One of the things that attracted me most to the Catholic faith was the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Having grown up a Lutheran, I was much closer to Catholicism than most other Protestant denominations. Lutherans believe that there is a spiritual presence of Christ that does not replace the bread and wine (known as consubstantiation) while most other kinds of Protestants believe that communion only symbolizes the body and blood of Christ. When I first met Christians who believed that Holy Communion was just a symbol, I was concerned. After all, Christ calls it His Body and Blood and John 6 makes perfectly clear that He was not just using symbols.
Due to the influence of good friends of mine in college, I was encouraged to come to Eucharistic Adoration. It was there that I began to realize that Catholics not only believe that Jesus is actually present in the Blessed Sacrament but that this presence abides. In other words, Christ remains even after Mass. Because He is there, He can be adored outside the Mass itself and we must continue to treat Him as God. I saw plenty of faithful Catholics coming and going from adoration, genuflecting and praying quietly. There was something even in those early days that was beautiful and peaceful, yet focused. Later, I read from Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen that he spent an hour with the Blessed Sacrament every day since he was a seminarian. While I have missed some days, especially when I am travelling or sick, I do my best to do the same and have found it to be a great source of strength in the faith.
That is why I encourage all of you to spend time with the Blessed Sacrament. Every Thursday we have Eucharistic Adoration available from after 9 am Mass until 9 pm and most of the time we just have a few people throughout the day. If you want your faith to be stronger or want silent time for prayer or if you are struggling with a great burden that only God can help you with, come to Church on Thursday. When you are there, ask God for the help that you search for. I ask you for this not only because we are in the three years of Eucharistic Renewal, but also because it is the center of Catholic worship and it is good for you.
I know that some of you may feel intimidated to come to adoration because you do not know what to do while you are there. So, next week I plan to write about how to pray during adoration.