Fighting against abortion through Eucharistic adoration
Right or Wrong?
As our last column noted, the Supreme Court has made abortion, including even the killing of a partially-delivered baby, a privileged constitutional right. It is easy to be pessimistic about this. But that would be a mistake. John Paul II has told us about one practical and positive thing we can do on the life issue right here at Notre Dame.
When he spoke last February on the fifth anniversary of his encyclical, The Gospel of Life, the Pope said "there is no reason for [a] defeatest mentality which claims that laws opposed to the right to life ... are inevitable and now almost a social necessity. On the contrary, they are a seed of corruption for society ... the civil and moral conscience cannot accept this false inevitability, any more than the idea that war or inter-ethnic extermination is inevitable." He called on youth to be "the first agents and beneficiaries ... of the apostolate of life."
But how does one become an "agent" of "the apostolate of life?" In his homily closing the 2000 World Youth Day, attended by two million young people, John Paul offered an answer. He urged them "to change direction and to turn to Christ." "Dear friends, when you go back home, set the Eucharist at the center of your personal life and community life. Love the Eucharist, adore the Eucharist and celebrate it, especially on Sundays, the Lord's day. Live the Eucharist by testifying to God's love for every person." A continuing theme with John Paul, as he put it to the 1993 Eucharistic Congress, is his belief that "the ... surest and the most effective way of establishing peace on the face of the earth is through the great power of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament."
Which brings us back to Notre Dame. Many good things happen at Notre Dame from the bottom up. Students in ND/SMC Right to Life, with the cooperation of Campus Ministry, took the initiative in 1997 to establish Eucharistic adoration as an integral part of the pro-life effort. It is counter-cultural. But it is solidly based. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharist species subsist. The Catholic Church has always offered ... to the ... Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts ... exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession. `The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease,'" quoting John Paul II. "Because Christ himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honored with the worship of adoration, `To visit the Blessed Sacrament is ... a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord,'" quoting Paul VI again.
Eucharistic adoration takes place every Monday from 11:30 p.m. to Tuesday at 10:45 p.m. at St. Paul Chapel in Fisher Hall and every Friday from noon to 5:00 p.m. at the Lady Chapel in the Basilica. Contact Jason Braun (4-3259), Mary Tarsha (4-2469) or Lisa Demidovich (4-0847) for information or to sign up for a half-hour slot. But you don't have to contact anybody. Just show up. Stay for as long or as short a time as you wish. You can pray, read or just think.
So why should we rouse ourselves to give 30 minutes in this way? One reason is that it works. When Mother Teresa was asked, "What will convert America and save the world?" she replied: "My answer is prayer. What we need is for every parish to come before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in holy hours of prayer." Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen made a holy hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament every day of his priestly life. He said, "[T]he Holy Hour is not a devotion; it is a sharing in the work of redemption. In the Garden, our Lord contrasted two `hours' — one was the evil hour, `this is your hour' with which Judas could turn out the lights of the world. In contrast, our Lord asked, `Could you not watch one hour with Me?' He asked for an hour of reparation to combat the hour of evil. Not for an hour of activity did He plead but for an hour of companionship. The purpose of the Holy Hour is to encourage deep personal encounter with Christ. God is constantly inviting us to come to Him, to hold converse with Him, to ask for such things as we need and to experience what a blessing there is in fellowship with Him."
Through the initiative of students we have this opportunity here at Notre Dame. Each week has 168 hours. It is difficult to imagine a more practically effective way to spend 1/336th of our week. And while you are at it, remember that there is no rule against praying for the success of the football team.
Charles Rice is a professor in the Notre Dame Law School. His column appears every other Tuesday.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Tuesday, September 26, 2000