Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Eucharistic Adoration

Raphael's Disputation Concerning the Holy Eucharist

Fr. Richard McBrien has a column this week in which he expresses his belief that the rise of eucharistic adoration in recent years is "doctrinal, theological, and spiritual step backward, not forward."

He makes two valid points, but then he misses the point with his conclusion:

1) Eucharistic adoration needs to be liturgically grounded.
2) The Mass provides all that a Catholic needs, spiritually and sacramentally.

This emphasis on the centrality of the liturgy in the life of the Church is a correct understanding of Vatican II's teaching that the "Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith." Everything that we do as Catholics flows from the Eucharist and returns to it. Is not the Eucharist our participation in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ? We participate in the radical and transformative event which stands at the center of human history. We take part in the sacrifice of Christ whose passion has redeemed the us, redeemed all of creation--and which opens for us the possiblity of participating in the Trinitarian life as God's adopted children. Our entire life must be eucharistic--recognizing our need for redemption, and being grateful to our God for having "loved the world so."

Precisely because the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, ought it not to be revered not only within Mass, but also outside of Mass? Indeed, if the liturgy is truly for the "life of the world," then is not the world to also be affected by it? If this is true, then our participation in devotions, such as Eucharistic adoration, is ordered to the radical truth about the liturgy--that in it, we encounter the work of the Trinitarian God who has sanctified all of creation. This is why we can enter into a chapel outside of Mass, and in an encounter with what appears to be a host, give thanks to the Eucharistic Lord for having redeemed matter and all of creation. Much more could be said here...

Another point that the column misses is love. The Eucharist is the sacrament of charity, by which those who receive it with the right intention and properly disposed become friends of God, partakers in the divine nature. Christ's love for us did not end on the cross--it continues by our participation in that event in each and every Mass. It continues by our participation in Eucharistic adoration, in which Christ, through the ministry of His Church, makes himself present for us to contemplate. We can come to him as friends, and speak and converse with Him about our lives. Although he is closer to us than we are to ourselves, He waits for us in a sepcial way in the Eucharist, and by making an act of the will to come and be present with him in adoration, we ourselves express our love for Him. The great mercy of God--that by coming to spend time with Him in adoration, we ourselves grow in grace and virtue, because we become who we are by our actions. If we choose to spend time with Him, to take time from our busy schedules in order to be with Him, our intentions are purified, our hearts are enlarged, and our will is strengthened. We recognize the primacy of God's love in our lives--and by doing so, we are led more perfectly to participate in the Eucharistic liturgy, in which the Christ whom we contemplate visually and eat spiritually in adoration enters into us physically, through our sacramental and spiritual eating in Holy Communion.

If one understands the love and mercy of God for us, He comes to understand the great gift of Eucharistic adoration, and its intrinsic connection to the Eucharistic liturgy.

On a side note, just because Fr McBrien is at Notre Dame, his views are not indicative at all of the attitude towards adoration on campus. Thanks to great priests such as Fr. Kevin Russeau, CSC and Fr Richard Warner, CSC, Eucharistic adoration at Notre Dame now totals about 50 hours a week, and is steadily increasing!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Gay Marriage vs. 1st Amendment

Well put. I'd like to keep my first amendment rights!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Pius is Awesome

Pius XII, of Happy Memory

Recently, I have been doing a lot of historical research on the theology of marriage and the family, for a series of presentations that I will be giving at a parish in Michigan, this coming November. So, I've happily been reading a lot of the popes on the topic.
A beautiful theme that emerges and is clearly seen is the continuity of the Church's present teaching about marriage and the family, with the teaching from past centuries. Many people like to argue that with Vatican II there was a radical break with the past teaching on marriage, especially as regards the teaching on the traditional "ends." While this argument may be acceptable to a degree, I think it needs to be much mroe nuanced. The teaching on the ends never disappeared from documents such as Gaudium et Spes 48-52, nor did it disappear from the huge corpus of JPII. Rather, I think it has been enhanced and made more palpable, robust, and beautifully articulated, through the adoption of personalistic language, and the insistence on the centrality of conjugal love, which is of its nature orderd to both "ends" of marriage.
I particularly love this quote from Pope Pius XII in his Address to Midwives: "Happiness in marriage is in direct proportion to the mutual respect of the partners, even in their intimate relations; not that they regard as immoral and refuse what nature offers and what the Creator has given, but because this respect, and the mutual esteem which it produces, is one of the strongest elements of a pure love, and for this reason all the more tender."
I think many times in the Church today, even among "faithful" Catholics, and perhaps due in part to the popularity of the theology of the body, there is a widespread curiosity about the morality of "x" act or the acceptability of "y" act. While these discussions are needed, and moral theologians need to articulate with clarity the "limits," a focus on legalism within sex can often obscure the deeper meaning of the conjugal act. The Church needs to articulate clearly and without hesitation the morality of specific acts, but perhaps it would also be good to place an emphasis and focus on the respect and tenderness between spouses, and particuarly as this can be expressed in the conjugal act. Pius' insistence on tenderness is not unlike Karol Wojtyla's in Love and Reponsibility, where tenderness is a necessary element of interpersonal relations, and a safeguard against a utilitarian mindset--which can even subconsciously enter into the dynamic between two spouses.