Praying in Christ
St. Paul says simply that through faith we live in Jesus Christ. “For me to live is Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20) We are the body of Christ. He is the head and we are the members. We are familiar with the chapters and verses. What does it mean, how do we live it?
There are not many Thomists today. Young people have a hard time falling in love with “transubstantiation”. Love and relationship, we understand. Friends have a relationship. The more they love each other, the stronger their relationship. This is what our relationship with Jesus Christ is all about. “I call you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father” (Jn 15:15).
Rabbi Abraham Heschel in his God in Search of Man describes Judaism not in terms of our search for God, but his search for us. Francis Thompson’s Hound of Heaven has the same idea, that God is in pursuit of us because he loves us, and wants to share his life with us. He does so through his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the human face of God. The Father and the Spirit (and the Son) are revealed in Jesus Christ. As St. Teresa of Avila puts it, the humanity of Jesus does not hide his divinity, it reveals it. He reveals the Father, Son and Spirit – simply put, Jesus reveals God. Getting to know Jesus Christ is getting to know God as Trinity. The Eucharist does not hide Jesus, it reveals him.
We come to the exposed or reserved Eucharist for our prayer so that we can contemplate his presence and come to know Jesus, his love, his mercy, his kindness and compassion for us. Through Jesus we come to know the love of the Father for us. We touch divinity and are awed by his goodness.
” In Christo” in St. Paul
The Epistles of St. Paul and the Gospel of St. John can help us to understand how important it is for us to understand our relationship to Jesus Christ. He wants to be our friend. We hunger for friends and our relationship to them. True friendship and love for friends is not necessarily sexual, but it is necessarily a gift of oneself and relationship to a friend that is built on a bond of mind, heart, soul, and being. This is our relationship to God and to the Son of God, Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is at the heart of our relationship to God and to Jesus Christ who is our mediator, our Savior and Lord.
Eucharistic Contemplation (Adoration)
The Eucharist is essentially the Eucharistic Celebration. The Eucharist is reserved for the sick. It is also exposed on the altar and kept in the tabernacle as a center for prayer. Both the Ecumenical Council of Trent (1545-1563) and the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) defended the appropriateness of these devotions that are centered on the Eucharist outside of the Sacrifice of the Mass. St. Peter Julian Eymard, the Apostle of the Eucharist, has a spirituality that centers around all three facets of the Eucharist: Sacrifice, Communion and Adoration of Jesus Christ present in the reserved Sacrament.
Adoration is the name for contemplation or mental prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. It is a help and a means to deepen one’s prayer and relationship to Jesus. Friends want to share their lives. We can think of many saints who had such friends: St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. They had a wonderful relationship and friendship. Jesus calls us friends; he wants us to share his life. Jesus is present in the Eucharist. He is the Risen Lord; he is present body, soul and divinity. He wants to share his life with us in time and for eternity. That is why the Eucharist is the Sacrament of love, life and sharing.