Wednesday, 16 January 2013
God revealed himself to me this afternoon
Every Tuesday afternoon at 4pm at Leeds Trinity we have Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour followed by Mass. Right in the midst of perhaps the busiest day in the week, as lecturers conclude their presentations all around us, Christ manifests himself in the spiritual heart of the university. The attachment of young people to Eucharistic Adoration is one of the surprise developments of the last twenty years ie the course of my priesthood. I remember helping with a Youth 2000 retreat in my first year as a priest and being struck by the way that the group was, as it were, breathing new life into an old devotion. When I was a lad I used to serve during Sunday afternoon Benediction in my parish church in Burley in Wharfedale, swinging the thurible, occasionally coughing quietly as the incense tickled my throat, delighting in the scarcely comprehensible Latin chants whose very strangeness beautifully conveyed the transcendence of the moment and staring, staring, staring at God as he revealed himself to me and Fr Scannell kneeling at my left and everybody else in the church, the uncontainable contained in the monstrance, whose Spirit prompted me to stare some more, notwithstanding my watering eyes and aching arms, convincing me that the one who eluded me now would not always elude me. By the time I celebrated Mass this afternoon, such intimacy had been established with Our Lord that the four students and graduates present - and the numbers are almost always low - listened with unwonted attentiveness to the few poor words I uttered after the gospel and the daily event, become ordinary through familiarity, seemed suddenly charged once more with supernatural significance, its inner importance flooding out and becoming newly apparent in the external sphere, such that none of us then present, I know, would have wished to have been anywhere else at that moment, and all of us - I could tell by the others' faces - felt simply very grateful.