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In the Presence of Humanity’s Greatest Treasure

Through Eucharistic adoration Jesus is able not only to touch every man’s heart but also to act in the very midst of the world. Since it is the universal remedy against every evil plaguing mankind, adoration means drawing God’s love from its very source.

John Paul II once observed that the immense power of perpetual adoration could conquer every evil in the world. One of his first initiatives following the declaration of martial law in his native Poland in 1981 was to establish daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Peter’s Basilica. Cathaal Magee, an Irish layman acting with the approval of his local ordinary, has made it his abiding task to remind the faithful of the great treasure hidden in the Blessed Sacrament. “Many priests will confirm,” he observes, “that ever since they established perpetual adoration in their parishes, the number of crimes in their area has dramatically decreased. Wherever people adore Christ perpetually in the Blessed Sacrament, Satan is cast out. Believe, then, that Jesus in the Host is the Lord who casts out devils and acts with a power and efficacy that is infinitely greater than all the security forces of the world.”

In Ireland alone, there are seventy-eight parishes in which the faithful take turns in adoring the Blessed Sacrament throughout the day and night. This amounts to roughly sixty thousand people devoting an hour a week to praying before the Eucharistic Christ.

The movement of perpetual adoration by the faithful began in USA. In 1981, deeply disturbed by the rising rate of crime and drug addiction in his Los Angeles parish, Father M. Traynor decided to devote an hour a week to adoration. He encouraged his parishioners to do the same. Before long he gathered enough people to allow for the perpetual adoration of Jesus in the Host. In just one year the neighborhood experienced a marked change, and within a few years there was a noticeable drop in the rate of every kind of crime. On observing this extraordinary transformation, the faithful of the neighboring parishes also introduced perpetual adoration in their churches. Thus began the Movement of Lay Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament. In May of 1986, Fr. Traynor accompanied a Los Angeles parishioner to Rome with the object of obtaining a blessing for this lay initiative. The Holy Father, John Paul II, was delighted to hear the parishioner’s report and urged him to spread the movement of perpetual adoration even further. He also presented him with a monstrance bearing the inscription, “Totus Tuus.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was present at this meeting, also warmly encouraged the spread of this movement. “Perpetual adoration,” she said, “is the most beautiful gift that the Lord can give us. People hunger for God. By gazing at the Blessed Sacrament, we come to know how much God loves us. I will pray that God will bless your work so that as many people as possible may share this joy of adoring Christ.”

Mother Teresa often attested to the extraordinary power of adoration: “If you wish to have new vocations for your religious communities, establish daily adoration. Since the Missionaries of Charity introduced this, the number of vocations has doubled.” In 1990, Bishop Seanus Hegarty of Raphöe, Ireland, also reported that of the twenty seminarians in his diocese, nineteen came from parishes that held perpetual adoration. In the United States there are now hundreds of perpetual adoration chapels. The movement has also spread to Canada, Central and South America, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines.

Eucharistic adoration has of course been practiced in the Church for centuries. The practice had its roots in early Christian times, when the Body of Christ was set aside for the sick. The next stage came with the extended elevation of the Host during Holy Mass, from which it was but a short step to exposing it in the monstrance. In 1551, the Council of Trent significantly advanced the popularity of Eucharistic devotion. It recommended the solemn and public exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, which included taking the monstrance outside of the church. Every attack mounted by the Reformation on the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament only provoked a greater wave of Eucharistic devotion in the Church. This was a period of great profanation of the Sacred Species, but it was also a time of many Eucharistic miracles, which further advanced faithful adoration of this greatest treasure of mankind.

With its worship of the method of the “lens and the eye,” the Age of Enlightenment brought with it a new level of hostility to supernatural faith. The French Encyclopedist, Diderot, prophesied the abolition of religion through the power of reason and science: “Do you see this egg [symbol of scientific knowledge]? With it, we shall bring down the theological schools and all the churches on earth.” And yet all this time the movement of Eucharistic adoration was embracing more and more churches and parishes.

St. Alphonse Liguori (1696-1787) instructed the priests of his diocese to expose the Blessed Sacrament every evening. Similar all-night vigils had already been practiced in the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome since 1538. A century and a half later, Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Sister of the Visitation in Paray-le-Monial, France. He pointed to his Heart, which burned with infinite love, and yet which so many people despised and pushed away. He taught the French nun to make a “Holy Hour of Reparation,” which consisted of an adoration vigil from Thursday night to Friday morning. A century later, that same spirit of reparative love expressed in perpetual adoration would result in the construction of the imposing Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at Montmartre, Paris. The Eucharistic Christ has been ceaselessly adored there every day and night since 1885. This world center of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been the site of countless graces and miracles. But then Paris has many Eucharistic chapels, where working people can make a short adoration, if only during the lunch break. One such spot is the Church of St. Louis d’Antin, where at least two priests are constantly on hand to hear confession, and where Holy Mass is celebrated eight times a day!

Eucharistic adoration is a source of grace for all of humanity. In other words, we all benefit from the spiritual fruits of praying before the Blessed Sacrament. This truth profoundly inspired the nineteenth-century woman painter, Théolinde Dubouché, who founded the Institute of Adoration for Reparation. On the night of June 29-30, 1848, the eve of the Feast of Corpus Christ, Théolinde (later to become Mother Maria Theresa) received the following message from the Lord: “I desire to have constantly by me souls who will accept my life. I shall carve in their hearts a golden channel such as you have in your heart. Through it, these souls will convey my life to other souls in the world, who belong to me.” To Théolinde was granted the grace of seeing a vision of the Host, from which God’s life-giving power radiated day and night. That power permeated every fiber of the Mystical Body, which is the Church. Through this vision, Jesus revealed to Mother Maria Theresa the infinite power of souls interceding for one another. “Never forget,” the good Mother would tell her novices, “that the Host conceals Jesus, who abides in perpetual adoration before His Eternal Father. Only by uniting ourselves with Jesus can we truly adore God in spirit and truth. Adoration makes us God’s active partners, for it unites us with Jesus in His perpetual adoration of the Father and His work of redeeming mankind.”

Is the prophetic vision of the French painter not being realized in our day? For she also envisioned a new people, who abide in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament — men and women of different backgrounds and states of life. What is striking about these people is the glory they give to God and the life they radiate to others. “It seems to me,” writes the holy nun, “that the age is now dawning when the centers of adoration of the Blessed Lord in the Host will strive with one another in a spirit of noble rivalry.”

Fr. Andrzej Trojanowski SChr

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