Down in Adoration Falling

Down in Adoration Falling

Dear readers,

A blessed Eastertide to you all. Returning from our scheduled break, we hope that you have been given the grace to be with the Lord through the mysteries of His passion, death & resurrection.

By way of sharing an Easter treat, we urge you to take a look at the remarkable Apostolic Exhortation which Bishop Thomas Olmstead of Phoenix released this Holy Thursday.

Full of clear teaching (who may/may not receive Holy Communion), practical advice (how to truly keep holy the Lord’s day) for both priests and laymen, Olmstead’s letter is a most welcome, hopeful, and useful guide.

Entitled “Venermur Cernui” (“Down in Adoration Falling”), Olmstead’s letter is an invitation to clear and deep faith in the Eucharistic Lord offered to all: believers, non-believers, and ex-believers alike:

I invite you in this Exhortation to “put out into the deep” (Lk 5:4). Whether your faith in the Eucharist is strong or weak, whether you consider the Church your Home or you have recently decided to disassociate, or even if you have no faith at all, my sincere hope is that a true “Eucharistic amazement” will be ignited within you.

(Paragraph 4)

Olmstead tells the stories of Moses & of Joshua who followed the Ark of the Lord through a dark and difficult journey, and explains how the Mass and the Lord’s Eucharist presence reveal the way of our exodus from sin. Now, God is truly present and radically accessible:

The same Jesus that walked the countryside of Palestine, the same Jesus that preached, cured the sick and raised the dead, the same Jesus who suffered, died, and rose is truly present in the Eucharist. Indeed, our Lord is ever near us, and we might recall with joy the exultant words of Deuteronomy 4:7: “What great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us?”

(Paragraph 25)

The bishop urges his readers, in response to the gift of God Himself, to “hold back nothing:”

In the Sequence “Lauda Sion Salvatorem” for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Saint Thomas Aquinas invites us to hold back nothing as the most appropriate response to the gift of Jesus Himself in the Eucharist: “Quantum potes, tantum aude, quia maior omni laude nec laudare sufficis. Dare as much as you can: because He is greater than any praise, nor can you praise him enough.” “Quantum potes” means “however much you can” and “tantum aude”, which means “as much as you dare.” This is the most appropriate response to such an awesome gift, to go all out in our response to Jesus’ most extravagant gift of Himself.

(Paragraph 28)

Further, Bishop Olmstead outlines Christ’s method of drawing souls to Himself as being centered first simply upon His presence, and demonstrates that the Eucharist is the real source of evangelization in our communities:

Invite a friend to join you in adoration.

Call to mind a loved one who feels himself or herself to be far from the Church. Think of a friend who finds the Mass difficult to understand and to engage. Consider an acquaintance in your life who does not believe in God or in Christ. Now imagine each of these persons sitting quietly and peacefully next to you in a beautiful place of adoration for ten minutes of Eucharistic adoration. What gentle but profound effect might it have in his or her heart?

The Gospels present a clear pattern in which Jesus makes Himself present to people before He teaches, and certainly long before He draws them into His act of worship in His Paschal Mystery. We might say the general pattern is: first His presence, then His worship. The Lord is present in many ways. But do we trust that the Eucharistic Christ can and will touch the hearts of our friends, if we but invite them to be near Him there?

Of course, it takes prudence and discernment to know when and how to offer such an invitation. But the times for such friendly invitations do come! In the Gospels we see persons bringing others into the bodily presence of Christ in various ways. I’ll mention three different approaches which are instructive for us today: testimony, invitation, and carrying.

The Samaritan woman at the well gives testimony to her whole village about Jesus which leads to their being in His presence for two days. Then they start to believe in Him and come to see Him for themselves (Jn. 4:41). Do we find ways to give testimony about the transformative power of the Eucharist? Do we talk in a winsome, compelling way to our family, friends, and acquaintances about the mystery of our encounter with the Eucharistic Lord? Do share with them where and how they too can encounter His presence in our churches?

The Apostle Andrew gives a direct, personal invitation to his brother Peter to accompany him to see the Lord. He declares to his younger brother that “we have found the Messiah” and then walks with him into the presence of Jesus (Jn 1:42). Are there not a host of persons who are one confident, loving invitation away from engaging (or re-engaging) the Lord through His Eucharistic body? What a blessing for so many of our closest loved ones and friends if we were to have Andrew’s courage to say, “I’ve found a treasure in the Eucharistic presence of Christ. Would you like to join me there?”.

Faith-filled intercession for others plays a key role, especially when neither testimony nor invitation is sufficient to draw a person into Christ’s presence. A man was so incapacitated that he could not even walk to where Christ was. So his friends picked him up and they “were trying to bring him in and set him in His [Jesus’] presence”. Unable to carry him into the crowded house, they lowered him on a stretcher through an opening in the roof. Jesus saw their faith, forgave and healed the man, who “went home glorifying God” (Lk 5:17-26). We should never despair when someone we love is unable or unwilling to accompany us to the Eucharist. With deep faith, we can still lower them on the stretcher of our intercessory prayer into the Lord’s presence.

These three events remind us that Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is meant to be shared. They also remind us that there is no single method of drawing others into the Lord’s presence. Sometimes honest testimony is enough for those to seek Him out on their own, as with the people of Samaria. For others like Peter, it requires a direct, friendly invitation to come with us into Christ’s presence. For still others who may be spiritually “paralyzed” and for whom direct access to Eucharistic adoration is not yet a possibility, we can carry them on the stretcher of our intercessory prayers, lowered before Christ in His presence despite their immobilized condition.

(Paragraphs 85-90)

Olmstead also exhorts his priests both to personal fidelity to the Eucharistic life for the sake of their own souls and their priestly fruitfulness, and to the need for them to bring concrete forms of Eucharistic piety to their people. He urges them to open the doors of safe, inviting places for more Eucharistic adoration.

He directs clergy toward an increase in Eucharistic processions, with quite an interesting rationale:

One need only consider any year or even every month in our age to see that the people take their passions to the streets to be seen and heard. Riots, protests, marches, and demonstrations in the streets are common, but too often they are fueled by narrow ideologies and enflamed by bitterness, resentment, anger, and a cramped secularist perspective. Imagine the witness in our neighborhoods, towns, and cities for people of all backgrounds to see that the Church has a message to bring to the streets – that of Christ’s Eucharistic presence, His victory over all evil, sin, and death – and she is enflamed with the attractive witness of love, joy, and peace.

Therefore, I invite our pastors, along with their closest collaborators, to consider planning one Eucharistic procession each year in your parish boundary. Imagine how one beautiful Eucharistic procession would imprint the memories of children and families with the Eucharistic mystery.

Of course, any Eucharistic procession should be reverent, beautiful, peaceful, festive, and well-planned. But there will be much variation from parish to parish. For a particular parish the procession could be several miles and in highly public places; it could be shorter and simply around the parish campus. Perhaps it involves a few dozen or several hundred people, or even much larger crowds. For some parishes (like those in the cooler climates) the feast of Corpus Christi may be the best time for a procession. For others (like those in warmer places), parishes may want to choose another day each year. Possibilities include the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe (our diocesan patroness), Christ the King, Epiphany, Pentecost, the parish’s patronal feast day, and the celebration of the anniversary of the dedication of the church.

(Paragraphs 99-101)

In the spirit of this exhortation, we’d like to issue a challenge to readers:

Can you, at least 1 time during the Easter season, invite someone to join you for Eucharistic prayer?

  • This can be a person who has no faith, or someone who believes in Christ but has never encountered Him in the Eucharist. It can be someone who has ceased the practice of their Catholic faith or whose faith is in doubt or crisis.
  • Review Olmstead’s suggestions above, and also his paragraph 102 where he outlines the difference between accompanying someone to Mass vs. to adoration.
  • Keep it simple & honest: “Would you pray with me about something?” or “I know this might not be something you normally do, but would you mind going into the church with me for ten minutes?”
  • Keep it within the context of your friendship. Give them an opportunity afterward for a meal, visit, or walk in case they wish to talk about it or ask questions.
  • Offer more than once (and remember the stretcher analogy of Bishop Olmstead above.)

Are you up for the challenge?

Tantum aude: “Dare as much as you can.” Your endeavors will be in our prayers.

3 Replies to “Down in Adoration Falling”

    1. I understand the urge to wish for such a gift, but perhaps God is calling the elect to stand up with courage to do what seems to be the impossible. Perhaps we wait for permission too often.


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