Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Good Shepherd's Appeal for Eucharistic Adoration

"The Eucharist, says John Paul, 'is the principal and central raison d'etre of the Sacrament of the Priesthood. Priests derive from the Eucharist and exist for the Eucharist' (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, No.2). Priests are in a special way responsible for the Eucharist. They are entrusted with the Eucharist for others. The people of God expect from priests a particular veneration and Eucharistic piety.

"Now, Eucharistic Adoration 'is simply the natural consequence of the Eucharistic celebration, which is itself the Church's supreme act of adoration' (S. Caritatis No. 66). Adoration, outside Mass 'prolongs and intensifies' all that takes place during the Eucharistic Celebration. Adoration itself is an act of witnessing when one sees many gathered in silence before the Lord. Eucharistic adoration should become part and parcel of our way of being Church. Many have said that Eucharistic adoration promotes vocations to the priesthood and to religious life. Children, youth and adults should be taught and encouraged to appreciate the beauty of silence in the presence of Jesus Christ.

"Our attitude, external behaviour, our gestures, our bodily movements reveal our faith, or, our lack of faith in the invisible presence of God, in the 'real presence' of Christ in the Eucharist, in the Consecrated Hosts in the tabernacle.

* Many enter the church and do not make the sign of the cross with holy water.

* Many no longer genuflect, not even a bow that acknowledges the presence of Christ in the tabernacle.

* Altar rails that have been dismantled, thus we no longer kneel when receiving the Body of Christ.

* Our churches are like a market place before and after Mass partly because we have moved the tabernacle to a separate room, or simply because we have lost the sense of the presence of the Holy. We have abandoned silence and a prayerful atmosphere in the church.

* Where possible, we need to restore the centrality of the tabernacle. We need to recover the culture and practice of genuflecting and of silence.

* Church law requires us to fast for an hour before the Eucharist. The chewing of gum during Mass is simply distasteful.

* External gestures help to condition our internal spiritual attitude towards the Holy.

* By putting in church pews without kneelers, we effectively discourage the faithful from kneeling during Consecration.

* The taking of Communion to the sick often leaves much to be desired. Usually Consecrated Hosts are distributed to lay minsters after Communion. And the priest asks ; How many? How many what? It does not sound like a language of people who recognize the presence of the Lord.

Lay ministers carrying Communion often stop to chat with friends before going to the sick. At times they rush to do a shopping round before proceeding to the sick. It is not unusual for some to keep the Consecrated Hosts at home because they did not find the sick person or because on their return, they found the church locked.

* It is not unusual for tabernacles to be broken open (or stolen) and the Consecrated Hosts scattered about on the floor. It is not enough simply to collect the Hosts and put them back into the tabernacle. There is a need for a cleansing rite and for repentance.

* It is most edifying to see the priest praying with the altar-servers in the sacristy before and after Mass. Silence in the sacristy is also conducive to an atmosphere of prayer. Such a practice stays with the altar-servers long after they have graduated from the sacristy. Some sacristies regrettably are like a market place. No prayers are said.

* It would be ideal if priests could once more pray while they vest in the sacristy. This practice would reinforce the culture of silence and a proper preparation for Holy Mass.

* It would equally be ideal to restore for the lay faithful prayers before the Mass and prayers of thanksgiving after Mass. Such exercises would help us focus on the 'real presence' of Christ who has been received during Mass.

As custodians of the Eucharist, it is our privilege to promote Eucharistic Adoration so that those who do so may savour the the grace of healing that comes from the Lord Himself."

~ Buti Tlhagale, Archbishop of Johannesburg, President of the SACBC ~

Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest, Mother of all priests, and our Mother, help us respond generously to the Holy Spirit's request, through the voice of His Church, to offer up to God Eucharistic adoration for priests. Amen.

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