|The practice of gazing on the Host after the Consecration at Mass which originated in the middle ages led in due course to Eucharistic devotions of different kinds which included the artistic ingenuity of making a special vessel to enable the Blessed Sacrament become more easily visible i.e. the Monstrance, a name that derives from the Latin word "to show".|
But what do we see? And moreover, what is the significance of our act of seeing? What are we trying to perceive and penetrate beyond the appearances of the waferlike object of bread? Do we await something wonderful to happen before our eyes? St. Thomas Aquinas soberly says in his famous Corpus Christi hymn:
"Sight, touch and taste in Thee are deceived.
The ear alone most safely is believed.
I believe all the Son of God has spoken,
than Truth's own Word, there is no truer token".
But don't we - like the other St. Thomas, the Apostle of Christ - not naturally tend to think that ‘seeing is believing'? (John 20 24-25). We long for visible assurance and the comfort of tangible evidence - even despite Our Risen Lord's blessings on those who believe without seeing and on those who hear the Word of God and keep it!
In the Eucharist He no longer shows us the physical Wounds of His Passion; here He now reveals Himself to us wounded more by the shallowness of our faith, our unbelief, doubts and materialism. But the Risen Lord patiently guides us by the gift of His being in the Eucharist, not only to see beyond the appearances of bread, but also to grow past our habitual craving for what perishes. He makes us conscious of various parts of ourselves that we have not yet given to The Father and He asks us to sacrifice them to Him.
He asks us to become aware of how much we depend on things to make us feel good about ourselves and to give security and meaning to our lives. He thus gradually educates i.e. draws us from wanting to have things our way. The Risen Lord who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, purifies our hearts and prepares us for Heaven - the Beatific Vision of God. He involves us in the wholeness of our bodies, minds, imagination and spiritual capacity to desire ‘the one thing necessary' namely Eternal Life.
The effect of the Eucharist is primarily that of building us up into the Body of Christ. This Sacrament is an education for the art of living in the world without being of the world. It achieves this education by educating us in Christ's art of love and sacrifice. In every Eucharistic celebration, Jesus offers us an opportunity for transformation and renewal in every part of our lives that we choose to sacrifice with Him to Our Father.
Christ in the Eucharist transforms us, and provides the necessary grace to be able to look at our lives from His point of view, to value that which truly has meaning and to forgo that which is of fading glory. All that is required is that we fix our gaze on Christ. "Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end........"(Heb 12:2) "Let us fix our thoughts on the Blood of Christ; and reflect on how Precious that Blood is in God's eyes, in as much as its outpouring for our salvation has opened the grace of repentance to all mankind." St. Clement.
‘As Our Lord said, "Where your treasure is, there is your heart also." hence the least love of GOD is worth more than the knowledge of all created things.' (Bishop Fulton Sheen).
When there is true love, and it mounts to a certain point, there is adoration. Great love and adoration are two distinct things; but, they form one whole. They become adoring love and loving adoration. Jesus in the Eucharist is adored only by those who truly love Him, and He is loved in the highest manner by whoever adores Him. St. Dominic Savio would say "I need nothing in this world in order to be happy. I only need to see Jesus in Heaven, whom I now see and adore on the altar with the eyes of faith."
It is with this faith that we ought to approach the Holy Eucharist and keep ourselves in that Divine Presence, loving Jesus in this Sacrament and making others love Him.
His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity are all wrapped up in a tiny Host so His Glory will not annihilate us, His Beauty enrapture us, His Divinity lessen our faith. He hides Himself behind what seems to be bread so we can gain the merit of acknowledging His Presence, adoring Him as Lord and praising Him for His goodness.
In the words of Pope Paul VI, "It is our bounden and loving duty to honor and adore in the Blessed Bread which we see with our eyes, the Word Incarnate Himself, whom we cannot see, but Who nonetheless, without leaving Heaven, is made present before us."
Spending time with Our Eucharistic Lord is a sacrifice of time which we could spend in ways that would seem to many to be more useful. But think on how sweet it feels to be in the company of a dear friend. Shall we not find it sweet, in this valley of tears, to remain in the company of the Best Friend we could ever have, a friend who can do us every kind of good, who loves us with the most tender affection and therefore dwells always with us? As we pray before the Eucharist we are offering our lives to Christ, for Him to affect them in whatever way He wishes.
We are praising Him by concentrating on Him and His love. As we lose ourselves in Him we are sacrificing our egos, and we receive from Him, the fruits of self-sacrifice. The results of this simple prayer time are totally amazing! The time we give to Him is gained, not lost. Behold our good Friend, Jesus, Who in this Sacrament encourages us, saying: "Behold, I am with you always, yes, to the end of time."
You have not left me alone; it is I who refuse a friend.
You have not left me without sympathy; it is I who refuse a friend.
You have not left me comfortless, it is I who refuse Your consolation.
You have not left me destitute; it is I who refuse help.
You have not left me without courage; it is I who refuse encouragement.
‘O Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, may the whole world burn with love for You!'