Thursday, March 8, 2012

Presence and a Presenting

Just finished our hour of Eucharistic adoration in chapel. The brothers put themselves in the presence of Christ, who Catholics believe by faith is present really and most fully to us in the Eucharist.

I am fine with participating in this traditional devotion, provided that it increases my desire to attain communion with God in the celebration of the Eucharist. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is not a substitute for communion, much less a superior form of worship than the celebration of the Eucharist in the Mass. I am making an effort to dispose myself to the gifts of God, whatever the limitations of my perception, and not to let my theological biases get in the way.

We are studying the writings of Francis of Assisi on Eucharist this week. Tomorrow we will discuss the theology of Francis as revealed in his letters and draw principles and practices from his own words. A closer look at his occasional statements, situated in the context of pronouncements by popes and an ecumenical council of the Church, will be informative.

One thing I hope to gain from studying Francis and his religious movement is a better understanding of the sacramental imagination of the friars. I hope to discover anew my own potential for seeing the mystery of God in the world. And -- I cannot emphasize this enough -- making God's presence known to others.

It is not like I have no sacramental imagination at all. Indeed, I can say that for a long time I have adored Christ as really and truly present in the Word of God made known in the proclamation of Scripture and preaching of the Gospel. I venerate Scripture and revere the words of Jesus as the words of spirit and life. Indeed, for me hearing the authentic Word of God is a sacramental moment. In my heart I have bowed down in adoration when Christ comes into my presence from the pulpit as much as from the altar.

In time, through solid formation and continued celebration of the Eucharist, I know I will gain the same feeling of adoration for the presence of Christ in his gifts of bread and wine.

At this hour, let it be affirmed that I am drawn irresistibly to the presence of Christ in his word; that I acknowledge this attraction and accept its graceful power over me; and that I interpret this attraction as the sign of a call to be a minister of the word. To preach -- that is what my heart wants to do.

And my heart is clear. To preach -- no more and no less. I do not feel called to the altar. But I am drawn to the pulpit. What can this mean?

The Word of God has seized my soul. Now I am seized with questions. A new beginning in an ongoing discernment: an inquiry is presenting.

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