For this week, I’m going to take a break from delving deeply into the Sacramental Liturgy and just invite everyone to a particular non-Sacramental Liturgy that we will be starting back up. As you probably heard last year, we started holding once a month an event called ‘Night of Worship.’ We took a break for the summer but we will be starting it back up next weekend, September 19th, at its usual time of 7:15pm. This event includes Eucharistic Adoration, praise and worship music, and a reflection.
Now you may ask the question, “Why would I go to this thing Sunday night when I just spent an hour at Mass that morning?"
The whole point of this event is simple: to provide an environment that encourages people to give praise to God, to give themselves more fully to Him, and to be vulnerable interiorly with Jesus so that Jesus has an opportunity to reveal himself in a powerful and even sometimes life-changing way. The Sacramental Liturgy of the Mass is the pinnacle of our prayer life in the Church. The endless depth of relationship with Christ is a path that leads through the reception of the Eucharist, the very body and blood of Christ. But if the Eucharist is akin to the ever-deepening relationship of a marriage, many Catholics have the problem of never having ‘been on a date’ with Jesus. Hence, so many Catholics come to Mass each week but never really have a meaningful relationship with Jesus, a relationship in which one has encountered Jesus Christ as a living person who is active in his/her life, who is present and attentive, whose love and power is beyond all imagining. We see in the Gospel the people who attended Jesus’ sermons and listened to his teaching but held themselves back, guarding their hearts and beliefs. How different their reactions so often were when compared to the Apostles who, as we hear from St. Peter in this weekend’s gospel, came to know and believe that Jesus is the Christ. Night of Worship is simply a time where we encourage people to be open to Jesus revealing himself more clearly and powerfully as the Christ. We sing music that, while perhaps may not always be as suitable for various reasons in a Sacramental Liturgy, has a beauty and simplicity to it that invites our hearts, hardened and stubborn though we all often are, to be vulnerable, to show our woundedness and brokenness to Jesus and be open to Him who heals.
This is why I encourage people to invite others to Night of Worship. Someone who may feel like a bump on a log at Mass or may have fallen into a malaise, having never really found meaningfulness in our Eucharistic celebrations, may encounter our Eucharistic Lord at Night of Worship in such a way that transforms their experience of the Eucharist at Mass. It is both a place of renewal for all who already have encountered Christ and a place of simple evangelization for those who have not.
So, regardless of where you are on that spectrum, I really encourage you to come and simply be open to what Christ wishes to do with and for you, and of course invite others. We see in the Gospel how often people are transformed when others invite them to come and meet Jesus. He does the heavy lifting. One of our tasks as Christians is to invite people into His presence, and for us to be open, even though it can be fearful and threatening to our comfortable spiritual status quo’s, to His voice drawing us forward deeper into His powerful love.