Jesus loves to meet you in Eucharistic Adoration
Adapted from a talk by a Catholic who wishes to remain anonymous.
Here is a reading from Ephesians: Brothers and sisters, I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named; that He may grant you, in accord with the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His spirit in the inner-self and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith so that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend, with all the holy ones, what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to accomplish far more than all we can ask or imagine by the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
It’s as if St. Paul were writing to you about adoring Him. I’ve been looking forward to this evening especially because we get to reflect together on prayer, on adoring our Lord in the Eucharist. I find that often I am encouraging people to come here and adore Him, spend time with Him in prayer.
But of course, what happens there is you love Him, receiving His Love, sharing in His Love, loving Him in return. So, because it’s love there, there is always more, always more love. So tonight let’s reflect together about what happens there in adoration. It begins with an encounter, the encounter we just had in Holy Mass, an encounter that happens every time you walk into the adoration chapel, you genuflect to Him, you see Him there, an encounter with a Person.
Pope Benedict [XVI], when he began his pontificate, his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est, established the whole church, the whole world, established his pontificate, his mission right at the heart of that mission. The first words of that encyclical are God is Love and he says he acknowledges the centrality of love when he speaks of this encounter. Being Christian, Pope Benedict writes, is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea but the encounter with an event, a Person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. So that’s what happens in adoration. Then what do you do? What do you do in adoration?
St. Therese, she said her mission was to love and to be loved and to make Love loved. St. Jose Maria said, We are in love with Love, with the Author of Love. And we privileged few who know about adoration, who know we can meet Him there, that we can encounter Him whenever we want, that He is waiting there for us to come and visit. We have this great privilege of going there to love Him and that’s what we’re meant to do!
Pope Benedict, when he visited England, partly to beatify John Henry Cardinal Newman, spoke to the young people in such beautiful terms based on his theme, the theme for his whole trip was cor ad cor. It comes from Blessed John Henry’s motto, which was cor ad cor loquitor – heart speaks to heart. So when he met with the young people, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, wanted to welcome them in that way, heart speaks to heart, cor ad cor. So he then spoke of that theme with which he began his pontificate, the theme of love, the central theme. He said to them, Think of all the love that your heart was made to receive and all the love that it is meant to give. After all, we’re made for love. He said, We are made to receive love. We are made to give love. And then he said this which I couldn’t help but think of adoration, Jesus is always there, quietly waiting for us to be still with Him and to hear his voice, deep within your heart. He’s calling you to spend time with Him in prayer. What do you do in adoration? You go to love Him.
In his letter on the Eucharist, he calls the Eucharist the Sacramentum Caritatis, that’s Latin for the Sacrament of Love. That’s what the Lord Himself called the Eucharist when he appeared to St. Margaret Mary and showed her His Sacred Heart. He called the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Love, the Sacrament of Charity. Pope Benedict wrote, The Sacrament of Charity, the Holy Eucharist, is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of Himself, thus revealing to us God’s infinite love for every man and woman. This wondrous sacrament makes manifest that greater love which led Him to lay down His life for His friends. Jesus indeed loved them to the end. Then he continues, In the same way, Jesus continues in the Sacrament of the Eucharist to love us to the end, even to offering His Body and His Blood. What wonder must the Eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts?
Our Lord comes to us in the Eucharist for one purpose, Love. That’s the way He loves us, that’s the way He invites us to love. I mentioned that quote in the sacristy in the Convent of the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa’s sisters, but then by the crucifix they have the two words, I thirst. By every crucifix, throughout the world, wherever the Missionaries of Charity are, it says, I thirst there. Of course, that’s Our Lord’s words from the Cross but to St. Margaret Mary He clarified what He meant by that, I thirst.
Our Lord said to St. Margaret Mary when He was showing her His Sacred Heart, I thirst but with a thirst so burning to be loved by man in the Blessed Sacrament that this thirst is consuming me and I find nobody who would make an effort to meet my desire to quench my thirst and respond to my love. He comes to be loved and no one loves Him!
But we come to adore Him that we might love Him. St. Therese when she was reflecting about her own mission talked about how essential it was to make Love loved. Oh, how little God is loved on this earth even by priests and religious. No, God isn’t loved very much, St. Therese said on her deathbed.
Now it’s time to be honest here. For us who have the privilege of adoring Our Lord Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, it’s not just about keep it up, no. We all want more. We know we need more and we might say, how little God is loved on this earth not even by priests and religious, that’s sadly true, but we might say even by those who go to adore Him in Eucharistic chapels. And also, many of us have this sense that there is more. We’re not loving Him as much as we want to, as much as we need to, it seems as if that’s not always the point. Sometimes we fall into a mistaken notion that love is just an extra, not really the whole purpose of our life as Pope Benedict says. For that we just have to remember the great commandment to love, that we are there to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, with all our strength. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Now if you are going to adoration, you’re loving Him with your strength, that’s with your body, you’re putting yourself there. If you’re reading something, you’re loving him with your mind, you’re thinking about Him. What about your HEART? What about your SOUL?
Love is repaid by love alone, St. John of the Cross says and St. Therese after Him, Love is repaid by love alone, and He comes to love you there. I’m not going to tell you to love Him. Let’s talk together about how you love Him. You all know how to love. You’ve learned lessons of love in your life. You’ve learned them most of all from HIM.
How do you love someone? Our Lord Jesus shows you. First and foremost, you go to Him. You learn it from looking at Him. How does He love you? He comes to you. He comes to you in the most profound way, completely, unbelievable. Even with all the prophesies, we could not have imagined He would come in this way to be one with us, that God would become man in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He comes to us on the Cross to be with us in our suffering. He comes to us to be with us in our death, in the tomb. But that wasn’t enough, He wanted to be with us in an even more profound way, God with us, Emmanuel; God with us, in the Eucharist.
He was going up to Heaven to reign with His Father, just to come and get us, bring us to reign with Him, to be with Him in heaven, but we were going to be left alone down here. And He knew we couldn’t bear it, not to be alone, not to be without Him, and He loved us. He didn’t want to be apart from us and so He found a way to be with you by becoming the Eucharist. How do you love someone? You go to BE with them. So, that’s the first thing we do and really it’s the most important thing, whether you’re signing up or whether you’re just showing up. You go to Him. You go to Him. It means so much to Him. He knows Love, He is, as St. Jose Maria said, the Author of Love. We’re going to love Love and He knows everything about love and how much it means to Him that you go to be with Him.
St. Therese said, I go to be with Him, not because it pleases ME but because it pleases HIM. I know who God is. He’s a Father who wants me on his knee. If you’ve ever held a child on your knee and felt the joy of loving that child, felt the joy of that child letting you love Him, then you know just a little about what Our Lord feels when you come to Him. All you have to do is walk in that door, a little glance at the Host there, Our Lord’s Sacred Heart exposed to you, and you care to come! That’s LOVE! That’s love! But we know there’s more. When you love someone, there is something about the way you look at them.
When you walk into an adoration chapel, the first thing is you’re going to Him. That’s love. You look at Him. You LOOK at HIM. He’s exposed to you there. You look at Him. Why? Because you love Him. Okay, so because you love Him, while you look at Him, just gaze at Him for a moment. Look at Him and love Him.
When you love someone, you go to be with them and you look at them with love and then you talk to them in a loving way. St. Jose Maria said, For me the tabernacle (we could say the adoration chapel as well) has always been another Bethany, the quiet and pleasant place where Christ resides, a place where we can tell Him about our worries, about our sufferings, our desires, our joys with the same sort of naturalness as Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.
Do you ever feel like you only go to the adoration chapel to complain to Him? I can tell you with great confidence, He doesn’t mind that. If He loves you, He wants to hear the matters of your heart and how it would break His Sacred Heart if you kept that to yourself.
St. Jose Maria again says, There’s only one way to become more familiar with God, to increase our trust in Him, we must come to know Him through prayer. We must speak to Him and show Him through a heart to Heart conversation that we love Him. If you love Him, you’ll talk to Him about whatever is on your heart. Whenever you go into that chapel, you’re coming, you’re loving, you’re looking at Him, you’re loving Him and you can always love Him by the way you talk to Him. You can always talk to Him about what’s on your heart. Talk to Him as St. Jose Maria invites, as you would talk to your dearest friend. What’s on your heart? Is there some worry there? Some suffering? Some desire? Some joy? If you’ve ever had a friend, you know how to pray to Our Lord present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
When you love Him, you go to be with Him, you look at Him with love, then you talk to Him, but then something starts to change. I want to talk about this shift in prayer. It’s the shift from meditation to contemplation. You don’t have to get too technical about the terms there. I would just call it a shift to merely loving Him, simply loving Him.
They asked St. Therese (she was on her deathbed), talking about prayer: What do you say to Him, what do you say to Jesus when you pray? She said, I don’t say anything to Him. I simply love Him. She said, talking about prayer, For me prayer is a movement of the heart. It is a simple glance towards Heaven. It is a cry of gratitude and love in times of trial as well as in times of joy. Finally, it is something great, natural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus, a cry, a glance, a movement of the heart.
Blessed Columba Marmion, the great spiritual master said, A single glance of the hearts can hold an intensity of love. This is something all of us can do the next time we go to the adoration chapel. We can sigh and we can glance at Him with love. I want to encourage you to do that to try it and see what happens. If you can remember that the reason why you’re going there is to love Him, you want to look for opportunities to do that loving. And sometimes love gets purified and it becomes merely loving. Now you lovers know that. When you are with your beloved, and I’m thinking of you who are in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony especially, when you are with your beloved and you don’t need to say anything, just to be with them, that’s that moment of loving. When you just look at your beloved, that’s the kind of love that Our Lord wants and it’s something powerful that happens in prayer.
Now it happens in a couple different ways. I could say maybe in two different time frames. It happens in our life of prayer. St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Avila talk about this and all of you who are pray–ers should be aware of this, as people who pray, you should be watching for this movement of your heart. It’s meant to happen this way for all of us. We’re all invited to this love, very simply love.
I mean sometimes people talk about mysticism and contemplation and it gets really complicated. It’s very simple. It’s about loving. If you’ve ever loved someone, and you all HAVE in your weak and feeble way. That’s how we do it. You’ve loved. How He might draw you into love is that eventually when you go to pray, He’ll stir something in your heart and draw you beyond your own intentionality. It won’t be what you’re doing, what you’re thinking about, what you’re planning. It will be about what you do. It will be about what He does. It won’t be about your prayer time. It will be about His time. It’s a move from a kind of activity to passivity, but it’s not a mere passivity as if you were kind of lying there and doing nothing. No, it’s a kind of ACTIVE RECEPTIVITY. He’s stirring in your heart. This is where the heart gets engaged. Loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. So your strength is there, your mind is there. How does He get the heart? He does it. He draws you.
You’ll notice that you’re going to pray because He’s inviting you. Not just, I need to pray more. No, He’s stirring you. He is drawing you. You want to go. Some desire happened in you. You didn’t choose that. He planted it there. Watch for that. Respond to it. This is when love becomes FALLING IN LOVE.
Do you ever notice that word we use: falling in love. When you fall in love you don’t choose it. It happens TO you. That leads you to a deeper love. It engages the whole of your person. You feel like you’re out of control. And when it comes to prayer, that’s a beautiful thing because then you are in His control and that can lead you into a deeper love…. So that’s one kind of time-frame over the trajectory of our whole spiritual life.
But then there’s the time-frame of our time of adoration, our time of prayer. It can happen in a very simple way there, if we remember what we’re going for. We’re going there to love. If I’m going there to love, if I’m going to the adoration chapel to love, I’m going to try to love as simply as I can. I’m going to look at Him for a moment at the beginning…. And then I might talk to Him about what’s on my heart but then if there’s nothing to say, I won’t say anything. So often we go to pray and we wrack our brains, What am I supposed to pray about? What am I supposed to pray about? If nothing comes to your mind, don’t say anything. Just look at Him, love Him. Maybe there will be a sigh or glance.
Now, what about reading at adoration? Now if what we are about is loving, then sometimes you read. You know, sometimes lovers will exchange letters. People have described the Bible as God’s love letter to us. There are other letters and sometimes if your lover gives you a letter, then you want to read it in their presence. That’s how I look at reading in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. You might glance up at Him every once in a while to remind yourself that it’s about Him. It’s about you and Him. It’s about an encounter. It’s about Love here. You might read for a little bit and put the book down. Look at Him. Love Him. If there’s nothing stirring in your heart, pick the book up again. Read a little bit more. Some spiritual reading, some reading from Sacred Scripture, and so we might see that trajectory of the whole of the spiritual life as that moment that comes in your life when you kind of put the book down in your prayer and you just go to love Him.
But it happens in a little way for all of us when we go to pray. Something stirs in your heart, you respond to it and you look at Him, you love Him. When it’s not happening, you read. Worst case scenario, you’re spending an hour doing some spiritual reading. Best case scenario, you’re love gets purer and purer, more and more of a deeper encounter, less in your control, more of falling in love.
Now, I’m finishing with what I should have started, which is receiving His love. I’m finishing with it because that’s what I want you to hold on to most of all. We return love. We try to love Him back but it ALWAYS starts with receiving.
In his great letter, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict describes this dynamic beautifully that we always return to the font, we always return, constantly he says, return to the font, whenever we’re trying to love. Sometimes when we’re getting frustrated with our own ability or inability to love, we look at our own hearts as if we’re supposed to conjure it up here. No. No. We receive it from Him first, then we share in that love. So every time you go to pray, every time, let Him remind you how much He loves you. Our Lord said to St. Margaret Mary, Behold this Heart which has loved humankind so much that it has spared itself nothing, even to the point of exhausting it and consuming itself in order to show them its love. Ask the Lord: What are you doing there? What are you doing in that Host? Why? Why would you make yourself bread for ME? Why would you let me consume you? WHY would I take you as my food? Ask that question, and let Him remind you that it’s for love. There could be no other reason. Then you’ll be looking at the Host and you’ll glance over at the Crucifix there.
St. Francis of Assisi in his Stations of the Cross says of the Crucifix, Behold, Jesus crucified. Behold His wounds received for love of you. His whole appearance betokens love. His head is bent to kiss you. His arms are extended to embrace you. His heart is open to receive you. Oh, what Love.
When you forget what your time in adoration is about, it’s about loving. Think of those words of St. Francis. He knew how to pray. He knew how to ask that question: What are you doing? His whole appearance betokens love. His head is bent to kiss you. His arms are extended to embrace you. His heart is open to receive you. Oh, what Love.
St. Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Teresa, said, When you see the Crucifix, you know how much Jesus loved you. When you see the Sacred Host, you know how much Jesus loves you now. I don’t take it for granted that this happens automatically. It seems to me that there is something in us, well, it’s original sin. It’s concupiscence the twisting that happened in us, that wound in our heart from original sin. Even though we’re baptized and we’ve had the original sin washed away, still it left its mark and one of the deepest marks, I think the deepest lies, the lies one priest I know calls the lie of unlovability. I can tell you that, that he loves you, that He’s loving you. What’s He doing? He’s loving YOU. But somehow it doesn’t sink in.
I know a young woman who is discerning her vocation. She thinks that maybe God is calling her to be a religious sister. So I was talking with her about how much God was loving her, especially when she would go to adoration. And I just could see and feel even in my heart this love of Christ for her, how much it meant to Him that she would come to Him, especially this one who was ready to give her life completely to Him, how much He LOVED her, how much His love was pouring out for her, but just because she would go to pray and He was loving her. And, after talking to her, I went to pray and I thought just for a moment and I was surprised to realize that, that He felt that way about ME too. I mean as I look around this room and I’m kind of surprised but he feels that way about YOU too. When you go to Him, He falls in love with you all over again.
I don’t take it for granted that this sinks in, because of all the things in the spiritual life, this has been the hardest to sink in for me. I mean, I have to look in the mirror every day and it’s hard to believe, He’s in love with me! Really? I wonder how the lie stirs in you, that lie of unlovability?
I mean, I know that you all know that He loves you if I would ask any of you: Does He love you? You’d say, Oh yeah, of course, God loves me. No, no, HE’S IN LOVE WITH YOU. That’s what I’m talking about…. Oh yeah, He loves me. Of course, He loves everybody. – No, no, He loves YOU in a particular way! – Yeah. Jesus, He’s a very loving God.
There’s a little song, a beautiful song by Danielle Rose. She wrote a song for every mystery of the rosary, all twenty of them, including the luminous mysteries. The fifth luminous mystery, the Institution of the Eucharist, she sings beautifully in the words of Jesus singing to us. And He has her sing, Hold me in your hands. Kiss me with your lips. Enter into Love’s Communion in this Eucharist.
This makes me think of another song, probably the first song I learned, Jesus Loves Me. Do you know that song? Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. No, no, no, His BODY tells me so. His BODY tells me so. I didn’t know it until I met Him there. I learned so much about God’s love until I met Him in the Eucharist. There I could see it….
Now you’re going to need a little reminder like that because this truth, which is so essential, does not come automatically. St. Teresa of Calcutta used to teach this little prayer to people, especially to people that were struggling with their faith. She would teach them to pray, Jesus in my heart, I believe in your tender love for me. I love you. Jesus in my heart, I believe in your tender love for me. I love you. There’s a movie where she has a young woman with tears in her eyes, she’s holding her cheeks and teaching her that prayer. Jesus in my heart, I believe in your tender love for me. I love you.
And now we know so much more about Mother Teresa. We know that she must have prayed that prayer countless times when she wasn’t feeling that love. I’m not talking about a mere feeling. Now I want you to feel it sometimes and He does too. We feel love, it stirs in our hearts. It’s not just that. That’s not the most important thing. It starts with you going to Him. You go to Him there. It means so much to Him. You look at Him with a little bit of love in your eye, even just a little bit means so much. You talk to Him. All it means to share love with someone is to share the matters of your heart. You can all do that. You might read about Him. Like you would read about someone you love. Then maybe you’ll put the book down and just love Him. All of that, every single one of us can do. We want to let that love stir with that motivation.
So I encourage you to learn that little prayer of Mother Teresa: Jesus in my heart, I believe in your tender love for me. I love you. Say it with me: Jesus in my heart, I believe in your tender love for me. I love you. Why in my heart? Because you received Him in Holy Communion. He’s in you, loving in you.
So it’s LOVE. But she had to remind herself that it was a tender love. She knew it was a severe kind of love, it was a tough love sometimes but it was always tender. And even in its toughness, it was a tenderness. He was tending to her, tending to her dear heart in a very loving way. What does tender mean? It means He’s tending to you, like you would care for someone who is wounded, and our hearts have been wounded by sin, by suffering. He’s tending to us. It’s a tender love. Let’s say it together again: Jesus, in my heart, I believe in your tender love for me. I love you. I BELIEVE in your love whether I feel it or not in this moment. It’s an act of faith. That little prayer contains an act of faith. And then in a very little way, in the simplest way possible, with the three words that mean the most it ends with an act of love, I love you, I love you.
Every time, every time you go to adoration, tell Him that. You don’t have to feel it all the time because you mean it, you’re showing it, by going there. Love isn’t spoken, it’s shown, but sometimes it has to be spoken to be shown. If we can do these simple things, which we can all do, then this unrequited love which pains the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be just a little bit less unrequited. We’ll return it in our little way. We are little children just like in that song says. But it will mean so much to Him that Love is loved, and more and more people can be drawn into that Love as we surrender to it.
Why don’t we conclude in prayer. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Loving Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of Your love. Thank you for making love the foundation of our faith and the purpose of our lives. But you know how little we are, you know how weak and feeble our loving is. We can’t do it without Your help. You come to us, not to stand at a distance and demand that we love you. No, You come into our hearts and enkindle in them the fire of Your love. So, we ask you to send your Holy Spirit now, especially to all those who adore you. Send your Holy Spirit and enkindle in us the fire of Your love. We go there to love You. Help us to love You more and more. Mother, Mary, you’re the only one who always responded to His love, with love, perfectly. And so we ask your prayers. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
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