Reparation for Eucharistic Abuses
Kathleen Beckman, L.H.S.
In his 2003 encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Pope John Paul II wrote:
The Magisterium’s commitment to proclaiming the Eucharistic mystery has been matched by interior growth within the Christian community. Certainly the liturgical reform inaugurated by the Council has greatly contributed to a more conscious, active and fruitful participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar on the part of the faithful. In many places, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is also an important daily practice and becomes an inexhaustible source of holiness...
Unfortunately, alongside these lights, there are also shadows. In some places the practice of Eucharistic adoration has been almost completely abandoned. In various parts of the Church abuses have occurred, leading to confusion with regard to sound faith and Catholic doctrine concerning this wonderful sacrament. At times one encounters an extremely reductive understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. Stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet. Furthermore, the necessity of the ministerial priesthood, grounded in apostolic succession, is at times obscured and the sacramental nature of the Eucharist is reduced to its mere effectiveness as a form of proclamation. This has led here and there to ecumenical initiatives which, albeit well-intentioned, indulge in Eucharistic practices contrary to the discipline by which the Church expresses her faith. How can we not express profound grief at all this? The Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and depreciation.1
Unfortunately, we have all heard of Eucharistic abuses and disrespect that wound the Body of Christ. But we can join our hope to that of St. John Paul II who intercedes to banish the dark clouds of unacceptable doctrines and practices pertaining to the Eucharist. How can the New Evangelization be realized without rekindling Eucharistic amazement and correcting the abuses?
Discipleship Is a Eucharistic Vocation
Discipleship is a Eucharistic vocation. A Eucharistic vocation is a life of intercession for the salvation of souls. This includes a life of reparation for offenses against the most august Sacrament of Divine Love. Often when I am in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, I sense the Lord saying, “You are here to pray for all those who refuse to pray. You are here to adore for those who refuse to adore. You are here to keep company with me, to keep a prayer vigil for those who are not attracted to me. Bring souls to me.”
When a disciple is imbued with Christ’s presence, a wound in the heart of Christ is deeply felt as a wound in the heart of the disciple. The daily communicant may not be a liturgist, but united to Christ by the Eucharistic bond of love, he or she possesses a keen sensitivity to disrespect manifested towards the Blessed Sacrament. Presently we are observing an increase in disrespect for all things sacred as well as a blatant persecution against all things Catholic. In the midst of a very tenuous world stands the pillar of the Eucharist to which we should bind our little ship to weather the present storm of unbelief and lies.
Our Father in Heaven has made a provision for a time such as this, and the pillar of the Eucharist is the strong tower in which we find refuge and strength to engage in the spiritual battle of this present age.
There is no new plan in Ecclesia de Eucharistia. Pope John Paul II points to the apostolic teachings and Tradition of the Catholic Church at a time when faith in the True Presence is waning. But faith in the True Presence can grow. The Risen Lord lives, reigns and waits for us on the altars and the tabernacles of the world. He is always present to us. We need to encourage one another to become more present to Christ, more expectant in faith, and empowered by love. There is no extraordinary drama in John Paul II’s program per se, simply a turning back to Christ Jesus to rekindle a loving personal relationship with the Lord in the Eucharist. The drama will come when this is accomplished!
Kathleen Beckman, L.H.S., is the Co-founder and President of the Foundation of Prayer for Priests. This reflection originally appeared in her book Rekindle Eucharistic Amazement: Healing and Holiness through the Mass and Holy Hour (Queenship Publishing, 2008).
1 Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 10.