Worshipping His True Presence with All My Joy

I love walking into an empty, dark church, preferably one that smells of musty hymnals, beeswax, and aged incense that has seeped into the walls. I love seeing only the light of the altar lamp illuminating dimly but with the comforting singularity of being the only source of light in the entire building.

I think I love walking into an empty church because there are fewer distractions. I’m not worried about people looking at me and what I’m doing. I’m not concerned about how I need to help out before Mass or with music ministry. I’m not herding children into a pew with barely enough space for seven people. I’m not in an unfamiliar church searching for Christ’s presence in the tabernacle, or making mental judgements of the church’s art or lack thereof.

Of course I’m not being distracted by other people because I’m the only one there!

I can think of all my own hangups of when I enter a church and compare them with the untempered joy of the Maccabees from today’s First Reading in 1 Maccabees 4. Their joy is so pure and heartfelt, a joy in simply being able to worship God again after years of persecution. They are so grateful to have their sanctuary back, their holy ground and sole place to worship the Lord according to Jewish law.

Joy comes not simply from being able to access this holy place but to worship God again in the way of their ancestors. The Maccabees are rejoicing in every aspect of their prayer, worship, and temple.

We are so privileged to be given Jesus Himself physically present in each and every tabernacle in Catholic churches around the world, but so often I don’t recognize His presence and the sacredness of the space within my own heart and mind. I want to capture the joy of the Maccabees in worshiping and praying to the Lord every time I enter a church.

The Maccabees are rejoicing in every aspect of their prayer, worship, and temple. // @christyisinger Click To Tweet

Questions about True Presence? See this helpful site.

Christy Isinger is a wife and mom to five lovely, loud children and lives in northern Canada. When not homeschooling, she is a devoted reader of English literature from Jane Austen to Agatha Christie. She writes about the beauty of faith, life, and the home at her blog and is the co-host of the Fountains of Carrots Podcast. She is the author of our Blessed Conversations: The Ten Commandments study found here. You can find out more about her here.


  • Reply
    Sue H
    November 22, 2019 at 9:01 am

    Love this, Christy, thank y. I snuck into our church last night,ust as you described, and let my soul reach out to the One present there. Such an amzing gift He gives us in beong REALLY prsent. As an evangelical convert, this is what brought me to the church.

  • Reply
    Cheree Hull
    November 22, 2019 at 9:15 am

    I was a sacristan at our parish for one of the weekday morning Masses for about 10 years. In the winter it would be quite dark when I got there and I LOVED it. The associate-pastors (always brand new priests) would occasionally show me how to turn the lights on (I suppose they *were* a little technical) but I continued to leave them off for the first 5 mins or so because that was that time for just Jesus and me. I would giggle inside every time we’d get a new priest and they’d “show” me how to turn the lights on. I still think it’s the one place I could sit in complete darkness (with that red “light” up by the tabernacle) and be in complete peace.

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