|PERPETUAL ADORATION: |
AN ANCIENT DEVOTION IN MODERN TIMES
At the Transfiguration, Peter was so moved by the vision of Jesus—"radiant with light," "dazzling white"—that he wanted to build three booths and set up camp there forever.
He wanted to offer perpetual adoration to the Lord. And in that desire, he has been joined by Christians down through the ages.
In the early Church, monks would chant prayer and psalms to God without ceasing, spelling one another in shifts.
But since the Middle Ages, in the Western Church the desire for continuous prayer to the Lord has most often been expressed in perpetual eucharistic adoration: the worship of Jesus truly present in the consecrated host, either reserved in a tabernacle or exposed in a vessel called a "monstrance."
Usually sponsored by a parish, religious community or diocese, perpetual adoration is offered by successive worshipers without intermission.
Through the first millennium of Christianity, there is little evidence of worship of the Eucharist outside the liturgy, and still less of anything that might be called "perpetual."
With the Eucharist, as with the Trinity, the Church gradually grew in its understanding of the mystery. Councils defined doctrines more clearly, and people responded with devotion ever more ardent.
Often this happened in response to heresies. Particularly when false teachers denied the goodness of the created world or the goodness of the human body, orthodox Catholics responded with deeper reverence for the Eucharist—the Word himself made flesh. To deny matter's goodness, they believed, is eventually to deny the incarnation of God in Jesus.
Such was the heresy of the Priscillians, a gnostic sect in fourth through sixth-century Spain. Priscillians disdained marriage, wine and meat, and were condemned by many Spanish bishops and councils. In reparation for the offense of this heresy, the cathedral church of Lugo, Spain, is said to have offered perpetual eucharistic adoration for more than 1,000 years, up to the present day.
Another anti-matter heresy, Albigensianism, arose in 12th-century France, and there faithful Catholics responded with a spontaneous surge of eucharistic worship.
In what would become the first recorded instance of true perpetual eucharistic adoration, King Louis VII in September 1226—having just defeated the Albigensians—called his subjects to offer thanksgiving to the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Chapel of the Holy Cross at Avignon.
So many people showed up the bishop extended the time of exposition into the night—and then into perpetuity. The Holy See ratified his decision, and adoration continued uninterrupted till the persecutions of the French Revolution in 1792. Perpetual adoration resumed—in 1829.
During the Middle Ages, many more of the faithful began to adore the Blessed Sacrament apart from the Mass. At first, the custom was to worship the host reserved in the tabernacle. Eventually, some came to practice the devotion with the tabernacle doors open. Later still, solemn exposition of the host, in a monstrance, became the norm.
The practice spread through Europe and culminated in the establishment of the Feast of Corpus Christi—Latin for "the Body of Christ"—in 1264. The feast itself, now celebrated each June, helped spread the devotion.
In 1393, an Italian religious community arose, "Religiosi bianchi del corpo di Gesu Christo," dedicated primarily to adoration of the sacrament. The custom of uninterrupted "Forty Hours" exposition began in Milan in the mid-1500s, and in 1592 was formally recognized by Pope Clement VIII, who commanded its observance in Rome's churches.
But the real flowering of perpetual adoration came at the beginning of the 16th century during the early years of the Protestant Reformation, when church lootings were common, as were desecrations of the Blessed Sacrament. Faithful Catholics made reparation to God by keeping a loving vigil before Him, around the clock. Perpetual adoration became a symbol of constancy in a volatile age.
Throughout Europe and eventually America, new religious orders arose centered on uninterrupted eucharistic adoration. In 1907, the Catholic Encyclopedia could state that such orders were too numerous to list.
In the United States, the practice waxed through the middle decades of this century, especially as Archbishop Fulton Sheen promoted the custom of spending a Holy Hour before the tabernacle. But eucharistic devotions in general waned in the '60s and '70s. Some liturgists rejected the devotion, saying it detracted from the Mass.
Today, though, it seems to be on the rebound.
For example, the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., recently launched perpetual adoration in a chapel at its seminary in Stamford. And during the great blizzard of January 1996, parishioners at St. Michael's Church in Annandale, Va., maintained a vigil that had been unbroken since the early '80s. They camped out in the chapel with sleeping bags.
Msgr. Francis Mannion, president of the Society for Catholic Liturgy, believes that perpetual adoration is gaining popularity because it has "the sense of dignity, reverence and solemnity" that people miss in the way the Mass is celebrated today.
"The transcendent character of the Eucharist is strongly evident in eucharistic devotions, as are the contemplative and mystical dimensions of the Eucharist," he said.
He disagrees with liturgists who "express alarm at the return of eucharistic devotions."
"At a time when surveys are showing that belief in Christ's eucharistic presence is on the wane even among church-going Catholics, such devotions can play an important role in restoring authentic Catholic faith at a popular level," he said.
Mike Aquilina is editor of The Pittsburgh Catholic.
Organization Promotes Adoration
Since the early 1970s, L. Owen Traynor has been promoting perpetual eucharistic adoration throughout the world.
Today, his organization, Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, supplies information and support for people who wish to establish the devotion in their parish or diocese. PEA's statutes were approved by the Holy See in 1991.
Traynor can be reached at 660 Club View Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90024.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Aquinas' Five Proofs
What real evidence can be supplied for God's existence? St. Thomas, in his Summa Theologica, sets forth five separate proofs for the existence of God, Unlike St. Anselm's proof, which deals with pure concepts, St. Thomas' proofs rely on the world of our experience-what we can see around us. In these proofs we can easily see the influence of Aristotle and his doctrine of the Four Causes.
l) The Proof from Motion. We observe motion all around us. Whatever is in motion now was at rest until moved by something else, and that by something else, and so on. But if there were an infinite series of movers, all waiting to be moved by something else, then actual motion could never have got started, and there would be no motion now. But there is motion now. So there must be a First Mover which is itself unmoved. This First Mover we call God.
2) The Proof from Efficient Cause. Everything in the world has its efficient cause--its maker--and that maker has its maker, and so on. The coffee table was made by the carpenter, the carpenter by his or her parents, and on and on. But if there were just an infinite series of such makers, the series could never have got started, and therefore be nothing now. But there is something everything there is! So there must have been a First Maker, that was not itself made, and that First Maker we call God.
3) The Proof from Necessary vs. Possible Being. Possible, or contingent, beings are those, such as cars and trees and you and I, whose existence is not necessary. For all such beings there is a time before they come to be when they are not yet, and a time after they cease to be when they are no more. If everything were merely possible, there would have been a time, long ago, when nothing had yet come to be. Nothing comes from nothing, so in that case there would be nothing now! But there is something now-the world and everything in it-so there must be at least one necessary being. This Necessary Being we call God.
4) The Proof from Degrees of Perfection. We all evaluate things and people in terms of their being more or less perfectly true, good, noble and so on. We have certain standards of how things and people should be. But we would have no such standards unless there were some being that is perfect in every way, something that is the truest, noblest, and best. That Most Perfect Being we call God.
5) The Proof from Design. As we look at the world around us, and ourselves, we see ample evidence of design--the bird's wing, designed for the purpose of flight; the human ear, designed for the purpose of hearing; the natural environment, designed to support life; and on and on. If there is design, there must be a designer. That Designer we call God
triskelion, I interpret proof #3 as talking about the creation of the elements; proof #2 as talking about the forming of the elements into creation; and proof #1 as creation being put into motion.
The irony of proving God exists is, to a non-believer it can never be proven, but to a believer, proof of God can be seen just about everywhere.
Of course, if you need to see it to believe it, do you really have faith?
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS . . .
Great movie . . . charming! Many smiles! My little French
granddaughter, Naomi and I watched "You've Got Mail" together.
Naomi is 7.
There is a place in the movie where the shopgirl/owner, Kathleen
Kelly/MegRyan, closes her children's book store door for the final
time. Kathleen Kelly has lovely memories of growing up, going to
work in that store with her mother and "twirling" in the back
In fact, there is a picture of her "twirling" with her mother on the
wall. At the "close out sale" you might notice that picture of
Kathleen and her mother twirling, and a sign pasted on the frame
saying, "not for sale!"
When Kathleen closes the door of the "Shop Around the Corner"
for this final time, now totally empty of books and chairs and
pictures on the walls, she removes the large bell of brass from the
door, turns off the lights; she takes a final look back and for a brief
moment she "sees" that memory of her mother twirling her as a child.
She hears the music.
It is a most precious moment.
It is enchanting.
I told Naomi that she always needs to remember that part of the
movie. Even though the store had to be closed, and even though
a chain store put Kathleen out of business, and even though Kathleen
had to leave this place she loved. . .no one, not ever in her life, could
take away the memory.
Memories are ours forever.