I have always been puzzled with the fact that some people cannot “see” when I look at the Blessed Sacrament. I think this is so important because there are levels of faith (God’s gift of His life to us in the spirit of adoption) and some people can “see” and some people cannot “see” but merely make the lame statement, “Well, that’s just your opinion.” Actually, it is my opinion plus well over twenty-one centruries of opinions.
If you would ask me to tell you what is in your heart when you approach the person of Jesus, I could not do that. Who knows what is in a person’s heart? Who am I to judge, as Pope Francis I says. All of this popped into my Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5) one day when I thought about a group of teenagers who wandered into Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Their body language said they did not belong nor was it long before they got St. Vitus Dance and bolted out of the chapel, chit chatting about something that happened at school. Their attention span was less than two minutes. I happened to stop one of them and asked, “What did you see?” He told me, “What do you mean? There was nothing there but some old people sitting in silence before what looked like a piece of plastic in a container. ” Similar queries brought responses like, “Nothing, man,” or “What kind of dumb question is that?” In one thing, there were all correct; they saw nothing.
How is it that some people can “see” what others cannot “see”? Using three universes to describe reality, some “saw” with their physical and mental eyes, while others “saw” with their physical, mental and spiritual eyes. Even Christians in general, various Protestant denominations, agnostics, atheists, pagans, may not be able to “see” with the eyes of Faith, even though they profess Faith in Christ. Why is that? Their argument is that they have faith but I do not have real Faith, wanting to believe in the Blessed Sacrament so much that you make it happen just for you. Sounds like the arguement for the Resurrection of Christ from the tomb by those who thought the disciples want Christ to rise from the dead so much that they made up the story.
The four words I use to test the Faith are: what did you see? As one who has begun to learn about contemplative spirituality (approaching the Mystery of Faith with the eyes of the Spirit), I will never completely see (define) that which is almost beyond our knowing. I will be able to keep approaching it in this lifetime through silence and solitude and Cistercian practices and conversion of life to be more and more like Christ. The reason these four words are significant to me go to the heart of the Mystery of Faith. The corpus of Faith is not just a personal acceptance of Christ, although that is a part of it. It is the also the combined Faith of those who have weathered the storms of temptation and persecution to keep in them the mind of Christ Jesus. That is why we honor (not adore) the Saints, Mary, Mother of God being the first of the Saints. We are just saints (disciples who make up the Church Militant–while we live on earth). The Church is all those who stand before the Throne of the Lamb, those who struggle to believe while they live, and those awaiting purification from their sins,
Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and the belief in Christ’s Real Presence defines who is the big leagues of spirituality from those who just play sand lot ball. Not all Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ, sadly to say.
Think about this. If you knew that the same Jesus Christ was present under the appearance of bread, would that make a difference in how you lived your life as one who is called to love others as Christ die and to die to self every day? What would that look like? The Eucharist and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is the nuclear fusion of the spiritual universe, to make a crude and someone inaccurate analogy. This is the best way we can access the mission of Christ (Matthew 25:31-46) to be that which we pray. We can only do that if we die to self so that Christ has room to grow in us. What a great gift we have in taking Jesus into our sinful selves and allowing Him to transform us in silence and solitude from our false selves to our true selves.
How is Christ present to us? It is through each other by recognizing the Holy Spirit in others, but it is also by taking the Real Presence of Christ into our poor, broken-down old selves and making all things new. This conversation or transformation doesn’t happen because of us but because we take the time to have in us the mind of Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5). What do you see?
Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. —Cistercian doxology