God Has Chosen to Live With Us

The Holy Faith is, by nature of its Divine origin and its supernatural essence is, enshrouded in mystery. We can never lose sight of this mystery. Unless we are given great grace, it is very difficult for us to penetrate the great mysteries of Faith.

I find that the greatest mystery of Faith is not belief in the Resurrection, or the Assumption of Our Lady but in what we can see and yet what we cannot see, unless we are given great faith.

The most profound, to my mind, of these mysteries is that which we encounter every time we step into a Church. Every time we walk into a Church we walk into the Presence of God. Every Catholic Church around the World houses the Lord God of Hosts in the Tabernacle. Every time we walk into a Church, God is truly present to us.

Nurturing and building up our faith and the faith of others is about recognising this one simple truth - that God is mysteriously present in the Tabernacle, in the Blessed Sacrament - really, totally, substantially, utterly God. This is why Catholics have, until relatively recently, always and everywhere, genuflected towards the Tabernacle because, inside those doors, is God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it terribly sad when I go to Catholic Churches and the Tabernacle is tucked away in a side chapel, away from the centre of the Church because at the centre of the Church is Jesus Christ. Without the Blessed Sacrament, a Church would have no life at all. There would be no reason for going to Mass, nor for going into a Church, even, to pray.

We can cultivate our Faith by genuflecting on one knee before the Tabernacle, in recognition of Jesus Christ. We can pray before the Tabernacle, even when the Lord is not exposed, because we know that through those small doors, is Jesus.

We can make the Church a place of prayer, the House of Prayer, that Our Lord furiously stated that it should be when He drove out the money changers from the Temple in Jerusalem. If liturgy is not prayerful then it is not recollected and solemn liturgy. If a Church is not a House of Prayer then what is it?

The Reality of the Real Presence is at the centre of Pope Benedict XVI's liturgical reforms and we would do well to recognise that unless when we walk into a Church, we behave as if Jesus is there, recognising Him behind those doors, then we will not cultivate even the small mustard seed of faith that in our possession. The Sacred is already there, in every Church. It is up to us, as lay people, to cultivate and create the sense of the Sacred for ourselves and others, but most of all for Jesus Christ, so that He can be worshipped 'in spirit and in truth'. The Lord Jesus does not want to be ignored in the Tabernacle and we, we can only be happy when our restless hearts find rest in Him.

Worship and prayer are not separate from our bodily gestures and our pause for reflection on the Real Presence of God in the Church will do us spiritual good, increase our faith and increase the faith of others. We must not push Our Blessed Lord to the side, or ignore Him when we are in His presence, or behave as if we are in just another space or place, pretend that He is not there or forget that He truly is. If we do that, then we will miss the greatest mystery of all - that God has chosen, not just once, but until the End of Time itself, to live with us, to dwell in our midst. If we miss that, we miss the point entirely, of God's sublime condescension and God's breathtaking love, for us. This is why Pope Benedict XVI desires to see the liturgy reformed - so that it reflects the awe-inspiring mystery of God's love and His Real Presence among us.

We can remember this even when we walk past a Church and say a prayer, to which, I believe, a plenary indulgence is attached (it certainly was)...

May the Heart of Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, be adored, loved and glorified, in every Tabernacle, in every Church, at every hour, in the whole World, now until the end of time. Amen.

How can they say there can be no Heaven on Earth when God Himself has already chosen to live here? He Who is totally transcendent, beyond time and comprehension, lives in our time, in the Tabernacle. Not just once did God humble himself, by becoming Man for our sake! No, not once did He humble Himself, but daily He humbles Himself to the point of living in our midst, in every Church, 'even until the End of Time'!

Comments

Anonymous said…
Do you not think that God is present to you when you are not in church in front of the tabernacle -everywhere in fact? Might be a good idea to focus on that a bit more and less on churchiness.
umblepie said…
Many thanks for this inspiring post
Anon

Brother Lawrence wrote a book called 'Practising the Presence of God', in which he prayed and called to mind God's presence everywhere. Easier for him, perhaps, though, as he lived in a monastery.

However, I don't think we can really over-emphasise the importance of the special way in which God is present in Church, in the Tabernacle. I certainly think it needs to be rediscovered.

Denial of the Real Presence is rife. Therefore affirmation of the truth is urgently necessary.

'The World is my church' idea is quaint, but it doesn't work. Soon, the pub is the church and then, one day, you wake up to go to Mass and the Church is a pub.
Rusticus said…
An excellent and inspiring post, Laurence.

It was the Blessed Sacrament which brought me into the Church 20 years ago. I was working in Sydney at the time, and had to change from bus to train in the city centre. One day I noticed a shop -the "Irish Catholic Bookshop" and I remembered that the Catholic cathedral was nearby. I went in, and spent ten or so minutes in front of the Blessed Sacrament. This became part of my daily routine, and the rest - as they say - is history!

This, plus a spiritual "sandbagging" whilst praying in the Blessed Sacrament chapel in the Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor has given me a particular devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and it distresses me to see it disrespected in any way.
Anonymous said…
Didn't St Paul rally against the type of religion you are promoting,a paganismin which God is, if not confined, at least intensified in particular spaces? The essence of Our True faith is that God is a universal Being, present everywhere and to everyone, no present in a few buildings to those who are initiated into a heretical cult
I don't think that St Paul would have seen Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, or Solemn Benediction as pagan. Why do you think it is pagan to adore God?
I don't know, btw, whose faith you are describing when you say 'Our True Faith', when clearly we don't share the same Catholic Faith - One True Faith.
Anonymous said…
Truth of God presented in scripture, not a pagan cult of statues and paintings - you're no better than the pagan masses with their bread and circuses that Jesus sought to convert away from sin
Oh, I see, you're an unbeliever.

We believe in Truth revealed by Scripture and Tradition. Both support the doctrine of the Real Presence.

It is you who do not believe Scripture.

"I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53)
Geordie said…
Geordie

Attending a course intended to improve the standards of delivering the readings in Holy Mass throughout the diocese, we were told to ignore Our Blessed Lord in the tabernacle and to bow to 'the Table of the Word'. This course was being led by the MC for the diocese, another priest and two permanent deacons and their only response when challenged about ignoring Our Blessed Lord was they were promoting the rubrics as set down by GIRM. I'm afraid in this parish their advice has been comprehensively ignored and anyone approaching the sanctuary or crossing in front of the tabernacle genuflects or, if too infirm to do so, bows.
I believe these small reverences consistently practised are powerful and effective tools to demonstrate our belief in the Real Presence.
A Cradle Catholic said…
St Paul would have found the worship of God in a foreign language incomprehensible and pointless in terms of evangelisation.
The Tridentine Mass interests only 5 per cent or perhaps 1 per cent of the people in the pews. There are young fogeys who like it but they are just chasing something esoteric. Their interest mystifies and saddens most priests. These people talk of the old Mass, but every Mass is new, fresh and unique. www
Anonymous said…
We've had 2,000 years of emphasising the importance of church and its activities, incl. the sacraments. The great need of today is to rediscover the Real Presence of God in the world at large, in our daily lives. It is there that we most need to live our faith, where we are for 6 days and 23 hours in the week, therwise God only matters to us when we are in church for one hour trying to be holy and we ignore or overlook his presence everywhere else. This is not wanting to make the world or pubs into the Church, it is to be recognise that the Church in the true sense is coterminous with the world, with all that is. The quaint idea is importing churchiness into everything else.
Anonymous said…
"St Paul would have found the worship of God in a foreign language incomprehensible and pointless" - good, so we can abandon the Latin mass and the Latin bible then can we? Let's just all learn Greek so we can actually read the bloody thing instead of relying on someone else's interpretation or distortion
Anonymous.

With lapsation levels as they are, have been since the Second Vatican Council, the evidence suggests that demoting belief in the Real Presence, putting the Blessed Sacrament to the side of the Church, losing reverence for the Blessed Sacrament leads not to a 'christianisation' of every day living, but to total loss of faith.

Your experiment has been tried, and found wanting.

Anonymous comments are not usually published, so a name next time, please.

Cradle Catholic

And what percentage of young people are passionately loyal to the Novus Ordo? Where is the 'Juventutem' group of young people who love the vernacular Mass?
Answer: Many of them left the Church. Many of those remaining now have little knowledge of their Faith.
Anonymous from before said…
I'm afraid I don't like this relativist hogwash. Your argument about declining Novus Ordo numbers and the 'explosion' of interest in NLM (attracting sometimes upwards of a hundred people at events held in a nation of 60 odd million) are meaningless to anyone who, like myself, takes orders obediently from a higher power. If following the Word of God led to every soul being lost then so be it, that is for our Lord to deal with. It is manifestly not up to me to say 'if we dumb it down a bit maybe we will get more people who like an easy message of happiness and joy' or worse still 'if we tamper with God's holy scripture, put it into a Medieval tongue, then sing it in coloured robes, maybe a few young men will come along and pretend to be moved by it' - sorry sir, that's not faith and it's not Christ's message to the faithful. You have perverted the Truth of Holy Scripture to make it relative to a goal YOU have chosen (enjoying a gool ol' Latin mass with some other young men who like those things). Alll very thrilling for you I'm sure, but not what the Lord or His son Christ commanded. Enjoy it while it lasts, I hope they have Latin mass and coloured robes in Hell
Martin said…
There are interested questions being asked in the comments of the Guild blog.
As these are directly published without approval of the blog editor how will they be answered? Should the query go directly to the contributing blogger's blog.
Are these members likely to check their Guild comments?
A no response is off-putting. No comment box would be preferable in this case.
You don't like relativistic hogwash?

Widespread relativism is the primary fruit of the post-Vatican II era. That and huge amounts of lapsation. Relativism is what emerges when people no longer believe that the Blessed Sacrament is truly God.

It is sad that your 'obedience', which you say comes from a 'higher power', does not extend to the Pope, the Successor of St Peter, to whom all Catholics owe obedient.

You sound like a very angry, very bitter Protestant, who goes around baiting 'papists' and 'Catholics' with their 'Latin Mass'.

Are you sure you're really a Catholic?
Anonymous said…
I did not propose any kind of experiment, merely suggested that rather than "christianising" the world we perhaps need to realise that the world is already God's, that he is not locked away in the tabernacle. I have seen people genuflect oh so reverently before the sacrament and then, as soon as they are out of the church, bitching away about all and sundry just like everyone else. Merely restoring older styles of devotion, re-establishing Catholic identity by bringing back the Latin mass, eating fish on Fridays etc., will not necessarily in themselves bridge the gap between the church and the world; they may even increase it. This way clearly has great attraction for some people, but it remains to be seen if it will have long-term effects on the general drift away from religion and the church which has been going on for a couple of centuries at least - it is hardly the product of Vatican II. People give up the church, I imagine, because all it does is initiate them into a religious system which has not much to do with the rest of their lives. Strengthening the system in response seems like a major failure of imagination, analysis and faith.
I get the impression that you believe that somehow 'traditional' devotion is superficial, surface level, devotion. Lip service faith, or something.

I would beg to differ. Outward gestures or practises do matter because they express and point towards an inner disposition - may even aid an inner disposition towards Christ.

Genuflecting before the Tabernacle reminds us (and we do need reminding) that God is indeed there and that 'every knee shall bow' before Jesus. Abstaining from meat on Fridays reminds us of Christ's passion which He underwent for us. In honour of His Passion.

The Latin Mass, towards which you seem to have a considerable degree of opposition, seems to be more reverent towards the Blessed Host. The prayers at the Foot of the Altar express great humility before God.

The reason for its popularity, I think, is that people young (and old) rediscover within it, not superficial piety, but a sense of the Sacred that is missing from a) the outside World and b) the Novus Ordo.

The Latin Mass does a lot of teaching without words.

I can see your point, but, really, in order for us to be effective at evangelising 'the World', or indeed, to take our Faith with us into the World and make a difference we really need to have a healthy Faith.

A Faith that disregards the Holy, the Presence of God in the Eucharist, or a faith ignorant of the things of God, will not impress upon anyone the truths of the Catholic Faith.

I don't know why you are so shy about your identity, but there we go. Before we run, we must be able to walk. What the Holy Father (and Priests, Bishops and Cardinal loyal to him) is trying to do, is rebuild that which has been torn down - namely, Faith in a God who is so intimately close to us that He comes to us under the guise of Bread. Verily, Thou art a hidden God!

Of course, there are other reasons why so many have abandoned the Faith. The devil goes around looking for whom he can devour. Unfortunately, many Priests, Bishops have not been teaching the Catholic Faith 'in its entirety' and liberalism within the Church has done much damage and wounded many souls.

The Restoration of the Sacred is an effective way of evangelising firstly the Church (which is in need of evangelising) and then the World.
Martin

The author of the particular post should answer questions if he/she wishes to respond.
shadowlands said…
I think different preferences of Rite or Form within Catholicism have become a source of sometimes negative reactions between the faithful and this is very sad. I personally found that my own observance in Mass began to change since getting closer to Our Lady through the rosary and therefore closer to Christ, through meditating on his life,death and resurrection. All this happened due to prayer and meditation. The eucharist also became more meaningful.

Where I get distracted and start indulging the defective side of my character, which God is still pruning (ouch!), is when fellow Catholics snipe at each other about who's got the best mass etc. I am tempted to argue with my fellow Christians and forget I am punching my own body (body of Christ) when I lash out. Or rejecting my own body parts.

However, to me, to suggest that we don't need Catholic Churches or the Blessed sacrament, is to suggest the world has ended and Judgment day is here.

Something protestants don't see, is that the presence of Christ, within the tabernacle, is a grace given that they themselves are benefitting from, albeit unknowingly. It is also why we need priests,as no priests, no sacramnets.

I don't wish to argue this point. I am just stating my beliefs. Believe as each is able to do so.
Anonymous from before said…
Laurence,I'm not baiting you and not 'papists', I am pointing out that when it comes to the crunch your justification for religious behaviour boils down to saying 'I like it' and 'it has a utility' (greater participation). This is the same logic as the dumbing down of religion- people like it and it promotes worship. You are a relativist at heart
Anonymous.

No, I don't think that is it. It is not relativism to say we should kneel to receive Communion because it, or rather He, is God. It is absolutist.

It is not relativistic to say that we should genuflect before the Tabernacle because it houses God. It is absolutist.

It is not relativistic to suggest that because the Lord died on Friday we should abstain from meat in remembering His Sacrifice. It is absolutist. It is saying He died for us - truly - let us remember and honour His Death.

It is, with gestures reminding oneself and proclaiming to others the Absolute truths of the Catholic Faith.

Of course, Absolute Truth and the proclamation of it in word and deed will always be unpopular with some.

The flip side of it is relativism which suggests "God is there if you believe He is there, but He isn't if you don't believe it".

The opposite, relativism, suggests a kind of very lax approach to the Lord.

These things are not done for us. They are done as tokens of love towards God Who is due the honour as would be a King. These things also build up our Faith, which is weak and tenuous. The opposite approach suggests that God desires whatever we think - so often that can just lead to our own desires being fulfilled.

Check out Fr Ray's post on genuflecting with bad knees and you'll see what I mean.
Anonymous from before said…
Look, fair enough, this is going nowhere. You just concoct a list of things you happen to like in religious fetishism, then say 'we do X because it's absolute'. It's not, you just do it because you like it. You love the TLM, you love the ceremony, the robes, the kitsch of it all. Saint Paul, whose authority I trust above any person living today, told us we only needed the word of God that was written. He advised us that the world was God's church, and that God was not confined to any building. That is an absolute. End of. If you like wearing robes and singing in Latin, then feel free. But it is not God's plan
Hmm...

So what kind of a Mass do you 'like'?

What parts of the Mass that you 'like' remind you of the Real Presence?
Anonymous said…
I find it sad to hear of a believer who needs reminding of that which he knows to be the Truth - I carry God's word in my heart and need no phony little ceremonies to 'remind' me of the power of his commands and the terrible judgements that he promises to those who disobey him in sin
Oh, you're a Protestant?
Anonymous said…
their is neither jew nor greek to me. your schismatic behaviour is what keeps us from the Lord- i follow only the Word given to by Him, the very Word Paul tells us will alone suffice to ensure we escape the terrible torments promised to hethens, heretics,and schismatics
You're a Protestant.

You are your own Pope, but there can only be one on Earth at any given time.
Anonymous

I don't think this is the blog for you.

God bless.