At the Lord’s Supper, Jesus Christ did it.
He broke bread, gave thanks to God and said, “Take this all of you and eat it, this is my body which will be given up for you.”
And raising the cup, he again gave thanks and said, “take this and drink from it, this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant, it will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven, do this in memory of me.”
While most Christians do not take these words lightly, the phrase “do this in memory of me” must have made more sense to the Roman Catholic Church.
Catholics in a special way unlike other churches, celebrate the Eucharist everyday.
“During mass, when the priest pronounces the same words that Jesus used at the last supper, the bread and wine cease to be; they are consecrated to become the body and blood of Christ,” explains Rev. Fr.James Ssebayigga, Parish priest Holy Trinity parish, Kamwokya.
For this, Catholics believe that Christ is truly and substantially present in the Eucharist. The consecrated bread and wine are therefore given the same adoration and devotion that is accorded to Christ.
This indestructible faith is defined as Eucharistic Adoration. It is the honouring the Eucharistic presence of Christ. In a deeper sense, it involves the contemplation of the mystery of Christ truly present before his people.
The Sacred host (bread) is placed in a monstrance (a vessel used to expose the Blessed Sacrament). the faithful come before it to silently adore, meditate, pray and worship.
A priest presides over the ceremony, burning incense over the exposed ‘Jesus’ in the Eucharist. Adoration traditionally includes Scripture readings, meditational hymns, prayers and time for silence.
The Blessed Sacrament is a great treasure to the church, it nourishes social love and gives believers opportunity for adoration, thanksgiving,and supplication.
“Adoration is reparation of Jesus for the sins that we commit, all the sins in the world wound him; so, if someone is there to adore, we repair him for our sins and those of the whole world” says Fr James.
Fr James re- echoes the late Pope John Paul II’s statement: “The Church and the world have a great need of Eucharistic Adoration.”
According to Catholic teaching, this sacrament is pure, and this is emphasised by the respect its accorded. When the Monstrance contains the Sacred Host, the priest does not touch it with bare hands;he uses a humeral veil – a wide band of cloth that covers his shoulders and has pleats on the inside in which he places his hands.
Then every one is required to genuflect wherever the sacrament is exposed.
Traditionally, the act was embraced in what is known as “Holy Hour”, also called “Eucharistic Adoration of Reparation” which lasts for about an hour. Today, it can take longer than that , and this is known as “perpetual adoration” (that is, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, through the months and years.)
The faithful adore in an unceasing manner, second after second, minute after another, hour after hour, making sure that the chain of prayer is not broken because the Blessed Sacrament when exposed, there should be someone to adore each minute that goes by.
In Kampala Archdiocese, there is a strong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Many parishes now embrace perpetual adoration. Kamwokya parish, Old Kampala parish, Christ the King parish, Mt. Zion Bukalango, Ggogonya and many others adore 24/7 .
Although it is Catholic oriented, the exercise is open to anyone, regardless of religion as Fr James explains:
“Catholic means universal, the word itself is welcoming, and so Jesus welcomes everyone as long as you come with the right intensions.”
Catholics believe that adoration changes the lives of those who do it and their neighbours; Fr James says that there is a special power from above that falls upon a place where the sacred host is exposed.
He believes because of that power, there are a lot of changes, for instance change in morals, return of the lost sheep, growth of faith, renewal of Catholic families and a greater community spirit of love and sharing.
It also brings healing; people get cured of incurable diseases.
Catholics who adore the sacrament have testimonies of healing, reconciliation and more.
Dorah was employed but she wasn’t content with her salary. She says she sat before the Lord in the Eucharist, and asked him for a well paying job of not less than Shs 600,000. She testifies that the Lord blessed her with a job even more paying than what she asked for.
When Jane Mugabo feels infuriated, she goes to the Blessed Sacrament and by the time she leaves, she is her normal, humble, and happy self.
“When I first adored, I did not understand the whole mystery, but as I learnt more about the Eucharist, tremendous power flowed out of the this sacrament. I personally meet my God and we talk like best friends.”
When you come to adore Christ, you feel this love that you probably have never felt before; you speak to Him like you are speaking to a beloved one, and like a mother embracing her own child. Also Christ in the Eucharist embraces His own who come to seek him.
He calls us to Himself in Matthew 11:8 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” So, Jesus is waiting for you with hands wide open to receive whoever seeks Him.