The Eucharist as Radiation Therapy

Eucharistic adoration and radiation therapy aren’t terms most of us naturally link. But as a Catholic and a psychologist, I’ve found that they have much in common. I recently gave a talk about this link at a local Catholic event, “Ablaze”.

“Ablaze” marvelously combines Eucharistic adoration and worship music in a way that particularly speaks to young Catholics. It is modeled on the Saturday night Eucharistic adoration at the heart of the Steubenville weekend youth conferences. As a deacon friend told me, just go to a Steubenville conference if your hope in Catholic youth and the future of the Church is wavering. You will see 3000 high schoolers on their knees for hours before the monstrance, worshipping their Eucharistic Lord: weeping, singing, praising God with hands lifted; reaching out to touch the hem of the priest’s vestment as he goes through the crowd, row by row, blessing. You will see one of the keys to the new evangelization, just as St. John Paul II’s World Youth Day affected so many and helped raise a new crop of passionate, solid, fearless seminarians and priests. You will see that our youth don’t want to be entertained, fed spiritual junk food, or do endless “icebreakers”: they want to encounter the living GOD.

Besides being a powerful source of Church renewal – St. John Paul II pointed out that the parishes most on fire are routinely those that emphasize it – Eucharistic adoration is also a wellspring of deep emotional healing, transformation, and holiness. We are told that Moses’ face became radiant as he conversed with the LORD at the tent of meeting, and especially after his 40 days atop Mt. Sinai. He was permeated with the presence of God, and his heroic holiness testify that the permeation wasn’t simply physical. He went from being from the timid evader of responsibility of Exodus 3, to the particular friend of God, of whom God said,

“Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream.  Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house.  With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in dark speech; and he beholds the form of the Lord.” (Num 12:6-8a)

Now, all Christians have this opportunity: to encounter the Lord face to face, in every Catholic church and chapel in the world, as only privileged figures like Enoch, Moses, and Elijah did before all were given this incredible gift. Like Moses, we can be irradiated with the Divine Presence. The words of Job are fulfilled:

“Then from my flesh I shall see God,  whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
    My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:26b-27)

When we so sit before the Lord, we are defenseless. As with radiation therapy, we know that something is happening, but we don’t know what. We give the Lord the opportunity to remove our emotional and spiritual blocks; to nourish and strengthen all that is of Him while cleansing us of all that is not.

In my “Ablaze” testimony, I recalled an intense summer at St. Bonaventure University in upper New York State. The Lord gave me the grace to spend hours a day before the Eucharist, something I could never otherwise have done. It was almost not a choice – I was compelled to do so and could hardly tear myself away. There was an absolute conviction that He was “doing a new thing” in me. At the same time, He led me repeatedly to Romans 6-8, which are all about transformation and freedom in Christ; and to Isaiah, chapters 39-50 or so, which are words to Israel (and every believer) of comfort and being specially chosen by God after periods of desolation and seeming abandonment.

With both the adoration and the Scripture immersion, it was like eating and drinking. I was devouring the Word, soaking in the Lord. It was a time of immeasurable grace. Jesus irradiated me in the Eucharist while the Father spoke tenderly to me in the Word. The experience culminated in an interior vision as I read and re-read Isaiah 49.

I was in a crowd of people, as the Father paced back and forth. My head hung low, I thought, “He doesn’t see me. He doesn’t know I’m here. I’ll never be noticed in this crowd.” Immediately the Father stopped, turned, and pointed to me: “YOU. I see YOU. I choose YOU. I know YOU.” It was overwhelming. It was entering into sonship with the Father my own father could never be; that no earthly father could ever be. It was the healing of a lifelong wound of feeling that I was superfluous; in the way; a burden, as the 8th of 12 children in a family hammered by financial strain, my father’s difficult health situation, and my parents’ own lack of having been parented. I belong; I am chosen; I am meant to be here; it is good that I am here; I am (as are all of us) an indispensable part of God’s plan.

Other graces flowed from that summer of “radiation therapy”. The Lord opened my heart to the possibility of a married vocation, later fulfilled through my lovely wife, Mary. He led me to a level of trust in friendships that had previously been closed to me.

So – I urge you to come to that Fountain, bathe in that Light. Run – do not walk! – to the nearest Eucharistic chapel. Spend some time, as St. Teresa of Avila notes, with Someone we know loves us very much. Fr. Corapi noted that a Protestant minister friend – since converted to Catholicism – told him, “If I believed what you do about the Eucharist, I would nail myself prostrate to the floor of the chapel and never leave!” Let’s do that; let’s sign on for a course in “radiation therapy”.

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About admin

I am a Catholic clinical psychologist with a solo practice in Omaha, NE. In the Franciscan seminary, I completed about 2/3rd of an M.Div./MA in Scripture. In my 3rd year of temporary vows, I discerned a call to the married life. My lovely wife Mary and I have a son, Michael, as well as a number of children preceding us to Heaven through miscarriages. We are delighted to be in the Omaha archdiocese and love the Heartland.
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