Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Real Presence

On Wednesday afternoon, after work, I spend an hour at chuch in Blessed Adoration.  We Catholics believe in the "Real Presence".  That is, we believe that once the host is consecrated during Mass, it IS the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  A consecrated host is kept in the monstrance inside the tabernacle on the altar.  St. Anthony's, like many churches, has a front altar and a back altar.  The back altar, directly under the crucifix in the sanctuary is where the tabernacle resides.  It is also where the priest used to celebrate the Mass pre-Vatican II.  Most churches left that altar in place and put another altar further toward the nave of the church, where the pews are.  The priest now celebrates Mass on this altar, facing the congregation.

The front altar is where, on Wednesdays, our Lord is taken from the tabernacle and is placed, in the monstrance, so that we can be physically closer to Him.  Blessed Adoration is a time to pray, to reflect, sometimes to just visit, to just "be" in His presence.

Now, when I was a child, for some reason, only grownups went to Blessed Adoration.  I prayed, as did most of my classmates and friends, with my attention on the crucifix.  It is part and parcel of our faith, to remember not just God's love, but His sacrifice.  I also learned that God was in Heaven and to look upward in faith.

So, yesterday, I found myself in prayer, focusing not on our Lord Himself, present in the monstrance but focusing on the crucifix.  I brought myself back several times and found myself again looking upward in prayer.  I started to wonder why.  I also started wondering why I was wondering instead of praying but that's a whole 'nother blog.

I think that maybe it is because looking at Him is just too hard - partly because I know that I am not worthy and partly because, when I do look at Him, I see the real me reflected in His brilliance.  It is easier for me to focus on a portrayal of Him than on Him.  I feel sort of like the little child who hides their face when they are talking to a grownup because they are afraid to look at them.

I have no answers and to be honest, I don't expect any.  I will go every Wednesday and I will spend an hour with Him and even if I can't do it the way I think it should be done, at least I am doing it.


Anonymous said...

and I agree with you. God bless.

Sayre said...

I learned something today! I'm not a Catholic, though as an Episcopalian we are close. I didn't know about the monstrance or the two altars - very interesting! As for your inability to look at Him - I think we all go through times when we feel our separation a little more than others. We WANT to be perfect, comfortable in His presence but we are not. He knows this and loves us anyway. And He knows that you wish to be with Him and are making the effort even if you are falling a bit short in your own eyes - but never in His.

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