Sunday, 27 June 2010

Lesnes Abbey Blessed Sacrament Procession

The annual Blessed Sacrament Procession for Bexley and Greenwich Deanery took place this afternoon in glorious sunshine. There was a large group of children who had recently made their first Holy Communion; they had another opportunity, as Fr Scanlon, the Dean of Bexley put it, to “dress up for Jesus.” The recently confirmed were also gathered together today, to reflect on this year’s theme of “Discipleship”. The choir and the readers led us in suitable hymns and gospel passages related to the theme and to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. As is our custom, a collection was taken up for the Greenwich and Bexley Cottage Hospice.

The numbers were down this year: when we fixed the date of the procession, we did not know that it would coincide with England playing Germany in the World Cup. Nevertheless, those who came enjoyed a beautiful occasion of the praise and worship of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Here is the text of the sermon I preached for today:

Disciples of Christ
May I give a special welcome to all the children who have recently made their first Holy Communion and to all the young people who have recently been confirmed. Today, we gather together in this beautiful place with God’s creation smiling on us and his sunshine making everything bright.

We could imagine that we are like those five thousand people who were sat around to listen to him and to marvel as he fed them all with the five loaves and the two fish that the little boy brought for his packed lunch. We can think of the times that the disciples sat and listened to his wonderful teaching which he gave them with great authority because He was the living God, present among them as a man.

We are also gathered around Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He is truly present in the Eucharist, our Holy Communion, as you learnt when you prepared for your first Holy Communion.

But that is difficult to understand, isn’t it? As you know, in September, we will have a very special visitor to our country. Pope Benedict is going to come and see us. We will see pictures of him on the television. Some of us will go to wave to him as he goes by in his special car which people call the “Popemobile”. Some lucky people will be able to go to the special events where he celebrates Mass or says prayers with people and speaks to them about our Catholic faith.

One time in Rome, Pope Benedict met with some children who had just made their first Holy Communion. They were invited to ask the Pope questions. One of them, called Andrea, said to the Pope:

In preparing me for my First Communion day, my catechist told me that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. But how? I can’t see Him!

The Pope kindly explained to Andrea that there are many things that we do not see but we know they are there – like our minds which we use to think, our souls which we use to love others. We can’t see thoughts or love. We can’t see electricity but we know it is there because the light is on.

So with Jesus – we do not see Him with our eyes but we see that wherever Jesus is, people change, they improve. Often the most important things are what we do not see.

Then another child, called Adriano asked the Pope:

Holy Father, they’ve told us that today we will have Eucharistic Adoration. What is it? How is it done? Can you explain it to us? Thank you.

The Pope said that we can see something of what adoration is because everything has been prepared, as it has been today. We say prayers, we sing, kneel down and place ourselves in the presence of Jesus.

Then he explained what adoration is – he said that it is to recognise that

“Jesus is my Lord, that Jesus shows me the way to take, and that I will live well only if I know the road that Jesus points out and follow the path He shows me. Therefore, adoration means saying: “Jesus, I am yours. I will follow you in my life, I never want to lose this friendship, this communion with you”. I could also say that adoration is essentially an embrace with Jesus in which I say to Him: “I am yours, and I ask you, please stay with me always”.

So today, yes, we are just like those disciples of Jesus – Peter, James, John and the other apostles; Mary, Salome, Mary Magdalen, Joanna, Susanna and many others. They felt the power of the personality of Jesus which attracted them to listen to him, to love him, to follow him and to remain true to him all their lives.

Those of you who have been recently confirmed have taken that further step forward in faith as disciples of Jesus. Strengthened by the Holy Spirit you are given power to stand up for your faith, to stand up for Our Lord as a loyal friend.

Dear children and young people. We all learn from you. Your faith reminds us adults of how we need to grow in faith – but also how we need to be simple, heartfelt, devoted and humble in our faith. Adoring him in the Blessed Sacrament and receiving his blessing, we ask him with confidence to draw us closer to him as his disciples – as his friends.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.