If you refer to Chapter 33: 7-11 of the Book of Exodus (the Hebrew Scriptures) you will read about Moses encountering God. This took place in a meeting tent where Moses would talk to God face to face.
I have been fascinated by this passage since my college seminary days. Back then, when I was reading an article about Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s daily Eucharistic Holy Hour, this reference to Moses and his personal encounter with God was mentioned. The piece described how Moses’ face became radiant—he was visibly changed—because of his spending time conversing with God.
As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while he spoke with the LORD. When Aaron, then, and the other Israelites saw Moses and noticed how radiant the skin of his face had become, they were afraid to come near him . . . When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. (Ex. 34: 29-30, 33)
Over many years, following the example of Archbishop Sheen, I have sought to spend time with the Lord before the Blessed Sacrament. My reasoning is simple: If we, as Catholics, truly believe that the Lord Jesus is present in the Eucharist, how could we not want to spend time with Him? It is often an uphill battle trying to get people—sometimes even priests—to understand how precious this time alone with the Lord means to me.
Pope Saint John Paul II once wrote the following, which increased my determination to spend time in Eucharistic Adoration:
To priests the Council also recommends, in addition to the daily celebration of the Mass, personal devotion to the Holy Eucharist, and especially that "daily colloquy with Christ, a visit to and veneration of the Most Holy Eucharist" (PO 18). Faith in and love for the Eucharist cannot allow Christ's presence in the tabernacle to remain alone (cf. CCC 1418). Already in the Old Testament we read that God dwelt in a "tent" (or "tabernacle"), which was called the "meeting tent" (Ex 33:7). The meeting was desired by God. It can be said that in the tabernacle of the Eucharist too Christ is present in view of a dialogue with his new people and with individual believers. The presbyter is the first one called to enter this meeting tent, to visit Christ in the tabernacle for a "daily talk." (June 9, 1993)
The above factors led me, in this and in my two last parishes, to construct my own meeting tent in the rectory—a small, private Eucharistic chapel where I can be alone with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. There is no phone, no Internet, and minimal distractions. I want to be disconnected from worldly matters and tuned in completely to Jesus. Period. Over the years, I have often tried praying in the church but inevitably I am interrupted for some reason or another. While some may perceive this as anti-social behavior, please take some consolation in this: your pastor takes his prayer life very seriously, believes in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and is praying for you.
While my face may not become radiant like Moses, my disposition frequently is more pleasant!
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor (wanna-be monk)