Yes, reader, the loneliest place in the world is an empty Catholic Church. Whether in the dimness of an immense cathedral, or smothered in the smoky smallness of a tiny chapel, there is always the same atmosphere of silent solitude. Here dwells One, Who for 2000 years has voluntarily shut Himself up in our tabernacles, in order to be near us. And we have abandoned Him.
"Come to Me, all you that labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you!" Such is His silent plea. He has come to help us in our trials, to be with us in Person, but do we turn to Him? Oh, how the Divine Prisoner must strain against His chains when He sees so many souls sitting sullenly in a swamp of sins and all the sorrows spawned therefrom. "Come to Me!" They are deaf to His call - either they refuse to hear Him, or they forget to listen. Dazed by the demands of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, their wills grow steadily colder, and turn away from their Saviour, Who pleads still, even though His Voice is drowned by the clamour of His enemies.
Day after day, week after week, year after year - aye, century after century, Jesus waits in the Blessed Sacrament. He is hidden in the tabernacle, but His Eye beholds all the souls of the world. He sees them, hundreds of them, as they daily hurry past His door, intent upon their business, caught up in a tortuous whirlwind of worldly worries and care. He watches them with loving, sorrowful Eyes. He pities these souls rushing here and there, ever in pursuit of happiness, and never finding it. Our Lord holds out His Hands to them, eager to draw them apart from the brutal bustle of the world and give them peace. But they hasten on, ignorant of the true Source of Happiness within arm's reach, unaware of the consolations they could have for the asking, if only they would turn to Him!
True, on Sundays His House is visited - perhaps by many, or perhaps only a few. He welcomes them all eagerly, and sets out His richest graces, ready to pour them in abundance upon His guests. But here again, His Love is slighted. Souls do not think to open their hearts to Him, to tell Him all their troubles, to ask for His graces. They sit there, wrestling with worries, unaware that the all-powerful, all-loving Sacred Heart, only a few feet away, has an avalanche of grace, strength and consolation all ready to pour down upon them, driving away all their cares, if they would only ask Him.
And what about when these souls receive Holy Communion? Here is a fresh proof of the sublime love of the King of Kings, for He does not come to be ministered to, but to minister. He comes, the Source of Grace, with all the graces He sees each individual soul needs. He is omnipotent - by His mere presence in that poor weak, sin-infested soul, He can turn all its sorrows into joy. But forgetfulness, ignorance, and even neglect paralyse His action, and He, respecting the freewill of His creatures, is obliged to leave much work undone.
What a pitiful condition He is in! Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is consumed with a scorching desire to heal us, to console us, and yet He cannot reach us, for we do not approach Him. Let us kneel before Him, and console Him in His loneliness. Let us turn to Him in every trouble - He will be much more anxious to hear the tale of our miseries that we could ever be to recite it. And we may be sure that His Sacred Heart will not be unmoved - no, He will not let us leave without His blessing. Let us visit Him, the poor Prisoner of the Tabernacle, the Loneliest of all Captives, as often as we can; and let us open wide the doors of our souls so that He may fill them with the graces He is so anxious to bestow. And when we cannot visit Him, let us often turn our thoughts to Him and send our guardian angels to greet Him on our behalf, so that at the Last Day we may have the inestimable joy of hearing these words from His Lips:
"Come, ye blessed of My Father, and possess the Kingdom which was prepared for you from the beginning . . . for I was in prison, and you visited Me."