“Ask a Priest: What Is the Value of the Blessed Sacrament?”

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Q: I am trying to wrap my head around the value (for lack of a better word) of the Blessed Sacrament. I remember hearing on the news when Notre Dame Cathedral was burning, that the chaplain and firefighters were able to save the Blessed Sacrament from the burning building. Would this have been a lesser concern had there been people trapped inside? Secondly, is there any functional difference between sitting in front of a tabernacle and sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament when it is exposed? Thank you. – F.M.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: The Eucharist is Christ himself present — body, blood, soul and divinity. One can’t find anything else in this world so valuable.

It is the summit of the sacraments, and it’s a reminder that Jesus really is with us till “the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

We wouldn’t think to question the value of our mom or her presence in our life. It’s a little like that with the Eucharist. The world would be lonelier place without Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. Moreover, worthy reception of Communion can help us grow in holiness.

So the firefighters and priests who raced into Notre Dame were rushing to ensure that nothing happened to Our Lord, who is sacramentally present. This doesn’t detract from the people who might have been in need of being saved. It wouldn’t have been an either-or situation, but a both-and. Save the people and the Eucharist.

As for adoration before a tabernacle or before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a monstrance: strictly speaking, both can have great value, depending on the disposition of the adorer.

Adoration with exposition is a fuller sign of our worship of Christ present, since we can actually see the Host. But adoration before a closed tabernacle can have immense value too.

A book you might find helpful is 7 Secrets of the Eucharist. Also worth a look is Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia.

Maybe the easiest way for you to begin to deepen your appreciation for the value of the Eucharist would be to watch or listen to Food for the Journey: A Retreat Guide on the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

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