XLT Adoration in the Cathedral — a time of Adoration and praise


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Newer rites of grace prevailed over more-common summer rituals on a sun-soaked evening in June.

More than 180 people, including many families with babies and young children, spent an hour in the Cathedral of St. Joseph, adoring Christ fully present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

It was the latest installment of the Cathedral parish’s XLT Adoration.

“XLT” is an abbreviation for “Exult” — a time of prayer, praise and adoration.

Contemporary worship songs and medieval chants guided the bittersweet incense smoke aloft from the altar, where the Word Made Flesh was pleased to dwell in time and eternity.

Cathedral parishioners and visitors from surrounding parishes joined the young choir in raising their voices, knelt in silent prayer and listened to a surgically precise teaching by Father Stephen Jones, the pastor.

He spoke in anticipation of participants in the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage bringing special opportunities for prayer, action and learning to the diocese (July 1-5, 2024) on their way to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis, (July 16-21).

“The belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is deeply biblical,” the priest told the assembly.

“And it is attested to in the writings of the disciples,” he said, “especially those who learned the faith from the Apostle John — people like St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Polycarp of Smyrna.”

Fourteen years ago, Fr. Jones resigned his post as an ordained pastor in another Christian ecclesial community and became Catholic because he had come to believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

He stated that for the first 15 centuries since Christ walked the earth, no Christian would have dared to consider substituting another service or liturgy for the Holy Eucharist on a Sunday.

“Yet, today, significant numbers of our brothers and sisters in other Christian ecclesial communities have no concept of the Holy Eucharist,” Fr. Jones noted. “And those that do, certainly do not understand it in the way the earliest Christians did.”

Even among Catholics, for whom the Eucharist is identified as the source and summit of the Christian life, there are many who do not believe or understand the truth the Church upholds about the Eucharist.

“So, here, in the Eucharistic presence of our Lord, I want to talk to you about the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of what we believe about the Holy Eucharist,” said Fr. Jones.

“So that hopefully, we can all grow in understanding and in love with the Lord,” he said.

With one accord

The Eucharistic Revival seemed in full force in the pews under the Cathedral’s crown-shaped roof.

The median age of the XLT adorers was likely below 35, possibly 30.

The prevailing mode of dress was casual but modest.

The young people were mostly silent, although a few spoke up from time to time. No one minded.

Most of the songs had familiar refrains and could be learned and sung by heart.

People lined up to receive the Sacrament of Confession under the stained-glass window depicting the moment Jesus’s friends recognized him in the breaking of the bread.

Bread from heaven

“The Scriptures are clear,” Fr. Jones proclaimed from the ambo. “The Church from the very beginning was Eucharistic.

“It revolved around the Breaking of Bread and he proclamation that Jesus was made known in a very real and tangible way in and through that act,” he said.

He called to mind what Jesus, after miraculously feeding the 5,000, said to those who followed him across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum.

There, as recorded in John, Chapter 6, Jesus referred to himself emphatically as the “the Bread of Life” and “the Bread Come Down from Heaven.”

Jesus insisted that this bread of everlasting life is his true flesh and his true blood: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Jesus’s followers, who were thoroughly familiar with the story of Creation presented in the Book of Genesis, were well aware that God creates through the act of the spoken word.

“The creative word is to God, as the song is to the singer, or the lecture to the lecturer,” said Fr. Jones. “And Jesus is God, the Word Made Flesh.”

Then, at the Last Supper, Jesus presented bread and wine to his closest friends, saying “This is my Body. This is my Blood.”

He commanded them to “do this in remembrance of me.”

Accordingly, those who encountered him on the Road to Emmaus the day he rose from the dead recognized him only in the “breaking of the bread.”

The Acts of the Apostles tells of how, after Jesus’s ascension into heaven and the arrival of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the growing Church remained focused day by day on the Apostles’ teaching, the communal life and the breaking of the bread.

“Brothers and sisters, that means that they had a daily Eucharist!” said Fr. Jones.

Thoroughly present

The Greek word translated into English as “in remembrance” more precisely means “to know all over again” or even “to experience it all over again.”

Understood in this way, Jesus’s command to “do this in remembrance of me” refers to making him present and whole — at the Last Supper, at the Crucifixion, at the Resurrection and in his glory at the Right Hand of the Father.

“When the Church offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist to the Father, Jesus is re-membered. He is put back together again,” stated Fr. Jones.

“This is what the Church has always believed, that Christ has somehow, and very mysteriously, really and truly present in the Eucharistic elements that we receive at Mass,” he said.

Fr. Jones clarified that God does not so much “come down and get ‘into’ the bread and wine,” as that “the bread and wine are taken up into heaven.”

“Christ is not located on the altar as much as what is on the altar is united with him in heaven, outside of space and time,” the priest explained.

“God is present in the Most Blessed Sacrament in this way,” he said. “He uses the species of bread and wine as an instrument through which he makes himself present historically. That is, in space and time.”

The very substance, rather than the chemical composition or physical element, is what changes.

“God uses ordinary bread and wine to nourish us naturally. He uses the consecrated elements of the Eucharist for the additional purpose of giving himself to us, and being with us, even in us, nourishing us spiritually,” said Fr. Jones.

So what?

All of this matters, because it means the Eucharist is not merely a symbol. Rather, it accomplishes what it signifies.

“It is a real conveyer of God’s divine life, God’s own grace,” Fr. Jones noted.

All Catholics, therefore, must seriously consider whether they are regularly well disposed to receive that grace.

“By that,” said Fr. Jones, “I mean: do we consciously understand, both in our minds and in our souls, what it is — actually, WHO it is — we are receiving?

“And then, do we then allow our attitudes, our actions, our dispositions, our love of God and neighbor to be informed by the one who is received and consumed in each and every Holy Communion?”

He encouraged everyone present to think about those things while adoring Christ fully present on the altar.

“Let the love of God, made known in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, seep into the very depths of your soul,” he said.

Taking notice

Out in the churchyard after Adoration, children and adults gathered for games and summer treats in the waning sun.

Jake Akin, assistant principal of St. Joseph Cathedral School, spoke of why he brought his three young children to Adoration.

“We want to do things that reinforce the truths of our faith to them,” he said.

It was also a chance for him spend some quiet time with the Lord, get closer to him, and have his children see the value of doing so.

“I want them to be able to see that God talks and listens to everyone — big, small, little ... it doesn’t matter who you are,” he said.

He subscribes to a variant of the old axiom that faith and values are “caught” — namely, that they must also be taught.

“We instruct them, we show them, we model it for them, and we see them actually modeling it for each other,” he stated.

It’s all about getting closer to Christ — “bringing faith deep into their hearts so they can spread it throughout the community,” he said.