Sunday, September 28, 2014

Why 40 Hours (and Eucharistic adoration) is important (Sunday homily)

In two weeks, we’ll have our annual Forty Hours, 
with our Lord in the Eucharist on the altar over the weekend, 
day and night, for us to adore him. 
This weekend we begin asking folks to sign up. 

The sign-up sheets are in the front vestibule. 
I realize it is tricky getting back there 
with the front entrance still closed, 
but you can exit out the sacristy door.

It’s essential we have, at minimum, two adorers for every hour. 
If you are someone who tends to get up early or who stays up late, 
maybe consider taking those off hours?

Let’s talk about what 40 Hours is – and why we do it.

The first and best form of adoring the Lord is the Holy Mass. 
When we are present at Mass, we are with Jesus 
while he is on the Cross, suffering and dying for our salvation. 
That’s what Mass is. 
As the Council of Trent taught, the Mass is a true sacrifice, 
in which our Lord offers himself in an “unbloody” manner.

This is why taking part in Holy Mass 
on Sundays and holy days of obligation is a grave duty for us. 

So where does Exposition of the Eucharist fit in?

With Mass being identified with Calvary, 
we might think of Exposition as being like the time 
the believers spent with the Lord.

But with a difference. In the second reading, 
Saint Paul tells us “God has greatly exalted him, 
and bestowed on him a name above every other name.” 
We are beholding the resurrected Lord, the Lord in glory,  
the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

And yet there is a veil—his glory is concealed, as it were, 
beneath the sign of bread or wine.

And that requires, of course, an act of faith. 
Adoration draws out and exercises our faith, 
just as curls build our biceps. 

And think of this.
If you go to Washington, D.C., what are the odds 
you will be able to meet the President, and visit with him? 
Pretty slim. Same with the pope, or a famous athlete, or movie star. 

And yet, the Lord of the Universe gives us this audience—
for as long as we want!

Now, someone might say, but God is everywhere, right? 
I can talk to God in my car, at home, in the woods. 
And that’s true.

But by that logic, there was no reason 
for God to have come to earth and become a human being. 
Why was that important to do? 
Jesus didn’t need the Cross to forgive us. 
He could have done it without the Cross. 
So why do all that?

Someone can send you a note; or that same person can come and visit.
Is there a difference? Of course there is.

And with the Eucharist, as with the Cross, 
our Lord doesn’t just give us words; he gives himself. 
Can you think of a more total way of God giving himself for us, 
and to us, than to go to the Cross…

And then at the altar, to be our Food? He becomes part of us? 
We can touch and taste? 
What more could he do?

There are a couple of other things I want to say 
about the importance of adoring the Eucharist. 

When we come to adoration, we are recognizing him as our king. 
We kneel before him; and if our physical knees don’t bend very well, 
we bend the knees of our hearts.

I’ve been in situations where I was with people 
who weren’t Catholic, and we were visiting a church; 
and when I saw the tabernacle, I genuflected. 
My friends did not.

If you’ve been in that situation, 
you know the temptation is to skip the genuflection 
so as not to make things awkward. 
And I’ve probably done that at some point as well. 

But when we bend the knee, 
and when we make time for adoration, 
we are acknowledging: “Jesus Christ is my Lord!” 

It’s important we tell ourselves that; and that we tell others.
Especially our children.

One of the many reasons I love this parish 
is because we have lots of children. I love having children at Mass. 
I know sometimes they don’t love being here; 
but keep bringing them, please!

And I encourage you to bring your children to Forty Hours. 
Explain to them what we’re doing; 
teach them how to talk to Jesus on the altar. 
Even a short visit is priceless. 

Here’s an idea – and this applies for Mass, too – 
maybe they would find it easier to “talk” to Jesus 
by writing something, or drawing something. 

And at Forty Hours, don’t worry 
if your children talk to Jesus out loud. It’s really fine! 
It’s actually wonderful. Don’t let it bother you. 
As they grow older, they’ll learn the skills they need. 

But at every age, we need to know where Jesus is 
and that we can come to him. No matter who we are.

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