The Word Among Us

June 2006 Issue

A “Personal Encounter” with the Lord

Pope Benedict XVI on Eucharistic Adoration

It is moving for me to see how everywhere in the Church the joy of Eucharistic adoration is reawakening and being fruitful. In the period of liturgical reform, Mass and adoration outside it were often seen as in opposition to one another: It was thought that the Eucharistic Bread had not been given to us to be contemplated, but to be eaten, as a widespread objection claimed at that time.

The experience of the prayer of the Church has already shown how nonsensical this antithesis was. Augustine had formerly said: "No one should eat this flesh without first adoring it. . . . We should sin were we not to adore it" (On the Psalms, 98:9).

Indeed, we do not merely receive something in the Eucharist. It is the encounter and unification of persons. The person, however, who comes to meet us and desires to unite himself to us is the Son of God. Such unification can only be brought about by means of adoration. Receiving the Eucharist means adoring the One whom we receive. Precisely in this way and only in this way do we become one with him.

Therefore, the development of Eucharistic adoration, as it took shape during the Middle Ages, was the most consistent consequence of the Eucharistic mystery itself: Only in adoration can profound and true acceptance develop. And it is precisely this personal act of encounter with the Lord that develops the social mission which is contained in the Eucharist and desires to break down barriers, not only the barriers between the Lord and us but also and above all those that separate us from one another.

Taken from the address of Pope Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia offering them his Christmas greetings, Thursday, December 22, 2005.

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