Chapter III of the rite begins with a short three-section portion which makes the traditional argument in favor of Eucharistic devotion. As we move through about thirty-plus numbered sections, these texts will draw heavily on Eucharisticum Mysterium, the CDWDS instruction on Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery. You can also scroll to “Eucharisticum Mysterium” under “categories” in the sidebar and peruse the posts on Catholic Sensibility from last June.
To non-Catholics, Eucharistic worship is a strange practice. The Church tells you the official understanding:
79 The eucharistic sacrifice is the source and culmination of the whole Christian life. Therefore devotion, both private and public, toward the eucharist even outside Mass that conforms to the norms laid down by lawful authority is strongly advocated.
In structuring these devotional exercises account should be taken of the liturgical seasons so that they accord with the liturgy, are in some way derived from it, and lead the people back to it.[Eucharisticum Mysterium 58]
That thread from the Mass should connect to everyday life for the believer. It makes sense to suggest that the Mass is connected to the prayer life of the believer as well. The Eucharist sustains a mature prayer life, and a mature prayer life in turn leads the believer to the Eucharist. Eucharisticum Mysterium reminds Catholics of the principle that Eucharistic devotion cannot exist apart from the Mass, as a parallel cult.
80. When the faithful adore Christ present in the sacrament, they should remember that this presence derives from the sacrifice and has as its purpose both sacramental and spiritual communion.
The traditional view of Eucharistic devotion has a deep affective or emotional side to it:
Therefore, the devotion prompting the faithful to visit the blessed sacrament draws them into an ever deeper share in the paschal mystery and leads them to respond gratefully to the gift of him who through his humanity constantly pours divine life into the members of his Body. Abiding with Christ the Lord, they enjoy his intimate friendship and pour out their hearts before him for themselves and for those dear to them and they pray for the peace and salvation of the world. Offering their entire lives with Christ to the Father in the Holy Spirit, they derive from this sublime colloquy an increase of faith, hope, and charity. Thus they foster those right dispositions that enable them with due devotion to celebrate the memorial of the Lord and receive frequently the bread given us by the Father.
And this spirituality will lead people to both participation in the Mass as well as a participation in their proper apostolate.
Good example from clergy is important:
Therefore, the faithful should strive to worship Christ the Lord in the blessed sacrament in a manner fitting in with their own way of life. Pastors should show the way by example and by word encourage their people.[ Eucharisticum Mysterium 50]
What is begun in the Mass as an act of Christ sanctifying the faithful is built upon by an openness to grace in the worship of the Eucharist outside of Mass.
81. Prayer before Christ the Lord sacramentally present extends the union with Christ that the faithful have reached in communion. It renews the covenant that in turn moves them to maintain by the way they live what they have received through faith and the sacrament. They should strive to lead their whole lives in the strength of this heavenly food, as sharers in the death and resurrection of the Lord. All should be eager to do good works and to please God, so that they may seek to imbue the world with the Christian spirit and, in all things, even in the midst of human affairs, to become witnesses of Christ.[ Eucharisticum Mysterium 13]
What do you think? Does the HCWEOM make a convincing case? Have they left out any important bits of persuasion? Do you think Catholics have a realization of this worship as leading them to an active participation in the mission of Christ in the world? Or is Eucharistic worship more of a distraction from where Catholics should be placing our attention?
I have to say that the fear of it being a distraction is more theoretical than real. Most people I know who are active in Eucharistic adoration have the longest sustainted activity in apostolates of service and/or prayer for others. The one feeds the other. And I have certainly witnessed first hand where places where Eucharistic adoration became treated as a distraction were also places where apostolates suffered.
So count me a deep experiential skeptic of the distraction argument.