Eucharistic Adoration and the Transfiguration
To begin my brief reflection I would like to begin with the Gospel reading from Mass this past Sunday.
Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.
As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Today I went to Eucharistic Adoration with a good buddy of mine who I work with in youth ministry. We spent an hour, in typically what is called a “Holy Hour”, spending time with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament exposed (as in a Monstrance, not the Tabernacle) in the Perpetual Adoration Chapel at St. Mary’s Parish in London Ontario. As I picked Shawn up, I said to him, “So…we’re going to go do a holy hour”. Spontaneous Adoration! I can just hear my non-catholic friends say, as they’ve done before in their sarcastic tone, “Fun…“. But that isn’t the point.
The story of the Transfiguration is a story near and dear to my heart, not simply because it’s a really cool story, but also because on the official Feast of the Transfiguration, August 6th, Julie and I were married. So I do have an affinity for the story already. Things still stick out to me though every time I read or hear it. I want to share some things I reflected on today.
The Apostles that accompanied Jesus in this trek had no idea what was going to happen. They just knew the Master wanted them to go for a walk with Him; hangout time with Jesus- alright! “Maybe He has some secret stuff He only wants us to know” or “He probably likes us most” or “Are we in trouble?”. Who knows what the Apostles were actually thinking. None of them, however, could have expected what occurred. Jesus shows them a glimpse of who He really is in glory. What a gift for these three Apostles, especially since His death was so imminent. As Jesus was nailed to that cross on Calvary, they could think back to that moment on Mt. Tabor when Jesus’ glory was revealed to them.
It is quite apt that the Church in her wisdom provides us with this story in the midst of the Lenten season. It reminds us what we’re doing it all for; that the Cross is not the end of the story. Jesus is risen from the dead and He has made His dwelling among men in the Most Blessed Sacrament until His Second Coming when He comes again in glory from Heaven. It is in that Second Coming when the Tabernacle doors will burst open to reveal the real Treasure dwelling within them over the course of Christian History.
As I was kneeling there today in the Chapel before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I couldn’t help thinking about the feeling of rest that comes over me quite frequently when I visit Him. Even if I’m distracted in my prayer, I normally feel at home when I’m before Him. I found myself saying the same words as Peter, “Lord, it is good to be here”. I can tell you that I have been many places, from small rural towns, to large cities. I have been in places where I thought I would feel at home, whether it be youth group as a kid, to conferences, to NET Ministries, to Franciscan University. I have had jobs that I thought would feel like home. I have had a comfortable and pretty stable group of Catholic friends who have been there for me for 7 years. I can tell you, even in my own home as a married man, that nothing has ever compared to that feeling of being before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and knowing I am home. It is amazing being a Catholic, because (at least in my experience) I have not been to a place where I am completely cut off from the Blessed Sacrament. The Blessed Sacrament has been my home, even away from home. In those hard times working as a Missionary with NET Ministries of Canada, I was able to fly to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament when things got rough. In Steubenville, Jesus was present in a chapel in the basement of my dorm, but there was also a perpetual adoration chapel on campus as well. When things got rough in my life at home, Jesus was there, still. On the day of my engagement, by no planning of our own, right before I asked Julie to marry me, we were able to attend Eucharistic Adoration. We got engaged in the Eucharistic Chapel in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. No matter where I go, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is there at the heart of it.
“Lord, it is good to be here”
Many times I have desired to pitch my tent and just stay hidden, with Jesus. For the longest time I even wrestled with what I thought might be a call to the priesthood, all because I simply wanted to feel at “home”. The Apostles on that mountain did too. I can say that though I may be currently in a dry spot, I am not in a place of complete desolation in prayer. I still have that desire to go to see Jesus and just spend hours, days, weeks, forever, with Him. But, just like the Apostles, though they wanted to remain there, when it comes down to brass tax, being a Disciple means to be a witness of Christ in the world you live in. It can be a temptation to just want things to be perfect and nothing to disturb us. Even the cloistered nuns who take vows of silence, still get up every day and incorporate prayer and work. We must too.
As I looked into the window of that Monstrance at my God, I remembered the Transfiguration. I looked forward to the day when all will see Jesus fully revealed who was hidden behind the Sacramental Veil. That being said, I am content with Jesus in the Sacrament of His Love. I love the Eucharist – real talk. But like the Disciples, we can’t stay up on the mountain, separated from those whom we should love. We can’t remain hiding behind our comfy catholic ministries, or catholic events. We have to be willing to engage the world, out of love for Jesus, the Church, and souls. It does not matter if our numbers are small, the experience of the Church shows, it only takes 1 to change the course of history.
On the flip-side, we can’t simply remain in the world only either. We need to come way, like Jesus did in the scriptures, and go back to the mountain to encounter the Lord. Go and be with Him in the Blessed Sacrament either exposed or in the Tabernacle. Turn in prayer daily to Him, and “fly with your Spirit to the Tabernacle” as St. Pio encourages us to do. Go to events, be fed spiritually. Get a spiritual director, hang out cool catholic people (like Team Orthodoxy). But don’t get inordinately attached to the mountain. Go to Jesus. Go to the world. Repeat.
If you’re hiding your faith because you’re afraid of what someone might say or do, you are still hanging out on the mountain, and just to let you know, Jesus left a while ago. If you’re on the front lines defending the faith, don’t forget to “lift your eyes up to the mountain from where your help comes from” (Psalm 121).
As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Guess what! He is risen…no need to keep it a secret anymore….get out there!
GO! The Blog is ended!
In the Immaculata,