Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hungering for Eucharistic adoration?

I keep hearing about parishes that don't have Eucharistic adoration at all. My first exposure to it was at a church that had a perpetual adoration chapel, so when I read about a parishoners here and there who want it, I'm surprised and disappointed that something as simple as exposing a consecrated host for even one hour a month isn't getting done.

There are all kinds of excuses, some understandable, some lame, all insufficient to justify curbing worship.

"The priest is too busy with other ministries/projects/social outreach"
Aside from expressly priestly duties--I mean in particular sacramental duties, although I don't want to draw the circle too small around things that require an ordained minister--most parish activities should be handled by a parishoner. It's what we're for; it's not like the priest is the only professional Christian and we just go in once a week the way we go to see the doctor once a year and expect the professional to do his thing for us. In fact, if we omit the benediction that traditionally comes at the end of adoration, a priest doesn't need to be there at all.

"The parish should focus on serving the community outside of mass; taking extra time for worship isn't a good use of time."
The first great commandment is to love God. The second is to love your neighbor. Doing the second is one way of doing the first, but it is not the only way, and if it were the primary way, then even the Sunday obligation couldn't withstand the logic. It's not like a Holy week service, where there is some expectation of large numbers of people showing up outside Sunday morning; people can come and go as they please. It's more like confession, only the priest doesn't have to be there.

"We're just not a parish that's big on devotionals."
Really? You really think that if you set a monstrance out at some publicized time and day, no one at all would show up because they just lack the interest or time or charism for extraliturgical worship? Do they pray at home by themselves, or teach their children to pray before going to bed? What else is the sanctuary being used for on a weekday evening or a Saturday morning, that would be preventing the few people who might want to spend some time with Jesus in person from doing so? I've already explained how it can't be that the priest is too busy, so even if exposition only lasted for an hour, and only one person stopped by for five or ten minutes between errands, it couldn't be that great a waste of time even if we set aside the fact that it would be time spent in the Presence and thus of inestimable value.

Even if no one showed up the first time, I think there's something welcoming about the Eucharist being displayed, about Jesus waiting for someone to come and sit with Him for a little while.

Here's my thought: if you want adoration and the people who could enable it are dragging their heels, show up anyway. If the church is locked tight 167 hours a week, then stay late after mass and explain that you just want to stay and pray a little while before they lock the doors. Come alone or come with other people who want it. You can get by without having the Sacrament exposed. You could even do the Litany of Divine Praises if you want to add some structure. God will bless the people who are faithful to Him. I would not be surprised if, by the grace of God, you could show the priest that there was enough interest in praying before the Eucharist exposed, then he would soon be moved to allow you to do so.

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