“Eucharistic Adoration will save the world.” I’ve heard these words spoken by multiple priests in social media in recent months and it is the truth. The Church has forgotten her center due to the worldly desires of her members to busy themselves in utilitarian pursuits. The human tendency to constantly be in a state of frenzied work tears us away from our center. This is not typically done out of ill intentions, but this busyness often becomes a false idol. We place it above prayer. We place our own designs, agendas, and tasks above Christ. What does Christ tell Martha when she is frustrated with her sister Mary? He reminds her and us that Mary has “chosen the better part.” He shows us the primacy of prayer.
There is a profound crisis of faith facing the Church today. It begins in the hierarchy and trickles down throughout the Church. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI repeatedly points towards this crisis of faith in relation to what is ailing the Church today. It is this crisis of faith that in many ways led to the clergy sex abuse scandals, the loss of so many souls from the Church, and to the mediocrity that has taken over far too many parishes. In many places, the faith has become robotic, lifeless, and worldly.
The foundation for growing in our faith comes from the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where we come together to be nourished by God’s Word and His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. Somewhere down the line the People of God lost sight of God in our worship. We turned it into something about us and how we feel. Priests saw it as an opportunity to force their own personalities upon the liturgy, which led the laity to do the same. We no longer have a transcendent sense of the Real Presence of Christ in our churches and in the Mass.
Most of our parishes are a sea of unfamiliar faces who come together to worship once a week and then never see one another. This is not authentic communion, but too often it is seen as the status quo that should not be changed. Never mind that we are losing people at astonishing rates because this counterfeit cannot hold the hearts and minds of people in competition with the lures of the world. We don’t want to rock the boat; to our own detriment and the cost of countless souls.
We have been given the greatest gift imaginable in Christ’s Real Presence. He left us His body, blood, soul, and divinity to nourish and guide us. While a renewal of authentic worship in the Mass is of the utmost importance, an increase in Eucharistic Adoration is an essential piece to this renewal. We must become a people who adores Christ. Who comes before Him with our entire being and who no longer seeks to hide from His face. All of our busyness is a fleeing from His face. It is a flight from the Cross because His Real Presence and the Cross are inseparable.
It is in the silence of Eucharistic Adoration that we as individuals and we as the Church are laid bare. We are led to confront all of the darkness within us. Everything that keeps us from Him. All of our attachments to the devil, the flesh, and the world. It is here that the Church must come to seek the light of Christ that will penetrate every dark part of us that keeps us from Him. In all of the scandals, corruption, worldliness, and difficulty this is precisely what we have been avoiding. The silence of His burning love and His Eucharistic Face.
The abysmal statistics on Catholics’ belief in the Real Presence are heart-wrenching. What’s even more heart-wrenching is that many priests who confect the Holy Eucharist no longer believe either. This is not only a problem in the laity. This crisis of faith runs very deep and goes to the heart of every vocation Christ extends to the members of His Church. The answers will not come from more procedures and bureaucratic reforms. They will only come when we are willing to be still and return to His Presence. The answer to the crisis of faith is a return to deep prayer as a community before Our Eucharistic Lord.
Families and priests alike flee from task to task in their daily lives with no thought of stopping to spend even 10 minutes with Our Lord’s Real Presence either in the Tabernacle or in the monstrance at Adoration. We have placed the things of the world above Christ. He is abandoned in countless Tabernacles throughout the world. We are much too busy for Him even as we claim to be going about His work. Our works are dead if they are not born of the fruit of prayer and in seeking His face, as Cardinal Robert Sarah has often sought to remind us.
This frenzied pace betrays a deep-seated sloth that has taken over us. This has led us to remain asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane as Our Lord suffers in His Mystical Body today. Christ warns His Apostles to stay awake because He knows the Cross is at hand. For us, the Cross is always at hand. This life is the Cross, which means tragedy, difficulty, and affliction awaits us at any moment. If we are not seeking to stay awake with Him in prayer and in Eucharistic Adoration then we will not be prepared to undergo the tests of this life. This is why the responses to the clergy sex abuse scandals, lack of faith of the people, and even COVID-19 have been so poor. Faith withers if it is not nurtured through a deep prayer life that is centered on Christ’s Real Presence.
We can continue to have meetings, agendas, and plans within our parishes and families, but until we re-center ourselves on Our Eucharistic Lord, all of those plans will be but dust. They will not bear lasting fruit. We will continue to hemorrhage people out of our pews. We will continue to accept mediocrity, comfort, and sentimentality instead of the radical call to holiness. We are made for more than this world can offer us, but that truth is not lived in our parishes. We by and large look the same as the prevailing culture, which is why we cannot evangelize others.
It is not our manmade plans that will save the Church and the world. It is Jesus Christ. He has given us the answer to the longing of the human heart. He has given us the solution to all that afflicts us. That answer is His Presence waiting for us in all of the Tabernacles of the world. It is time to bring Him out for His people to adore Him. It is time for all of us to commit to adoring Him and to placing Him as the greatest priority in our lives. There is nothing more powerful in this world than Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. When will we start living this truth in a radical way? It’s time to stop planning, talking, and strategizing. It’s time to kneel before Him in silent adoration, so He may renew His Church and the world.