The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in his catechesis on St. Juliana of Cornillon, affirmed his joy that « today there is a “Eucharistic springtime” in the Church: How many people pause in silence before the Tabernacle to engage in a loving conversation with Jesus! It is comforting to know that many groups of young people have rediscovered the beauty of praying in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament (…). I pray that this Eucharistic “springtime” may spread increasingly in every parish».1 On the one hand, a growing number of parishes centre their pastoral life upon the Eucharist celebrated, and then continually adored. Adoration thus becomes an inexhaustible source of holiness for the faithful. On the other hand, as Blessed John Paul II once recalled: « unfortunately, alongside these lights, there are also shadows. In some places the practice of Eucharistic adoration has been almost completely abandoned. In various parts of the Church abuses have occurred, leading to confusion with regard to sound faith and Catholic doctrine concerning this wonderful sacrament. At times one encounters an extremely reductive understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. Stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet ».2
However the time has come to at long last rid the Church of these shadows of confusion, which entered into her heart in the years after the Second Vatican Council. The anti-Eucharistic theologies of the 1970’s are being forgotten and thanks to the beautiful teachings and witness of our saintly Pope’s John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the entire Church is coming to a rediscovery of the Most Blessed Eucharist. Parishes everywhere are beginning to understand that the Holy Mass is a true sacrifice, Calvary made mystically present in the world of today, that it is the first and highest act of adoration of the Church. Then flowing out from this renewed sense of reverence for the Eucharistic Mystery, faith in the real presence of Christ in our tabernacles is coming back to flower. And so parishes are feeling called to place a perpetual guard of honour around the presence of the Eucharistic King. All over the world the faithful are responding to Christ’s plea to “watch one hour” with Him. Every week they come and spend one hour gazing upon the Eucharistic Face of Jesus and thanks to their generosity we are witnessing a new explosion of Eucharistic grace. Little sanctuaries of peace and grace, otherwise known as Perpetual Adoration Chapels, can now be found in almost every country where the Holy Catholic Church is present. Below we will discuss some of the graces and fruits which are being attributed to the practise of perpetual Eucharistic adoration in parishes.
But before speaking of the fruits flowing from Eucharistic adoration, let us recall what is most essential : the Lord is worthy to be adored for His own sake, because He is our Creator and our Redeemer. Paul VI wrote : « It is for us a very sweet duty to honour and adore in the Host that our eyes see, the Word Incarnate which they don’t see, and Who, without leaving heaven, makes Himself present before us ».3 To adore the Eucharistic Lord is therefore a « sweet duty ». First of all « a duty », because it is part of the First Commandment to adore the Lord our God and since the Son of God is really present in the Eucharist He merits our real presence before Him. However, this duty is « sweet », because the blessings for the soul and for the world are innumerable : « anyone who approaches this august sacrament with special devotion and endeavors to return generous love for Christ’s infinite love, experiences and fully understands, not without great spiritual joy and profit, how precious is the life hidden with Christ in God, and how great is the value of converse with Christ, for there is nothing more consoling on earth, nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road to holiness ».4 Even though adoration always produces extraordinary fruits, at the same time we must remember that even if there were no fruits at all, the Lord Jesus would still be worthy to be adored for His own sake. That which must motivate our walk of adoration should not be the spiritual benefits that we will receive. To adore is the first act of justice where we acknowledge that God is first of all, the Giver of life. He is the Alpha and the Omega. All comes from Him, all subsists in Him, and all must return to Him. But as we know the Lord in His great love always unleashes His powerful grace in the world when we come to Him in adoration.
Before sending His disciples on mission, the Risen Christ «showed them His hands and His feet » (Luke 24 :40)with His glorious wounds, sources of grace for humanity. Because “they are our sufferings which He carried, our sorrows which He bore and His wounds, we find healing” (Is 53:4-5). From the glorious wounds of Christ flow spiritual fruits for the adorer, for the Church and for the world.
I. PERSONAL GRACES
First of all, in prostrating oneself before the Blessed Sacrament, the adorer experiences the tenderness of God. Already, in Galilee, the crowds pressed around Jesus to hear and see him perform signs and wonders. Think of the woman who touched Jesus by her faith, thus releasing His power. Jesus knowing that power had come out of him said, “Who touched me? “(Mt 5, 30). Our faith touches the Heart of Jesus and releases its healing power and love on us, our family and the world, whenever we go to him in the Blessed Sacrament. In the silence of adoration, we respond to the invitation of Jesus to the multitudes who says: “Come to me …”, all you who are thirsty … all of you who are weary … repose in a deserted place … Because from my heart shall flow rivers of living water.” He was speaking of the Holy Spirit. In the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus replenishes our strength and puts new hope in us when all seems lost. John Paul II has said: “It is good to spend time with Him, leaning on his breast like the Beloved Disciple, to be touched by the infinite love of His heart. If, in our epoch, Christianity is to be distinguished above all by the “art of prayer”, how can we fail to feel a renewed need to spend time in spiritual converse, in silent adoration, in heartfelt love before Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament? Many times I have experienced this, and I received strength, consolation and support! “.5
To better evangelize the adorer must first be evangelized. He must let the merciful love of Christ heal him, liberate him, enlighten him, raise him. To the question “what does Jesus do in the Blessed Sacrament? ” the Cure of Ars replied,” He waits for us “. There, Jesus veils His majesty so that we might dare to go speak with Him, as one friend to another. He tempers the ardor of his Heart for us to experience its sweet tenderness. On the Cross, Jesus turns hate into love and death into life. Similarly, in the Eucharist, Jesus performs the same wonder in us: He changes evil into good, darkness into light, fear into confidence. Pauline-Marie Jaricot, this untiring apostle of charity, living in Lyon in the nineteenth century, sums up this personal transformation that takes place in the heart of adorers who allow the Spirit to change their hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, “It is at the foot of your holy tabernacles that my heart, withered by the severest trials, has consistently found the strength necessary to bear the rigour. It is there that my combats are turned into victories, my weakness to courage, my tepidness to enthusiasm, my uncertainties to lights, my sadness to joy, my obstacles to success, my desires into reality, my resentment against my neighbour into burning charity. All I know, I learned at your feet, Lord. “6
It is important to put in place an organisation in which each adorer is aware that he is a guardian of the Blessed Sacrament. If he can’t get to this ‘appointment of love’, he must follow a simple procedure to find a replacement. A team of responsibles helps to assist with this. It helps to underline the ecclesial dimension of this type of organisation: the adorer takes the place of another and will leave, after an hour, to be replaced by a new adorer. This chain of adoration encourages the adorers to remain faithful, because the presence of one adorer encourages the other in the change over of the hour, day or night.
Render “love for love” to Jesus. Saint Pierre-Julien Eymard said, “I have often reflected on the remedies to this universal indifference that takes hold in a terrifying manner of so many Catholics, and I can find only one: the Eucharist, the love of Jesus Eucharistic. Loss of faith comes from the loss of love. ” The Eucharist is the gift of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that goes “to the extreme of love” (Jn 13, 1). Jesus shows His Heart to men, for, seeing them so poor in love, He would like to enrich them with the treasures of the Heart of God. For this reason, He institutes the Eucharist, invention of love. In the Eucharist Jesus is burning with the desire to be loved. His Heart is “an inexhaustible source”7, “a fiery furnace.”8 St. Eymard also said: “In the Blessed Sacrament, He cannot be more loving! And yet He is not loved. His love is not appreciated. It is not even known, and by only a few of His own. He has many good apostolic servants, and some pious adorers in His service. But He has very few spouses. Even out of His friends, who visit out of affection, who converse with Him from the heart, very few are dedicated purely for Him!”9 In coming to adore faithfully, the parishoner has a real and genuine encounter in faith with the risen Christ. He becomes a disciple of Jesus, according to His invitation: “Learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (Mt 11, 29). Today Jesus remains in the Blessed Sacrament not only so that we have the same privilege to meet Him in His Divine Person, like the apostles who had the opportunity to be at His side every day. More importantly, in the sacrament of His love, Jesus awaits from each of us the same impulses of love, the same affection, the same feelings, the same interior dispositions that He received from the holy women of the gospel or from His disciples who let themselves be formed by the Good Master. In the Eucharist, God gives Himself without measure. He invites us to reciprocity, that is, to love Him in return, with all our heart, our whole soul and with all our strength, Jesus in His Divine Person, who makes Himself corporeally present to us. He is the poorest of the poor, the first one that deserves our love, the only one who deserves all our heart …
The sacraments and the Mass: Among the personal fruits, it is good to highlight those which renew the interior dispositions for approaching worthily the sacraments enabling us to receive the maximum benefits. Benedict XVI reminds us of the intrinsic link between the Mass and Eucharistic adoration. He writes: “Eucharistic adoration is nothing more than the explicit development of the Eucharistic celebration, which is itself the greatest act of adoration of the Church. Receiving the Eucharist means adoring Him whom we receive. It is then, and only then, that we become one with Him and that we taste in advance, in some way, the beauty of the heavenly liturgy. The act of adoration outside Mass prolongs and intensifies all that takes place during the liturgical celebration itself. In fact, it is only in adoration that can mature a profound and true reception. And it is precisely this personal encounter with the Lord that then strengthens the social mission which is contained in the Eucharist and that wants to break down barriers not only between the Lord and us, but above all the barriers that separate us from each other.”10 The experience of the parishes which adore the Blessed Sacrament reveals that in adoring, parishioners learn not only to discern, beyond the appearances of bread, the real presence of the Lord, but that they also grow in awareness of the efficient presence of the Sacrifice of the Cross, made present at every mass. Thus, by prostrating themselves for a long time before the Sacred Host, adorers will not approach Holy Communion without due reverence and profound adoration. Also, they will not reduce the understanding of the Mass to a simple banquet. In other words, adoring the Blessed Sacrament permits us to live more intensely the Eucharist in all its dimensions. Bishop Ruben T. Profugo, Bishop of Lucena in the Philippines has given the following testimony to adoration: “In my diocese, Mass attendance has increased visibly not only on Sundays but also during the week. Many have returned to the sacraments because of Perpetual Eucharist Adoration. There is a strong link between adoration and mass. By means of their weekly Holy Hour parishioners are prepared to live the Sunday Mass or to give thanks for that which comes to be lived.” The Holy Father did not hesitate to say that “adoration is not a luxury but a priority”11 in the Church today.
Catechumenate: A young Vietnamese priest who was ministering to a small parish in Singapore recounted: “Celebrating the Mass one Sunday in Lent, I was struck by the large number of catechumens: eighty young people between 18 and 35. At the end of the Mass, I was speaking to the young priest who had invited to this parish when I noticed that next to the church, there was a small air-conditioned room filled with flowers. In this room the Blessed Sacrament is exposed day and night, as in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre, and there are always at least a dozen or so people. The young priest then told me that the large number of catechumens was directly related to this adoration chapel. Indeed, in questioning these young people who were preparing for baptism, all replied that for several months, during the night, they had been coming to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, without knowing very well what they were doing, but just that they were drawn to this Presence.
Sacrament of Reconciliation: “It is not only repentance that leads to the Eucharist, but also the Eucharist which leads to repentance.”12 As a parish priest who has perpetual adoration, I can give witness to the growing demand for the sacrament of reconciliation as the fruit of adoration. The progression is not only quantitative but also qualitative. One can not remain in front of the Blessed Sacrament without the light of Christ profoundly illuminating the soul and enlightening the conscience.
The divorced and remarried: those who cannot have access to Holy Communion, however, are strongly encouraged to participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass and to contemplate the face of Christ in adoration.
II. GRACES FOR THE PARISH
By renewing the heart of the parishioners, adoration leads them to become more involved in their parish community. A community is primarily made up of people who feed their baptismal life by means of an intense Eucharistic life.
Focus of prayer: One Parish Priest recalls that adoration nourishes and strengthens faith: “The Lord has always answered the prayers of the adorers and continues to do so. The chapel of adoration has become a real ‘centre of prayer’ for several years now. Our Christian community is full. I believe that Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration is the most noble and yet the easiest accomplishment of my life as a priest. The benefits are numerous and the effort on my part is minimal. What I can do better for my parishioners is to help them grow spiritually … The perpetual adoration makes Jesus present all the time for each one of us. He is really there in person for all of us.”
Spiritual foundation and fecondity: Sometimes parishes can be like dryland in which it is difficult to launch new pastoral projects or to renew existing ones. Through continual adoration, Jesus pours out His Spirit on all the various movements of the parish, like rivers of living water flowing from his Divine Heart (cf Jn 7, 37-39). This Living Water gives life to the parish community, making it more available to the mission, and giving all pastoral activities a greater fecondity. Through adoration, the parish is anchored on Christ, the Good Shepherd of souls, who blesses and gives fecondity to the pastoral initiatives, despite the inevitable changes in priests, parishioners, movements … Jesus celebrated and adored is the rock on which the parish rests … From his pierced Heart which throbs for love of us in the Blessed Sacrament, the Spirit from Whom springs spiritual waters irrigating the dryland of the parish so that it can produce abundant fruits of conversion, commitment, charity …
Grace of unity, charity: Another Parish Priest gives the following testimony: “The parish of St. Louis-St Blaise has been experiencing graces of charity which are drawn from Eucharistic adoration: links are forged or tighten, the parishioners are more attentive to each other, more supportive. Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament overwhelms the heart of the parish and opens it gradually to the mission that we are trying to put in place. Thanks to this chain of uninterrupted prayer, all the groups of the parish are gathered in prayer. In the exercise of my ministry, I know that at each moment, there is a parishioner who is praying for the parish and its priest. On the first anniversary of Perpetual Adoration, we had more than two hundred people attending the conference. This shows how the parishioners have truly gathered around Jesus in the Eucharist. I am touched by the loyalty of my parishioners and to their commitment to prayer. It is so beautiful!”13 Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches, if you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit, but apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15, 5). Thus, any pastoral fruitfulness stems from the union of the community with Christ. Since the Eucharist is the sacrament of communion with God and neighbor, the more we live the Eucharist, the more our communion with Christ is authentic and therefore the more our love of neighbor is concrete.
Vocations: In living the Eucharist, that which is at the service of the Gospel walks in the love of God and neighbor. It helps to build the Church as communion. Eucharistic Love motivates and founds the vocational activity of the whole Church. “In the intimacy of the Eucharist, some find they are called to the ministry of the altar, others to contemplate the beauty and depth of this mystery, others to make this momentum of love be pour out over the poor and weak, and others to reap the transforming power in the realities and gestures of everyday life. Every believer finds in the Eucharist not only the interpretative key of his life but the courage to carry it out so he can build up, through the diversity of charisms and of vocations, the one Body of Christ in history.”14 So many bishops testify that priestly vocations in their diocese have abounded ever since they introduced continual adoration.
Adoration and Charity: Mother Teresa of Calcutta says: “It was not until 1973 when we began the daily holy hour, that our community began to grow and flourish.” Blessed Teresa distinguishes three graces received from Eucharistic adoration. First, she learns to love her sisters with the love that flows from the Eucharist. Then, the recognition of Jesus under the appearances of bread helps her to better recognize Christ in the poorest of the poor. Finally adoration allows her to give the people she serves, not just herself or what she possesses, but rather, Jesus who lives in her. In a letter she wrote: “Every day we expose the Blessed Sacrament, and we have perceived a change in our lives. We felt a deeper love for Christ disguised in the poor. We were able to know ourselves better and to better know the poor as the concrete witness of God. Since we started this adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, we have not reduced our work, we spend as much time as before, but with more understanding. People accept us better. They are hungry for God. They no longer need us, but Jesus.”15 “The Holy Hour before the Eucharist must direct us to the holy hour with the poor.”16 In this sense, many parishes have organised a reception centre, to listen or give support directly related to the chapel of Eucharistic adoration. For example, the parish of St Patrick in London offers a permanent hotline. The operators remain in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in a chapel specially designed for that purpose. John Paul II wrote: “Proximity to Christ, in the silence of contemplation, does not separate us from our contemporaries but, rather, makes us attentive and open to the joys and sorrows of men, and it enlarges the heart to the dimensions of the world. It gives us solidarity with our brothers in humanity, particularly the littlest, who are the beloved of the Lord. “17
Spiritual motherhood: To raise holy religious and priestly vocations, the Congregation of the Clergy encourages the practice of continual adoration in dioceses. Cardinal Hummes was writing that today, emerges the urgency of “a movement of prayer, that places at its centre 24 hour continuous Eucharistic Adoration, so that from every corner of the globe, a prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, petition and reparation, will be raised to God, with the primary intention of awakening a sufficient number of holy vocations to the priesthood and, at the same time, spiritually uniting with a certain spiritual maternity – at the level of the Mystical Body – with all those already called to the ministerial priesthood …. “18 A parish that adores day and night obtains the graces of spiritual motherhood. It ‘gives birth’ for the Church saintly vocations to the priesthood and religious life and obtains for them graces of sanctification. Through continuous adoration, the parish becomes the bride who unites to her Bridegroom, Jesus in the Host. The Eucharist is the wedding banquet in which Christ gives to His Church the vocations they need in order to proclaim salvation to all nations. Yes, priestly vocations are obtained kneeling before the Lord in the Eucharist.
Adoration and Evangelization : In the Gospel, “Jesus went up the mountain and called to Him those He wanted. They came to Him, and He appointed twelve to be with Him and sent them out to preach” (Mk 3: 13-14). Here adoration is the ‘come to him’. Evangelization is ‘the being sent to’. Before ‘going to’ others in the name of Jesus, we must first ‘come to’ Jesus in the Eucharist.
Adoration and Healing: “The sun of righteousness will shine with healing in his wings” (Mal 3, 20). Jesus in the Eucharist heals and illuminates not only individuals but also groups, movements that come together to grow in zeal and ardour in proclaiming the Gospel.
III. GRACES FOR THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD
John Paul II wrote: “To evangelize the world, we need experts in the celebration of, in the adoration of and in the contemplation of the Eucharist….”19 Through adoration, parishioners are experiencing God’s love. This leads them to get involved in their parish community, which gives them the Eucharist. In their mission, they are at the same time supporting the Church and interceding for the world. In other words, their adoration beomes Trinitarian: in adoring the Son, they are led to the Father. In this dynamic, they receive a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit which leads them to involve themselves in the Church and the world.
Social conscience: In allowing the Spirit to act, the adoration of the divine Eucharist urges the soul to truly develop a social love, for which the common good is preferred to the particular. For Paul VI, “the Eucharist is of supreme efficicacy for the transformation of the world into a world of justice, of holiness and peace.”20
Reparation for the sins of the world. Jesus presents His Heart to St. Margaret Mary, sometimes like a sun of divine love, sometimes surrounded by a crown of thorns. It is both burning with love for men. On the other hand, he is offended by their ingratitude. This dual consideration must move us, firstly, to render love for love to the Heart of Jesus and secondly, to offer reparation for the insults He receives. To repair or to console the Heart of Jesus is to love Jesus with all your heart for those who reject or ignore Him. At Paray-le-Monial, Jesus said that this same Heart of flesh beats today in the Blessed Sacrament, for us who have not lived with him 2000 years ago. “Behold this Heart which has loved men so much, that has spared nothing in exhausting and consuming Itself in order to witness to them Its love. And in recognition, I receive from the most part nothing but ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and the coldness and contempt they have for Me in this sacrament of love.” Margaret Mary would pass all the time at her disposal to passionately love this Heart in the Blessed Sacrament, in reparation for those who do not know, ignore or despise It. John Paul II writes: “The encouragement and the deepening of eucharistic devotion are proofs of that authentic renewal which the Council had fixed as its goal, and they are the central point. The Church and the world have great need of Eucharistic adoration. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not measure our time in going to meet Him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, ready to repair the great faults and great crimes of the world. May our adoration never cease. “21
John Paul II presents adoration as an eminent service to humanity: “By adoration, the Christian mysteriously contributes to the radical transformation of the world…”
In Exodus 17, when the Israelites fought against the Amalekites, Moses interceded before God by raising his hands to ask for the victory. As his arms grew heavy, he enlisted the help of Aaron and Hur to hold his arms raised up to God. And the Lord gave a complete victory to his people … In the same way, by perpetual adoration, an adorer is always present before the Lord in an unbroken chain of prayer and intercession. The heart of the parishioners is lifted up to God without cease; and God gives the victory to his people, his Church. He sends His mercy, His peace and the light that chases the darkness from our hearts and the world. Also, in Isaiah 62:4, it is written: “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen, day and night, they will never be silent.” When a parish is organising perpetual adoration, the “watchmen” are the adorers on the “walls” that are “never silent.” In other words, by their unceasing prayer, they are as though suspended between heaven and earth, bringing down upon humanity the outpouring of God’s mercy.
Abortion: Mother Teresa of Calcutta wrote: “If people spent one hour a week in Eucharistic adoration, abortion would cease.” Indeed, the perpetual adoration of the Eucharist, it is a little piece of heaven on earth, Jesus is adored on this earth without interruption, as in heaven where the saints and angels adored him continually. Divine life is spreading widely in hearts, protecting all human life from conception to natural death.
Peace, order, security : Jesus, speaking to St. Faustina said: “Humanity will not find peace until it turns with trust to My Mercy.”22 Further, we read: “The Throne of Mercy, it is the Tabernacle.”23 Thus, there can be no true peace in our hearts, families and the world without turning more toward the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus.
1 General Audience of Benedict XVI on St. Juliana of Cornillon, 17 November 2011.
2 John-Paull II, Encyclical Letter, Ecclesia de Eucharistica, no.10, 2003.
3 Paul VI, Apostolic Letter, ‘Profession of the Catholic Faith’, 1968
4 Paul VI, Encyclical Letter, ‘Mysterium Fidei’, 1965.
5 John Paul II, Encyclical letter, ‘Ecclesia de Eucharistia’, n. 25, 2003.
6 Pauline-Marie Jaricot, ‘The Infinite Love of the Divine Eucharist’, Lyon, Impr St Joseph, 2001
7 Saint Margaret-Mary, Life and Works, Ed. Gauthey, t. II, p. 335.
8 Saint Margaret-Mary. Autobiography, n. 55 et 56.
9 Saint Peter Julien Eymard, Complete Works, NR 44, 133.
10 Benedict XVI, Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Sacramentum Caritatis’, n. 66, 2007.
11 Benedict XVI, Angelus 28 August 2005.
12 John-Paul II, Apostolic Letter, ‘Dominicae Cenae’, 1980.
13 Testimony of Fr. Michel Pieron, Parish Priest of Vichy, 2005.
14 John-Paul II, Letter to Priests, Holy Thursday 2000.
15 Mother Teresa, on the love of the poor through adoration. Tu m’apportes l’amour, Écrits spirituels, Le Centurion, 1975.
17 Jean-Paul II, Lettre à Mgr Houssiau, 28 Juin 1996.
18 Lettre du Cardinal Hummes, préfet de la congrégation pour le Clergé, 8 décembre 2007.
19 Jean-Paul II, Journée Mondiale pour les missions, 2004.
20 Paul IV, discours du Saint Père pour l’inauguration des œuvres sociales eucharistiques internationales à Dos Hermanas.
21 Jean-Paul II, Lettre Apostolique, ‘Dominicae Cenae’, 1980.
22 Faustine Kowalska, ‘Petit Journal’, n. 300.
23 Faustine Kowalska, ‘Petit Journal’, n. 1484.