Amid the darkness in the world and the Church, there is one constant source of light
It is hard to imagine a more pressing priority than renewing faith in the Holy Eucharist. Every generation since the Ascension has viewed its times with urgency. This is the unchanging perspective of those who realise these are “the last days” of human history between Christ’s first coming and His glorious return. No generation has been mistaken in recognising the shadows of the latter times, whether in the mysterious figure of the Antichrist or in the apostasy which will be the Church’s ultimate trial. I recall the words of Blessed John Henry Newman on what he described as “the infidelity to come”. He explained:
I know that all times are perilous, and that in every time serious and anxious minds … are apt to consider no times so perilous as their own … still admitting this, I think that the trials which lie before us are such as would appal and make dizzy such courageous hearts as St Athanasius, St Gregory I, or St Gregory VII. And they would confess that, dark as the prospect of their own day was to them severally, ours has a darkness different in kind from any that has been before it … a world simply irreligious.
Yet we can never lose sight that our times, however darkened, are also illuminated – until the Lord’s return – by the Holy Eucharist, that is, the perpetuation of the Sacrifice of the Cross and the Real Presence of Jesus Christ among us.
In losing sight of Him who is truly present in the Eucharist, we can surely diagnose a central malaise of the Church in this land which now ails families, generations and parishes. It is a malaise which is also at the root of a failure to discern vocations, whether to Christian marriage, the priesthood or the consecrated life – vocations which are all recognised in the light of the Eucharist.
This problem belongs not only to our own times. It is recorded in the visitations of St Charles Borromeo in the 16th century that he came to a village parish church where the Tabernacle was broken and the Blessed Sacrament left mouldering within. He simply knelt and remained kneeling before the abandoned tabernacle the whole night.
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