Updated: Jan 19
Excerpted from the transcript of a video I released found on my personal website.
This insight into the faith came one day during Mass when I was serving. It’s something I’ve developed over time, and I kept thinking about it. I always came back to it and kept trying to see it from different angles and trying to get what I feel maybe the Holy Spirit was trying to get at. Making your heart a monstrance is really something that I feel can be a fruit of your reception of the Eucharist, and I’m going to explain a little bit more what I mean by making your heart a monstrance.
Now, for those who don’t know, a monstrance is a liturgical item that we use at what we call Eucharistic adoration. It’s a long, skinny transparent receptacle that starts at a base, a little platform to stand on, and there’s a little circle [at the top] ending. Then oftentimes you see it expound out in many different rays almost like a sun. We put a consecrated host inside the monstrance, and Catholics believe that the Eucharist, once the priest says “This is my body and this is my blood”, is no longer bread and wine but is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus, who is God, under the appearances of bread and wine. So, after the consecration of bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity we as Catholics believe that we can come to adore the host because it’s no longer bread and wine. We can come to adore what looks like bread and what looks like wine still but is really (in what it is in its essence, in its substance) the Body and the Blood, Soul, and Divinity. We’ll just leave it at that because this video is not about the Eucharist and the theology behind the Eucharist. Basically, Catholics believe we can come to adore the Eucharist because we believe that it is Jesus. Once we place a consecrated host in a monstrance we believe that we can come and be before the monstrance and adore Jesus in the monstrance, who is God.
The word “monstrance” comes from Latin verb monstrare, which means “to show, or to display.” In Spanish it’s mostrar, which means the same thing.
Going back to this idea of making your heart a monstrance as a fruit of your reception of the Eucharist, the next time you are at Mass and in a state of grace, of course, as always, when you receive Jesus know that that’s a big moment, so you don’t want to let that moment go to waste, especially those graces go to waste, either. The biggest moment of a Catholic’s life is when we receive Jesus. And when you receive Jesus and go back into your pew I suggest that you can imagine that your heart is a monstrance, and when you receive Jesus imagine placing the host that you have just received into a monstrance within your heart and have Him on display. I think imagining this kind of idea is going to be very key because the spiritual writers, the saints, talk about Jesus and His presence being most deeply felt within oneself and within our hearts. This is what the spiritual writers like St. Teresa of Avila talk about. That’s why [her book] called The Interior Castle because Jesus can be felt most assuredly within one’s heart because He desires to not only possess our hearts but also to be inside our hearts as well. Finding Jesus and being with Jesus there inside your heart is the essence of what the saints call the interior life. That’s why it’s called the “interior castle,” the interior life, the spiritual life of contemplation. So, just like when the Gospel says Mary took the things in regards to Jesus and kept them inside her heart she pondered upon these things. So, in making your heart a monstrance I want to make this suggestion out to you for at least two different reasons.
One, to aid in a deeper kind of contemplation of the Eucharistic Jesus at Mass.
When you receive Jesus you can imagine that your soul is a church, a temple, a holy temple, and your heart is the monstrance. Inside that temple the heart is the tabernacle of that temple, and you receive Jesus, and you put him on display in the monstrance of your heart for adoration. Once you do that, once you receive Jesus, go deeply inside your heart to adore Him there and return to that moment. Return to the temple of your soul, to the monstrance of your heart often, even after Mass, even the next day, no matter what time it is and adore Him there and worship Jesus inside your heart because, again, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Two, I want to make this suggestion also. When you display Jesus in your heart from frequent communions it has an effect because when you receive Jesus it should have an effect on how you live your life as a Catholic Christian. So, when you display Jesus in your heart and let Him shine in your it for people to see let Him shine forth in your life as a Catholic so people can come and look at you and see Him. Look at you and see Jesus, which is the purpose of a monstrance, anyway. When people look at a monstrance they see Jesus who is inside the monstrance, and so that is its purpose. It’s an instrument, which points to the deeper reality of God, an instrument by which we point to God. And so that’s what we are supposed to be as Christians-to be living instruments by which we can point to God. In this case if we’re living our lives truly as Catholic Christians, our hearts should be on fire. When people look at us they should see Jesus, and when they look at Catholics they should see the Eucharistic Jesus manifested out into the world. So, there’s no better way to do that than receiving Jesus and having Him on display within your heart.
Again, just like what “monstrance” means in Latin (“to show; to display”), and so when we receive Jesus and have Him on display and shine forth in our life as Catholic Christians we need to do that concretely through our actions and through our speech and ultimately through the whole panorama that is our way of life. You want to display Jesus by the way that you act and by the way that you speak, your whole panorama of life so that people can come to adore Him as well. So, when people see you they see Jesus, and they will come to adore the Jesus that has so changed your life. And that is to influence you to become the example that you can become that points to Jesus, so when people see you they see whom you are pointing to just as when people see a monstrance they see what the monstrance is ultimately pointing to.
So, again, in summary, make your heart a monstrance the next time you receive Jesus, so you can adore Him within your heart. And so when your life as a Christian, your life as a Catholic is manifest and put forth in the world people can come to adore Jesus whom you are pointing to.