Re-Enchanting the Eucharist through Adoration

June 23, 2011


This is a small reflection I wrote for the forthcoming newsletter of C21, the on-line faith formation program of Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry.  I thought it might be appropriate for the Thursday after Trinity Sunday–the day on which Corpus Christi is observed wherever it is celebrated as a day of precept.


I suppose my experience of eucharistic adoration is fairly typical of devout Catholics of my generation.  Being now only 32 years old, I have no personal memory of those features of pre-conciliar piety that ritualized the sacredness of the eucharist: Forty Hours devotions, Corpus Christi processions, stringent fasting requirements, a strictly demarcated sanctuary, and the exclusively priestly handling of the sacred species and vessels.  There being so little transgressive thrill at the prospect of drawing close to the eucharist, my parents had little success inducing met to serve as an acolyte at my home parish.

When I first encountered eucharistic adoration, however, I remember stepping into a spiritual atmosphere distinct from what I had known before.  Read the rest of this entry »


F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jesuit story

February 7, 2011

I have long thought F. Scott Fitzgerald to be a very Catholic writer, though explicitly Catholic themes show up only rarely in his work.  There’s the urbane Monsignor Darcy in This Side of Paradise, for example, and a few scattered references in Tender is the Night, but mostly Fitzgerald’s Catholic sensibilities come through in his moral vision, in the interplay of truth and illusion we see, for example, in The Great Gatsby.

In a Fitzgerald biography, however, I’d once come upon a reference to an early (1920) short story called “Benediction,” and I took advantage of a Chicago snow day last week to track the story down.  I was not disappointed.

The story is a gem, written in the witty, dancing prose of the youthful Fitzgerald, and touching on many of his typical themes—the giddiness of coming of age, the wistful sadness of romance, even a hint at class sensitivities.  The story centers around Lois, a romantic and beautiful nineteen-year-old travelling to Baltimore to meet her lover, Howard; on her way to their rendezvous she stops to visit her only brother Keith, a seminarian she has not seen in seventeen years.

Read the rest of this entry »