dis·tin·guished 1: marked by eminence, distinction, or excellence; 2: befitting an eminent person
con·spic·u·ous 1: obvious to the eye or mind; 2: attracting attention : striking
A large, digital sign sits on the lawn in front of one of the local Catholic churches that reads, “C H – – C H . . . What’s missing? U R!”
But “U R” is not what I think of as missing every time I drive by. What’s missing is the Real Presence – at this Catholic Church and at many others like it that have taken up the tradition that the tabernacle may be hidden around a corner or in the back of a chapel where you have to search for it. According to Canon Law, “The tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved is to be situated in some part of the church or oratory which is distinguished, conspicuous, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer.” (Can. 938 §2.)
While on travel recently, we attended Mass at a beautiful Church, but again there was no tabernacle in sight. After Mass while waiting in the reception line, I desperately wanted to say a little something to the priest, who had celebrated such a moving mass. As I approached him he said, “Hello, dear” so kindly that I felt the courage to speak, “Why?” I must have sounded like Cindy Lou Who when I repeated, “Why…is there no tabernacle in the front of the Church?” Promptly his demeanor changed and he gently pushed me away, replying, “It’s not getting changed and I’m not discussing it,” and looked past me to the next person, dismissing me. Obviously he’d been challenged before.
Dear priests of God, please find it in the corners of your hearts to bring Jesus out of the corners of your Churches and place Him out in the open, front and center, behind the altar where He intends to be to fulfill His promise that He will never abandon us. The placement of the Sacred Tabernacle fosters our adoration of Him every time we enter the Church, particularly at every Mass before we consume Him in the Holy Eucharist. But you already know that.
Then, why am I writing this?
“Every member of the Church must be vigilant in seeing that this sacrament of love shall be at the center of the life of the people of God so that through all the manifestations of worship due to it, Christ shall be given back ‘love for love,’ and truly become the life of our souls.” – Blessed John Paul II
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