The Essential Link Between Adoration and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: A Brief Reflection.

A Brief Reflection on Mt 26:36-46 for Eucharistic Adoration

Presented to the Young Adults of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

     Immediately before our Lord was handed over to endure His passion, He asked His closest apostles to keep watch with Him. Having already received Jesus’ body and blood, at the Last Supper our Lord invited Peter, James and John to spend one hour with Him, to make the first Holy Hour. While the devotion of Eucharistic adoration did not develop to the way we know it today until the Middle Ages,[1] Jesus Himself teaches us the importance of Adoration. Tragically at times a tension has arisen between Eucharistic Adoration and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. At times some people have tried to pit Eucharistic Adoration against the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,[2] while while at other times Adoration has been proposed as a substitute for the Mass.[3]

     Cardinal Ratzinger, in his 1980 homily for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, warned against these two extremes and drew a middle ground by remarking “only within the breathing space of adoration can the Eucharistic Celebration, indeed be alive.”[4] Cardinal Ratzinger explains that Communion and Adoration are intimately connected. Without the fruitful reception of Holy Communion, Adoration makes no sense and with Adoration the reception of Holy Communion is a impersonal act. He says, “adoration is simply the personal aspect of Communion.”[5] Adoration is essential if we want to fall in love with Christ because “love carries within it an impulse of reverence, of adoration.”[6] Thus those of us who want to have a personal relationship with our Lord must follow the example of the apostles, we must participate in His sacrifice on Calvary by participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and we must “gaze on Him, allow Him to gaze on us, listen to Him and get to know Him”[7] in Eucharistic adoration.

[1] Certainly the Church from her earliest days hand an understanding of Eucharistic adoration, reserving the Eucharist in tabernacles for the sick, but it was not until the Middle Ages that Eucharistic adoration became a popular devotion.

[2] I am thinking here of times when Eucharistic adoration was considered “cookie worship” and a waste of time.

[3] I am thinking here of times in the middle ages when the faithful saw adoration as their participation in the Mass.

[4] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. “The Immediacy of the Presence of the Lord.” In God is Near Us, The Eucharist, the Heart of Life, ed. Stephan Otto Horn and Vinzez Pfnur. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003) 96.

[5] Ratzinger “The Immediacy of the Presence of the Lord” 97.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

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