The Eucharist is the Real Presence of Christ: the physical Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. During the Mass, the bread and wine are completely "transubstantiated" into the Real Presence, while the “accidents” of bread and wine remain.
“Only the substance is converted into another—the accidents remaining the same—just as would be the case if wood were miraculously converted into iron, the substance of the iron remaining hidden under the external appearance of the wood.” -quote from Catholic.com.
“Eucharistic Adoration extends Holy Communion in a lasting way and prepares us to participate more fully in the celebration of the Eucharistic mystery. It leads us to ‘acknowledge Christ’s marvelous presence in the sacrament’ and ‘invites us to the spiritual union with Him that culminates in sacramental communion'" -quote from “Thirty-One questions on Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament” by the Bishops’ committee on the liturgy from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
While many struggle with this great mystery, both today and in Jesus’s time, it is part of the foundation of the Catholic Church, and the basis for Eucharistic Adoration.
Perpetual Adoration (more properly defined as “Perpetual Exposition) at St. Ferdinand refers to the liturgical act whereby the Blessed Sacrament (the Real Presence in a host that was consecrated at Mass) is placed in a monstrance perpetually (24 hours a day, seven days a week) so that our community may gather together to pray before the exposed Eucharist. This is an extremely beautiful opportunity- Christ is literally present in Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Although not a physical communion like at Mass, we can participate in a spiritual communion.
“I already go to Mass every Sunday, pray privately at home, and try to be a good person. Why should I go to adoration? Isn’t Christ in each of us? God hears my prayers even at home already, right?”
Yes, Christ is in all these things, and all these things are good! The reason we go to Adoration is similar to why we go to Church: to worship as a community and to build our relationship with God and others. The Eucharist in the Mass is “truly the origin and purpose of the worship that is shown to the Eucharist outside Mass.”
Although Adoration is not a physical communion like at Mass, we are able to make a spiritual communion and “make contact with the very wellspring of grace… we are given the opportunity to thank Him for his passion, death, and glorious resurrection, the marvelous saving act that brought about our redemption. Christ draws near to us, more intimate with us than we are with ourselves. He strengthens our share in His divine life, the life that transforms us into His likeness and, in the Spirit, He gives us access to the Father.” (USCCB). It is one of the highest forms of connection we can have with God outside of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
There are many things you can do in Adoration! Here are a few examples:
The idea for a Perpetual Adoration Chapel came into being over 30 years ago when two of St. Ferdinand's parishioners went to the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia. They heard Bishop Fulton Sheen speak about how he made a holy hour every day and how beneficial he felt it was for him. The parishioners, Ed and Blanche Rowles, were impressed by what Bishop Sheen had said. After reading an article in "Immaculate Magazine" that encouraged people to open a Eucharistic Chapel, the Rowles approached Monsignor Holland about using the empty chapel at St. Ferdinand (it was part of the convent at one time). Msgr. Holland was a bit skeptical that this would work, thinking everyone was too busy with their lives and interests, but he gave the go ahead to try.
The first step was to determine what parishioner support could be expected to sustain such a chapel. Fr. Martin Lucia of the Missionary Society of the Blessed Sacrament was invited to speak on the concept of Perpetual Adoration on April 17th and 18th, 1982. As a result, nearly 450 parishioners signed up! Msgr. Holland's concerns were satisfied, so he requested permission from the Archdiocese to begin such a program.
Archbishop May's approval was granted on May 18, 1982. The chapel opened and the Perpetual Adoration program started on June 18, 1982, the eve of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Our chapel has been blessed with the participation of many fantastic men and women over the years, including Archbishop Rigali for the chapel's 15th year anniversary in 1997, Bishop Hermann for the 25th anniversary in 2007, and Bishop Rice for the 30th anniversary in 2012.
The chapel has remained mostly the same through the years, however new carpeting was added in 2009 through the generous time and talent of a parishioner; furniture and the outdoor Nativity scene were donated in 2009 by Nick and Jean Ambrow. There are some new changes and upgrades going on in 2017 that will hopefully both enhance your special visit with Our Lord and help keep the chapel a sacred place for public worship.
It takes many volunteers to keep the chapel running smoothly. Stephanie, Alice, Janet, and Ann are four of the volunteers who work very hard to organize and fill the scheduled hours. Ron takes care of the candles and holy water, Rita keeps the chapel sparkling, and Phyllis takes care of linens and seasonal decorations.
Many people have been blessed over the years through adoring Our Lord at the perpetual adoration chapel, and their testimony can be seen both in the bulletin (every week there's a new story, see the last page of the bulletin!) and in the living witness of the faithful at St. Ferdinand parish. We are truly blessed to have Christ be both spiritually and physically the center of our parish!
How will YOU help us write the next part of this history?