Revive Alive - The Eucharistic Revival in the Diocese of Colorado Springs
By Father Jim Baron
“In his Eucharistic presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us, and he remains under signs that express and communicate this love: The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go and meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease.”
— CCC 1380
By this time of Advent, many Catholic homes have set up their nativity scenes with Mary, Joseph, the three Wise Men, some sheep with their shepherds, and maybe a donkey with an ox. Most do not put out the Christ child until Christmas Eve. The figures in these (maybe not the animals) are represented with a posture and look of adoration towards the Baby Jesus. The gaze of each member is magnetically drawn towards the infant. Each seems to be contemplating this newborn baby. It’s hard to imagine Christmas without this simple but profound act of adoration of the humanity of God. We even made a song about it: “O come, let us adore him!”
One important emphasis of the Eucharistic Revival is eucharistic adoration. In many ways, it is a continuation of what began those holy nights of Jesus’ infancy. With Mary, Joseph, and all the angels, we keep watch with our Lord and adore the mystery of his incarnation. Although we cannot travel back in time to Bethlehem to honor our God made visible, we do that every time we reverence the Blessed Sacrament.
Eucharistic adoration is alive and well throughout our diocese. Parishes have seen an increase in dedicated adorers. Many young people are discovering the peace and prayerfulness of adoration. Families have made it a regular part of their prayer life. Each week at the Catholic Pastoral Center, staff members take time to sit with Jesus in the monstrance and listen to him. Even if it is just for a few minutes, adoration is a great way to take Jesus up on his offer when he said, “come to me…and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:28)
The practice of eucharistic adoration has developed over the centuries. From the beginning, the Church has revered Christ’s own body and blood, made present in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Early on, the Eucharist was reserved especially for bringing Communion to the sick. When Christianity was legalized in 313 AD, the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in a special sort of tabernacle in sacred places. One of these was a golden dove, suspended above the altar. Reverence for the Eucharist grew further with the establishment of the Feast of Corpus Christi in 1264 AD and continued with more familiar forms of adoration by the Council of Trent (1545 AD). Guidelines for exposition and benediction were further developed in the centuries that followed. Perpetual adoration chapels and communities dedicated to adoration of the Eucharist began to spring up, all of this rooted in the foundational belief that Jesus is with us, body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Holy Eucharist. At Mass, we adore Jesus who comes to us in the Eucharist (“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”) Although the Mass continues with Communion, we naturally desire a prolonged time with Jesus’ True Presence. This is what happens in time with Jesus in adoration. We could say that adoration is an extension of the Mass.
Even when the Blessed Sacrament is reposed in the tabernacle, we are still in the presence of our Lord. Times in prayer before the tabernacle are of immense value. At the same time, many Catholics find great benefit from praying in the presence of Jesus exposed in the monstrance (the decorated vessel that shows the consecrated host; related to the word “de-monstrate.”). By physically looking upon the Blessed Sacrament, we are invited to contemplate the Word made flesh. Christmas helps make clear that the same God-made-man, Jesus, took flesh at the beginning of his life, offered that same flesh on the cross, gives it to us at Mass, and is waiting for us gently and patiently in the Eucharist. When we look upon the host, we are joined to the angels and saints who adore our Lord in heaven.
There is great peace and renewal in our time with the Blessed Sacrament because it is resting with Jesus himself. When we begin considering the powerful simplicity and magnificent tenderness of God in the Eucharist, we cannot help but be drawn into an act of adoration.
A very special way to celebrate the mystery of Christmas is to visit the Word made flesh in the tabernacle or the monstrance. While we can and should do this throughout the year, it is especially fitting as we celebrate the Word made flesh. Whether you are with your family or by yourself, you are never alone. Jesus is there. So are the saints and angels, all wrapped up in wonder and awe of the mystery of faith.
O Come, let us adore him!
For more on Eucharistic Adoration:
“In the Presence of Our Lord: The History, Theology, and Psychology of Eucharistic Devotion,” by Groeschel and Monti
“Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Eucharistic Adoration,” by Frediani.