Eucharist and Authentic Adoration
Philippine Bishop Calls for True Worship at Congress
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Bishop Louis Tagle of Imus spoke Thursday at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, which is being held through Sunday in Quebec. He called for spiritual worship and authentic adoration in his address dedicated to the Eucharist as the life of Christ in our lives.
"The Church [...] must also constantly examine its fidelity to Jesus' sacrifice of obedience to God and compassion for the poor," the bishop said. "Ecclesiastical customs and persons, when naively and narrowly deified and glorified, might become hindrances to true worship and compassion."
He gave the example of how bishops can face the temptation of falsely glorifying their roles: "One Saturday morning [...] I saw a woman selling fruit and vegetables in a corner. She was one of those who went to Sunday Mass regularly. It was only 10 in the morning but she was already closing her store. So I asked her the reason. She told me, 'I belong to a prayer group. We have a big assembly this afternoon. Some tasks were assigned to me. So I want to be there early.'
"Upon hearing this, the pragmatic side of me surfaced. I responded, 'The Lord will understand if you extend your working hours. You have a family to support. [...] I am sure the Lord will understand.'
"With a smile, she said, 'But Bishop, the Lord has been faithful to me. [...] We may not be rich but we have enough to live by. Why will I fear?' Then looking at me tenderly, she said, 'Are you not a bishop? Are you not supposed to be encouraging me in faith?'
"I was quite embarrassed. But for me it was an experience of spiritual worship. I, the religiously and culturally accepted presence of God, was revealed to be a faltering representation of God."
Along these lines, Bishop Tagle also called for "authentic adoration."
Speaking of Eucharistic adoration outside of Mass, the prelate said, "Beholding Jesus, we receive and are transformed by the mystery we adore. Eucharistic adoration is similar to standing at the foot of the cross of Jesus, being a witness to his sacrifice of life and being renewed by it."
He pointed to the example of the Roman centurion who guarded Jesus on the cross as a "model of adoration."
"We learn from the centurion's 'adoration' that Jesus' sacrifice of life cannot be appreciated for what it truly is unless the horror of the cross is confronted," the bishop said. "Like any leader of guards, he kept careful watch over this criminal Jesus. [...] Physical nearness was not enough however. He had to be intent, vigilant and observant so that he could account for every detail.
"We learn from the centurion to face Jesus, to keep watch over him, to behold him, to contemplate him. At first the centurion spent hours watching over Jesus out of duty but ended up contemplating him in truth. What did the centurion see? We can assume that he saw the horror of suffering that preceded Jesus' death.
"But I also believe that in Jesus the centurion saw incredible love, love for the God who had failed to remove this cup of suffering from him, and love for neighbors."
Bishop Tagle pointed to the example of Jesus, innocent and crucified, and tied it to the plight of many innocent people who suffer today.
The prelate recounted: "I visited a poor section of a parish that opened a feeding program for malnourished children. The parents were required to supervise the meal of their children. As I went around the crowded noisy hall, a teenage girl who was gently feeding a young boy caught my attention. She must his elder sister, I thought to myself. I approached them and asked where their mother was. She was looking for a job that day, I was told.
"Thinking that she must be as hungry as her brother, I asked, 'Have you eaten?' 'No,' she said, 'I am not part of the program. I am already 13.' I was surprised at her honesty. For hungry children, this was an opportunity to cheat in order to fill one's stomach. [...] I responded, 'I will instruct a volunteer to give you lunch, if some food is left after all the children have eaten.'
"Thankful but embarrassed she said, 'No, Bishop. There are many other hungry children in this village. Give the extra food to them.' I was drawn into deep silence. 'My God, my God, why are these children going hungry?' I prayed. Yet I also exclaimed, 'I did not expect to see sharing and integrity in this place of death. [...] There is hope for the world.'"
The bishop concluded inviting the faithful to Eucharistic adoration, to "join the centurion in watching over Jesus and see what he has seen."
"I wish that Eucharistic adoration would lead us to know Jesus more as the compassionate companion of many crucified peoples of today," he said. "Let us adore Jesus who offered his life as a gift to the Father for us sinners. Let us adore him for ourselves, for the poor, for the earth, for the Church and for the life of the world."