Gentle Reader: I hope your Lent 2021 A.D. is off to a strong start! Keep it up! If you need inspiration, find the daily Mass readings; often available in your Church bulletin, the USCCB website, or EWTN. I find reading the Psalms, at any time, to be very powerful and meaningful. Also, never forget the Rosary. If there is anything Satan really hates, it’s the Rosary and Our Lady. If you enjoy poking and pestering others, as I do (hence this blog – lol), whip out that Rosary with a hearty: Take that, you devil!
Some days, I wonder why God said he would never bring The Flood again. It is a metaphor for our Baptism which explains why Catholics believe if you are validly Baptized, even outside the Catholic church, you only need it once. Somedays it seems, though, that another Flood to purify the earth may be a good thing. But, honestly, who would God pick to be Noah this time? Probably, not a politician. Not even sure it would the Holy Father.
I digress. I am trying not to be all gloom and doom. When we (I) talk about Catholicism, we are often finger wagging and “no” and negative in perception. Why be Catholic if negativity is all there is?
Why am I Catholic? Still and always?
I’ll tell you what brought me back and I'm never leaving again – the Real Presence
You know – that “thing” in the Eucharistic Host that very few professed Catholics, according to recent surveys, know about and/or believe in.
I suspect, like myself, they were very poorly catechized. I pray for them and I’m offering my Lent for their conversion and realization.
I am a post – Vatican II child. I don’t remember the Traditional Latin Mass or even Latin in the Mass. I was only 2, or so, when the Novus Ordo, the Mass most of us in the West are familiar with, was implemented. I have, however, actually read many of the documents of Vatican II – the actual documents NOT the summary interpretations by the media, theologians or religious. I’ve learned a hard lesson over time that most people have an agenda and that agenda may or may not be in conformity with Christ or His Church. Sometimes, people are honestly ignorant, other times, they know exactly what they are doing.
I remember my CCC instruction in the 1970s to be a lot of guitar music and picture books. Form but no substance. We learned HOW to make our First Confession (oh, excuse me, First Reconciliation as “Confession” was apparently too scary of a word to use or we were not smart enough for it) but absolutely nothing as far as why it matters and the importance of the Sacrament. We learned nothing of its beauty. It was presented as an annoyance, an age specific box to check on our way to the next Sacrament to check off the list.
I digress again – I think!
Sitting down and reading documents, whether of Vatican II or otherwise, it’s not where the minds of most of our youth are at these days. Honestly, I don’t think it is realistic to expect most adults these days to read a book that you hand to them and recommend they read the chapter on Eucharist or the Gospel of John. Eventually – sure. But I would not start out with that.
Experiential knowledge is the best. If you are blessed enough to live in a Diocese with a regular schedule of Eucharistic Adoration – GO! If not, attend Mass early and sit in front of the Tabernacle (wherever it may be located in your church or chapel) or stay after Mass and sit in front of the Tabernacle for a while. If the janitor or the parish priest asks what you are doing: tell them you are not sure you believe God is here but I’m willing to give Him a chance. Hopefully, they will leave you alone or maybe you can have a teaching moment together.
If you can find a parish with Eucharistic Adoration and you attend you will find there a consecrated Host exposed in a monstrance. Visible. Ask yourself – why would the Host be displayed in this glorious artifact? Why are other faithful here? Why is no one here? Why should someone be here? Why am I here? Ask and listen. Kneel down or sit. Pray or look. I heard someone say once they don’t pray or read or recite the Rosary at Adoration – they look at God and He looks at me. Sing. Talk. Especially if you are alone with Him – why not? If you may be disturbing others, maybe hold on the noise as others praying will likely find that annoying.
Build up to spending more time - an hour is typical but for some that can be unrealistic with family and work schedules or too much to start off with.
I never learned about the Real Presence. I was never taught that during the Consecration of the Mass, when the Priest holds his hands over the bread and wine, the bread and wine literally become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord. NOT a symbol, literally the Last Supper. The hard teaching. The reason some of the disciples left. It was world shattering. It still is.
I am a reader so I read about the Real Presence but I know not everyone is. I, also, spent time in Adoration. Adoration changed my life. Truly. It was scary at first. What are you supposed to do? Nothing. Seriously. There is no prescribed way to attend Adoration. It is expected to kneel or genuflect and meditate in reverent silence – though if you are alone I would bend a bit on the silence part!
I think, as Catholics, we are often easily scared. We scare ourselves. We scare each other. Confession scares us – oh, what if I forget the formula! So, they don’t go. What if Father knows who I am? So, they don’t go. What if Father is horrified? So, they don’t go. Adoration – similar. What am I supposed to do? What if I cannot handle an hour? In both cases, just go! In the case of Confession, unless you are the first Confession the priest has ever heard, he has probably heard it all before from someone else and maybe “better” or worse! Take a crib sheet with you and a flashlight if you are afraid of forgetting the formula or fear Father will not help you.
I built up to Adoration as, initially, I was doing what I called “drive by Adoration”. I would “pop in” for a few minutes and leave. Then, a funny thing started happening. I enjoyed the peace I found there and I kept going back. More and more and longer and longer. Eventually, I signed up for a standing hour at my parish. Once per week in the very early morning, I visited with the Lord. I had concentrated time to shut out the world and pray or not pray and sit or stand or kneel. I got to look forward to 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning as a highlight of my week.
Since those days of ardor, I still have ardor but I no longer live in the same area. I have to seek proactively seek Him. I live in a rural area where it is more challenging to find Adoration, even Mass. But, I found a parish 20 minutes away that has Adoration on Monday. I head there, after work, when I can.
With the pandemic, it is even more necessary to be proactive and assertive. Don’t wait for your priest or your bishop to just “do something” ask for Adoration time. I’ve seen it done before and after Mass – especially when/if your priest has to cover multiple parishes and travel great distances between them.
As a Catholic, you have the opportunity to actually receive the Lord. Literally. No other community of faith believes in that or practices that. You see now why watching Mass on TV, to a Roman Catholic, is NOT the same and, ultimately, not satisfactory.
When you accept and believe the Real Presence you will find, as I did, other teachings will make sense to you. The “why” and the seamless garment of the faith will all fall into place in your mind – like pieces of a puzzle that you are staring at and you suddenly realize what pieces you need to select to get your roadblock resolved and then there is no stopping you - suddenly the pattern is clear and you see how to fit all of it together now.
More later. That is enough for now. Probably more than enough! Thank you for reading. May God bless you.