Thursday, 4 August 2011
"O Godhead Hid": A few thoughts on visiting the Blessed Sacrament
Every Thursday and Saturday, at the church of St Gregory the Great in Cheltenham, there is a period of Solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The setting for the Exposition could hardly be better: it is a fine Victorian Gothic church, with an interior that glows with mellow stone.
On a visit some years ago, the sight of the Monstrance conjured up in my mind a play on words: it seemed to me as though the Sacred Host was also the most genial of Hosts, the great King receiving His loved ones into His presence with such vulnerable generosity. That feeling has stayed with me.
One of the things I always notice, and it was so today, is the variety of ages among those who are present. This morning there were two or three youngish men, and I always love to see that; it gives me confidence for the Church. And a number of elderly people, by which I mean even more elderly than I am. One old man, full of dignity, rose carefully from his pew at the end of his visit, and struggled slowly away with the aid of a walking stick. I was very much impressed by the heroic effort he had put in to be there.
Sometimes, after I have become aware of an old person - let us say an old woman - sitting quietly some pews away from me, I catch sight of her again a little while later, and her head has nodded forward, and her shoulders have drooped a little as the need for a nap has crept over her. At last she becomes conscious of a change of balance, and comes back to herself, and resumes her quiet adoration. And I think, without any sense of condescension, how sweet that is, and I have a sense of how tenderly the Lord looks upon her from the Altar.
Truly, there are blessings and gentle pleasures of many kinds, when one visits the Blessed Sacrament enthroned.
Picture from Google Images, with acknowledgments to sspeterandpaul.net