December 17, 2004

Eucharistic adoration has the power
to change lives

By Sean Gallagher

(Editor’s note: Over the next year, the Catholic Church will be observing the Year of the Eucharist. The Criterion will present a series of articles during the upcoming months exploring the importance of the Eucharist in all facets of the life of the archdiocese.)

GREENWOOD—Early on a late autumn Wednesday morning, a small group of Catholics gathered in the Blessed Sacrament chapel at SS. Francis and Clare of Assisi Church in Greenwood.

With the horizon only starting to show the first gray signs of the coming dawn, they wound their way through the darkness to spend time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the light from nearby candles reflecting warmly off the monstrance in which it was held.

This ritual happens every Wednesday at the parish, drawing the faithful there throughout the day to spend a time of quiet solitude before the Lord present with them sacramentally.

Bryan Weiss, a member of the parish, was there early on that Wednesday morning to observe his weekly holy hour.

But for him this is a new part of his life of faith. After participating in a Christ Renews His Parish retreat in the spring, he soon developed a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary that has manifested itself in praying the rosary daily, at times with his family. This soon led to his desire to spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

In the few months that he has come to adore the Lord on Wednesday mornings, Weiss has seen a positive change in his relationship with him.

“I read that somebody said it’s like any kind of a friendship,” he said. “The more time you spend with somebody, the more fond or more in love you become with that person. And that’s exactly the same here. The more often I go to adoration, that relationship is just growing stronger and stronger.”

But Weiss also noted that the effects of his time before the Blessed Sacrament have spilled over to his family. They have gone together to adoration at times and even his young daughters have liked it, asking when they could go again.

“I not only want my own relationship with Jesus to get better,” Weiss said, “but I want my kids to grow up with a very strong foundation, and they learn by example.”

This is one of the good effects of eucharistic adoration that Weiss’ pastor, Father Vincent Lampert, identified.

“No matter where we’re at, there’s always someplace else we have to be,” he said. “But when you take an hour for adoration and when you kind of slow down and really think about what’s important in your life, then I think being in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament really teaches people the importance of being present to other people.”

In his apostolic letter, Mane nobiscum Domine, issued in early October, Pope John Paul II noted that, along with a renewal of the Lord’s Day Eucharist, increased adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass was one of his greatest hopes for the upcoming year.

The Holy Father placed special emphasis on Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist in that letter.

“Faith demands that we approach the Eucharist fully aware that we are approaching Christ himself,” he wrote. “It is precisely his presence which gives the other aspects of the Eucharist … a significance which goes beyond mere symbolism.

“The Eucharist is a mystery of presence, the perfect fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to remain with us until the end of the world.”

Weiss noted that this presence of Christ himself in the Eucharist has been reinforced through the time he has spent in adoration and has subsequently had an impact upon the way that he approaches the celebration of the Mass.

“A lot of times when I was at Mass, I’d sit there with my legs crossed and kind of leaned back and relaxed,” he said. “And then I thought, ‘How would I act if instead of Father Vince being up there, Jesus was up there?’ Well, he is there, so why aren’t I acting that way now? That really woke me up.”

This growth in appreciation for the Mass that Weiss has experienced through adoration was an effect of the prayer practice that Father Lampert noted sometimes happens in younger Catholics. Yet he also noted that adoration has a positive impact on older Catholics as well, serving as a supplement to their already high regard for the eucharistic liturgy.

Father Lampert has been able to see this at SS. Francis and Clare Parish through their weekly adoration.

Msgr. Harold Knueven, administrator of St. Mary Parish in Greensburg, has observed this now in two parishes where he has established the practice of perpetual eucharistic adoration.

Under his leadership, it began at Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Green-wood approximately 10 years ago. And at midnight of the first Sunday of Advent this year, the same practice was started at his current parish.

Six other parishes in the archdiocese also have perpetual adoration chapels.

“It’s going to be more widespread eventually,” Msgr. Knueven said. “I think if we’re going to be a vibrant Church, we have to be a praying Church.

“People are so busy with so many activities that they just don’t take enough time to pray. And I think that if we had more parishes with perpetual adoration, it would be an inspiration for them to take time to pray and recollect their lives and get their priorities straight.”

Eucharistic adoration has helped Father Lampert experience this effect in his own life and ministry as a priest.

“I think it’s always a constant reminder of what the priesthood is really all about,” he said. “The priesthood is about making Christ real and present for others.

“As parish priests today, we can get caught up in so much to do with administrative responsibilities that eucharistic adoration is a way to put everything back into perspective.”

Whatever one’s state in the Church, the Holy Father calls us in his apostolic letter to experience the power of Christ present to us in eucharistic adoration.

“The presence of Jesus in the tabernacle must be a kind of magnetic pole attracting an ever greater number of souls enamored of him,” he wrote, “ready to wait patiently to hear his voice and, as it were, to sense the beating of his heart. ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good’ ” (Ps 34:8). †


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