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It is strange, in the Church today, that many priests who encourage parishioners to go on processions which honour the Blessed Virgin Mary are reluctant to take part in, or allow, devotion and processions which honour her Son, Jesus Christ, in the Blessed Sacrament. Surely, those who love Mary should be even more glad to show love for her Divine Son!
Lourdes is not just an example of care of the sick. In looking at the Domaine in Lourdes, we have a picture of the Church which is in the world but not of it. We have a place for the sacraments, and for Reconciliation, a place for Adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, a place for devotion to Mary, a place where contemplatives pray for Church members - and much mutual help between pilgrims during our pilgrimage, including care of strangers.
As Jesus's Sacred Body was carried in a Monstrance past the crowd, at the prayer festival, I saw Jesus walking amongst us, happy to be amongst a different sort of crowd from the one that first called 'Hosanna', on seeing Him, but then rejected Him, and shouted 'Crucify Him'.
If we pray before the tabernacle in Church, where Jesus Christ is Sacramentally, substantially Present with us, as close to us as He was to His Apostles in Galilee, and if we adore Him, we do what the Angels do. They are hovering beside the tabernacle, adoring Our Lord in an attitude of perfect love.
If we look at those churches of past times which were decorated with colourful imagery and biblical scenes, we can see the importance of the altar, where Jesus Christ is made Present in the Mass. All that is beautiful here has been made so, in His honour. He deserves our adoration. He deserves to come to a place more like a throne-room than a garage.
Christ is our Divine Saviour, Who becomes Present with us, in the Blessed Sacrament. He deserves our adoration; and people in the Church who make decisions about the design and re-ordering of our church buildings would be wise to realise that the place to which Christ comes should look more like a throne-room than a garage.
God, Who has asked us to rest for one day of each week, has given us a wise command. He knows the frailty of our nature, and our need for rest, reflection, and refreshment - and for praise and adoration in the church.
God invites us to kneel in adoration. The Pope is right to encourage us to offer reverent praise to God the Father, Who is Creator of the whole Universe, greater than the Universe, and awesome in His attributes, and in the beauty of His loving nature. We owe the same praise to Christ His Son, Who is Present in every Catholic Church, and yet often receives praise that is banal, vain, irreverent, frivolous or mundane.
The Mass is far more than a sacred meal. The Sacrifice which Christ once offered on the Cross, as He prayed for sinners to be forgiven, and gave up His life without complaint to conquer sin and death, is available for every generation. Christ has marvellously arranged that He is Really Present in every Mass, in every era, praying for sinners just as He prayed from the Cross, though He no longer suffers. It is the same Sacrifice, however, since the same Victim offers Himself, on the altar as on the Cross; and His true friends attend, and adore Him, and receive Him in Holy Communion, and receive the graces He won.
Each priest should be Eucharist-centered. The Mass and Holy Communion, and Christ's Real, sacramental Presence, should be at the heart of each priest's reflection, his words, his devotional life, and the catechesis he offers to his flock. He will arrange regular Adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
In Mediaeval times, people were taught the truth about the Mass, the central act of our religion, and the greatest means of praising God - through His Son, and His Son's Holy Sacrifice, re-presented in the presence of the Saints, the Holy Souls and the Angels. What is important are prayer, adoration, and the knowledge that we join in the worship of Heaven. (It is because most children are taught only that the Mass is a community meal, that there are so many images given, through Radiant Light, of every aspect of the Holy Sacrifice. The Lord wants every effort made to teach the truth about these Holy Mysteries.)
During the Mass, the whole Church is united in praising God the Father, through, with and in Christ, in the Holy Spirit. All the Saints of Heaven are adoring the one true God Who has brought them to His heart, for all Eternity. We too can hope to enter Heaven if we receive the Sacrament of salvation, and remain faithful.
When a Catholic church is designed not to be the threshold of Heaven, for a holy people, who adore Christ Really Present in His Divine Glory, but as an architectural gem, of beautiful proportions but with no sign or symbol of Christian faith, it is unworthy of the name "House of God". The Faithful deserve to see reminders of the crucified Saviour and of His ever-virgin mother, and of the Angels, the glory of Heaven, and the Communion of Saints.
Most Catholics have heard the phrase, "The Real Presence"; but few have thought it through. Those who do so are aware the Almighty God, the Son of God, chooses to be Really Present in a special, sacramental way, in each of our Catholic churches! Those who know this kneel, bow, and adore Christ. Those who don't know, or don't care, chat and laugh as if in a pub or a cafe.
Christ sees every tiny act of charity that we do for love of Him. He sees each one as being like a personal gift to Him - or like a rose-petal thrown by a child in His honour, where He is Present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, as the Sacred Host in carried along in a monstrance, by a priest, for the faithful to venerate and adore.
We are right to put prayer first - to put Christ first - no matter how busy our day. Whether we are religious sisters or mothers looking after sick children, we will do our work better and more cheerfully if it is underpinned with prayer. Blessed Mother Teresa insisted that her busy sisters had an hour's adoration each day.
The Church recommends to her children many devotions, three special ones having been practiced by Saints through the ages; we honour Jesus in His Sacred Passion; we adore Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament; and we honour His Holy Virgin Mother Mary, at whose consent Jesus was made flesh in our world.
Those who adore the Lamb, on earth, in sincere devotion, will do so in Heaven, if they persevere to the end. But those who do not adore Christ, here on earth, will not adore Him, close by Him, in Heaven - unless they repent and are changed before they die.
The Angels look on with joy, to see their Lord, Jesus Christ, adored. This is true whether the venue of the Mass is a tent or a Cathedral, or whether Christ is being adored in the Mass, or in the tabernacle - or enthroned in the monstrance, for Adoration and Benediction.
A priest's life is often difficult; yet every priest can benefit if he arranges Adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Prolonged prayer, before the One whose place a priest takes at the altar, helps a priest in his prayer, and in his care for the lost and the afflicted.
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