The first time I ever walked into the Center for Catholic Studies here in Minnesota, I remember thinking, “I’d love to get a job here one day.” Two years later after I’d finished my graduate degree, that’s exactly what happened. I served as an adjunct professor and the managing editor for Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture for nearly 14 years. I probably stayed in that position longer than I should have. I blame the Eucharist.
“How highly favored I felt to walk downstairs to go to Mass or to adoration or to simply pray before the Eucharist in the Tabernacle, and to see so many students and colleagues there, on their knees, seeking the face of the Lord.”
Two floors below my desk at the Center, the Blessed Sacrament was in repose in our chapel. The altar was basically under my desk and what a metaphor—to place my work as humble as it was on the altar each day. In addition to daily Mass celebrated there, the students ran perpetual adoration on campus during the school year, and every Monday, the Center was its host. How highly favored I felt to walk downstairs to go to Mass or to adoration or to simply pray before the Eucharist in the Tabernacle, and to see so many students and colleagues there, on their knees, seeking the face of the Lord.
It is a rare privilege, especially for a lay person, to work so close to the Blessed Sacrament, and I did not want to give that up.
Alas, the time came when I was working so much on the weekends with retreats and speaking, it was no longer feasible to show up on Monday at my desk. I mourned that office, that regular proximity to Jesus in the Eucharist.
But something interesting started to happen about a year before I left. I held a weekly holy hour at my parish, St. Pius X, and one day, the woman who organized the adorers told me how they were hoping to refresh the adoration chapel, it had become rather worn and needed a makeover. “I just want to create something beautiful for Jesus,” she told me. I said, “I know just the man for that.”
My husband, Vince, is an architect and has a particularly strong gift for reimagining spaces. A devout Catholic, he’d made a personal study of canon law on sacred architecture and had spent a lot of hours in that chapel already. He was the perfect man for the job. He went to work with the chapel committee, bringing a new beauty, order, and simplicity to this sacred space. I was so excited at this prospect that as he worked, I would lean over his shoulder on occasion and remind him, “Just think, you’re creating the most sacred space on earth!”
Finally, last week, the archbishop came to bless this new adoration chapel which is mostly complete. Now, I get to spend time with my Beloved, less than a mile from my home, in a space imagined by my other beloved. The Lord spoils me.
It’s heartbreaking to me, unimaginable, that so many Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence, either because they lack understanding or they lack faith. As we launch into our three-year Eucharistic Revival, please join me in adding Holy Hours to your schedule in atonement and intercession for those whose faith in the Real Presence has grown cold, indifferent, or was never properly seeded to begin with. Let’s have the courage to make an earnest examination of conscience on this point: where have we have failed to make him known, loved, and adored in the Holy Eucharist, and what is our role in doing so now?
Lord, let us never take you for granted in the Blessed Sacrament. Teach us how to share this magnificent mystery with the world around us that knows you too little and needs you so much. Amen.
Liz Kelly Stanchina is the award-winning author of ten books, including Love Like A Saint: Cultivating Virtue with Holy Women. Visit her website at LizK.org.