When I was a child I loved the mystery of the rite of Benediction. I loved the candles and the incense and the beautiful singing of the choir. It moved me to want to be a better person, to love others and make God proud of me. It touched my heart. 

Today there is a resurgence of interest in the rite of Benediction and the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. I find myself shrinking in horror now. Why? Is a young person today any less likely to be moved to be become a better person and to love God and others than I was?  Of course not. So why do I find it abhorrent, as a middle-aged Catholic, that people should be bowing before the consecrated host?

Maybe I am just too judgmental. Maybe I assume the worst instead of the best of these young, idealistic Catholics. Or maybe I am simply jaded! I have lost my faith in my Church so I assume that anyone who still has faith in the Catholic Church is misguided, dangerously naive, or hiding from prosecution.  And I am WRONG to assume this.

On the other hand, and I believe it is a big hand, there is the very real danger that rituals such as these are in effect (if not in essence) actually idolatrous, and the absolute opposite of what Jesus would have wanted his last Shabbat supper to have resulted in.

So my question for teachers and for young Catholics is: what difference does this ritual make to who you are, how you live, and how you love?  Is the effect of this ritual a sense of self-satisfaction and complacent contentment or is it the discomfort born of the experience of grace? Are you moved to engage in the world more fully or to retreat from the community in judgment?  Do you leave with a greater sense of self-love resulting from the experience of God’s unconditional love, or a greater sense of self-loathing born of a ritual in which you see an ideal of priestly perfection that taunts you and damns you?

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