One of the occupational hazards of being a priest is the tendency to accumulate books. It is a practice many men develop during their time in seminary, especially when somebody is giving away free books. We think: “That might come in handy someday.” And while it is true that many of the books on my shelves have been useful, many of them are passed by each day without my even giving them a thought.
As I was trying to gather some thoughts of this feast day, I pulled a book off my shelf that I had not looked at in several years. The title of the book is Adoration – Eucharistic Texts and Prayers throughout Church History. As I thumbed through the book, one of the prayers caught my attention. It was clear that I had spent time on this page many times as there was a slight bend in the book. The title of the prayer is “An Act of Adoration and Reparation”, and part of the prayer goes like this:
I adore Thee profoundly, O my Jesus, in Thy sacramental form; I acknowledge Thee to be true God and true Man, and by this act of adoration I intend to atone for the coldness of so many Christians who pass before Thy churches and sometimes before the very Tabernacle in which Thou art pleased to remain at all hours with loving impatience to give Thyself to Thy faithful people, and do not so much as bend the knee before Thee, and who, by their indifference proclaim that they grow weary of this heavenly manna, like the people of Israel in the wilderness. I offer Thee in reparation for this grievous negligence, the Most Precious Blood which Thou didst shed from Thy five wounds, and especially from Thy sacred side.
As I write these words, I do so from my desk in the Cathedral Rectory, looking out on the traffic that passes along 6th Street, and I wonder how many thousands of people pass by the front of the Church each day and have no clue that the Lord of all is present here? How about those who are Catholic and pass by and think nothing of who they are passing as they go down the road? I say that as one who is likewise guilty of not always being attentive to the presence of Jesus in any Catholic Church I pass.
Even if we do not pause to acknowledge Him, we can be sure that He sees us, that He knows us, and that He longs to let us know how much He loves us. Every person that passes by, no matter if they are Catholic or not, is an object of His love, for there is not one person He has not willed into existence, and each soul He desires to be with Him for Eternity in Heaven.
To stop and think of how incredibly close Jesus is to us in the Eucharist is almost too much for our minds to comprehend. But it is the truth! To humble Himself to come in the form of bread and wine, and to subject Himself to being locked in the Tabernacle, day and night, with the vast majority of His time unheeded by those who pass by. If that is not love, I don’t know what is.
On this day on which we celebrate Christ’s Real Presence with us in the Eucharist, let us resolve to not just pass Him by. When we pass any Catholic Church, let us at least make the Sign of the Cross, acknowledging that He is truly present there, looking upon us with love. And may we even be willing to stop in and spend some time with Him, thanking Him for His presence and love for us. May it never be said of us that we have become indifferent to His presence among us, especially in the Holy Eucharist.