The following are extracts from the homily preached by Father Joel Wallace at the reopening of the Sacred Heart "Adoration" Chapel and the inauguration of Perpetual Adoration in Albury, NSW, on the Feast of St Francis of Assisi last year.
Given his intense devotion to the Eucharist and his manifest humility in relation to the ministerial role of the priest, it seems fitting that we celebrate this occasion of the inauguration of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration on the Feast Day of Assisi's St Francis and of the current Pontiff, Pope Francis.
Let us listen again to the words of the Sacred Constitution of the Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium: "The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows" (SC 10).
The Eucharistic presence of Christ is both the source and pinnacle of our faith. The Church's mission of love, in its transformation of culture as the heart of the world, takes place only in the midst of our going to and coming from the Sacrament of the Altar, in which we experience a "foretaste of the heavenly liturgy".
God and neighbour
Our learning to love God and neighbour is inescapably caught up with Christ's Eucharistic Presence. Again, we read in the Constitution on the Liturgy: "The renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and humanity draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire" (SC 10).
The Council, therefore, calls you and I, though Eucharistic renewal, to be afire with the love of Christ. "From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a spring, grace is poured forth upon us and the sanctification of all people in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious way possible" (SC 10).
With this, we can understand that our worship of God in the Eucharist makes fruitful our efforts to bear witness to the beauty of truth through our actions which are given the capacity to be an "epiphany of love".
We come to know of the Father's love through Christ. Indeed, we can affirm, with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council's Gaudium et Spes, that "Christ, the New Adam, in the very revelation of the Father and of His love, fully reveals man to himself and makes known to him the sublimity of his calling (GS 22).
In the encounter with Christ, the revelation of a presence opens up a space for freedom, freedom for the gift of self. Love as an experience which happens to me and in me necessarily becomes love as action, for the affective union or union of hearts seeks real union or a union of persons.
Indeed, love, is principally action. According to St Thomas Aquinas, "Love principally consists in this, that the lover wants the good for the beloved".
Eucharistic Adoration, therefore, by arousing our freedom, opens up the space for authentic action, which manifests that the beauty of faith as eros is purified into agape, which is self-giving love, the love manifested by Christ crucified.
Such action seeks eternal happiness for others, just as for ourselves, and all according to the proper "order of love" which charity establishes. It seeks to share the joy of being Christian, as opposed to privatising faith, which leads to a kind of Catholic "ghetto mentality".
This is how the truth of the Gospel spreads for it is able to attract because its beauty is concretely evident in the witness of the generous gift of self. Hence we can understand an intrinsic link between the Eucharistic Presence and the New Evangelisation.
Such a conception emancipates us from a search for endless programs and techniques which, though containing authentic elements, may nevertheless distract us from the sub-lime beauty and simplicity of the Gospel's Eucharistic dynamism.
Love of neighbour, as proclaimed by Jesus, thus becomes possible. In the words again of Benedict XVI: "It consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings.
Eucharistic Adoration gives us a personal and intimate contact with God and fosters a path of mysticism in the authentic sense of perceiving the presence of God in the ordinary encounters of daily life. "One can find God even among the pots and pans in the kitchen", St Teresa of Avila famously said.
The saints, and we can think of the example of St Teresa of Calcutta, constantly renewed their capacity for self-giving in their encounter with Christ in the Eucharist. True love, which begins as presence and is fulfilled in communion, is then no longer a matter of "a 'commandment' imposed from without and calling for the impossible, but rather of a freely-bestowed experience of love from within, a love which by its very nature must then be shared with others".
Today, as we enthrone the Blessed Sacrament in the Sacred Heart Chapel, let us recommit ourselves to our thoroughly and unashamedly Eucharistic faith and recall with the joy of the redeemed the composition of the Angelic Doctor, written for the new universal Feast of Corpus Christi in AD 1264, which expresses our participation in the drama of Redemption and salvation history: "O sacred banquet in which Christ is received: the memory of the passion is recalled, the mind is filled with grace and the pledge of future glory is given to us".