Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Guess who's in your neighborhood?

As I drive around town shuttling kids to and fro, I pass by one or more Catholic churches. On my good days, I remember Who is inside, and I make a quick head bow and the Sign of the Cross as I pass. Sometimes I think of all the cars whizzing by these churches, with occupants going about their business who have no idea that the Creator of the universe -- the one Who thought them into existence -- is only a few yards away. Most wouldn't believe me if I told them. 

Yet, the Church's best kept secret is no secret at all. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, The Word Incarnate Jesus Christ, Who existed before the Creation of the world, through Whom all things were made, our Redeemer and Savior, dwells in the tabernacles of every Catholic Church in the world.

And you can go visit Him. Even if you're not Catholic.

This personal encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist is no academic exercise, no theological theory, no mere symbol. Protestants worry that Catholics worship Mary, but their worry is misplaced. We don't worship Mary, but we do worship that "piece of bread" in the monstrance as God. Now that is something to worry about, if the wafer is just a wafer. Talk about idolatry! 

But of course, that "piece of bread", once consecrated, is no longer bread at all, but is the whole, living, resurrected Christ: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. I know! It's crazy! Nothing could be more absurd. Well, except maybe an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God who chose to become a man in the first place.

For those who seek God, for those who crave God, or for those who do not believe in God but secretly want to, go to the Lord hidden under the appearance of bread. Find a Catholic parish nearby that has regular hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. That is when the consecrated Host (Jesus in the Eucharist) is exposed in a monstrance and placed on the altar or in a special adoration chapel, for all souls to come and adore Him in silence and prayer.

Some people visit Jesus daily, some weekly, some whenever they need the grace and peace that comes from even a few moments in the presence of the Lord. Going to adoration changes you. 

"Be still, and know that I am God."

The next time you drive by a Catholic church, think of Who is inside, think of the healing, comfort, peace and love He offers, and consider stopping in to see our God Who is right in the neighborhood, and Who is waiting for you:

"I am the Bread of Life"





44 comments:

  1. Wonderful post, Leila! I am absolutely hooked on spending time with Jesus in Adoration. I am very blessed to have a perpetual Adoration chapel right near my house, so I go multiple times a week. I like to think of Jesus as the one who is always there for me and is never too busy. However, I somehow never thought to make the Sign of the Cross while driving past a Catholic church. Guess I fell into the trap of getting too caught up in my life to really remember Jesus is inside the tabernacle in the Church.

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  2. I am also blessed to have perpetual adoration at our church chapel; I treasure my scheduled hour each week and go other times when I'm able. ~ Lori

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  3. Beautiful reminder to not forget about who is in those Churches I drive past...thanks!

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  4. What an awesome way God makes Himself available to us - and I must say, I am thankful for 24 hr. adoration here at our parish. Very convenient and comforting.

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  5. this is my favorite post EVER.

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  6. We are incredibly fortunate in that we live right behind our church (literally, the back wall of our fence borders the church's parking lot!). One of the main things that influenced us to put in an offer on our house is when we went up to see the master bedroom. My kids looked out the big window and saw the church, and said, excitedly, "Look, Mommy and Daddy, there's Jesus!!" We love having Jesus so close to us every day. :)

    I also recently discovered there's a church very near to where I work that has daily Adoration from 7am-6pm! So, I'm trying to get in the habit of stopping by occasionally (once or twice a week, time permitting) after work to spend a little while in His presence.

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  7. Jesus is in our midst. He is aware. He cares.

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  8. I really needed to read this today :)

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  9. I'm so glad you brought this up. We don't talk about Jesus in the Eucharist enough.
    Out here where I live, there is not a great support in our churches (lukewarm priests, lukewarm, bored congregation) but I love their adoration chapel! I feel so blessed to go out once a week and always ask Jesus to arrange a time that I may "come again" so that I may see Him more often! We live a little far away from the church, so going out there often is not possible.

    Yet, he always manages to inspire me with the idea of "dropping by" if I should be passing along!

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  10. Awesome post. I never thought about crossing myself when we pass a church. That's a great thing to teach the kids! Thank you.

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  11. Thank you for a beautiful reminder. I, too, in the busyness of life had forgotten to bow my head and cross myself as I passed a Catholic church. I need to prioritize and make sure I spend some time with Jesus.

    God bless, Mary

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  12. A great post with a great reminder. Thanks Leila!

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  13. I was just talking about this with a fellow Protestant -- Mary worship came up, and I said "Mary? Of course they don't worship Mary...it's the Eucharist you should be worried about!" :)

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  14. Best post ever! My parents taught us to make a little ejaculatory prayer ("Jesus, come into my heart!") and bow our heads whenever we passed a Catholic Church. I didn't realize how beautiful a practice this was until I was an adult. There really is a King inside every Catholic Church that deserves his subjects to acknowledge Him as we pass by.

    A very seasoned and wonderful mom gave a group of us younger moms the best piece of advice I've ever received: "Take your kids - even babies - to adoration. Even if only for a 90-second visit. Even if Jesus isn't exposed in the monstrance. Train them about how much Jesus loves a surprise visit during the day, while you're running errands."

    My kids love "surprising Jesus" and delight in tip-toeing up the steps and then bursting through the doors to see Him. Makes a mother's heart melt...

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  15. Along these lines, I often find it funny how we spend so much money putting all of our valuables in safes and banks and behind laser beams and DNA encrypted key codes... when the greatest treasure of all is hardly protected at all - just by a couple of doors and tiny key

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  16. I'd be curious to know if you, Leila, or any readers have taken a non-Catholic friend to adoration and what the reaction was.

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  17. Nubby, great question! I never have. Anyone else?

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  18. Thanks Leila for a beautiful and timely reminder. We were just discussing how much we need to build adoration time back into our weekly schedules...or better rebuild our schedules around adoration time. After all, it is practicing for Heaven!

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  19. I think this is one of my favorite of your posts, too! We also make the Sign of the Cross whenever we pass a Catholic Church. God bless.

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  20. I brought my boyfriend with me to adoration (now my husband) before he turned Catholic. His reaction was that he pretty much sat there like he was in a waiting room. I didn't expect too much else from him though.

    When I asked him what he thought about it, he just said politely that it was peaceful, but I could tell he wasn't really sure what to think about it.

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  21. Hmm, the idea of attending adoration is interesting. As someone who doesn't truly believe in "Jesus in the Eucharist", it would probably feel very uncomfortable for me and strikes me as dangerous. I mean, like you said, if it's not (and I don't, at this time, believe it is) Christ, then it's essentially a time to worship something other than God, and that thought just shivers me to my core.

    On the other hand, idols are powerless. They are just objects. Satan would be present, but the Lord can protect me from that, so what could it hurt?

    The Eucharist certainly puts me in an odd place, because if true -- well, that's reason enough to join the Church right there, isn't it? But if it's false....very dark, very deceptive, and very evil.

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  22. Hope it's clear I don't think Catholicism/Catholics are evil...I actually like you all very much! :)

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  23. Leila,

    GREAT post!!! I love going to Adoration. We are blessed to have a Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel at our church. I go several times a week, and often my husband and I go together.

    I had not thought to bow and cross myself when I pass a Catholic Church, but absolutely will do so now.

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  24. Eliz, I totally get your worries. The best thing to do is to go back to the very earliest Christians and see what they thought/taught about the Eucharist. If there is one consistent and paramount Christian teaching in the Church since the time of Christ, it is the Eucharist. Even the Eastern Orthodox believe the same (and they are ancient, too).

    Start here, but there is SO much more:

    http://www.catholic.com/library/Christ_in_the_Eucharist.asp

    Good for you for wrestling with this! It is so important, because if it IS Jesus, then nothing else matters. Many, many folks have come to the Church just for the Eucharist alone. And He is a good reason to come. :)

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  25. Eliz, another good (and short!) book on this subject is "This is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers the Eucharist" by Mark Shea.

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  26. How very uplifting! And a great reminder of something we sometimes forget in our busy lives.

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  27. it would probably feel very uncomfortable for me and strikes me as dangerous. I mean, like you said, if it's not (and I don't, at this time, believe it is) Christ, then it's essentially a time to worship something other than God, and that thought just shivers me to my core.

    Eliz, Rest assured, we don't worship 'something other than God'. Curious, would you be willing to spend some time at adoration, just to be in the holy silence, even if you don't believe in the sacraments?

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  28. I've actually found that simply being in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, even when he's still "sleeping" in the Tabernacle, can have a positive effect.

    Most of my conversations with the Holy Spirit about converting happened while sitting in the chapel in college, when the tabernacle was still in the center back of the Sanctuary behind the altar, while I was waiting for my boyfriend (now husband, who was the Sacristan) to clean up the Sacristies and clean up the chapel. We didn't have adoration at that time. But the peace of mind and heart watching "the candle in the red glass candle holder" flicker was wonderful.

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  29. Just reflecting on this - when I was younger I knew church was "God's home", but only understood it in a cushy spiritual sounding way. Didn't realize he was truly present. Even though I knew how important the sacraments were, the idea that he would be sacramentally present in a tabernacle day after day didn't occur to me. Took til about 2003 or so to realize that - hello!

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  30. Nubby, great points! And if you think of the tabernacle as the Holy of Holies, you see that the Word made Flesh dwells within it, just as the Word (Ten Commandments) dwelt in the Old Testament tabernacle. The New Testament is the fulfillment of the OT promises, on so many levels. The tabernacles of the world are the Holy of Holies.

    Bethany, that red candle holder flicker is the greatest sight on earth! :) God is truly present!

    Eliz, if you have ever attended a Catholic mass (even at a wedding or funeral), then you already have been in the presence of the Eucharist being worshipped. So, it is not that scary after all. :)

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  31. Hello everyone, I've recently been following Catholic blogs and websites because I had a disturbing discussion with a fellow Evangelical. He was very negative toward Catholics, calling them arrogant, unbiblical and sacreligious and unlikely to go to heaven. He was a former Catholic by the way.
    This bothered me so much that I decided to do my own research. I had always thought that inspite of our differences, we were brothers in Christ, fellow believers in our Holy God and Saviour, family members unfortunately separated by doctrine.
    In my reading of Catholic blogs and websites I notice a trend. There is a similar talk against Evangelists/Fundamentalists/Protestants as my friend had on Catholics. And this is to the exclusion of religions that have rejected Christ as the only way to God, the Saviour of humanity. There is no mention of them anywhere including your book list. How to engage a protestant is there but no how to talk to a muslim or hindu.
    Why? Am I just naive? Is it true that Catholicism believes that non-catholics have no place in salvation. Are Catholics trying to 'bring us home' because they believe we are hellbound or because they want it to be as it was in the beginning, One united Church. I hope it is the later.
    This can't be good. Help me out people.

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  32. Hi Vuyo! Catholics believe that any baptized person is a member of the Body of Christ, and united with us in the Catholic Church (even if imperfectly). We believe that Protestants are Christians! It is the Catholic Church that works for unity among Christians, since we have sadly been divided for the past 500 years. This is not what Jesus wants, nor what He prayed for at the Last Supper. He wants us to be "one". And the Church will never stop in that endeavor of unity.

    So, that is what you are seeing. We want Christians to be united in the Church as they used to be. Also, while it's beautiful that we are all Christians and love Christ, it is also important to speak the truth about what Christians believe, and to dispel error. It's a scandal to the world to see the Church divided as it stands now, so we work and pray for unity.

    I do know that many Protestants do not believe that Catholics are Christians, and are trying to "save" us. That is not the Catholic belief at all. We believe that Christians of all stripes can be saved and can be just as holy as any Catholic. We also believe that God's grace can save Hindus, Muslims, etc. But they are not Christians, as Protestants are, so that is a whole different type of dialogue.

    I do like to dialogue with atheists and secularists here. And I do like to dialogue with Protestants. I am not equipped for discussions with Hindus or Muslims, since I have not done much of it over the years, and I don't know their positions well enough to dive in to a back and forth. But there are a whole lot of secular folk in America and a whole lot of Protestants. And a whole lot of Catholics who do not know their faith well at all! So, those are the folks I mostly speak to here. :)

    Hope that helps! Please let me know if that doesn't make sense and I will try again.

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  33. Vuyo, to answer this specifically:

    Are Catholics trying to 'bring us home' because they believe we are hellbound or because they want it to be as it was in the beginning, One united Church.

    It is definitely the latter! :)

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  34. @Nubby, of course, I know you don't think you worship something other than God, but it's a very big leap for me to make. I would be willing to go to adoration, and may start looking for an opportunity. I am very adventurous as far as that goes.

    @Leila, I did attend a (half)Mass, oddly enough, on the feast of Corpus Christi. I had to leave early because the lady in front of me and my child kept shooting us nasty looks, even plugging her ears at one point. I haven't gotten up the nerve to try again since. Also, the Orthodox do believe in the Eucharist, but don't have anything like adoration (as far as I know, though I could be wrong on that). It's just very odd to me. I do believe it could potentially be true, but am simply not convinced at this time. I am, however, willing to be convinced, if it is the truth! :)

    @JoAnna, already added to wishlist!

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  35. Eliz, I hate when rude people make folks feel unwelcome at Mass!!! I wish you lived around here. I would be so happy to have you come, and others would be so thrilled to meet and welcome you!

    When I first reverted years ago, the book JoAnna recommended was one of the first books I bought. It was excellent! If I can find my copy, I'll mail it to you. But I may have given it away, as I haven't seen it in years…

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  36. Hi Leila, yes thank you very much for your response. It was helpful.
    I went to the Shameless Popery blog that you enjoy so much. Very informative, but again attempting to show the error of 'protestantism' and not engaing other faiths. Do you find that to be the norm in Catholic discussions?

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  37. Vuyo, it really just depends on the blog, the audience and the writer. There certainly are a lot of Catholic apologetics blogs out there dedicated to clarity in the Protestant/Catholic divide. For so long Catholics did not even know their faith it seems (read my story, above), and so now we want to make up for lost time, especially with so many uninformed Catholics leaving the Church for Protestant or evangelical churches. They are leaving the fullness of the Faith, and the apologists of the past couple of decades (including many great Catholic converts) have done a lot to bring people back to the Church. So, you will see a lot of it going on. There is a lot of misinformation (and very anti-Catholic blogs) out there. We need to speak the truth, in charity, about the very important issues which divide us, especially as the moral understanding of human sexuality continues to erode in non-Catholic Christianity.

    Hope that helps at least a little! Others may have better insight or answers than I.

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  38. Vuyo, you need to read more of Joe's blog if you think he only writes posts about Protestantism. A quick Google site search of his blog nets several articles about non-Christian faiths:

    http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2011/07/total-apostasy-big-issue-dividing.html

    http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2009/07/sam-harris-playing-fast-and-loose-with.html

    http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2011/04/why-trust-apostles-over-muhammad-or.html

    We all have different strengths. Some people are more comfortable dialoguing with Protestants because we start from common ground - we agree that Jesus Christ did exist, and that he is the Son of God, etc. It's a whole different ballgame when you start dialoguing with those of other religions (or no religion).

    But Catholics also reach out to those who are non-Christian as is evidenced by the many resources available for that purpose; see the Handbook of Christian Apologetics, The Godless Delusion, Salvation Is from the Jews, or Answering Islam as examples.

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  39. Eliz, I have a copy of Shea's book and I'd be happy to lend it to you (I'd want it back, though, as it's autographed by the author). :) If you're interested, drop me an e-mail - jrwahlund at gmail dot com

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  40. Outstanding Joanna, thank you.
    By the way I did not think he just wrote posts about Protestantism. I just didn't see anything engaging other faiths. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

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  41. Great post! I wrote something about this before we moved.
    http://day2daycatholic.blogspot.com/2011/07/slice-of-heaven.html

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