I apologize for this delay! I preached this on the 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
From the very beginning when God created man and woman, he desired there to be harmony: harmony and peace between God and his people, harmony and peace between the people, and harmony and peace within the people themselves. Then Adam and Eve were tempted by the servant who told them they could be like gods, so this triple harmony was disrupted at the fall. This is original sin and why we need to be baptized to have this sin washed away, yet we still feel this pull to reject God. We still are tempted. We feel a battle within us, we want to do good, but we often do evil. It shouldn’t surprise us that there is tension in life. God finally sent His son to redeem us, to restore us to how God originally created us. We see this battle occurring in the Gospel. Where our Lord is, He triumphs, and the devils are cast out. These prideful spirits who reject God and who try to lead us away from God, are thrown down. The devil wants this discord and disharmony. He wants God’s creation to be broken. Jesus comes to restore, and in the Gospel we see how he goes all the way: he is like a madman who is seeking out to do the work of the Father. This great love drives him. He does not even have a chance to eat!
Last weekend we celebrated the great solemnity of Corpus Christi and on Friday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. Our Lord gives us this generous gift of Himself truly present in the Eucharist, and how do we treat Him? How do we receive him? On the tongue or the hand with great love, or do we think this is just a piece of weird looking bread that we kind of dust off our hands when we are done, throwing Jesus to the floor? Do we take great care to examine our consciences to make sure we are not guilty of mortal sin that we have not brought to the Sacrament of Confession? Do we ever stop in the Church to make a visit and spend some time with the one who truly loves us? He loves us like a madman and He waits for you and me to visit Him. Do we return this generous love with even the smallest acts of love on our part, seeking to reject anything which keeps us away from Him? Our Lord lamented to Saint Margaret Mary how he is often treated with contempt and indifference. Do we even pay attention to the fact that the creator of everything comes down and changes the bread and wine into His body and blood at the Mass?? What are we thinking about at Mass, and as we receive Holy Communion? If we want to simply get Mass over with and rush the priest, we are piercing our Lord’s heart. Saint Peter Julian Eymard reminds us: “The world engrosses the attention of souls; it finds and enslaves them with external occupations and good works in order to deter them from dwelling too long on the love of Jesus…the devil wages incessant warfare on our love for Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.”
If we physically cannot get to Church, we can stop and go in prayer before the tabernacle. If you cant sleep at night, say a prayer to your Guardian Angel to help you adore our Lord in the tabernacle, even as you try to return to sleep.
There is a battle going on, and our Lord calls us to take up arms. His very presence in the Eucharist is the greatest foe of the devil, and there is no more intimate time of prayer than after receiving Him in the Eucharist and continuing this adoration after communion and in our visits to the Tabernacle.
After we receive Holy Communion, there is some time for prayer. If there are a lot of people at Mass, this prayer time is longer, as more people are receiving and there are more vessels to purify—the priest or deacon is not “doing the dishes” but is making sure there is not a single drop of the precious blood or a single crumb from the hosts remaining. If we simply wash the vessels, we would end up throwing Jesus down the drain.
So how to pray? It can be useful to pray some of the prayers for after Mass in the Missalette. Or bring your own catholic prayer book with some prayers and meditations about the Eucharist. Saying, “Lord I don’t know how to pray…” is already a good way to begin praying. Sitting in silence and telling Jesus that you love Him, bringing Him whatever is on your heart and mind. Our culture is so opposed to prayer with its distractions, so praying can be a bit difficult. It might seem odd to be sitting in silence, but we have just received God in our souls. He wants to speak to us, so we have to give him 150% trying to listen to Him speak to our hearts in silence. Are there people you are worried about? Are there struggles in your own life, perhaps some habitual sin, that are very difficult and frustrating to you? Did you receive some special grace this week you want to thank our Lord about? Our Lord is the mighty and victorious warrior who will defeat the devil, but we have to give Him this opportunity. What a sad day it would be to go to our judgment and to hear God tell us, “I came but you ignored me”.
We should make the motto of Saint Peter Julian Eymard our motto as well:
“Lord, my mind is made up; henceforth my motto shall be, ‘Give me the Eucharist, or let me die!’” Without the Eucharist we die. Without the sacraments we die, but this does not mean the sacraments are handed out like candy—when we receive we say “yes! I believe and practice ALL that the Catholic Church professes. I do not live apart from this belief. I am imperfect and a sinner, but I do not live in a state which is opposed to Jesus’ message. I go to confession and confess my sins.” Jesus calls us to live a certain way. He gives Himself 150% to help us, and so we too should give ourselves 150% to Him: loving and adoring him when we receive Him in the Eucharist, and struggling with His grace one day at a time. Our Lord calls us to eternal life with Him, and this harmony, this life begins at the moment of our baptism and continues and is strengthened every moment that we turn to Him in the Blessed Sacrament.