I can’t stand working out. I know there are some incredibly motivated people that revel in every single run and push-up—but that has never been me. I try to force myself to do some sort of physical activity as much as I can, but there are days and weeks that go by when I don’t do a single thing to push myself—and that’s when I notice a change …
My energy levels are low. My sleep schedule is off. My stress level increases. My mood is more on edge. My normal bodily functions become less productive. My metabolism slows down. Everything is affected. And finally, after getting mad at myself and having an internal battle about whether or not I should make exercising a priority—I recognize my need for to it. Without it, both my physical and spiritual life are thrown for a whirlwind. When my physical health is a priority, my entire being functions the way it was created to function.
We Must Accept the Body
C.S. Lewis says very boldly:
“We must accept and embrace the body, in all its glory and buffoonery, remembering that whatever our bodies do affects our souls.”
In the same lens, when we neglect prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, it negatively affects not only our soul, but our body as well. And so on the flip side, spending time in adoration is beneficial to more than just our soul. Can’t see the connection? Well check this out …
Body and Soul Intertwined
Here’s the thing: The human person is “a being at once corporeal and spiritual” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 362)—so you better believe that we need to take care of both. The beauty is, they are intimately connected—connected so much in fact that when we neglect one, we hurt the other. This is why our need for prayer and adoration are so great. Our world tries to separate the two and forget the role that our spiritual life plays in our physical life—and vise versa. When we sin, it affects not just our souls, but our bodies as well. When we pray, it not only affects us spiritually, but also physically.
St. John Paul II says:
“The body … is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden from eternity in God, and thus to be a sign of it” (Theology of the Body, 19:4).
If the body is capable of showing exteriorly what is happening in our soul, then what affects our soul, affects our body in a very real way. This is why adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is so indispensable. When we bring ourselves before the Eucharist, we are entering into, both physically and spiritually, “the mystery hidden from eternity in God”(TOB 19:4). We come into contact with Christ made visible in physical form here on earth. He makes himself accessible to us in our humanity to reveal his divinity which we are destined for!
“God became man so that man might become God” (St. Athanasius)
Yes, he presents himself under the guise of bread, but only in order to take us even a step further: to make it possible to unite our body with his through communion. Adoration leads to and flows from this communion. If we truly believe that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324), then when we receive him and soak in his true presence, our whole being is changed from the inside out.
“May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
We were made to be holy in every way—body and soul included. If holiness and wholeness is the essence of God, then his presence sanctifies both the body and soul. After some research and some prayer of my own, I want to list some of the benefits, both physical and spiritual, that I found to be the result of prayer in adoration.
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
Ever heard of resting in the spirit? OK … that’s not really what I meant by rest, but according to a study by Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School, people who pray enter a “relaxation response”. The body’s metabolism decreases, the heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down, and our breath becomes calmer and more regular. Our body responds to the state of our soul in the presence of God.
We’re so used to doing. When we’re with him in his presence, we need only be. He simply asks us to just exist before him. We don’t have to pray a certain way. We don’t have to say the right, holy thing. We just need to be, and he will take care of the rest. Are you in need of that rest?
“The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still” (Exodus 14:14).
“I urge you with all of my soul to approach the Eucharist table as often as possible. Feed on this Bread of the angels with which you will draw the strength to fight inner struggles.” —Blessed Pier Gorgio Frassatti
Whatever your struggle may be or the long to-do list you have, his presence is always more important. We are constantly moving from one thing to the next. His presence helps us to refocus our minds on what is true, good, and beautiful. We will be best at what we’re supposed to do when we take time to let him reorient our mind. It’s kind of ironic, many times I think I don’t have time to go adoration because of all the busyness and things I need get done. In reality, his presence is exactly what I need to get through the day.
According to Dr. Carroline Leaf, “It has been found that…prayer increases activity in brain areas associated with social interaction, compassion, and sensitivity to others. It also increases frontal lobe activity as focus and intentionality increase.” You actually become a more focused, all-around better person when you choose to take time to pray. And how much more will His true presence in the Eucharist re-center our lives if we let Him?
One of the most life-changing moments I’ve had encountering the Lord in the Eucharist was a few summers back when I was singing at a Franciscan University youth conference, specifically during the eucharistic procession. There was a girl in the audience whose severe medical condition and intense back pain made her incapable of walking for long periods of time. This had been a problem for several years and all the doctors she went to were unable to cure her. While the Eucharist was going around the room, it stopped right before her and she was instantly healed.
At the end of the weekend, she got up on stage and told everyone how Jesus healed her and I was astonished. Her faith in the true presence of Christ before her not only healed her soul, but it manifested in her physical body! These healings are still happening today. And even more important are healings of the soul.
Fr. Cantellemasa, preacher to the papal household, compares the Eucharist in the monstrance to an Old Testament encounter:
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live'” (Numbers 21:8).
But he points out that we see this same promise of healing fulfilled in a new way.
“Jesus applies this mysterious symbol of the bronze serpent to himself” he says.
When we seek healing we must “run before the Most Blessed Sacrament, to look at the Host and let healing pass through the same organ through which evil so often passes: our eyes.”
“I Don’t Do the Things I Ought” (Romans 7:19)
St. Paul was right. Jesus is waiting to give life and restoration to body and soul in the sacrament, but sometimes we would rather find just about anything else to fill our time. He longs to be food for our souls and even our bodies. When we soak in the presence of God, we are made whole. Worshipping him in adoration and receiving him in the Eucharist,
“All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord…are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
We can become the presence of God by allowing him to transform us into his image.
When you are in eucharistic adoration, not only do you see Jesus Christ— Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, but you are also seeing yourself, fully alive, present in the Host. St. Augustine said:
“’You are the body of Christ, member for member’ [1 Corinthians 12.27]. If you, therefore, are Christ’s body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord’s table!” (Sermon 272).
We are members of the Body of the Christ and we are a part of him. When we go to adoration we are not only present to Christ, but we are present to the truest version of ourselves. And so humbly, I urge you to go to adoration to become Christ for others. Become who you are created to be, become the broken bread for the broken world!
Let these challenging words of St. John Paul II penetrate your heart:
“Every member of the Church must be vigilant in seeing that the sacrament of love shall be at the center of the life of the people of God so that through all the manifestations of worship due him shall be given back ‘love for love’ and truly become the life of our souls.”
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About Taylor Tripodi
Taylor Tripodi is a cradle Catholic from Cleveland, Ohio aspiring for sainthood. Taylor graduated from Franciscan University, majoring in theology and catechetics and is now a full-time musician, traveling all over and spreading God’s unfailing love through word and song. In her spare time she enjoys making scented candles, seeking adventure, and being present to her large, crazy, Italian family. Want to hear her sing? Check out www.taylortripodi.com.