Prayer before Christ the Lord, sacramentally present in the Eucharist, extends the union with Christ that we reach in Holy Communion. It encourages us to live in light of the Death and Resurrection of the Lord, to do good works, to please God, and to be witnesses of Christ in the world. Adoration of the Eucharist, either individually or as a community, always relates to the celebration of Mass. It helps us to hold the liturgical celebration in our hearts, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, to commit ourselves more intensely to offering our lives to the Father along with the perfect of sacrifice of Jesus. The importance of eucharistic adoration is shown in the fact that the Church has a ritual that regulates it: the Rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction. This is an extension of the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which occurs in every Mass: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament flows from the sacrifice of the Mass and serves to deepen our hunger for Communion with Christ and the rest of the Church. The rite concludes with the ordained minister blessing the faithful with the Blessed Sacrament.

Copyright © 2016, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington DC. All rights reserved.

Fact Of Faith

The Real Presence of Christ

By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ is present in the proclamation of God’s Word, in the Eucharistic assembly, in the person of the priest, but above all and in a wholly unique manner in the Eucharist. “This presence is called ‘real’—by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present” (CCC, no. 1374, citing Pope Paul VI, Mystery of Faith, no. 39).

Since the Middle Ages, the change of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ has been called “transubstantiation.” This means that the substance of the bread and wine is changed into the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ. The appearances of bread and wine remain (color, shape, weight, chemical composition), but the underlying reality— that is, the substance—is now the Body and Blood of Christ. The Real Presence of Jesus Christ endures in the consecrated elements even after the Mass is ended. Once Communion has been distributed, any remaining hosts are placed in the tabernacle. If any of the Precious Blood remains, it is reverently consumed. The hosts are reserved to provide Communion for the sick, Viaticum (Communion for the dying), and to allow the faithful to worship Christ in the reserved Sacrament and to pray in his presence. As a sign of adoration, Latin Catholics genuflect to the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the tabernacle or genuflect or kneel when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for prayer. Eastern Catholics show their reverence by a profound bow rather than a genuflection: “It is for this reason the tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in the Church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament” (CCC, no. 1379).

With the passage of time, reverent reflection led the Church to enrich its Eucharistic devotion. Faith that Jesus is truly present in the Sacrament led believers to worship Christ dwelling with us permanently in the Sacrament. Wherever the Sacrament is, there is Christ, who is our Lord and our God. Such worship is expressed in many ways: in genuflection, in adoration of the Eucharist, and in the many forms of Eucharistic devotion that faith has nourished. The Eucharistic Liturgy contains the entire treasure of the Church since it makes present the Paschal Mystery, the central event of salvation. Eucharistic adoration and devotion flow from and lead to the Eucharistic Liturgy, the Mass.

This article is an excerpt from the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, copyright
© 2006, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2016, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington DC. All rights reserved.

Catholic Participation in Political Life

Of her very nature, the Church is missionary. This means her members are called by God to bring the Gospel by word and deed to all peoples and to every situation of work, education, culture, and communal life in which

human beings find themselves. The members of the Church seek to transform society not by power but by persuasion and by example. Through participation in political life—either as voters or as holders of public office—they work for increasing conformity of public policy to the law of God as known by human reason and Divine Revelation. This they do especially by showing the coherence of Catholic teaching with the fundamental yearnings and dignity of the human person.

 From its foundation, the United States has maintained the freedom of its citizens to worship according to their consciences and has prohibited infringement upon religious freedom by the government. For some, this leads to the conclusion that religion is a purely private matter and should not exercise a public voice in debates about moral issues. That was not the intention of the founders of this nation. Catholics must participate in political life and bring to bear upon it—by their voice and their vote—what they have learned about human nature, human destiny, and God’s will for human beings from his self-revelation. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is relevant for all times and all places.

©2016 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops