May the Year 2024 be annus mirabilis

As we continue with the Eucharist Revival throughout the United States, hopefully each one of us is being challenged in our attitude and our understanding of the unique treasure the Eucharist is in the midst of the Church.
Every year a list goes out to the pastors assigning a date to each parish for an Annual Solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament which may be found on pp. 6-7 of this issue. The Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church, Canon 942 states, “It is recommended that in these churches and oratories an annual Solemn Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament be held for an appropriate period of time.” The traditional three[1]day celebration is referred to as “40 hours,” but if that is not possible, at least one day of Adoration from morning until night should be held, ending with Mass or Benediction.

Extended Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament requires organizing adorers who will give themselves the gift of an hour (or more) of time before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. I was recently having a conversation where I recalled my time as head of the Adoration Committee for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Archbishop Rigali wanted Adoration offered in every parish every week, whether it be a simple holy hour or a 24/7 chapel, whatever the parish could do. And it was then that I came to realize that our most precious commodity is not our money, but rather our time. If I were a missionary asking for a donation, people could donate and be done with it. But asking for an hour of someone’s time was like pulling teeth. And yet, when one gives oneself the gift of an hour before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, it becomes contagious! People look forward to their time alone with the Lord, they hunger for it, a desire grows for the silent presence with Our Lord and the Blessed Sacrament.

I know that many of our parishes follow the schedule for Solemn Adoration but possibly the pastor could use your help to organize adoration volunteers. Fr. Pius Parsch, who wrote amongst other things the four-volume commentary on the liturgy reflected:

Whoever intends to live with the church must make the Holy Eucharist the primary concern of his or her life. But they can accomplish this only by participating as actively as possible with the priest in offering the sacrifice and by receiving Holy Communion as part of the sacrificial banquet.”

That statement, I believe, would be the beautiful impetus for a Eucharistic Revival not just in our diocese, but throughout the Church. It implies a two-fold understanding of the importance of the Mass in the life of a Catholic.
First, the Eucharist should be the primary concern of life because it is the greatest act of worship. In the Mass, we offer the Spotless Victim to the Father. In the Mass, we are in union with Christ who offers to God his life, and to the extent that each one of us unites ourselves with that offering, we receive the fruits of Christ’s sacrifice. In other words, what on earth is more important than the Mass? Second, in receiving Holy Communion, we receive the Body and Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus himself. There is no greater way to be united with Our Lord than receiving him in Holy Communion. But to receive worthily, fruitfully, one must examine him- or herself spiritually before coming to the Eucharist and if aware of mortal sin, they should receive the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion. I am mindful of the quiet prayer the priest offers just before receiving Holy Communion, “May the receiving of your Body and Blood, Lord Jesus Christ, not bring me to judgment and condemnation …” It is a daily reminder for the priest (and bishop) that he, too, must be in a “state of grace” to offer Mass and receive Holy Communion worthily. If not, it leads to sacrilege and spiritual condemnation.
In 1992, after a fire in the royal palace and much family drama, the late Queen Elizabeth described the year as a “annus horribilis,” a horrible year. As we enter into 2024, let our focus on the Eucharist set the tone for a “annus mirabilis,” a wonderful, remarkable year, as we appreciate and grow in our love for Christ in the Eucharist. In the words of Pope St. John Paul II, “May our adoration never cease.”

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”

Happy New Year to all and be assured of my prayers for a blessed new year of growing in holiness, becoming intentional disciples, and being sent to witness to the faith!

Published in the January 05, 2024 issue of The Mirror.
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