Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

Audience with God in Your Parish

by John E. Coogan, S.J.


No shrine is more holy than the tabernacle of the parish church. That tabernacle is a place of most saving prayer for oneself and the world.

Larger Work

The Homiletic and Pastoral Reivew



Publisher & Date

Joseph F. Wagner, Inc., November 1961

Now and then we hear of some one who, after a lifetime of waiting, has finally found a chance to visit the Holy Land. Since childhood there has been the dream of someday standing at the place of Christ's birth, beside the first Christmas crib, seeing in person the place to which the Angels had called the shepherds on that night of all nights. Then it was to Nazareth that the pilgrim made his way. There he thrilled to think that here St. Joseph had his little carpenter shop wherein he labored to buy bread for the Holy Family. There Our Blessed Lady had silently walked the streets with the jar on her head as she carried water from the village well back to the Holy House. There the fairest of the sons of men, the incarnate God, had spent His boyhood. Out there on the hillside He had sat, thinking the long, long thoughts of boyhood, as his eyes swept south across the plain of Esdraelon, off toward Jerusalem some ninety miles away, where the crowning event in all history was to take place. Down that very Nazareth hillside road He had finally stumbled, His Blessed Mother for a time beside Him, as He left home on the journey that,was to end in His paying the penalty for the sins of the world.

Well might a Christian look forward a lifetime to walking where Christ had walked, talking where Christ had talked, seeing the sights that Christ had seen. And, in the old familiar neighborhood, guided by the Gospel story, thinking the thoughts that Christ had thought.


Yet, what pilgrimage could bring one into so holy a presence as does a visit to the Blessed Sacrament in one's own parish church or chapel? "There hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not." Christ is no longer walking the streets of Nazareth. He is not personally ruling His Church in Rome. But in the parish church, in the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus is truly and physically present, body and soul, God and man.

He is the richest of mankind
Who lives there all alone,
A willing prisoner self-confined,
In those high walls of stone.

It does not cost us the savings of a lifetime to visit Him there. To stand in His presence we do not need to go to the ends of the earth. We don't need an introduction from some important person to appear under His eyes. The door of His home will swing open at our touch. Before Him we shall find plenty of room to kneel, or sit, or stand while we tell Him the thoughts of our hearts and share with Him the story of our most pressing needs. We Catholics are said to lack a chance for immediate communication with God. We, it is said, must approach Him through the Pope or through some saint or through the Blessed Virgin. Of course, we appreciate the intercession of all or any of those, but we can without apology and with complete welcome go straight to Christ and lay bare the needs of our souls. The doors of every Catholic church in the land stand open all day and every day in the year.


The wonder is that not more Catholics find time for such visits to the Blessed Sacrament. Of course, in some large city churches the stream of visitors may be constant, a reminder of the great faith and goodness that is to be found in cities from which virtue is too often said to have gone out. But, by and large, there is not nearly enough of those visits to the Christ of our altars. Because of this, one Protestant woman has declared, "I can't believe you Catholics really believe in the true presence of Christ on your altars. Why, if I believed that, I'd go there and I'd never get up off my knees." Of course, that criticism is somewhat unfair. We are not angels of the Blessed Sacrament, and we have our own daily duties to take care of. But the criticism carries its burden of truth. None of us spends too much time before the Blessed Sacrament, and many of us spend much too little.

It is doubtful that there ever has been a time in history when there was more need for visits to the Blessed Sacrament and prayers for the world's needs. The air is full of rumors of war at a time when war of a few hours duration could wipe out civilization. Nations are pouring out their billions of dollars in the manufacture of implements of war so frightful that they hope the implements will never be used. Single bombs are being manufactured with more explosive power than was released in a World War lasting four years. Even should an atomic war never break out, the cost of preparing against it threatens to impoverish whole nations. But when science and governments are at their wits' ends as to how to save civilization from destruction, we must always remember that Divine Providence rules over all.

And this God Incarnate dwells on our altars. He is far more concerned about the fate of mankind, of all His children, than we can ever be. But He must be asked, if He is to send His protection. As the theologians say, in a true sense, "Man must be saved by man." Christ in the desert miraculously fed thousands, but it was only after a small boy had furnished Him with a few loaves and fishes. And remember, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world knows of." Our President and Congress, our army and navy and air force may do their all, yet fall tragically short of what is to be done. The last span in the bridge joining two worlds in peace must be laid by men and women and children at prayer. Feeble old men and women, scarcely able to totter into the church, may have more influence upon the world's history than armies in battle array. Remember, "God's ways are not our ways." "He raises up the little ones to confound the strong."

Yes, "There hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not." He is on our altars, awaiting our visits. No one is too ignorant, too insignificant, even too sinful to be heard. No one is too busy, too important to be able to spare some time on his knees before the Blessed Sacrament. "Lord, the world that Thou lovest is sick," we must remind Him. Only after we have prayed again and again, without ceasing, for the salvation of the world, can we leave its fate to Divine Providence.

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