Ignorance of Jesus’ Real Presence

I go to adoration on Fridays for one hour at St. Louis. On First Fridays of the month, we are blessed to get to have adoration in the chapel instead of in the baby cry room. So today, First Friday (and Solemnity of Jesus’ Sacred Heart), I went to adoration.

I was adoring Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament, exposed beautifully in the monstrance on the altar, in the chapel that is really one part of the cross that forms the church (classic church style). A woman came into the chapel and walked past the Blessed Sacrament; I think she made some small gesture acknowledging it, and then made her way to the main sanctuary area where she knelt down in a pew. I wanted to shout over to her: “Hey! Good woman: Jesus is right here before us exposed in the Blessed Sacrament! Come back over this way.”

I wondered at how she could not know about Jesus’ Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Then I realized that probably many Catholics don’t know about it. This is perhaps one reason why we have almost 5,000 families at St. Louis and yet only about 60 people on our schedule for weekly adoration. The other thing I realized is that I often assume that others know what I know about the Catholic faith, when this situation proves that is not true, and therefore it is up to me and others to teach those who are ignorant (I use the word ignorant in a pure theological sense, not to say that this woman was “stupid” as is often connoted with the word).

This is not the first time that I have had a strange experience with adoration. One time while leaving adoration, held in the baby cry room at the back of the church, I saw an elderly man sitting in a pew, and so I said to him “We are having adoration in the cry room back there.” He looked at me like I was crazy and said “What?!” and so I told him again, but either he completely didn’t hear me, or the word “adoration” didn’t make sense to him.

So what can we do to educate fellow Catholics on the basics of our wonderful faith?

Amazing Woman from Tanzania

I had adoration today at St. Louis parish. It was an unusual day in adoration, to say the least, for a few reasons:

  1. Workers with heavy equipment were making terrific noise and vibrations as they crushed the concrete steps and sidewalks outside the main entrance. They are working to expand the parish, which is great and we’ve been waiting for it for a long time, but it is teeth-rattlingly loud.
  2. I spoke with an elderly black woman at some length who had an amazing story.

She told me her name and said she was from Tanzania originally. I, being quite ignorant of both geography and history in any part of the world other than Texas and the United States (and even for those, I don’t know as much as I should), only had a vague idea of where or what Tanzania is. She proceeded to tell me how she was quite well off decades ago in Tanzania when Socialist and Communist ideologies began making their way into the country. Eventually, all people with bank accounts more than $250,000 were targeted as being too wealthy. She said she had more than this in the bank, and so they came for her, froze her money (or stole it), and then put her in a detention center no bigger than our adoration “chapel” (the baby cry room at St. Louis).

The only thing they left her with was her rosary, and she prayed it over and over. Eventually, she began to lose hope that God would help her and thought about flushing the rosary down the toilet. But then, she said she felt Jesus come to her and start to pray the rosary with her. So she kept praying it. Everyday she spent locked up in this detention cell, for over two years. After those years, she was told she could leave.

Immediately she called her daughter who was living here in the United States. Her daughter sent her a plane ticket to Kenya, which was the only way the Tanzania authorities would let her leave. “When are you coming back?” they asked her. “Next Tuesday,” she said. Of course, she got out of there and once in Kenya made her way to London and then to the United States!

While we talked, she would turn to the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance and say “I love you Jesus” and “Thank you Jesus”. I tried to imagine how I would endure having everything taken from me and being locked up without a trial nor contact with my family or friends for two years. I can’t fathom how I would make it. The grace that God has given to this woman must be tremendous.

How is it that I still complain to God about my life in light of such sufferings others undergo?