Eucharistic Adoration Growing Worldwide
Be 'archangels of his Eucharistic Kingship'!
Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration is a central part of popular devotion in Rome and in many parts of the world. Moreover, this pious practice is a beautiful devotion that marks the rhythm of the Church's life.
"How I should like all the parishes of the world to be open to Perpetual Adoration of the Eucharist!", Pope John Paul II said in 1993 when he blessed the outcome of the International Eucharistic Congress in Seville.
In January 2001, he promulgated his splendid Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte in which, as a Successor of St. Peter, he invited the Church to put out into the deep just as the Divine Teacher had invited the Apostle.
Pope John Paul II himself said to the world: "Yes, dear brothers and sisters, our Christian communities must become genuine 'schools of prayer', where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent' devotion, until the heart truly 'falls in love'.
"Intense prayer, yes, but it does not distract us from our commitment to history: by opening our heart to the love of God, it also opens it to the love of our brothers and sisters, and makes us capable of shaping history according to God's plan" (Nuovo Millennio Ineunte, n. 33).
In 2001, during a Meeting with the clergy of Rome, the beloved Pontiff learned with, joy that, precisely out of respect for his passionate words as well as being motivated by Eucharistic zeal, the faithful who went regularly to the Basilica of St. Anastasia on the Palatine Hill had undertaken to introduce Perpetual Adoration in this ancient and historical church, and the Pope heartily blessed them for their efforts.
Five years later, precisely at his own Meeting with the clergy of Rome, the new Pope Benedict XVI made his own an important contribution to this issue: "I confidently place in the hands of the Cardinal Vicar this proposal to create five places of Perpetual Adoration in the five sectors of the Diocese of Rome" (L' Osservatore Romano English Edition,15 March 2006, p.6)
His words were relayed on the electronic pages of the Internet in several languages and received extraordinary coverage in all the most distant corners of the earth.
Thus appeared on the horizon of humanity a new awareness of the Eucharistic Sacrament among the People of God, not only during its celebration, offered by the Council and liturgical reform to ever more participatory assemblies, but also in its natural extension, which is adoration.
Think of the passionate words of St. Peter Julian Eymard, who wanted himself and his Sacramentines "to be archangels of his Eucharistic Kingship, to set out whenever he sends us to transmit a grace, to kindle a new hearth, to erect a throne, to conquer a new kingdom: what a sublime mission.
Adoration in the past
It is interesting to remember that in 1948 the General Curia of the Priests of the Blessed Sacrament decided to build on land it had purchased for its generalate and an adjacent church in order to open a centre of adoration and of the Eucharistic apostolate; thus came into being the Parish of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and Canadian Martyrs, a shrine where Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration takes place to this day in Rome.
And how could we fail to remember that St. Gaspare del Bufalo, a Roman Saint and great preacher of the Precious Blood, asked 12 parishes to commit themselves, each for one month, to adoring Jesus in the Eucharist night and day, and thereby to ensure the existence of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in the great and pagan city of his times?
And finally, how can we ever forget, the diligent commitment of the students at the Major Roman Seminary who are accustomed, in the important seasons of the liturgical year; to spending nights, in Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, using the underground passageway leading from the seminary to the Basilica.
All this of course cannot merely be part of a glorious past , but constitutes the holy root of what can and must germinate a new Eucharistic life in the great city built on seven hills.
Thanks be to God that the new generations of the diocesan clergy of Rome, and also of other cities throughout Italy and the world, are showing an increasingly deeper passion for the wonderful Sacrament of the Eucharist. This is something which, accompanied by the commitment of an ever more mature and responsible laity, already allows us to glimpse the glimmers of a great spiritual reawakening.
The aridity of today's culture, secularized and paganizing, on the one hand leads to a terrible sense of emptiness and despair, but on the other, to a great thirst for God.
This necessarily determines a frantic search for meaning in spirituality.
So many young people now respond with strong enthusiasm to the countless projects and endeavours which are designed to bring them to the living Jesus, who speaks and makes himself present in the Eucharist, celebrated and adored.
Only in prayer, especially in the silence of Eucharistic Adoration, is it possible to find the refreshment that regenerates human beings who are hungering for meaning. It is prayer that makes it possible to repair the social fabric, torn by the systematic destruction of values perpetrated by modern ideologies.
Through prayer young people can find the courage to respond to and stake their life on Gospel. ideals.
From prayer are and fresh vigour for parish communities which are often inert and unreceptive to the multiple proposals of an ever more disheartened and wearied clergy. . .
Amid the ecclesial movements, a true gift of the Holy Spirit, thousands of initiatives are born but not without the risk of fragmentation of the ecclesial fabric, which rediscovers its unity only in the Eucharist celebrated and adored, the goal and source of all. Christian life.
Eucharist, an eternal source
From this very Eucharist, celebrated and adored at length, saints of every age have always drawn an inexhaustible inspiration for their apostolate, boundless trust in Providence and marvellous signs of a response, of a real and living God.
Only if we dare to take steps in the faith and, by listening to the appeal of the late Pope John Paul II, dare to put out into the deep, can all this be reborn.
Pope Benedict XVI, in perfect continuity with his Predecessor, never ceases to reaffirm the same message with eloquent words and gestures: at the Shrine of Altötting in his native Germany he inaugurated a chapel of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration.
Also very encouraging is the position of many Bishops worldwide who support and bless the ever increasing number of new parishes whose pastoral dynamism is based on a prayerful community, regenerated around the Most Holy Eucharist.
In short, these are signs of a new triumph of the Eucharist which promise, from the experience of the saints and according to the promises that Jesus himself made in conversations and in private revelations, to fill the churches where it is solemnly exposed for adoration.
How can we not realize the mysterious fascination and magnetism that a church open night and day for adoration exerts even upon the so-called "indifferent", who manage by inexplicable paths to draw close to the life of faith even after an interminable absence?
How can we fail to note the queues of penitents who receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation wherever a community is silently adoring the Eucharist?
How can we fail to see the healing power of practices of "Christ-therapy", which is being used more and more frequently by therapeutic communities and consists in prolonged and repeated periods of Adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament?
All this is a strong encouragement and impels us to overcome our resistance in favour of a pastoral ministry that makes far greater use of the practice of prayer of adoration as a proposal for our Christian communities.
It is fascinating to see growing numbers of groups of young people pausing in thoughtful recollection before the Holy Eucharist; sometimes they are overcome with emotion so great as to produce the gift of tears. They are allowing themselves to be won over by the infinite sweetness of Christ's Heart, overcoming challenges despite themselves and despite the contradictions of our time.
In short, one spontaneously asks oneself: "Si isti et illi cur non et ego?".
Weekly Edition in English
30 May 2007, page 5
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