Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 18, 2005
Bible tells of bowing before God
Scripture provides signposts for Eucharistic Adoration
The Shepherd Speaks
By ARCHBISHOP THOMAS COLLINS
The Scriptures give us several examples of our need to break away from our daily routine to experience powerfully the presence of God. In the Book of Exodus, chapter 3, Moses is going about his daily work, tending the sheep. But God breaks into his comfortable routine, as Moses has a vision of the burning bush, a sign of the awesome holiness of God.
It is a common problem that we can become narrow in our horizons, bound in by our cares so that we lose perspective, and do not see the round of our day within the context of God's presence.
Moses drew near to the burning bush, and was told to take off his shoes, for he was on holy ground. We sometimes forget about "holy ground", the divine setting of our busy lives. As the English poet Francis Thompson wrote, we can "miss the many splendoured thing" which is God's presence in our world.
We can recall the divine reality at any time and in many ways. As Jesus said, when you pray go into your inner room, and pray to your Father who is in secret. Each of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and in every time and place we can disconnect from our distractions, and enter onto that holy ground.
St. Teresa of Avila varied the image a bit, by writing of an interior castle, at the centre of which is the divine presence. We do not need to enter a church to pray.
But an experience of the burning bush, mysterious sign of God's presence, can help us to see anew in the light of faith. Throughout the history of the Church, the Eucharist has been reverently reserved after the actual celebration of the Mass, to be brought to the sick. To this day, that is the primary reason for reserving the Eucharist after Mass.
But Christians soon realized that if there was anywhere that was a particularly fitting place to pray, it was in physical proximity to the Blessed Sacrament, awesome experience of God's presence, of which the burning bush was a foreshadowing.
As we contemplate the wonder of the Eucharist, all of the petty things that so consume us fall into their proper and most limited place. As Moses was sent out on his mission after an experience of the awesome presence of God, so are we from the celebration of the Eucharist itself, and also from prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
In the Old Testament, during the desert journey of the Exodus, the ineffable majesty of God was most evident in the Tent of Meeting. Moses would go there to communicate directly with the Lord and to receive his instructions (Numbers 14). It is fitting that the place where the Holy Eucharist is preserved after Mass, for Communion of the sick and as a focal point for prayer, is called the "tabernacle" or "tent."
Seduced by consumerism
In the New Testament, we see in chapters 4 and 5 of the Apocalypse, and throughout the book, a poetic description of the vision of heaven which was granted to St. John. The people for whom John was inspired to write his book were being persecuted by a society which cherished values contrary to the Gospel of Jesus, and some were being seduced by the materialistic consumer culture of the Roman Empire.
Not a lot has changed. Our Canadian society is in too many ways reminiscent of the dying civilization of Rome, and Christians who seek to be faithful to the Gospel are assuredly out of place - they are counter-cultural.
God inspired St. John to show the Christians of his day a vision of the divine context of their flawed society, as Moses was shown God's majesty to help him to liberate the people from slavery to the Empire of Pharaoh. In Eucharistic adoration we enter briefly into an experience of the divine reality described in chapters 4 and 5 of the Apocalypse. We realize that Jesus, the Lamb of God, slain in this passing world, is ruling the universe.
In the light of that vision we see more clearly, and are able then to assess accurately the challenges we face as Christians in our own society. We are energized, as were the early Christians who heard the words of John, so we can be faithful disciples and act rightly in this world.
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