Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger relates about a conversation he once had with a bishop from a communist country: “…[he] said to me what was most characteristic of that world, no longer allowed to be open to anything transcendent, was its unbelievable dreariness, the boredom of a world that can expect nothing of itself, the everlasting grayness of leaden everyday life with no celebration, in which, ultimately nothing else can arrive, because man simply reproduces himself.”
I know some of you have come from Poland, and can certainly relate to this dreariness, and probably the horrors of life under such a government. Actually in our current country we are perhaps not too far off the mark on this.
We are experiencing this dreariness and weariness in our own culture. Pornography and drugs are rampant, young people are being told they can decide their own gender identity, as if the way God created them was not good enough. Marriage and the family are under attack. So many young people are unable to make a commitment to live the vocation that God calls them to live because they are enslaved by many of these sensibilities and temptations that say to “love” is to feel pleasure.The elderly and ill are led to believe they have very little worth and should end their lives to relieve others the “burden” of caring for them.
What are we to do? We could sit around all day, sipping coffee, and bemoan the decline in our society. Or, as is more likely what you would do–we must get to work to fix this problem. However, we don’t fix the problem by creating more social institutions or government run programs. Equal wealth is clearly not the answer, and besides the wealth of cold hard cash, big houses, and the pleasures offered by the world are empty.
The world is hungering, dear sisters and friends! The world is hungering for the one who can satisfy–the one who is enthroned on this altar is the one who puts it very simply when he says “I am the bread of life…this is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die”. Our Lord died so that we may live, and his presence is like a magnetic force which draws us irresistibly to be near him, and to be near Him in this chapel. This Sacrament of the Eucharist is a rich channel of grace poured out from His heart on the cross. The golden rays in the monstrance show us how the heart of our Lord radiates like the sun.
These rays provide us the key to conquering the devil’s old tricks. There are many temptations against young people today, and the devil is hard at work trying to destroy the world and bring many souls into hell with him.
Two ends of prayer are reparation and petition. I wish to propose an intention for which you can pray, especially to petition our Lord and to make reparation. Bishop Olmstead, the bishop of Phoenix, Arizona, wrote an exhortation titled “Into the breach” which discusses the crisis of manhood in our culture. He notes that
“Pornography not only leaves a man in danger of Hell, but it also destroys the bonds with his spouse, a destruction wrought like adultery.”
Sisters and friends, the Lord made us to love. He loves us so much that He remains with us in the Eucharist. He gave us the senses to experience the beautiful world, and many men (and women) rather than adoring our Lord in the Eucharist are slaves to lust.
It’s time for some good battle, but this battle is different than the one fought by the military. This battle is to turn our time of prayer especially this evening a time of reparation and petition for those who are afflicted with this snare of the devil that they may be freed. The world sees a sister, and the world sees a heart. Sisters, by your prayer and adoration, you are bringing this heart of Christ to others who are deeply wounded and living in great darkness.
By praying for the souls attacked by the devil and ensnared by the temptations against chastity, we can help them profoundly and help them to find Christ. Perhaps if you know somebody who struggles, encourage him or her to come spend time in adoration. As Pope Saint John Paul II wrote in his Encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, “The seeds of disunity, which daily experience shows to be so deeply rooted in humanity as a result of sin, are countered by the unifying power of the body of Christ. The Eucharist, precisely by building up the Church, creates human community.” This is clearly better than any social institution or government program!
In order to do this and any work of mercy, we must be firmly rooted in the Eucharist. Benedict XVI wrote some very encouraging words to consecrated religious in his exhortation
“Sacramentum Caritatis”, (Sacrament of Charity)81:
“In the Eucharist, consecrated virginity finds inspiration and nourishment for its complete dedication to Christ. From the Eucharist, moreover, it draws encouragement and strength to be a sign, in our own times too, of God’s gracious and fruitful love for humanity. Finally, by its specific witness, consecrated life becomes an objective sign and foreshadowing of the “wedding- feast of the Lamb” (Rev 19:7-9) which is the goal of all salvation history. In this sense, it points to that eschatological horizon against which the choices and life decisions of every man and woman should be situated.”
Our Lord wants us with Him! The Cur of Ars relays the powerful anecdote of the village man he would see sitting in front of the tabernacle. He asked him what he was doing, and the man responded, “he looks at me and I look at him”. Our Lord longs for us to spend time with him, like one who is imprisoned for love of us, and he wants us to come to Him. Yet this is not a monologue- yes we must come and unburden ourselves, but think of the joy He has in each person coming to see him and spend time with him. He created and sustains each of us out of love, and He wants us to come to Him. How he suffers when souls refuse to come spend time with him and are instead enslaved by their addictions. Even when you fall asleep in the chapel, He delights in your presence, and heals you and the church like radiation.
The Eucharist is in the words of Blessed Pope Paul VI, “The outstanding gift of the Heart of Jesus” (Investigabiles Divitas Christi, p. 300). Let us always treasure this gift of his presence with us.
A saint who is an expert at adoration is our dear father and protector, Saint Joseph. Saint Peter Julian Eymard describes the Holy Patriarch:
“At Nazareth Joseph’s days were filled with work which necessarily took him away at times from his Infant God. During these hours Mary replaced him, but when evening brought him home again, he would pass the entire night in adoration, never tiring, only too happy for the chance to contemplate the hidden riches of Jesus’ divinity. For he pierced the rough garments the Child wore, until his faith touched the Sacred Heart. In profound adoration he united himself to the special grace of each one of the events in the life of Jesus. He adored our Lord in His hidden life and in His Passion and Death; he adored in advance the Eucharistic Christ in His tabernacles: there was nothing that our Lord could hide from Saint Joseph. Among the graces which Jesus gave to His foster-father — and He flooded him with the graces attached to every one of His mysteries — is that special to an adorer of the Blessed Sacrament. That is the one we must ask of St. Joseph. Have confidence, strong confidence in him. Take him as the patron and the model of your life of adoration.”
Dear Saint Joseph, help us to adore the Christ Child. Help us to bring to him in the Eucharist all the lost and wounded souls in our own world, and to help us to open our hearts to him to heal each of us. Help us to persevere and become saints so that when the nighttime of our life comes, we may find ourselves in that beautiful life of eternity with you, Mary, and Jesus.