual Adoration. It is very interesting to note that despite the intensive Eucharistic piety of the Popes of recent years – most especially John Paul II – no Papal document specifically commends Perpetual Adoration to the laity in such a direct fashion.

In our Archdiocese there are 18 chapels where the Eucharist is adored 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Why has Adoration been embraced so strongly by the laity? And why is it promoted so strongly by the Church? And why do priests keep preaching about it? The answer is simple. The Eucharist is Jesus. REALLY. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. To adore the Blessed Sacrament is to adore the same Jesus Christ that preached and teached and healed in Palestine in the first century. In the Blessed Sacrament is the same God whom the apostles adored in Galilee. This is an article of our Catholic faith. But besides Adoration there is petition. Not only is Jesus to be adored, he is to be entreated – just like He was entreated when he walked the earth: “I want to see” (Mk 10:51) “Increase my faith” (Lk 17:5), “Have mercy on me” (Mt. 15:22). Those who spend time in front of the Eucharist in Adoration know that Jesus is there and that they can come close to Him, for praise and petition. These experiences, shared by so many, have profoundly deepened the Church’s realization of how literally Christ spoke when He promised to be with us until the end of time. The experience is spiritual in that it gives light to the mind and strength to the will.  It provides intense graces for oneself and others. It enables weak human nature to suffer superhuman trials, and it gives ordinary people supernatural power to accomplish extraordinary deeds. Regular adorers can attest to these experiences.  Really. Ask one. Then come visit the Eucharist.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty