Gazing Heavenward: The Great Eclipse and Eucharistic Adoration

Galahad_grailby Fr. Jeff Loseke

This past Monday’s solar eclipse was a unique event that drew together people from across our country to share in the rare experience of seeing the sun obscured by the moon from one coast to the other.  Everyone in mainland USA (save northernmost Maine) was able to experience at least a partial eclipse.  The “promised land” for eclipse watchers, however, was to be in the path of totality.  More than merely darken the sky, a total eclipse promises viewers a glimpse of the sun’s corona, which cannot be seen under ordinary circumstances by the naked eye.  In fact, only when the moon completely blocks out the sun’s light is it safe to gaze heavenward toward the sun without damaging one’s eyes.

The entire experience of this year’s eclipse was fascinating to me, as it provided a deeper reflection on the longing of the human heart to witness the majesty of sights so far beyond it.  How amazing it was to see people make “pilgrimage” to the path of totality as they joined “in communion” with others to experience an event that consisted of “contemplating” the sun from our place on earth!  Though not a religious or spiritual event at all, the day’s news nevertheless overflowed with testimonies of the wonder, awe, tears, and excitement people felt as they shared and experienced this eclipse.

We can use this year’s eclipse to assist us in (re-)introducing the experience of Eucharistic Exposition and Adoration to the faithful.  Like the solar eclipse, when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration, people are given the opportunity to make pilgrimage to the church, to join in communion with God and each other, and to contemplate the Son from our place on earth.  Just as one is able to look directly at the sun’s glory when veiled by the moon, so too is one able to look upon the Son of God’s glory when veiled under sacramental form.  In order to experience the eclipse, one need only sit and gaze.  Similarly, in Eucharistic Adoration, one is invited simply to be in God’s presence and gaze at His Sacrament.  The eclipse plunged viewers into darkness in order to see the sun’s corona; likewise, only in the darkness of faith does one fully recognize the divine crown of Christ in His Sacrament.  Unlike the eclipse, however, Eucharistic Exposition allows us to contemplate the Son’s glory more than for a few minutes of totality and more frequently than once every several years or even decades.  Therefore, we should be looking for ways to increase opportunities for Exposition and Adoration in our parishes.  It is our hope that just as our bodies and skin are changed when we put ourselves in the light of the sun, our parishes themselves will be changed the more we put ourselves in the direct light of God’s only Son.

The Reverend Jeffery S. Loseke is a Priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha and is currently the pastor of  St. Charlccn_father-les Borromeo Parish in Gretna, Nebraska.  Ordained in 2000, Fr. Loseke holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome and is working to complete his doctoral degree (Ed.D.) in interdisciplinary leadership through Creighton University in Omaha.  In addition to parish ministry, Fr. Loseke has served as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force, taught high school theology and college-level philosophy, and has been a presenter for various missions, retreats, and diocesan formation days across the country.

Art: The Attainment: The Vision of the Holy Grail to Sir Galahad, Sir Bors, and Sir Perceval by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1895-96 (Wikimedia Commons)