Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Burning Bush: Moses Adores God and Receives a Mission


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Father Florian Racine begins to offer us, in this first of many posts, a formation in Eucharistic adoration that will enable us to practice it in all its depth and with a missionary perspective. Our pilgrimage of faith begins with welcoming the gift of God; the spiritual life experiences, at first, some of the personal love that God bears for us: the coming of Christ before us and into our life; sensible graces can thus be frequent. This first step gives way to a deeper and less sensible path of faith, which through trials and consolations decenters us from ourselves in order to center us on God. Through Jesus, with him and in him, in the Holy Spirit, we are turned toward the Father; we seek to enter into his sight and to do his will. Then, at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we are commissioned. Adoration and Eucharistic life transform believers into the image of Christ by incorporating them into his ecclesial Body and makes of their person an offering to the glory of God for the salvation of the world. From the heights of the Trinity, the incarnate Word descends to man in the Eucharist in order that, through Communion, man may ascend to his final end, the most-lovable Trinity.

Thus, we will be entering into the school of adoration.  Starting with the Word of God, Racine shows us how it is made present in the Eucharist and invites us to mature in faith and let ourselves be transformed for a greater communion with Christ and a better collaboration with God’s plan in the world. The Word of God sheds light on the Eucharistic mystery and receives a greater light from it.

We begin today by considering the prefigurement of God present to us in the Eucharist in the mystery of Moses encounter with the Lord on in the burning bush.  Racine writes: "The burning bush prefigures the wonderful mystery of the Incarnation, in which the divine nature unites itself to the human nature without destroying it (“with neither confusion, nor separation”) in the person of the Son. Present in the Blessed Sacrament, Emmanuel, the God who visits his people, is truly the burning bush. This fire also evokes the infinite love of Christ, which purifies, transforms, and heals. God calls Moses by his name. He invites him to a personal encounter, a relation of love, a heart-to-heart." 

In this encounter, we also see man's response and posture.  Moses shows us how to adore the Lord with one's entire person.  He acknowledges he is on holy ground and prostrates himself; removing his sandals from his feet.  Likewise in adoration, we approach with the reverence of our body.  There must be nothing casual or tepid in our adoration - love must be expressed through the whole person.

In this moment God reveals Himself to Moses as "I am who am" - This reminds us, Racine states, that "God alone exists in himself and that God needs nothing and no one in order to exist. To the contrary, God, the source of being, of every being, keeps all that lives in existence. From the sacred Host, the Lord Jesus supports the universe. How can we not marvel before the Host, which contains in its entirety what the universe cannot contain! If the earth revolves around the sun, the cosmos revolves around the Host! To approach it in faith is to hold oneself in the heart of the world. The Host is our heaven on earth. It is God who gives himself, our Alpha and our Omega, our beginning and our end. It is the resurrected Body of Christ, Savior of the world."  Thus, in adoration we are at the heart of the world and in the midst of He who is our beginning and end.  From this tiny Host, Christ sustains life and the universe.

Racine concludes by speaking briefly of what mission is given to us through our participation in this Mystery.  Quoting St. John Paul II, we are told that we must first let our own faith be revitalized through this encounter, to be healed of our sin and become sons and daughters of God.  It is only this Love which spreads from our hearts that will transform and renew the Body of Christ.  

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-on-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here am I.” Then he said, “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.    

Then the LORD said, “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to me, and I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God upon this mountain.”God.    Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO . . .AM.” (Ex 3:1–14) 

In the Bible, it is always God who comes to meet man. It is he who, in love, takes the initiative for the encounter. He expects only our response. Here, “the angel of the LORD” represents God himself who visits his people. He chooses the form of a burning bush. For some Church Fathers, the burning bush prefigures the wonderful mystery of the Incarnation, in which the divine nature unites itself to the human nature without destroying it (“with neither confusion, nor separation”) in the person of the Son. Present in the Blessed Sacrament, Emmanuel, the God who visits his people, is truly the burning bush. This fire also evokes the infinite love of Christ, which purifies, transforms, and heals. God calls Moses by his name. He invites him to a personal encounter, a relation of love, a heart-to-heart. 

How does Moses behave before God? For what reason? The position of the body is fundamental in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. By taking up a position that is too comfortable for the body (sitting, even slouching on one’s kneeler or chair), the heart loses some of its vigor and strength. The soul grows lukewarm and finds itself in a state of slumber, unable really to pray. It is by putting one’s body at prayer that one puts one’s heart at prayer. To adore the Lord with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul, and with all one’s strength (cf. Deut 6:4) is to adore the Lord with one’s entire person, thus also with one’s body. In the following passage from Revelation, John sees how God is adored in heaven. “To cast one’s crown before the throne” signifies the adoration of one who offers his person, with all he has and all he is, before the divine majesty: 
The twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Rev 4:10–11) 
The Latin etymology of the word “adoration” is ad os, or “toward the mouth”, which refers to the kiss and, by extension, to love. To adore is to give back one’s life to the Lord; it is to embrace him, because he loves us as we are. In adoration, we dare to approach him with the reverence of our body, the light of our faith, and the love of our heart. Since love always tends to humble itself and since the Lord makes himself so small in the sacred Host, the adorer is invited to humble himself before the divine majesty. Some bow profoundly, as Moses must have done before the burning bush. One of the remedies for tepidness and spiritual dryness in prayer is the quality of the bodily position. 

Some practical advice: begin adoration kneeling, if possible by prostrating upon the floor for a few moments. Remain in this kneeling position (perhaps using a prie-dieu). If the position becomes painful, sit down! Do not hesitate to get back on your knees from time to time to get your heart back to adoration if distractions distance you from prayer. End adoration in the position that you took at the beginning. 

God gives his name to Moses. How is the name of God to be understood? This name is mysterious, unpronounceable. We cannot name that which exceeds us, that which we cannot grasp or understand. In the Bible, one’s name signifies one’s mission. It characterizes the person. Here the name “I am who am” recalls that God alone exists in himself and that God needs nothing and no one in order to exist. To the contrary, God, the source of being, of every being, keeps all that lives in existence. From the sacred Host, the Lord Jesus supports the universe. How can we not marvel before the Host, which contains in its entirety what the universe cannot contain! If the earth revolves around the sun, the cosmos revolves around the Host! To approach it in faith is to hold oneself in the heart of the world. The Host is our heaven on earth. It is God who gives himself, our Alpha and our Omega, our beginning and our end. It is the resurrected Body of Christ, Savior of the world. 



From this encounter with God, Moses will receive a mission. What precisely is this mission? What is the mission that God gives us, following our encounter with Jesus, present in the sacred Host? 

I warmly encourage the faithful to adore Christ, present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, letting him heal our consciences and purify us, enlighten us and unite us. In their encounter with him, Christians will find strength for their spiritual life and their mission in the world. In fact, in communing heart to heart with the divine Teacher, they will discover the Father’s infinite love and will be true worshipers in spirit and in truth. Their faith in him will be revitalized; they will enter into God’s mystery and be profoundly transformed by Christ. In their trials and in joys, they will conform their life to the mystery of our Saviour’s Cross and Resurrection. . . . Every day they will become more and more sons and daughters in the Son. Then, love will be spread through them in human hearts, in order to build up the Body of Christ which is the Church to establish a society of justice, peace and brotherhood. They will be intercessors for all humanity, because every soul which is lifted up to God also lifts up the world and mysteriously contributes to the salvation freely offered by our Father in heaven.

Racine, Fr. Florian
Could You Not Watch with Me One Hour?: How to Cultivate a Deeper Relationship with the Lord through Eucharistic Adoration