As usual, the last few weeks have been busy, crazy, and for the most part joy filled – certainly I’ve had times of despair, struggle, and sadness; but as a Catholic, as a Christian how can I be anything but filled with joy?
“You ask me whether I am in good spirits. How could I not be, so long as my trust in God gives me strength. We must always be cheerful. Sadness should be banished from all Christian souls. For suffering is a far different thing from sadness, which is the worst disease of all. It is almost always caused by lack of Faith. But the purpose for which we have been created shows us the path along which we should go, perhaps strewn with many thorns, but not a sad path. Even in the midst of intense suffering it is one of joy." Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
Godcidentally enough, the saint I have mentioned most often on this blog, was the namesake of the retreat I went on last weekend, the Frassati Fellowship Retreat. The retreat was put on by the CFRs and the Sisters of Life, talk about some holy and humble people! They are not only incredible lovers of Christ, but great imitators!
The retreat was filled with inspiring talks, beautiful music, new friendships, great fellowship, and experiencing Jesus through the sacraments. There are so many wonderful memories that stand out to me, but the one that I have thought about several times since is what happened on Saturday night, the retreat was from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. Both Friday and Saturday night ended with Eucharistic Adoration, but Saturday night stands out to me.
Saturday night Adoration began with exposition, singing of the Salutaris, and incensing. Then the deacon read from the Gospel of Matthew 9:18-22. Which is when a woman suffering with hemorrhages for 12 years touched a part of Jesus’ cloak. She did so thinking that if she touched it, she would be healed. When she touched His cloak, Jesus turned to her and said, “Courage daughter! Your faith has saved you.” And the woman was cured.
Then the deacon explained that we would have the opportunity to experience healing just like the woman did. The deacon then put on the humeral veil. The humeral veil is made of silk and about 8 foot by 18 inches. The humeral veil is worn to cover the back and shoulders — hence its name — and its two ends hang down in front. To prevent its falling from the shoulders, it is fastened across the breast with clasps or ribbons attached to the border. The deacon then placed his hands, which were covered by the veil on the monstrance, thus his hands were not directly touching it. The monstrance of course was holding Jesus, who is present in the Eucharist. Then the deacon walked toward the front of the altar where retreatants were kneeling waiting to touch the veil…which was in contact with the monstrance, which was holding Jesus.
As I anxiously awaited my turn, I prayed for Jesus to heal me and I prayed to be open to whatever He desired for me in that moment and that I would also desire it. I walked up, kneeled, and waited for the deacon and for Jesus. I gently held the veil with both of my hands and looked up into the Eucharist. And I thought, “Jesus, You are real and You are here. You told us You are the Bread of Life and I believe You. Thank You Jesus”. I closed my eyes and imagined the face of Jesus and let go of the veil. What an experience and encounter with the Lord!
I went back to my seat and wept tears of joy and sorrow all in thanksgiving for what Jesus did. The fact that Jesus not only was nailed to a cross for my sins, but that He left Himself to be with us, to be with us always as He says in Matthew 28:20. What a gift!
What an opportunity to demonstrate our faith each time that we enter a Church, to genuflect in front of the tabernacle, to in that moment, that action to say, Jesus I believe you are here in that tabernacle. Or when we receive Communion and respond “Amen” (I believe) to the priest’s offering and statement of “the Body of Christ”. And how can we even think about denying the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist when he orders us to believe that He truly is present again and again in the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John? Even when some of His followers question the teaching because they cannot believe what Jesus is saying, Jesus does not change what He says, He says it again. And some of His follower at that time leave and return to their former way of life. John 6:65 "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." - Jesus
Something that I’ve been doing since the retreat is after I receive Communion I go back to the pew, kneel, and imagine the face of Jesus and I pray in thanks for the opportunity and privilege to receive Jesus.
As I’ve mentioned before in earlier posts, the book Visits to the Blessed Sacrament by St. Alphonsus Liguori changed the way that I pray during adoration. Although I have finished the 30 day devotional I have still been using it daily in prayer. I started back at day 1 and read all that I highlighted or things I made note of the first time that I used the book. Once again it has proved to be an effective tool and aid to my prayer.
My prayer is that we all, Catholic or not, may one day experience the joy of adoring, celebrating and receiving the Eucharist.