Our conference this evening is on the Real Presence and perpetual adoration. Although I have said this before, I wish to emphasize that what I have been doing in these teleconferences, and surely in today’s, is carrying out an explicit order of Pope John Paul II. The order is to do everything in my power to restore faith in the Real Presence where it has been lost. Strengthen that faith where it is weak. In the plainest language, Pope John Paul II declares, I repeat, unless faith in the Real Presence is strong, stronger than it is now, I fear for the survival of the Catholic Church in many dioceses in the United States.
We ask ourselves why. Why has there been such massive weakening and loss of faith in the Real Presence? The reason is because errors have crept into Catholic circles, originally in Germany, Holland, and France. But by now these errors have penetrated into the whole certainly Western world. Many who call themselves Catholics openly disclaim that Jesus Christ, the son of God who became the Son of Mary, is physically, corporally present in the Blessed Sacrament. Without identifying a widely circulating Catholic magazine in our country, I never dreamed that a manuscript on the Blessed Sacrament that I submitted would be drastically changed. The Diocesan censor officially removed every place in the manuscript where I identified Christ’s presence as real, corporal, physical, bodily. After some fifteen years of writing for this, otherwise good Catholic periodical, I sadly had to tell the editor I will never again submit a manuscript for publication in your magazine until that Diocesan censor is changed and the new one allows me to express my Catholic faith without reservation.
Notice our subject for this evening’s conference is the Real Presence and Perpetual Adoration. Even 30 years ago I don’t believe it would have been necessary to address ourselves to this topic. As long as people believed in the Real Presence there was Perpetual Adoration. But what a difference, what a mountain of difference between believing in the Real Presence and having men seduced by one after another of shrewd, very shrewd Eucharistic heresies. For generations in our own country there were holy hours and forty hours. There were flourishing religious institutes whose members vowed themselves to worship our Lord in the Holy Eucharist during the day, and not a few, even throughout the night. Every Catholic Church was considered the home of Jesus Christ. Tabernacles were at the center of every Catholic Church. From childhood, Catholic parents taught their offspring to genuflect before Jesus, really present in the Holy Eucharist. Bells were rung announcing the Mass. Bells were rung during the Mass. Processions of the Blessed Sacrament, was an all but universal practice. No one except a priest ever gave Holy Communion or carried with him the Blessed Sacrament. So the litany could go on illustrating the assumed faith of loyal Catholics in the Real Presence of Jesus, present on earth the same identical Jesus who Mary conceived at Nazareth at the Annunciation. That’s the prelude.
Now the warning of Pope Paul VI, there are two documents of Pope Paul VI’s that by any calculation are historic. I dare say 100 years from now, 300 years from now, those two documents will be recognized as historic in the doctrinal history of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1965 Pope Paul VI published the document Mysterium Fidei, which in a literal translation reads, The Mystery of Faith. Three years later the same Roman pontiff issued Humanae Vitae. We’ll say more in future conferences on the close relationship between faith in the Real Presence and the practice of Christian chastity as I’ve just said. In 1965, before the Second Vatican Council closed, Pope Paul VI did what I honestly believe was absolutely unique. On his own Papal authority, he issued the document we’ve just identified the Mystery of Faith. It was all on the Real Presence. Pope Paul expressed, and how prophetic this was, the fear that the document on the liturgy, the first of the sixteen documents issued by Vatican II, would not only be useless but would be positively harmful to the Catholic Church unless professed Catholics believe in and understand the meaning of the Real Presence. He could not have been more prophetic.
In the last 30 years one professional theologian after another, as I’ve said, beginning first in Europe, and now penetrating our own continent, the United States and Canada. Theologians have now reinterpreted what has been for 2000 years the Church’s unchangeable doctrine on the Real Presence. The Real Presence is being reduced to mere symbolism. These theologians, how well I know, I have lived with too many of them not to know what I’m talking about. They might continue using the words Real Presence, but they have drastically changed the meaning of these words. At root has been the claim that nothing really happened on Holy Thursday night when Jesus took bread and pronounced the words, “This is my body.” Took the Chalice, not cup, not cup! The Latin word is Calix. Chalice. The Latin word for cup is poculum. No poculum in the Church’s official teaching. As a consequence we know priest who pronounce these same words of Jesus, nothing really happens. Bread remains bread and wine remains wine. They will tell you often in thick books and sadly with big shining Imprimaturs, they will tell you what we call the Eucharist inspires our faith in Christ’s love for us. Thanks, but I can be inspired by Christ’s love by a beautiful picture or a crucifix. Or again, same word, Eucharist, an almost universally lowercased Eucharist, reminds us, so we are told of Christ’s generous love for us by dying on Calvary for our redemption. Eucharist, and this is in book after book, and not a few of these are textbooks used in seminaries. The Eucharist we are told is a symbol of our union with one another, but it is emphatically not a reception of the Living Christ, of his Body and Blood, of his Soul and Divinity being received by us in Holy Communion thought this introduction was necessary, why? Because much more is at stake, I assure you, than meets the eye. Let us be clear, Adoration of the Real Presence is not in competition with the sacrifice of the Mass, or with Holy Communion. On the contrary, Adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is a profession of faith in what the Blessed Sacrament really is, or rather, who is the Blessed Sacrament. It is Jesus Christ. As Pope Paul VI makes so clear, without faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, there could be no sacrifice of the Mass. There can be no Holy Communion, there can be no priesthood, and there can be no Catholic Church. This is one reason for the widespread removal of even the words Mass or even more so the sacrifice of the Mass, to combine Eucharist and Sacrifice. These words almost 2000 years in use in the Catholic Church have been removed from the Catholic vocabulary of millions in so-called developed countries like our own.
Thus, it is the explicit teaching of the Catholic Church that a person except in the state of grace may not receive Holy Communion. But, what’s the story in our country, to name just one nation? As the present Holy Father on his first pilgrimage to the United States, speaking to the combined American hierarchy, in Chicago, he pleaded with them in the name of God, have your people receive the Sacrament of Penance. I’m told that on a Sunday just about everybody goes to Holy Communion, but during the week almost nobody has gone to Confession. To receive Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin is a sin of blasphemy. All of this is a precondition to what? Again, Pope Paul VI was most deeply concerned about…He saw the faith in Christ’s Real Presence being weakened by widespread erroneous ideas under the guise of “the new liturgy.” It is in this context that Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament becomes so indispensably not just important, but imperative in the Catholic Church today. Those who adore our Lord in the Holy Eucharist believe he is really present on earth.
And this, this, this, is the mystery of faith, which as long as people have this faith, they are still Catholic. What is it? That Jesus Christ is on earth. Notice and notice carefully, the issue at stake is not liturgical preciseness. It is the survival of the whole Catholic faith. It all depends, what a statement… The whole gamut of the Catholic faith depends on faith in Christ’s Real Presence. Is Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist, or is he not? If he is, but notice, if he is, then we have the Mass and we have Holy Communion. Only then as Paul VI tells us, only then do we have the Eucharistic liturgy. Without faith in the Real Presence, the liturgy is a minstrel show. Dare I use the words, it is a comic opera.
We continue our next subsection. Motivation for promoting Eucharistic Adoration. What I’m doing is as I told you at the beginning of this conference, is sharing with you the explicit orders of the present Vicar of Christ. But, I’m hoping and praying that what I share with you, you in turn will share with others. Back to our subtitle: Motivation for promoting Eucharistic Adoration. Here we ask ourselves, how do we convince people that Eucharistic Adoration is, to say the least, desirable? It is far more than desirable. It is necessary. In order to place this conference into context, we need to look honestly at the world situation in our day, and ask, how can the global problems of the modern world be resolved or even coped with? Then, we will join with St. Peter and answer. Remember in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, where Christ predicted that he would give his own flesh to eat and blood to drink, and many of Christ’s own disciples walked away. This is too much, they said to themselves. As many of Christ’s disciples were walking away, Jesus turned to his Apostles. What about you? Do you want to walk away also? Then Peter spoke, “Thanks Lord, but if we walk away from you, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The whole sixth chapter of John’s Gospel is on faith, all on faith, a long chapter. Because Christ was predicting the most demanding mystery of our Catholic faith, namely faith in His Real Presence in the Eucharist.
Now we get closer to why we’re having this conference. Our next subtitle is the world situation in modern times. As an objective viewer looks at the modern world, what does he see? And this is especially in nations like our own. Speaking at the end of a special synod, again Pope Paul VI told the assembled bishops that the world today is in a large measure a Godless and Christless world. Said the Holy Father, “In many parts particularly among the young the Christian faith is almost unknown.” Why, because of the widespread dissemination of atheism. Why because the process of secularization has gone so far that evangelization has to be begun all over again in nations that were once professedly Christian and even Catholic. But, “even where the presence of the Church has previously been very strong, only a small number take an active and full part in the life of the Church.” John Paul II., December 1991.We don’t begin to begin to understand how desperately faith in the Real Presence must be restored unless and until we realize how widely and deeply one once Christian nation after another has become de-Christianized. What are just some symptoms of this widespread de-Christianization? The almost universal legalization of the murder of the unborn, and not just of the unborn, but now as we know in our country, of those being born. I never thought I’d live as a member of the Society of Jesus, to read of one of my own colleagues publicly at length defend what is being called partial birth abortion, but is shameless infanticide.
What are some of the symptoms of the secularization of our culture? The breakdown of family life to the point where in some countries divorce is automatic on the request of either one of the married partners. How do we know that one country after another is becoming paganized? In the all but universal practice of contraception as an accepted way of avoiding the responsibilities of child rearing and, especially, in affluent nations like our own. In the growing practice of murdering the aged and those who are suffering physical pain. All of this and much more gives us some idea of how widespread has been the secularization of the modern world. All of this surprisingly, was still a prelude to my principle message.
First another subtitle: The inadequacy of natural solution. There is no way, no way, that secularized nations like our own can be re-Christianized by merely natural means, and the reason is obvious. Because the work of the evil spirit has been so phenomenally successful. We are dealing, as St. Paul tells us, with powers beyond those of human nature. But we’d better see clearly what’s going on and be convinced that natural means cannot, and the verb is cannot, I don’t say convert, countries like ours back to Christ. But for even any significant change in our legal structure, natural means are absolutely inadequate. Hence the following statement. The more convinced are we that no natural earthly or human means can solve the problem the more we will wake up to the means that God became man precisely to provide us to cope with the world. The answer that St. Paul gave the at the Roman in the first Century, I’m quoting St. Paul, “Where sin abounds, the grace has even more abounded.” St. Paul knew providing of course, first Century A.D., he knew the chaotic condition of the world of his day. Only with the coming of Christ could the chaos of the ancient pagan world even be lived with or survived in, not to say resolved. It is not only a question of converting the pagan world, but even remaining alive in the pagan world. That is why one audience after another, I keep telling people there have been more martyrs for Christ since 1900 than all the 19 centuries before, put together, including I’m so happy to say that not a few of my own blood relations behind the iron curtain, and my two-week and two-day stay in Calcutta last month and the beginning of this month, a country controlled by what I consider the most intellectual culture in the world of India where the great Mahatma Ghandi made sure when India became freed from Great Britain that Christian missionaries from outside of India would be forbidden to evangelize in his nation. If the Roman Empire of the First Century of the Christian era needed conversion, surely our own age needs to be converted. Faith tells us that in God’s providence grace will even more abound. Remember our question, how do we motivate people to take themselves to Christ’s presence on earth today. That’s the underlying theme of today’s conference. In other words, is worship of the Holy Eucharist, Adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, well, just another act of piety? Oh no, dear Lord! It is absolutely necessary for the restoration of our nation, dare I say to sanity. Remind people, as I am here reminding you and asking our Lord through you, to remind others. Remind people that Jesus Christ transformed the ancient world, a world not only before Christ, but a world previously without Christ. The key word, of course, is Christ. It is he who transformed the ancient unbelieving world of the Roman Empire, an empire, as we know that was so ungodly, and by law, I never tire repeating, and by law, no woman could give birth to a child without immediately, the moment the child was born, bring that infant to the father and asking him, “Do you want this child to live or die,” prescribed by Roman law. Christ, it was he, who converted the pagan world of the Roman Empire, and it is only he, no one else but he, who can do the same in our day. That is why I like to quote the statement of our present Holy Father, given the massive evil of the Twentieth Century beyond human deception, despite this widespread godlessness, our Holy Father believes that the Twenty First Century will be the century of the great renaissance in Christian history. But on one condition, hear it and please do not forget, on one condition, that we have faith in his Real Presence on earth. The Holy Father keeps repeating and shall I say, he adds, the obvious proviso, there will be a marvelous renaissance since, and this is not my statement, but that of one modern Pope after another that the Twentieth Century is the most sin laden century in human history. No one but Jesus Christ can convert this godless world. However, we must have faith in Jesus Christ and not just Jesus Christ in the abstract or in Jesus Christ, who lived, past tense, on earth, back in the first century. NO. Faith in Jesus Christ alive on earth today with us, among us. In other words, and this is the present Pope, we Catholics are the hope of the world. That, by the way as I think I’ve mentioned in more than one conference, that was a name which the fathers of the Church gave to Christians in the first three centuries of Christianity, when to become a Christian meant to expect martyrdom. The phrase was coined, it is part of the history of the Catholic Church, we are the anima mundi; we are the soul of the world. The world without us who have the faith, the world without us is a cadaver. It’s a dead corpse. In other words, this is now the Vicar of Christ telling us, you are the salt of the world. You are the one hope for the world coming back to life again. Needless to say, this hope must be founded on faith, and faith in Jesus Christ. The grace, and it has to be miraculous grace, the grace is available and Christ will do the miracles of conversion that must be performed on one condition. That we have the faith, faith in what? Faith in Jesus Christ. May I be more clear, faith in Jesus Christ on earth. To be still more clear, faith in Jesus Christ on earth in the Holy Eucharist. I’m now in my 50th year in the priesthood, you don’t teach theology to my own Jesuits for a quarter century without learning a great deal. Faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament is indispensable for the conversion of the modern world.
We go on. Christ the miracle worker on earth, we are liable to overlook or minimize the signs and wonders that Christ performed during his visible stay on earth. He calmed the storm at sea. He cured the lame and the blind. He raised the dead back to life, but and this is my principal message, Christ wants to continue working miracles. The wonders he performed during his visible stay on earth are only a prelude to the kind of miracles here, more miracles of conversion, that he is ready, eager, and dare I say anxious to perform in our day. But, we must exercise our faith, faith in Jesus Christ present on earth today. We who believe in Christ’s abiding presence in the Holy Eucharist are to become apostles of the Real Presence to our generation. And that my friends is not piousity. How brainwashed millions of Catholics have become. To work miracles is available in our day on one condition. That we come to him in the Eucharist and confidently beg him to give us, us as individuals, us as families, us as a nation, the graces that we so desperately need. Where Eucharistic Adoration is practiced and promoted, the results are phenomenal. I know this from Bishop friends of mine, phenomenal. But, we must believe. Lord Jesus, our world today desperately needs to recover and rediscover the faith that millions have lost. Help us, dear Jesus, to become apostles of faith in your Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament so that the most sin-laden century in human history may be the vigil for the most glorious century in Christianity. We believe, Lord Jesus, we believe, help our unbelief. Amen.
Suppose we close with a Hail Mary. Mother of the Holy Eucharist, Pray for us.