Imagine for just a second that you climb out of your nice warm bed, somewhere around 2:30 in the morning. It is a typical winter morning in the Ozarks, cold, about 17 degrees, with the wind blowing out of the north.
You climb out of that nice warm bed, slowly get dressed and head out to your car, that’s been sitting out in the cold weather all night, and drive to your church to adore the Most Blessed Sacrament. Now if this is just a piece of bread that we are adoring then this sounds almost insane and total non-sense!
However, if the Most Blessed Sacrament is in fact the living, loving, life-giving God of the universe, just like the Catholic Church teaches, then this would be the height of wisdom! You see, it was in fact the very middle of the night, during sacrificial hours that our Lord Jesus Christ Himself said to His disciples:
“So, you men could not watch with Me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40)
In the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His arrest, Jesus ask His disciples to sit and pray. Peter, James and John went further into the garden with Him and Jesus tells them to watch and pray.
And when Jesus returns he again finds them sleeping and says to them: “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.” Matthew 26:45
In 2016, during this year of mercy, we too find Jesus Christ being betrayed and we are still sleeping. Today Jesus is asking us to watch and pray. He is asking us to spend one hour with Him praying. As we face the threat of terrorism, scandal after scandal, abortion on demand, dissension and division within the Church, and apostasy, Jesus simply is asking us to sit with Him to watch and pray.
I firmly believe as did the saints before us that if every one of the billion plus Catholics would spend one hour, just one day a week before the Blessed Sacrament, before the body, blood, soul and divinity, Jesus Christ, every major crisis, every abortion and acts of terrorism would stop!
Saint John Paul II said: “The best, the most effective, and surest way to bring about lasting peace on the face of the earth is through the great power of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Because only Jesus has the power and the love to redirect the course of human history, back to a path of peace.”
Did you catch that? Redirect the course of human history? If we want to see abortion stopped, spend one hour with Jesus. We want to see family members saved, spend one hour with Jesus.
We want to see our perishes grow, spend one hour with Jesus. We want to see Terrorism come to an end, spend one hour with Jesus adoring Him in the Blessed Sacrament. The Apostle of Eucharistic Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Saint Peter Julian Eymard said:
"The less Jesus is adored in the Blessed Sacrament, the more present and powerful Satan becomes. Let us never forget that an age prospers or dwindles in proportion to it’s devotion to the Holy Eucharist. This is the measure of its spiritual life and faith, of its charity and virtue.”
Do you think maybe what’s going on in our country and what’s going on in our perishes have something in common?
Do you think maybe we have more of the world in our Churches than we have the Church in the world? Why is it that have so much trouble believing? If Jesus can turn water into wine, don’t you think he can turn wine into blood? Why is it that our adoration chapels are so empty?
As a former United Methodist Pastor, it was the “real presence” in the Eucharist that brought me to the Catholic Church. I wrestled for years with John Chapter 6. “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (Verse 51) “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves."
I for one believe it when Jesus said that he would never leave us nor forsake us. He is God with us. Folks, Jesus is either truly present in the Blessed Sacrament or He is not. We can say that we believe He is present, but when you look how empty out adoration chapels are, you beg to wonder. Think about it, if we knew Jesus was going to be at a house down the street and He was waiting there for us to come to Him and He would be there with us, we would drop everything and run to go see Him. We the fact is, Jesus is right down the street. He is in the tabernacle day and night begging us to come.
Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy –laden, and I will give you rest.”
I read a story the other day about Bishop Fulton Sheen. During an interview he was asked: “Bishop Sheen, you have been inspired by millions of people all over the world, who inspired you? Was it a Pope?”
Bishop Sheen responded that it was not a Pope, a Cardinal, another Bishop, or even a priest or a nun. It was a little Chinese girl of eleven years of age.
Bishop Sheen explained that when the Communists took over China, they imprisoned a priest in his own rectory near the Church. After they locked him up in his own house, the priest was horrified to look out of his window and see the Communists proceed into the Church, where they went into the sanctuary and broke into the tabernacle. In an act of hateful desecration, they took the ciborium and threw it on the floor with all of the Sacred Hosts spilling out. The priest knew exactly the number of Hosts in the ciborium; thirty-two.
When the Communists left, they either did not notice, or didn’t pay any attention to a small girl praying in the back of the Church who saw everything that had happened. That night the little girl came back.
Slipping past the guard at the priest’s house, she went inside the Church. There she made a holy hour of prayer, an act of love to make up for the act of hatred. After her holy hour she went into the sanctuary, knelt down, bent over and with her tongue received Jesus in Holy Communion, since (at that time) it was not permissible for laymen to touch the Sacred Host with their hands. The little girl continued to come back each night to make her holy hour and receive Jesus in Holy Communion on her tongue. On the thirty-second night, after she had consumed the last and thirty-second host, she accidentally made a noise and woke the guard who was sleeping.
He ran after her, caught her, and beat her to death with the butt of his rifle. This act of heroic martyrdom was witnessed by the priest as he watch grief-stricken from his bedroom window.
When Bishop Sheen heard this story he was so inspired that he promised God he would make a holy hour of prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament every day of His life. If this frail, little child could give testimony and witness to the world concerning the real and wonderful Presence of her Savior in the Blessed Sacrament, the Bishop (and us) should be bound by all that was right and true, and do the same.
Bishop Sheen’s sole desire from that time on was to bring the world to the burning Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Mother Teresa once said: “When you look at the crucifix you understand how much Jesus loved you. When you look at the Blessed Sacred Host, you understand how much Jesus loves you now!”
Each of the saints did not adore the Eucharist because they were saints, rather it was because they adored the Eucharist that they became saints. This Lenten season, Jesus is asking us, will you not watch with Me for one hour?