There was a T-shirt out a few years ago listing the Top Ten reasons to remain Roman Catholic. Among the reasons were the saints, a great pope and confession. The number one reason was the Eucharist.
It is the Eucharist that sets the Catholic Church apart from all others. We have the Real Presence of Jesus present in every Tabernacle and at every mass. Jesus, the Son of God, the Almighty One waits for us in our Tabernacle. We can enter the presence of the Lamb of God anything we enter a Catholic Church. The Miracle Worker from Galilee, the one who raised Lazarus, healed the paralytic and fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish sits waiting for us in the Tabernacle.
Could someone tell we believe all of this from observing us in church? Do our actions show our awareness that we are in the presence of God? Surveys tell us that less than a third of Catholics believe in the Real Presence. Surveys also tell us that maybe a third go to mass regularly. It would be logical to expect that those who go to mass come from the third that believe in the Real Presence.
However, our behavior makes me wonder if we really get it? This weekend a family of six or more walked across the front of the church to get to Grandma and Grandpa. They walked right past the Tabernacle and only the Mother nodded in respect.
During mass there was a late high school maybe college age student who used a Pda or I phone for the whole mass. He didn’t even stop for the Consecration. Then there are those who approach communion chewing gum. Aren’t we supposed to fast for an hour?
What about the people who wave and greet people all the way up the aisle? What about those who receive and walk right out the door? In one church last weekend it looked like a hundred people left before I even received. Jesus went through the whole Passion including three hours on the Cross and we can’t even stay for a whole mass.
What about those who dress as if they’re going to the beach rather than to see the King of Kings? What about those who dress so immodestly that one feels like changing seats?
It isn’t just on Sundays that you see bizarre behavior but during the week too. Amazingly enough people will stop to visit a church and pray before one of the statues on the side without even recognizing the Presence of Jesus in the Tabernacle. On occasion you even see this during Adoration. There was one woman who entered the church walked down a side aisle past the monstrance on the altar to her right and went and knelt before the manger then left without noticing the exposed Eucharist.
I spoke to one person who prayed before the statue of Mary and he didn’t know what the Tabernacle was or where it was located. It wasn’t that he was new to the church. I’ve seen him fairly regularly at the noon mass for the past twenty months.
Is it no wonder that we don’t see miracles more often? Maybe if we treated the Eucharist like God we’d see some.
This Wednesday I saw an extraordinary show of reverence for the Eucharist. A young Latino man maybe in his twenties or early thirties walked in the back door of the church. He didn’t look around the church to see who was there or at the statues. Instead he knelt in the center aisle his eyes locked on the tabernacle and on his knees went up the aisle to the sanctuary where he prayed as close as he was permitted to the tabernacle for a long time and then left.
I have no idea what he was praying for. His eyes glistened with tears. It was obvious that he knew he was approaching God. He knew who he was going to pray to. He knew what was important.
This is how we should all treat the Eucharist. Most of us probably can’t walk up the aisle on our knees but we can in our hearts. We have to be aware of the tremendous privilege of being in the presence of Almighty God of what a blessing it is just to walk into a Catholic Church. We have to lift up our hearts and attention to God present in the Tabernacle. We have to realize what a grace it is to spend time with Jesus after Communion. We would be wise to take advantage of the chance to be with him. The coffee shop, restaurant or grocery shopping can wait. The traffic in the parking lot will be gone if we wait with Jesus.
We can never make up those moments after mass with Jesus that we throw away by rushing. They are lost forever. We have to take advantage of every second we get to spend with Him. Rather than rushing off we should be like a lover in the movies watching the plane or train of their beloved until the last second?
Lord. We beg You to help us get it to understand the privilege of being in Your Presence and of receiving You. Help us to be more reverent, to focus our attention on You and to return Your awesome love. Amen