The Body And The Blood
When I sat still for a few minutes and wondered where was my favorite place to pray, at first I felt a bit defeated. I have prayed in all sorts of places. Fields. Bus stations. Chapels. Cathedrals. Church after church after church. Walking down the street. The big stuffed chair in my room.
How could I choose a favorite place?
But after a few minutes of prayer, ironically enough, I saw before me the small Chapel of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration up the road from me a bit. It is where the reserved sacrament, the host that has been blessed by a priest but not distributed in the Mass, comes to rest until it is used. In churches that do this, this sacrament can be put inside a startling beautiful container or a plain one. It can even be slipped into a safe hidden in the wall, with the door being shut before it.
I noticed that I had an affiliation with this kind of chapel when a Roman Catholic priest from Ireland whom I had met online in a religious discussion chatroom informed me privately that he was coming to Washington, DC, for a project, and would I mind showing him around.
And, of course, I wouldn’t mind at all. When I had the time to do so.
So he came. And we went.
I showed him all (ALL) the monuments around the town.
And on another day I took him to the Roman Catholic Basilica, a place of grandiosity. Marble. Gold. More marble. A lot more gold.
And chapels. I would say there are thousands of chapels in the Basilica. But that is an exaggeration clearly.
There aren’t thousands of chapels there, are there?
There’s an upper level of them. And there’s a lower level of them.
We wondered around for a time. And finally I came to rest at a chapel right off the main “nave central.” I had to get close to the altar, though I wasn’t sure what that was all about, and my friend allowed me to find my way and sit in complete contentment.
Afterward he said that it didn’t surprise me that I had chosen that chapel and insisted on sitting so close to the altar. It was where the reserved sacrament was.
I knew what that meant, but in small Anglican churches, there is no dedicated chapel for it to come to rest. Neither are there times when we can come and adore it.
And, looking back on the experience, I realized that I had felt something very special that afternoon, sitting quietly there. Gazing.
The adoration that I felt just naturally flowed out of me.
But remembering not just that day but the day when we looked at the monuments reminded me of something that happened recently.
I was attending a course ostensibly on spiritual warfare. But the instructor was something of a performer in the style of a clown. He wanted to make big gestures. Get big reactions from the attendees.
And at one point, he threw his arms up in disgust and shouted out, Here I am in Washington, DC. And there are statues all around the town that glorify pagan beliefs. We are sitting here in the midst of complete idolatry.
Where are the statues of Jesus, he screamed. Where are they ?
Then, quietly, I answered him.
The Vietnam War Memorial.
Jesus doesn’t have statues because Jesus is God. Not man. Or myth.
Jesus has his wafers. And his wine.
And we can sit before the wafers that have been transformed into his body and love him just the way he is any time we want to.
And if we want to know how he ministers to us, we can visit the Vietnam War Memorial.
Where people grieve. Where soldiers go to remember their comrades and to grieve what they have been through.
Where family members and loved ones grieve their precious losses.
Where others are humbled by the simple listing of names on a black granite wall that stretches toward the sunset.
We can sit and pray before him.
Or we can stand and pray alongside of him.